25 April 2017

Why Marcela Agoncillo was asked to Design the Philippine Flag

Marcela Agoncillo by Unknown - Jackeline, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3021448.  Philippine flag by Emilio Aguinaldo - Watawat.net, Mandirigma Research Organization, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38277620.

It is one of those quirks of history that Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo, in all honesty a peripheral figure to the Philippine Revolution, is arguably better remembered than her husband Don Felipe. The latter was very much involved in the revolution as well as in efforts to secure independence for the Philippines after the surrender of Spain to the Americans in 1898.

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20 April 2017

Know the Towns of Batangas that used to be Part of other Towns in the Province

Lemery seen from the tower of the St. Martin de Tours Basilica in Taal.

Batangas as we know it in the present day had vastly different geopolitical subdivisions at the dawn of the Spanish colonial era, with only a few towns or pueblos as they were called. As the population of these towns grew and settlers branched out to populate other localities, new barrios were created which would, over time, become themselves new municipalities. In fact, as relatively recently as the 1960s, the geopolitical subdivision was still being rearranged. This article attempts to show readers how some towns of Batangas branched out from their mother towns to become municipalities in their own right.

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19 April 2017

James H. Polk: The Batangas-born former US Army Europe Commander-in-Chief

By US Government (Army) - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1969-GENERAL-JAMES-H-POLK-Signed-Photograph-VIETNAM-Saigon-/330869211700, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25557563.

There is this little known fact that one American born in the province of Batangas, and thus by the principle of Jus Soli1 (birthright citizenship) a Batangueño, rose to one of the United States Army’s most prominent positions. That would be the four-star general James Hilliard Polk, born in 1911 at McGrath (a.k.a. Camp McGraw) in what is now Batangas City, admittedly at a time when the entire Philippines was still very much American territory.

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17 April 2017

Wild West-Style Banditry of the Tulisanes and a Documented 19th Century Raid in Calaca

Image credit:  Bamboo Tales at Project Guttenberg.

I was amused last week to hear President Rodrigo Duterte brand Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as a tulisan. I doubt that many among the younger generations even know what a tulisan is, let alone visualize what one looks like. Those of my generation, on the other hand, grew up to a steady fare of afternoon black and white movies on television which had tulisanes as the perennial villains.

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14 April 2017

Phivolcs Explains Batangas Quakes, Debunks Myths in Primer

The Batangas Province welcome arch. Image credit:  Google Earth.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has published a primer on its web site dated 11 April 2017 explaining the swarm of earthquakes that hit Batangas earlier this month. The primer also attempts to diffuse fears people expressed particularly over social media after the series of tremors about possible volcanic activity, tsunamis and even geothermal drilling.

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13 April 2017

Taaleño Felipe Agoncillo’s Failed Efforts at Securing Self Rule for the Philippines in 1898

Image credit:  Taal.ph and Whitehouse.gov.

Most of us only have a cursory knowledge acquired from basic education text books of Don Felipe Agoncillo, the lawyer from Taal after whom a town in Batangas has been named and who is remembered in history as the country’s representative to the Treaty of Paris1 of 1898 and the “outstanding first Filipino diplomat.2” What the text books do not go into detail about is that he was sent to secure self-rule for the Philippines but ultimately failed through no fault of his or from lack of trying.

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12 April 2017

Know the 15 Inactive Volcanoes in Batangas (and if you Live Near One)

Part of the Mount Malepunyo range just east of Lipa City.

When I first published an article on the inactive volcano Anilao Hill in Lipa City, somebody pointed out that there are many others in the province. Indeed there are fifteen in all; and these are just the ones listed by Phivolcs.  This list includes volcanoes that are partly in Batangas and occupy land in neighboring provinces as well.  There is no reason for concern, however. These are called “inactive” because they are not really expected to erupt anymore and many probably were last active thousands and even millions of years ago. Nonetheless, it is always good to know information even if we cannot immediately ascertain what it will ultimately turn out to be worth.

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11 April 2017

Kalumpit, a Fruit Named after Batangas, Has Many Medicinal Properties

The kalumpit fruit.  Image credit:  Tagalog Lang.
The kalumpit fruit.  Image credit:  Tagalog Lang.

As a young boy back in the sixties, I always looked forward to foodstuffs that my uncle brought back as presents from his weekends in Nasugbu. Among these were buradol or flying fish daeng (fish halved and dried) or himbabao strings, the latter best stewed with fish paste. These were seldom, if at all, available in Lipa City.

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09 April 2017

The Volcano in Lipa City You Probably Never Knew Existed

Anilao Hill.  Image by Cesar C. Cambay directly loaded from panoramio.com.

Just so I do not get accused of panic-mongering at a time when earthquake swarm has become a fashionable term in Batangas, Phivolcs lists this volcano in Lipa City as inactive.1 It is a mound of earth called Anilao Hill south of the poblacion in the Anilao area between Antipolo del Norte and Antipolo del Sur. Phivolcs gives its coordinates at 13°54' 121°11', which is erroneous because it falls on a piece of flat land.

The Phivolcs coordinates for Anilao Hill are slightly off.  Image credit:  Google Earth.

Geoview.info gives more accurate coordinates up to the seconds at 13°54'33.48" 121°10'41.16"2. Plotted on Google Earth, this yields a mound of earth with its curvature visible if you zoom down to an elevation of 977 feet. The image is shown below.

Geoview.info coordinates plotted on Google Earth shows an obvious mound.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program categorizes Anilao Hill as a pyroclastic cone, the last estimated eruption of which was during the Pleistocene geologic era.3 Pyroclastic cones are also called as “scoria cones” or “cinder cones.” They “are relatively small, steep volcanic landforms built of loose pyroclastic fragments.4

As mentioned, Anilao Hill is estimated to have been last active during the Pleistocene Age. This is a geologic time span calculated to have been between 2.8 million and 11,700 years ago. This epoch is often referred to loosely as the “Ice Age.5

Anilao Hill is part of a volcanic complex referred to as the Macolod (Maculot locally) Corridor. This complex includes, among others, Mount Makiling, Mount Malepunyo, the Laguna de Bay and Taal Volcano, including the lake. Down the geologic epochs, small pyroclastic or scoria cones were formed by relatively mildly explosive or Strombolian eruptions within this complex. Other similar volcanic scoria cones that have been identified are Tombol Hill in Rosario and Sorosoro Hill in Batangas City.6

Tombol Hill in Rosario, like Anilao Hill, is also a pyroclastic or scoria cone.  Image credit:  Google Earth.

Note that Phivolcs has classified Anilao Hill as an inactive rather than a dormant volcano. The terms are often used interchangeably but they do not mean the same. A dormant volcano has been inactive for many years but has the capacity and is expected to erupt sometime in the future. In contrast, an inactive volcano such as Anilao Hill is usually not expected to erupt mostly because of the very long time that passed since it was last active.7

Notes and references:
1 “Inactive Volcanoes,” online at the Phivolcs web site.
2 “Anilao Hill,” online at Geoview.info.
3 “Anilao Hill,” online at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program web site.
4 “Pyroclastic Cones,” online at Brittanica.com.
5 “Pleistocene,” Wikipedia.
6 “The Soils of the Philippines,” by Rodelio B. Carating, Raymundo G. Galanta and Clarita D. Bacatio.
7 “What are active and inactive volcanoes?” Online at reference.com.

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