Saturday, October 27, 2007


It was providential that I was given the opportunity to visit my Aunt, Tiya’y Elpha Rodrigazo Arrieta and my Uncle, Tiyo’y Poling Arrieta, in Libacao, Aklan, when he was still alive. It is in their honor and that of my mother that I made a project for the Kalibo Elementary School II Special Education Center to help raise funds for the benefit of the disabled children of Aklan and its nearby provinces. My cousin, Karen Arrieta Kenaston (inset), viewed the project. She emailed me from US and told me that she wanted her parents at her side in these final chapter of their lives. She said: ‘I doubt if I could equal the kindness that my parents shared to the countless of relatives and extended families we have, Aklanons and Negrense alike’.

God has His own way of making things happen. Kay and Mimi, the second to the eldest and the youngest daughter of Napoleon and Elpha Arrieta maybe away, but it was them who organized their father's funeral and produced this documentary entitled “Napoleon’s Creed: ‘PRIDEMEO PRO PATRIA’” for the benefit of the Libacaonons, the Aklanons, the people of Panay, and maybe to all of mankind for this man’s creed to reverberate for generations to come. To Kay and Mimi, whom I spent many years of our lives in Project 8, Quezon City with my mother Zenaida, Tiyo'y Poling and Tiya'y Elpha and my sisters.

I made a research on the geneology of Arrieta and based on interviews and some data gathered, it appears that the Arrieta are the descendants or closely related to the Villorente’s. Francisco Villorente was one of the martyrs of Aklan who organized the resistance against the Spaniards for the independence of our country. Libacao was the last bastion of resistance in Aklan and I learned later that Tiyo’y Poling’s ascendants were actually Katipuneros, who were originally the Sibuco’s. That is why Libacaunon's then were considered insurrectos. Many changed their names when the Spaniards colonized Libacao, others who resisted fled to the hintherlands and were considered insurrectos. No wonder, the creed: “God, Honor and Country” flows in the blood of this person they called Tiyo'y Poling of Julita, Libacao.

‘Birth makes us Mortal. Death immortalizes us.’ This was the opening statement of Abundio R. Arrieta, Jr., former Undersecretary of the Commission on Appointment (inset picture). “Tiyo’y Poling helped countless of Aklanons to attain certain degree of education and he never asked something in return’, said Antonio “Otik” Zuleta, Jr., (inset picture) now a successful practicing lawyer. Otik and her sisters, a doctor and nurses, respectively, as well as our cousins lived and stayed with Tiya’y Elpha and Tiyo’y Poling in Manila. We were beneficiaries of his creed.

After retirement sometime in 1982, the couple stayed in Aklan and made Libacao their residence. Tiyo’y Poling taught and practiced law in Kalibo. He continued helping others with his wife, Elpha by his side. He went on advocating for the development of Libacao, to materialize his cherished dream to become reality. Now, it is not only for the countless extended families that he is eyeing to help, but his province per se in the final epoch of his journey in this earthly world. Despite offers by Kay to live with her in US, the couple insists to stay in Libacao and actively advocated for its development.

I remember then that Tiya’y used to go to National Agricultural and Fishereies Council (NAFC) and other government offices to fund the municipality’s projects. Tiyo’y Poling relentlessly advocated for the construction of roads and other projects for Libacao even in his death bed. There was a time when he told a politician straightforward; ‘mamatay na lang ako, hindi pa matapos yang daan papuntang Libacao at ibang probinsya na pinangako niyo’. It was Napoleon’s dream to develop Libacao. In his vision: Libacao is the key component for Aklan’s economic growth. The waters flowing in the rivers, streams and creeks of entire Panay island originally came from Libacao. It is also a fact that livestock from the innermost municipalities of Iloilo, Capiz and Antique are being transported through Libacao because of its proximity to Kalibo where a port is located rather than Iloilo, Capiz or Antique proper. Libacao is also rich in in precious gems and stones. Abaca and Piña, which are being used as the raw materials of the abaca and piña cloth by fashion designers, such as Tesoro, Inno Sotto and the late Pitoy Moreno actually came from Libacao.

Years before his death, Napoleon donated one-half hectare of land to the Aglipayan Church after a conflict arise between the owner of the land where the Church was originally located at Libacao Poblacion. The Church envisions to develop the area into “Arrieta Resort and Camp Site”, in Poling's honor. He readily donated portions of his property in Julita for the Municipality’s water system project so that potable waters coming from the mountains can reach the people within the town proper of Libacao, who now have unlimited supply of potable water. He gave up portions of his land for the construction of farm to market access road for upland agricultural products to reach the town proper faster. Lately, it was alleged that he voluntarily offered more than a hundred hectares of land for agrarian reform.

While others cling ownership over their properties in Libacao because of the projected economic boom, here comes a person donating properties to his fellow Libacaonons in hope that they too can benefit from this inevitable development.

It was his wish that he be buried in Julita, where he was born. In the mid portion of a mountain facing the sun just above a lagoon which served as a dam that used to supply water for rice paddies down stream for generations, he wanted to be buried. In a peaceful day on October 6, 2007 at noon, along a forested area leading downstream somewhere in Julita thousands of people treked over a long and winding foot path leading to the site where he wished to be laid to pay tribute to a man they called “Tiyo’y Poling Arrieta of Julita”.

Napoleon never asked anything from us until his death. Yet, he convinced his friends and relatives from Manila and abroad to go home and attend his funeral, many have not set foot on Libacao for 20 or even 50 years. Who are we, to say no to a man . . . to his vision and to his creed: ‘PRIMEDEO PRO PATRIA' (God, honor and country). Long live Napoleon’s Creed!


Napoleon “Poling” Arrieta, is an epitome of a man who lives by the creed ‘pridemeo pro patria’, according to Bishop dela Cruz of the Aglipayan Independent Church, was born on December 22, 1925 at Barangay Casit-an in Julita, Libacao, of parents Catalino Zorca (Sibuco) Arrieta and Honorata [S]Zulueta. He is the youngest among brothers Ernesto, Abundio, Sr., Artemio and Sulpicio. His father is a farmer, while her mother maintains a Sari-Sari Store to augment the meager income they earn from farming.

During their childhood days there were no means of transport from Julita to Libacao, where the nearest school is located. The elder Arrieta brothers painstakingly walk for hours, put their Simanay clothes into a sealed bamboo without anything left to cover their bodies and swim across Aklan river. After reaching the other end of the river bank, they have to walk for kilometers and swim once again at the other end of the bank to reach the town proper just to attend classes. Through sheer determination, Poling's elder brother, Abundio Sr., took-up Law at the University of the Philippines while working. Abundio, Sr., later became a lawyer and then judge. While Artemio, became a University scholar at Silliman University. He also studied law, took the bar and passed, practiced law and later became the Provincial Fiscal of Aklan.

Napoleon graduated valedictorian at Libacao Central Elementary School. He then studied in Aklan Academy for his secondary education, which was momentarily stalled with the outbreak of war in 1942, where she met Elpha Rodrigazo, the younger sister of Lydia.


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