Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Bilibinwang in the town of Agoncillo, 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.
Barrio of Bilibinwang
Municipality of Agoncillo
Province of Batangas
DIVISION OF BATANGAS
DISTRICT OF LEMERY
HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF THE BARRIO PART I: HISTORY
Remotely located in the northeastern section of the town of Agoncillo, facing the western slopes of the famous Taal Volcano, is the fertile plain of “Look,” popularly known under its official name, “BILIBINWANG.” Look is the location of this barrio. Look is the local translation of the word “Gulf.” Being deeply indented toward the west from the shores of Taal Lake, its geographical location is suggestive of its name. The Spanish authorities claimed the responsibility of renaming the barrio after the names of three persons, Benito, Librado, and Juan, who were the first to explore the place and were able to give a comprehensive account of the place. Soon, the Spaniards spoke of the place as “BILIBWAN.” Through frequent repetition and careless pronunciation of the word, it was finally changed to “Bilibinwang.” At present, its territorial jurisdiction extends as far as “Manalaw,” a small sitio adjacent to its southeastern border.
Old municipal records expose that the settlement of this barrio started in the year 1916, five years after the second terrific eruption of the Taal Volcano, when a handful of hardy soil tillers, after a careful survey of the place, resolved to settle in it. From then, eight little huts with a good number of ten families dotted the green valley. They began to exploit the idle land which for many years had escaped public notice. After a brief period of enduring patience and hard labor, they succeeded in settling a portion of the plain to an unrivalled productivity. The settlers’ individual interests in this new fortune gave no room for other activities needed for a healthy and joyous living. They engaged devotedly to their work, trying their very best to get the most out of the soil through careful cultivation. Lured by the striking sight of the vast and fertile crops, people from far and near began to join the pioneers. This surprising increase in population marked the birth of a real community. They readily organized barrio officers with a certain Agustin Catena as the first to hold the title of Teniente del Barrio. Then, as the years went by, came the turns of Eleuterio Miranda, Epitacio Mercado, Domingo Miranda, Albino Mercado, and Maximo Mendoza, who at the time of the writing is still holding this responsible position. Domingo Miranda served during the dark days of World War II. But nothing of interest and worth relating to the reading public could be cited about the life of the people during this incumbency. The Japanese occupation of the Islands inflicted only a minor disturbance upon the locality. It was not strange if the brutal abuses of the invaders be totally unknown to the populace for the Japanese had never set foot on this barrio.
Traditions, customs, and practices in domestic and social life in this community are similar to the practices of all Tagalog regions. Nevertheless, unlike many sitios, big or small, celebrations are rare in this place, and whenever there is one, it is traditionally a sort of religious offering accentuated in a fancy dance, somewhat primitive in nature. This is locally termed “Subli,” which is usually sponsored by someone who had undergone ordeals from certain illness or bad luck. Aside from this, the people have many funny ways of doing things which are indicative of their deep regard for superstitions. Planting coconuts is usually done at dark by completely naked persons. This, they believe, will ensure abundant harvest. Transplanting banana shoots
demands sitting position to expect bigger and sweeter fruits. They also subscribe to an aged belief that the Taal Lake, the only convenient route to the poblacion by means of boats, is infested with evil spirits whose supernatural prowess commands the waves. When making a trip, it is advisable to refrain from talking about anything that might appear before a man’s sight. If one talks, the waves, upon the dictates of the spirits, will rush with fury upon the vessel in which he is riding until it capsizes. Tragic incidents which occur with frequency in this famous lake are attributed to these spirits. From the general reaction of the people toward various happenings, it can be safely concluded that statistics account for their submission to superstitions. An annual change of climate is experienced in this locality. From October to February, the northeast monsoon perpetuates. Trips by boat in this part of the [year] is undoubtedly risky for the spirits, they notioned [curious word], are will boiling tempers.
Unmindful of the difficulty of travel, the people seem ultimately satisfied with their settlement. The economic condition is in a degree high enough to sustain the ever increasing settlers as well as to provide them with the vital necessities for a prosperous livelihood. The increase of population through reproduction raced proportionally with the economic progress. Births of twins have been noted, one in 1920, another in 1931, and a third in 1942. Dreadful sickness scourged the place but once. In 1919, when the establishment was still in its infancy, dysentery made a brief visit, spreading death to many children and adults as well. At present, a disease medically termed “appendicitis” is very common. This ailment, however, gives the people no serious worry for the hospitals have, for many times, shown skilled hands in performing medical measures.
Amusement and recreational activities have evidently immuned the place from juvenile delinquencies. Games, most popular of which is the men’s softball, are scheduled quarterly. From neighboring towns, competing towns come to display their skills in the game. Songs, likewise, take [the] lead in improving entertainment. New songs and music are not strange to the community, the place being frequently visited by townspeople. For the old folks, however, the songs that claimed popularity to date are the “Sit-Sirit-Sit,” “Intsik Na Beho,” and the “Huluna,” a song for the infants. Life and joy in gatherings are supplemented by thought-provoking puzzles and riddles. Below are some of those that coped community approval and consideration:
(2) A piece of coconut husk that travels overnight (moon).
(3) Tall when sitting, short when standing (dog).
(4) Standing but without feet, crying but without eyes (lighted candle).
(5) What is it that relates but could not speak? (letter, book)
(6) A piece of charcoal ever hanging, not a duhat fruit but could be eaten (bignay fruit).
(7) One, two, three before I could reach the sea (coconut, fruit).
(8) What is it that has feet but could not go places? (table, chair)
(9) Anywhere I go, I carry my radio (mouth).
(10) My pig in the field is getting fat without being fed (camote).
Some statements in this writing showed that from statistics, the people deduce general assertions and later on weave [a] variety of superstitions. Head in hand with those are formed proverbs and sayings, the basis of which, likewise, are repeated occurrences. The following will acquaint the readers with the local proverbs and sayings:
(2) He who walks slowly will be benighted on the way.
(3) Of what use is the grass when the horse to be fed is dead.
(5) If there is a will, there is a way.
(6) What a man says is what his mind dictates.
(7) Tell me who your companions are and I will tell you who you are.
(8) Barking dogs seldom bite.
(9) A pampered child is reared in vain.
(10) Easy come, easy go.
(11) He who does not look back from where he has been will never realize his dream.
(12) A voracious eater is better than a robber.
(13) Fish are caught with fish hooks while persons in careless talks.
(14) What you plant should bear the same fruit.
(15) Not all that glitter are gold.
MR. EULALIO RODRIGUEZ