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January 2, 2018

Bulacnin, Lipa City, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Bulacnin in the City of Lipa, 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]

THE HISTORY OF BULACNIN

Generally, the physical feature of a place, the historical event, the trade or occupation of the people are most commonly used in naming a location or sitio. And Bulacnin is no exception.

THE PRESENT OFFICIAL NAME OF THE BARRIO

The barrio, as it is presently known, derived its name from a spring where the people used to get water for home consumption. This spring is located somewhere in Malabanan.

Bulacnin, however, is not the original name of this barrio. It was formerly called “Kay Magtago” – the name still popular among the old folks – because long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the people from the town used to hide in this place from the outlaws. These outlaws were very much dreaded on account to the insufferable physical torture they inflicted on their victims. They entered the town with great caution, riding on horseback and singing songs, in order not to arouse suspicion. Often than never, the people were completely helpless; they could not even dare to move or shout lest if they did, they would be shot. The grievous misdeeds of the outlaws forced the people to leave the town and find some excellent hiding spots of this barrio known as Bulacnin. The organized the “gorita,” the term given to the guards of the barrio, who safeguarded the people from the outlaws.

THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE BARRIO

Formerly, Bulacnin [was] comprised [of] the sitios of Malabanan, Pusil, Paligawan, and Kapitang Valerio. In 1925, through the initiated leadership of Saturnino Recio, the jurisdiction was divided. Pusil and Paligawan were given to Mariano Recio for him to supervise and administer. Years later, Cornelio de Torres was assigned “teniente del barrio” for Pusil. Since then, these barrios, together with the others, were separated from Bulacnin, each having a teniente del barrio.

Pusil, Malabanan, Paligawan, Kapitang Valerio and important sitios of these places were named after outstanding personalities or events that took place.
Pusil – was named after a certain outlaw, Jose Pusil, who had lived hiding in this place for some time.
Malabanan – was named after Bandong Malabanan, who owned a big land here. And because of the vast grazing place for Malabanan’s animals, the place Paligawan came to exist.
Kapitan Valerio – was another man who owned a large tract of land and for this reason, the place bears his name. Kapital Valerio was the father of the late Don Teodoro M. Kalaw and of the present Mayor, Honorable Jose M. Kalaw.

Other notable spots are:
a. Tagpu – According to original sources, this was the meeting place of the “Insurrectos.”
b. Isip – The site where the “Insurrectos” planned their movement.
c. Pinagsabangan – the intersection of two brooklets.

[p. 2]

d. Talon – This is an elevated place where the water falls.
e. Kay Kawa – The place shaped like a vat.
f. Kay Bilukao – This is so called because of the bilukao tree that grows there.
g. Kay Pahangin – The part of the brook wherein the water falling from it disperses.
h. Balete – Named after a balete tree.
i. Gunaw – This is so called because the place is very dry.

ORIGINAL FAMILIES

Bulacnin has been inhabited by big or small landowners while the others had come to work. Among the noted families were:

Silvestre Recio, Clemente Inciong, Claro Caguicla, Tomas Mercado, Vicente Recio, Mariano Africa, Cornelio Villapando, Cornelio Cueto, and Lucas Katigbak.

The multiplicity of families may be accounted to the illegitimate marriages between the rich landowners and the tenants’ daughters. Hence, most of the original families bear the prominent family names of the city.

LIST OF TENIENTES FROM THE EARLIEST TIME TO DATE

Several “tenientes del barrio” had been assigned to look after the welfare of the community. Some of them are still alive. Arranged in chronological order, the following is the list of the tenientes del barrio or better known during the Spanish times as the “Matanda sa Nayon:”
 1.  Felipe Mercado  7.  Saturnino Recio
 2.  Adriano Recio  8.  Ciriaco Villapando
 3.  Jose Recio  9.  Zacarias Bilog
 4.  Juan Africa 10. Rufino Linatoc
 5.  Basilio Inciong 11. Arsenio Recio
 6.  Justo Katigbak
IMPORTANT FACTS AND EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE

In line with the dissemination of the Catholic religion was the establishment of schools. The first school during the Spanish Time was held in a house with Messrs. Bruno Masongsong, Simon Dimayuga and Ambrosio Inciong as the first teachers. Years later, when Justo Katigbak was the teniente del barrio, a provisional schoolhouse was constructed but it was burned by a crazy woman. After sometime, the schoolhouse was transferred to where it now stands.

