Last updated on September 30, 2019
Daet was already an old community even before the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan in 1521. An ancient tomb unearthed in the Bicol region revealed references described in the Panayam manuscripts known to oriental history as corresponding to the first half of the thirteenth century. The early settlers were believed to be direct descendants of the group of datus who escaped from the court of Brunei (Borneo) to evade the enmity of a ruling rajah .
In 1571, Juan de Salcedo arrived at the Bicol Region in quest for gold found in Camarines Norte and discovered that Daet was already a thriving settlement and noted that the houses were clustered together for reason of safety and protection. In June 1583, through a Franciscan Order confirmed the founding of Doctrinas including Daet.
Long after the implantation of the Spanish sovereignty, Don Juan de Salcedo, “talented, dashing grandson of Legazpi ” found this community in the course of an expedition in search of gold which the Camarines mountains were heart to abound, marking the beginning of over a three-century Spanish regime patterned after the sword and the cross.
In the meantime, an incident happened in the court of Spain over the romances of a woman which pressed the King to exile a Spanish noble to the Philippines who eventually chose to come this way to spend the rest of his life, forget all, and start life anew. This noble was Don Manuel de la Estrada, Marquis de Camarines , who devoted a lifetime to help implement the Spanish colonization blueprint in the building of a new town over our old community. He supervised the construction of the church as it stands today, the old Spanish to exile a Spanish noble to the Philippines who eventually bridge (now covered by a Bailey bridge ), other stone bridges buildings. He also brought the first abaca seedlings and encouraged its cultivation which has given the Philippines the world monopoly of hemp fiber. Incidentally, from the union of this noble to a Filipino woman followed a long line of blood relation which still link most of the old families of this community. The ruins of the palatial mansion of the Marquis de Camarines were still visible in recent years, on the spot where the new building of the Provincial Capitol now stands.
Except for recurring raids by the Moro pirates who occasionally came on their fast frail vintas to pillage this community causing the fortification of barrio Mercedes (now an independent municipality since 1948) during the Spanish regime, this community lived progressively in blissful peace and contentment. Formerly, the whole of the present Province of Camarines Norte was known as the District of Daet and this capital was a “Comandancia” of the original province of Camarines during the Spanish regime. In the few times that the Province of Camarines Norte was separated from and again fused with Camarines Sur from the Spanish to the American regimes, Daet always retained her importance as the provincial capital. In the ensuing changes, this municipality lost further much of her territory which was restored to Camarines Sur, and due to the segregation of the Municipality of Basud which was a former barrio of this community in the year 1908.
No less than thirteen martyrs were contributed by this community before the altar of liberty. They were butchered or burned alive and buried in a common grave during the Holy Week on Easter Sunday, April 1898. The local “insurrectus ”, however, made a remarkable feat in the last days of the Spanish regime when they succeeded in containing the Spanish local garrison and subjected them under relentless attack. The Spaniards were dramatically saved from annihilation by burning at the timely arrival of their rescue ship. Daet today takes a distinct pride for owning the first monument ever erected in the Philippines in honor of the foremost Filipino hero and martyr, Dr. Jose P. Rizal Protacio y Mercado , at the inspiration of Don Antonio Sans, Commanding Officer of the Philippine Revolutionary Forces in the sector.
The Philippine American War was felt very little in this town. The American forces came unopposed on March 4, 1900 when almost the rest of the Bicol Region was subdued by Major McNamee under the overall command of General Bates before whom Commander Antonio Sans previously arranged in Camarines Sur the terms of surrender which were acceptable to the American Command. The strides undergone by this community under the American regime is yet to be written in bold letters of gold, a period which brought about the present day progress of this generation.
A P30-million government center, a P30-million transport terminal and an improved airport are among the large-scale face-lift projects that Camarines Norte’s capital town plans to embark on as it aggressively vies for cityhood.
The projects, including a new face of the town plaza, were presented by Mayor Tito Sarion in an executive report last month. “The enhancement of the elevated plaza is necessary to decongest the downtown in an attempt to rebuild the center of the commercial district,” he said.
Sarion said the United Architects of the Philippines had agreed to design the new plaza through a P3-million grant provided by the party-list group Bayan Muna.
The funds for the government center and transport facility will be borrowed from the Land Bank of the Philippines, while the revitalized Bagasbas airport project will be funded by the Air Transportation Office (ATO).
Sarion said the proposed government center would make transactions with provincial and national government agencies more convenient while the new legislative hall would “create a breathing space and a better working environment at the municipal hall, where offices are crowded.”