Sangil: The quake in Porac and its meaning

I CAN'T believe it. It's the only tall building in my hometown... and now flattened by the Monday afternoon 6.1-magnitude earthquake. This is the Chuzon Supermarket. There are only two supermarkets in Porac. The other one is Lucio Co's Puregold. I invited Co to invest there upon the request of then Senator Lito Lapid, who owns the site. So the town started to have a real central business.

Then came property developer Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), which poured money, a whopping P100 billion, in their Alviera project in the western portion of Porac. Then big-time property developers of the country started also coming out with their own investments.

My cabalens were overjoyed. The once lethargic town where I spent my

childhood became prominent in the map. It became an investment destination. Then this earthquake.

I am asking myself if this is somehow connected to the bad spell cast many decades ago on Hacienda Dolores, the town village where the Ayalas are now busy developing a 1,500-hectare mixed used community. This brings to memory a story I heard during my boyhood that many business ventures which were introduced in the early years in that area can't hope to succeed. Is what happened on Monday a part of it?

Credited for the progress of the town are the Ayalas. The mixed used community in Hacienda Dolores started the migration of Metro Manilans to relocate to Porac. There is also the fear that the West Valley Fault may make its movement anytime and a big portion of the metropolis will be affected. And that's according to Rene Solidum, the country's chief volcanologist.

Looking back, in the mid-50s, there were only a few people then, and not a single industry or a manufacturing company in the town. Both sides of the 9-kilometer road stretch from Porac to Angeles were almost planted with sugar cane, the basic produce.

In a book written by my friend Ed Sibug, he mentioned that in 1936, Warner, Barnes & Company Ltd, an American enterprise, operated a 24-hour-a-day factory on a 400-hectare farm in Hacienda Ramona (Dolores) and it closed for good even before the war erupted in the early '40s due to stiff competition. And also due to the prevailing peace and order condition at that time.

My late mother, Apung Batik, told us her children, that during the Japanese occupation, her family evacuated to Sabanilla, a sitio of Hacienda Dolores, which in those years was a place so secluded and can only be reached by foot. (The construction of the SCTEX unlocked the value of the land). And that a large hectarage was owned by her father, Ceferino Lumanlan from whom my cousin Ceferino aka Nonong was named. Ceferino's brother Alberto and her sister Ceasaria were also owners of large tracts.

Documents shared to me by a Nards Angeles, a cabalen, showed that the biggest landowner holding a title to more than 2,000 hectares were spouses Don Gregorio and Maria Macapinlac, but later sold to their nephew, Jose C. Macapinlac. And in 1932 it changed hands again, and this time, a millionaire from Jaro, Iloilo, Don Francisco Rapide and Maria Lopez Saenz acquired the property. The Jaro Don appointed the brothers Jesus and Tomas Lopez Saenz as supervisor and administrator respectively.

Over the years, the land changed several hands. The sisters Enriqueta Michel Champourcin and Maria Michel, who married a Hidalgo for a time, owned the land but the latter mortgaged it for P1 million to the Overseas Bank of Manila. Somehow, in between, the ownership was lost. Not much mentioned in the documents.

One of the respected politicians in the '60s was Senator Gil J. Puyat. He comes from a family of traders in the town of Guagua. The Hacienda Dolores land somehow found its way to the vault of Manila Bank Corporation where it was foreclosed and bought by Senator Puyat's family.

In turn, the land was tended by lessees, from Maria Guanzon Chingcuangco to San Miguel Brewery to Lazatin, Ayson and Unson group and to Bacolor Mayor Emerito De Jesus. But in all the ventures dedicated to Hacienda Dolores, all of them failed. It is said in whispers among the barrio folk that a bad spell was cast in the land because the original acquisition was done through deceit. And besides, the statue of the Virgin Mary "Apo Dolores" which was cast in gold and carried a value of more than a million pesos was taken by a thief and replaced with a wooden cross. And it is the belief that until and unless the statue returns to the altar of the church, the spell remains.

That was a long, long time ago and apparently, the spell seemed to have gone with the wind. But did the bad spell only take a breather?


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