January 1, 2018

Folkloric Stories Behind the Names of Batangas’ Cities and Towns Part I

Image Credit:  Google Street View.

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Agoncillo
Formerly the Municipality of Pansipit, the town was renamed in 1949 in honour of Don Felipe Agoncillo who was the first Filipino representative to the Spanish courts. He was also among the panel that helped forge the Treaty of Paris which put an end to the American-Spanish War. (Agoncillo official web site)

Alitagtag
The name Alitagtag was supposed to have been derived from the Tagalog word ‘alinagnag’ which means a small light. The Tagalog Dictionary defines the word more specifically as “glow of a flame enclosed by glass or paper.” Wow Batangas tells the story of how a religious woman witnessed a mysterious light on a tree, after which the erstwhile village was referred to as ‘alinagnag.’

Balayan
Thought to be from the Sri-Vishayan balai or ba-i which means house. The addition of the suffix ‘-an’ was possibly to use the word to connote a settlement, likely in the same way we say ‘bahayan’ in Tagalog. (Balayan official web site)

Balete
Balete used to be a village of Lipa City where the balete tree grew abundantly, hence the name. In 1969, Republic Act 5659 formally created Balete as a municipality distinct from Lipa City. (Wow Batangas)

Batangas City
Batangas City’s Official web site says that the city’s name is derived from logs called ‘batang’ which used to abound along the Calumpang River. A settlement allegedly found by Spanish missionaries in 1581 was supposedly referred to by the natives as ‘Batangan.’ Alternatively, folklore I used to hear as a child said the ‘batangan’ was part of a house. Exactly what part, we never could agree on.

Bauan
A Spanish official allegedly asked a group of farmers out in the fields what the village was called. The farmers, mistakenly thinking the Spaniard was asking what they were planting, replied, “bauang.” In other words, garlic. (Wow Batangas)

Calaca
One story says the name was derived from ‘Lakan’ or ‘Laka’ meaning tribe, allegedly a reference to the Malay tribes that settled in the area. A second version tells of Spaniards who were asking natives the name of the village. The natives, who were building a nipa house and not understanding the foreigners, replied, “kalaka.” ‘Laka’ is supposedly bamboo split into two; and as the story went, the natives thought the Spaniards were asking about the materials being used to build the hut. (Calaca official web site)

Calatagan
The name Calatagan is allegedly an allusion to the town’s topography. From the Tagalog root word ‘latag,’ ‘kalatagan’ has a synonym in ‘kapatagan,’ meaning flatlands. (Calatagan official web site)

View of Mt. Maculot approaching Cuenca.
Cuenca
Cuenca became a distinct municipality in 1876. Then Batangas governor Paez, a Spaniard, named the place after his hometown in Spain. This hometown is presently a city in the Castille-La Mancha district in central Spain. (Wow Batangas)

Ibaan
Ibaan is supposedly named after the ‘iba’ tree, which grew abundantly in the municipality. The ‘iba’ tree is supposed to be very close in appearance to the ‘calamias’ or bilimbi tree. (Wow Batangas)

Laurel
Previously known as Bugain and Bayuyungan when it was a remote village of Talisay, Laurel became a distinct municipality in 1969, named after the late Jose P. Laurel Sr. (Laurel official web site)

Lemery
First known as ‘Punta’ and later ‘San Geronimo’ after the first priest assigned to the village which would grow into a town, Lemery was renamed after Capt. Roberto Lemery, commanding officer of a military outpost in the village. The village separated from Taal in 1862 and became a distinct municipality. (Wikipedia)

Lipa City, where the streets seem perpetually busy.
Lipa
Popular folklore has always had it that two Spanish conquistadores defecated behind a shrub and wiped themselves with its leaves. It turned out the shrub was of the nettle type which caused irritation to the skin. A native who saw the event started shouting, “Lipa! Lipa!” That was the local name for the nettle. (Folkore)

Lobo
During the Spanish colonial era, a group of settlers in what is now the Municipality of Lobo was discussing what name to give the settlement. While the discussion was going on, a balloon appeared over Mt. Banoy and started to descend upon the settlement. The incident convinced the settlers that the place from then on would be called ‘Lobo.’ (Lobo official web site)

Mabini
Mabini became a municipality distinct from Bauan in 1918; and as many would have guessed named in honour of the Filipino hero Apolinario Mabini. (Wikipedia)

Malvar
Formerly named Luta and a village of Lipa, Malvar became a distinct municipality in 1919 named after the Filipino hero Gen. Miguel Malvar. (Malvar official web site)

Mataas-na-Kahoy at night.
Mataas na Kahoy
A sick widow dreamed of a fruit that could cure her illness and sent her two boys in search of it. The boys found a very tall tree that bore the fruit, took the fruit home and their mother was cured. From that time on, the place where they found the tree was called Mataas na Kahoy. (Mataas na Kahoy official web site)

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