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January 1, 2018

San Piro, Balayan, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of San Piro, Balayan, 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.

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HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF BARRIO SAN PIRO

The barrio known as San Piro is bordering the western brink of Balayan Bay, about 3 kilometers from the town. It is one of the largest and most progressive barrios of Balayan, with a population of more than 1061 souls and a volume of trade reaching a staggering sum of more than ₱100,000. The inhabitants are descendants of hardy and industrious stock, peace-loving and God-fearing people.

How this place is so named is still a matter of speculation. From the remaining old folks of the community, I gathered that the name probably originated from a variety of fish which abounds in this locality, called “sapiro.” Others maintained that it was named after its Patron Saint, San Pedro, hence the corrupted form of San Piro. The latter theory is more logical.

Its history dates back to the early days of [the] Spanish era when San Piro coexisted with the village of Balayan, now its mother town. Like other barrios, it started as a sitio during the pre-Spanish days and was then ruled by a Chief or Datu. Then, with other sitios it formed a barangay until finally it grew to be a thriving community as it is now. These facts are attested to by Martin de Goiti and Juan Salcedo who must have visited the place and reported that it was [a] thriving Moro settlement. Balayan is said to have been founded in 1656, and it is presumed that San Piro must have become a full-pledged barrio.

San Piro played a distinct and significant role in Philippine history. During the dark days of the Philippine Revolution (1896-1899), the first Battle of Palikpikan occurred, between the Filipino insurgents and the Spanish garrison of Balayan. Again, because of its strategic location, in 1944-45, remnants of the dwindling Japanese imperial forces established a foothold in Palikpikan and stayed there until routed out by the superior Liberating Forces, composed of U.S. regulars supported by the Guerrilla forces then stationed in Balayan, of which the writer was a humble participant. Thus, San Piro deservedly earned for itself a unique distinction.

San Piro is not only rich in resources and history. It has a folklore, beautiful as it was glamorous. I am referring to the legend of Doña Maria, which may be found somewhere in this report.

Our paramount concern insofar as this report is concerned is to evaluate the progress of San Piro along economic, educational, and social lines. San Piro, perhaps, tops all other barrios with regards to productive enterprises. I dare assert that this barrio perhaps contributed most toward making Balayan a first class municipality. The salacot industry alone is capitalized at more than ₱30,000 and gives employment to many people. Then, there is the great fishing industry and its subsidiary, the bagoong making, with an aggregate capital of ₱60,000. These proved to be a source of enormous income and provides employment for the masses. Not to be overlooked is the farming industry. The narrow coastal plain is well suited to rice and sugarcane crops. Farming

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is, however, engaged in only by 20% of the working population. To these enterprises, we may add the promising cattle-raising, cultivation of fruit trees, vegetable gardening and other livestock projects. Thus, as it has been noted, the resources and potentialities of San Piro will amount to more than one hundred thousand pesos.

A sort of school must have been existing during the Spanish occupation which accounts for the low number of illiterates in this barrio. The public school system started way back in 1919. The products of this school proved to be assets to the community. In due time, they will be the leaders. The school progressed steadily but rather slowly in comparison with the other larger barrios, like Canda and Sampaga. Although it has now a complete elementary curriculum, the school population is only about 240 pupils. The reasons for this are: lack of appreciation of the value of education and the nature of the people’s occupation which also requires the services of the pupils.

In matters of sanitation, the barrio is quite lagging behind. The percentage of mortality is, perhaps, greater the other barrios having the same population. Lack of civic-mindedness and ignorance of sanitation are responsible for this state of affairs.

San Piro could boast of a barrio with many beautiful homes, mostly of semi-permanent materials. They are in some instances laid so close together that sanitation becomes a problem. Now, with the extension of the school activities to the community, it is hoped that the people will gradually awaken to the responsibilities entailed upon them as members of society. They are beginning to realize the necessity of cleanliness, the value of home beautification, and the good that will be derived from food production campaign. In fact, a marked progress has been already noted along these lines. So that in the long run, through the dual efforts of the teachers and the parents, San Piro may some day be a better place to live in. It is, however, suggested that to carry out the objectives of the so-called Community Centered School, the government shall do its part by restoring peace and order, maintaining adequate health facilities, providing technical men to spearhead scientific farming, fishing, and manufacturing, giving higher wages to teachers and other underpaid employees, better facilities for classrooms, and other items that should be the concern of the national government.

HISTORY

1. Present official name – San Piro

2. Popular name, past and present – Sampiro or San Piro, so named after its Patron Saint, San Pedro. [The] Other theory of its derivation is from a variety of small fish abounding in the locality, called “sapiro.” The corrupted form of San Piro is believed more authentic.

3. Name of sitios within the territorial jurisdiction and dates of their establishment – Gapaz and Luya; the former became a sitio of Baha as per Executive Order of the then High Commissioner, Frank Murphy, in 1935.

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4. Original families = Pantojas, de los Reyes, & Creags

5. List of Tenientes del Barrio – Deogracias Butiong, Sinforoso Creag, Daniel de los Reyes, Victor Butiong, and Domingo Arellano, Isaias Tolentino, and again Domingo Arellano, incumbent.

