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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31 August 2017

WWII Japanese Atrocities Committed in the Barrios of Lipa

Burning houses in World War II.  Image credit:  John Tewell on Flickr.
In a previous article, I had written that the Japanese, particularly towards the end of their occupation in the Philippines, had massacred an estimated 25,000 Batangueños. The most number of deaths was in the then town of Lipa.

26 August 2017

Gayuma, Anting-anting and other Tagalog Charms in 1915 (and how they were made)

Image directly loaded from Wassup Pilipinas.
Charms are “objects used to avert evil and bring good fortune1.” People have been known to have used them as early as the Neolithic Age, when primitive men picked up unusual looking stones or pieces of wood and carried these with them thinking that these could protect them against their enemies2. These objects have been used by people all over the world, including, of course, the Philippines.

25 August 2017

Tanauan City: Historical and Folkloric Trivia about some of its Barrios

Satellite picture of Tanauan City. Image credit:  Google Earth.
This article is part of a series that focuses on historic and folkloric trivia about the barrios of the towns and cities of Batangas. Information contained in this series has been extracted from documents on the country’s barrios, towns and cities written in the 1950s and digitized for posterity by the National Library of the Philippines. The source for each barrio is conveniently hyperlinked for any reader who wishes to follow through.

21 August 2017

9 Philippine UFO Sightings Included among Project Blue Book Files

Image credit:  World UFO Day.
For the benefit of readers not into these things, Project Blue Book was a systematic and scientific study of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) conducted by the United States Air Force starting in 1952. By the time the project was terminated in 1970, it had collected and studied a total of 12,618 UFO reports.

19 August 2017

Mataasnakahoy: Historical and Folkloric Trivia about some of Its Barrios

Satellite photo of Mataasnakahoy.  Image credit:  Google Earth.
This article is part of a series on historical and folkloric information about the towns and cities of Batangas at the barrio level. The information contained herein has been taken from documents required in the early fifties by the administration of Elpidio Quirino for the reconstruction of the nation’s history after vital documents were destroyed during the last World War.

Marriage Customs in Batangas in 1916

Image credit:  DIY Wedding Favor Tags.
A paper written in 1916 by one Remedios Q. Kalalo entitled “Marriage Customs in Batangas1” provides valuable insights about Batangueño culture at the dawn of the American colonial era in the Philippines. The paper is part of the Henry Otley Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

17 August 2017

The Tiyanak: Comparing Beliefs Acquired in Batangas to those in Bulacan in 1922

Image credit:  Iaaaaaaaaaan on Deviant Art.
As a little boy growing up in the sixties when Batangas was so much more rural and the nights were a lot quieter, the sound of a baby crying outside used to make my heart pound with fear. Instantly racing through my mind would be thoughts of – please God no! – the tiyanak!

16 August 2017

Historical and Folkloric Trivia about some Barrios of Batangas City

Satellite photo of Batangas City.  Image credit:  Google Earth.

Conde Itaas and Conde Labak
There used to be just one barrio named Conde in what was then the town of Batangas. However, in 1934, when one Perfecto Condes was the mayor of the town, the barrio was divided into two. One section was named Conde Itaas while the other was named Conde Labak. Each had its own barrio lieutenant. The name “Conde” means the aristocratic rank “Count.”

(Source: History and Cultural Life of Conde Itaas and Conde Labak)

Dela Paz
Dela Paz is a remote barrio along the coast south of Mount Talim. Its old name was “Dalasa.” The entire barrio used to be owned by the Spaniard Jose Rea, who had a Filipina wife whose name was Eugenia Iturralde. The wealthy owners had a temple built in the barrio where a fiesta was celebrated each year.

(Source: History and Cultural Life of Dela Paz)

Dela Paz Pulot
Dela Paz Pulot used to be a sitio of Dela Paz. According to folklore, the name “Pulot” was supposed to have been given to the barrio because of an incident which the residents allegedly witnessed. Supposedly, there was this large tree in the middle of the barrio from which hung a beehive. The barrio’s inhabitants wanted the tree cut down for lumber and to extract the honey from the hive. While it was being cut, the honeycomb supposedly broke and honey started to flow down onto the barrio. From then on, the place became known as Dela Paz Pulot.

