Bonlio (Bonliw), San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Bonlio (Bonliw), San Luis, Batangas: Historical Data - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Bonlio (Bonliw), 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 Bonliw 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]

District of Taal
Bonlio School


The present official name of the barrio is Bonlio. The popular name of the barrio, present and past, is Bonlio. This name was derived from a big tree, “bonliw,” which was found in the place. Bagong-tubig, now a separate barrio to the west, was formerly a barrio of Bonlio. The exact date of the establishment of the barrio is not available but the barrio folks believe that this barrio was established during the Spanish regime. The original family was the Hernandez family composed of Luis, Baro, Banggi and Teresa.

The list of tenientes from the earliest to date are as follows:

 1.  Cabezang Diego11. Pedro Hernandez
 2.  Cabezang Luciano Ramos12. Sinfroso Hernandez
 3.  Cabezang Carpio Cortez13. Eugenio Ilagan
 4.  Cabezang Victoriano Hernandez14. Inocencio Maullion
 5.  Teodorico Hernandez15. Sebastian Cortez
 6.  Jose (Haba) Corales16. Epifanio Cortez (first time)
 7.  Juan (Arayes) Hernandez17. Feliciano Hernandez
 8.  Pioquinto Cadacio18. Isidro Ilagan
 9.  Esteban Ramos19. Epifanio Cortez (2nd time)
10. Agapito Ramos 20. Petrocinio Hernandez (present)

Note: There were cabezas before Cabezang Diego but the names could not be remembered. Some of the cabezas held positions for two or more times.

No story of the barrio is available. No dates of historical sites, structures, buildings, old ruins are available.

Important events that took place:
a. 1. During the Spanish occupation: Barrio folks who had no cedulas were taken by the “guardia civil” to the town, so that whenever the civil guards arrived at the place, many males went into hiding. Some of the barrio folks were punished. The punishment was called “pangaw” – a piece of board in which holes far apart were bored. The feet of those people punished were put into the holes. The person punished by this method had to lie on the ground. He could not sit up and could hardly move sidewise. Vicente Arazo, still living, is one of those who suffered such punishment.

1. There was an epidemic (cholera) in which many people died (date is not available).
2. The spring, which is the main and only source of water supply up to the present, dried up. The barrio folks took the patron saint, San Isidro, to the place. With the saint’s arrival, the people touched the original places where the water came out. To the people’s surprise, the spring was revived. There was again a source of water supply. The people called the place Bagong-tubig (not the barrio to the west).

b. During the American occupation to World War II:

1. During the Filipino-American War, a “mistranza,” a sort

[p. 2]

of underground factory of bullets and rifles for Filipino soldiers, was set up near a ravine on the land of Esteban Ramos. Juan Utangko, a Chinese mestizo, acted as “maestro” in the making of bullets. Pascual Ayson was his chief assistant. The helpers, which were many, included the following: Vicente Arazo, Julio Balayan, Silvestre Hernandez, and others from Balagtasin, an adjacent barrio to the east. Martin Reyes was the guard.
2. Rinderpest visited the barrio when Teodorico Hernandez was teniente del barrio.
3. A public school building was constructed in the year 1940 but classes held in a rented house began in June 1939 with Miss Suayan as teacher.

c. During the Japanese occupation: During this period, no very important event occurred. The barrio folks did not leave the place. The people did not experience hardships in securing food. The Japanese forced the barrio folks to labor for them by pounding rice, taking the sacks of rice and logs to a nearby hill to the east of the barrio. The logs were used in building dugouts. No lives were lost. Upon the return of the American troops, most of the people but not all went to the town, San Luis, for safety.

Destruction of lives, properties and institutions: 1896-1900, 1941-1945 – none.

Measures and accomplishments toward rehabilitation and reconstruction after World War II.

The production of rice increased greatly because of the use of fertilizer.


