BRIDGING THE GAP
The great triumvirate of Capiz
It has always been said that the history of a nation is, by and large, the story of its great leaders. Great leaders always make history, although it can also be said that history produces great men. This is especially true when we think of our country's history or the history of our towns and provinces. We recall how our patriots were influenced by their time under the Spanish and American rulers and, in turn, how they also shaped our country's destiny.
The province of Capiz can also be proud of its great leaders. Among them, Esteban Contreras, Jose Altavas and Manuel Roxas, considered to be the triumvirate of Capiz' political history.
Gen. Esteban Contreras (1864-1904) was the leader of the revolutionary forces in Capiz that fought against the Spaniards and, later, the Americans. He organized his army under the guise of an evening party where there were music and dancing. He led the struggle in Capiz which started earlier than the other revolutionary movements in the rest of Western Visayas. General Contreras and his men fought a running battle with the Spaniards and the Americans for more than four years. After his surrender in March 1901, he returned to farming and fishing. He died in 1904 in Casanayan, Pilar, Capiz of fever.
Sen. Jose Altavas (1877-1952) was a great politician, statesman and a man of letters. He fought against the Spaniards at a young age of 20 under the leadership of Santiago Bellosillo. He was a man of letters and a newspaperman - and wrote poems in Spanish. He recorded his memoirs consisting of 54 volumes where he wrote of events during his lifetime.
Altavas started his political career as a town councilor of Capiz Then he became a member of the Capiz provincial board and delegate to the First Philippine Assembly from 1902 to 1909. He was elected governor of Capiz for two terms, 1907 to 1916 and was elected senator from 1916 to 1922.
Altavas introduced many government projects in Capiz, constructed the provincial capitol in 1916 along with several bridges and highways that connected Aklan to Capiz.
Manuel Roxas, the first president of the Second Philippine Republic graduated valedictorian from high school, finished law at U.P., and topped the bar examinations in 1913. His first public position was that of a councilor in the town of Capiz. Then, he was elected governor at 27, and a member of the House of Representatives at 29. This was followed by his election as Speaker of the House of Representatives at 31 years of age, a position he held for 12 years.
Roxas was instrumental in drafting the 1935 Constitution and authored the first National Defense Act to prepare for self-reliance. He was appointed as Secretary of Finance in 1928. He was elected senator and was chosen president of the Philippine Senate, the only person at that time to have chaired both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In 1946, Roxas was elected as the last president of the Commonwealth and the first president of the Republic of the Philippines. As president, he laid the foundation for the Rehabilitation Finance Corp., the forerunner of the Development Bank of the Philippines. He passed away in April 1948 at the age of 56.