San Fernando 1st socialist mayor remembered

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO–”Without our heroes we will not be enjoying our freedom today.”
Thus, said Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, during the 118th birth anniversary commemoration of Vivencio Cuyugan at the local hero’s ancestral house in Barangay del Pilar here on Sunday.
Rodriguez led the commemoration ceremony together with Vice Mayor Edwin Santiago, relatives of the Cuyugan family, local officials and several residents at 8:30 a.m.
“Let us not forget our heroes. Bigyan natin ng parangal at pag-unita ang ating mga bayani. Obligasyon natin ito kung dahil sa kanila di natin matatamasa ang ating kalayaan dahil sa kanilang pakikipaglaban sa mga mga kaaway,” said Rodriguez.
Cuyugan worked in the United States to support his studies. While, in the US, he was jailed for his principles by depending the oppressed.
The Fernandino local hero was one of the voices of the oppressed, a mission he had lived even while in Chigago.
Later, he was acquitted and returned to the Philippines.
In the country, he became the defender of laborer, the landless and the peasant farmers. Although he belongs to the upper class he identified himself with lowly class and joined the Socialist Movement.
Shortly after his return in 1927, he was appointed municipal vice-president of San Fernando. And later he was elected and became the first mayor of the town under the Philippine Commonwealth. He was also the first socialist to be elected mayor in the country.
When the Japanese invaded the town, Cuyugan resigned as mayor and, together with known socialists like Pedro Abad Santos, Luis Taruc, Castro Alejandro, Mariano Sampang, Apung Banal and others, founded the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap). He was its first commander-in-chief.
Rodriguez said the Japanese used the sequestered Cuyugan residence as the temporary seat of the municipal government since the “municipio” was burned down. This adds to the historical significance of the house, he added.
After the war, Cuyugan was reinstated as mayor but was soon replaced due to his uncompromising position in defense of the continuing struggle of the Hukbalahap.
In his message, Rodriguez said, “We may have lost the Abad Santos house. There are many more structures worth saving in the City of San Fernando such as the residence of Vivencio Cuyugan. Each edifice has its own story to tell and little known accounts such as these make us value our historical and cultural heritage more than ever.”
In her response as representative of the Cuyugan Family, Fides Cuyugan, nationally known theater directress and actress, said “Thank you. This is most enlightening.” ●Froilan Magtoto
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