Roads and bridges were also constructed; artesian wells were built. The people remember Candido Lopez for the initiative taken in the construction of several more artesian wells.

In spite of the long period under which the Philippines was ruled by the Spaniards – a period characterized by abuses and ruthless severity – the people of Bulacnin did not suffer physical torture. The two periods that followed, however, were different.

[p. 3]

AMERICAN PERIOD – With the resumed activities of the “Insurrectos,” the American soldiers concentrated the natives in a place. This “Zona System” was very prevalent during that time. For several days, they were not given anything to eat. Their properties, animals and palays were all taken from them.

JAPANESE PERIOD – Sometime in 1945 – just a few months before liberation – the Japanese soldiers, desperate as they were, started burning houses, killing men, women and even innocent children. The height of the Japanese atrocities orphaned many children, widowed many mothers and left many homeless families. Included among those who joined the “innumerable caravan” were the mother and the wife of Mayor Jose M. Kalaw, the Salas brothers and the Latorre sisters.

Three years after liberation, steps were taken to have a complete elementary education in Bulacnin. In 1949, when the necessary conditions were met, the final recognition of Bulacnin Elementary School was made. Now as it stands, there is a new Home Economics Building and a provisional shop.

In 1950 and 1951, several incidents occurred in the community which bore great significance on account of the effect on the daily lives of the people and on the excellent maintenance of the school.

That there existed a time when the feeling of insecurity in their own abode was in danger, the people of Bulacnin believed. The killing of well-known persons in nearby barrios led the people to evacuate to the City. They stayed with their relatives, landlords or in the provisional houses. Classes were suspended and emergency regulations were provided for. The awarding of certificates to the Grade 6 graduates was done informally in the house of a teacher, Miss Eufemia Ramos.

A timorous spirit reigned again on the eve of the 1951 Election Day. The two soldiers, who were assigned to guarding the polling places, were brutally murdered by dissidents. There was much confusion that night… and the days that followed. The Teniente del Barrio and other persons were screened by the soldiers. They were suspected to have [had] connivance with the outside elements.



Several weeks after the incident, a policeman was killed by one of the commandoes. He was mistaken for a dissident. For a while, there was bitter controversy among the police force, the “commandoes” and the residents of the community. The poor barrio folks could not dare to go to town. The chauffeurs of jeeps avoided contacting policemen because of the threats the latter made. After sometime, things got smooth.

[p. 4]

THE CULTURAL ASPECT OF THE PEOPLE

The economic condition of the people had much to do with the cultural aspect. In a community where there are two rural groups, the well-to-do and the poor, it would be noticeable the marked contribution of the former over the latter on matters of culture.

THE WELL-TO-DO GROUP. This group is engaged in a little or big business enterprises so much so that they stay in the town or in Manila, Bicol Region and Mindanao. With frequent contact with all sorts of people and wide opportunities to intercourse with society, they bring home the good things they acquired or saw. The principle of good taste or of beauty, the standard of living and the social behavior are improved as a result of the free intermingling with the outside rural environ. They are now considered as the better “illustrados.” Within or without the community, they are respected and looked upon. From them, the people seek counsel or advice on business, personal and political affairs.

THE POOR GROUP. Most of this group constitutes the illiterates. Due to the economic condition, they would not provide for themselves, much more for their children, the social and educational privileges enjoyed by the well-to-do or the “higher than subsistence.” They have poor living conditions; their time is mostly devoted to the land and to the animals they take care of. Children can hardly go to school and if ever they go, they frequently absent themselves from classes to perform other things at home or on the fields. The primary course is the highest education obtained by this group. The primary graduates, in turn, follow the same footsteps of their parents and the same cycle is repeated. Consequently, the same problem is felt, the same condition arises… among which are the following:

(1) ART APPRECIATION.
In a house of one or two rooms, the chief and common to the sight are an apparador, mirror, family pictures and laundry clothes to dry. These are placed in the living room, which is at the same time the bed room. The walls are decorated with colored lithographical prints of rustic scenes mostly taken from local magazines or from calendars. This poor taste of home decoration, however, is gradually improving through the pupils’ training in Home Economics and teachers’ home inspection.

(2) ETIQUETTE
It is noted that on this question of etiquette, two sets of people, the older set and the younger set, run in contrast with each other.

The older set typifies the polite and well-bred Filipinos of yesteryears. He is civil in words and in actions. Whenever he responds, he never omits the polite expression of “PO” and “OPO.” He extends his right hand – the expressed “excuse me” and its equivalent – while passing in front of persons.

