19 October 2017

Barako Festival: Lipa History on Canvass Unveiled at SM

A painting by Reynaldo Bautista depicting the Calle Real of Lipa during the American Regime.  These palatial mansions were razed to the ground during World War II.
[This short article is a press release from the Lipa City Tourism Council and SM City-Lipa.]

Eight paintings depicting the historical milestones of Lipa City were unveiled last October 16, Monday at SM City Lipa. The milestones included the coming of the Bornean Datus in the 13th century, followed by the coming of Spaniards in the 1500s, the catastrophic eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754, the Golden Coffee Years of Lipa, the American Regime, World War II, the cityhood of Lipa and the modern day Lipa City.

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18 October 2017

Beliefs Held in San Jose, Batangas in 1925

Church at San Jose, Batangas.  Image from the Luther Parker Collection at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
One of the most refreshing documents that I have come across among the Henry Otley-Beyer Anthropological Collection at the National Library of the Philippines’ Digital Collections is a paper written by one Agapito H. Mendoza1 which enumerated superstitious beliefs held by the people of San Jose in Batangas, presumably his hometown, in 1925.

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17 October 2017

The Arrival of Cacao in the Philippines and the Thief from Lipa who helped Propagate It

Cacao tree with fruits.  Image credit:  TreeHugger.com.
Mention the name Lipa and most probably the first thing the enters most people’s minds is coffee, something that can be attributed to the great nineteenth century boom in the coffee industry in what was then still the town of Lipa. The historical association between Lipa and coffee is well documented.

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15 October 2017

Taal, Batangas: Historical and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

The national road in Taal, Batangas that leads to the neighboring town of Lemery.
This article is part of a continuing series that focuses on historical and folkloric trivia about the barrios of Batangas. The information contained herein has been culled from obscure and otherwise forgotten documents required by administration of Elpidio Quirino in 1951 to compensate for historical documents destroyed in World War II. The documents are archived at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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14 October 2017

The Great 1993 DLSL Palarong Pambansa-Winning Girls’ Volleyball Team

The 1993 DLSL-led STRAA team posing in front of quarters.
February 1988 in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. DLSL’s girls’ volleyball players sat forlorn inside their quarters after failing to qualify for the finals. They were the only team of the three that DLSL sent to the Southern Tagalog Regional Athletic Association (STRAA) that failed. The other two, the football and boys’ volleyball teams, went on to win their respective championship matches comfortably and thus qualify for the Palarong Pambansa (the national secondary games) scheduled in Cagayan de Oro City the following month.

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13 October 2017

Cecilia Muñoz-Palma: the Bauan-born 1st Female SC Justice who stood up to the Marcos Regime

Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma and the commemorative stamp issued in her honor.  Image credit:  Kahimyang.com and Wikipedia.
“Ingrata.” This was how then-Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos was supposed to have called Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma. An ingrate; somebody ungrateful. The year was 1975; and it had been almost three years since that fateful day in September when then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared a state of martial law in the entire archipelago.

The occasion was a gathering to celebrate Law Day. Speaking before fellow justices and members of the bar, Muñoz-Palma called for a return of the rule of law. Her famous words struck a nerve among those present, “We shall be judged by history… not by what we want to do and can’t (but) what we ought to do and don’t1.”

She ended her speech to resounding applause and a standing ovation, excepting the Justice Secretary, who was supposed to have remained seated. Implicit to her call was that there was no rule of law, which of course there was none; and if there was, it was a tainted version. But it being the martial law years, it took a brave man – or, in this case, woman – to say this out in public.

It was, of course, Marcos who appointed Muñoz-Palma to become the first-ever woman to become Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in October of 19732, just over a year since the declaration of martial law in the country. Hence, Abad Santos’ supposed epithet against her, easy enough to understand given the patronage nature of Philippine politics, and particularly so during martial law, the very notion of which was built on the fabric of loyalty from those in government.

But Muñoz-Palma’s loyalties, or so Ma. Ceres Doyo wrote in a 2006 article, were “to God and the Filipino people whom she had sworn to serve.” Her appointment to the Supreme Court was likely made with the belief that she would toe the line. Instead, she stood up for her beliefs and principles, as a true Batangueña would.

This, Muñoz-Palma was; a true Batangueña, that is. She was born in November of 1913 in the town of Bauan to Pedro Muñoz and the former Emilia Arreglado. Her father was a former congressman representing the second district of Batangas. No different from other Batangueños of the era who were sent to Manila for their education if their parents could afford it, she was sent to St. Scholastica’s College for her basic education. She graduated valedictorian of her secondary class in 19313.

She took up law at the University of the Philippines, where she would become the College of Law’s first-ever female Student Council President in 1936. She graduated the following year and took the bar exam and topped it with a grade of 92.6%. Afterwards, she would go to the United States to study for a Master of Law degree, and this she obtained from Yale University.