6. History of barrios or sitios which are now extinct – None.

7. Data on historical sites, structures, old buildings, ruins, etc. Historical site – The Palikpikan Creek, where the famous Battle of Palikpikan was fought.

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

(a) During the Spanish occupation – San Piro became a barrio in 1656. In 1861, cabezas de barangays were appointed. In 1901, the office of the cabezas was changed to Teniente del Barrio.

In 1897, the first Battle of Palikpikan was fought between the Spanish Garrison of Balayan, then called Cazadores, and a detachment of Filipino insurgents under the leadership of San Miguel Mabine. Mabine was assisted by such able leaders as Don Benoy Caoibes, Eulalio de los Reyes, and one Gabriel Hernandez. The insurgents were composed mostly of volunteers of the locality. The native troops were outnumbered and inadequately armed so they were forced to retreat to Luya. Mabine, however, escaped from being captured.

(b) During the American occupation up to World War II – The barrio of San Piro also enjoys the blessings brought about by the American occupation. The office of the Capital Municipal was changed to “Presidente” or President, and the Cabezas became barrio lieutenants or Teniente del Barrio. The first public school was established in 1919 with Mr. Ramon Medina as the first teacher. Better roads were constructed and sanitation was looked into. In 1921, during the term of Don Ignacio Lainez as President of the town, all means of catching fish in San Piro were taxed. In 1925, Mr. Pedro Ramirez ordered the construction of the first artesian well. The qualified voters exercise their right to suffrange.

(c) During and after World War II – The second Battle of Palikpikan on April 6th and then on April 8 & 9, 1945. It was an engagement between the remnants of the retreating Japanese Marines who established a foothold in Kaytarik Mt. numbering about 500 or more and a platoon of American regulars under Lt. Navels, supported by a battalion of Guerrilla forces under Cols. Jaime Ferrer and Mariano H. Cabarrubia. The liberating forces under these officers used light arms of different types, mortars, tanks, artilleries, and even planes. After three days of continuous fighting, the enemy was completely routed. [The] Palikpikan section of San Piro was burned, some crops destroyed, but Balayan secured a protection from possible enemy attack. This marked the beginning of the liberation of Balayan and its neighboring towns of Tuy and Calaca, for that matter.

In 1947, the Phil. War Damage Commission undertook the rehabilitation of the damaged areas. This included the barrio of San Piro. People whose houses and crops were des-

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troyed and work animals killed secured war damage claims. The school building of the barrio was among the beneficiaries of these claims. On returning to normal life, the people continued on their pre-war callings. Then followed marked prosperity, and today San Piro can boast of a volume of trade aggregating more than one hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000). In line with educational and social advancements, San Piro is not lagging behind other barrios. There are now many beautiful houses, a Reading Center, and a complete elementary curriculum.

9. (a) Destruction in life and property and institutions during the wars, especially in 1896-1900 and 1941-1945.

San Piro also had a taste of the ravages of war. During the Phil. Revolution, the people suffered either as victims of robbery, pilferage, and destruction of homes, or as direct participants. There were untold hardships and sufferings as famine visited the homes because the people were unable to go on with their normal occupations. The human casualties, however, were insignificant. During World War II, the same thing was true.



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

As had been mentioned elsewhere in this report, this barrio got its due share of War Damage Claims as provided for by the Phil. Rehabilitation Act approved by [the] U. S. Congress, and the people have almost completely recuperated from the effects of war.

FOLKWAYS

10 – 13. Traditions, customs and practices in domestic and social life – Birth, baptism, courtship, marriages, death, burials, visits, festivals, beliefs, and punishments.

San Piro, in spite of its nearness to the town, is still a relative slave to many old traditions, customs, practices, and beliefs which are either products of the people’s imaginative minds, acquired from local pamphlets, magazines, legends, and folklore which they read during their leisure, or handed down to them by their forefathers.

GOD, FIRST MAN AND WOMAN

Like all other devoted Roman Catholics, the people of San Piro always believe that the world was created by a supreme and all powerful being known to them as Bathala or God. Hence, everything within this world including the trees, plants, rivers, seas, lakes, and all the wonderful objects of nature were created by this benevolent Creator.

When there is an earthquake, they believe that the giant who holds the world in one of his hands is tired and so he transfers it to another hand, thus causing the earth to tremble. Because of their faithfulness to God, they generally believe that the first man and woman was Adam and Eve who were supposed to be our first parents.

BIRTH –

It is a common practice in San Piro to select sponsors – godfather or godmother, locally known as Ninang or Ninong, before a child is born. Many parents prefer to baptize the child as soon as possible. Sometimes, an old man or an old woman is hired to pour water on the child’s head to make sure that he will be an angel and not an evil spirit if he unluckily dies. The other aim of baptism is to free the infant from his original sin.

