January 4, 2018

Balele, Tanauan, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Balele in the City of Tanauan, 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.

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HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF THE BARRIO OF BALELE

Part One: HISTORY

The official and unofficial name of this barrio is Balele. It has always been its name as far as anybody can remember. There is not one person in the whole barrio who can tell where the name was derived from and because of the absence of facts, people have always believed the almost legendary derivation about a priest who was once asked to baptize the barrio chapel. Just as it is today, the barrio road during that time was very slippery, so the priest had to content himself with riding on horseback. Before the priest was able to reach the barrio, he was already very tired. He nevertheless performed the ceremony, and after the performance, headed back home. Because of his fatigue, the good servant of the Lord was no longer able to control or hold fast on the back of the horse. He fell from the animal and suffered from a heavy thud on the place where he fell. Everybody saw what happened. One person who stuttered when speaking exclaimed with grief and horror, “Bali-li,” which, if translated to the proper way of speaking, should have been “Bali-li.” Time, however, has changed it into its present name, BALELE.

This barrio includes the sitios near it such as Bulalakaw, Bukid and Tibanglan. The first two sitios are well-populated, both being rich in soil, while the last is entirely unpopulated.

There is no record of the date when this barrio was established. However, it is believed that it was between the years 1800-1825. This is the conclusion after it was learned that the oldest man that the people have known here and who died sometime in the year 1900 was already married when this barrio was established. According to them, this old man died at the ripe age of one hundred fifteen (115). He, therefore, was past his thirties when this barrio was established.

This man was Pioquinto Siman who was also known to have been the first resident of this barrio. Nobody can tell where Pioquinto’s parents came from, but it is agreed upon by everybody that his family was the first and very closely followed by the Malabanans, Gonzaleses, Castillos, Lirios and Quilaos. This is borne by the fact that most of the people at present are surnamed after them. After a few years, the population increased and kept on steadily increasing. After several years, it became almost impossible to keep peace and order. It was then that the barrio was given a barrio lieutenant known as the “Matanda sa Nayon” or the teniente at present.

The teniente del barrios in the early days had to be powerful and influential because they had to cope with much work and had to suppress those who would try to disturb the peace and order in the barrio. They were also authorized to collect taxes.

The following is a list of the tenientes from the earliest time known to date. The years during which they served are not listed as the inclusive years of their services are not known. They are, however, arranged in the order so that the first tenientes who served first are listed ahead of the others.
 1.  Porfirio Sumague 11. Toribio Malabanan
 2.  Pedro Gonzales 12. Domingo Castillo
 3.  Bonifacio Salisi 13. Ponciano Tenorio
 4.  Porfirio Salisi 14. Jose Masongsong
 5.  Narciso Gonzales 15. Doroteo Platon
 6.  Eleuterio Lirio 16. Roman Landicho
 7.  Elias Lirio 17. Magdaleno de Guzman
 8.  Francisco Magsino 18. Ricardo Lirio
 9.  Nicolas Mangubat 19. Marcelo Garcia
10. Faustino Magpantay 20. Benito Umandal
21. Pedro Malabanan 22. Gaudencio Sumague
The last two tenientes in the above list are still serving at present. One is the teniente in the eastern part and the other is serving in the western part.

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EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE

A. During the Spanish Occupation –

No important events took place during these years except the Philippine Revolution that spread in almost every place in the Philippines. People, because of fear of the Macabebes and the Casadores, hid in almost every nook and cave that they could find. People from other barrios evacuated here while those from this barrio evacuated somewhere else.

B. During the American Occupation –

The eruption of the Taal Volcano in the year 1911 caused destruction not only to lives but also to property as well. It caused the death of thousands upon thousands of orange trees in this barrio. However, the people did not lose hope. They planted talamunding trees in their place, which later proved to be more profitable. Although the people lost their oranges, they were given rich soil in return by the eruption of the volcano.

The people were almost completely economically settled before World War II came. During the years that the war was going on, most of the people stayed idle because of the lack of fertilizers and also because they were always on the run. Like most everybody in the Philippines, people thrived on root crops during that time. However, the planting of talamunding trees was always attended to.

