Archive for the ‘Rinconada’ Category

The Old Roads Of the Naga-Legazpi Corridor and Dialectal Variations Along Its Way

November 18, 2008


When I was growing up I always wondered how come there are big barrios in our upland areas with a labyrinth of roads connecting them. Later I learned that the revered Naga-Legazpi road with its long straights and sometimes running in the middle of rice fields was not the original artery in the early days. I came to know that it was the secondary roads and the mountain roads that were the original roads of the past. With that I began to understand better the dialectal and sub-dialectal variations along the Naga-Legazpi highway.

The old road connecting Camalig and Guinobatan is the road going to Tagaytay, Camalig. In the areas along this way a spider-web of roads connects the upland barrios of Daraga and the “S-3” area of Sorsogon (which refers to Donsol, Pilar and Castilla). The upland roads also connect Jovellar and Pio Duran [Malacbalac]. These upland areas were then serviced by the yellow-orange CAL buses until the late ’60s. All these areas speak the Eastern Miraya sub-dialect. That was when I began to understand why these areas speak the same tongue.

I have long wondered how come the Bicol of Polangui is so similar to Eastern Miraya when along the way Ligao and Oas speak the Oasnon dialect. The centro of Polangui and its northern portion (the Napo and Ponso area) speaks the Western Miraya sub-dialect. Some eastern barangays of Buhi along also speak the sub-dialect and so do portions of Libon (the triangular area from Matacon to centro and back to Polangui).

I only understood this when I knew that there was an old secondary road connecting Guinobatan (the western terminus of Eastern Miraya) that passes through the major barrios of Masarawag and Muladbucad in Guinobatan, Nasisi, Herrera, Barayong and Busay of Ligao, Balogo of Oas and exiting into the Napo-Ponso area of Polangui which is then connected to the centro of Polangui. This road was serviced by ALATCO through its Consolidated Auto Lines (CAL) subsidiary up to 1968 when mudflow (lahar) damaged the bridge connecting Muladbucad and Nasisi. This secondary road is now passable again to motorists and is asphalted.

It must be noted that instead of curving westward there’s also an old road that passes through Maninila, Guinobatan that passes through Quirangay and Sua of Camalig before exiting just east of the centro. This is the old northern connection of Guinobatan and Camalig.

The old road that connected Ligao and Oas passed through the low hills of Tula-tula in Ligao and Pistola in Oas. And the old road that connected Oas with Libon bypassing Polangui is through the barangay of Mayao. Aside from Oas and Ligao portions of Libon speaks Oasnon. However its mountain areas up to the coast speak Rinconada.

Whatever, since the road that connects Ligao to Oas to Polangui and even Libon and Matacon all passes through rice fields it can be assumed that it is probably a road of recent vintage. The Matacon road that directly connects Matacon to Polangui which bypasses the town of Libon was only constructed in the mid-60s.

From Libon there is an old road that connects to the barrios of Bato along the southern shores of the lake. This same road connects through Nabua via Tandaay. Here the predominant dialect is already Rinconada.

I do not know if the road that connects Nabua and Bula is an old road. I am also not sure if the Masoli road connecting Bato and Iriga is the old road and not the current road that connects to Nabua to Bato. But it is entire possible since it was all rice fields that separates Iriga from Nabua and majority of Iriga’s old barrios are at the foot of Mt. Iriga.

Whatever, it is the Rinconada-speaking peoples who inhabited the rice-growing plains drained by the upper reaches of Bicol River from Lake Bato up to Minalabac. Aside from rice this is also the areas famous for carpa and talusog. The foothills of Mt. Iriga defined the upper reaches of this dialectal area and this stretches up to the coastal area from Pantao to Balatan up to Jamoraon Bay. It is possible that it is the river and the lakes that connected the Rinconada-speaking areas.

The road connecting Iriga and Pili is probably an old road skirting the shores of Lake Baao and hugging the foot of Mt. Iriga. Pili is a melting pot of Central Bicol and Rinconada dialects though in the old days it is predominantly Rinconada-speaking.

I am not also sure if the current Pili-Naga road is the old road. It is possible that the old road is the Pacol road since the current road passes through old rice fields and haciendas.

Whatever, further research is needed and it must be done soon since old people who can be primary sources are no longer numerous. There aren’t too many people now who were born in the 1920’s that are still alive.

The Central Bicol Dialect Or The Northern Coastal Bicol

November 18, 2008



In the recent past, people often wondered why Bicol Naga is very similar to Bicol Legazpi. It is because passing through the national highway (Maharlika Highway) a lot of different dialects divide Naga and Legazpi. Going east, Rinconada will be the first different dialect encountered (starting in Pili and up to the western part of Polangui) and then Western Miraya (after Matacon, Libon). After that comes Bicol Oasnon (starting Oas, of course) and then Eastern Miraya (starting in Guinobatan until Daraga) before finally reaching Legazpi City.

