IMPULSES: The legend of Tamasak


By Herman M. Lagon

With a rich history filled with stories of bravery, perseverance, and the unwavering determination of its inhabitants, the town of Barotac Nuevo, shines as an example of development and success in Iloilo and beyond. Don Simon Raymundo Protacio Belen is said to have established this picturesque municipality during the 1811 Spanish era. Since then, it has been famous for its warm hospitality and scenic setting. Barotac “Nuevo” is an etymological blend of the Spanish word “baro,” meaning mud, and the last syllable of the local word “lutac,” also meaning mud; the addition of “viejo” differentiates it from its adjacent town, Barotac.

According to legend, Barotac Nuevo was famous in the 15th century for its exquisite purebred horses, especially the stallion Tamasak. There was no ordinary horse like Tamasak. He won the hearts of everyone who looked at him with his unparalleled speed, beauty, and strength. A providential twist occurred when the Governor-General of the Philippines at the time, Manuel Gonzales de Aguilar, sought a suitable mount to complement an Indian gift he had received. When his emissaries returned from Manila empty-handed, they met Don Simon Protacio’s pride, Tamasak, in Barotac Nuevo.

Negotiations that would change the history of Barotac Nuevo began when Don Simon refused to sell Tamasak. However, an agreement was eventually reached: the Governor-General would receive Tamasak in return for recognizing Barrio Malutac as a town. So, Malutac became Barotac Nuevo, and Tamasak became its eternal symbolic guardian.

Barotac Nuevo has grown and prospered throughout the years, becoming a prosperous town renowned for its rich agricultural sector and natural resources. Rice, sugarcane, and fish are abundantly harvested from its verdant plains and ponds, which sustains the economy and the inhabitants. The tenacity rooted in Barotac Nuevo’s history has guaranteed the city’s continued success in the face of adversity, including natural disasters and the devastation of war.

The grit and perseverance of the Barotac Nuevo inhabitants are on full display today. A community bound together in the quest for advancement is reflected in the lively town center, encircled by well-maintained infrastructure and paved roads. The statue of Tamasak, which proudly stands in the town plaza and municipal hall, embodies the echoes of the past and watches over Barotac Nuevo’s journey from humble beginnings to a beacon of success. This figure stands amidst the trappings of modernity.

Embedded in the history of Tamasak are the community values of Barotac Nuevo: resilience, spirit, and solidarity. These qualities go beyond conventional mythology. Proudly known as the Football Capital of the Philippines, this town keeps moving forward, embracing its rich history and bright future by providing opportunities for sports and education to its kids. Ultimately, the tale of Tamasak is a constant reminder of the limitless future possibilities, the enduring spirit, and the rich heritage of Barotac Nuevo.

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