January 4, 2018

Balagtasin, San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data

Full transcription of the so-called “Historical Data” for the barrio of Balagtasin 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.

HISTORY and CULTURAL LIFE
Of the BARRIO of BALAGTASIN

PART I – HISTORY

Nestling at the foot of the Durungao Heights, at the southern nook of the town of San Luis, is the little barrio of Balagtasin. Like other barrios, it got its name from something which, in the past days, had some correlation to it. Still traceable in the eastern part of the barrio is an old road traversing Balagtasin’s main road. The old road is the only connecting link between the barrios north of Balagtasin and the ones south of it. As the two roads cross each other, the place in its vicinity is called Balagtasin, which means intersection. No information can be gathered with regards to the date of establishment of this barrio.

The original families of this barrio were the following:
(1) Gonzalbo family (4) Moresca family
(2) Carandang family (5) Cortez family
(3) Hernandez family
The following tenientes have served the barrio:
 (1)  Mariano Gonzalbo  (8)  Andres Hernandez
 (2)  Saturnino Cortez  (9)  Posidio Carandang
 (3)  Jose Moresca (10) Jose Gonzalbo
 (4)  Sotero Moresca (11) Eulalio Noche
 (5)  Pamfilo Moresca (12) Eulalio Gonzalbo
 (6)  Angel Villanueva (13) Juan Moresca
 (7)  Fabian Carandang (14) Isidoro Moresca
Sitios and Their Legends

a. Lubloban – In one portion of Balagtasin, there is a pond which is always filled with water during rainy days. It is said that in the old days, travelers at night could witness an apparition, commonly in the form of a very big carabao wallowing in the muddy water of the pond. Since the place is considered haunted, and fearful are the feelings of the youngsters who have to pass the place on dark midnights. The place was thus called Lubloban, a native word which means wallowing place.

b. Towi – A few minutes’ walk from Lubloban is another sitio, popularly known among the barrio folks as Towi. It got its name from a tree. Towi, as the tree was called, was so tall that it could be seen far away.

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As its unusual height could call the attention of every passerby, the place surrounding the said tree was named Towi.

c. Kaysimbahan – Kaysimbahan was a name applied to the place near a very deep ravine with stiff cliffs similar to the walls of the old Spanish churches. Simbahan means church.

No very significant events took place during the Spanish sovereignty. However, signs of discontent among the masses were very rampant everywhere. Fear of the civil guards (guardia civil) and heavy cedula tax made the wretched condition of the poor even worse. The male population of the community avoided contact with the inhuman civil guards as much as possible.

There was an encounter between the American troops and the Filipino forces in a nearby hill. The Filipino soldiers were under the command of Lieutenant Mariano Aseron. The other Filipino leaders in this battle were Sgt. Juan Magsombol and Corporal Basilio Hernandez. After [a] one-day battle, the Filipinos were defeated.

In the early part of the American regime, rinderpest broke out in the neighboring barrios and in the barrio itself. The pest destroyed or killed scores of cattle, and this made the lives of the poor farmers even poorer. However, vaccinations and other remedial measures were taken to check the epidemic of the animals.

Castle rustling was very frequent everywhere. The able-bodied male population was caught by the American soldiers because they were believed to be insurgents.

The happiness of the barrio folks suddenly came to an end with the arrival of the Japanese. Little by little, the economic condition of the people deteriorated. The prices of the prime commodities rose to a peak that was not within the reach of most of the people. So many people resorted to cassava, corn, and other root crops for their food. As the prices of clothing materials also became very high, many people used sinamay clothes and weaving became an important industry.

Oftentimes, a group of Japanese kempetai went to the village and got chickens and eggs. They also obliged the people to give logs to be used in their dugouts. However, no deaths at the hands of the Japanese soldiers were incurred among the people of the barrio.

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PART II – FOLKWAYS

Traditions – Customs and Practices

Birth –
1. Sitting at the door is prohibited in a house where someone is pregnant or ready to give birth.
2. An expectant mother always lies parallel to the floor when she sleeps.
3. Unlocking trunks, cabinets and other containers in the home when the expectant mother is in an adverse condition.
4. Dressing chickens after delivery.
5. Giving the mother a small portion of the “inunan.”
Heating the mother with a hot stone covered with tree leaves.

Baptism –
1. Running with the baby to the door of the church immediately after baptism.
2. A party is given in the home of the child baptized. Delicious foods and drinks are served on this occasion. Relatives of the parents donate something as chickens, money, wine, etc. to the parents of the child. This practice is especially observed among well-to-do families.



Courtship –
1. When a young man desires to marry a young woman, he renders services to the family of the young woman. He helps the father in his daily works. He always takes with him anything which he thinks will be liked by the young woman or by her housemates. When the services are always welcomed, the courtship ends in marriage.

