January 2, 2018

Sinisian, Lemery, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Sinisian the Municipality of Lemery, Batangas, the original scanned documents at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections not having OCR or optical character recognition properties. This transcription has been edited for grammar, spelling and punctuation where possible. The original pagination is provided for citation purposes.

[Cover page.]

COMPILATION

OF

HISTORICAL DATA

FOR THE



BARRIO

OF

SINISIAN



MUNICIPALITY OF LEMERY

PROVINCE OF BATANGAS

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DIVISION OF BATANGAS
DISTRICT OF LEMERY
Sinisian Elementary School

HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF THE BARRIO OF SINISIAN

PART ONE: HISTORY

Present Official Name of the Barrio

In one of the little nooks of the town of Lemery lies the barrio of Sinisian, Lemery, endowed with beautiful rice and corn fields, vast areas of evergreen meadows, hills and mountains and with water from a spring flowing continuously, thus making the lives of the inhabitants easier. Here and there are tall and slender bamboo trees which stand majestically and waving as if to welcome everybody who wants to settle there.

Popular Name of the Barrio, Present and Past; Derivation and Meanings of These Names

Sinisian, Lemery, is one of the barrios of the town of Lemery, province of Batangas. Calawang, Balukbaluk, Talisay and Malapad na Bato are places under the territorial jurisdiction of the barrio.

Long before the Spanish conquest, this barrio was a part of the former barrio of Sinisian, Calaca. It was told that in a place just near the spring, the Spanish soldiers were defeated by the Americans. Just after the Spanish defeat, the Spanish soldiers began to talk with each other. The people who came later could neither understand nor speak the Spanish language heard the “si, si” of the Spanish. Some thirsty American soldiers then approached the group of Filipinos conversing by a spring and asked what spring it was. The Filipinos thought that the Spaniards were “nagsisihan” because they were defeated. The Americans believed that the name of the spring where they stood was Sisihan. Later, this barrio was called “Sisihan” after the name of the spring. After the lapse of several years, this spring became the dividing line between Lemery and Calaca, and so called the northern part of Sisihan, Calaca and the eastern part as Sisihan, Lemery until years later, the name became corrupted to the present form, Sinisian, Lemery. How the change took place, nobody knows and likewise nobody seems to care.

Date of Establishment

Sinisian, Lemery was established in the year 1896.

Original Families

In the olden days, majority of the vast lands of Sinisian, Lemery was owned by the rich family of Miss Agueda Reyes, who was known to be the first family that lived in this place. As time went on, settlers came and through this kindhearted family, they were able to own land through persistent toil. Due to the growing civilization, this family aspired for a higher standard of living and transferred their residence to the town. They then sold parcels of land to other residents who came to live in this barrio.

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List of Tenientes from the Earliest Time to Date

Tenientes are considered leaders in barrios as mayors are in towns. Since the establishment of Sinisian, Lemery, tenientes were appointed and changed. The first teniente was Florencio Noche, and was later succeeded by Eugenio de Castro. Years passed by and a capable leader, Nicolas Landicho, an old man of the barrio, succeeded the former teniente. Hipolito Atienza soon followed his leadership. With his death, Perpetuo Tusing, who is still living to date, took his position. Years passed by, and peace-loving inhabitants of this place were headed by Eugenio Salazar who received some of the worst corporal punishments from the Japanese invaders. He was replaced by Venancio Catapang soon after liberation. With the genuine leadership shown by Eugenio Salazar, he was reappointed teniente up to the present. His readiness and willingness to help anybody with his untiring efforts made him a successful leader of the place.

Story of Old Barrios or Sitios within the Jurisdiction that are now Depopulated or Extinct

So far, this barrio is lucky enough that nothing of its parts was depopulated. All places are occupied by the inhabitants.

Data on Historical Sites, Structures, Buildings, Old Ruins, Etc.