In general, the younger set easily gets fresh and familiar; they are vulgar in manner and speech.

(3) LITERATURE AND MUSIC
The well-to-do and the poor have something in common when it comes to literature and music. Cheap reading materials like Liwayway, Ilang-Ilang, Bulaklak, and Filipino comics are the marked preference of the old and the young alike.

The younger generation has a dislike and disregard for classical and refined music. They love the rhumbas, the jazz and the song hits.

(4) CITIZENSHIP AND CIVIC AFFAIRS
The feeling of responsibility, of cooperation and consciousness in governmental and community affairs are still very wanting. There is a strong felt

[p. 5]

need to improve the people’s attitude towards taking an active interest in the promotion of the community and school welfare. We are expecting that the pupils we are now training in integration will bring about the desired and needed changes. We are hoping that Bulacnin will be a different place – a very much improved on – in the coming years.

[p. 6]

DESTRUCTION OF LIVES, PROPERTIES AND INSTITUTIONS
DURING THE TIME STARTING FROM
1896 TO 1950

During the Spanish regime, Bulacnin had no contact with the existing government. The Spanish officials who were running the government in Lipa were afraid to take possession of the barrio because, being encompassed with thick forest, it served as a hideout for “insurrectos” who were hostile to the Spaniards. For this reason, Bulacnin was saved from various abuses committed by the Spaniards.

When the Americans came and took possession of the country, there was again discontentment among the people, especially the “insurrectos” of Bulacnin. They disliked the idea of being governed by a foreign power. So, led by a man named Adriano Recio, the people planned to rebel against the Americans. Upon learning this, the Americans made a move to stop the impending trouble.

In October of the year 1911, soldiers were sent to Bulacnin. The people, together with their personal belongings, work animals and everything that they could carry, were forced to leave their homes and were zoned in the vicinity of Tanguay. Practically nothing was left in the barrio. The “insurrectos” who were left behind had nothing for food. Thinking that they had been betrayed by their countrymen, the irate rebels burned some of the houses. When the Americans learned of this, they knew that there were still some people who remained behind, so they set fire to the houses and properties that they could find so that nobody would benefit from anything left there, including the sources of food supply.

In the zoned areas, sanitation became a problem. Due to lack of sanitary facilities as well as [the] ignorance of the people, an epidemic of cholera soon broke out. The Americans thought this method of theirs unsatisfactory so they ordered the release of the people that next April.

Returning to their home barrio, the people found themselves facing great hunger. In their absence, food crops were not planted, their homes were burned and many of their work animals died of hunger, too. Wild beans and papaya trunks were gathered for food. When the rainy season came the following May, they began to plant crops for their subsistence; but these were not harvested when a swarm of locusts invaded the fields and destroyed everything. Starvation again wrought misery upon the people and it was not long before an epidemic of dengue fever broke out, claiming the lives of forty-five persons.

However, the Americans, in their policy of attraction, and to give the people the benefit of an education, established a school in Bulacnin in 1904 and had a road constructed in 1915. These brought about the restoration of a life of peace among the people. The school enlightened the minds of the natives and new ideas of American education were introduced. The road brought the barrio nearer to the town of Lipa and by this means, the people learned of the American democratic ways of life.

During this new era, there was a great progress in commerce. The majority of the people were better off but all these could not compensate for the destruction wrought on the lives, properties and institutions of the

[p. 7]

barrio people at the beginning of the American regime.

The end of 1941 marked the beginning of another destruction in our country. With the defeat of the american forces in the Philippines, the Japanese occupied our native land and established and imperial government. In the early part of the Japanese occupation, there was no destruction.

Sometime in 1943, the rice fields were planted or converted into cotton fields so that in the succeeding year, there was a shortage of food supply. In the latter part of 1944, when the American forces had landed on Philippine soil, the Japanese became cruel. They raided the barrio in search of the guerrillas. The inhabitants of the locality evacuated to an isolated place called Buhay. But the Japanese soldiers were active in reading the barrio. They shot the people they saw; burned the houses and ransacked the properties and personal belongings of the people. Approximately 21 houses were burned and 30 persons killed.

The liberation of the Philippines was followed by a period of rehabilitation. The school and the roads where repaired; houses where reconstructed through the aid of the Philippine War Damage Commission.