(Source: History and Cultural Life of Dela Paz Pulot)

Dela Paz Pulot was so named after a beehive.  Image credit:  Dreamtime.com.
Haligue Kanluran and Haligue Silangan
The two barrios used to be just one barrio named Haligue. The name, which means “post” in English, was supposed to have been given because of a giant rock on nearby Mount Talim which to old inhabitants looked like a post supporting the mountain.

(Source: History and Cultural Life of Haligue Kanluran and Haligue Silangan)

The barrio to the southeast of Poblacion Batangas City which is called Ilijan was established in 1865. Among the barrio’s original settlers were families with the surnames Claro, Jimenez, Sanchez, Manguerra, Evangelista, Goot, Baja and Furto. The barrio's name was supposed to originally have been “Iluhan” after a sugar mill that the Spaniards erected in the Barrio.

(Source: History and Cultural Life of Ilijan)

A primitive sugarcane crusher during the early American colonial era.  There must have been something like this in Ilijan with the sugarcane mill was still there.  Image credit:  University of Michigan Digital Collections.
Lilinggiwan was probably named after the vine hinggiu-kalabau.  Image credit:  Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Barrio Lilinggiwan used to be a sitio of Ilijan. Its name was supposed to have been derived from the “hinggiw,” a native vine used as rope which used to be plentiful in the barrio. This vine in most likelihood was the hinggiu-kalabau, also a medicinal plant with the scientific name streptocaulon baunii1.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Lilinggiwan)

Mabacong or Mabakong as the name of the barrio is contemporarily spelled used to be called Matuko. The old name was supposed to have been because of the proliferation of geckos (tuko) in the area. Its present name, meanwhile, was supposed to have been given because its earliest settlers found thick plants called the “bakong.” The plant was probably the spider lily, with the scientific name crinum asiaticum2.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Mabacong)

Mabacong was probably named after the bakong or the spider lily.  Image directly loaded from Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Mahabang Dahilig
This barrio was formerly known as “Buayahan,” and probably because it was believed that the river that ran through it was crocodile-infested. The earlier inhabitants, wary of the crocodiles, were supposed to have relocated their small community farther uphill. Hence, its present name Mahabang Dahilig is really a description of the barrio’s topography. Translated into English, the name means a “long hill” or a “long incline.”

Source: History and Cultural Life of Mahabang Dahilig)

According to folklore, this barrio used to be a forested area that was once visited by Spaniards. Some of the visitors got off their boat to investigate the forest and found an abundant supply of “pagkit” or beeswax, a type of wax naturally produced by honey bees3. The Spaniards kept returning to harvest the beeswax and soon were employing Filipinos, who would settle the area and found a barrio. The settlement would come to be known as Pagkilatan or the source of the “pagkit” or the beeswax.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Pagkilatan)

Pagkilatan was named after beeswax.  Image credit:  R Devine Organic Skin Care.
Pinamuk-an used to be called Pipisikan. The barrio was initially settled by three families: the Villenas, the Hernandezes and the Alcantaras. These families built their homes on the eastern side of the barrio because then, the western side was swampy and dense with mangroves. In time, the swamps dried up and the mangroves were cleared, allowing more families to build over the western part of the barrio.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Pinamuk-an)

San Miguel
The barrio of San Miguel used to be known as Sirang Lupa. In 1949, supporters of Dr. Jose P. Laurel’s presidential bid retreated to the hilly part of the barrio after the so-called Batangas Revolt. Feeling that Laurel was the legitimately-elected President, supporters attacked government establishments in the Poblacion until pursued by forces of the Philippine Constabulary. The “rebels” were under the command of one General Francisco Medrano.

Source: History and Cultural Life of San Miguel)

The Presidential Elections in 1949 led to the so-called "Batangas Revolt."  Both pictures above in the public domain.
According to folklore, this barrio’s name was taken from the brook which ran through it. The name of the brook was Saim-sim. One day, an American srranger was supposed to have passed through the barrio and remarked that the Saim-sim brook was very long. It was from this supposed even that the barrio became known as Simlong. Initially, Simlong was a mere sitio of Pinamuk-an, until it separated in 1900.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Simlong)

Talahib Payapa
According to folklore, a company of Spanish soldiers on their way to Lobo paused to rest in the barrio and prepare their meals. It so happened that they stopped to rest under a big tree that stood out surrounded as it was by hectares of the reedy grass that is called talahib in Tagalog. The name of the tree was payapa. If you do a google search, the search engine will think you made a typo and show you pages of entries showing papaya instead of payapa. There is such a tree, however, and most reader will probably recognize its more common name balete. To return to the folkloric story, the decided to give the place a name and called it Talahib Payapa4.

