23 December 2017

Agricultural and Other Products of Batangas in 1916 and the Top Producing Towns

Sugar was among Batangas' main products in 1916.  Image credit:  University of Michigan Digital Collections.
An Anthropological paper written by one Galicano C. Luansing in 1916 offers a glimpse at economic activities undertaken by the people of Batangas at the dawn of the American colonial era. The paper, entitled “Industries of Batangas Province1,” is part of the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection at the National Library of the Philippines.

Luansing divided his discussions into agricultural, manufacturing and commercial activities, by and large also providing which towns of the Batangas these activities were predominantly undertaken.

Agriculture

Luansing wrote that agriculture was Batangas’ most important industry and praised the volcanic soil as “exceedingly fertile on account of the minerals it contains.” It was perfect, he went on, for the cultivation of sugarcane, rice, oranges, abaca and tobacco.

Sugarcane
According to Luansing, sugarcane was planted in both upland and lowland agricultural fields. There were six varieties of sugarcane planted in Batangas at the time: purple, white, red, green, striped and lack with rings at the joints. Of these, the purple variety was grown in the largest quantity because of the superior quality of sugar that could be extracted from it.

Sugar was produced from the cane was classified according to manufacture and packing: “pilones” or granulated. A “pilon” was “a quantity of sugar solidified in a receptacle made of baked clay, which serves as a package.” Granulated sugar, meanwhile, was packed in sacks called “bayones,” which were woven from the leaves of buri palm.

Top producers and exporters:
Pilon sugar: Batangas, Lemery, Bauan, Santo Tomas and Lipa
Granulated sugar: Batangas, Taal, Nasugbu and Lipa

Rice
Luansing named rice as Batangas’ second most important agricultural produce at the time and said that, like sugarcane, it was also grown in both upland and lowland agricultural fields. Upland rice was planted from June to December and harvested at the beginning of the dry season. This type of rice only yielded one crop each year.

Lowland rice, meanwhile, was planted in fields where the water was held in by mud dikes. This type of rice could be planted anytime of the year and could yield up to four crops annually.

Top producers:
Upland rice: produced in “practically all municipalities” but in surplus quantities in San Jose, Taysan, Lobo, Santo Tomas and Lipa
Lowland rice: Batangas, Bauan and Rosario

Corn
The third most important agricultural produce of Batangas in 1916 according to Luansing was corn, which was planted in great quantities both for human consumption and “for fattening domestic animals.” Corn was grown in all municipalities of the province, but only a few towns grew it in significant quantities.

Top producers: Lobo, Batangas, San Jose, Tanauan and Rosario

Oranges
Luansing wrote that oranges were among Batangas’ agricultural exports; and named the town of Tanauan as having “the best groves of oranges” and the “greatest producer of the whole province. A more detailed article about Batangas’ orange production is contained in this article: When Batangas was the “Orange Capital” of the Philippines.

Top producers: Batangas, Santo Tomas and Tanauan

Abaca
Luansing wrote that growing abaca was among Batangas’ growing industries at the time, and that more “tracts of land in the different sections of the province are given to its raising.” The fibers from the abaca stalk were crudely separated, he went on; and from these, sinamay2 was created. It was from sinamay that the clothing of common people was often woven.

Top producers: Lipa, Cuenca and Santo Tomas

Other products
Coffee: Luansing wrote that although the coffee industry had been decimated by the 19th century fungus infestation, there were still “vast plantations” in Lipa, Tanauan and Batangas which were “under experiment,” presumably to test for resistance to disease.
Cotton: Cotton was grown in Lemery and Calaca, sufficient to meet the needs of the entire province.
Others: Batangas also produced other vegetables and fruits such as the bean, pea, squash, cucumber, lanzones (lanseh), santol (sandor or cottonfruit), atis (sugar apple), jackfruit and bread fruit.

Livestock raising
According to Luansing, cattle, carabaos, horses, goats, chicken and pigs were the most common livestock raised in Batangas. The province’s horses, Luansing wrote, were well-known throughout the Philippines. Cattle stock was constantly being improved by importing breeds from Capiz and Mindoro. Hogs and poultry were being raised for export to other towns.

Top producers: Rosario3, Taysan and Lobo

Fishing
Marine fishing: Luansing wrote that the most popular and efficient means of fishing in the province was through the use of dragnets, mostly at night so that fishermen could use lights to attract the fishes. This was why, at nighttime, countless lights could be seen from the shores of Batangas town, Bauan and Taal. On the beaches, fishermen used nets and hand traps to catch small fishes. Shrimps, clams, oysters, crabs were either collected by hand or by way of bamboo traps.

Freshwater fishing: In the freshwaters of Taal Lake as well as the Pansipit and Calumpang Rivers were caught a wide variety of fishes. Mud fish was caught from the rice fields of Batangas and Bauan. Clams and oysters were also collected from their freshwater beds. Luansing noted that freshwater fishing was common during the rainy season when farmers were not tending to their crops and presumably needed other forms of subsistence.

Lumber industry
Lumber, according to Luansing, was collected from the forests of San Juan, the forest reserve around Mount Makiling and the hills of Nasugbu. Among the trees that were felled for lumber were molave, quijo, tindalo, balayang, apitong, banaba, palomeria and lauan or Philippine mahogany. Bamboo was also an important product since many houses in the villages were made with these.

Manufacturing

Luansing also provided a comprehensive listing of products manufactured in Batangas. In Lipa, he wrote, saddles, harnesses and slippers were made. Cloths from sinamay, jusi and silk were also woven in the town. Tanauan, on the other hand, produced chips, rope and cabo-negro4, a type of cable made from a variety of palm. Still in Tanauan but also in Santo Tomas, large woven bamboo baskets were made for shipping oranges. In the town of Batangas were manufactured khaki cloths and white duck shoes, along with large amounts of crockery or earthenware. The town was also known for its pottery industry and the manufacture of ropes and nets.

Taal was known for many household manufacturing industries. The town produced bamboo baskets of different shapes and sizes; mats made from buri; sacks called bayones; and whips and saddles. The town also had a leather industry from which harnesses, shoes and saddles were made. Cotton was woven into cloths and towels. Taal’s blacksmith industry produced various tools and weapons. Finally, the town was known for the production of a candy called “panucha.”

Commerce

According to Luansing, in 1916, Batangas exported sugar, hogs, oranges, fishes, horses, corn, cloths, tied abaca, fine embroidery, sawali (woven bamboo mats), baskets and bolos. It also imported dry goods, hardware, machinery, groceries, wines, liquors, tobacco, abaca, vino, coconuts and cattle from Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Mindoro, Capiz and Romblon.

Commerce was mostly controlled by the Chinese, but there were also well known traders in the towns of Lipa and Taal. Meanwhile, the trading of sugar was primarily controlled by capitalists from Taal, whose merchants reached Ilocos Sur, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Tayabas, Sorsogon, Leyte, Capiz, Romblon and Mindoro peddling diverse items such as sinamay, cotton cloths, blankets, towels, nets, baskets, slippers, wooden shoes, sawali, knives, candies, trinkets and many other products of Batangas.

Notes and references:
1Industries of Batangas Province,” by Galicano C. Luansing, published 1916, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2 Sinamay is woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree. “All about sinamay,” online at Torb&Reiner.
3 The town of Padre Garcia, known in the present day for its livestock production, was still part of Rosario in 1916.
4Cabo-negro,” online at Wordnik.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this article, please click the Like button or share it freely on social media. It helps to pay this site's domain name and maintenance costs.