Legend on How the Town of San Rafael got its Name
Long before the Spaniards came, the unit of government was the barangay, composed of several household grouping. In one of these barangays belonged a man who earned his living by catch fish in the river. One night, in his deep slumber, he dreamt that he could cure the sick with the liver of the fish he caught. The following morning, he happened to pass by a neighbor’s hose, where an aged man was ill in bed. He applied the liver on the painful stomach and after some moments the old man was able to get up from bed. Since then, he became a famous medicine man. Every day his house was filled by those who wish to be healed.
Then the Spaniards came to rule the Islands. To carry out their mission of spreading the Catholic faith, several missionaries traveled from one place to another to teach the gospel of Christ.
When the missionaries came to the place where the medicine man lived, they were attracted by the presence of many people going to his house. When they learned that the place is noted because of the medicine man, they named the place in honored of St. Rafael, who is a medical practitioner and whose feast day is October 24. Since then the town has been called San Rafael.
History under the Spanish Regime
San Rafael was created as PUEBLO in 1750. Raymundo Viola was the first Known Capitan Municipal Hermogenes de Borja was the last of the Capitanes.
The people of San Rafael felt the tremors of the Philippine Revolution of 1896.&mnsp The San Rafael church still stands as the silent witness of the bloody battles that the Filipino insurgents fought. This church was used as a military barrack for almost three days, after the insurgents had destroyed all papers and documents they found in the convents. When the Spanish Casadores learned of these rebellious activities, they entered the church and fought the insurgents. The combatants fought heavily inside the church to a point that blood was spilled all over the church floor. The patio in front of the church was littered by dead bodies of Filipino insurgents. The governadorcillo ordered people to dig a common grave near the church for the bodies of the insurgents.
History under the American Regime
The Americans succeeded the Spaniards with their policy of benevolent assimilation. Schools were established as a potent factor for pacification. In 1903, schools were opened in San Rafael. The municipal building was used as a school house. Since then with the supervision of the American administrators, San Rafael has enjoyed the blessings of education and the progress which was denied to them during the three –century rule of the Spaniards.
In 1899, the Americans incorporated the town to Baliwag when Baliwag was intended to be the Provincial Capital of Bulacan. However, due to a number of petitions of the people of San Rafael, especially when the plan to make Baliwag the capital of Bulacan did not materialize, the Americans where convinced to separate San Rafael as an independent town from Baliwag. Mr. Julian V. Valte was appointed to be the first Presidente Municipal of San Rafael, and Mr. Emilio Reyes was the last.
In the year 1924 and 1927, with the help of some influential men, the Spaniards were able to get the signatures of the land owners of San Rafael and San Ildefonso to an agreement purporting to show their willingness to donate their lands to the Hospital of San Juan de Dios.
Thus the town of San Rafael and San Ildefonso became properties of the hospital and started to be called Hacienda de Buenavista until 1944, when it got back its original name.
For three terrible years, the town was under the rule of cruel enemy. Socio –economic, educational and religious programs were largely non-existent. The people were deprived of their properties, food, supplies and shelter. They were forced or resorted to eat camote, were jute sacks and tattered clothed. The people of San Rafael evacuated to Upig, Licheria, Coral na Bato and Camachile. Schools were closed and the church was ordered to stop performing its religious duties.
In May, 1942, the Japanese government opened schools and introduced the teaching of Nipongo. Japanese education condemned anything American, tried to inject Japanese culture and to teach to Filipinos the idea East-Asia Co-Prosperity under the Japanese influence. However the people of San Rafael refused to be subjected to Japanese authority and they organized and joined small guerilla bands and harassed the units of the Japanese army stationed in the town whenever there was a chance to do so. These small, organized guerillas in San Rafael later became members of BMA (Bulacan Military Area).
When the American forces landed in Leyte in October, 1944, the Japanese became more brutal. Hundreds met their death in the hands of the enemy. One cruel incident occurred at Barrio Pulo. Men and women who were assembled where tied together, dynamites were strapped to many of them and these were later on forcibly were mercilessly donated by the Japanese. A lone survivor, Marcelo Mangahas, told the world of the gory incident. Other atrocities followed. However, the unity of the people of San Rafael and the heroism of the guerillas prevented further casualties and destruction. When the Americans arrived, they found San Rafael liberated by the courageous guerillas that were mostly from San Rafael.
The whole period of being under three foreign powers infused various cultural influences into people’s life
The Spaniards influenced the people’s lives with both good and bad traits: the ability to bear pains, the coyness in women, the religiosity and even the indolence of the people.
The Americans implanted into the people’s mind the high value of education, the love of individual freedom, the quality of all, and the idea of self reliance best portrayed in the town’s first practice of self government.
The Japanese, in their three-year occupation, made the people realize the harsh realities of war, the evil of fanatical obedience to dictatorial rule but also the courage to standup in defense of one’s rights as a free individual.
These foreign influences are playing vital roles in the life as presently lived by San Rafael folks. In fact, these are the foundations of their character their attitude towards life in general. Life in San Rafael is indelibly stamped with these influences.