Abiacao, San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Abiacao, San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Abiacao, San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data

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

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Abiacao in the Municipality of San Luis, 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.

[Cover page.]


[p. 1]


Part I – History of the Barrio

The present name of the barrio is Abiacao. Since the barrio was established (the date cannot be recalled anymore), it has been called [by] that name. The name Abiacao can be attributed to its natural boundaries with ravines on both sides running from east to west. The name Abiacao seems meaningful but the barrio folks seem not conscious of its meaning. No reliable information can be gathered as to the exact date of its establishment and the name was handed [down] from generation to generation. It has been called that name since the latter part of the Spanish period. Since the barrio was created, no sitio ever existed under its jurisdiction.

With regards to the name Abiacao, a short story was told by an old resident of the barrio, Mr. Sebastian Gonzales, which may be attributed to it being called that name. According to him, this story may or may not be true. During the early part of the revolution, the place was evacuated by the natives to give way to the Spanish encampment. Because the Spaniards believed that it was a safe place for their camp, the deposited their food supply and ammunition in one of the ravines which also served as their trench. When some of the natives returned to visit their homes, they saw the stored food. They called the place “Abiyo.” Abiyo means food supply. Some of the natives were tempted to steal some food from the Spaniards. They stole the food when they got the chance. Since that time, the place was called “Abiyocan,” later changed to Abiacaw. Later on the spelling was changed to Abiacao. The syllable “caw” was added to Abiyo. “Caw” is the suffix to such words as “nacaw,” meaning steal or to steal, “magnanacaw,” stealer, and matacaw, meaning greedy.

The original inhabitants of the place were the Gonzales and the Macatangay families. According to our informants, there were only a few scattered families in the place during the early times.

The following were the barrio lieutenants of Abiacao. Their tenures of office could not be ascertained. Pedro Macatangay, Laureano Bonsol, Jose Sison, Sebastian Gonzales, and Narciso de Castro.

During the early part of the Filipino-American War, many insurgents from the place did not like to recognize the American sovereignty, but after a time, the Americans gained their confidence due to the (American) policy of attraction. Since then, the people remained law-abiding and peaceful. Upon the establishment of the public schools in the poblacion, the people began sending their children to school. The place prospered and the population increased. When World War II broke out, [there] were more than three hundred people living in the place. During the Japanese Occupation, the people’s lives were very much disturbed by the enemies who camped in the barrios of Durungao and Bagong Tubig. Yet, they did not lose hope and worked hard to survive. After liberation, the people their work of rehabilitation.

[p. 2]

Part II – Folkways

Immediately after a child is born, any member of the family gives [a] signal to the neighbors by means of gunshots or firecrackers. The neighbors come to help. A pair of poultry are more are killed and dressed for the mother’s viand and also for the attending neighbors. After the mother and child are given the proper care, the meal is served. After the meal, the neighbors go home. Some stay to assist the mother.

Before or after a child is born, there is always a clandestine talk between the father and the mother as to who will be the godfather or godmother of the child. A day or two after the child’s birth, the father goes to the selected godfather or godmother and formally tells his errand.

The selected godfather or godmother prepares for the child’s baptism. He prepares the child’s garment to wear at baptism and the amount needed for the different baptismal expenses, usually the amount to be given to the child as the first gift, the amount he will shower to the people on reaching the child’s home from the church after baptizing the child, and the baptismal fee. Usually, a party is held in connection with the child’s baptism. If the party is a grand one, the godfather or godmother gives no less than twenty pesos to the child. The child’s parents send to the godfather’s or godmother’s home some chickens, or a goat, cakes and chocolate.

It is observed in many ways. When it comes to parental courtship, where the parents are involved, the young man's parents go to the young woman’s house to get a personal view of the young woman. When the young man’s parents approve of his choice, he begins visiting the young woman. Without permission, he begins to help the parents of the young woman, like the pounding of rice, fetching water, and in the work and the farm in the young woman’s father is a farmer. Although the young man is denied of the work where he wants to help, he insists [on] doing so. The time the young man’s avowal is accepted by the young woman, the young man’s parents send their first gift to the young woman’s parents. The gift is usually a big fish with slimy scales, a big squid or a big octopus. The big fish with slimy scales is sent in the belief that the slime will facilitate the task of courtship. The octopus or the squid is sent because of their firm hold. This first gift is a sign of proposal for courtship. When the gift is accepted, the young man’s plan will succeed. When it is returned, his plan will be a failure. Once the young man is accepted, there will be a meeting between the two parties and everything is planned. It is called the “bulungan.” They decide on the date for the wedding, the preparation to be made, and the sponsor to the wedding. The would-be groom's parents will provide for the following (a) a wedding party (b) the bride's trousseau, and (c) the dowry for the bride.

