Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1924 ethnographic paper written by one Amparo Reys from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.
Henry Otley-Beyer Collection
Tagalog Paper No. 655.



Amparo Reyes.


  1. TAGALOG: Lipa, Batangas Province.
  2. Summary: Folklore, Myths, Fables and Legends.

July, October, 1924.

[p. 1]



Amparo Reyes.

The Origin of People

In the beginning, there was not a single human being on earth except its creator, Laoghari. Laoghari created the trees of the forest, the animals on the land and in the water, the birds in the year, and lastly, the flowers in the garden. One day, as he was gazing at his great creation, he felt so lonely. He thought of creating a companion who would be a partner and a comfort to him. He would not think of the form and of the way he would proceed in creating that companion whom he greatly wish to have. He took a walk in this garden where the different kinds of beautiful flowers could be seen. As he was in his deep thought, his attention was attracted by a beautiful flower, which at present is named “Alejandria.” he slowly approached the flower, touched it; smelled it, and carefully looked at it, "Oh, at last I have found the elements from which I shall base and form the object of my creation," he said to himself. He meditated for a time, combine the different elements of the flowers with its leaves and its slender stalk, and out of those compounded elements, he created a person in the form of a woman. The woman what's so attractive, tender, sweet, and fresh that he took her and lived with her. They lived happily, and in the

[p. 2]

course of their happy life in the garden, twin babies were born – a boy and a girl. When these two children grew up, they lived together and brought forth many children. Their offspring grew, and multiplied very rapidly until the whole earth was filled with people.

NOTE: this story was related to me by my grandmother was also related to her, as she said, by her grandfather.

Manila, July 30, 1924.

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The Cat and the House

A little mouse was playing with a piece of meat in a kitchen. Soon, a big black cat came. “how fortunate I am. I will have a mouse for my supper,” said the cat to herself. When she was about to catch her with her paws, the most pitifully said, “Oh, I am very small for your supper. I am sure you will like bigger mice.” The cat replied, I will surely like bigger mice if you can show them to me. “Oh yes, there are plenty of mice in my home, and if you will go with me, I will gladly show them to you,” said the mouse. They walked and as soon as the mouse reached the hole where he was living, he jumped into it and ran as fast as he could. The cat was very angry for she was too big to get into the hole. When the mouse reached its home, he related his story to the other

[p. 3]

mice. They agreed that they would kill the cat. Six little mice agreed to challenge the cat. The mother mouse said, “Never dare to challenge the cat. You will surely be killed instead of killing her.” The little mice said, “We are six and she is alone. If we could kill the cat, we shall be free everywhere we go to hunt for food.” The six little mice waited for the cat in the kitchen, and attacked the cat as soon as she came. But the cat was big and quick that she made an end of all of them.

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The Kitten and her Mother

The little kitten and her mother were living with the old mother cat of the kitten’s mother. One day, while these cats were playing, a girl threw a piece of meat to them. The kitten’s mother jumped and in a sudden seized the meat. The kitten’s mother called her kitten and begun to eat the piece of meat together. The old mother came to them and said, “Give me a bite, give me a bite. I am hungry.” The kitten’s mother replied angrily and said, “No, this piece of meat is not even enough for me and my little kitten. If you want, let me and my kitten eat first, and our remnant will be all yours.” The old mother cat was sorry but she did not say anything.

One day, the little kitten found some food. She took it and began to eat the food alone. Soon, her mother came

[p. 4]

and saw her eating the food alone. “Oh, you have food but you eat alone. Why do you not give me a bite?” cried the angry mother. The kitten replied harshly and said, “Let me eat first and then you will have my remnants.” The kitten’s mother cried, “Is that the way you repay me for good care that I have given you?” “Do not be angry, mother. Do you not do it also to your old mother?” timidly replied the little kitten.

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Why the Present Church of Lipa Was Built.

