This is the continuation of Rene's Nieva article on the ancestral roots of the Nieva clan from Marinduque. Chapter 2 was posted on July 13, 2015. Enjoy!
CAMALIG: ROOTS OF THE NIEVAS : In 1579, ten years after the first group of Spaniards led by Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman and including Augustinian priests arrived in Camalig and started colonizing and Christianizing the residents, a Spanish galleon led by shipmaster Mateo de Saz and Captain Martin de Goiti also came to thesettlement. They formally took it over as a Spanish colony, one of the earliest places in the Philippines to be brought under the Spanish flag. They were accompanied by Franciscan missionaries Father Pablo de Jesus and Fr. Bartolome Ruiz who continued the colonization drive initiated by the Augustinians.
Camalig and the rest of nearby settlements that would eventually comprise the province of Albay always had abundant natural resources and a thriving agricultural industry consisting of coconut, rice, sugar and abaca plantations. This was because they were close to Mayon Volcano, which through regular eruptions throughout the ages has deposited rocks that have decomposed and weathered into rich soil.
Not content with being just farmers, albeit prosperous ones, the more adventurous and enterprising residents of Albay including the Nievas of Camalig engaged in trading in these farm product and putting up plantations elsewhere during the Spanish era. This brought them westward to provinces in the Southern Tagalog region including Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas (the former name of Quezon), Marinduque (formerly part of Tayabas) and Mindoro.They eventually settled in these provinces, growing further in wealth and political over the three centuries of Spanish rule. They became members of the Illustrado class that was considered just below the governing Spanish overlords.
Further proof that the Nievas were originally from Camalig was when sometime in late 1990s. I met a Manila congressmen, Ernesto "Banzai" Nieva. Intrigued by the similarity in our surname, I asked him if he was a native of Tondo, which he represented in Congress. He said his family moved to Tondo from Laguna when he was young but as far as he knew his forebears were originally from Camalig. He was then being groomed by the Liberal Party in Manila (led at the time by his ally and my Ateneo classmate Lito Atienza) for either Vice Mayor or Mayor. But unfortunately he died quite young (only in his late 40s or early 50s at most).
Not all the Nievas have left Camalig for parts beyond though. To this day, there are still residents of town who carry the Nieva surname. One time, while on a tour of the Bicol region with some friends, we passed by Camalig on the way to Legazpi and I saw houses with signs on which were written Attorney this or Doctor that. My research also showed that Nievas have occupied local government positions over the years or owned businesses such as gaming cock farms and the like.
I've also seen photos of some Nievas in Camalig over the Internet and noticed that they were invariably good-looking, which must prove that this must have been a common Nieva family. Said good looks have been bolstered and further enhanced through intermarriages with men and women from other races like the Spaniards, the Chinese, and even the French.
Personal Note: I have met more than a hundred of Macrine's relatives here in the US and in the Philippines . They are not only good looking, smart but also humble. Most of them have accomplished lives and successful financially. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If you are following this series, do you know the ancestry of your surname? I will be glad to hear from you.