Juan Diyong, Founder of San Fernando, Cebu

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

At the center of the seal of the Municipality of San Fernando, Cebu, is a man carrying a flaming torch in broad daylight with an inscription of the year 1858. The man is Juan Diyong. He led the people of the barrios of Magsico, Cabatbatan, Balungag, Sangat, Panadtaran, and Pitalo, to band together to separate from the town of Naga, Cebu.

The officials of Naga, Cebu opposed the separation justifying that such separation would do no good as the barrios calling for separation were so poor and could not exist on their own.

Juan Diyong accompanied by the delegation of the barrios went to the Municipality of Cebu and convince the civil and religious leaders to approve the separation. By virtue of the Royal Decree of 1858, a new town was born. It was assigned a new parish priest and a church named San Isidro Labrador. The town was later given a name in honor of its well-liked parish priest, Fernando Sanchez, thus the name of the town became San Fernando.

The fame of Diyong came in 1840, the following story is in the book “Legends of Santo Niño de Cebu” written by Manuel Enriquez dela Calzada.

The Spaniards in Cebu thought of holding bullfights and decided that the whole barrio of Panadtaran be used as a pasture land for the bulls. This would result in the demolition of houses and sequestration of their lands by the government. Diyong then led two hundred men with bolos and other weapons to go and see the governor. They decided to sleep in front of the Recoletos Church. While Diyong was sleeping he was awakened by a boy about five years old and was instructed to go to San Agustin Church in the morning so they could talk with the Bishop of Cebu.

The bishop, after officiating a Mass, was also approached by the same boy and was told that he should see Diyong and was warned that the latter and his men were armed and angry. Diyong and the bishop of Cebu eventually met as arranged by the boy. When asked what he wanted, Diyong expressed his fear of the plan to make Panadtaran a grazing land for bulls and the bishop answered that he should no longer fear, go home, and be assured that the plan will not be implemented as the bishop will go to the governor and see to it that the government will respect their rights.

This was how the story was concluded in the book:

“On the way to Sangat, Juan Diyong asked himself who was that boy who awakened him in the middle of the night? The Bishop himself asked the same question. Of course, He was no other than the Child Jesus.”

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