Many, many years ago, when the present town of Lipa was in its infancy, there lived a couple named Maria and Juan. Maria was industrious, tender-hearted, patient, and God-fearing while her husband Juan was lazy, ill-tempered, and did not care for his family. He had all kinds of vices that a man could ever have. All he wanted to do while in his house was to eat, scold and kick his wife and children if he did not find prepared food for him. The poor wife, in order to earn some money, used to go every afternoon to a nearby forest and gathered woods which she used to sell in the market. In spite of her difficulties that she was suffering, she never forgot to fulfill her devotion to God.

One afternoon, while she was going to the place where she used to gather woods, she came to think of her hard

[p. 5]

life. She wept bitterly, as she raised her eyes and arms to heaven, she saw a bright ray of light coming from a distance. She trembled with fear, fell on her knees and asked God for help. The light seemed to approach her and instantly the image of Virgin Mary appeared before her and said in a soft voice, “Woman, fear not, I am Virgin Mary. I come to tell you that your suffering will be relieved by eternal happiness in the land of the hereafter.” At first, Maria thought she was dreaming, but she gazed at the Virgin and the Virgin said to her, “Rise up and go thy way.” The woman went back to the town and told the priest about what she had seen. When Maria and the priest went to the place, the Virgin was still there. They both knelt down before the Virgin and prayed solemnly. As they prayed, the light and the image gradually disappeared. The priest and the town people agreed upon to build a church on that place where the Virgin appeared. After several months, the building was completed and that church is at present the magnificent church of the town of Lipa. From that time on, the Virgin’s feast has always been celebrated every year.

NOTE: This [is] commonly believed by the people at home, especially the old folks. Related by my grandmother to me. Manila, August 29, 1924.

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[p. 6]

The Story of Juan.

There was once a couple who had no child. They wanted very much to have a child. Every Friday, they used to go to the church in Obando to pray [to] God to give them a child, but their prayers were in vain. At last, through constant prayers, God gave them a child. They named their son Juan. A great banquet was given in honor of Juan’s baptism and as a thanksgiving to God.

As Juan grew up, he became so naughty that most of his neighbors hated him. One day, as Juan was playing near a river, he found a wooden saint. He kicked the saint, and when he was about to throw him into the water, the saint spoke, “Oh, Juan do not throw me in the water.” Juan was very much surprised to find a wooden saint talking. “Are you a miraculous saint?” asked Juan. The saint replied, “Certainly, I am.” Juan carried the saint on his head and began to cry aloud on his way home, “Listen to me. I have found a talking saint.” The people followed him and said, “Let me see if he can talk.” Juan said, “Speak saint,” but the saint, instead of speaking, vomited and vomited. Juan cried, “Stop vomiting. I will throw you away.” Juan tried to throw the saint away but the saint stuck so tightly on his head that he could not remove him. The saint continued vomiting until Juan was wet from head to feet. The people laughed and laughed, believing that Juan was getting

[p. 7]

[blurred word, probably “mad”]. Juan’s parents called the town priest and after saying a prayer, the saint jumped away. The priest told Juan that the saint liked Juan to be a priest. As Juan was very much afraid of the saint, he came to Manila where he studied in a seminary. But while he was in Manila, he spent most of his time and money for gambling and other vices so that after four years of his stay in Manila, he did not learn anything. Meanwhile, the people and his parents at home thought that he was already very wise. At the end of four years, he bribed the head of the seminary in order to give him his diploma as a priest. When he went home, a grand feast was held in the church in honor of his ordination. The church bell rang merrily as he ascended the pulpit. All the people were in silence waiting for his sermon. Juan perspired very much. He could not utter a single word. The people thought that he was in deep meditation. At last, he raised his hands and spoke, “How are you my people? I hope to meet you next Sunday. I am sick at present.” He did not deliver a sermon for in reality he did not know what to say.

