The Place of the Farmer and the Merchant in Batangas Society by Jose P. Caedo, 1916 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

The Place of the Farmer and the Merchant in Batangas Society by Jose P. Caedo, 1916

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1916 ethnographic paper written by one Jose P. Caedo 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 Collecdtion
[Cover page.]

Tagalog Paper No. 51.
(Folklore #158)



Jose P. Caedo


  1. TAGALOG: Batangas, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
  2. Social Customs: Social Classes.

March 16, 1916

[p. 1]



By Jose P. Caedo

We have seen how, in the Empire of China the merchants were considered and how much their business was appreciated; and we have also learned how the titles [probably tillers] of the soil were looked upon by their countrymen in that country. Here, I shall endeavor to show how, in my town at least, we treat and regard such kinds of people. From the time when I first became conscious of such situations and distinctica [distinctions?], I came to realize the important elements contributed by such men to society. Every statement that I make is my personal view of the conditions now existing and have existed in our town as far back as I can very well recall.

If you happen to ask a man from Batangas and ask him who are the most popular men of his town, three fourths of the names that he will mention are those of farmers and merchants. But if you ask him who were the leading men, you can be sure that he will mention the names of priests, lawyers, doctors, politicians, and rarely farmers and merchants.

During the Spanish regime, professional men were the “bosses” [unclear word] of the situation; they were the leading spirits for they were the only ones that could have a little “influencia” with the Spanish “master of Farmers” and merchants then were only the

{p. 2]

victim of the abuses of the higher ups of the time. They had no voice in the government of their town; they only served as the powerful instruments for the self-aggrandizement policy of the gobernadorcillos and alcaldes. When they wanted labor, when they needed contributions, and [probably meant “they”] called upon these men. But when there were banquets and balls, they were very seldom invited to take part, if at all.

This was the reason why the people of today still have that already partly instinctive high regard of a professional man even if he is morally “wrecked.”

Today, the phrase “you life a life of a priest (a lawyer etc.)” still persists. This is one of the positive proofs of the high place that those people occupied during the past days. And I have already experienced a numberless time that people always ask the students in Manila if they are studying Law, Medicine, and seldom Agriculture. This shows what they think is the best profession.

But with the coming of the American flag, the move of materialism is fast gaining impetus among the people and the condition of affairs is fast changing. And with the coming of other forms of religion, the priests’ hypnotic charm over the people has greatly lessened its effects through the exposure of their underhand and vile practices to deceive the people. And [the idea of] the farmers and merchants [as] the true foundations of the economic progress of any region is rapidly gaining ground.

Today, the most influential man of our town is a farmer.

[p. 3]

His influence and popularity is not limited to the narrow confines of the town alone but also among the neighboring towns, and the proof of this is that he was asked to present his candidacy for the second Philippine Assembly and came out victorious, beating a lawyer by an overwhelming majority. This could never happen under the circumstances during the Spanish time.

With the change of elements, the society of the town of Batangas has changed its nature. Before, there were three distinct classes. The first was composed of the professional men who were considered as the aristocrats of the town. The second was the class to which the farmers and merchants belonged. As stated before, these men were used by the first class to enrich themselves. The third class was the working men. The distinction was so great that even in the church where everybody must be on equal footing, one could see that the first class men and women were in the front rows and seated, while the rest were behind standing or kneeling.

There is no such thing today. Everybody is a member of only one class. They all mix up, in the church, in balls, and banquets and only esteem with high regard and respect hard-working honest men.

Notes and references:
Transcribed from “The Place of the Farmer and the Merchant in Batangas Society,” by Jose P. Caedo, 1916, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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