The Father of Guinarona: A Tribute


The now abandoned Jose B. Raquel residence in Guinarona. (Photo credit: Mabelle Fabian-Ausa)

We are writing this far from Guinarona, where we could have done some in-depth research.  Hence, ours is just a hodge-podge of recollections about the man we call the Father of Guinarona.

To our mind, his crowning achievement was the realization of the Mahagnao National Park, because he it was who knocked on doors, as it were, to make it happen.  On account of his unselfish and pioneering efforts, people locally and internationally can now enjoy Mahagnao in its unblemished and pristine state.

We remember him showing us snapshots of his trips to Mahaganao in the 60’s.  What is indelible in our mind is the engkantos in those pictures–yes, the spirits at Mahagnao, somehow being captured on film.  They were half-naked males with feather plumes on their heads, just like the Native American Indians.  Which makes you think if the Native Americans are actually spirits themselves.  Or are feather plumes a spiritual symbol of some kind?

Jose B. Raquel's baby, the Mahagnao National Park in Burauen, Leyte. (Photo credit: Roberto A. Aquino)

We remember him always pounding at his Underwood typewriter with the long carriage.  There at his small second floor office to the right.  Manifestos, resolutions, petitions, general letters–those were his fortes.  He was the quintessential protector and defender of the image of San Pascual Baylon, which had a controversial history, like figuring in disputes virtually reaching the courts of law.  (As a miraculous image, San Pascual’s is a magnet for tug-of-wars, we might add.)

We remember him calling us only to slip some money into our pocket, presumably for our schooling.  That’s how kind he was.

What we would call his reason for being was his indefatigable campaign to make Guinarona a town.  He wrote thousands of petitions, position papers, resolutions and letters to President Marcos, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, the Congress, and every government official of note.  As regards this objective, he died a frustrated man.  Guinarona is seven kilometers from Dagami and six kilometers from Burauen–hence Congress reasoned that Guinarona could not become a town due to these proximities.  (Hello?  Isn’t Metro Manila composed of contiguous towns, with nary a space between them?  And why can’t we have something like that in the countryside for development’s sake?)

Now he and his family are all gone, except for the youngest son.

We sorely miss our dear JOSE B. RAQUEL, the Father of Guinarona.

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