January 2, 2018

Puting Kahoy, Lian, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Puting Kahoy in the Municipality of Lian, 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.

[p. 1]

HISTORY OF PUTING KAHOY

Puting-Kahoy is a small barrio in Lian, Batangas, five kilometers or so south of the town, in the rich and strategic sugarcane and rice-growing hills and mountains.

The barrio has changed names several times. For years, it was known by the name of Aguha, Pulong Mulawin and later by its official name, “Puting Kahoy.” The people remember that this place was once visited by Spanish soldiers who were in quest of logs that could be used in the construction of public buildings. Upon reaching an elevated place where the scenic panorama of this small village was in view, the soldiers, pointing at the direction of a big tree whose leaves, branches and trunk were all white, asked their guide the name of the place. The guide, who barely understood the language spoken by the soldiers, believed that they were asking for the name of the tree, without hesitation he told them that it was called a white tree or “puting kahoy.” The misinterpretation of the question asked created a new name which is these days popular to many.

Puting Kahoy includes the sitios of Bigaa, Calamias, Aguha, Cumba, Sulsugin and Pinagkurusan.

Like most other barrios, Puting Kahoy is under a teniente del barrio. This man helps keep the peace and order in the place. From the date of its establishment in 1800, Puting Kahoy has had to its credit seven able tenientes. They are Pedro Custodio, Vicente Fagat, Lope Bibas, Pedro Magahis, Hilario Ristal and Pedro de Padua, the present teniente.

Little is known of the first families who began clearing this area. It is believed that at the beginning, there were only several small huts that were used by the farmers as resting houses. These farmers retired somewhere in Dilao, Balayan every afternoon when the night was beginning to lower.

When most of the lands were already cleared, some of the landowners with their tenants or “kasama” moved and settled in this barrio. They built houses near the land that they were tilling. Soon after, others followed and before the end of the nineteenth century, there were at least fifteen houses that were built.

Very few events of great importance took place in this barrio. Worth mentioning is the construction of the provincial road. It marked the beginning of trade between this barrio and other barrios.

[p. 2]

TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS

I

When a person calls at a house and does not find anybody at the door or the window to bid him enter, he knocks timidly on the door or on the wall, and follows it with a soft, respectful, “Tao po!”
Literally translated, “Tao po!” means “person sir!” – a contraction for the longer, “This is a person, sir!” – po being the Tagalog equivalent for “sir” or “madam.”

II
Very widespread in this place is the awarding of peculiar names or aliases to both men and women. One looking for, say, Pedro Lubrino, would meet with vacant stares until somebody remembers that the real name of Indong Gaok is Pedro Lubrino.

This awarding of nicknames or aliases makes the people closer to each other. The familiarity makes them of one piece. The aliases are not resented, even if they constitute downright insults. For example, a man who is called Estong Conejo (Ernesto the Rabbit), not only because his face bears a striking similarity to that of a rabbit, but his habits resemble those of a rabbit.

These aliases are given often by one’s close friends and by frequent repetition, become known to everybody in the place.

III
In this barrio, sisters and brothers address each other by putting kuya or ate before the name.

Ordinarily, “nanay” and “mamay” or nuno are used for grandfather and grandmother. Sometimes, these words are used for old people as a sign of respect.

IV

When a stranger calls at a house instead of being asked, “What do you want?” he is greeted with, “Ano po ang gusto nila?” or “Ano po ba ang ipinagsadya nila?” or “Ano po ba ang maipaglilingkod ko sa kanila?”

This is the highest form of respect in addressing a stranger. The pronoun in usually in the third person.

V
BIRTH
It is believed that a child’s future can be guided right after his birth. Schoolbooks, pencils, etc. are placed beside the newborn baby. The result, it is said, is wisdom for the baby.

The tying of the umbilical cord, which is wrapped in a piece of white cloth, to the rafter or roof of the house is widely practiced here. The purpose is to keep it from rats. If the rats happen to eat it, they say that the baby will be a stealer when he grows up.

VI
BAPTISM
Usually before the real baptism, a simple party takes place in the house of the newborn baby. This practice is known as “buhos tubig.” An old man is invited to officiate in the simple ceremony. He pours water over the head of the baby while he murmurs certain words or phrases.

To give the sponsor a “gift” a day before the real baptism is practiced in this barrio. This is known as the “sabit” which is usually lechon.

The practice of having a band accompany the baptismal party to and from the church is pretty widespread in this place.

VII
COURTSHIP
When a young man visits the lady he adores, he will not sit until he is told to do so by the elders. He kisses the hands of all the elders in the house and then sits flat on the floor. In kissing the hands, he kneels on both knees and won’t stand until after he is blessed.

VIII
MARRIAGE
Before the marriage takes place, the parents of the man go to the house of the girl to beg [for] her hand from her parents. This practice is known as “pamumulong.” This is usually followed by a small party wherein the families of both party agree on the date of the marriage.

The groom has to work in the girl’s house before the marriage. This practice is known as “pagsisilbi.” Sometimes, it lasts for more than one year.

