November 13, 2019

Cuatro Santos: the Four Barrios Disputed by Lipa and Tiaong during the Spanish Era

Satellite map shows the present boundary between Lipa and Tiaong.  Image credit:  Google Maps.
Satellite map shows the present boundary between Lipa and Tiaong.  Image credit:  Google Maps.

On the eastern outskirts of the City of Lipa in Batangas, close to the shared border between Batangas and what is presently Quezon Province, there are four barrios collectively called “Cuatro Santos” or the Four Saints. These are the barrios of San Benito, San Celestino, San Francisco and Santo Toribio, all named after saints and, hence, the term “Cuatro Santos.”

It is all but forgotten these days, but parts of these barrios were once claimed by both the Municipality of Tiaong and the then-Municipality of Lipa.

From the so-called “historical data” for the barrio of San Celestino1 in Lipa City, we get this short narrative about the dispute [edited from the original for grammar]:

“During the Spanish regime, a part of Cuatro Santos belonged to Tiaong, Quezon (formerly Tayabas). In those days, some men from Lipa decided to make arrangements with the people of Tiaong so that the portion that should belong to Lipa because of the mountain that separates Lipa from Tiaong might be given to Lipa. These men made negotiations with the Tiaong people, and after a long time of negotiation, the Lipa people were successful.

An agreement was made. They decided to meet at a certain place to be the political boundary line between Tiaong and Lipa. A day was set for the rendezvous and both parties started from their respective towns and the point of the meeting became the boundary line. They happened to meet in a brook in the Malarayat Mountain. The parties declared that the brook where they met became the official boundary line. Since that time up to date, that brook has been called the Bulahan Brook. A marker was set to show that the portion east of it was Tiaong and that portion west of it was Lipa.”

From this short narrative, we are able to discern that the lands in dispute were west of the Malepunyo mountain range (of which Malarayat is part). Examining the present day common boundary between the provinces of Batangas and Quezon (top graphic), we are also able to determine that the settling of the dispute also ceded part of the mountain range to Lipa.



The excerpt from the “historical data” of San Celestino cited above suggests that despite the “long time of negotiation,” the dispute was amicably settled, especially since representatives from both sides even “met by the brook” to lay down the new boundary.

However, the “historical data” from Santo Toribio2, another of the “Cuatro Santos,” paints a different story, one that says the conflict went all the way up to the Spanish courts:

“During those days, there was a dispute between the municipalities of Tiaong and Lipa. Tiaong claimed that Cuatro Santos belonged to its jurisdiction. The municipality of Lipa had the same claim. The trouble was brought to the Spanish highest court. The decision was that this place belonged to the municipality of Lipa.”

Because of the obscurity of this dispute, Batangas History is as yet unable to corroborate from official documentation that it ever occurred, nor find other details that would have enhanced this article such as the bases for each party’s claim or why the Spanish courts, if at all, ruled in favor of the then-Municipality of Lipa.

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Notes and references:
1History and Cultural Life of Barrio San Celestino, Lipa City,” online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2History and Cultural Life of Barrio Santo Toribio,” online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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