Traditions, customs and practices in domestic and social life:

Birth: During the delivery of the child, the mother is attended to by a local midwife called “hilot.” She is assisted by a man called “salag.” The “hilot” continues attending to the mother and child until the mother is given a bath which usually takes place a month or five weeks after delivery of the child. Soon after the delivery of the child, firecrackers are fired. The mother, then, is transferred from the place where she delivered the child to another part of the room. Another firecracker is fired. Chickens are dressed and served to the people who had come to pay a visit. The parents make a final decision on who will be the godfather or godmother as the case may be. When the newly-born child is the first child born to the couple, the grandparents of the newly-born child usually take a hand in deciding on who the godfather or godmother would be. The godfather or godmother of the first child is usually a very close relative of the parents – a brother or a sister of either parent of the child. Sometimes, the newly-born baby is baptized by the oldest man of the barrio. This practice is called “buhos-tubig.” Then, a baptism by the priest follows but after a long time; sometimes two or more months. “Buhos-tubig” is not practiced now, except only when the newly-born baby is not in a condition to live. The mothers of newly-born babies practice a sort of sweat bath called “nagbabato” from the time of delivery until they take a bath a month or five weeks after the delivery of the child.

[p. 3]

In the practice of “nagbabato,” the husband heats a hard stone. After heating, the hot stone is wrapped up in some leaves like “sambong” or “anunas.” The mother is wrapped up completely in [a] thick blanket but the head, kneels with the hot stone between the knees. The stone is not removed until after the mother perspires.

Baptism: Immediately before a child is baptized, relatives and close friends of the child’s parents present gifts such as chickens, eggs, wine and other beverages to be used during the baptismal party. This is called “tawiran.” The local midwife, “hilot,” carries the child to the church. The godfather or godmother, as the case may be, follows. In going out of the church, the bearer of the child must outrun the others. The belief is that the child will be well ahead of the other children baptized at the same time, in every day of life. After the baptismal party, the godfather or godmother gives money to the child and the “hilot.” The sum of money is given to the child is called “pakimkim.”

Courtship: The use of a go-between is still practiced. The man courting or sometimes the parents of the man render services to the lady and her parents. Services are plowing the rice field, weeding the rice field, fetching water and firewood. This service sometimes takes a long time, especially when the lady or the lady’s parents are not in favor of the man courting the lady. The parents of the lady believe that by means of the services, they would know the kind of man their daughter is going to marry. When the services of the man are accepted, the courtship ends in marriage. The man rendering the services lives in the woman’s home. When the services are rejected, the man has to stop courting the lady. This practice is called “matandaan,” because the old folks are the ones making the understandings and not the young folks. This practice of rendering services is now being done away with especially when the man and the lady are already in love with each other because if the lady’s parents force the man to render services, the lovers usually elope.

Marriage: Before marriage, the contracting parties, including all nearest relatives, have a sort of conference locally termed as “bulungan” in the lady’s home. Food is served on this occasion. The go-between is present on this occasion. Things to be done during the wedding are discussed such as the wedding party, the sponsors, supper on the eve of the marriage called “pahapunan,” food to be served on the wedding day. Oftentimes, a dowry called “bigay-kaya” or “padala” or “dote,” such as land, jewelry, clothes, animals, is asked from the man or his parents. Sometimes, the marriage will not take place just because the man or the parents could not give the dowry. At the “bulungan,” a date for the marriage is set. The day selected must be a lucky day – a day the parents believe will bring good fortune to the newlyweds. When the “bulungan” is over, the man’s relatives go home but before they go home, they get, without the knowledge of the lady’s relatives, kitchen utensils such as the dipper or the ladle but never [a] rag or pot. The belief is that the man will always be the boss and not a hen-pecked husband. When the date for the marriage comes, a party called “baysanan” is given. The relatives of the man are the ones who serve food, giving special attention to the relatives of the woman. The groom’s relatives are called “mamamaysan” and the bride’s relatives are called “binabaysan.”

[p. 4]

The party is always served in the bride’s home.