Even as early as the time when this barrio Sinisian, Lemery was newly-established, people lived properly and decently. There were already big buildings as well as small huts in which the inhabitants lived. But the remnants of these could no longer be traced because they were covered with soil or mud carried by the hard rains and floods that visited this place now and then. It must also be remembered that buildings were situated in the heart of the barrio, along the inner old road which once was the national road. There was also a chapel in the heart of the barrio now known as Calawang and not in the place where it is situated at present. During that time, this chapel was used not only as a place for worship but also as a school building where those interested to learn studied the cartilla under an able leader name Felipe Capucion.

Important Facts, Incidents, or Events that Took Place

During the Spanish Occupation

During the early times when our country was under the Spanish sovereignty, this barrio was among those which suffered great hardships. According to the old man, from whom we got this information, the people during that time suffered terrifying hardships more than what we all experienced during the Japanese regime. The people had no stable homes. They hid themselves far away, even in the heart of nearby mountains, to free themselves from the Spaniards. These Spaniards fought and killed not only many Filipino soldiers but also men and especially innocent children.

The barrio folks during that time united and were ruled by a leader named Juan Tamayo and another one called “Purok.” These leaders were not behind in instruction and any kind of information because they received orders and letters from their higher officials residing in Manila.

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They were informed about conditions of the Filipino people in Manila and the nearby towns or provinces, so that when the news of killing and death of Dr. Jose Rizal spread out, they revolted one after another. The revolt was so great that it lasted up to the arrival of the Americans.

During the American Occupation to World War II

The Americans arrived in this barrio when many Spaniards still reigned over this place. There was still heavy fighting between the Filipinos and the Spaniards. At first, the Spaniards fought with the Americans. But later on, the former sided [with] the latter in the revolt. The Filipino soldiers and the inhabitants had an intense desire for being independent from any foreign sovereignty so that they fought with the Americans although they were handicapped with the necessary weapons. At last, the Americans won the admiration of the people and built their permanent houses, and live peacefully and contentedly. They earned their daily bread through honest efforts, had proper ways of dressing and enjoyed religious toleration. During the early part of [the] American occupation, the people where educated and taught the English language not in the public schools but in a private house under a tutor paid by the people themselves in [a] monetary system or in forms of goods or commodities such as palay, corn, rice, and the like.

During and After World War II

The people, since then, live peacefully in the way they should. They were happy and contented with what they had, until the outbreak of World War II, when the Japanese controlled the land. At the beginning of the Japanese regime, the people lived happily. But the Japanese soldiers made so many abuses among the inhabitants that people left their homes and fled to faraway places and hid from their enemies. Many of the men of the barrio, especially the barrio lieutenants, suffer tortures from the Japanese. They were taken to the Japanese headquarters because they were suspected guerrillas. The Japanese killed many people they saw. In the latter part of 1945, even young children were killed. Not one person lived peacefully in the place until after the Americans liberated the people from the cruel hands of the Japanese in February 1945.

How happy the burial folks where upon the arrival of the Americans! The people returned to their work in the fields, built or improved their permanent homes and stayed permanently in their respective barrios. In the course of time, their modes of dressing and ways of eating were improved. The people crave for some improvements on the educational system, too. In September 1947, they were granted their request by the government by opening a class for their children. The first school building was in an average home in the barrio old by one Eugenio de Castro, with one grade under a teacher. A year later, another class was opened and another teacher was added. Through the resourcefulness and cooperation of the people and the teachers assigned in the place, they were able to construct a two-room building. The enrollment of the pupils increased so that the former two teachers increased to six as it is now. Now, the school of this barrio has the complete elementary grades. The people become cooperative and religious. Every year, they celebrate the day of their patron saint with [a] great feast.

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The people, too, improved a lot in their standards of living.

PART TWO: FOLKWAYS

Traditions, Customs, and Practices in Domestic and Social Life

Birth –

Birth means a new life of a human being. A mother in the olden days like at present, before giving birth, took a bath, two fresh eggs and had a bite of the young branch of a plant called "tuba." they were nursed by a midwife only called "hilot" for doctor's were rare that time. After the mother had given birth to the child and it was alive, a hen was dressed in thanksgiving for the coming of the child. Then the child was given a bath and rest by the midwife.

