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 Gapan During the Revolt Against Spain
Excerpted from: "Birth of An Army" (Publ. by: Philippine Army)

The people's army at Antipolo and Uyungan of over 100 men with 32 revolvers and small cannons merged with the Masuyod contingent, and placed themselves under the overall command of General Kiko (alias Labe), a lieutenant of Bonifacio. With renewed vigor, the Katipuneros, armed with bolos and spears, and a few captured Remingtons, set off for San Mateo, and attacked the town. General Mariano Gutierrez and his Tungko troops, Bonifacio ordered, surrounded San Mateo. The enemy forces were at the convent and parish house of the church, and they had six cannons. General Malinis and De la Cruz gave orders to fire and a furious exchange of fire from guns and cannons ensued the whole day until late in the afternoon. Along the Langka river the Supremo ordered his soldiers to make effigies from banana trunks and straw scarecrows. With KKK hats on the effigies, the duped enemy wasted bullets on these dummies. Routed, the Spaniards fled leaving San Mateo to the triumphant rebels. This was the first significant victory of the Revolutionary Army over the Colonial forces.

But three days later, fresh Spanish troops arrived to regain the area. After bitter fighting, Bonifacio and his troops retreated to Balara, and engaged in another skirmish with the enemy. Bonifacio almost lost his life in saving his comrade Emilio Jacinto. The Supremo's collar was pierced by an enemy bullet in that battle known as Labanan sa Tubuhan.

The defeat did not stop Bonifacio from pursuing the armed revolution, as around him public order was slowly collapsing. Simmering resentment against Spanish rule exploded into terrible violence as Filipinos took up arms against their colonial masters. The revolt quickly spread to San Pedro de Makati, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig, Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Cavite. In Nueva Ecija, katipuneros led by Mariano Llanera, Municipal Capitan of Cabiao, and Pantaleon Belmonte, Municipal Capitan of Gapan, wearing red ribbons, launched an assault on San Isidro, capital of the province. Backed up by a band playing to stir them up, Llanera's troops besieged the town and seized it from the Spaniards. It took some time for the Spaniards in the province, taken by surprise at the scale of the uprising, for them to gather sufficient reinforcements led by Major Lopez Arteaga to arrive at the scene of battle. All-night fighting followed. This time, the Spanish army prevailed as they retook the capital.

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Our Beloved Gapan - A Short History

Excerpted from "Our Beloved Gapan - An Open Letter"
Author: Efren Pascual, NESHS '58 Alumnus
Publisher: NESHS '58 1998 Reunion Commemorative Magazine, May 1998

Based on written accounts, the first mission from Spainócomposed of four Catholic priests, Fathers Contreras, Tendilla, Caballo and Salazarówas established in the year 1595. The mission took as its first task the clearing of forestlands in the province of Pampanga. One of the areas that they cleared became Gapan.

Bucana: main gateway to Gapan. [Click pic for full size]

During that time, Gapan was known as Ibon (Bird). One day, according to historic accounts, while some Spanish soldiers were wandering around the forest, they came about some natives who were on their knees, as if crawling (Pagapang), while clearing the forest. Wanting to find out where they exactly were, the soldiers asked the natives the name of that particular place.

The "laryuhan" area near Bucana. [Click pic for full size]
The natives, not understanding the Spanish language, presumed they were being asked what they were doing and responded by saying Gumagapang kami, ("We are crawling"). The Spanish soldiers went on their way thinking that they were told that the name of the place was Gapang. At the turn of the century, the last letter G was dropped and the town since then became known as Gapan.

The original Gapan included the towns of Penaranda, General Tinio and San Leonardo (all in Nueva Ecija) and San Miguel (in Bulacan). Gapan has a total land area of 155.9 square kilometers or 15.590 hectares more or less.

Bottom: The Gapan-San Leonardo Bridge. [Click pic for full size] . . . Right: "Inang Bayan" monument - a town landmark.

It has today passed the 100,000-population level, 90% of which are Catholics and 10% are from different sects. Gapan, having only one rural bank some years before, now has 14 banks, 40 groceries and 8 drug stores. Gapan is also now classified as a first class municipality.
Right: Gapan's Municipal Building. [Click pic for full size]

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"Birhen Divina Pastora and Gapan: A History"
Source: Samahang Gapan's 25th Anniversary Magazine

Divina Pastora is synonymous with the town of Gapan. Suffice it to say the town of Gapan in Nueva Ecija is particularly famous because of Birhen Divina Pastora.

In 1595, Fathers Contreras, Tendillo, Caballo and Salazar, all Augustinian priests, managed to curve out a settlement in the thick forest of the Sierra Madre mountains in Luzon which was later known as the pueblo of Gapan. Fothwith, they built a small chapel and convent alongside the presidencia, and were used as their station on their way to their missions in Cagayan, Isabela and Baler. Not long after, Gapan was created into a parish with the Magi or Three Kings as its principal patron saints.

The Augustinian chronicle in the 16th century mentioned that sometime in the early part of 1700, an Augustinian priest brought to Gapan a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Spain. He called the image Birhen Divina Pastora because the surroundings of Gapan was largely a grazing ground for animals like horses, carabaos, sheeps, cows, etc. He started the devotion to the Virgin Mary, which rapidly spread throughout Gapan and as far as Candaba, Pampanga and Aliaga, Nueva Ecija.

For some unknown reasons, this Birhen Divina Pastora statue was lost before the end of the 18th century. All attempts to look for the missing statue failed. In 1850, while some shepherds and farmers were on their way to a shade of a tree, they saw an image of the statue. The statue depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary robed in blinking white, her head covered with a wide-brimmed hat, one hand holding a cane and the other tapping a sheep resting on her lap. The statue was only one and a half feet tall. They notified the landowner what they saw and when they all came back to that same spot, indeed there was really statue. They held a procession of the statue, took it to the parish church where it was venerated in the main altar.

Not long after the enthronement of the statue of the Birhen Divina Pastora, a spring gushed forth in the main altar of the church. Miraculous cures were told and retold by thousand of devotees attributing these miracles to the intercession of the Birhen Divina Pastora. The news about the miracles spread far and wide into the northern provinces of Luzon. Unfortunately, the spring dried up in the early 1940s when some unscrupulous people started to commercialize it. However, the Lord continues to perform miracles through the intercession of Birhen Divina Pastora.

The statue of Birhen Divina Pastora has always been considered as the property of the Valmonte family of Gapan. Through the untiring effort of Msgr. Felix Hernandez, former parish priest of Gapan, the family o got motivated to give it to the Three Kings Parish on Febuary 19, 1986.

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 Last modified: 05/20/09