March 2, 2018

Mabini, Batangas: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

Anilao in Mabini, Batangas. Image credit:  Google Earth Street View.
We return to the barrio histories of Batangas with this feature on the town of Mabini, located on the Calumpang Peninsula. The information contained in this article has been taken from documents required of all Department of Education districts around the Philippines in 1951 by the administration of President Elpidio Quirino to help reconstruct the nation’s history. These documents have been digitized and are filed under the National Library of the Philippines’ Digital Collections.

Not all of Mabini’s barrios are included. Some contemporary barrios were probably still part of other barrios back when the documents were written. It is possible that no documents were written for certain barrios or, if there were, these had been eroded or destroyed by time and could not be digitized.

Anilao
Anilao used to be one barrio with several sitios named Anilao Proper (also called Ilaya and a separate barrio in the present day), Bukana, Gulod, Lagundi, Perasan, Putol-na-Karsada, Taal-taalan and Tamauyanan. It was founded in the latter part of the Spanish regime and its original families were the Buenviajes, Evangelistas, Amboys and Anters. It used to be alternatively known as “Janao-Janao,” supposedly because of its topography. Alternatively, the barrio also used to be known as Dagatan, a name supposedly given by inland fish peddlers.

In 1901, there was an encounter in Anilao between US Army forces and Filipino freedom fighters. The “insurrectos” were under the command of one “Capitang” (Captain) Kiko Castillo. Many of the freedom fighters were killed. In World War II, the whole of Anilao was occupied by Japanese troops, forcing many of its inhabitants to evacuate to other barrios.

Source: History and Cultural Life of the Barrio of Anilao

Bagalangit
Because the barrio’s early settlers were very religious, they gave the place the name Bagalangit. Curiously, the explanation for this name is provided in the history of Pulong Anahao. According to folklore, anybody traveling to Bagalangit started to feel he was already in heaven even before he reached the place. The barrio’s original families were those of Andres Abrigonda, Doroteo Medina, Jacinto Matibag, Epifanio Abrigonda, Julio Abante and Serafin Medina. During the Philippine Revolution, the inhabitants of the barrio were driven away to Bauan by the Spaniards. Their poultry and livestock were seized and their houses burned. In World War II, Bagalangit was not reached by Japanese troops, which made the barrio something of an evacuation center for people from the poblacion or town center.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayon Bagalangit

Mainaga
According to folklore, in the old days there used to be in the barrio a narra1 tree which the locals referred to as “naga.” Whenever somebody who had been to the barrio was asked where he had come from, the reply always was “sa may naga” or “from the naga.” During the Spanish era, there were just a few houses standing in Mainaga on land mostly owned by people from Bauan. The owners would eventually purchase the lots over which the houses were built. In February of 1945, Mainaga was bombed by American aircraft. This was probably part of preliminary operations to liberate Batangas, because US Army forces would not move out of Nasugbu until the following month2. While the bombing runs razed all the houses in Mainaga to the ground, fortunately none of the barrio’s inhabitants were killed.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayon ng Mainaga

Mainaga was so named after a narra tree (above).  Image credit:  Plant a tree.
Malimatoc
Malimatoc was established during the Spanish era and was made up of the sitios Yong-yong, Karsada, Mangga, Parang, Looban and Matala. The source document failed to explain the origin of the barrio’s name. The original settlers of this barrio were the families of Pulgencio Bautista and Pedro Manibo. During the Fil-American War, US Army troops raised the Stars and Stripes at the summit of the hill in Malimatoc called Gulugod Baboy to claim victory over Filipino freedom fighters. In World War II, although no battles were fought in Malimatoc, many of its inhabitants fled in fear of the Japanese to the island of Maricaban or to Mindoro. While they were there, their houses were taken over by evacuees from other barrios of Mabini which the Japanese had occupied.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayon ng Malimatoc

Nag-iba
The name of this barrio literally means “changed,” although the source document failed to explain how it was given. The barrio’s original settlers were the Abrahans, Cabrals, Manalos, Dipasupils, Aranases and the Mañibos. The general belief back in the 1950s was that the barrio was first settled roughly a century before. Nag-iba was fortunate in that it was spared from any real atrocities during the Philippine Revolution, the Philippine-American War and World War II. [It is also possible that research for this barrio was not very thorough. Only one page was dedicated to the barrio’s history.]

