Taal Lake's Forgotten Past: How a Volcanic Eruption Reshaped It

Taal Lake was not always the freshwater inland lake geography books say it is. A volcanic eruption was responsible for its change.

Why Once There were no Chinese in Taal, Lemery and Bauan in Batangas

Taal used to be known for its not having any Chinese citizens, but Lemery and Bauan were also guilty of anti-Sinicism.

Searching for Nasugbu’s Lost Airfield

There used to be an airfield in Nasugbu which the Americans built and later reclaimed from the Japanese in 1945.

When Lipa and Batangas Merge, Will It Become Metro Lipa or Metro Batangas?

There is every possibility that one day the cities of Lipa and Batangas will become one large metropolis.

The Balisong and the Old Knife-Making Rivalry between Taal and Lipa

Forgotten with the passage of time is that there used to be a knife-making rivalry between Taal and Lipa.

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30 December 2017

Agoncillo, Batangas: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

The Agoncillo Public Market.  Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
This article is part of a series dedicated to bringing to younger readers otherwise forgotten historic and folkloric information about the barrios of Batangas. The information included here has been taken from documents submitted by Department of Education districts around the country in 1953 to the national government to help reconstruct the nation’s history. This was made necessary because of the destruction of many documents in World War II.

29 December 2017

An Old Tourist Spot in Taal Called the Pansipit Fishery

Tourists posing at a resort by the Pansipit River back in the fifties.
I still carry inside my head very hazy memories of a family trip to the Taal-Lemery area back in the early or mid-sixties. I could not have been more than 5 or 6 years old at the time. My mother used to be so fond of what she used to refer to as the “muslo,” the giant trevally which, as I understand it from people I know from Taal, is also called the “maliputong-labas” if caught outside Taal Lake.

10 Historical Trivia about Batangas All Batangueños Should Know

Present day map of Batangas Province.
The history of the great province of Batangas overflows with richness and trivial notes will not do it any justice. That said, there are those who are averse to lengthy readings and it is to them that this article is addressed. The historical notes contained in this article are but snippets that will, it his hoped, encourage readers to take greater interest and read more on the fascinating past of this province we call home.

The Balisong and the Old Knife-Making Rivalry between Taal and Lipa

Image credit:  By Iamthawalrus - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30337122.
The blacksmithing industry in the Philippines likely predates the arrival of the Spaniards. A 1590 manuscript called the Boxer Codex1, which was something of an instruction manual on the Philippines and other Far Eastern countries at the time, contained textual and pictorial descriptions of the Philippine ethnic groups known to the Spaniards.

28 December 2017

The Merchants of Taal in 1934 and a Business Model Based on Filipino Honesty

Image credit:  University of Michigan Digital Collections.
A 1934 Anthropology paper written by one Crisologo Atienza documented a remarkable business model used by the merchants of Taal that was totally dependent on Filipino honesty. The paper, entitled “The Industrial Survey of the Town of Taal, Batangas Province1” is part of the Henry Otley-Beyer collection of the National Library of the Philippines.

Still quite well known in the present day albeit not necessarily true anymore is that enterprises owned by those of Chinese origin were not allowed to gain a foothold in the town of Taal. Atienza explained: “…they (the Chinese) could not stay because no one dared to buy… This unique characteristic is transmitted from generation to generation…2

This was apparently less from a sense of patriotism and more brought on by a sense of self-protection. Atienza wrote, “Its (Taal’s) nearness to Manila plus the pressures of population are factors that induce the people to be restless and specialists in many lines of trade and industry.”

There were local industries in Taal that produced bamboo baskets, buri mats, sacks called “bayones,” whips, leather products, cotton cloths and towels and many others3. Add to these dry goods, hardware and other miscellaneous products that were shipped to Taal by steam ships and the town had become something of an entrepôt. In contrast, Atienza wrote, to surrounding towns which were still very much agricultural in nature.

Taal’s stores and shops were kept mostly by its women. The men, meanwhile, “engaged themselves as traders or traveling merchants and have stores in the different towns of the province of Batangas, Tayabas (Quezon in the present day), Laguna, Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque and in some of the Visayan Islands4.”