When the bride dresses for the wedding, a sister or a very close relative of the groom attends to her. The reason is for the groom’s parents to have access to every piece of clothing the bride discards. Every piece of clothing discarded by the bride is collected and put together with the groom’s discarded clothing. The collected clothes, groom’s and bride’s, are given to the groom’s parents. [The] Reason is the bride will always have the tendency to stay near the groom’s parents and not near her parents. A silver coin, peso or half-peso is placed in the shoes under each heel.

After dressing, the bride and the groom go to the church together. After being solemnized, the couple returns to the bride’s home where the party goes on. Before climbing the stairs, the couple is served sweets and a glass of water to drink. A very new pot, not used even once, is thrown from the top of the stairs to the foot of the stairs. The reason is for the couple to have offspring. The many the better. Uncooked rice is showered on the couple.

Before the party is over, the bride and groom sit on opposite sides of the table. Relatives and close friends of the newlyweds give money to the newly-married couple. The relatives of the man give money to the bride and the relatives of the bride give money to the groom. A cigarette or a cigar is given in exchange for the money. Everybody who gives money is listed. The occasion is called “sabugan.” When every relative has given money, all the money including the list of the names of the persons who gave the money is put together in a small bag. The groom now gives the bag to the bride. This part is called “isinusulit ang unang hanapbuhay.” After this, the newlyweds kneel before the elder relatives, like parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and ask for their blessings. The party breaks up and the bride gets ready to go to the groom’s house. The relatives of the groom accompany the bride. The groom follows a short time later. No relative of the bride is allowed to go with the bride in going to the groom’s home. The bride is not even allowed to look back. The belief is that the bride would always stay near her parents if a relative is allowed to go with her or if she is allowed to look back. Upon reaching the groom’s house, the bride goes direct to the kitchen and puts out the fire. After changing clothes, the brides goes down and sweeps the surrounding of the house. The belief for doing this is that the bride will get along harmoniously with her in-laws. The couple stays at home for four days and then visits the bride’s parents. The newlyweds also visit their relatives. This is called “manganganak.” The relatives give money to the newlyweds.

Death: When someone dies, all relatives and friends visit the dead. Everybody who makes a visit offers prayers for the soul of the dead person and puts a sum of money in the dish placed beside the dead person. The sum of money is called “pakandila,” which means that the money will be used for buying candles. Relatives and close friends of the dead person watch over the dead body at night until the remains are put in the


final resting place. This watching at night is called “lamayan” or “puyatan.” This is done because the people say this is the last time they will see the person. Some who still believe in superstitions say that the dead body is watched because a witch like “ike,” or “taong-panike,” or “manananggal” might steal the liver of the dead person. A pair of scissors is placed on the dead body so that the witch will be afraid to come near and steal the liver of the dead. During the night, when the watch is on, games are played to keep the watchers awake. Some of the games are “Huego de Prenda,” “Tres Siete” – a game using the native cards – “Bugtungan” – guessing riddles. Coffee and bread are usually served.

After the burial of a dead person, a prayer is offered for the dead every night for nine consecutive nights. On the eighth day, if the person who died is old or the fourth day if the person is very young, relatives and friends get together in the house where the person died. A prayer is offered for the soul of the dead. This occasion is called “waluhang araw” or “apatang araw,” as the case may be. Food is served on this occasion.

From the day one dies, relatives mourn by wearing black dresses for one year. One year after [the] death of a person, relatives again get together. At noon, a prayer is offered for the soul of the dead and the black dresses are taken off and thrown out of the window. This day is called “babang-luksa” or “laglag-luksa” or “ibis-luksa.” Food is served on this day. Black dresses are no longer worn after this day.

Food served on the eighth day after burial and one year after burial does not include vegetables that crawl like string beans, squash and other similar ones. Plates are not placed one on top of the other. The belief is that another member of the family will die in the near future if these things are done.