Baptism –

During the olden days, courses were the only means of transportation. When a child was to be baptized, they had to carry it on horseback to the town. A child was baptized in the afternoon in the same way as we do at present. The baptismal party was celebrated in the afternoon.

Courtship –

Courtship, too, at that time was very crude. A man or a woman might marry without seeing or courting each other. Only their parents agreed upon their marriage.

When a young man desired to court a young woman, he first helped the family. Upon the site of a woman's house, he took off his hat to show his respect. Upon reaching the house, he kissed the hand of all the older persons there present with bent knees. Then, the young man must be far from the woman when talking with her and in the presence of the mother's [woman’s[ parents. When the parents of the woman like the man, they accepted his courtship. Then followed the meeting of the two families to arrange the plans for the marriage. Even before the plans for the marriage were made, the young man, with his parents, worked in the young woman's house and gave preliminary servings and wedding parties for three consecutive Fridays before the definite wedding day.

Marriage –

Marriage comes after courtship. Before the marriage ceremony was set, he was given first to the young woman or her parents. It went to the young woman's parents and to the newly married pair. It may be in the form of jewels, money, learned or domestic animals like cows and carabaos. Then, they were married by the priest or justice of the peace. Since horses were the only means of travel in this barrio that time, marriage ceremonies were done in the afternoon and always on Sunday. Upon the arrival of the coupled at the bride's house, they were served some sweets at the foot of the stairs before entering the house. At the same time, somebody threw some cooked rice at the couple while and old woman held two lighted candles with money between, and she squeezed them tightly. This was the practice with the belief that in so doing, the couple will live happily together.

Death –

Death yes but natural upon any individual. It comes whether one likes it or not. It may be natural or an unnatural death.

In this barrio, many lives were lost during the past, because of song revolts and uprisings that the people had against the Spaniards and the Americans. But these happenings were not as grievous as when the people suffered from a great disease, the cholera which swept out a great number of the people's lives. Many died every minute. Even those people who helped in burying the victims died abruptly because of this communicable disease which at that time was very incurable. The death were so great that only few of the people luckily survived.

Burial –

The burial custom in the past might be the same as at present with slight differences, because of the higher standard of living of the people of today.

If one of the members of the family dies, it is but natural that all of the close relatives cry, sob and lament. By those extra ordinary noise and cries that they make, other persons in the neighborhood learn of the death. Then, the neighbors and other friends go to the house of the bereaved family to express their condolences. Some even help the members in household work which are neglected because of their grief. When night comes to watch over the corpse, many friends, relatives and neighbors spend the sleepless night in the buried family's house. While they watch, they play different games to keep them all awake. These watchers are served some bread and coffee or other drinks so that they will not feel tired the whole night. The interment is done the following day. The corpse is placed in a coffin which is directly bought or made the night before. Some who are financially handicapped to buy one, just wrap the corpse in a mat and blanket, then place it in bamboo splits called "bislad." but nowadays, this method is no longer practiced by the people.

As the dead is carried down the stairs, an old woman sits by the stairway and throws a dipper of water down the stairs. Still some cut a piece of their floor, with the belief that in so doing the ill-luck that has befallen the family is carried away or removed. Other person's left in the house close all the windows and prohibit everyone to peep out of them.

The coffin is carried bye a group of people who take turns in carrying it, from the house to the church where it is blessed by a priest or just being prayed for by the people. Then it is carried to the cemetery and placed in a tomb prepared by some persons the morning of that day.



