In Alejandro R. Roces’ column, ’50 years with the Times’ (an undated newspaper article in The Manila Times from a cutting sent to me by my mother), the Angono town fiesta began around the time when that church was built. Roces wrote:
The Angono town fiesta has at least four main features: First, there is the dancing of the devotees in front of the church after every novena; second, the amphibious procession and parade; third, the band concert; and fourth, the show usually a zarzuela or a modern stage presentation.
During the aquatic procession, St Clement — this is the same image that Capt. Guido brought from Spain almost eighty years ago — is placed in the pagoda. Small boats accompany the pagoda in the river — with the bands playing and the women in attractive costumes dancing. Shouts of “Mabuhay, San Clemente” rend the air. And after a while a bunch of fish is placed in the hands of the image. These are caught by the paraders wading in the water as they pull the pagoda. The belief is that the more fish caught and placed in the image’s hand, the greater will be the catch of Angono fishermen for the coming season.
Roces claimed that Capt. Guido built the Biga Church around the 1880s. None of the ancestors of the elders in 1931, according to Professor Ligaya G. Tiamson Rubin, could categorically state who actually built the church in Biga and when exactly it was constructed. Whether other churches preceded the church in Biga was uncertain. Another version compiled by Professor Tiamson Rubin concerning the church was that Biga in its entirety was a resort within the Hacienda, that constituted a chapel, open to the public under the name of the licensed Capellania in Angono. The owner of the Hacienda and a church supporter renovated it later as a house of worship to support the growing population of Angono. It was possible, Professor Tiamson Rubin wrote, that the church in Biga was built in response to the call to strengthen its becoming Capellania of Angono that the Hacenderos had invested in. Another possibility, she said was that the Church in Biga was established in 1751 with the help of Alferez Don Andres Blanco Bermudez (the first legal owner of the secular Hacienda).
In 1824, the people of Angono submitted a petition to the Archbishop of Manila for permission to establish a new church in Angono because the church in Biga was too old and its roof was full of holes. They wanted a new church built at a more central location. Don Miguel Samson, the Governadorcillo (Little Governor) in 1824 and Don Bernardo Gragera, the Governadorcillo in 1820 and in1825 were in support of that petition. Don Pasqual de Sta. Ana, the owner of the Hacienda since 1818, however, rejected Father Tiburcio Senson’s petition on behalf of the Principales of Angono. On 2 April 1824, Don Pasqual released a document stating that the people of Angono were ungrateful, noting that the church in Biga was established right from the beginning to establish and spread Christian civilization in Angono. He argued that it was better for the people in Angono to help mend the church in Biga rather than construct an expensive church at another location. He said that the Hacienda had dutifully cared for the Capellana since 11 October 1751.
In 1853, Doña Dominga and Captain Francisco Guido who were married in 1852, brought an enormous bell as an offering to San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers and of people who tended the flock.
In 1866, the Hacendero and the people of Angono had an argument over who owned the image (statue) of St Clement. The people were devoted to the images of St Clement and St Isidro. They wanted the images moved from the Biga Church and were not predisposed to replacing them with another that they could purchase themselves, as suggested.
An agreement was reached that the fisherfolk could continue their devotion to the image of St Clement (43 inches in height) at the new church whereas the image of St Isidro Labrador (29 inches in height) could be retained at the farmers’ place in Angono where it originally stood (in the old church in Biga). They would like the images to ‘visit’ the homes of the farmers.
In time, a new tradition emerged wherein the image of San Isidro Labrador was not ‘housed’ at any particular church but at the home of whoever became the Hermanos (Brothers).The Hermanos were ordinary farmers, chosen through a straw vote held in May, the feast of San Isidro. The first recognized brother and administrator of San Isidro through this process was Tandang Kalino Diaz.
Tiamson Rubin, L.G. 2003. Angono Rizal: Mga Talang Pangwika at Pagkasaysayan. España, Manila: UST Publishing House.
Santiago, L.P.R. 1990.‘The Filipino encomenderos’, Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 18: 162-84.
Santiago, L.P.R. 2002.‘Don Pasqual de Sta. Ana (1762-1827), Indio Hacendero’, Philippine Studies, Vol 50.