C. After World War II –

After the war, this planting of talamunding trees proved to have a very good economical foresight. Talamunding fruits were in great demand and during that time, the barrio was considered to be in its boom. Doroteo Quilao, one of the youngest merchants in the barrio, was considered a tycoon during those days. Other people engaged in other industries and before long, one could see the progress that the barrio had made. The barrio school was reconstructed. Intermediate grades were opened. In short, everything was considered on the march to progress.



Part Two: FOLKWAYS

The customs of the people ever since this place became one of the barrios of Tanauan are almost the same. The old customs were handed down from generation to generation, which are being followed up to the present.

a. Birth:

Usually, those expectant mothers who are about to give birth watch for the position of the moon on the particular time when they are supposed to give birth. The different positions of the moon warn them if they will encounter hardships or not. They believe that if the tips of the new moon are balanced, it is a signal of difficulty during delivery. If the moon is inclined to either side, delivery will be easy so that all expectant mothers are happy.

b. Baptism:



It is a tradition that as soon as a child is born, the parents have to look for the sponsors. According to the old folks, the sponsors asked, “How many gates have you passed before you reached our place?” This is one way of determining if he or she is the first to be approached as a sponsor. With such [a] question, the supposed best answer would be, “I passed so many gates but it is only here that I prefer to drop in.”

c. Courtship:

[A] Long time ago, courtship was considered one of the religious undertakings of the young man. Unlike today, the young man who fell in

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love with a young woman could not express directly his desire. He could not go up to the house freely unless he was told to do so several times by the woman or the parents. The young man had to show different signs to prove that they were both in love. Sometimes, when the man happened to be riding on horseback and passed the house of the woman he was in love with, he had to alight as soon as he reached the house of the woman with his hat off, walk politely beside his horse, and would not ride again unless he had passed five houses. Not until he had shown his sincerest desire to the woman would he be allowed to go up the house. In the house, the man had no chance to talk with the woman. The man had to sit very far away from the woman so that the man had nothing to do but make signs or just look at the woman which we may call “ligaw tingin” or “courtship by looking” in its literal meaning. In order that the man might understand if the woman was in his favor, he would offer his services so that if the offer was accepted, it was a sign that the parents were [in] conformity, and that the approval of the parents meant the approval of the woman, also.

d. Death:

Death to a person is considered the beginning of services to our God. Although we feel sorry about the death of any member of our relatives, yet we are comforted by the fact that death has ended the hardships of the individual in this world.

To the members of the family where death occurs, the neighbors, whether rich or poor, extend their help voluntarily. They help each other in burying the dead. They pray every night for nine consecutive nights for the soul of the dead. On the ninth day of the death, there is held a simple party.

It is believed that on the fourth day, the soul of the dead person visits the home. It is also on this day that the person who died realizes that he is no longer in this world of ours. The ninth day is believed to be the last day for the soul to visit what the dead had left.

e. Celebrations:

Because there are two chapels in this barrio, the people celebrate two fiesta days annually. With these fiestas, the people spend too much for the party, shows and bands. The said fiestas are held in connection with the last day of their May flower offerings to the Virgin Mary.

P R O V E R B S

1. Ang bayaning nasusugatan, nag-iibayo ang tapang.
2. Ang lihim na katapangan ay siyang pinakikinabangan.
3. Ang liksi at tapang ay kalasag ng buhay.
4. Hindi lalaki ang daga kung di malalaglag sa lupa.
5. Ang pag-ilag sa kaaway ay siyang katapangang tunay.
6. Ang takot sa ahas ay di dapat lumakad sa gubat.
7. Ang kapangahasa’y bunga ng pag-asa.
8. Sa gitna ng digmaan nakikilala ang bayaning tunay.
9. Ang lalaking maangas, tandaan mo’ duwag.
10. Marami man ang matapang, ang laging loob ay madalang.
11. Walang namatay sa ato kundi si Pirong aso.
12. Ang hindi nagsapalaran, hindi makatatawid sa karagatan.

R I D D L E S

1. Matapang sa lima, duwag sa isa. – Tulay
2. Taling haba, taling bilog, pitak-pitak ang loob. – Kawayan
3. Di man Linggo, di man pista, naglaladlad ng bandera. – Saging
4. May kapirasong uling, na bibitin-bitin, puera duhat, nakakain. – Bignay
5. Ang isda ko sa Marabiles, nasa loob ang kaliskis. – Sili
6. Ang palyok ni Iko, laging laman ay bato. – Granada

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Report on the History and Cultural Life of the Barrio of Balele,” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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