Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part I - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part I - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part I

Historical Data graphic
Historical data from the National Library of the Philippines.



Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Aplaya, Bauan, 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.

[p. 1]


Aplaya is the popular name of the barrio at present and it is also its official name. The barrio being along the shore of Balayan Bay, its name, therefore, was derived from the Spanish word “Playa” meaning beach. Kuta was the original name of the barrio and this word is still popular to some people. This word had its derivation from the word “fort” when the Spanish officials residing in the poblacion ordered the construction of a stone watchtower to protect the community from Moro raids which were rampant during the early days. The sitios included within the territorial jurisdiction of this barrio are Daan Dagat, Kanlura, Centro, and Silangan. The date of establishment of this barrio and its original families are unknown.

The tenientes del barrio as far as it could be recalled from the earliest time to date were Kabisang Alejandro Marasigan, Kabesang Rufino Marasigan, Kabisang Luciano Romero, Kabisang Pedro Marasigan, G. Mateo Castillo, G. Mario Baltazar, G. Segundo Catapang, G. Daniel Castillo, G. Nicolas Arevalo, and G. Melquiades Dimayuga.

In 1919, this place had its biggest fire ever known in the history of Bauan. Only [a] few houses were spared and the loss of property amounted to several hundred thousand pesos. It took several years before this barrio could be rehabilitated. During the Japanese occupation, this place did not suffer very much from the Japanese depredations although there was a detachment of Japanese soldiers stationed in this barrio.

Going back to the early stage of the Spanish occupation, the seashore of Aplaya extended as far as the “castillo,” a place which is more than a hundred meters from the shore today. In the course of time, the land has gained much from the sea for the part which was occupied by the sea during the last three centuries is now dry and level land teeming with houses and stores. The “castillo” or watchtower to warn the people as well as the Spanish officials of the coming of the Moro pirates who arrived at unexpected moments to loot and plunder the inhabitants of Aplaya.

Another interesting event which could be observed during the Spanish time was the extreme reverential fear which the inhabitants showed toward the clergy. When the parochial priest took a walk, children stopped at their play, adults stopped at their work and hurried down the street to kiss the hands of the “padre.”

[p. 2]

During that time, no houses could be constructed along the seashore because the priest ordered it. The chief reason was that the priest did not want anything to obstruct his view of the sea when he stood at the end of the road which led to the poblacion.

No education was provided for the masses. Children learned their alphabets from a private tutor. The most popular private tutor that time was a man called Calixto Balitaan, one of the few learned men of the period.

During the American period, the first thing that the American soldiers did when they came to Bauan was to turn Aplaya and the poblacion into a sort of concentration camp during their intensive drive against the Filipino revolutionists. All persons from the different barrios of this municipality were required to evacuate and live in these two places – the poblacion and Aplaya; persons seen outside these areas were considered rebels. Responsible citizens were assigned by American officials to take charge of the evacuees.

The American period may be characterized as a period of rapid progress in education. Since no school building was constructed in Aplaya during the Spanish regime, big private houses were selected for school purposes. The first school teachers were Miss Ana Madlangbayan, the late Judge Braulio Bejasa, and Mr. Epifanio Pinawin. Pencils and writing slates were distributed to the pupils free of charge and every attractive means was employed to encourage the parents and their children to go to school. After several years, a temporary school building of local materials was built. Long bamboo benches were used as the seats of the pupils. Ex-major Roman Alejandre and ex-auditor Liberato Evangelista were the teachers in the school building. It was later transferred to the lot opposite the present schoolhouse. The teachers then were Mr. Raymundo Contreras and Miss Julia MaƱibo. There were only the first and second grades until 1917. In 1922, a two-story building was constructed at the present site and it later became a complete primary school. The present building was constructed in 1933.

Along the economic and commercial lines, Aplaya has much to boost. Aplaya was once an important port of call for steamers carrying goods to and from Manila and other parts of the Philippines. Commerce and trade were in full swing when the Americans arrived. However, sea transportation declined in 1917 with the introduction of modern means of land transporation such as trucks and train. The railroad was extended to Bauan in 1912. The first land transportation company was established by the late Mr. Efigenio Mandanas in 1915 consisting of four-passenger automobiles and lasted for two years. The boom in commerce and in trade was in 1912 up to 1917. Aplaya, then, was the trading center.

The chief industries before fishing were tying abaca and weaving sinamay cloth. These latter industries were begun during the Spanish time and lasted until 1917 when the export to Japan of tied abaca declined.

[p. 3]

Another worst calamity besides fire which is mentioned at the beginning was when this barrio was visited by a strong typhoon in November, 1926. About 80 persons were washed away into the sea and about a hundred families were rendered homeless. Red Cross relief workers came and through their aid in the form of clothing and food, much had been done to alleviate the sufferings of the typhoon victims.

Aplaya was one of the most fortunate barrios in the municipality of Bauan that escaped Japanese depredations and other war destructions. Only a few incidents may be said in passing and that was the usual plundering of some private and government property by the Japanese soldiers.

