THE BARREN YEARS

Quesada spoke of the years from 1580 to 1598 as "the barren years," for it was a period where Paete hardly had anything on record. "It may be due to the fact that Paete was quite inaccessible.

The only record about Paete in 1587 pointed out that San Antonio, Abacao and Babaye were made barrios of Paete by order of Padre Pedro Bautista. (St. Peter Baptist, who was later martyred as missionary in Japan and canonized by the Catholic Church in 1862; feastday: Feb. 6.)

Perhaps it was because of this isolation that Paete folk early on learned to fend for themselves. The author said that even in 1898 when he was young, the road to Pagsanjan was difficult. In those days, one traveled from Manila to Paete either by carretela (horse-drawn rig), which took about four days. Or by casco (ferry), which took anywhere from five to seven days. Even in the mid-1800s when Dr. Rizal was courting the damsel Segunda Ybardolaza in neighboring Pakil, Paete did not have any village physicians making house calls.

The population growth was so slow, wrote Quesada, that records showed that between 1845 and 1863, only one person was added to the population of 3,023 (presumably concentrated in Ibaba). There was a very high infant mortality rate.


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