Juan was thinking [of] how he could fulfill his promise to the people. He went to one of his friends who was a lawyer and revealed to him the secret of his foolishness. He asked his friend to help him fulfill his promise to deliver a sermon. They both agreed that the lawyer would hide behind the curtain at the back of the pulpit and would dic-

[p. 8]

tate to him what he was going to say. When the next Sunday came, Juan in his long robe solemnly ascended the pulpit. As he was standing before the people, the lawyer who was standing behind the curtain said, “Speak slowly and solemnly.” Then Juan said to the people, “Speak slowly and solemnly.” The lawyer said, “Do not tell that.” Juan said to the people, “Do not tell that.” The lawyer said, “How foolish are you. I am not dictating what you are going to say.” Juan repeated the same thing. The lawyer behind him laughed so loud until at last the people knew that what Juan was saying was dictated by the lawyer.

Juan’s parents were exceedingly sorry for their expectation of their son was untrue. Juan threw away his long robe and ran away to a nearby town. Here, he met a lady and fell in love with her. He tried to court her, but the lady refused. In spite of her refusal, Juan continually courted her. At last, the lady said, “If you can deliver a good sermon in our church next Sunday, I shall give my heart and my hand to you.” Juan could not answer. He went away broken-hearted and after a few months, he got sick. While he was very ill, the wooden saint appeared unto him, and said, “Juan, do you still remember me?” Juan shouted angrily and cried, “Go away. I do not need you.” The saint got angry and kicked him. “You are a very bad saint. Why did you kick me?” said Juan. The saint replied, “You are a foolish priest. Why can you not deliver

[p. 9]

a sermon? Juan soon died brokenhearted.

NOTE: This story was told by my grandfather. Manila, September 15, 1924.

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The Story Connected with the Transfer of Lipa to Its Present Place.

In the Province of Batangas, there is located a body of fresh, clear water called Lake Taal. It is one of the largest lakes in the Philippines. Its fresh crystalline, and deep water supplies abundant fishes from time immemorial. In the northern part of the lake heaves a volcano, known as Taal Volcano, the great scenic asset of the province. For several times, this volcano erupted bringing a great deal of destruction and enormous disturbances to the people inhabiting the surrounding regions. A little distance southward from the volcano is a towering peak commonly called “Uspayog” due to its peculiar shape of having its top wider than the lower part touching the surface of the water. But an important feature of the lake, the feature indispensable to our narrative, is the small island which two hundred years ago was floating in the middle of the lake.

This island was called Pulo. As viewed from the surface of the lake, it was covered by green tropical vegetation. Hunters often sailed to that island in pursuit of

[p. 10]

fowls, deer, sheep, and other wild animals that roamed about it its wilderness. Somewhere on the eastern side of the lake was the nook on which was once situated the “Old Lipa.” According to our ancestors, it was bigger in comparison with any other town in Batangas province. It had concrete, wooden and cogon houses with a magnificent church having a high tower. Three races of people inhabited the town. The bulk of the people were the Lipeños, peaceful and hospitable descendants of the Tagalogs and commonly called themselves Batangueños. These people, our ancestors, lived happily and contentedly not only because they loved one another, but also because they had plentiful harvest of crops every year. There were also the Spaniards; some of them were priests and friars, and others were rich landowners. It was they who introduced gambling, dishonesty, fanaticism, and despotism to the town, their vices and immoralities were inherited by the Lipeños and their posterity. Then, there were the Chinese who went there as traders, carpenters, and masons.

The “Old Lipa” was bounded in the north, south, and east by a vast wilderness of fields, abaca plantations, and forests and in the west by the fresh, clear, cool water of the lake. Such was the “Old Lipa” with its romantic youths and maidens, but a great catastrophe befell on the unfortunate inhabitants of the town that forever made it

[p. 11]

perish from the sight of all, that led to the confusion its peaceful people, and that bought about the existence of the new Lipa in the map of the province.

The island of Pulo mentioned above was floating in the midst of the lake. It was uninhabited but according to the people, it was said that a mysterious beautiful maiden once inhabited the island. Oftentimes during moonlit nights, this maiden was seen in a banca sailing around the lake with a small alpha.

