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May 22, 2020

How Mount Batulao Got Its Name – a Folkloric Story

Image credit: Biag arnel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69508074.
Image credit: Biag arnel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69508074.
At the border between the provinces of Batangas and Cavite rises an inactive volcano called Mount Batulao. It has an elevation of 2,274 feet and is the southwestern edge of the Tagaytay Mountain Range. Most of the mountain is within the territorial boundaries of the Municipality of Nasugbu1.

Typically, there are a few unverified stories about how the mountain got its name. One attributes it to a phenomenon that occurs annually in the last week of December, “when the sun nestles right in between the two peaks creating a scene described by natives as ilaw sa dalawang bato or bato sa ilaw2.”

Another says that the mountain’s name is derived from the Tagalog words “batong dilaw” (yellow stone), supposedly because the rays of the early morning sun turns the mountainside into gold or yellow on a clear day3.

From the so-called “historical data” for the barrio of Magahis4 in the town of Tuy, however, we get a folkloric story handed down from one generation to the next about how the mountain supposedly got its name. The barrio is located at the foothills of Mount Batulao.



The folkloric story attempts to explain how the barrio itself obtained its name, but at the same time gives the reason why the mountain became so named.

Below is the complete text of the story, quoted verbatim from the original document, edited here and there for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Batangas History has also taken the liberty of breaking the story down into paragraphs for the reader’s convenience.

At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, this settlement already existed. It is believed that the natives were descendants of the ten datus, two of which settled in Nasugbu, Balayan and Batangas. Its present name is Magahis.

A story that passed from generation to generation tells us how it got its name through a heroic act of one of its chieftains before the arrival of the Spaniards by the name of Datu Lao. Datu Lao was wise, just and a leader with keen vision. They lived peacefully at the foot of Mt. Batulao.

In the nearby village was also a powerful datu. Many times, this datu tried to attack Datu Lao but was always repulsed.

Because of the disturbance perpetuated by their rival, Datu Lao fortified their stronghold in the mountain. He gathered stones and rocks on top of it. He could see that his enemy would not stop to avenge their countless defeats.

One night, while there was a truce going on between him and his foe, their village was treacherously raided. Datu Lao and his men fought bravely against their enemies who had the Aetas as their allies.



They were greatly outnumbered. Their huts were burned down and women killed. Sensing defeat, Datu Lao ordered his men to their mountain fort to retreat.

Their enemy followed them there. Upon the signal of Datu Lao, they rolled the huge rocks and stones and their pursuers were mercilessly killed. The soldiers cried in joy, “Hindi maaaring magahis!”

From that time on to the present, the barrio was called Magahis and their mountain fortress “Batulao” in honor of the brave datu and the stones they rolled down to stop the invading hordes.

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Notes and references:
1Mount Batulao,” Wikipedia.
2Batulao: Gateway to Nasugbu,” published 2010, online at the Philippine Star.
3Are You A First-Time Climber? You Should Check Out Mt. Batulao!,” by Ysa Singson, published 2018, online at Cosmo.ph.
4 “Cultural History of Magahis,” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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