Maestre De Campo
The Island of Sibale
Municipality of Concepcion
Province of Romblon
Excerpted from the Article Written by Emmanuel G. Fallarme Sr. published in the “Balik-Sibale’85” Souvenir Program
Early Spanish Period:
The island of Maestre de Campo is situated on a strategic position of the Philippine Archipelago, in the sense that by drawing a line from north to south and east to west it is right in the intersection.
The name of the island “Maestre de Campo” is likely derived from Martin de Goite’s Master of Camp or Maestre de Campo of General Lopez de Legaspi. He chanced to drop by the island during his trip to Manila.
To most people, the island is known as “Sibale” a name unfamiliar to many strangers for it does not appear in the map, instead a geographic name “Maestre de Campo”, a Spanish phrase which means “Master of Camp” appears. How Sibale got its name, the story narrates.
During the Spanish period a geographical survey of the archipelago for record purposes was conducted and by chance the surveyors anchored in the island’s shore. The Spanish soldier ask the natives how the place is called for record purposes. The frightened natives in muttering dialect answered back “Si Bale” which is a manifestation of denial or non-cooperation with the soldier making the inquiry. One of the soldiers repeated the phrase with the information that such is the place’s name, “Ah, Sibale”. Present day critics regarded the name appropriate, cognizant of the natural beauty of the place which is general attraction to local and foreign tourist.
The place is more popular by the name Concepcion, a name given by a Spanish clergy who was then assigned Parish Priest of Banton, Romblon, under which Sibale was religiously attached in honor of the Patron Saint Immaculate Concepcion. A story recounts that the image of this Patron Saint presently enthroned in the Concepcion Church is a personal belonging of Don Salvador Robledo, a Spanish Conquistadores. It was originally mounted in the altar of his palatial house and it was later on transferred to the town’s church when Don Salvador Robledo returned to Spain and settled there for the rest of his life. This Patron Saint, many said, is miraculous. There were stories narrated that early morning church-goers noticed that the vestment worn by the Saint’s effigy is stucked with “amorsicos”, a certain kind of grass. It is further believed that this patron saint wanders on the hill just above the town during moonlight nights.
In the year 1850, Don Salvador de Rubio, a descendant of the original encomiendo brought to the island some hundreds of Chinese coolies to clear the forest in an effort to make it productive. He founded a settlement in Suyor, a place located 600 meters west of the town site. Remnants of the once upon a time palace of European motiff could still be found in the place where it was erected. Just about 300 meters from his house is the spring known as “Tinigiban”. Don Salvador used to go bathing in the particular spring. The name Tinigiban is the contracted form of Visayan term “Tinigiban” which means chiselled. By paying a visit to the place you can still find the Tinigiban which will remind you of the mirror once fit in to afford anybody a lifesize view of himself.
No information written or by word of mouth can be gathered from the settlers as to how they were governed.
Past Spanish Period:
On July 2, 1907 the island was made a part of Mindoro as a township or aldea. The state of affairs continued until March 15, 1919 of Administrative Code of 1907 which abolished the township and municipal districts were organized making Maestre de Campo a regular municipality of the province of Romblon. The annexation of Maestre de Campo to Romblon is a truce between the late Assemblyman Juan Luna of Mindoro and Don Leonardo Festin of Romblon to make Romblon a regular province. Romblon was then part of Capiz.
On March 16, 1924, Act 3131 was again passed authorizing the segregation of the Municipality of Concepcion from Romblon and once more annex the same to Mindoro. This act however was disapproved and Concepcion remained a part of the Romblon Province.
With the enactment of Commonwealth Act of 1938, the municipality of Concepcion became part of the Municipality of Maghali, a council of district until the outbreak of the Second World War. Mr. Antonio Fallarme was appointed District Councilor and Alfonso S. Fallarme as the Ayunatamiento Secretary. With the repeal of Commonwealth Act 581 in 1947 Concepcion was again made an independent municipality of Romblon.
The Japanese Occupation:
On May 1943 the island of Sibale was under the absolute control of the Japanese that landed in Agbatang (now San Pedro). There was no prior notice of their coming so the settlers were not able to prepare a escape.
On November of the same year another group of army came in search of a certain Malvar Festin who had with him a receiver and are relaying radio set.
Again on December 4, 1943 the Japanese soldiers infiltrated the town. Obedient and fearful by nature, the Sibalenhons submitted themselves to the Japanese soldiers for confinement in the Gabaldon School Building and the weak and the aged were housed in the church. The confinement lasted for two nights and three days. There was no fatality however except the late Enrique Fallarme who was brutally manhandled and a certain Hermogenes Faigmani who was hot but luckily enough to escape death from a pit pong bullet.
The island of Sibale was a scene of aerial and naval battle. Early in 1944 a Japanese destroyer in comouflage was bombed inside the bay by the U.S. Hell Divers. It was part of the fleet of the Japanese Imperial Navy which took part in naval encounter at the Gulf of Leyte. With direct and pinpoint bombing conducted by the U.S. Hell Divers, the ship sanked down in the deep-watery grave of Concepcion Bay. A warship heading to the south was intercepted by an American plane turning the ship into a raging inferno a kilometer off Calabasahan drifting ashore 10 Japanese survivors which was later liquidated by civilian volunteers headed by Sgt. Gaudencio S. Fallarme and Lt. Alfonso Fallame, USAFFE.
The Difficult Years:
In November 1951, a strong typhoon lashed the island. The typhoon known as Wanda left in its path a swath of destruction rendering extensive damage to all forms of lives and properties. Houses were flattened like cardboards, plants were uprooted, coconut trees were severely destroyed, and scores of animal were found dead making Sibale in state of total desolation. In the opinion of the old folks it was the strongest typhoon that visited the island, much stronger than that of 1913.
Another catastrophe occurred In January 19, 1959 when the whole town was reduce into cinders. Except for five houses and the church all were burned to ashes. Presently, modern and concrete houses could be seen as a replacement of the houses that were burned.
The fact that Sibale is a passageway of boats coming from Luzon bound to the south, there is a possibility that General Emilio Aguinaldo incidentally dropped anchor in the island during his trip to Ferrol, Tablas Island where he saw and enamored by the charm of Miss Maria Kemuel who was wading knee-deep on the shore and frolicking with the waves. He whould have married Maria Kemuel of Ferrol had his mother did not forbid him to go back to Ferrol.
On December 19, 1964, first in the history of this place, the people of Sibale was host to no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Diosdado Macapagal.
From then on, to the present is characterized by economic and social upheaval. God willing, with its aspiring leaders and settlers it will come to be a fully developed town.