One night, a wedding feast was held in one of the houses of the town. During the course of the merrymaking and games, this maiden appeared with her alpha. At first, the people were amazed at her presence, but due to her kind and gentle manners, they soon came to appreciate her behavior, and at last they became friends. She played her alpha which greatly pleased the people because of its golden strings and its sweetest music that the people ever heard before. When midnight came, she prepared to go away but the people begged her to stay longer with them. She refused, but because of the people’s insistence, she just said to them, “I shall have to go away, now, but in order that you may be sure that I am coming back, I shall leave my alpha which greatly pleasures you so much.” After saying those, she went away.

When morning came, the bride and groom for whom the feast was held went to church to solemnize their

[p. 12]

marriage. Few people in the house remained for many went to the church to witness the wedding ceremony. The next night, she came back for her alpha. But the alpha could not be found in the house. It was lost. The maiden shouted angrily, “I must have my alpha, and if I cannot get hold of it after seven days, a serious calamity will fall over the whole town.” The people mocked and laughed at her, thinking that being a woman, she could do nothing. At the seventh night, she came for her alpha. It was not yet found. She disappeared suddenly and went back to her floating island. Together with its forests, shrubs, vines and wild creatures that roamed within its limits, the island by some mysterious phenomena within the earth crust sank. Its sinking caused the water to rise above the shore. The town, which was at the shore, as the island sank down, was then covered with water till the whole spot was beneath the surface of the angry waves. The tower alone of the church could be seen with its roof in the level of the water. Thus, the whole town of Lipa met its end. From that time on, it has been believed that the cause of the sinking of the town was the anger of the mysterious beautiful woman who alpha with golden strings was forever lost.

In the meantime, while the horrible sea waves were highering and highering [the author likely meant “rising”] within the town, the people, in confusion, in fear, in dread, rushed to their boats bringing with them the most precious things they could carry. It is

[p. 13]

hard to describe their confusion. Abandoning the hope of living once more in the homes and nooks of their birth, they then migrated in great multitudes through the wilderness looking for the best spot on which to build their new homes. In the course of their journey, they found a plateau, and this plateau for the reason that its height from the surrounding regions will prevent the water in the lake to overflow it, they used it as the place on which to build their own huts which were later enlarged into wooden and concrete houses. These houses formed the origin of the present new town of Lipa.

If you look at the map of Batangas province, you will find that there is situated a town named Lipa a great distance away from Taal Lake. That town is the new Lipa. The large church and picturesque buildings, its happy youths and blooming damsels, its new high school, its water supply and electric lights, and it being the largest town in the province, will not make you think that there was once an old Lipa.

For a long time ago, the water of the sea ceased highering [rising], and at present can still be seen from the surface of the old town the old broken walls, furniture, dishes, pots, and the old church and tower. In visiting this spot, we come to feel and think with sorrow and love for this was the part of the earth where our great grandmothers and grandfathers saw the first light of day and many of them lived and

[p. 14]

died, and were buried.

Legends about the transfer of Juanang Ilaya.

The spot where once stood the old Lipa is now covered with large tree vines and shrubs. In the midst of this wilderness is the big “balite” tree. This tree, according to the rumors of the people now living near this place, was the home of a witch named Juanang Ilaya. A little distance toward the east of this tree is a beautiful winding valley covered with much ever green vegetation. Around this valley, there winds a clear murmuring stream towards the sea. In this stream, there are pools of water which are so pure and clear that boys and men in the village nearby want to descend to those pools with their bamboo containers called “bombong” which are used in getting water from the stream. The water in the stream is for drinking and for household use. At noon, when the sun is shining hot and the clear water of the stream sparkles beneath its rays, when nothing could be heard but the murmuring sound of its flow and the wailing songs of some beautiful birds, this stream is often haunted by this witch called Juanang Ilaya.

