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The Jesuit priests were the first missionaries to arrive Samar in 1596. They discovered that the natives were scatteredly settled all over the island.
In the latter years of the Jesuits' era, pueblos or poblaciones were established which contained the church home parish and government house. Each poblacion had a head official called "Little Governor" or Captain. He was elected by the "principales" (principal citizens who were past Governadorcillos). The Governadorcillo was in charge of forty to fifty families called a barangay and was addressed as Cabeza de Barangay. During the time of the Jesuits, the natives were trading with the Chinese merchants who came to barter cloth, abaca, wax, honey and many other goods.
In 1868, the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish Empire and consequently, from the island of Samar. Father Alcina, a 17th century Jesuit priest, had noted that sixteen (16) pueblos had been established in which fifteen (15) were under a resident Jesuit priest. Tubig (now Taft), Borongan and Lanang (Llorente)* were among the duly constituted pueblos. Catholic rites, baptism and other religious practices were performed.
The Franciscan Fathers took over after the Jesuits left. In this era (1792), the people concentrated themselves in one place for protection against robbers and pirates. They used "bodyong," (an empty nautilus shell) they blow to call for help or warning for an impending harm. Juan Saromisum was considered at that time as the strongest leader. He was a quack doctor, a good fisherman and a farmer. He was also believed to posses "oracion" which helped him have a good catch or a good harvest.
The settlement in Libas was located along the bay and mountainside. It was noted for big trees locally called "Libas." Among the original settlers were: Pedro Singson, Benito Camartin, Guillermo Nibalvos, Juan Villareal, Temoteo Gerena and Juan Galang.
In 1840, Libas became a "pueblo." There were smaller settlements sorrounding Libas. Among them were Nena, Nonok, Putong, Pagbabangnan and Borot (now San Isidro).
Since Libas was too narrow for its growing population, some residents moved to "Nonok" and the original settlers were the families of Angelo Rebamontan and Juanito Laurente. In Nonok, population increased and expanded. It offered better harbor than Libas and it was nearer Borongan, an important pueblo which was the center of trade and industry.
In 1887, the principales of Libas formally declared the transfer of the seat of the government to Nonok and celebrate the patron saint of "Our Lady of Seven Dolors."
The parish priest, Father Julian Diaz, started the construction of the church made of stone bricks. He was well-loved by his parishioners that when he died in 1898, the town of Nonok got its name after Father Julian, hence the name San Julian.
Libas continued to celebrate the fiesta in honor of the patron saint during the month of September while San Julian chose July 16.
After Father Julian's death, there were several priests who succeeded him. In 1890, Father Luis Rodriguez; in 1901, Father Antonio Rodriguez replaced Father Luis Rodriguez. A succession of Franciscan fathers followed until the Filipino secular priests took over.
The Spanish-American War came, followed by Filipino-American war. In 1890, sub-Governor Leon Desoloc ordered the burning of the public buildings including private houses for the reason of hastening the stay of the American forces in the pueblo.
General Vicente Lucban's forces recruited men from the pueblo but there was no account of actual battle fought in the pueblo.
The peace of the town was disturbed upon the arrival of the band of brigades called "Pulahanes." They burned villages, robbed the people and raped the women. The Philippine Scouts built a camp at Campidhan to curtail the Pulahanes' movement.
In 1903, a cholera epidemic broke out in San Julian which strickened hundreds of victimes everyday. Similarly, in 1919, an epidemic of small pox followed in which an emergency hospital was constructed at Borot (San Isidro).
After sometime in 1940, the Japanese came and the people evacuated because they did not want to be under the Japanese rule. With the aid of the USAFFE, the American Forces, then Filipinos were liberated. Schools were opened and a Provincial Government was set up.
Presently, San Julian belongs to a third class community based on the economic map of the Philippines. It has a slow-pace progress because farmers depend only on rain. The populace never loved work and the malpractice of ningas-kugon, manana habit, bahala na and close family ties **are still prevalent.
*A clarification: the statement only avers of the towns being "amomg duly constituted pueblos." However, the towns were then of the Spanish rule and the word constituted is a misnomer. also, it might imply as the towns were the first major settlements, the distinction belongs to Borongan, Balangiga and Sulat.
**Another clarification: Whereas the phrase connotes of hindrances to the local community's progress, it is highly debatable that close family ties can be one. all the cited practices are accepted local idiosyncracies but the similarity ends there.
The study included here is an excerpt of the project "Liliputan Beach Resort At San Julian, Eastern Samar: A Tourist Resort in Progress. A Joint Project of the Professor and Graduate Students in Research Practicum and Theory and Practice in Ebucational Administration (Masteral Courses). By Josefina Bautista-Gravoso and Graduate Students at Leyte Institute of Technology.
A permission to include the piece is in progress and a all credits extended.