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COURTSHIP –

San Piro, like the town to which it belongs, has a modernized method of courtship. This is show by the fact that the young men here use their own influence to win the women of their dreams. The man goes to the house of the lady-love and proposes to her directly as Samson did to Delilah. However, the old method of courtship is still prevalent among the old timers. First, the prospective lover shall take to the home of the girl bundles of nicely tucked firewood. Then, he would do some personal services, as fetching water, helping the girl’s father in the farm, and other menial work. This shall serve as notice to the girl’s parents of his intention. The girl’s father will then send for the parents of the young man. Both [sets of] parents shall talk [about] the matter over a sumptuous meal and drinks. This particular day or night is locally known as “bulungan.” Whatever agreement is reached, the decision is considered binding to both parties.

DEATH –

The dead is honored with [a] locally made wreath usually of bright colored flowers. It is retained in the house for not more than 24 hours to give [a] chance to the family and near relatives of the dead to pay their last look and respect. A prayer for the repose of the soul of the dead is said for 9 successive nights. After the prayer, the young men and women resorted to some parlor games by way of consoling the bereaved family. The most common of these games is the “kulasisi ng hari” or the bird of the king.

The family, the near relatives, friends, and neighbors of the deceased accompany the latter to his resting place. The immediate members of the family wear black clothing as a sign of mourning. This lasts for about a year.

FESTIVALS –

San Piro is very near the sea. As a matter of fact, one of its leading sources of income is fishing. For this reason, it is the practice of the owner of the fish trap to have a little feast as soon as the trap is ready for operation. The feast is called “tapisan.” Every person who happens to pass by is invited on the belief that no fish will bypass the trap.

The barrio fiesta is celebrated once a year with great pomp and splendor. Every house plays the traditional hospitality common to all Filipinos. The Patron Saint is placed high on a boat and goes cruising the bay. This practice is known as “KARAKUL.”

SUPERSTITIONS –

Superstitions play [an] important role in the life of the people of San Piro in spite of the inroads of civilization. Here are some examples.

1. When one sees a black cat crossing his path, he is headed to something terrific, so he has to return home.

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2. When dogs bark or howl at night, ghosts are wandering about.

3. When a falling star or meteor is seen by someone and he successfully catches it, he will be the possessor of a talisman.

4. During leap years, women assume the men’s role. They turn to the chaser instead of being the chased.

5. When a star shines very near the moon, women make easy victims for men.

6. Number “13” is considered an unlucky number.

14. Proverb and Sayings –

The proverbs and sayings common in Tagalog provinces are also known to the people of San Piro. I shall mention only a few which are distinctly local:

1. Ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay dinaramdam ng buong katawan.

2. Hindi bubunga ang santol ng bayabas.

3. Hindi maaaring magtadtad ng walang sangkalan.

4. Magpakahaba-haba ang procession, sa simbahan din ang urong.

5. Ibang Hari, ibang ugali.

6. Walang matimtimang birhen sa matiyagang manalangin.

7. Pag lumura ka ng patingala, sa mukha mo tatama.

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

9. Hindi tutubo ang kabuti ng walang katanaw.

10. Hindi kakapit ang kuto kundi sa balat ng ulo.

15. Methods of measuring time, special calendar –

Nowadays, the people generally resort to clocks and watches to tell the time. But those who cannot afford to have one reckon time by the position of the sun; by the crowing of the rooster at night; by the sound of the birds and other insects; and by the position of the stars and other planets.

The only thing that may be called special calendars may be the different phases of the moon and the corresponding rise and fall of the tides.

16. Other Folktales

THE LEGEND OF DOÑA MARIA

San Piro is not only rich in resources and history. It has also a legend beautiful as it is glamorous. This is about the legend of Doña Maria, the fairy of the peak that

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now bears her name. It is said that on moonlit nights, she would be seen tripping down the slope or frolicking on the ravines, while the melodious strains of her silvery beautiful voice floats incessantly on the languid air. She is known to be a lady of exotic beauty. In spite of her being a supernatural being, she often mingled with the people and had grown fond of them. She ministered to their personal needs – gave alms the poor, tended the sick, and even lent her precious jewels, furniture, and beautiful clothing to people down the peak when they had some grand affairs such as fiestas, weddings, and the like. But it seemed that some people abused her kindness and generosity so that in her displeasure, she abandoned the peak of her abode and was seen no more. Only the imprint of her right foot was left at Doña Maria’s Peak, as souvenir to the ungrateful people she once loved. The other footprint, so the story says, may be found in Mt. Batulaw. Then, she probably transferred her residence to Mt. Makiling in Laguna. We have heard of Mariang Makiling. As to where she came from, nobody knows, and now Doña Maria as it was, was but a legend receding backward and backward to the background of doom and oblivion save for the fact that every now and then, in silent moonlit nights, the old folks of San Piro and Dalig would retell the story to their children, who in turn will, perhaps, hand it down to posterity.

OTHER INFORMATION

17. Information on books and documents –

A diary containing a chronological record of important events had been written by one named Sinforoso Creag, and being continued by his son, Crispulo Creag. Many of the dates in [this] report were taken from this diary.

18. Names of some Filipino authors born or residing in the community – N O N E

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

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