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  The Coming of the Spaniards

There are records to show that Salcedo, Legaspi's grandson, had sighted the coastline of Cagayan in 1572, but it does not follow that he was the first Spaniard who had set foot in Cagayan soil. After founding Ciudad Fernandina in what is now Vigan, Salcedo thought of sailing farther to the north, then to the east and to the south, to determine the shape and size of the island of Luzon, and probably to look for a good port, having learned from the navigator Fr. Urdaneta that while tradewinds and sea currents enabled the Spanish galleons to reach the archipelago at some point in the Visayas, for the return voyage it was necessary for the galleons to sail out from some point farther north. Hugging the coast, Salcedo dropped anchor wherever he noticed the mouth of a river, at Massi (old Pamplona), Tular (now Abulug), and Minanga, a barrio of Buguey. In Tular, he sought to parley with the local chief through an interpreter, the chief from the shore and himself from his boat. Seeing the chief in an ugly mood, Salcedo hastily weighed anchor and continued his voyage without attempting to enter Cagayan.

In 1581 the Spanish authorities in Manila learned about the presence of a Japanese fleet at the mouth of the Cagayan River. Putting together the needed force for an expedition to repel this fleet, and recruiting enough rowers, porters and other help from among Tagalogs, Visayans and Pampangos took quite a while, and it was only a year after--June of 1582--that a report was sent to the King about the success of the expedition. It must have taken the Spaniards another year to consolidate their hold on a part of Cagayan, for it was only in 1583 that Cagayan began to be called a province.

Capitan Juan Pablo Carrion headed the expedition of 1581. He established his garrison in the village of Lallo which he renamed Nueva Segovia. The garrison, it must be made clear, was a military outpost, not a mission center. The two Agustinians who were with Carrion were not really missionaries but chaplains of the expedition. This is the reason why they did not consider themselves bound to stay on, and after some years they left Cagayan either for Manila or for Ilocos to rejoin their confreres. The Dominican Cristobal Salvatierra had come with the troops, true, but he was there only as an observer representing Bishop Domingo Salazar. He had to go back to Manila where he was assisting the aged Bishop in the position of Provisor. Then, too, he was the only Dominican in the country at that time, and besides Salazar, and the statutes of their Order required them to live together. Like the two Agustinians, he was, therefore, not meant to remain in Cagayan as a resident and permanent missionary.

Three other Dominicans, part of a newly arrived group from Spain, replaced the Augustinians and Salvatierra. After a while, they, too decided that the gospel harvest in Cagayan was not yet ripe for picking, but as they were getting ready to leave the province by way of Pata (between Claveria and Sanchez Mira), a fresh contingent of Dominicans arrived at the same port of Pata with the news that Governor Perez Dasmariņas, in his capacity as Vice Royal Patron, had assigned to the Dominicans the mission field of the Cagayan Valley. This happened around 1591.


from Vignettes About Cagayan and the Cagayanos
by Msgr. Domingo Mallo-Peņaflor



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