Balagbag, Alitagtag, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Balagbag, Alitagtag, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Balagbag, Alitagtag, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Balagbag, Alitagtag, Batangas, the original scanned documents at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections not having OCR or optical character recognition properties. This transcription has been edited for grammar, spelling and punctuation where possible. The original pagination is provided for citation purposes.
Historical Data
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Part One: History

1. Present official name of the barrio


2. Popular name of the barrio, present and past; derivation and meanings of these names. Names of sitios included within the territorial jurisdiction of the barrio.

Balagbag is the present official name of the barrio. Since time immemorial, it has been called by that name. The term Balagbag means across; sturdy, or hard-boiled. So far, there is no tale or established fact handed down why the barrio was called Balagbag. But, basing upon the culture of the old inhabitants, it was found out that the people of this barrio as compared with the people of the neighboring barrios, were the most powerful, intelligent, and active leaders both in social and political activities during the Spanish regime.

Balagbag was originally about one and one-half kilometers east of the present poblacion.

3. Date of establishment:

No date could be given.

4. Original families:

There were very few families originally

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living in the barrio. There were about fifty of them who were very closely related to one another. Today, there are one hundred thirty-five families living along the national highway.

5. List of tenientes from the earliest time to date.
1.  Feliciano Gutierrez 3.  Geronimo Maranan
2.  Miguel Cuevas 4.  Anselmo Maranan
6. Story of the barrio or sitios within jurisdiction that are now depopulated or extinct.

The barrio now existing, which was the barrio of Balagbag, was not a depopulated barrio, but rather a barrio with plenty of inhabitants residing within.

7. Data on historical sites, structures, buildings, old ruins, etc.

No data on historical sites could be given.

8. Important facts, incidents or events that took place.

(a) During the Spanish occupation.

It was in 1900 when the war between the Filipino and American forces broke out in “Pulong Matanda.” At this time, the Filipinos were already defeated by the Americans, but still there were Filipino contingents who refused to surrender. The Filipinos were under the command of Capitan Alfonso Panopio, a well-known political and military leader at that time. The Americans coming from Bauan numbering thirty arrived at

[p. 3]

“Pulong Matanda.” Soon, the battle began. With the help of Taal and other forces, Capitan Panopio’s force was able to subdue the American force. Only one American escaped, and that lone American galloped his horse to Bauan to rush for succor. The succor came, but this time the American soldiers forced the Filipino soldiers to retreat. As a punishment, all the houses in Balagbag down to Cuta, Taal were burned by the Americans.

(b) During and after World War II.

It was during World War II, when the barrio inhabitants suffered most from the occupation troops and the destruction brought about by the war. The Japanese soldiers planted bombs on the highway and especially under the bridge. They dug up foxholes, underground in orchards, under bamboo groves and in the fields. Balagbag was then the Japanese headquarters. Alitagtag [was] being proclaimed as a war zone. When the Americans were about to come in March, 1945, the Japanese soldiers stripped the inhabitants of their clothes, jewels, food, and other supplies. The guerrillas were shot and the suspects were tortured to death.

[p. 4]

About the close of March, 1945, the American forces effected their landing, first in Nasugbu, then in Lemery. The Japanese, upon knowing this, retreated to Cuenca. In this retreat, the Japanese patrols exploded their bombs and set all the houses on fire. Only a few buildings were left unburned. Thanks to the timely arrival of the American forces! The civilians who were at the Japanese mercy might all have been liquidated.

9. (a) Destruction of lives, properties and institutions during wars, especially in 1896-1900 and 1941-1945.

In this great war, 85 houses were burned and destroyed and about ₱50,000.00 worth of properties were lost. A man named Bernabe Reyes was shot and burned with eight others by the Japanese patrols in Ginintingan in March, 1953, they being suspected as guerrillas. The other name Vidal Ramos was taken by the Japanese officials at the same time to Mt. Makulot to carry their belongings. Until now, nobody knows what exactly happened to him.

(b) Measures and accomplishments toward rehabilitation and reconstruction following World War II.

In the destruction brought about by the war between the Filipinos and the Americans,

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the barrio inhabitants received no aid whatsoever from their American visitors. Through hard labor, perseverance and economy, the people were able to survive and live better in houses. Before World War II, the people lived in better homes, enjoyed freedom of speech and of the press, and were well-developed morally, socially, physically and mentally. All of these enjoyments, freedoms and prosperity were greatly hampered by the Japanese occupation and the great World War II.

The people, however, gradually recovered from this great devastation of the war. The people found employment in the American depots for more than a year. Government employees were restored at once to their former positions with the aid of the PICAW. The War Damage Commission paid a part on all claims. The people started their businesses and the fortunate ones were able to construct new and better houses. Parents and widows whose sons and husbands died in the war have been pensioners up to the present. “They call it a blessing in disguise.” The reconstruction and rehabilitation which the people have experienced after the war are caused by the American benevolence and generosity.