In retrospect, perhaps it was not surprising that Muñoz-Palma became the first woman ever to be appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Her life, after all, was a story of firsts. In 1947, she was appointed by President Manuel Roxas to be the first female prosecutor of Quezon City. In 1954, she became the first female judge of the Court of First Instance.

She was the second ever female appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals in 1968; but then returned to being first when she was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1973.

Apart from her call for a “return to law” in 1975, Muñoz-Palma also stood up to the Marcos government by writing a dissenting opinion on former Justice Secretary Jose W. Diokno’s petition for habeas corpus. Diokno, born in Manila but whose family was originally from Taal4, had become among Marcos’ staunchest critics and was incarcerated without charges filed against him.

The dissenting opinion was not made public at the time because Diokno was released following an order from Marcos himself, thus rendering the Supreme Court decision moot. It would, however, have been an embarrassment to the administration.

She also opined that Marcos’ referendum to legitimize martial law “can be of no far-reaching significance as it is accomplished under an atmosphere or climate of fear” and issued a dissenting vote against a petition to allow Marcos to “propose amendments to the Constitution by himself.”

Muñoz-Palma stepped down from the Supreme Court in 1978 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65. In 1984, she entered politics for the first time and was elected to the Batasang Pambansa5, Marcos’ version of a parliament, serving until the body was abolished in 1986.

She was instrumental in finally toppling down Marcos after the famous People Power Revolution that same year; and was appointed by the newly-sworn in President Corazon C. Aquino to become a member of the commission tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country. The commission promptly elected her President.

Despite her advancing age, she continued to serve the Filipino public and occupied key posts through two more administrations after Aquino stepped down from the presidency. She was appointed member of the Council of Advisers of the Moral Recovery Program by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992; and Chairperson and General Manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in 1998 by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

She finally passed away in January of 2006 at the age of 92, after having lived a life of opening doors to government service in advanced positions for fellow Filipinas and fulfilling her duties with the courage of a true Batangueña, backed as she was by a firm belief that the life she had was a gift from the Almighty.

Notes and references:
1 Along with other details of this article, from “Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma: Beloved Ingrata,” by Ma. Ceres P. Dayo, published 2006, online at Human Face.
2 Along with other details of this article, from “Cecilia Muñoz-Palma,” Wikipedia.
3 Along with other details of her personal life, from “Cecilia Munoz-Palma: Biography, Contribution/s, and Reflection of the Hero,” a paper written June 2015 by Calvin Paulo A. Mondejar.
4Jose W. Diokno: The Scholar-Warrior,” by Jose Dalisay, Jr., published 2011, online at Jose W. Diokno, Nationalist.
5 Along with other details of this article, from “About Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma,” online at the Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma Foundation, Inc.

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08 October 2017

When Batangas was the “Orange Capital” of the Philippines

Mandarin oranges.  Image credit:  GardeningKnowhow.com.
At the mention of the name Batangas, among the first things that immediately comes to mind is coffee, even if the boom years of the plant back in the 19th century technically applied only to the then-town of Lipa. The coffee reputation continues to the present day, and not just in what is now the city of Lipa but the entire province of Batangas.

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05 October 2017

San Jose: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

Poblacion San Jose.  Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
This article is another installment of a series dedicated to resurrecting otherwise forgotten folkloric and historical trivia about the barrios of Batangas. This time, we focus on San Jose, once known as Malaquing Tubig and formerly part of the larger Municipality of Bauan.

The information contained in this article is taken from Department of Education documents required in the early fifties by then President Elpidio Quirino for the reconstruction of the nation’s history after the destruction of historical documents during World War II.

Not all barrios of San Jose are represented in this article. Some contemporary barangays were probably still part of larger barrios back in the fifties. It could also be that no documents were submitted for some barrios or if there were, these were lost or destroyed.

In the case of Calansayan, there was a document filed away at the National Library of the Philippines. However, the information contained in this was so scanty that I felt it in the best interest of this article not to include the barrio.

Anus
This barrio’s strange name was supposed to have been taken from the local name of a dwarf specie of the bambusa (clump bamboo1) which once grew in abundance in the area. The barrio’s original families were those of Julian Briones, Escolastica Aguila, Toribia Matibag, Salvador Aguila, Buenaventura Aguila, Mariano Briones, Valentin Aguila, Juan Suarez, Briccio Makalintal, Pablo Makalintal and Antonio Lara.

During the early years of the American occupation2, the big houses in the barrio were burned and the people forced to live in the poblacion for General J. Franklin Bell’s infamous concentration camp policy. This policy was aimed at preventing the local population from supporting the forces of General Miguel Malvar. In 1945, Japanese soldiers shot to death any individual in the barrio who looked suspicious. Because of the tension, people of the barrio buried their dead “under the trees and even near creeks and ravines.”

