The phrase “Imperial of Albay” is usually associated with the terms “politicians”, “political clan”, “powerholders”, “patrons” and the like. In most cases, the association extends to something negative as the politicians from the Imperial clan are being blamed for the misfits of the province either because of sheer ignorance, pure hatred, or even jealousy. But unknown to most, especially the younger generations, the clan has also contributed a lot to the socio-economic (and sometimes, even political) development of Albay and the Bicol Region.
This piece does not seek to be a hagiography of the clan. Biklish is not conceived to be a venue for “praise releases”. Neither is Biklish intended to be a hate site. The objective of the piece is to present some patches of history that is never written in the pages of Bicol development. A portion of this piece will come out as a chapter in the book on local politics entitled “Breaking Local Monopolies of Power: The Case of the Imperials of the Province of Albay”. Other portions were also presented in the Philippine Political Science International Conference presented by this author in Dumaguete City.
It is to be admitted that the piece is incomplete and is still a work in progress. Funding constraints to do further research along with the lack of written documents to supplement some claims are among the hindering factors. But it is noteworthy that some members of the clan are contributing information which are helpful building blocks in the reconstruction of the crumpled pages of Bicol History.
The Early Generations
There are claims that the Imperials are from Spain. They came to the Bicol Region to take advantage of the era of colonization. No specific dates are available but my theory is they came sometime between the 17th and 18th centuries. The reason is that the love for Spain seemed to have dissipated in the 19th century Imperials as they hated the Spanish Crown by participating in the Philippine Revolution. Not unless the Imperials that came to Albay and the Bicolandia are sort of victims of injustice in their motherland. Thus, they hated Spain and they wanted to take revenge by driving their fellow Spaniards out of the Philippines. This, though, is less likely considering that prior to the First Philippine Revolution, the Imperials are beneficiaries of colonization being holders of large tracts of lands and being political powerholders. These, in addition to their being “illustrados” or highly educated elite.
Aside from having Spanish blood, the Imperials, also have Chinese blood. This was mentioned in passing by by Norman Owen, a US historian who had written a few papers regarding Bicol history. This is being corroborated by the fact that an Imperial lady was able to marry a Chinese General as will be shown later.
But as stated, there is a dearth of accounts written with regards the Imperials and even the Bicol history in general. For this, I will start with the brothers Paciano, David, and Elias all surnamed Imperials.
Paciano, David and Elias were all based in Legazpi, Albay. They were noted as elites but they participated in the first-ever revolution in the Philippines. Not only did they contributed amounts of money but they also participated in activities that led to the establishment of the Revolutionary Government of Albay sometime in 1898. This government was then headed by Anacleto Solano of Camalig. Under the government, Paciano was the Provincial Secretary, Elias was the Councilor for Revenue and David, the member of a revolutionary junta.
When Solano was replaced by Domingo Samson in an election, another Imperial in the person of Agripino (I am not sure of his relation with the three), was also elected as the presidente (an equivalent of today’s city or municipal mayor) of Legazpi. Agripino later vied for local posts in the province but failed.
Another a Imperial whose contribution was buried in history is Carolina, the sister of Paciano. It can be adduced that she also helped the Revolution that later led to her marriage with Gen. Ignacio Paua (also, Pawa). Paua was a full-blooded Chinese who became a blacksmith in the Philippines. He used his skill by producing guns for the revolutionaries that he was later tasked by Emilio Aguinaldo with the collection and generation of money to finance the revolution. In doing his job, he went to Albay, met Carolina, and got married. Paua settled in Albay and became one of the early municipal mayors of the Municipality of Manito.
(to be continued)