[p. 8]

SOME TRADITIONS, CUSTOMES AND PRACTICES IN DOMESTIC
AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE BARRIO FOLKS

The customs of the early barrio folks are characteristics of the known traits of the Filipinos. Some of these customs, which are actually practiced event to the present, are the following:

1. Respect accorded to older sister, brother, relatives and other persons.
2. Kissing the hand of the elders as a token of respect.
3. Hospitality like sharing dishes with visitors, neighbors and friends.
4. Readiness to help neighbors and strangers in time of necessity or emergency.
5. Religiousness.

In the rural areas, the life of an individual – from the cradle to the grave – is practically governed by certain customs and practices.

BIRTH – The birth of a child is accompanied by a thousand and one customs, traditions, practices and superstitions. The preservation of the child's umbilical cord, which is usually hung from the ceiling, is the most common. It is the common belief that if all the children's umbilical cords are placed together, they will live harmoniously.

BAPTISM – It it's not unusual to give the child a lot but ism or more popularly known as the “buhos” system before the baptism in church. This practice is considered taboo by the Catholic Church, the barrio folks still continue doing it. Relative to baptism in church and in groups, it is customarily done to bring the child out immediately after the ceremony. It is believed that a bright future awaits the first child brought out among the group.

COURTSHIP – The go-between or love via a third person has always a place in the “Filipino code of love.” This method is usually adopted by the coy and timid Romeo but for the more dashing ones, the following is common:

The love of a man is formally commenced with a serenade in which occasion, he lets the music momentarily speak for his heart. He calls her – his life, his light, his guide. Then, through a weekly visit to the girl's house or at times in the fields, planting rice or harvesting it, he incessantly expresses his love, affection and admiration. He does some household activities in the girl's house which vary from the fetching of water to the cutting of firewood; from the plowing of the fields to the pounding of the palay. If the girl, after all these, accept and believe otherwise, marriage is arranged.

MARRIAGE – Marriage is arranged by [the] parents of both parties. This is what we call the “bulungan.” The date of marriage, that dory on the part of the man which may be a piece of land, a house or a sum of money, and wedding celebration are settled.

Usually the priest, the couple and the sponsors are the common personalities in a wedding ceremony. However, the bridesmaid or the “abay” becomes an important character, too. She attends to the bride's needs.

[p. 9]

During the marriage ceremony, stepping on one’s feet is very significant. For this reason, the couple stays a little away from each other. Accordingly, if the bride steps on the feet of the bridegroom, the latter will forever be under the dominant rule of the former; and vice-versa.

After the ceremony, the newly-married couple steps out of the church together except when the wife desires to dominate the husband in their whole marital life and in such case, she goes out a little earlier than the man.

DEATH AND BURIAL – Dead persons are not kept long in the house. When a person dies in the morning, he is buried in the afternoon or, if he dies at night, he is buried the following morning. Usually, a cross made of blessed palm leaves is placed between the clasped hands. It is believed that this cross is an excellent passport for the salvation of the soul. The wearing of black clothes, an external manifestation of grief and love to the deceased, by immediate relatives, begins at the burial day and ends a year after.

FESTIVALS – Among the many special days of merrymaking is the May Flower festival. The thirty-day daily offering of fresh flowers to the Mother of God is climaxed with a day of entertainment, amusement; a procession and coronation of the muse.

BELIEFS AND INTERPRETATIONS – The early people of the community believed in bad spirits. Most ailments were believed to have been caused by these spirits.

The old folks know of some signs of bad omens. They can predict a coming storm. They say that if the twigs carried by the river seem to be all standing, and the leaves of the madre cacao turn upside down, there is a coming storm.

POPULAR SONGS – The Kundimans are the most popular songs in the barrio. Some of them are the – Dalagang Bukid; Leron, Leron Sinta; May Isang Bulaklak; and Dahan-dahan.

PROVERBS AND SAYINGS – The following quotations are some of the common proverbs in the vernacular:

Maputi man at halpok,
Daig ang Garingang subok.
(Even though white but of poor class,
Is no better than a lower but tested class.)

Nasa Dios ang awa
Nasa tao ang gawa.
(To do is in man,
As mercy is in God.)

Ang hindi marunong magtipon
Ay walang hinayang magtapon.
(One who does not know how to save is extravagant.)

Magpakataas-taas man ang lipad,
Sa lupa rin ang bagsak.
(Though how high you fly; still to earth you plunge.)

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “The History of Bulacnin” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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