San Jose: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore San Jose: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

San Jose: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

This article is another installment of a series dedicated to resurrecting otherwise forgotten folkloric and historical trivia about the barrios of Batangas. This time, we focus on San Jose, once known as Malaquing Tubig and formerly part of the larger Municipality of Bauan.
The information contained in this article is taken from Department of Education documents required in the early fifties by then President Elpidio Quirino for the reconstruction of the nation’s history after the destruction of historical documents during World War II.
Not all barrios of San Jose are represented in this article. Some contemporary barangays were probably still part of larger barrios back in the fifties. It could also be that no documents were submitted for some barrios or if there were, these were lost or destroyed.
In the case of Calansayan, there was a document filed away at the National Library of the Philippines. However, the information contained in this was so scanty that I felt it in the best interest of this article not to include the barrio.
San Jose Batangas
Poblacion San Jose.  Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
This barrio’s strange name was supposed to have been taken from the local name of a dwarf specie of the bambusa (clump bamboo1) which once grew in abundance in the area. The barrio’s original families were those of Julian Briones, Escolastica Aguila, Toribia Matibag, Salvador Aguila, Buenaventura Aguila, Mariano Briones, Valentin Aguila, Juan Suarez, Briccio Makalintal, Pablo Makalintal and Antonio Lara.
During the early years of the American occupation2, the big houses in the barrio were burned and the people forced to live in the poblacion for General J. Franklin Bell’s infamous concentration camp policy. This policy was aimed at preventing the local population from supporting the forces of General Miguel Malvar. In 1945, Japanese soldiers shot to death any individual in the barrio who looked suspicious. Because of the tension, people of the barrio buried their dead “under the trees and even near creeks and ravines.”
dwarf bamboo
Anus´s name was taken from the dwarf bambusa similar to the image shown above.  Image credit:  by Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0,
The name of barrio Aya was supposed to have been taken from the Tagalog word “kaaya-aya” (pleasant) “due to the strategic and beautifully arranged buildings or houses of the people…” The barrio was established in the eighteenth century and at the time had 400 families. The barrio’s big adobe houses from which the barrio got its name which were “once the envy of passers-by” were burned either by Filipino revolutionaries or by United States Army soldiers during the Philippine-American War.
Upon the liberation of Batangas by American forces, stragglers3 among the Japanese forces hid near the river banks of the barrio. An inhabitant of the barrio who accompanied soldiers of the US 11th Airborne Division to hunt down the stragglers was unfortunately killed by the Japanese. It was left to the Filipino guerrilla forces to hunt the stragglers down.
The barrio’s name was supposed to have been given because it was a conduit or passageway for traders and other travelers on the way to Cuenca or Alitagtag. This etymology is curious, though, because the Tagalog word for passing or cutting through is “bagtas4,” in which case the barrio’s name would have been “Bagtasin.” At any rate, the barrio was established in the eighteenth century and its original families were the Hernandezes, Perezes, Mitras, Harinas, Husmillos, Atienzas, Manimtims and Larcias. There was pretty much nothing extraordinary about Balagtasin’s past except in the latter part of World War II when the barrio’s inhabitants had to evacuate because Japanese forces had dug their defensive foxholes in the nearby barrio of Bigain.
The barrio’s name was supposed to have been taken from the name of a plant that lined the national road from Lipa to San Jose. This barrio was established in the eighteenth century when it had 200 original families. One of the barrio’s famous sons was one Manuel Genato from the sitio of Abra, who would become Governor of Batangas during the Spanish era. Genato was the son of one Don Manuel Genato, the owner of a vast tract of land in the barrio who coaxed Filipino insurrectos or rebels to work for him instead and till the land.
banaybanay plant
Alpinia haenkei C. Presl, a.k.a. banaybanay.  Image credit:
This barrio’s name was said to have been taken from the “biga” plant or elephant ear5 that used to grow abundantly in the place. No formal record was available of Bigain’s establishment but it was generally believed that the barrio already existed when Malaking Tubig or San Jose formally separated from Bauan. During World War II, Bigain was heavily fortified by the Japanese and its school was used as the headquarters of a Japanese detachment. Fortuitously, only three inhabitants of the barrio were killed during the war. One was a woman who was stabbed to death for “refusing to give what a Japanese soldier demanded from her.” The other two were men shot by Japanese soldiers.
Source: History and Cultural Life of Bigain
bigain plant
Bigain was supposed to have been named after the biga or elephant ear plant.  Image credit:  Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Galamay-amo’s old name was Diya, and its present name was supposed to have been taken from a shrub6 that grew along a path leading to the barrio. The barrio was supposed to have been established in 1900 and it had seven original families. One of the barrio’s sitios was named Uluhan, supposedly because of a spring that was the source of the “Malaking Tubig,” which was San Jose’s former name. During the Spanish occupation, three notorious robbers headed by one called Agustin, alias “Tawilis,” were shot by Spanish Guardia Civil on the bridge leading to the barrio. In World War II, Japanese soldiers burned the house of one Pio Luna when they could not find females evacuees from Manila whom they wanted to rape.