The wedding ceremony is done in the church or in the chapel in the bride’s barrio. The marriage fee differs in such cases

[p. 3]


From the church, the company makes much rejoicing. On reaching the bride’s home, the bride and the groom are given something to eat, a native prepared sweet made of finely ground glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk and sugar and boiled until thick and brown. It is commonly called “kalamay.” This is done in the belief that by doing so, the young couple’s life will be sweet and harmonious throughout. The wedding party is terminated with the “sabugan.” The bride and the groom are seated beside each other at a table. The sponsor of the newly-married couple or any elder present acts as the third party to the affair. In front of the bride and the groom are placed two broad dishes filled with cigarettes. The third party announces that the game is ready to begin and that the bets are awaited. The bride and the groom’s kin put on the dishes any amount they would like to give the young couple. The groom’s kin and friends put their bets on the bride’s dish and vice-versa. Each one gets a cigarette after putting down his bet. The money is separately summed up to find out who got the bigger bet. In many cases, the bride’s bet is never topped by that of the groom’s. Both parents of the young couple give the biggest bets. That of the sponsors are divided equally between the bride and groom. Then, the money is put together and the man hands it to his wife as their first money. After the “sabugan,” the bride is escorted to the man’s home with the groom left to follow in the afternoon of the next day.

When a member of the family dies, all visiting relatives, neighbors and friends put beside the body that lies in state a certain amount as help. All visiting women say a prayer for the eternal repose of the soul of the dead. Usually, the body lies in state for twenty-four hours and, during the night, the people do many things to pass the night like reading aloud the Passion of Jesus Christ, playing cards, dominoes, mahjong, and telling stories and riddles. It is the custom among the women to put on mourning (black) clothes as soon as a member of the family dies.

A few hours before the funeral procession, the remains are made ready for interment. The body is wrapped in the best mat and white sheet and then put into the coffin. In case the dead is a Catholic, the dead is first taken to the church where the body receives the last funeral rite given by the parish priest.

As soon as the body is lowered into the grave, every attending person throws into the grave a lump of clay. This is done in the belief that by doing so, any ailment that person has will vanish from him and goes with the dead.

For nine days after burial, nightly prayers are said for the dead. On the ninth day, a party is given for those who come to pray. In the afternoon of the ninth day, a wreath is brought to the cemetery and placed on the grave. The whole family and the nearest relatives mourn for the dead for a year. On the first anniversary of the death, the family holds again another prayer for the dead. At twelve

[p. 4]

noon, the last prayer is said and then followed by the undoing of the mourning clothes and putting on the colored ones.

This is done when a neighbor or a relative gets sick, gave birth, died, met an accident, or has come home from a faraway place after having been absent for a long period. In case of visits to a sick neighbor, the visitor brings something that may be useful to the sick as Tru-Orange, meat, eggs, bread and fruits.

In this barrio, the usual festivities observed and rejoiced are the following: (a) wedding party (b) birthday party (c) baptismal party (d) Lent (e) Patron Saint’s Day (f) Feast of the Virgin of Caysasay and (g) May flower celebrations during the whole month of May.

These affairs offer the barrio folks the most desired social attitudes and mutual understanding.

When thunder occurs before rain, there will be heavy rain. When there is so much rain and thunder occurs, the rain will soon stop. A solar eclipse is a sign of misfortune. A lunar eclipse is a sign of hard labor for a mother on her delivery of a child. When earthquakes occur during the dry season, there will be much rain during the rainy season. [A] Rainbow appearing in full shape is believed to be drinking water from the ocean, which will become the next rain.

Sickness is believed to originate from the sun, earth, wind, rain, dew, and fog at the summit of the mountain. People also believe in sudden sickness resulting from the “balis,” “bugtuan,” “gahay,” “atupiling,” “bato,” and “pahabol.” These various quick-attacking sicknesses are said to have originated from Mindoro and the neighboring Visayan Islands. These are caused by travelers who are carriers of these typical sicknesses. Persons suffering from any of these sicknesses may be relieved of their sufferings by the quack doctor called “magbubuga.” For medicine, this “magbubuga” uses a mixture of several herbs which he chews and then applies the medicine on the forehead and other parts of the body of the patient.

The popular songs in the barrio are the following: (a) Come with Me (b) I Went to Your Wedding (c) Nasaan ka Irog (d) Huluna, which is sung by the mothers when putting babies to sleep.

The popular games in the barrio are the following: (a) Hide and Seek (b) Softball (c) playing cards.

The common amusements of the people in the barrio are (a) going to [the] cockpit – for the adults (b) serenading – for the young folks.

1. Two become three, the black becomes white and the fence was destroyed. (An old man or woman)
2. What bird cannot alight on a tree? (the quail)

[p. 5]

3. There is a trunk but without branches and there are leaves but without fruits. (bamboo)
4. The bamboo growing on a hill has its top reached here when bent. (the rainbow)
5. I am afraid of one but never of many. (the bamboo bridge)

1. Still water runs deep.
2. A lazy man’s garden is full of weeds.
3. Iron is destroyed by its rust.
4. Shallow water makes much noise
5. Strike while the iron is hot.

Part III Other Information

In the daytime, the people measure time by the following:
1. The position of the sun.
2. The length of one’s shadow.
3. The closing of the acacia leaves.
4. Opening of the patola flowers.
5. The sound made by the native bird called “sabocot.”

At night, they measure the time by the following:
1. Crowing of the cocks.
2. The appearance of the morning and evening stars and their setting.

1. Christmas Eve
2. New Year’s Eve
3. Harvest season

Data gathered and compiled by:


[Sgd.] (Miss) ESTER DEL MAR





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