October 8, 2019

The Legendary Tulisan Romang Gabi, the “Robin Hood” of Spanish-era Batangas
Image credit:  Bamboo Tales at Project Guttenberg.
Image credit:  Bamboo Tales at Project Guttenberg.
From the so-called “historical data1” for the barrio of Muzon 2nd in the town of Alitagtag, Batangas, we hear of this forgotten legendary story about something of a Robin Hood figure in Spanish-era Batangas. His name was Roman Abratigue, and whether he was from Batangas or not, the source document failed to say.

October 4, 2019

The 48 World War II Martyrs of Lian, Batangas
The commemorative marker for the 48 martyrs in Lian, Batangas. Image source: Municipality of Lian Official Web Site.
The commemorative marker for the 48 martyrs in Lian, Batangas. Image source: Municipality of Lian Official Web Site.
Soon after the Japanese attack on the United States naval facility in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941, “able-bodied citizens and reservists” of the small western Batangas town of Lian along the shores of what is now called the West Philippine Sea “rallied to the frontlines of democracy1.”

September 26, 2019

The “Rescue” of Spanish Prisoners in Rosario, Batangas by American Soldiers in 1900
The US Army stationed in front of the Cathedral of San Sebastian.  Image souce:  Hoosiermarine on Flickr.
The US Army stationed in front of the Cathedral of San Sebastian.  Image souce:  Hoosiermarine on Flickr.
In a much earlier article, Batangas History already featured the capture and looting of the then-town of Lipa1 in 1900 by forces of the United States Army. That article included a short aside about a daring if foolhardy ride to the neighboring town of Rosario by a small group of Americans led by Cols. Robert L. Bullard and Geo S. Anderson, Commanders of the 38th and 39th Infantry Regiments, United States Volunteers (USV), respectively, to rescue a comrade.

September 20, 2019

A Chronology of Guerrilla Activities in Alitagtag, Batangas in WWII
Filipino guerrillas in action against the Japanese in March 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.
Filipino guerrillas in action against the Japanese in March 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.
From a memorandum1 dated 6 March 1946 written by one 1st Lieutenant Patricio M. Abu, addressed to the Chief of the United States Armed Forces Western Pacific Command, we extract this compelling chronology of guerrilla activity in the town of Alitagtag, Province of Batangas, during World War II.

September 16, 2019

When the Japanese Massacred Bauan’s Male Population in 1945
Filipino Guerrillas.  Image from the US National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Filipino Guerrillas.  Image from the US National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Bauan, late February 1945. It had been a month since the United States 8th Army had landed virtually unopposed in Nasugbu to support the liberation of Manila and later conduct operations against the Japanese Imperial Army in Southern Luzon, including Batangas.

September 15, 2019

Why the Capital of Batangas Moved from Taal to Batangas in 1754
Taal Volcano.  Image extracted from "The Philippine Islands," by John Foreman, published 1899.
In 1754, the seat of the provincial government or the capital of Batangas was in the municipality of Taal. Not the present location of Taal, which is closer to Balayan Bay, but along the shores of Taal Lake or where the small municipality of San Nicolas presently is. How the capital was moved from Taal to what is now the city of Batangas was due to a prolonged and cataclysmic eruption of Taal Volcano.

September 11, 2019

A Bauan Native’s 1945 Escape from Certain Death at the Hands of the Japanese
Image credit:  The Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum.  Members of the 158th  RCT walking along a coastal road.  Photo sent in by Jigger Gilera, MD.
Image credit:  The Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum.  Members of the 158th  RCT walking along a coastal road.  Photo sent in by Jigger Gilera, MD.
By March 1945, Allied liberation forces led by the United States Army had left their coop in Nasugbu, where the 8th Army had landed late in January of that year, to start the campaign to expel the Japanese from Southern Luzon, including Batangas.

July 25, 2019

The Beheading of Jose Dimaandal by the Japanese in Batangas Town in 1943
Decapitation of an Australian soldier in PNG by a Japanese soldier.  Public domain. Image source:  Wikipedia.
Decapitation of an Australian soldier in PNG by a Japanese soldier.  Public domain. Image source:  Wikipedia.
Filed away at the National Library of the Philippines are so-called “historical data” for the different towns across the Philippines. These were required by the administration of then-President Elpidio Quirino of all Bureau of Education divisions across the country to reconstruct local histories destroyed during the Second World War.

July 23, 2019

A Forgotten Mariang Makiling Legend Set in Balayan, Batangas
Image source:  "Alamat ni Maria Makiling," Pinoy Collection.
Image source:  "Alamat ni Maria Makiling," Pinoy Collection.
Even in the present day, one still hears once in a while stories of people who had gone on treks up Mount Makiling in the Province of Laguna and fell ill afterwards, the illness attributed to these same people allegedly having done something to displease the guardian of the mountain, the “diwata” or fairy called Mariang Makiling.

July 9, 2019

When the Holy Cross Refused to Leave Alitagtag to Save Its Inhabitants from Taal Volcano
The Holy Crosses of Bauan and Alitagtag.  Image credit:  adelacy on Panoramio.
The Holy Crosses of Bauan and Alitagtag.  Image credit:  adelacy on Panoramio.
There are many folkloric stories about the Holy Cross, patron of the towns of Alitagtag and Bauan, the former incidentally once part of the latter. One of the most fascinating of these was a story set during the 1911 eruption of Taal Volcano, among the most destructive in recorded history.

June 26, 2019

The Revival of the "Haybing" Religious Drama in Taal in 1929
Juan Maningca fishing the image from the river as depicted by a fresco at the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine.  Image credit:  By Eric Jam - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30978535.
Juan Maningca fishing the image from the river as depicted by a fresco at the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine.  Image credit:  By Eric Jam - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30978535.
According to one Claudia M. Cruz in an ethnographic paper1 submitted to the University of the Philippines in 1930, a religious drama called the “Haybing,” which used to be held in the Municipality of Taal in Batangas during the Spanish colonial period, was temporarily shelved early during the American era probably for “the great expenses and trouble incurred before a successful “haybing” could be given.”

June 20, 2019

The “Procesion Civica,” Highlight of Cuenca, Batangas’ Fiesta Celebration c. 1930
Image extracted from the 1898 publication "Yesterday in the Philippines." Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Image extracted from the 1898 publication "Yesterday in the Philippines." Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
In the present day, the Municipality of Cuenca in Batangas has developed a reputation for being the “Home of the Bakers,” and the town itself has become renowned for its “Tinapay” (Bread) Festival which “puts the spotlight on the hardworking bakers or ‘panaderos’ of the place1.” During the American colonial era, however, the highlight of the annual fiesta or the feast celebrated in honor of the town’s patron saint, was something else altogether.