January 1, 2018

The Industrial Survey of the Town of Taal, Batangas by Crisologo Atienza, 1924

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1924 ethnographic paper written by one Crisologo Atienza 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.

[Cover page.]

Customary Law Paper No. 194.

(Extracts from)



Crisologo Atienza

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(Selected by F. D. Holloman; Manila, June, 1931)

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  1. Geographical data; and general character of the population.
  2. Division of the town into industrial and trade districts.
  3. Agriculture; Merchants; Traders; Peddlers to Manila and suburbs; Carpentry.
  4. (Whole thesis, 109 pp. legal size; illustrated; local; Thesis catalogue, #15; Business Library No. HO451.T1AB.)

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January 4, 1924.

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Serial Letter F.

Nos. 4 and 5.

(Thesis for the degree of B.S. in Commerce,
College of Lib. Arts, University of the Philippines)
By Crisologo Atienza.
Manila, January, 1924. EXTRACTS.

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The Surrounding Atmosphere and Condition. Situated among rugged hills, the town is not adaptable to agriculture. There are two pronounced seasons, namely dry in winter and spring, and wet in summer and autumn. The average annual rainfall is about 1,542 millimeters1. The soil is thin, poor un-

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1 From the Meteorological Report compiled in the Bureau of Agriculture.
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productive. Only that part worn down by the process of erosion from the molten rocks and lava thrown out from the mouth of the volcano can be used to advantage in agricultural pursuits but somewhat limited. It could not be relied upon as a productive industry to be depended on by the dense population. The land can hardly produce the domestic necessities, thus, importation of food stuffs from other provinces cannot be avoided……………

The location of the town is very favorable to shipping, which attracts the attention of the people and makes them lovers of the sea. Hence, many are inclined to go abroad for adventure and travel. Ambitious and daring young men leave the town and seek fortune elsewhere. They can be seen everywhere working out their way through hard work and conquering any obstacle in their different walks of life. The Taaleños can be found in all parts of the Philippine Islands, in Hawaii, in Alaska, in the United States, in China, in Japan and in Europe.

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Its nearness to Manila plus the pressure of population are factors that induce the people to be restless and specialists in many lines of trade and industry. The regions surrounding the town are but in the agricultural stage compared with Taal, and thereby the industry of Taal has enough of a market to consume its production. These surrounding regions which are inhabited by those depending on agriculture as that of Mindoro, Tayabas, Marinduque, Romblon, Catandauanes, Masbate, Laguna and the Ilocos provinces as far as Cagayan become the field of activities of the Taaleños. In many cases, they settle there, more or less permanently, to traffic with the people by trading and making business with them. These and other minor factors have made the people restless, industrious, thrifty, adventurers, traders and peddlers.

The people and their nature. The people of Taal are all Tagalogs numbering about 22,000 bounded by that cord of old Malay-kinship inherited from their forefathers. The town is thickly populated. “In area, this town is small and has no large barrios, so that the bulk of the population is gathered at the mouth of the Pansipit River. This makes for a larger proportion of educated and ambitious families1” The wealth of the town is not proportionately dis-

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1 Millers Economic Condition of the Philippines page 344.
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tributed among the inhabitants. There are two distinct types; one part, composed of five or six families, namely: Agoncillo, Ilustre, Noble, Villavicencio, Ilagan, and Punzalan is rich and influential and forms the magnates of industry, commerce and trade; they are the leaders of the general mass in the town. A great proportion of the people are poor and dependent, hence indirectly, they are serfs working for the welfare of the rich families either as

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tenants or engaged in some pursuits capitalized by them. The capital used by all merchants, traders and peddlers is almost monopolized by this favored portion……………

The Chinese who are famous in retail trade have attempted on many occasions to establish themselves in the region of Taal, but they could not stay long because no one dared to buy; this is why even today, all trades and occupations are in the hands of the natives. Even at the family sacrifice, they will go and seek their country folk for any domestic necessities needed by the family. This unique characteristic is transmitted from generation to generation, and as time goes on, the tendency is that no foreigner of any nationality will have a successful field of business in Taal or in any place where people of Taal form the majority of the inhabitants……………