Source: History and Cultural Life of Talahib Payapa)

The payapa tree, also more commonly known as the balete tree.  Image directly loaded from Philippine Medicinal Plants.

Notes and references:
1Hinggiu-Kalabau,” online at Philippine Medicinal Plants.
2Bakong,” online at Philippine Medicinal Plants.
3Beeswax,” Wikipedia.
4Payapa,” online at Philippine Medicinal Plants.

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15 August 2017

The Untold Story of the Gasoline Station in front of DLSL

Image credit:  Google Street View.
I was surprised last week when I passed by the Caltex gasoline station beside De La Salle in Lipa City to find that it had closed down. After a moment, I realized that its lease must have expired. I cannot be sure now if the lease was for 20 or 25 years, but what I am certain about is that the lease was indeed due to expire this year.

14 August 2017

How Some Barrios of Lipa City Got their Names

Satellite photo of Lipa City as seen on Google Earth.
In 1953, Department of Education divisions all over the country had to submit local histories to the National Library of the Philippines to compensate for historical documents destroyed during World War II. These documents have been digitized and are now available at the NLP’s web site.

10 August 2017

Powerful Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake Jolts Batangas

Image credit:  Phivolcs.
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck 16 kilometers west of Nasugbu, Batangas at 1:28 in the afternoon of Friday, 11 August 2017. The earthquake was actually more powerful than those that hit off Tingloy Island and Mabini last April.

Pictures of Taal Volcano Taken before the Destructive 1911 Eruption

In the crater of Taal volcano.  Image credit:  University of Michigan Digital Collections.
At the University of Michigan Digital Archives, there is a collection of pictures taken of Taal Volcano likely before the 1911 eruption. The pictures, which are all part of the Everett Thompson Photograph Collection, were likely taken during an expedition to the Main Volcano Crater. Most of the pictures are undated; but one explicitly states that it was taken in 1902.

07 August 2017

Sonny Lozano and the Little-Known Story of Jose Mari Chan’s First-ever Single “Afterglow”

Left, Sonny Lozano with his beauteous wife Beth.  Right, Jose Mari Chan while on vacation in Bohol in 2010.
After dinner last night, I listened across the table to Sonny Lozano as he narrated the story of how he produced Jose Mari Chan’s first-ever single “Afterglow.” I had heard the story countless times before, but like a child being told a fairy tale before bed, I still get totally fascinated by it.

06 August 2017

Classic Photos of Bauan, Taal and Tanauan taken in the Early 1900s

Image credit:  University of Michigan Digital Collections, with the title “Seven men” taken 2 January 1904 in Batangas.
In a way, photographic essays can be more descriptive than those made with words; and this one gives very graphic descriptions of life in Batangas in the early years of the American colonial era. All the pictures are taken from the University of Michigan Digital Collections. I had taken the liberty of giving the original pictures a graphic software makeover to improve their quality and bring out more of details.

05 August 2017

DLSL Sports, Breaking New Ground in the Late Eighties

DLSL teams in the eighties.
The other week, while discussing the formation of a local league with the football coach of UB-Lipa Campus, I was amused that he looked so concerned about having to collect the registration fee from his players. That, I told him, would be no different from what I myself used to do when I was still a young coach at DLSL back in the eighties.

04 August 2017

Dr. Jose P. Laurel and the “Dirtiest Election” in Philippine Electoral History

Both pictures above in the public domain.
Many readers will have heard of Dr. Jose Paciano Laurel, born in 1891 in what was then the town of Tanauan in Batangas, from secondary school history lessons. He was twice elected to the Philippine Senate, the first time in 1925 when the country was still an American colony; and again in 1951 when the Philippines were already a fledgling independent republic. In 1936, he was also appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

01 August 2017

Art Event in Lipa City Showcased Best of Batangas Visual Talents

The recent My City, My SM, My Art at SM City Lipa.
As My City, My SM, My Art continues its cultural journey around the Philippines, its stop at SM City Lipa last 13-20 July was very special because it highlighted the importance of mentorship and the next generation artists. Two of the featured artists were Jonathan Olazo and Paulina Luz Sotto. Jonathan is the son of Master Artist Romulo Olazo while Paulina Luz-Sotto is the granddaughter of National Artist Arturo Luz.