Burial: Before putting the dead body in the coffin or casket, lime in the form of a cross is spread on the bottom of the coffin. This practice is done to prevent bad odor to emit from the dead body. While the dead body is being carried down the stairs, a dipper full of water is thrown at the foot of the stairs. In carrying the dead body to the cemetery, the feet point at the direction where the bearers are going. The dead body is carried to the church before proceeding to the cemetery. A prayer is offered at the church and before the body is placed in its final resting place while the dead body is being lowered into the grave, relatives get a handful of soil by the grave and from the soil into the grave.

Visits: Persons who make visits to relatives bring some presents especially when they have not seen each other for a long time. Visiting relatives are invited to a meal. Newlyweds who visit relatives, especially those who were not able to attend the party, are given a sum of money.

Festivals: During Christmas, members of the family get together. A prayer is offered and the family eats special meals. Sometimes, a party is given and relatives and friends are invited.

[p. 6]

During the outgoing of the year, New Year’s Eve, many people, young and old, stay awake and wait for the coming of the New Year. At the coming of the New Year, that is, midnight, firecrackers are fired. People who are awake beat cans. Sometimes, the people who beat cans go around the barrio beating the cans. At the coming of the New Year, people listen carefully to sounds made by animals. The lowing of the cattle is a sign of a prosperous year.

During the Lenten season, “kuaresma,” the people read aloud to the sort of a tune a book which deals with the life of Jesus Christ. The book is called “Pasyon.” Stanzas in the book are read alternately by males and females. Singing songs, serenading and dancing are prohibited by the old folks. They say this is a sign of respect for Jesus Christ.

Other Customs and Traditions

Seeds for planting, especially rice, are dried on Fridays only. Not a single seed is eaten or bitten. The belief is that the remaining seeds will not give a harvest. The plants would be destroyed by rats. Rice seeds are sowed on the farm on days having no “R” like Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Never on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In selecting a site for a house, one uses a piece of stick which has been measured by the stretch of the hand. The measure is from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the finger producing the longest stretch. The piece of stick is thrown around the place and after each throw, the hand is stretched over the stick. The stick where the place becomes longer than the stretch is the site selected. The belief is that the life of the people who live in the house will be prosperous.

Moving into a new house is done on or a short time before the full moon. The house to be moved in is not completely built yet. The first things moved into the new house are a jar full of water, rice, salt and a lighted lamp. The jar full of water is placed in the middle of the sala. Moving is done before dawn.

[The] Popular songs sung in the barrio are “kundimans” and some song hits. Games played are “tubigan,” especially on moonlit nights; softball; games using the native cards and the native checkers.

[The] Amusements are “palasintahan” during a serenade, pandanggo, and subli on special occasions.

Puzzles and riddles common in the barrio:
1. Mag-inang baka, nag-anak ng tig-iisa. Ilan?
2. Hinila ko ang bagin, nagkagulo ang matsing.
3. Walang halagang isang pera, pilit naman kinukuha.
4. Isang bayabas, pito ang butas.
5. Isang biging palay, sikip ang buong bahay,

Proverbs and sayings:
1. Tuso man ang matsing, napaglalalangan din.
2. Kung ikaw ay liligo sa tubig ay aagap,
Nang huwag abutin ng tabsing ng dagat.

3. Kapag napakaagap naman ay napapahalugap.
4. Daig ng agap ang sikap.
5. Ang kasipagan ay bangan ng kayamanan.

[p. 7]

6. Kung anong binhi ay siyang hasik.
7. Ang punong santol ay hindi bubunga ng makopa.

[The] Methods of measuring time, other than clocks and watches, are crows of the roosters, sounds made by birds, position of the southern cross, position of [the] sun, height of the morning star,and [the] closing of some flowers like the “orasyon,” squash. No special calendar.

[Sgd.] Vicente Arazo[Sgd.] Epifanio Cortez
[Sgd.] Gregorio Hernandez[Sgd.] Patricinio Hernandez

Collected and compiled by:

[Sgd.] Liberato A. Ramos
Notes and references:
Transcribed from “History and Cultural Life of the Barrio (Bonlio),” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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