[p. 6]

Part Two: Folkways

10. Traditions, customs and practices in domestic and social life; birth, baptism, courtship, marriage, death, burial; visits; festivals; punishments; etc.

A. Birth

A newly-born baby is made to lie on [a] newspaper or any worthwhile magazine. It is the common belief that such practice makes the child intelligent.

After three to six months, the baby is made to eat rice. But before giving rice, the mother feeds the child with any of the following with corresponding beliefs:

a. Remnants of the bread that the priest consecrates – To make the child religious when it grows old.

b. A kind of sweet called kalamay – To make the child mild and goodnatured.

c. A kind of fish called siliw in the dialect – To make the child quick and alert.

B. Baptismal:

1. Good-natured persons are selected to be the godmother or godfather as people believe that the goddaughter or godson inherits one of the traits of the former.

2. The person carrying the baby leaving for the church to be baptized passes amidst the throng of visitors so that when the

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child grows older, he may not be shy but sociable.

3. To make the child cheerful and not a crybaby, he is made to lie on the church floor usually in front of the altar before the baptismal ceremony is performed.

4. When the newly-baptized child reaches home, the parents hide all that the child wears to church to develop orderliness in the latter.

C. Courtship –

It is not worthwhile to give footwear to a courted girl as the girl may look down on the boy – thus affection would not develop.

D. Marriage –

1. The bride and the groom are made to step on silver coins as soon as they have gone downstairs bound for the church. The same thing is done when the newly-weds return home. It is believed that such [a] practice enables the couple to earn a living easily.

2. Rice is showerd on the newly-weds before they go upstairs on their return from the church so that God may bless the couple with abundant graces throughout

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their lives.

3. The parents or relatives of the groom steal the clothes that the bride changed for the wedding gown. These clothes are kept in the bottom most portion of the farmer’s trunk or aparador so that the latter may feel at home in the home of the in-laws after marriage.

E. Death –

When the dead leaves for the interment, all the windows of the house are being closed. It is prohibited to look at the dead out of the windows. They believe that other members may follow the dead soon if people look out of the window in that advent.

18. Popular songs; games and amusements:
1.  Serenading 5.  Tangga
2.  Cockfighting 6.  Siklot
3.  Playing 7.  Tatsing
4.  Cara y Cruz 8.  Sungka
Popular songs:

Ani aling kuwan ay mabuti pa nga
Mamatay sa sakit ay huag sa hiya
Ang tao’y buhay ma’t ang puri ay wala
Ay parang patay rin ang kahalimbawa.

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Popular songs (Cont’d)

2. Narito na ang ulang Malaki
    Ilalabas ko na ang aking sa gabi
    may sa gabi ka ma’t walang sa kabuti
    Babasain ka rin ng ulang Malaki.

3. Halina halina halinang panindim
    Sa ngalan mo lamang patay may buhay rin
    Kung sa natutulog ikaw ay panggising
    At pang-aliw naman sa malumbayin.

14. Proverbs and sayings:

Mga Bugtong
Tubig na sakdal-linaw
ay nadadala ng kamay
- Yelo
Iisa ang hitsura
Marami ang pangalan niya.
- Palay
Titingnan ng tingnan
bago ngingibitan
- Mais
Alin ang kakanin sa mundo
ang labas ang buto
- Kasoy
Dalawang tindahan
Sabay buksan
-  Mata
Hinila ko ang bagin
Nagkakana ang matsin
- Kampana
Baboy ko sa Pulo
Balahibo ay pako
- Nangka
Bahay ni Kiring-kiring
Butas-butas ang dingding.
- Bakid
Bahay ni San Gabriel
Punong-puno ng baril.
- Ilong
Bahay ni Kaka
Hindi matingala
- Noo
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1. Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.

2. Ang lumura ng patingala sa mukha rin tumatama.

3. Ang hipong tulog ay nadadala ng agos.

4. Ang lihim na katapangan ay siyang pinakikinabangan.

5. Ang palay ay hindi lalapit sa manok, ang bato sa suso.

6. Kapag may isinuksok ay may madudukot.

7. Ang maliit na umpisa ay malaki ang hangga.

8. Ang hindi lumilingon sa pinanggalingan di makararating sa patutunguhan.

9. Madali ang maging tao mahirap ang magpakatao.

10. Ang hanap sa bula, sa bula rin mawawala.

11. Kung anong bukang bibig siyang laman ng dibdib.

12. Ang balita’y bihirang magtapat magkatotoo ma’y marami ang dagdag.

13. Kung ayaw mong maduguan, huwag dumais sa patayan.

14. Matalino man ang matsing ay napapaglamangan din.

15. Huwag bilangin ang manok pag di pa pisa ang itlog.

16. Ang santol ay hindi magbubunga ng mangga.

17. May pakpak ang balita, may taynga ang lupa.

18. Magpakahabahaba ang prusisyon sa simbahan din ang urong.

19. Ang lumalakad ng matulin, matinik man ay malalim.

20. Ang mahusay na pagsunod ay nasa naguutos.

21. Hindi lahat ng kumikinang ay ginto.

22. Ang gawa sa pagka bata dala hangga sa tumanda.

23. Kung tunay na tubo matamis hanggang dulo.

24. Ang kaibigan kung tapat, karamay sa hirap.

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25. Ang dungis ng iba’y bago mo batiin, ang dungis mo muna ay iyong pahirin.