Source: History of the Barrio: Anus

Anus´s name was taken from the dwarf bambusa similar to the image shown above.  Image credit:  by Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=173293.
Aya
The name of barrio Aya was supposed to have been taken from the Tagalog word “kaaya-aya” (pleasant) “due to the strategic and beautifully arranged buildings or houses of the people…” The barrio was established in the eighteenth century and at the time had 400 families. The barrio’s big adobe houses from which the barrio got its name which were “once the envy of passers-by” were burned either by Filipino revolutionaries or by United States Army soldiers during the Philippine-American War.

Upon the liberation of Batangas by American forces, stragglers3 among the Japanese forces hid near the river banks of the barrio. An inhabitant of the barrio who accompanied soldiers of the US 11th Airborne Division to hunt down the stragglers was unfortunately killed by the Japanese. It was left to the Filipino guerrilla forces to hunt the stragglers down.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Aya

Balagtasin
The barrio’s name was supposed to have been given because it was a conduit or passageway for traders and other travelers on the way to Cuenca or Alitagtag. This etymology is curious, though, because the Tagalog word for passing or cutting through is “bagtas4,” in which case the barrio’s name would have been “Bagtasin.” At any rate, the barrio was established in the eighteenth century and its original families were the Hernandezes, Perezes, Mitras, Harinas, Husmillos, Atienzas, Manimtims and Larcias. There was pretty much nothing extraordinary about Balagtasin’s past except in the latter part of World War II when the barrio’s inhabitants had to evacuate because Japanese forces had dug their defensive foxholes in the nearby barrio of Bigain.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Balagtasin

Banaybanay
The barrio’s name was supposed to have been taken from the name of a plant that lined the national road from Lipa to San Jose. This barrio was established in the eighteenth century when it had 200 original families. One of the barrio’s famous sons was one Manuel Genato from the sitio of Abra, who would become Governor of Batangas during the Spanish era. Genato was the son of one Don Manuel Genato, the owner of a vast tract of land in the barrio who coaxed Filipino insurrectos or rebels to work for him instead and till the land.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Banaybanay

Alpinia haenkei C. Presl, a.k.a. banaybanay.  Image credit:  Biolab.cz.
Bigain
This barrio’s name was said to have been taken from the “biga” plant or elephant ear5 that used to grow abundantly in the place. No formal record was available of Bigain’s establishment but it was generally believed that the barrio already existed when Malaking Tubig or San Jose formally separated from Bauan. During World War II, Bigain was heavily fortified by the Japanese and its school was used as the headquarters of a Japanese detachment. Fortuitously, only three inhabitants of the barrio were killed during the war. One was a woman who was stabbed to death for “refusing to give what a Japanese soldier demanded from her.” The other two were men shot by Japanese soldiers.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Bigain

Bigain was supposed to have been named after the biga or elephant ear plant.  Image credit:  Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Galamay-Amo
Galamay-amo’s old name was Diya, and its present name was supposed to have been taken from a shrub6 that grew along a path leading to the barrio. The barrio was supposed to have been established in 1900 and it had seven original families. One of the barrio’s sitios was named Uluhan, supposedly because of a spring that was the source of the “Malaking Tubig,” which was San Jose’s former name. During the Spanish occupation, three notorious robbers headed by one called Agustin, alias “Tawilis,” were shot by Spanish Guardia Civil on the bridge leading to the barrio. In World War II, Japanese soldiers burned the house of one Pio Luna when they could not find females evacuees from Manila whom they wanted to rape.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Galamay-Amo

Galamay-amo was supposed to have been named after the shrub picture above.  Image credit:  Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Lapo-Lapo 2nd
According to folklore, there used to live a Chinaman named Lapolapo who was popular among the inhabitants of the barrio, who in turn decided to name it after him. The barrio was established in the eighteenth century when it already had as many as 151 families. During the Philippine-American War, American soldiers tried to flush out rebels thought to be hiding in the barrio by burning all the houses. Inhabitants of the barrio sought refuge in Poblacion San Jose and did not return to rebuild their houses until after six months had elapsed.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Lapo-Lapo 2nd

Lumil
According to folklore, the barrio was named after a ravine that crossed the barrio from north to south. Its original families were the Perezes, Aguilas and Hernandezes. Among the barrio’s most famous sons was Justice Roman Ozaeta, who served under the governments of Manuel L. Quezon and Manuel Roxas. During the Philippine-American War, as in many cases around Batangas, houses in the barrio were burned by American soldiers and inhabitants were forced to live in a concentration camp in the poblacion. In World War II, a guerrilla company was organized in the barrio under the command of one Pedro Luansing, who turned out to be more fearsome than the Japanese that some of the guerrillas under him plotted to have him removed. During the war, land in the barrio was also planted to cotton, as required by the Japanese occupiers.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Lumil