Every night, the spirit of the dead is offered a prayer by the members of the family with some neighbors who like to join them in their prayers. This is continued up to the ninth night. On the eighth day, there is feasting for those people who come to pray for the spirit of the dead. On the eighth night, which is the last night for them to pray for the spirit of the dead one, people who pray are served. From the time one dies, the members of the bereaved

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mourn for a year or any length of time they wish to. On the first anniversary of the dead one, the family has preparations again for those who will pray and then the members begin to wear colored clothes.

Festivals –

People during the olden days had festivals, too, to honor their patron saints. Before, there were no chapel nor saints in the barrio of Sinisian, Lemery but one day, there happened to be a man offering the image of St. Joseph and [the] Virgin Mary. Through the initiation and enthusiasm of an old religious man, they were able to raise enough money to have these saints. Then they planned for the festival which had already been the practice up to the present time. Each year, a mass is said by a Catholic priest. There are great preparations in every house and many visitors come. Games are played and many native dances are performed. The only difference we could note is their band. [A] Group of musicians use only drums of bamboo and cans go around the barrio to make the festival more colorful.

Punishment –

Many unlawful acts are punishable. Killing or attacking a man is considered a serious offense. Adultery, robbery and violation of the laws are crimes. There were many ways in punishing offenders. Some of them were cruel acts. The most common forms of punishments given by the Spaniards were fines, flogging, whipping and death. When a man had committed a certain crime, he was given a number of whips depending upon the nature of the crime committed. When you killed someone, you were at once put to death.

Myths, Legends, Beliefs, Interpretations, Superstitions

The Myth of a Small Volcano

A volcano is a mountain made up of melted rocks, ashes and mud which have been thrown out of the earth.

Not long after the eruption of the Taal Volcano in 1911, there came out a small volcano in the western part of Sinisian, Lemery. For several days, the small volcano showed signs of erupting. After a few days, the volcano sent out the smoke and hot mud which flowed out from it like water in a brook. The volcanic eruption destroyed many plants and crops. This was not a very serious one, but all inhabitants in this place were worried about it. People from neighboring barrios came to witness this slight eruption. The people here made a novena and prayed the rosary but yet the eruption never stopped. Not knowing of any other things to do, they called for a priest. The priest said a mass just a few meters away from this volcano. Soon after the mass, the eruption became slow and the next morning, the inhabitants were surprised to see that the former elevated form was flat as any other piece of land around it, as if nothing had happened.

Legend of Calawang, Lemery

Calawang, Lemery is one of the places under the territorial jurisdiction of the barrio of Sinisian, Lemery. One day, according to the tale handed down, the inhabitants were amazed to see that rust came out of a spring in the southern

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part of this place. It became an issue and spread like fire not only in the neighboring barrios but also to different towns and provinces. Then many people who heard of the news anxiously journeyed to the place to see the rust which had been removed to serve as medicine. Some rheumatic people who came took a bath and because of their belief, they became well. Because of the presence of this rust, which can still be seen at present, the inhabitants named this place “Calawang” which is the Tagalog name for rust.

Legend of “Malapad na Bato

In the western part of the barrio of Sinisian, Lemery, there lies the place of Malapad na Bato. According to an old man who related this legend, this place was formerly a part of the sea. As time went on, the sea dried until a large part of the former sea became land. A very big stone brought by the rolling waves stood in this place. Since then, people called it “Malapad na Bato,” which means a wide stone in English to identify it from the other parts of the barrio.

Origin of the Spring of Kaawaawa

[A] Spring is one of the things which make the lives of people in a place easy. In the northern part of Calawang, Lemery, there was a spring called “Kaawaawa.” Do you know how it came out? In a place just near the spring, there was a very poor family. That family was indeed very poor that they would almost die of starvation. One day, there was a very great rain. To the surprise of the people, the water in that place did not dry after several days until it became a spring. The inhabitants called that spring as “Kaawaawa” in memory of every trace of poverty of the family who resided there.

Beliefs on the Birth of Twins

It has been the belief of many that when a pregnant woman eats any twin bananas or any kind of fruit, she will have twin babies.

