Vizcaya namesakes

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Photo No. 1: Night view of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao City, Vizcaya, Spain (
Photo No. 2: The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida, USA (
Photo No. 3: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Durango, Mexico (ctto)
Photo No. 4: St. Dominic Cathedral, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines (jlc)



Vizcaya (Biscay, conventional; Bizkaia, Basque; Vizcaya, Spanish) is a progressive and popular province in northern Spain. Bilbao City, the provincial capital and seaport, and its environs constitute the industrial and commercial center of Vizcaya, which has among the greatest mineral wealth of any Spanish province.
This province is part of the Basque ethnic group, one of Europe’s oldest and strongest cultures. The land of the Basques encompasses the region located in northern Spain, on the Bay of Biscay at the western end of the Pyrenees mountain range, straddling the frontier between southern France and Spain.
Hon. Marciano R. de Borja, Philippine Consul General to Agana, Guam, and former Consul and 1st Secretary of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain, who has gained extensive knowledge through research and interactions with the Basque People wrote: “The Basques played a remarkably influential role in the creation and maintenance of Spain’s colonial establishment in the Philippines. Their skills as shipbuilders and businessmen, their evangelical zeal, and their ethnic cohesion and work-oriented culture made them successful as explorers, colonial administrators, missionaries, merchants, and settlers. They continued to play prominent roles in the governance and economy of the archipelago until the end of Spanish sovereignty, and their descendants still contribute in significant ways to the culture and economy of the contemporary Philippines.”


The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, previously known as Villa Vizcaya, is located in the Coconut Grove area along Biscayne Bay*, just south of Miami, Florida. It is a breathtaking Gilded Age estate surrounded by about ten acres of formal gardens, a mangrove shoreline, and rockland hammock. The Main House in total is 45,225 square feet and contains 54 rooms, of which 34 decorated rooms are open to the public.
Villa Vizcaya, the winter residence then of James Deering (1859–1925) of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune, was built between 1914 and 1922 by both local workers and European and Bahamian craftsmen. Certain antique elements and objects in the Main House and Gardens were procured from other countries.
This beautiful National Historic Landmark that has defined Miami’s cultural landscape for over 100 years is managed and operated by the non-profit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Trust and owned and supported by Miami-Dade County.
Still in Miami, there is also a metro rail rapid transit service terminal called Vizcaya Station.
*Biscayne Bay was named after either the Bay of Biscay, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean north of Spain, or an early explorer called El Vizcaino, who came from the Spanish province of Vizcaya. Interestingly, there is also this Whale Sanctuary, named El Vizcaino, in the central part of the peninsula of Baja California.


The name of the first province in Mexico explored and settled by the Spaniards was Nueva Vizcaya. In the early years of settlement, the name referred to the area north of Zacatecas. Sometimes called the kingdom of Nueva Vizcaya, it served as the “heartland” of the northern frontier for about 250 years. The province eventually included most of the modern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Durango and, at different times, parts of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Coahuila. The area was initially explored by Sr. Nuño de Guzmán in 1531, Sr. José de Angulo in 1533, and Sr. Ginés Vázquez de Mercado in 1552. Sr. Francisco de Ibarra explored the region in 1554, and mining and missionary activities commenced soon thereafter.
In 1562, Sr. Ibarra was appointed to colonize the region, then regarded as the northernmost part of the province of Nueva Galicia. He began to establish settlements and organized the region as Nueva Vizcaya, named after his home province of Vizcaya in Spain. The capital of the province, Durango, was similarly named after Ibarra’s birthplace.
There was this revolution waged by the Nueva Vizcaya “indians” which happened after extensive and intensive exploitations of mineral ores in their area. Nueva Vizcaya remained a separate province after the Mexican War of Independence but vanished in 1824 when it was divided into two (2) federal states, namely, Chihuahua and Durango.


On 10 April 1841, or about seventeen years later, a Royal Decree ordered the splitting of the Cagayan Valley region in the northern Philippines into two (2) Provinces, namely, Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya. The Decree was based on the Order and recommendation of then Governor General Luis Lardizábal Y Montojo, dated 24 May 1839, per the advice of Don Pascual Cia, Alcalde Mayor de Cagayan. Interestingly, just like Sr. Ibarra, Sr. Lardizabal’s birthplace is Vizcaya, Spain too.
Sr. Lardizábal was Governor-General of the Philippines from 29 December 1838 to 14 February 1841. He was the one who requested the government that a monument be established in Mactan to commemorate Sr. Ferdinand Magellan’s discovery of the islands. Mactan is also the site of the first battle between native Filipinos and Europeans. Sr. Magellan rediscovered the Philippines and landed on Homonhon Island (now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar) on 16 March 1521. However, he met his death on 27 April 1521 at the hands of local chieftain Lapu-Lapu in Mactan, Cebu who refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of Spain over the islands. It was also during Sr. Lardizabal’s term that the Precios Corrientes de Manila, a weekly newspaper in Spanish and English, was published. Sr. Lardizábal died at sea on his way to Spain.
Unlike in Mexico, the Spanish colonizers have not practically touched the mineral ores in the Cagayan Valley region. This could be attributed to the difficult terrains of the area and the presence of fierce fighting and headhunting natives. Historical accounts show that among the most visible and active warriors during those times were the Gaddangs. It appeared that the Gaddangs then were all over the vast Cagayan Valley region including Ifugao, Benguet, Kalinga, Mt. Province, and the present-day Quirino. Historians also say that the Gaddangs were prominent in practically all the Spanish regime revolts in the Cagayan Valley (now, Region 2) and the adjacent provinces in Regions 1 and 3. These natives were good friends to “extranjeros”, but fierce warriors who fought abusive and corrupt colonizers. They value much their ancestral domains that they abhor and repulse even the slightest intrusions. Fray Diego Aduarte wrote that Sr. Felipe Cuntapay, a ward of a Spanish priest who also served as a church sacristan and cantor, while leading the Gaddang Revolt on 06 November 1621 alongside his brother Sr. Gabriel Dayag, made sure that the “good” Frayles and Spaniards are spared of the wrath of the revolutionaries. Indeed, the Gaddangs, though fierce warriors they may be, are good friends too.
Vizcaya also found its way to the domain of insects. A genus of planthoppers in the family Delphacidae was named Vizcaya. As reported in the Muir FAG, Delphacidae is the type genus of the subfamily Vizcayinae Asche, 1990. Species have been found in southern India, Indochina, and Malesia. #jlc


Oakah L. Jones, Jr., Nueva Vizcaya: Heartland of the Spanish Frontier; The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Authors: Antonio Alvarez de Abre and Diego Aduarte, Editors: Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson; December Historical Events, Philippine News Agency;, Museum and Gardens; Architectural Review July 1917: The Vizcaya Issue; and Basques in the Philippines by Marciano R. de Borja, 2012.

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