June 7, 2018

Lian and San Luis, Batangas in the 19th Century as Described by a Spanish Historian

The Lian-Nasugbu bridge of old. Image courtesy of Alexander Limon Bonuan.
The Lian-Nasugbu bridge of old. Image courtesy of Alexander Limon Bonuan.
[Keywords: Lian, San Luis, Manuel Sastron, 19th Century Batangas, Spanish colonial era Batangas, Batangas y su Provincia]
For this instalment of the late 19th century Batangas series featuring the descriptions of the province’s pueblos as given by the former Spanish government official and historian Manuel Sastron, we look at the towns of Lian and San Luis. Of these descriptions in his 1895 book “Batangas y su Provincia1,” the chapters on these two pueblos were among the shortest. Hence, it makes sense to combine these in one article.

LIAN

Sastron began his description of the pueblo of Lian by saying that it was 69 kilometers from the pueblo of Batangas, capital of the province. From Tuy, the distance to Lian was 7 kilometers while from Nasugbu it was just 4. The pueblo was bordered to the north by Nasugbu, to the east by Tuy and Balayan and to the south and west by the sea.

Lian’s population at the time Sastron was writing his book was 4,023 “souls.” As per the 2015 Philippine Census, this figure had risen to 52,660.

Two rivers flowed through Lian’s territory, the Olapaye and the San Diego. The first went through the pueblo’s valleys and among its tributaries and streams were the Palasanan, Sangha, Pinagcurusan and Paso de Laja. From the mountains and the hills, meanwhile, originated the Bayudbud River, which was known in Lian as the Rio Grande de Lian, and it flowed all the way to the beach at San Diego.

Lian had a small port which was hardly ever used. It was only when it was time to export sugar to other places in the country that a ship was ever seen anchored by it.

At the sea in a place called San Diego Point could be found interesting corals and other sea creatures, although Sastron noted that these were not really studied as yet.

Most of Lian’s agricultural lands were “rain-fed,” i.e. dependent on rain. However, Sastron also wrote that there were extensive irrigated lands on the sides of the Olapaye and Bacbac Rivers. These, along with those in Binubusan, were among the most fertile in the pueblo. Most of the farmlands in the town were owned by Colegio de San Jose in Manila and managed by a Spaniard named Don Celso Lobregat.

Lian’s irrigated lands were largely reserved for planting rice; while those that were not were planted to sugarcane and, in some cases, maize and mongo. The system of sharecropping was used, i.e. the system whereby landowners allowed farmers to till their lands in return for a share of the harvest2.

Lian could be reached using three roads. One went through Pinagcurusan to the pueblo of Balayan. A second was shaped like a horseshoe and wound around the slope of the Talispuñgo to Tuy. The third went to Calatagan through Binubusan.

Nasugbu could also be reached using a causeway and through the beach at San Diego, although at that time the bridge was dilapidated and not usable. There were wooden bridges of the aforementioned roads at Presa, Paso de Laja and Calamias.

With regards infrastructures, Lian’s church was made of stone and was carefully looked after by a devoted parish priest. The courthouse, however, was only made of light materials. For the pueblo’s sugar industry, there were three steam engines and seventy iron, wood and stone mills. Citizens also owned 70 looms with which fabrics were woven for use by the locals or export to other places in the country.

The state of public instruction in Lian was poor. No school had been opened in five years. Like Tuy, however, Lian’s general state of health was excellent, this despite the fact that it had neither a hospital nor a doctor in residence. If needed, Nasugbu was nearby and it had a resident medical doctor. The town’s cemetery met all the necessary requirements for hygiene.

Whatever little trade that there was in Lian with merchants from other pueblos of Batangas and those coming from Alfonso in Cavite was usually conducted every Friday, which was the town’s market day. Sugar for export had to be taken to the beaches at Nasugbu from where it was taken to Manila.

SAN LUIS

The pueblo of San Luis, Sastron wrote, was just 7 kilometers from the capital town of Batangas. It was bordered by Bauan and Taal and in a religious sense was administered from the latter. Its population was just 1,543, dispersed widely over its territory. As per the 2015 Philippine Census, this had risen to 33,149.

There were no irrigated agricultural lands in this pueblo, and its inhabitants almost exclusively planted rice or sugarcane. Other than a few homemade looms, this pueblo had little in the way of industries. Whatever sugar or fabrics that the town produced were taken to the neighboring pueblo of Taal.

Other than the church, there were no public buildings in San Luis. This was made of bricks but its roof was made of nipa. The pueblo’s public schools were poorly equipped but better attended than those in other towns of Batangas.

San Luis could be reached by way of a road that led to Bauan (the same road, presumably, that also led to Taal), along which were two brick bridges which were in good condition. Alternatively, because the pueblo had its own coastline, San Luis could also be reached by sea.

Notes and references:
1Pequeños Estudios, Batangas y Su Provincia,” by Manuel Sastron, published 1895.
2Sharecropping,” Wikipedia.

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