Division of town into industrial and trade districts. Influenced and forced by the nature of work in the surrounding conditions, the people of Taal are divided into groups based upon the kind or kinds of industries each group is handling. The town is made up of 146 different barrios and each barrio has its distinct type of industry……………

The districts are divided into different groups. Men are performing the heavy tasks and the women and children together the easier part. This state of affairs is due to the community standard influenced by the habit, custom, tradition, and instinct of group solidarity. A long period of time will be necessary to break the trend of the children to follow and to imitate the works and manual labor of their fathers. The majority of the people in each district is dedicated to some particular craft. Seventy-five per cent at least in each group are attached to a distant trade. The size of the barrios differ from one another and a group of fifty families to one hundred is the average size of a barrio. Buli, Sambat, and Calumpang have more than

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one hundred families each. They are the three barrios that are the most progressive in that part of Batangas.

Agriculture. As an agricultural town, Taal is poor. It cannot even raise its own [blurred word]. It imports rice from Manila, Zambales, and Mindoro.

The system employed is the share system, that is, the owner of the land furnishes work animals, seeds, and land. The tenants cultivate the land and from the harvest the division is made, the tenants receiving one half of the harvest and the owner the other half. The tenants in most cases furnish the lord with firewood and help in cases of need. The tenants usually consult the landlords in marriage, and in civil cases.

There are 3,815 farms of an average size of 82.8 area and 44.2 only cultivated. Irrigation is not used. The soil is thin, poor, and exhausted, and in some places, the subsoil has come out at the surface. The climate is warm and plenty of moisture. Sugar, rice, mangoes, corn, beans and bananas are the principal products raised……………

1. Merchants Merchants, traders and peddlers who are natives of Taal are found all over the Philippine Islands, stretching from [blurred word] Island to the Sulu Archipelago. But they can be found mostly in the province of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Marinduque, Cagayan, Tayabas, Cavite, Laguna, Romblon, Mindoro, Masbate and Catanduanes……………

There are many stores in the town dealing in dry goods, hardware and miscellaneous products. The materials are brought from Manila and transported to Taal by steamers. The stores are found around the local market place and are run mostly by women. There are but a few men that can be found in these stores, as the business is left to the women to be taken care of. The men engaged themselves as traders or traveling merchants and have stores in the different towns of the provinces of Batangs, Tayabas, Laguna, Mindoro, Romblon, Marin-

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duque, and in some of the Visayan Islands.

2. Traders. Traveling merchants are common in the town of Taal. They carry stocks of goods and travel from one town to another selling goods from house to house. These travelling merchants are found in the Ilocos provinces, in Pangasinan, Mindoro, Tayabas, Laguna, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes and Albay [most likely, blurred word]. They carry native goods manufactured in Taal such as “sinamay,” “juzi,” “piña,” slippers, bolos, “jabi,” and many others. They have a system to dispose of the goods. In order to induce the people to buy in spite of their unwillingness, due to lack of cash, they leave the goods to the prospective buyer on credit for a usual term of one year or more demanding no receipts or guarantees. Payment is collected when they return to the same place usually at the next harvest season. This is a method used commonly by the travelling merchants of Taal and by this system of business transaction, the merchants have established business in places remote from their homes. In case of death of a member of the partnership, the other partners do the traveling and at the same time do the collecting of the accounts left by their predecessors. Due to honesty borne within the Filipinos especially those who are living in the barrios, uncollectable amounts are very rare.

These traveling merchants, as they go from year to year, develop better relations with their customers, and at the same time, using their business tactics, are always on the lookout for a better location of a store where they can traffic with the people. Because of this development, the merchants, when they forecast success, will establish stores in that locality as branches of a central store in Taal. The various examples of these stores are found in San Pablo, Sariaya, Lucena, Atimonan, Lopez, Calauag, Alabat in Tayabas, Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan in Mindoro, Boac, Gasan and Sta. Cruz

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in Marinduque, Odiongan, Looc and Romblon in Romblon, Calaca, Balayan Bauan, and Batangas in Batangas. They barter their goods mostly for rice when they trade in the rice producing regions like Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Laguna.