Part Two: Folkways

Traditions, Customs, and Practices. – Customs and traditions are established ways of doing things handed down from generation to generation. Certain ways which were found to be proper or convenient were preserved and used as a pattern of conduct. Customs and traditions govern not only overt acts but also one’s own thoughts, beliefs, ideas and certain ways of living. Some customs and practices are good and some are bad. Some are proper while others are foolish and ridiculous. But they influenced our actions just the same to a considerable degree. Violation of some customs and practices sometimes meet social disapproval. The following are some of the traditional customs and practices commonly practiced in the barrio of Aplaya.

Courtship and Marriages. – Marriage is arranged by the parents of the prospective groom with the parents of the prospective bride. In other cases, the parents do not interfere with their daughter’s choice of a mate provided he can support his family. A dowry is usually given by the parents of the groom to the parents of the bride. This dowry may be in cash amounting to several hundred pesos to a thousand pesos, lands, or livestock. The prospective groom must render manual services to the girl’s parents. He chops firewood, fetches water, cleans the yard, repairs the house, and does other household chores. These services last immediately after the marriage. During the wedding ceremony, the new couple attempts to step on each other’s feet. The explanation for this action is twofold. It is supposed to bring good luck to the newly married pair and at the same time, it determines who shall be the boss in the household. If the woman succeeds in stepping first on the groom’s feet, she is allowed to handle all money matters and takes the cudgel. If the husband is more agile, he holds the purse string and retains his pants.

After the wedding rites, the bride and groom are met at the stairs and rice grains are strewn to them. As soon as they are in the house, the couple kneels and kisses the hand of the parents of both parties and also the hands of the elder relatives who are present.

[p. 4]

The wedding feast is always held in the house of the bride and its expenses are borne by the parents of the groom. Immediately after the feast comes the “sabugan” or the raising of money for the pair. The couple sits on opposite sides of a small table with an empty plate in front of each. The relatives of the new couple begin to put cash on the plates. The “sabog” ranges from one peso to several hundred pesos. The money on the plate in front of the groom is intended for the bride and those in front of the bride is intended for the groom. After the “sabugan,” the money is counted and all are turned over to the bride by the groom.

Birth – A pregnant woman must not stay under the house. When somebody is pregnant in the house, no visitor is allowed to stay by the doorway lest the delivery be difficult. Immediately after the delivery, the mat used by the mother is rubbed all over with ginger. It is believed that this practice will prevent the mother from getting sick.

Burial. – It is believed that if the deceased is a mother and has left behind her several children, she will rise from the grave at the fourth day after interment to visit her children. To offset this horrible possibility, the surviving children are passed over the open grave before it is covered.

Festivals – Every year, the barrio of Aplaya has four or more fiestas which are always held in May. These fiestas are held in the name of Poon Santa Cruz. During each fiesta, every home prepares sumptuous food and anybody who comes in is served.

Myths, Legends, Beliefs, and Superstitions

The Iliw-Iliw River
(A Myth)

There is a small river on the west side of Aplaya that traverses the rice field and how it got its name has been a story often told by the old people.

There was once a couple whose daily business was to sell vegetables and fruits in the market. They had only one child and had to carry this baby along with them. A packing box served the baby as an improvised bed while they were in the market. One morning, while the sale was going on, a tall old woman, dressed in red, came near the baby and took it away. She ran as fast as she could. The mother saw here and ran after her, too, yelling and shouting for help. The old woman ran across the rice fields and up to the river. When she looked back, she found that the mother was already very near her. She crossed the river and from the other side, she tossed the baby into the water. The mother ran for the child but it disappeared in the deep water.

[p. 5]

The mother was so grief-stricken over the loss of her child that she became mentally deranged. She was often seen by the bank of the river shouting, “Guiliw, Guiliw” which means “My dear, my dear.” After several months, the mother died. Since then, the people who went there to wash clothes and fetch water often heard the voice of the mother still calling “guiliw, guiliw” but they could hear only “iliw, iliw” clearly. From that time on, the river was called Iliw-Iliw although at present, they cannot hear anymore the phantom voice of the mother.

Popular Songs, Games and Amusements

Doon po sa aming bayan ng Sumeria
Pagitan ng ilog lupang Pedilina
May tumubo roong ibong magasawa
Pangalan ay Penis kaligaligaya

Ang Penis na ito’y gumayak nagpugad
Sa hapunang kahoy mayabong, mataas,
At sa katibayan ng ginawang pugad
Isang taon na ngayon ay di pa nawawalat.

Umitlong ng dalawa at saka lumimlim;
Nang mangapisa na’y dalawa rin ang sisiw.
At sa katuwaan ng ama’t inahin
Nagsasagimbayan nang pagpapakain.

Nang lumaki na ang dalawang anak
Ang ama at ina’y siyang sumapugad;
Ang dalawang anak siyang naghahanap
Upang makaganti sa sinusong gatas.


Ang huni ng ibong pipit
Sa itaas ng Kalumbibit
Pag ang dala ay pangit
Ang binata’y nagagalit

Ang huni ng ibong kulyawan
Sa taluktok ng makopa
Pag ang dalaga’y maganda
Ang binata’y tumatawa.

Ang huni ng bato-bato
Sa itaas ng mabulo,
Pag ang dalaga’y mabango
Ang binata’y lumukso.


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