San Nicolas, Batangas: Historical Data
Barrio of San Nicolas
On the west coast of Taal Lake lies a barrio which, according to the “Legajo de Taal,” was the former site of the town of Taal. That was during the high tide of the Moro piracy. This barrio, from the time of its establishment until the present, has been popularly named “San Nicolas,” a name derived from the name of its patron saint “San Nicolas de Tolentino.”
According to information handed down by old residents of the place, the sitios included within its jurisdiction, during its township, were Alitagtag, San Luis, Lemery and Agoncillo. The date of its establishment could not be traced, however.
The original inhabitants of the place were the Malays who came from Borneo. The barrio was ruled accordingly at the turn of every period; that is, during the encroachment of the Malays, the tribal form of government was introduced. When the Spaniards came, another form of government was introduced and, ultimately, a better form of government (more democratic in form) was established as a result of American influence. The place, in fact, undertook various changes in the passing of [the] years – from a small barrio, it rose to a town and vice-versa. Until now, it is a small barrio ruled by a teniente del barrio.
One factor, and presumably the most effective in the many changes effected in the place, is the Taal Volcano. This volcano erupted thirteen times within three hundred years. Its eruptions were very distinctive, and each caused great destructions in the vicinities. Some of the places which were depopulated because of the eruptions were Subic, Bilibinwang, Banyaga, Alas-as and Pulang Bato. Nearly all the people of these barrios perished. At present, these barrios are inhabited by people from Maabud, Tambo, Munlawin, and Saimsim.
The most distinctive of the eruptions as reported was that one in 1754. It lasted for six months. There were violent earthquakes, and big tidal waves. When the eruption ceased, [the] upper half of the volcano’s cone was gone. The fertile valley became a lake now known as Taal Lake, formerly called Bonbon Lake. Kumintang town (the town name of San Nicolas), was completely buried in lava and rocks. The old church was destroyed. There was a great loss of lives and property. Some who survived the ordeal fled and returned after the eruption. They looked for higher elevation of land where to build their homes. They found a forest seven kilometers away from the old town site. They cleared the place and built the town now known as Taal. From that time, San Nicolas became a barrio.
Another destructive eruption was that one in 1911. The same places around the volcano were affected. After the eruption, 1,400 were found killed.
Important facts, incidents and events that took place at the coming of different peoples:
Like any other place in the Philippines, San Nicolas underwent numerous changes in different aspects at the coming of different peoples. When the Spaniards came, Salcedo and his men went up the Pansipit River. They were met by the inhabitants of the place and a fight ensued between them. Salcedo was hit in the leg by a bow and arrow, so they fled for safety. However, in
the passing of [the] years, San Nicolas, like other places in the Philippines, submitted to the influence of the Spanish way of life.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Americans came and the place did not escape their influence. These people also reached San Nicolas. They did not stay long in the place because they found out that the people of San Nicolas were all gone. The Americans called the people back to the place. Their motive in occupying the place that time was to see the volcano.
Some people came back to the place. Some remained at the other side of the river to live there permanently. Since then, they enjoyed the blessing of democracy under the benevolent leadership of the Americans. Peace and prosperity has been theirs for a considerable length of time.
In 1941, the tranquility and peace of the Asian countries was eventually disturbed. Japan made [a] drastic move, that of invading nearly [all?] states. The Philippines was bombed on Dec. 8, 1941. A few months after, Japanese soldiers came to occupy the islands. They were able to reach San Nicolas, too. The inhabitants met them as friends at first. After three years, the friendship cooled off and the place had been one of the victims of the enemy’s cruelty and brutality. They burned the houses in the barrio. Only five houses and the church were not burned. Fortunately, however, no one was killed.
Up on to the return of the Americans to liberate the islands from the Japanese. The inhabitants returned to begin life anew. During the post-liberation days, the people prospered in business. This has been true in almost all parts of the Philippines. In addition to this, the U.S. government sends aid to rehabilitate and reconstruct devastated areas and ruined buildings. Many people received money for their burned houses or for devastated sugarcane fields during the war. From the scanty beginnings, the people established themselves for peaceful and prosperous lives which most of them enjoy until the present.
The education of the children was not, however, ignored. Through voluntary contributions, a two-room schoolhouse was reconstructed. In the ensuing years, when school enrolment grows bigger and bigger building after building are constructed either from voluntary contributions or government funds. At present, there is a two-room Type B building constructed from government funds, a four-room P.T.A. building, a shop building and [an] H.E. building. There is a complete elementary course.
The people of San Nicolas are bound together with primordial aims and prerogatives. They are looking forward to the day when their barrio may again become a town. Their hopes are great because they are confident that with their industry and love for peace, their cherished dreams may come true.