Natunuan
This barrio’s name was said to have been taken from the word “natuno,” supposed to have been the sound “of the murmuring brook that intersects a creek which produces a harmonious flow along the way.” The barrio was established soon after San Jose became a municipality in the eighteenth century. Its original families were the Gonzaleses, Comias and Hernandezes.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Natunuan

Natunuan's name was supposed to have been taken from the sound of a "murmuring brook."  Image credit:  
Palanka (Palanca)
The barrio’s name was said to have been taken from “the saddle of the horse which was used in putting two big baskets of load…” The barrio was established in the eighteenth century, when it already had 300 families. In the late nineteenth century, inhabitants of the barrio burned alive men “who turned spies or traitors to the barrio.” Presumably, these were those who sided with the Spanish forces and informed on the movements of freedom fighters. During World War II, many inhabitants were killed by Japanese soldiers, mostly stabbed with bayonets.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Palanka

Palanka was named after the saddle on which large baskets were hung.
Pinagtungulan
Just like Pinagtungulan of Lipa, the name of this barrio was supposed to have been from the word “pinagpung-ulan,” or where a beheading took place. Pedro Andal and Ambrocio Umali were the barrio’s first two cabezas or captains. After the Spaniards had been defeated by the American forces in the farcical Spanish-American War in the country, Spanish forces burned houses, destroyed property and killed inhabitants of this barrio. Towards the end of World War II, inhabitants of the barrio had to flee because numerous Japanese soldiers hid there, burned houses and dug foxholes in the orchards.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Pinagtungulan

Sabang
This barrio was supposedly so named because of “a river that flows north to south in this locality and another one that empties into it.” Presumably, this is the Sabang River that flows from Lipa. Unlike other barrios in San Jose, the houses in Sabang were spared from burning during the Philippine-American War, although its inhabitants were also required to live in concentration in the poblacion. At the height of World War II, two inhabitants of the barrio were put to death for espionage, presumably by guerrillas who operated in the place. These guerrillas were apparently just as feared as the Japanese because if they visited a house and asked for food or cash, they could become vindictive if the homeowners had nothing to give.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Sabang

Salaban
The barrio’s name was supposedly taken from the Tagalog word “salab” which means to roast or grill over an open fire. The barrio was founded in the eighteenth century with 50 families living there at the time. During the Spanish era, most of Salaban’s land was planted to coffee, although transporting the produce to the town proper was difficult because of its remoteness. During the early years of the Philippine-American War, one Felix Ona, an inhabitant of the barrio, volunteered to come a spy for the Americans and pointed out the houses of what according to him were “insurrectos” or rebels. All their houses were burned by the American soldiers. Luckily, only two inhabitants of the barrio were killed by the Japanese in World War II, and no properties were lost.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Salaban

Salaban was supposed to be named after an open fire over which food was roasted or grilled.  Image credit:  John Borga on Flickr.
Tugtug
According to folklore, early during the Spanish colonial era, a group of the barrio’s natives were once dancing the subli when a Spanish soldier happened to pass by. When he asked the locals what they were dancing, one replied, “nagtutugtugan (making music).” This was supposedly how the barrio got its name.

The barrio was supposed to have been first occupied by the family of one Jose Aguila, who as the barrio became more populated would also become its first teniente or lieutenant. Presumably late in the nineteenth century, a swarm of locusts descended upon the barrio and destroyed most of the people’s plants. Many inhabitants had to leave the barrio for good. During World War II, the barrio had to suffer not just the ruthlessness of the invading Japanese forces but likewise that of marauding Filipino guerrillas.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Tugtug

Notes and references:
1Bambusa,” Wikipedia.
2 The Anus document erroneously stated that the zoning of the barrio people were during the Spanish occupation.
3 Stragglers were Japanese soldiers who were either ignorant of or refused to accept Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces in World War II. “Japanese holdout,” Wikipedia.
4Bagtas,” online at Tagalog Lang.
5Biga,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.
6 Galamay-Amo’s historical document erroneously named galamai-amo as a climbing vine. It is a shrub. “Galamai-amo,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.

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04 October 2017

How a Person becomes and Aswang; and How to Spot one in a Crowd According to a 1924 Paper


You will probably struggle to find a Filipino who has never heard of the aswang, as indeed stories about it are standard fare to scare children into going to sleep or to admonish them against misbehaving or straying too far from the homestead. In the same breath, you will also likely struggle to find a Filipino who has actually come face to face with an aswang, or at the very least give a very definitive description of what one looks like.
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