By Leonardo V. Micua
The most significant development that happened in Pangasinan and of all times took place during the month of February when a special committee created by Governor Amado Espino Jr. finally determined the exact day, month and year when the province was created.
The committee headed by Dr. Gonzalo T. Duque, former vice governor of Pangasinan and now president of Lyceum-Northwestern University, ascertained in its researches and deliberations that Pangasinan was created as an administrative province of Spain on April 5, 1580.
The work of the committee finally enabled the province to celebrate its first ever anniversary on April 5, 2010, graced by no less than the greatest son Pangasinan has every produced — former President Fidel V. Ramos.
The occasion coincided with the inauguration of the new Sison Auditorium, a landmark edifice built in Pangasinan during the pre-war but refurbished many times over to become the repository of works of arts and culture for the present and future generations.
It was a public holiday for the first time in all of Pangasinan as April 5, 1580 was adopted as official founding day in an ordinance duly approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
More than that, the official seal of the province of Pangasinan was recast to include the year 1580, though previously it had none of this.
Proud sons of Pangasinan held a parade around the town of Lingayen to mark their province’s founding day for the first time ever.
The determination of the date when the province of Pangasinan was founded was one of the legacies of the future generations from the present provincial administration of Governor Espino.
Responding to the pressing need of the province to establish its own identity so that it can well claim its place in history, Governor Espino lost no time in forming a special committee that will conduct researches and studies on when the province was really founded by the early Spanish colonizers.
The committee was made up of among the brightest minds in the province, mostly from the academe, who sifted records in the archives of the National Historical Commission and the Philippine Historical Institute to find the true date, month and year when Pangasinan was really founded.
No member of the committee, however, traveled to Spain to see old records archived by the government that could attest to the date of the founding of one of the largest provinces in the Philippines.
Dr. Duque said in determining the founding day of Pangasinan, the committee relied on secondary sources, like the “Relacion delas Islas Pilipinas (1582) which contained the chronicles of Miguel de Luarca during the Legaspi expedition.
Though no member of the committee went to Spain to unearth the actual date from the archives, they however exchanged notes on the subject with various institutions in Madrid.
As gleaned from the studies, Pangasinan was among the provinces established by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi after colonizing the country.
In its researches, the committee found records that showed that Pangasinan became a Spanish encomienda on April 5, 1572, following the travel to the north of Legaspi’s grandson Captain Juan de Salcedo, and an alcaldea (province) in 1580.
While the committee made it clear that it is still open to documented results of additional researches that may be conducted later by scholars, it was suggested that the date April 5, 1580 should already be adopted as the province’s founding day.
Immediately after he signed the provincial ordinance that declared April 5, 1580 as the founding day of Pangasinan, Gov. Espino said: “I am the happiest guy today because this historical note unfolded during my term as governor.” (PNA Feature)