: Father Simon de Urdaneta(?)
One hundred twelve years ago,
January 8, 1858 to be exact, in the near eastern part of
Pangasinan, a municipality was born. History has not been clear
on how her name came about. The name links her to that famous
aide of Magellan, Father Simon de Urdaneta, soldier, navigator,
cosmographer and evangelist, after whom she has been named.
It is not surprising that she was
named after Father Urdaneta because it was another priest who
helped found her, Father Nicolas Manrique Alonzo with the help
of hardy pioneers from the Ilocos provinces. The beginning was
the clearing of a vast forest that was Urdaneta then followed by
the erection of the Urdaneta Roman Catholic church and convent.
The fruition of such bold undertaking of both ministers of faith
and the settlers was a flourishing village organized into a town
under the headship of Don Tomas Manzano in 1837, who was
designated Capitan. The seat of government which is better known
by its present-day English equivalent as "tribunal"
was the old convent. And Urdaneta was launched as a town.
The inception of the town brought
forth its final inauguration as a municipality the following
year, with its own town hall, the Capitan Municipal, Don
Florentino Benito. Capitan Benito was followed by an impressive
array of local historical greats as Capitan, with Don Ignacio
Fangon as the last of the Capitanes. At the turn of the century
with the American Occupation, the American concept of government
was introduced - elective municipal executives took over the
reins of the town one after the other as Municipal Presidents.
The first Municipal President was Don Benito Belmonte.
With the start of moves for
self-government for the country, and the passage of the
Tydings-McDuffie law by the United States congress, the era of
Municipal Presidents, which coincided with the conclusion of the
term of Atty. Wilfredo G. Ambrosio in 1936, ended to give way to
the Municipal Mayors. So it was that the Philippine Commonwealth
was born, and with it came Urdaneta's first municipal mayor, Don
Patricio Abenojar, who also wound up the terms of municipal
mayors under the Commonwealth and opened a period of municipal
mayors under the Republic, in 1946.
Today, Urdaneta City serves as the
commercial center of eastern Pangasinan. It became a city in
1997 by virtue of RA 8480.#