Sunday, July 27, 2008

*94. HON. SOTERO J. BALUYUT: Engineer, Governor, Senator

HE LIVED TO BUILD. Hon. Sotero Baluyut led Pampanga as its Governor during the Commonwealth years, and later joined the Cabinet of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. He was a prolific builder of roads, bridges and other infrastructures all over the country.

Sotero Baluyut was Pampanga’s most visible and progressive leader of the Commonwealth years, serving the province first as an engineer, then as a governor and senator. Born on 3 January 1889 to Leoncio Baluyut and Casimira Julao of San Fernando, Sotero overcame his humble beginnings by becoming one of the first government pensionados to the United States in 1904. He was just 15 when he left to enroll at the Santa Ana Central and High School in California and later to the University Summer Schools of Illinois.

In college, Baluyut pursued an engineering course at the University of Iowa, earning a Civil Engineering degree in 1914. After coming home from his studies, he joined the Bureau of Public Works as assistant engineer of Pampanga and Cavite in 1911. Soon, he rose to become a District Engineer, serving Isabela, Antique, Ilocos Norte, Bulacan and Pangasinan. He was named as a special engineer for the San Jose-Santa Fe Road (1912-1919) as well as for PASUDECO in 1920 (Pampanga Sugar Development Company).

With a record performance in the building of roads and infrastructure, Sotero ran for the governorship of Pampanga in 1925. He won and was, in fact, re-elected in 1927, soundly beating Pedro Abad Santos, his townmate, who founded the Socialist Party of the Philippines.

In 1931, Baluyut was elected Senator of the Third District. In 1938, he served his third and final term as Pampanga’s governor. Due to the prevalent Socialist-led agrarian unrest, Baluyut formed the Cawal ning Capayapan (Knights of Peace), composed of nonradical peasants to keep order among dissidents and strikers. The Cawals were organized because of the inadequacy of the government to maintain order.

Under Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, Baluyut served as the Secretary of Interior and, in 1941, as Secretary of Public Works. He was also at the helm of several mining companies. His affiliations included membership in the Philippine Columbian Association, Philippine Engineers and Architects and Pampanga Lodge 48 F & A.M.

Baluyut’s engineering skills gave Pampanga a historic bridge that today bears his name: the Baluyot Bridge, on Gen. Hizon Avenue, barangay Sto. Rosario. Formerly known as Puente Colgante, the Spanish era bridge was reconstructed in 1896 using iron and stone. It was damaged during the Philippine-American War and then bombed in the last World War. Using Baluyut’s design thesis completed at the University of Iowa in 1909 , the bridge was restored, becoming an attractive arch bridge made of reinforced concrete.

Baluyut was married to the former Encarnacion Lopez (b. 25 March 1901). They were childless. He died in Manila at the age of 86, on 6 January 1975.


(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

3 comments:

kristel baluyut said...

clarification:
Sotero J. Baluyut

kristel baluyut said...

clarification:
Sotero J. Baluyut

alex r. castro said...

Most reference materials list him as Baluyot. Kapampangans however, pronounce Baluyot with a "u". Example, Ocampo is pronounced as "Ocampu", Bonifacio is "bonifaciu"..