After a period of wonderment comes the puzzlement. Some even said that the church and its rites and books has something to do with this “standardization”. I give no credence to that. Otherwise we would have learned Latin, the official language of the church.

But I think the path to being misled begins with the assumption that the Naga-Legazpi highway that we know of now has been in existence since time immemorial, when it is not. An old civil engineer explained to me 30 years ago that this highway was only built in the 1920’s. He said that before the arrival of heavy earth-moving equipments it is simply impossible to fill all the ricefields that lay between towns. He also added that the old roads passed through the hills like the old road from Camalig to Guinobatan is the Tagaytay (Camalig) road.

If one analyzes Bicol Tabaco it is readily apparent that it is also very similar to the “standard” Bicol. And going farther northwest it is also apparent that the Bicol of the Partido area and Caramoan Peninsula is also very similar to the “standard” Bicol. And, of course, Bicol Daet is also very similar to the “standard” Bicol. Actually, except for some sub-dialectical variations, it is obvious that all of this belong to just one dialect.

This whole stretch that belongs to just one Bicol dialect (but with sub-dialectical variations) actually starts from the old town of Bacon, Sorsogon and proceeds northwest up to Mambulao [J. Panganiban], Camarines Norte except the Larap area. It is the reason why it is sometimes called the Northern Coastal Bicol. But more recently it is more often called as the Central Bicol dialect. Up to 2/3 of Bicolanos speak this dialect but in international texts it is not called as “Standard” Bicol.

The southwestern town of San Andres [the old Calolbon] which is very near Caramoan Peninsula also speak this dialect and so do a vast inland area west of Naga City and up to portions of the “railroad towns” of Camarines Sur. The old outlet to the sea of Nueva Caceres [Naga] to the south, Pasacao, also speaks this dialect. And so do the whole San Miguel Bay area.

In the olden days, even before the Spaniards came, the way of getting around or trading was by sailing (in fact the word layag or paglayag is the same in many parts of the Philippines). These northern Bicol seas are normally placid during the southwest monsoon (habagat) because it is shielded by the Bicol land mass. In fact the old pilgrimage custom to the visita of Joroan is connected with this. Sailboats as far as Northern Samar used to visit that shrine in the earlier days.

Sub-dialectical variations can be explained by recognizing geographical divisions in the fishing areas. Albay Gulf is a separate fishing area and that is why Bicol Legazpi predominates this area and to the barangay of Sawanga of the old Bacon which has a sea connection to Rapu-rapu.

The narrows of Cagraray island separate the fishing grounds of Tabaco Bay from Albay Gulf. Here Bicol Tabaconon predominates.

The promontory and rough terrain ahead of Joroan divides tha fishing grounds of Lagonoy Gulf from Tabaco Bay area. Here the mountain chain Mt. Iriga-Mt. Masaraga-Mt. Malinao extends up to the sea. Areas like this hold few inhabitants, hence, little fishing. Actually in the olden times Agta tribes dominated this area. Like in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon, the physical and fishing boundary between sub-dialects are connected to the presence of an indigenous tribe.

In Lagonoy Gulf, the Partido sub-dialect predominates.

The old trade route go round the Caramoan Peninsula. It does not go overland from Goa to Tinambac due to the rough terrain and the control of the mountains by the Cimarrones. If trade and communication is carried overland it passes the southern foot of Mt. Isarog (the Carolina route) and this is usually the case when the northeast monsoon (amihan) is blowing. When amihan is in full swing the northern waters of Bicol are rough.

Inhibitants of the tip of Caramoan Peninsula are related to the inhabitants of the southwest portion of Catanduanes. They make regular sea crossings even in the olden days.

The San Miguel Bay area which is horseshoe-shaped and which extends from Pambujan to Siruma and sealed at the entrance by the Caningo island is another separate fishing ground. Here, the Naga sub-dialect predominates.

The Camarines Norte seas up to the Calagua islands is another separate fishing ground. Bicol Daet dominates the eastern Camarines Norte town.

The area west of Naga City that speaks Bicol Naga is dominated by the lower portion of the Bicol River Basin (the portion nearer the sea). The meandering rivers here that irrigates the vast rice plains is also the old transportion route and this is connected up to the mouth of San Miguel Bay near Cabusao. The landing area near the Naga public market is a remnant of this artery.

This is the historical reason why Bicol Naga and Bicol Legazpi is very similar. As do the other dialects in the northern coast of Bicol.