26. Walang masamang pluma sa mabuting lumetra.

27. Kahoy na babad sa tubig, sa apoy huwag ilalapit, pag nadangdang sa init, sapilitang magdirikit.

28. Ang sakit ng kalingkingan, damdam ng buong katawan.

29. Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo.

30. Huwag kang sisiguro, kuwaresma may bumabagyo.

15. Methods of measuring time.

The need of knowing the time is of great importance to the routines of life so that people have to resort to other means of measuring time in the absence of watches. Observations have proved to us that not only the watches convey time.

Certain birds, for instance, make regular time calls at various hours of the day. A shiny black bird smaller than the crow locally known as “sabukot” calls out its time signal by a monotone and prolonged “krok-kok-kok-kok.” It has been observed that this bird heralds four o’clock in the afternoon and morning with utmost precision. In the mountains, a certain bird calls out its time signal by a far-reaching and distinct “kalao-ao-ao” everyday at midnight. The bird, the hornbill, is called the clock of the mountain.

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Of the domesticated animals, the rooster is one of three which gives time signal by its crows every two hours from ten o’clock at night to four o’clock in the morning. I can bet that the rooster’s crows are dead exact as any time given by to modern Lord Elgin or Omega. The cat, for instance, is another animal with which people detect time. It is observed that when its pupil is at its biggest circumference, it is exactly noontime.

16. Other folktales –


Newspaper readers of this town have recently come across a frightening account of Taal Volcano’s much feared eruption. Although the more learned authorities on volcanic eruption have pronounced repeatedly that the said mountain is inactive, the townspeople could not help but shudder at the thought of an impending disaster whenever the word “volcan” is mentioned.

Closely associated, however, with the terror the word “volcan” conveys to the weak-hearted are some interesting recollections which strengthen the faith of the town’s Catholic population in our Patron Saint, the Holy Cross.

[p. 13]

It is recalled that during those fateful days in the year 1911, Taal Volcano was spitting forth molten lava, red-hot rocks and ashes, the church authorities convened and decided to move temporarily the Holy Cross to Bauan. It was then the consensus of opinion, it would be very much safer in Bauan in view of our town’s proximity to the erupting Taal Volcano. Hastily, one of the sacristans was ordered to remove the Holy Cross from its pedestal and as planned [it] would be taken to Bauan. A large crowd was on hand to witness that momentous transfer. But how amazed were they when the sacristan complained that he could not lift the Holy Cross from its pedestal. Some of the more skeptical onlookers volunteered to do the job by trying themselves to lift the Holy Cross. All their efforts were to no avail. Those who were around and who witnessed this strange occurrence all fell on bent knees, including the group which at first refused to believe. The parish priest abandoned the original plan and, instead, led the group in prayer.

When night came, the volcano stepped up its activity. The sky above became a terrifying spectacle as huge balls of fire flew thick and fast. All of a sudden, the people of the town began to witness an awe-inspiring phenomenon. The Holy Cross was

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visibly high up, soaring like the present-day man-made machine. It glided from East to West and back. As if by spell of magic, the cloud of fire rolled fast to the north. Distinctly, the speechless folks below say how the town was saved from imminent destruction and death. This miracle of the Holy Cross recurred during the following days until the monster of Taal returned once more to its peaceful slumber. When the catastrophe was over, thousands of casualties were reported from all the neighboring towns, both far and near, but this town, though literally a stone-throw only from the volcano, suffered no casualty at all. This was all because of the miracle of the Holy Cross.

17. Information on books and documents treating of [the] Philippines and names of their owners –

No information on books and documents treating of [the] Philippines could be given.

18. The names of Filipino authors born or residing in the community, the titles and subjects of their work, whether printed or manuscript for use and names of persons processing them.

Title – Ang Cruz sa Alitgtag
Author – Rev. Fr. Juan Sandoval Coronel

Names of persons processing them.
1.  Pastor Coronel 4.  Crisologo Adan
2.  Eusebio Generoso 5.  Pablo Castillo
3.  Eusebio de Leon 6.  Nieves G. Castillo

Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History and Cultural Life of the Barrio (Balagbag, Alitagtag),” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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