3. Peddlers in Manila and suburbs. Peddlers with a hundred-pesos capital each borrowed from money lenders or received from a certain capitalist serving as partner in the game, invade the city and suburbs and exploit the pedestrians they meet or see in the streets despite the keen competition waging between retailers (mostly of Chinese firms) and foreigners. They come in groups of from ten to twenty, the main field of their activities. They stay in Manila for months peddling day after day and week after week. With the few pesos cash on hand, they go to Calle Tabora and buy textiles of different kinds mostly men’s ware such as those goods used for making suits, shirts and pants. They are given special discount for being old customers, thus are able to compete with the dealers in dry goods in Calle Rosario, Villalobos, Sto. Cristo and elsewhere. With a few pieces of cloth wrapped sometimes in Manila paper alone, they travel around the city peddling the goods making a very small margin of profit in the transactions. They seldom extend credit but the general sale is done strictly for cash because of the fact that their customers are mainly those they meet on the way – mostly laborers and employees. Upon being asked as to what they have for sale, they answer “cloth woven in Batangas.” They then amicably and expertly use their business tactics and experiences to induce the people to buy. Due to their long experience in this system of selling, they are able to conquer the field of business within the city suburbs and nearby towns in Manila defeating the

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Chinese, Turks, Greeks and other foreign peddlers. The Macabebes are their keen [approximate, blurred word] competitors.

After they have sold the goods, the next day they go again to Calle Tabora, and with a couple of pesos on hand, they buy again another stock of goods and do the same thing day after day. Peddling in the city is common during summer especially when the crop does not guarantee profitable returns, but during the planting and harvest seasons, few are found as mostly are engaged in the cultivation of the land. A regular peddler earns an average of ₱2.50 a day and after deducting 50 centavos for daily expenses, he has at least ₱100 as earning for three months to take home to his family. Men and boys from fifteen years up peddle in the different parts of the city. Women peddlers are confined to the embroidery business with Manila and the surrounding towns as their field.

4. Carpentry. Carpentry has been one of those occupations which the Taaleños specialized in. Taal carpenters are famous not only in the province of Batangas but also in Tayabas, Laguna, Mindoro, Romblon, and Marinduque. Taal carpenters, famous as they are, are hired when one needs a beautiful building made of wood with an excellent finish.

Manila was once the principal field during the Spanish regime, but now, due to cheaper labor wage exacted by the Chinese and Japanese carpenters and to the present trend of the buildings in Manila to a concrete, Taal carpenters are ousted from this field and seldom come to the city to look for work unless specially hired for wood carvings which require the skillful handling of experts.

At present, the fields of their activities are San Pablo, Lucena, Sairaya, Tiaong, Lucban, Atimonan, Alabat, in Tayabas; Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola in Mindoro; Gasan, Boac and Sta. Cruz, in Marinduque; Odiongan, Looc

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and Romblon in Romblon; Lipa, Tanauan, Batangas in Batangas province, and other nearby progressive towns.

The homes of these carpenters are in Lubao, and Siiran, two barrios on the northern part of the town. One hundred carpenters at a time can be hired, the master carpenter is Mr. Paulino Lota, who is also a building contractor. A wage of ₱5.00 a day is the average, for a common carpenter but Mr. Lota charges for his services from ₱10.00 to ₱20.00 a day varying as to the kind of building and the distance of its location from home together the responsibility he has in the construction. He charges more when he is hired to work in other provinces. When they are made to build any structure in other provinces, many of the carpenters carry with them stocks of home made goods such as slippers, mosquito nets, “jusi,” “sinamay,” “jabi” and cotton cloth for sale. After the work is finished, they peddle along, thus saving time and expenses. This is commonly seen in the towns of Atimonan, Gumaca, Lopez, Calauag, Alabat, San Pablo, Lucena, and other towns in Tayabas province, also in Romblon in Marinduque, in Laguna, in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan. In brief, these carpenters are travelling merchants the same, having a dual trade at the same time. In most cases, these travelling carpenters and merchants, when they find a good place to live in, establish temporary houses and with a small retail store start their new living bringing with them their families and children. There is no doubt, due to pressure of population, they are forced to emigrate to other places where they can have better living. The Taaleños now found in Mindoro, Romblon, and Tayabas are specific examples. After having a sum of money to buy a piece of land and some carabaos to plow the field, they return home……………

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “The Industrial Survey of the Town of Taal, Batangas Province,” by Crisologo Atienza, 1924, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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