Maasin got its name from a salt spring in barangay Magsaysay more or less two kilometers from the Poblacion. The early settlers used to go spring for needed supply of salt.
It was in the early 1730’s that the Augustinians were sent to the area of Maasin to evangelize the residents. By 1752 they had begun to build their first stone church in the area – it was to become St James the Greater Church. Unfortunately, that’s about all the history of this place we have been able to develop to this point. We first visited the Church in March of 2014 and since then, try as hard as we have, our sporadic investigations have led to ABSOLUTELY ZERO. No further historical information whatsoever. Although there are one or two sources we haven’t tapped yet; and they are:
- SWMbO’s (she who must be obeyed’s) relative: Sister Nilda Palomo who is the Principal at the High School next door to the Church, and
- the Archivist at the Mill Hill Fathers’ Compound in Molo. Both these emminent people may have some additional information we could use. We plan on contacting them in the coming several weeks and will report any findings.
In 1775, Maasin acquired town status with appointment of Don S H Agustin Garcia as its first Captain. When the Americans arrived the town was made the arrabal of Cabatuan in April 1903, although it was not financial viable. However, the town leaders entitle for the purpose of separation of Maasin, Don Vicente Malaga represented the municipal District to the council in Cabatuan. Maasin regained its old status as an independent municipality when the late governor Francis Burton Harrison eventually appointed Don Vicente Malaga as the first MunicipalPresident in 1916.
Since it was founded 216 years ago, Maasin has grown from scattered villages to a spreading terminal town. It is a 3rd class municipality as of July 29, 2005 with rugged topography. Bamboo Crafts Industry is the major industry of Maasin, the residents derived much income from sawali industry and other handicrafts made of bamboos.
Maasin is known as being the premier Bamboo producing area in the region. Town artisans produce many varieties of bamboo based products such as furniture, wall coverings, musical instruments and even items of clothing. It is all quite impressive and this diversity is celebrated annually during the Tultugan Festival.
Set one day before the town fiesta, Tultugan Festival, the 29th of December, annually, features competition of tribes and street dancing with participants wearing native costumes made of bamboo as dominant material and dancing to the live beats of bamboo instruments.
Tultugan comes from the root word Tultug, an action verbalizing the act of playing sound on bamboo. Usually this is rendered through a bamboo stick striking it against the body of the bamboo, thus becoming a rhythmic instrument called Tultugan.
This is classified in ethno-musicological term as idiophone because the source of sound is the body of the instrument being used as percussion in contrast to the membranophone where a membrane or animal skin is being struck as a drum.
You’re probably asking yourself why is he spending so much time writing on the bamboo business, aren’t we here to see the Church? Be patient – all will become clear soon enough.Remember, earlier I mentionned that we weren’t able to get much historical information about the Church…as the ‘guy’ once said: “So I have to write about something!!”
As you can see from this photo and the ones to follow showcase the work of the local artisans with the bamboo raw materials of the region. The Church is truly beautiful with the panels highlighting the intricate bamboo work of the natives.
It’s important to remember that all the wood work in the Church is bamboo or bamboo by-products that are all locally sourced…and fabricated by the local artisans.
In the courtyard, just to the east of the Church itself within the compound is the Convento and the various parish offices…
Closer to the compound entrance is a wall of burial chambers which appears to be the final resting place of some members of the leading families in the community as well as some of the Fathers who have served the Parish in the past years.
Next door to the Church Compound is the Compound occupied by the St James High School operated by the Daughters of Jesus (Hijas de Jesus). Unbeknownest to me a cousin of “She Who Must be Obeyed” is the Superior of this particular School as well as the School in Cabatuan. We will be visiting Sister Nilda and her colleagues when we return to Maasin and Cabatuan in the next week or so. Nilda has promised us lunch and when she does that you just can’t miss it…it’s always so delish!! And her company and that of her fellow sisters is always an interesting and fun experience. I for one, am really looking forward to it.
If you head west from the Plaza facing the Church and school, a five (5) minute walk takes you to the foot of Gines Hill, where if you climb the 160 steps you will go through the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross until you reach the top of the ‘mountain’ and are greeted by a statue of the Sacred Heart and a magnificent view of the town site and the countryside in the distance.
They say it’s only 160 steps, for me, it was a huge workout trying to reach the top of Gines Hill. I made it only as far as the 4th station about 20% of the way up. I was beat and had to turn over the camera to Joemarie and Nilo who headed to the top – they know what we’re looking for and as usual they did the job properly. I waited for them at the bottom of the Hill and it seemed like an eternity, it was really only about 40 minutes in all so for someone with health challenges you can make it up and down in about an hour.
There I am waiting for their return, Joemarie appeared first and Nilo was not far behind, still taking pictures. Once we reunited at the bottom, we decided to head home…after a good day on the road…