Marriage –
1. Betrothal (bulongan) – Before marriage, the contracting parents have a sort of conference called “bulongan.” Food, refreshment, and drinks are served in this occasion. Sometimes, a third person is asked by the young man to see the young woman’s parents and arrange the marriage. Things to be done during the wedding party are discussed. (Dowry)
2. “Sabugan” – Before the wedding party ends, the relatives of the new couple get together. They give certain amounts of money, jewelry, or glassware to the new couple. This is called

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in Tagalog “sabugan.” Then, the bride is accompanied by young ladies to the home of the groom.
3. Throwing grains of rice at the new couple – After marriage, before the couple ascends the stairs where the wedding party is being held, grains of rice are showered on them. When they have ascended the stairs, sweets are offered to them.

Death –
1. Not cooking vegetables when someone is dead in the neighborhood – It is a common belief that when there is a dead person in the neighborhood and someone eats vegetables, that person will not feel well for weeks or even months.
2. Wearing black – Relatives of the deceased wear black clothes as a sign of mourning. They do this for a period of one year.

It is also a practice that whenever a person goes to the house of the deceased, he gives a certain amount of money called “pakandila.”

Burial –
1. Throwing soil into the grave – When the coffin is already lowed into its place, the relatives of the deceased pick up a little soil and throw it into the grave.
2. Offering a prayer before putting the coffin into its final resting place.

Myths, Legends

HOW THE MALBAROSA GOT ITS NAME

In the olden days in the barrio of San Antonio, there once lived a handsome young man named Malbar. He was a skillful hunter and, in spite of his tender years, he was acclaimed as the leader of the people of the whole barrio. Because of his gentleness and generosity, he was greatly loved by his followers.

Among those who loved him was Rosa. She was the most beautiful maiden in the barrio. She was an example of modesty and feminine charms. Rosa and Malbar loved each other very much. Their engagement was sanctioned by the elders in the barrio.

One day, Malbar received a message that one of his

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allies was raided by enemies. He gathered his warriors and led them to the battlefield. Rosa was greatly grieved when her loved one departed.

Days passed and still no news about Malbar and his men arrived in the barrio of San Antonio. Because of too much grieving, Rosa became ill. A few days later, she died. Her last wish was that when Malbar returned, he should be shown her grave.

By a coincidence of fate, Malbar was killed in battle. His body was carried home by his sorrowing companions. He was buried beside his sweetheart. After several months, a plant appeared in the very spot where the two had been buried. The plant grew fast until it became a big tree. The people of the barrio called this tree Malbarosa in honor of the two persons buried there who were both very dear to them.

A. Popular Songs –
a. Kundiman
b. Hulona
c. Awit

B. Games and Amusements
a. Softball
b. Tubigan
c. Huwego de Frenda
d. Playing cards (tres siete)
e. Pandanggo
f. Subli

Puzzles and Riddles:
1. Nanganak ang aswang, sa tuktok nagdaan. (Saging)
2. Hinila ko ang bagin, nagkagulo ang matsin. (Batingaw)
3. Sang tabo lama’y pako. (Langka)
4. Dalawang katawan, tagusa ay tadyang. (Hagdan)
5. Kung araw ay bumbong, kung gabi ay dahon. (Banig)
6. Matanda na ang nuno, hindi pa naliligo. (Pusa)
7. Isa ang pinasukan, tatlo ang linabsan. (Kamiseta)
8. Haba mong kinakain, lalo kang gugutumin. (Purga)
9. Buto’t balat, lumilipad. (Saranggola)
10. Bumili ako ng alipin, mataas pa sa akin. (Sambalilo)

Proverbs and Sayings:
1. Ang malinis na kuwinta, mahabang pagsasama.
2. Ang taong walang turing, di magkitang-kitain.
3. Sa bibig nahuhuli ang isda, ang tao nama’y sa salita.
4. Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo.
5. Ang tubig na matining, tarukan mo at malalim.

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6. Magpakapula-pula ang saga, maitim din ang kabila.
7. Tuso man ang matsing ay napapaglalangan din.
8. May taynga ang lupa, may pakpak ang balita.
9. Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim may ay kumakapit.
10. Ang pangako kung maliban, tupdan man ay walang linamanam.

Methods of Measuring Time –

With the absence of the clocks and watches that the people of today have, the early inhabitants of the barrio used some of the natural phenomena like the Southern Cross, Morning Star, crowing of cocks and the opening of the “patola” flowers.

a. The Southern Cross – The Southern Cross is a group of stars visible at night in the extreme south. When the Southern Cross is leaning to the east, the people believed it was still early at night; [if] the cross was in the vertical position, it was midnight; and when it was leaning to the west, it was early in the morning.

b. The barrio folks also used the “patola” flowers in knowing time during the day, especially during the rainy season. When they saw that the flowers were already open, they said that it was already four o’clock in the afternoon.




Respectfully submitted by:

[Sgd.] Eliseo de Gracia

[Sgd.] Floro Marco

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

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