Impressive FB Harrison and Guiguinto Connection

Guiguinto is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan. From a predominantly agricultural area, it gradually develops into a highly urbanized town. Guiguinto is dubbed as the garden capital of the Philippines, where you can buy different types of indoor and ornamental plants. Guiguinto is also known for the Halamanan Festival, a thanksgiving for the good harvest and remembrance of the patron saint of Guiguinto, San Ildefonso held every 23rd of January.

Guiguinto is the birthplace of Constancio De Guzman, a known composer for writing songs like “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and “Bayan Ko.”

There’s this little-known story about Francis Burton Harrison and his contribution to Philippine history, as well as how the town of Guiguinto became an independent municipality. Find out who FB Harrison is and his connection to Guiguinto through this article.

A Short History of Guiguinto

According to historians, the town of Guiguinto already existed even before the Spaniards came, and its original or ancient name is “Mayi/Ma-Yi.” When the Spanish conquistadors came, they renamed and classified the town as “La encomienda de Guiguinto.”

A Short History of Balagtas or Big Double-A (Bigaa) -- from Late 1500's to Present 1
Screenshot grabbed from Miguel de Loarca’s Relacion de las Isla Filipinas, 1582

Spanish historian Miguel de Loarca (author of Relacion de las Isla Filipinas, 1582) and other manuscripts like Relación de las encomiendas existentes en Filipinas el día 31 de mayo de 1591 años, wrote it as Encomienda de Guiguinto/Guinguinto.

History of Balagtas
Page 51 of Relación de las encomiendas existentes en Filipinas el día 31 de mayo de 1591 años

Encomienda means a large estate under the control of a Spaniard. An encomienda (from Spanish encomendar, “to entrust”) consisted of a grant by the crown to a conquistador, a soldier, an official, or others of a specified number of “Indios” (Native Filipinos) living in a particular area.

The encomienda system started in 1571 when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi became the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies, including Las Islas Filipinas (The Philippine Islands) other Pacific islands. It was implemented in Spanish America and the Philippines to take care of the economic and spiritual welfare of the natives.

Read A Short History of Balagtas or Big Double-A (Bigaa) — from Late 1500’s to Present

Guiguinto was officially established as a Pueblo in 1641. The word pueblo is the Spanish word both for “town” or “village” and for “people.” It comes from the Latin root word populus meaning “people.”

In 1903, the twenty-five (25) municipalities of Bulacan were reduced and consolidated down to thirteen (13). Among these, Guiguinto became part of the Municipality of Bulacan (Bulakan) until 1914.

FB Harrison and Guiguinto Connection

On December 24, 1914, Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison issued Order Ejecutiva No. 126 (Executive Order No. 126), separating Guiguinto from the Municipality of Bulakan. Hence, on January 1, 1915, Guiguinto started to be recognized as an independent municipality with Antonio Figueroa as its first “municipal president.”

How FB Harrison became a Filipino Citizen

President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America appointed Francis Burton Harrison as Governor-General of the Philippines. FB Harrison served in the country from 1913 to 1921. He was previously a congressman of New York from 1903 to 1913, a great legislator, before being sent to the Philippines in 1913.

Impressive FB Harrison and Guiguinto Connection 1
FB Harrison (Photo courtesy of George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress)

When FB Harrison saw the condition of the Philippines and the lives of Filipinos, his heart was touched. He tried to help those promoting independence. Harrison has made many reforms for the country, and the Jones Law is one of them. The Jones Law provides greater political participation and tenure for Filipinos.

This angered the American Conservatives, and they said Harrison does not serve the greater interest of America in the Philippines. And here, Harrison became close to the Filipinos and distant from his fellow Americans. As a result, Harrison settled abroad, on an estate in Scotland and at resorts on the Mediterranean after his term in 1921.

In 1935 President Quezon contacted FB Harrison and asked him to return to the country to assist him as an advisor of national affairs. Harrison agreed, and President MLQ made way for him to become a Filipino Citizen.

Impressive FB Harrison and Guiguinto Connection 2
FB Harrison and MLQ (Photo from marinduquegov.blogspot.com)

Harrison was an advisor to Presidents Osmeña, Roxas, and Quirino until 1955. Because of his contribution, the Philippines became the 2nd most developed country in Asia during the 1950s. Unfortunately, he died in 1957 in New Jersey at the age of 83.

FB Harrison’s last wish indicated that his remains would be buried in the Philippines. He chose the Manila North Cemetery and not at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Fort Bonifacio (formerly known as Camp McKinley), Taguig City, as his final resting place. He wanted to be buried with the Filipinos and not with the Americans.

FB Harrison's Tomb
FB Harrison’s tomb in Manila North Cemetery (Photo from naquem.blogspot.com)

His wish was granted and given a state funeral in Manila. The Filipino people mourned the passing of Harrison, an American with a Filipino heart. He is nicknamed the American who is a Filipino Stateman. In his honor, Pasay City and Baguio City paid tribute to FB Harrison St. and Harrison Road’s naming in these two cities.

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