Superstitions

1. When the night of All Souls Day is dark, it means that many rats will destroy the rice fields that year.
2. To sweep during twilight is bad for it will mean a decrease of your wealth.
3. When a firefly enters your house, it means that animals are destroying any of your plants for that time.
4. It is bad for the bride-to-be to fit the wedding dress before the wedding day for it means that the marriage will not be continued for she or the bridegroom-to-be will meet an accident.
5. It is bad to look back when attending any burial ceremony for it means that another person from the same family will die.
6. When a cat wipes its face while facing the stairs, it means that visitors will be coming.

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7. It is bad to leave when somebody is eating for you will meet an accident on the way, so to avoid such, it is better to turn the plate in a clockwise direction before leaving.
8. When a black butterfly is always near you, it means that a relative of yours died.
9. When a certain relative died, one lights a candle then shakes it outside the window so that the whole relatives of the deceased will smell the candle and will learn of the death.
10. When you are cooking and the fire laughs, it shows that some visitors are coming.

Popular Songs, Games and Amusements

During the past, there were also songs, games and some forms of amusement. They played “tubig-tubig, sintak and sapak.” For amusements, they played “Pandango, Lulay and Subli.” On special occasions like baptismal and wedding parties, they invited dancers [who were] experts in “Subli” to make the celebration colorful. They had also some songs sung to the accompaniment of their guitars made of bamboos. Some of these songs are the following:

1. Matulog na aking bunso,
Ang ina mo ay malayo;
Hindi ko naman masundo,
May putik at may bulaho.

2. Mama, mamang namamangka
Ipagsama yaring bata
Pagdating mo sa Maynila
Ipagpalit sa kutsinta.

3. Ali-aling namamayong
Ipagsama yaring sanggol
Pagdating sa Malabon
Ipagpalit ng bagoong.

4. Tahan na bunsong mahal,
Matulog ka sa kandungan
Hintayin natin ang tatay
Humahanap ng kahit ulam.

Riddles

Even before, the people in this barrio have riddles which they used to play when watching over the dead to keep them awake the whole night. Some of them are:

1. It is a true mango,
But all the eyes are inside. (Pineapple)
2. I planted a sack of corn,
But when morning comes, all of them were gone. (Stars)
3. Here comes Mildred,
With her shirt so red. (Banana blossoms)
4. I stirred the porridge,
Out came the roasted. (Boat)
5. What is it which at day you can’t perceive,
But at night you can observe? (Moon)
6. He stood so bravely,
And spoke out boldly,
“I am a man really.” (Rooster)

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7. What is it that cries without eyes,
And stands without feet? (Candle)
8. The captain’s cane,
Which you can’t retain. (Snake)
9. It was bought without knowing,
And used by me without understanding. (Coffin)
10. I carry it, it carries me. (Slippers or shoes)

Proverbs and Sayings

The following are some of the proverbs that have been used by the early inhabitants of this barrio of Sinisian, Lemery.

1. He who believes in tales has no mind of his own.
2. A sleeping shrimp will be carried away by the current.
3. A friend in need, is a friend indeed.
4. A borrowed thing is either too small or too loose.
5. An honest man is the noblest work of God.
6. After the storm comes the calm.
7. Silence gives consent.
8. Never put off till tomorrow
What you can do for today.
9. In union there is strength.
10. Patience is the stepping stone to success.

Methods of Measuring Time, Special Calendars

The people during the past years had some methods of measuring time although they were not as accurate as those we have at present. Many of them depended on the position of the sun and the cackling of the roosters and some birds like the “hornbill.” The roosters crow when it is either ten or twelve o’clock at night as well as at dawn. The hurried crowing shows that it is already morning and at that time, the people should be up already. The hornbill, which is often called “the clock of the mountain,” cackles every twelve o’clock at noon or at midnight.

They also used the same calendar as we use today.

Submitted by:

CONCHITA AGUIRRE
Barrio Committee Chairman

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History and Cultural Data of the Barrio of Sinisian” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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