HISTORY OF DAVAO – Oyanguren and Magsaysay

By Antonio V. Figueroa
One of the city roads standing out due to its historical link is the former Uyanguren (Oyanguren) street, which stretches from Quirino Avenue to the tip of Quezon Boulevard. It is one of two thoroughfares (the other is Claveria) opened during the early development of Davao, which was an area of settlers who joined the Oyanguren voyage.
Before Oyanguren and Claveria, there were only parallel roads, namely Magallanes, San Pedro, and Rizal (we cannot figure out its original name), and the streets of Legazpi, Anda, and Bolton, which was a trail. To the western end of San Pedro was the old cemetery (where Oyanguren was buried), while on the other end was San Pedro Chapel.
It was only during US colonial rule that Bolton Street, in memory of the assassinated American governor of Davao, and Rizal Street, were given their ‘official’ identities. About this time the old Escario Street (now Bonifacio) was also opened, creating what could be considered as the first systematic adoption of a plan resembling today’s urban planning and development.

Oyanguren, the judge
Recognized as the conqueror of Datu Bago, Jose Cruz Maria Ibarzabal y Oyanguren, was born on May 2, 1800 to peasant parents in Villa de Bergara, Guipuzcoa Province, in northern Spain. He enrolled at the Real Seminaria de Bergara where stayed for six years, and was a student of law. Three years later he was exiled to Guam due to his maverick political stance but managed to request for transfer to the Philippines.
When Oyanguren arrived in Manila in 1825, Spanish rule in the country was on the decline. His links with Basque officials in the colonial government in Manila while in exile served him in good stead. He was issued three ships which he used for opening trade with the Provincias de Moras (Moro Province) in the 1830s. It was in one of his sorties in Tandag that he met Maria Luisa Azaola, daughter of a capitan general. The two agreed to live together as partners because Oyanguren, a Catholic, could not marry because he had a wife in Spain.
After a decade of stay in the country, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, where he earned his Bachiller en Leyes course in only two years. In 1939 he accepted the position of juez de primera of Tondo, Manila, which he held until 1846 when he was forced to relinquish the judgeship after a Madrid appointee was installed.
This frustrating episode brought him back to his previous business engagements in Palawan and the Caraga region. It was during these mercantile travels that he was apprised about the burning of the trading ship San Rufo in Davao Gulf, which eventually led to the conquest of Davao.

Deathbed nuptial
On his deathbed, Oyanguren, according to records at the San Pedro Cathedral archives, married Maria “mismo el dia antes ala una y media” at 1:30 in the afternoon of Oct. 10, 1858, on the day before he died. Fr. Celedonio Pardos solemnized the nuptial, presumably with the confirmation that his first wife in Spain had died. His certificate of burial is dated Oct. 11, 1858.
The official entry states: En once dias del mes de Octubre del año del Señor mil ochocientos cincuenta y ocho yo J. Celedonio Pardos, enterre en el cementerio de Bergara el cadaver de D. JOSE OYANGUREN Español adulto natural de Bergara Provincia de Guipuzcoa casado con Dña. Luis Azaola mismo el dia antes ala una y media. Y por verdad firmo ut supra.
Oyanguren, as a street name, was removed following the approval of Resolution No. 413, which the City Council enacted in 1963. The edict came out as a result of the construction of the Magsaysay monument on a reclaimed area adjacent to Santa Ana Pier, the first port under the American rule. No historical event has closely associated Magsaysay with Davao, save for the fact that he was Philippine president.

Magsaysay, the mechanic
On the other hand, Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash on March 17, 1957, at Mt. Manunggal, in Cebu, was an automobile mechanic and war veteran before becoming military governor of Zambales.
For two terms he served as congressman of Zambales before accepting the appointment as Secretary of National Defense during the Quirino administration. In 1953 he won as President over the incumbent leadership, and the first national leader to be born in the 20th century.
He was known to be a close friend of the United States and a strong mouthpiece against the evolving communist movement. He is credited for laying the foundation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), also known as the Manila Pact of 1954, and was popular among the common tao as the ‘Guy.’

Pre-public life
Born in Iba, Zambales, on August 31, 1907, Magsaysay attended the University of the Philippines before moving to the Institute of Commerce at José Rizal College (1928-1932), where he obtained a Commerce degree. When war broke out, he joined the motor pool of the 31st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA), became a captain, and was part of the contingent that cleared the Zambales coast from Japanese threats.
During his presidency, the central theme of his leadership was the enactment of an agrarian reform law that led to the distribution of roughly 40,000 hectares for settlement and farming purposes. True to his desire to bring closer the public to his administration, he set up a protocol to hear and address citizen grievances, and maintained repute for virtuousness throughout his leadership.
His four-year presidency was “considered one of the cleanest and most corruption-free.”In his honor, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, the Nobel Prize equivalent in Asia, was founded; it gets its funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The award recognizes integrity and courage among individuals and organizations in Asia.

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