Source: History and Cultural Life of the Barrio of Nag-iba

Pulong Anahao
The barrio’s name was supposedly given according to folklore by a labuyo3 trapper who used a tall anahaw4 tree as reference to determine where he caught many of these wild chickens. The barrio’s two original families were the Hernandezes and the Magsinos. These two families were responsible for the growth of the barrio, until it was assigned a first lieutenant, somebody who went by the name of “Kabesang” (head) Ulalio.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayong Pulong Anahao

Pulong Anahao was supposed to have been named after a specie of palm.  Image credit:  By Kumar83 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10752267.
Saguing
This barrio was believed to have been established during the Spanish era. As can be expected, the barrio’s name had something to do with “saging” or the banana. According to folklore, during the Spanish era, the area abounded with banana plants, which was the main source of income for the inhabitants. So much so that when the time came to give the barrio a name, the first thing that came to the inhabitants’ minds was “saging.” In Saguing were several sitios, several of which were also named after plants. These sitios were Matala, Duhatan, Sampalukan, Tulo, Katagbakan, Gasang, Ligaan, Balanga, Sili, Pilahan and Kawayanan.

The barrio’s earliest settlers were the families of Beti Villanueva, Ambrocio Baculo, Filiciano (Feliciano?) Adalia, Eleuterio Maranan, Sotero Manalo, Agustin Panopio, Rufino Escalona, Agustin Magtibay, Roque Alolod, Anastacio Alolod, Abado Bueno, Antonio Mañibo and Elalio Magtibay. During the Fil-American War, residents of the barrio had to flee because of the arrival of American troops, who burned their houses. In World War II, some residents of the barrio were killed by the Japanese as they retreated to the mountains as American troops approached from Nasugbu.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayon ng Saguing

San Juan
This barrio was originally known as Nag-ilong, because the shape of its land was like that of a nose. It used to be part of Mainaga. The inhabitants would eventually rename the barrio after St. John out of religious fervor. The barrio was officially established in 1947, two years after the end of World War II. Its original settlers were the families of Everisto Silang, Silverio Silang, Roman Castillo, Lorenzo Gonda, Hermogenes Silang and Arsenio Villanueva. In World War II, the barrio was the site of a Japanese camp, and a fierce battle was fought in it upon the arrival of American troops. In the fifties, a hill in the barrio was being quarried with the material to be used for the construction of a facility being built by Caltex Corporation in Bauan.

Source: Kasaysayan ng Nayon ng San Juan

Solo
According to folklore, Solo (pronounced sulo or soolo) got its name because pirates approaching from the sea could never land on its shores and were always driven to the coral reefs where their boats were destroyed because they were blinded by the numerous lights emanating from the barrio. A large part of the barrio’s lands used to be owned during the Spanish era by the Yuson family of Taal, so perhaps it was no surprise that that barrio’s earliest settlers were immigrants from that town. These were the de Chavezes, Garcias, Mauros, Luistros, Napas, Adems and Abarintoses.

Source: History and Cultural Life of the Barrio of Solo

Talaga
This barrio was established during the latter part of the Spanish regime. Its name was supposed to have been given “due to the shallowness of water in every nook of the barrio.” The barrio’s sitios were Payapa, Kabulusan, Pungo, Bukana, Palanas, Rizal, Manggahan, Pulang Lupa and Pilahan. Its original settlers were the families of Vicente Garcia, Martin Castillo, Juan Ortega, Hilarion Balita, Laureno Ortega, Mariano Castillo, Francisco Gonzales, Ponciano Calangi, Fermin Gonzales, Placido Gonzales, Martin Calangi, Pedro Gonzales, Francisco Castillo, Dionisia Garcia and Catalino Calangi.

During the final years of Spain’s rule over the country, some of the barrio’s inhabitants were tortured and killed presumably by the Guardia Civil. During World War II, inhabitants of the barrio who were trained soldiers released from the concentration camp in Tarlac organized themselves into a guerrilla unit under the Fil-American Irregular Troops or FAIT. They were under the command of one Major Pedro Balita. Regrettably, Balita was captured by the Japanese and his guerrillas were demoralized and had to cease operations.

Source:  History and Cultural Life of Talaga

A guerrilla group was organized in Talaga.  Image credit:  Marines in the Liberation of the Philippines.
Notes and references:
1 The narra is also known as the “Philippine mahogany,” Wikipedia.
2US Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific, Triumph in the Philippines,” by Robert Ross Smith, online at Ibiblio.org.
3 The labuyo is a wild jungle fowl.
4 The round leaf fountain palm is called anahaw in Tagalog, Wikipedia.

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