Source: History and Cultural Life of Galamay-Amo
galamay-amo plant
Galamay-amo was supposed to have been named after the shrub picture above.  Image credit:  Philippine Medicinal Plants.
Lapo-Lapo 2nd
According to folklore, there used to live a Chinaman named Lapolapo who was popular among the inhabitants of the barrio, who in turn decided to name it after him. The barrio was established in the eighteenth century when it already had as many as 151 families. During the Philippine-American War, American soldiers tried to flush out rebels thought to be hiding in the barrio by burning all the houses. Inhabitants of the barrio sought refuge in Poblacion San Jose and did not return to rebuild their houses until after six months had elapsed.
According to folklore, the barrio was named after a ravine that crossed the barrio from north to south. Its original families were the Perezes, Aguilas and Hernandezes. Among the barrio’s most famous sons was Justice Roman Ozaeta, who served under the governments of Manuel L. Quezon and Manuel Roxas. During the Philippine-American War, as in many cases around Batangas, houses in the barrio were burned by American soldiers and inhabitants were forced to live in a concentration camp in the poblacion. In World War II, a guerrilla company was organized in the barrio under the command of one Pedro Luansing, who turned out to be more fearsome than the Japanese that some of the guerrillas under him plotted to have him removed. During the war, land in the barrio was also planted to cotton, as required by the Japanese occupiers.
This barrio’s name was said to have been taken from the word “natuno,” supposed to have been the sound “of the murmuring brook that intersects a creek which produces a harmonious flow along the way.” The barrio was established soon after San Jose became a municipality in the eighteenth century. Its original families were the Gonzaleses, Comias and Hernandezes.
Natunuan's name was supposed to have been taken from the sound of a "murmuring brook." 
Palanka (Palanca)
The barrio’s name was said to have been taken from “the saddle of the horse which was used in putting two big baskets of load…” The barrio was established in the eighteenth century, when it already had 300 families. In the late nineteenth century, inhabitants of the barrio burned alive men “who turned spies or traitors to the barrio.” Presumably, these were those who sided with the Spanish forces and informed on the movements of freedom fighters. During World War II, many inhabitants were killed by Japanese soldiers, mostly stabbed with bayonets.
man on horseback
Palanka was named after the saddle on which large baskets were hung.
Just like Pinagtungulan of Lipa, the name of this barrio was supposed to have been from the word “pinagpung-ulan,” or where a beheading took place. Pedro Andal and Ambrocio Umali were the barrio’s first two cabezas or captains. After the Spaniards had been defeated by the American forces in the farcical Spanish-American War in the country, Spanish forces burned houses, destroyed property and killed inhabitants of this barrio. Towards the end of World War II, inhabitants of the barrio had to flee because numerous Japanese soldiers hid there, burned houses and dug foxholes in the orchards.
This barrio was supposedly so named because of “a river that flows north to south in this locality and another one that empties into it.” Presumably, this is the Sabang River that flows from Lipa. Unlike other barrios in San Jose, the houses in Sabang were spared from burning during the Philippine-American War, although its inhabitants were also required to live in concentration in the poblacion. At the height of World War II, two inhabitants of the barrio were put to death for espionage, presumably by guerrillas who operated in the place. These guerrillas were apparently just as feared as the Japanese because if they visited a house and asked for food or cash, they could become vindictive if the homeowners had nothing to give.
The barrio’s name was supposedly taken from the Tagalog word “salab” which means to roast or grill over an open fire. The barrio was founded in the eighteenth century with 50 families living there at the time. During the Spanish era, most of Salaban’s land was planted to coffee, although transporting the produce to the town proper was difficult because of its remoteness. During the early years of the Philippine-American War, one Felix Ona, an inhabitant of the barrio, volunteered to come a spy for the Americans and pointed out the houses of what according to him were “insurrectos” or rebels. All their houses were burned by the American soldiers. Luckily, only two inhabitants of the barrio were killed by the Japanese in World War II, and no properties were lost.
fish on a grill
Salaban was supposed to be named after an open fire over which food was roasted or grilled.  Image credit:  John Borga on Flickr.
According to folklore, early during the Spanish colonial era, a group of the barrio’s natives were once dancing the subli when a Spanish soldier happened to pass by. When he asked the locals what they were dancing, one replied, “nagtutugtugan (making music).” This was supposedly how the barrio got its name.
The barrio was supposed to have been first occupied by the family of one Jose Aguila, who as the barrio became more populated would also become its first teniente or lieutenant. Presumably late in the nineteenth century, a swarm of locusts descended upon the barrio and destroyed most of the people’s plants. Many inhabitants had to leave the barrio for good. During World War II, the barrio had to suffer not just the ruthlessness of the invading Japanese forces but likewise that of marauding Filipino guerrillas.
Notes and references:
1Bambusa,” Wikipedia.
2 The Anus document erroneously stated that the zoning of the barrio people were during the Spanish occupation.
3 Stragglers were Japanese soldiers who were either ignorant of or refused to accept Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces in World War II. “Japanese holdout,” Wikipedia.
4Bagtas,” online at Tagalog Lang.
5Biga,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.
6 Galamay-Amo’s historical document erroneously named galamai-amo as a climbing vine. It is a shrub. “Galamai-amo,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.
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