August 1, 2018

A Legend of the Calumpang River in Batangas City

The Calumpang River.  Image source:  <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ramon_FVelasquez" title="User:Ramon FVelasquez">Ramon FVelasquez</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0" title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>, <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28935157">Link</a>
The Calumpang River.  Image source:  Ramon FVelasquez - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
[Keywords: Batangas City, Calumpang River, Calumpang Bridge Batangas, Filipino folklore, Batangas folklore, Batangas legends, Filipino legends]
From an ethnographic paper written in 1925 by one Celestina Mandanas1, we get this short legend which was likely written as an attempt to explain why the Calumpang River in what is now Batangas City would claim a life or two every year. The story, invariably, was something of a love story set sometime during the Spanish colonial erra.

The Calumpang River, sometimes called the “Nile of Batangas,” originates in the town of Rosario and drains into Batangas Bay through Batangas City2. The river is considered the southeastern boundary of the city’s poblacion or center3.

As rather tended to be the case in papers part of the Henry Otley–Beyer Collection, Mandanas’ writing was not polished; and while it will be presented below basically as she wrote it, corrections for grammar and style are made for her story to meet this web site’s standards. Annotations are also provided where deemed necessary.
A Legend on the Calumpang River
By Celestina Mandanas

In the town of Batangas, in Batangas Province, runs the Calumpang River. This became famous to the people of the place and in the surrounding towns due to its floods and to the many men who lost their lives in that river. The legend runs as follows:

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful lady who was restricted by their parents. At any rate, she became engaged to a certain young spirited laborer. The lady’s parents disliked the laborer so that there were no other means [for him] to win the girl with their consent. The man asked her to elope with him.

As they were leaving the barrio at Paliocan [contemporarily spelled Pallocan] they had to traverse the river before they could secure someone (a priest) to marry them. Without thinking of the river, the two (lovers) waded in the water. The river was wide enough to be waded; and they were about one–third away from the bank they left when the high tide came, and the lovers were never seen again.

The people mourned the loss of the two. Their spirits called for help from below; but no one could hear them.

[From then on] The old people of the place believe that the restless spirits of the two lovers who were wanting of a priest to marry them and companions to enjoy the occasion with has caused the loss of so many lives in that river.

Every year, a man or two die and if the children ask their grandfathers and other elders for its [the annual deaths] reason, they will just answer that, “The lovers spirits are calling for them.”
Notes and references:
1 “Folklore and Beliefs from Taal,” by Celestina Mandanas, 1925, online at the Henry Otley–Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2Calumpang River,” Wikipedia.
3Calumpang River,” online at Project Gutenberg Self–Publishing Press.

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