On the wedding day, all relatives of the bride are invited and are well served by the relatives of the groom.

IX
DEATH
The practice of giving money to the immediate relatives of a deceased person is widespread in this place. The names of the persons who give aid are listed and when somebody in the family passes away, the same aid is given to them.

In the house of a dead person, nobody is allowed to take a bath not after the elapse of four days. They are likewise forbidden to mop the floor before the dead is brought to its grave.



After the burial, solemn prayers follow for nine successive nights for the repose of the dead’s soul. At the ninth day, a feast is given in his (her) honor. This practice serves as a consolation to the bereaved family.

X
BURIAL
When a person dies, his corpse is placed in a buri mat which is joined end to end by pointed sticks. Then, it is placed in a bamboo hammock called “biklad” and is carried to the cemetery upon the shoulders of two persons from a pole about four meters long.

I
SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS

1. Most people here hang bottles and pots on the trellises for ampalaya, upo and other vegetables. They believe that a vegetable plant shall have as many fruits as possible.

2. Farmers believe that people who plant rice must be fed well so that the crop will have greater yields. In this occasion, they usually prepare [a] fat chicken to be served during the meals.

3. A taboo against entering a water melon exists in this place. Only the person who planted them has the privilege to gather the fruits. People believe that the plant dies when [a] stranger enters the plantation.

4. A lady who sings before a stove is likely to be married to a widower.

[p. 4]

5. Don’t kill a snake inside your house. Its presence is a sign of prosperity to come.

6. Any one of the newly-married couple who happens to come out of the church first shall be dominant upon the other.

7. If you like the centipede to fall from the ceiling, open your umbrella inside the house.

8. If a girl happens to eat on a broken plate during a party, she is likely to become an old maid.

9. Don’t leave the house while members of your family are still eating. If you do so, you’ll have trouble. If you can’t help but go, you must persuade them to turn their plates three times to avoid any mishap.

10. Don’t stay on the door when one of the members of your family is conceiving if you like her to give birth easily.

11. If a spoon or fork falls when you are eating, it is a sign that you will have a visitor.

POPULAR SONGS; GAMES AND AMUSEMENTS

1. Songs: “Magtanim,” “Bahay Kubo,” “Leron-leron Sinta,” “Sampaguita,” “Tamis ng Pag-ibig,” “Oh Rizal,” “Banahaw,” and “Madaling Araw.”

2. Games and Amusements: “Patintero” or “Tibig,” “Piko-piko,” “Sulut-sulot Bundol,” “Luksong Tinik,” “Lawin-lawin,” “Sikio,” and “Sungka.”

PUZZLES AND RIDDLES

1. May puno, walang sanga, may dahon, walang bunga. (sandok)
2. There is a trunk but no branches. There are leaves but no fruit.
3. Walang ngipin, walang panga, mainit ang hininga. (baril na pinaputok)
It has no teeth an no jaws, its breath is hot. (gun just fired)
4. Malalim kung bawasan, mababaw kung dagdagan. (tapayan)
Deep when decreased, shallow when increased. (native water jar)
5. Bahay na anluwagi, iisa ang haligi. (bahay ng kalapati)
The house of the carpenter has only one house. (dove cot)
6. Hinila ko ang yantok, nagdilim ang bundok. (pag ibinaba ang ilawan upang patayin)
I pulled the rattan, the mountain became dark. (when the light is lowered to be put out)
7. Ulo ng prinsipe, tadtad ng aspili. (bunga ng bangkal)
The head of the prince is full of pins. (fruit of the bangkal tree)
8. Ako’y nagtanim ng saging, lalo kang gugutumin. (purga)
While you are eating, the more you get hungry. (purgative)

[p. 5]

9. Limang magkakapatid, tigi-tigisa ng silid. (daliri)
Five brothers (sisters), each has a room.

PROVERBS AND SAYINGS

1. Ang hanap sa bula, sa bula rin nawawala.
What from the dew you gather must vanish with the water.

2. Huag mong ipagpabukas ang magagawa mo ngayon.
Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do for today.

3. Mabuti pa ang matakaw, kaysa magnanakaw.
It is better to be a glutton than a thief.

4. Ang hipong tulog ay nadadala ng agos.
The sleeping shrimps are curried by the current.

5. Sabihin moa ng kasama mo at sasabihin ko kung sino ka.
Tell me who your companions are and I will tell you who you are.

6. Ang matsin ay nagtatawa sa haba ng buntot ng baka, bago’y ang buntot niya ay di niya makita.
The monkey laughs at he cow’s long tail, but to see his own, the monkey does fail.

7. Ang bayani kung masugatan nag-iibayo ang tapang.
A hero increases his courage when wounded.

8. Ang tubig kapag matining asahan mo’t malalim.
Still water is deep.

METHOD OF MEASURING TIME

Most of the people measure time by the position of the sun. They say it is noon when the sun is directly overhead. It is early morning when the sun is just rising in the east.

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History of Puting Kahoy” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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