27 February 2016

A Village Called Munting Batangas in Bataan

Image credit:  Judge Florentino Flor, Wikimedia Commons.

My career as an educator afforded me the chance to travel around the country, either to attend administrators’ conferences or to participate in sporting events. Inevitably, visits to cities like Cebu, Davao and Bacolod down south or Baguio and Vigan up north culminated in trips to the market to scrounge for presents to take home.

And just as inevitably, one was bound to chance upon a store owned and operated by Batangueños. The punto or accent, invariably, was always the trigger to a conversation and always drew the opening line, “Taga-Batangas kayo ano?” (You are from Batangas, are you not?)

Batangueños, it may surprise some of you, are in fact thought of as the entrepreneurial sort elsewhere; and there have been those blown far and wide around the country by opportunities to peddle their wares.

To these expatriate Batangueños, hearing the accent spoken with the authenticity of those born and raised in the province must sound like music to the ears. And not that the joy of having fellow Batangueños as customers ever translated into any real discounts.

But in this obscure little corner of the city of Balanga in the Province of Bataan, Batangueño expatriates probably do not miss home as badly as those in other places. That is because they have brought Batangas to Bataan.

In fact, they even call their village Munting Batangas or Little Batangas.

Munting Batangas is one of Balanga’s 25 barangays or geopolitical villages. Peace Corps volunteer Ingrid Feustel, in a blog post published in 2014, described Munting Batangas as a picturesque village with a single street and roughly 2000 people.

A Facebook page owned and maintained by the village explains why Munting Batangas is named the way it is. “Karamihan ng nakatira rito ay nagmula sa Batangas at likas na mga Batangueño.” (Most of the village’s inhabitants came from Batangas and are truly Batangueño.)

The Munting Batangas story began in 1955 when it was still part of Tenejero, presently another of Balanga’s geopolitical villages. The land was characterised by forests and tall grasses.

Munting Batangas’ official web site tells the story of three families who were looking for lands to farm and found the place suitable. These were the families of Crispulo Magpantay, Valentin Mirania and Aguinaldo Tenorio.

The web site does not explicitly state that these families were from Batangas, but those who live in the province will immediately recognise the surnames as very familiar indeed.

The three families sparked further migration of relatives, attracted as they were by the vast arable lands. With the passage of time, there were enough people in the area for it to be given the status of a barangay separate from Tenejero.

In the present day, Munting Batangas has 612 households living spread across 653 hectares of upland rolling terrain. The village’s population has grown to 2773 with 25% 16 years old or younger.

The village’s economy is agrarian based with many structures for poultry and livestock. The village remains peaceful with a crime rate of zero. It is not easy to visualise Munting Batangas as being similar to many pockets of agrarian communities that continue to exist around the Province of Batangas to this day.

A quick look at Munting Batangas’ web site to examine the village’s officials yields some very familiar surnames: Mendoza, Luna, Buño, Aala, Austria, Castor, Rivera and Anillo, among others.

There is, indeed, a little corner of Batangas up in the Province of Bataan.

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