There were also traveling merchants who peddled their goods from house to house. These merchants roamed the Ilocos provinces, Pangasinan, Mindoro, Tayabas, Laguna, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes and Albay. They brought with them sinamay, jusi and piña products and other woven cloths, slippers and bolos.

Many of these merchants followed a business model totally dependent on Filipino honesty. To coax people to buy, especially those who did not as yet have the capacity to pay or were waiting for potential income from, say, the harvest of crops, the merchants were prepared to leave the products with the buyers without payment.

No credit documents were ever signed or exchanged. Neither were receipts ever issued. All transactions were conducted purely on the basis of trust and honesty. The merchants returned the following year, usually after the harvest season, to collect their payments.

Remarkably, very few of the buyers defaulted on their payments. This, Atienza conjectured, was due to the Filipino’s natural honesty, especially those who lived in the barrios and remote places.

To conclude, and especially so in the context of Filipino society in the present day, one is tempted to ask where this natural honesty has gone; and more importantly, why has it seemingly disappeared?

Notes and references:
1The Industrial Survey of the Town of Taal, Batangas Province,” by Crisologo Atienza, 1934, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2 A more complete discussion on the absence of Chinese merchants in Taal is contained in this article: “Why Once There were no Chinese in Taal, Lemery and Bauan in Batangas.”
3Industries 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.
4 During a CEAP Congress in Davao in 2003, colleagues and I bought presents from a market stall owned by a family originally from Taal.

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27 December 2017

San Luis, Batangas: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

The San Luis Public Market.  Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
This article is part of a series of articles dedicated to resurrecting otherwise forgotten historic and folkloric trivia about the barrios of the Province of Batangas. The information contained in the series is taken from documents required by the Presidency of Elpidio Quirino in 1951 of all Department of Education districts around the country to help reconstruct the country’s history. These documents are filed at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

24 December 2017

Calatagan, Batangas in the 19th Century, as Described by a Spanish Historian

The historic Cape Santiago Lighthouse in Calatagan.  Image sent in by Jigger Gilera, MD.
This is the eighth article of a series that seeks to acquaint modern day readers with conditions in the different towns of the Province of Batangas late in the nineteenth century. Our focus for this article is the western Batangas town of Calatagan, which is at the southern end of a peninsula facing the West Philippine Sea.

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.

12 Violent Earthquakes that Rocked Batangas from 1645 to 1901

Photo from John Tewell's collection on Flickr.
The shaking of the ground which we all refer to as “earthquake” may be caused by different factors: the collapse of an underground cavern or mine; or perhaps a nuclear of chemical blast. The most common causes of earthquakes, however, are purely natural occurrences: those induced by underground volcanic activity and are, therefore, called volcanic earthquakes; or those caused by movement of tectonic rocks underneath the surface of the earth which are, thus, called tectonic earthquakes1.

21 December 2017

Nasugbu, Batangas in the 19th Century as Described by a Spanish Historian

An antiquated sugar mill.  Image source:  New York Public Library.
In this seventh article of the series featuring the towns of Batangas as described by the Spanish historian Manuel Sastron, we focus on the western Batangas town of Nasugbu. The information is taken from Sastron’s 1895 book “Batangas y Su Provincia1” (Batangas and Its Province).

10 December 2017

The State of Agriculture in San Juan, Batangas in 1919

Image credit:  Luther Parker Collection at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
A 1919 paper written by one Beato M. Bukid1 provides a rare glimpse at the state of agriculture in the eastern Batangas town of San Juan back in 1919. This was just roughly two decades since the start of the American regime in the Philippines. Not just San Juan but most other towns of the Province of Batangas were still very much agrarian in nature. Thus, a lot of the information Bukid provided would have been true as well in many other towns of the province.

04 December 2017

Taysan: Historical and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
This article is the latest in the series dedicated to folkloric and historic trivia about the barrios of Batangas. This time, we focus on those of the Municipality of Taysan.

01 December 2017

19th Century San Jose, Batangas as Described by a Spanish Historian

Church at San Jose, Batangas.  Image from the Luther Parker Collection at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
This article is the sixth of a series featuring the towns of Batangas in the late nineteenth century, as described by the Spanish Historian Manuel Sastron in his 1895 book “Batangas y Su Provincia1” (Batangas and Its Province).