* PART ONE: HISTORY *
This village was once a sitio in which one could find a “kubo” or two used [as] shelter [by] farmers during rains, farmers working in the “kaingin” or in the abaca plantations. Way back in the 90’s, Lorenzo Biscocho, a farmer from Taal, came to settle the place. He became the first permanent resident of Upa. After the coming of the Americans, two other families arrived. They were the Metrillos from Cuenca and the Tibayans from Taal. The children of these three families intermarried with each other, so that after a half century, Upa is composed of nineteen families.
How the place came to be known Upa, nobody could tell. But looking at the spelling of the word, it may be the colloquial of the dialect “bayad” or payment. So, we may guess now that this piece of land which formerly was a wilderness was given out as a form of payment for some sort of services.
With the establishment of the Municipality of Mataasnakahoy, Upa became a barrio of the said town. Estanislao Lescano, as it is now, was appointed “teniente del barrio.”
Through the cooperation of the barrio folks, a chapel or “tuklong” in the dialect, was established in 1951. This served the community very much as it became the religious and social center during the month of May when they have “alay” or “Flores de Mayo.” More than this, the chapel was made to house a schoolroom beginning December 1952, when a Grade I class was organized by Mr. Ceferino Capuchino under the supervision of Mr. Francisco Mateo. This marks the first and foremost remarkable progress of the community.
Though the whole of the populace is of the peasantry, the folks strive hard to give their sons and daughters an education. Counting on several high school graduates, the barrio can boast of one of her sons, Mr. Sixto Biscocho, a textile merchant, of bright prospect and is serving a term as a municipal councilor of Mataasnakahoy. The barrio has its share of World War II in losing her two sons sent to the battlefield. Demetrio Tibayan came back alive, while Zacarias Atienza died in Bataan.
* PART TWO: FOLKWAYS *
Hardly can you find a people more superstitious than the folks of Upa. You cannot force a relative of the dead to eat “malunggay” leaves or place the dishes one over the other, for the belief that by doing so, death will come in a series. Even though how sick one feels, he should not lie in bed on Fridays.
In marriages, the folks believe that one who is the oldest in his family will make a successful couple. The good luck of the couple also depends upon the decision of a marriage fortune teller or “maggagrado.” He tells fortunes by the manipulation of numbers. The folks believe very much in this fortune teller that even [if] one of the couple is deformed, may be lame or blind, it does not matter, if the maggagrado decides that the result will be good. But even how satisfactory the numbers tell, it is necessary for the boy to serve the girl’s family for a month or two. He must work hard in the banana plantation, provide water and fuel in the house or construct a new kitchen to change to change the old one.
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[page torn] is blessed with a spring from which they get a limited amount of water during the dry season. They call this San Juan Spring and mischievous boys are afraid to pollute the spring because of a legend that runs like this:
Long ago, there was no Don Juan Spring. The people of Upa had to go to the “pook” of Mataasnakahoy for water. It was very hard, indeed. The old folks decided to seek a spring in the forest. They brought with them the image of Saint John. As they strolled deep into the woods, they saw a wet spot in dry soil, under a tall Tibig tree. Here, they dug up the ground and found a spring with a trickle as big as a child’s finger. They named the spring San Juan in honor of the image.
Sometimes, boys would come to the spring to bathe. One day, the boys came with some mischiefs. One of them placed a dog skull on the well. They meant to frighten the ones who would come to get water. But by doing so, the boys polluted the spring. All of a sudden, a very big snake came up and drove the boys away. Every time the boys came to the spring, the big snake appeared. And not until the boys made a solemn promise to keep the spring clean were they freed to go to the spring.
During the Lenten Season, the folks delight in reading the “pasyon.” Sometimes, they would last overnight reading the “pasyon” [blurred]
called “tuklusan.” A group of readers would select a friend to play host for the whole night. In a “tuklusan,” the host serves soft and hot drinks, broiled chicken, coffee and bread, or sometimes a whole pig. Of course, the “pasyon” is read with a certain musical expression. Commonly, a “tuklusan” lasts a whole [day?] and the next morning.
After the Lenten Season comes the “Alayan” or the “Flores de Mayo,” in the month of May. The “hermana” plays the best in a program after the “alay.” There [are] songs, poems, in the dialect, native dance or the “subli” and the “pandango.”
The village of Upa abounds in proverbs and sayings. Some of the most common are the following:
|1. Kapag matubig ay mababa.||1. With much water there is much waste.|
|2. Matulin ang kaangay kapag walang kaagapay.||2. The kaangay, a bird, looks as if it is very swift, when no other bird is flying with it.|
|3. Magpakahaba-haba ang prosisyon, sa simbahan din ang pasok.||3. Even how long the procession may be, it will [end] up in the church.|
|4. Matagal sa gutom ang walang makain.||4. A beggar can stand hunger longer.|
|5. Sumisigaw ang may sala at humihingi ng parusa.||5. The criminal will not remain long but will reveal his crime and be punished.|
|6. Ang mag-asawang ibon ay magkalayuman ay magpapangita rin pagdating ng hapon.||6. A bird separated from its mate, will be together again at the end of the day.|
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|9. Ang magnanakaw ay galit sa kapwa magnanakaw.||9. A thief is angry with his fellow thieves.|
|10. Kapag may sinuksok ay may natitingala.||10. Save so that when the time comes, you will have something to draw.|
|11. Matinik ang daang punta sa langit.||11. The road to heaven is very thorny.|
|12. Kung alin pa ang dagat ay siyang inuulan.||12. Rain frequently falls on the ocean.|
Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History and Cultural Life of the Barrio (Upa),” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.