It was a very hot day when a handsome youth of twenty, tired by the half day’s labor in his “caiñgin” (rice field), when he descended this valley to quench his thirst and to rest for a while. No sooner had this youth satisfied his thirst and sat beneath the shade of a large tree called “Lipa” whose

[p. 15]

Branches over-shadowed the pool, when he suddenly heard somebody walking gently across the stream. He turned to the direction of the footsteps and he found a beautify woman dressed in red shirt and camisa with a rosy panuelo. She was tall and graceful in form and charming and lovely in countenance. Her eyes were black, her lips as rosy as a flower and her cheeks were tinged by the ardor of the shining sun. The youth was so amazed at the apparition before him. He thought he saw a beautiful nymph. The maiden smiled at him. The youth was so bewitched by her beauty that he could not even utter a word. He could not believe that in such a time and in such a place, he would be so lucky to see such a beautiful female being.

He happened to look at her feet. To his surprise, he found that they were those of horses. Thoughts of the rumored Juanang Ilaya came to him. He recollected that Juanang Ilaya was told to be often in love with young men and by making herself fascinating, she presented herself before each of the young men to bewitch them. This young man then ran up the valley. Juanang Ilaya pursued him holding the hind part of his [her?] blouse with her right hand. The youth, in great fear, ran as fast as he could, but the witch was faster than he so that he could not escape from her. She asked him to pity him [her?]. She said that she loved him and that he should not run away. The man, in the midst of his horror, thought of praying. He had not yet finished his prayer

[p. 16]

when he found that the young beautiful lady disappeared.

This Juanang Ilaya, according to the stories of the people, was once a very beautiful Filipina who fell in love with a certain man who fooled her. After being forsaken, she decided to live in the forest where she became a witch.

Still at present, when the young men of our town wander at night, their mothers often warn them to be careful and not to forget their prayers, for Juanang Ilaya might meet them on the way and might bewitch them.

Dama and Aswang.

Our ancestors believed in charms. They had faith that these charms they called “anting” had certain miraculous powers of saving them from bullets, dangers and of making their skin impenetrable to swords and spears.

A very long time ago, there lived in the old Lipa two such young men by the name of Dama and Aswang. Dama was the bravest and most handsome young man from the northern part of the town. He was also very boastful. Aswang was the most courageous and vain youth from the south. These two young men wanted to defeat each other for each wanted to be called the bravest man of the town. Both were expert in fencing, in horse riding, in wrestling and in all sorts of physical combat. Each boasted that he is willing to meet and challenge the other. Aswang had the habit of cutting the long hair of other young men that he met, a habit

[p. 17]

which he formed due to the fear of those whose hairs were cut.

One day when Aswang was at the window of his house, he saw a young man riding on a galloping horse. He noticed that his hair was very long. When the horse was passing in front of the house, he told the man to stop. The man stopped and dismounted his horse. Aswang then took his scissors and went to the man. He cried to the other youths who were in the neighborhood to see him cut the hair of the man. So, in front of about a hundred men, Aswang took hold of the hair and began to cut. But all were surprised to see that the hair would not be cut. Aswang asked the man who he was. The youth answered that he was Dama. Aswang tried to befriend him but Dama refused to be his friend. Then, they began showing their powers. Aswang with a sudden leap was found to be on top of a young banana leaf. Dama with also a leap was found at the top of a bamboo that grew nearby. Both returned to the ground. On reaching the ground, they rushed to each other like angry carabaos. They wrestled and the ground moved as they fought. No one could be knocked down. It was afternoon when they began wrestling and continued till midnight. None of the people had the courage to separate them. At midnight, Aswang turned himself into a bull while Dama made himself a carabao. They fought again; both were panting. Their horns were rattling as they jumped against each other. The carabao, at about

[p. 18]

dawn, proved stronger than the bull. The bull was pierced by the carabao’s horn at its side. It stumbled panting on the ground. Both were then turned into human beings again. Aswang died and Dama won.

At present, there is a common belief that Aswang still haunts the spot on which he was killed every night so that nobody dares to go there.

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Manila, July 30, 1924.

Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Folklore from Lipa, Batangas,” by Amparo Reyes, 1924, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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