1902 Report of the Governor of Batangas to the Civil Governor of the Philippines - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore 1902 Report of the Governor of Batangas to the Civil Governor of the Philippines - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

1902 Report of the Governor of Batangas to the Civil Governor of the Philippines

The annual Reports of the Philippine Commission provide a comprehensive picture of life and conditions in Batangas — and elsewhere in the Philippines — early during the American colonial era. Excerpts of these reports that are relevant to the Province of Batangas are made available in this web site for the benefit of teachers, students, researchers and enthusiasts of Batangas history, culture and folklore. For citation purposes, the pages given are as they appear in the reports themselves.

The document transcribed below is the 1902 Annual Report of the Govenor of Batangas, Simeon M. Luz, to the Civil Governor of the Philippines, William Howard Taft. This report is extracted from Exhibit X of the Civil Governor’s Report which was included in the 1903 Report of the Philippine Commission1, and part of the Executive Secretary’s Report to the Civil Governor. Although the source document was in OCR-compliant PDF format, not all the text can be cut and pasted so had to be painstakingly typed, hence the use of the word “transcription.”

American era Philippines
American era Philippines.  Image digitally extracted from the 1905 book "An Observer in the Philippines:  Life in our New Possession."


[p. 756]


Batangas, June 25, 1902.

SIR: I have the honor to submit to you the following report relative to the conditions of the province during the year ending December 31, 1902, I would take the liberty to recommend certain measures that in my judgement should be adopted for the improvement of the conditions described.

Having already referred to some of these measures in former reports, I shall deal only with those that during the short period of my incumbency experience has suggested and which I have not yet had an opportunity to mention to you.

I will start in with those affecting the organization of the provincial government, composed of the following officials: Simeon Luz, provincial governor; Florencio Caedo, provincial secretary; R.D. Blanchard, provincial treasurer; Charles Kendall, provincial supervisor; Diego Gloria, provincial fiscal.

Since the inauguration of the provincinal government in Batangas on May 12, 1901, no changes other than that in the office of the governor have occurred. The present government was appointed on June 23, 1902, and assumed charge upon July 3 of the same year.

The offices of the governor and secretary have 3 clerks, 1 messenger, 1 servant, and a jailer, who has charge of the prisoners in the provincial jail and who was appointed by the governor.

The office of the provincial treasurer has 4 deputies, 1 chief clerk, and 3 clerks; that of the provincial supervisor has 1 clerk; that of the provincial fisca, 1 clerk.

Military control having ended July 4, 1902, upon peace being restored throughout the province, order is now complete and tranquility established and the provincial government is running smoothly though is increasing in all offices.

The supervisor and fiscal, who had no clerks, were authorized by the provincial board to have the assistance corresponding to them, but this authorization was in part disapproved by the insular treasurer, the appointment of one clerk for each being approved.

[p. 757]

The accumulation of work consequent upon the removal of military control has placed too much of a burden upon the provincial fiscal. The explanation of this is to be found in the fact that the fiscal acts as prosecuting attorney and that formerly during the Spanish regime, there were two courts of first instance, one at Lipa and the other at Batangas, in each of which there was a prosecuting attorney.


The provincial board of health began its operations in Batangas in August 1902, at which time Doctor Losada assumed charge at president. During the said month, municipal boards of health were established in the pueblos of Nasugbu, Balayan, Lemery, Taal, Bauan, Cuenca, Batangas, San Jose, Lipa, Tanauan, Santo Tomas, San Juan, and Taysan. Municipal boards of health have not been established in those of San Luis, Calaca, Liang, Calatagan, Tuy, Talisay, Lobo, Rosario, and Ibaan, for lack of funds in their respective municipal treasuries with which to pay the salaries of the presidents of such organizations.

I will make no mention of the sanitary conditions of the present as the president of the provincial board of health must have already forwarded his report to the commissioner of public health.


In addition to the primary schools established in nearly all of the municipalities, the majority of which have American teachers, there is a high school for secondary instruction in this provincial capital.

A division superintendent of schools has just arrived and taken up his work here. As the superintendent has no doubt sent in his report to the secretary of public instruction, I shall not dwell upon the matter of the progress of education. I desire to state, however, that in all of the pueblos, the strides made in learning English have been truly remarkable, and I think that I may safely affirm that more persons understand and speak a little English at the present time in the pueblos throughout the province than the number who understand and talk Spanish.


Besides the judge of the seventh judicial district, in which this province is included, the personnel of the court of first instance is composed of 2 clerks, 1 stenographer, and a messenger. The office of sheriff was provided for by the judge.

With relation to the administration of justice, I would recommend, to the end that litigants, and more especially witnesses in criminal cases, may be saved wasteful expenditures, that the court be ordered to sit also in other provincial towns, such for example as Balayan and Lipa. This measure, I believe, would not result in much expense to the government, while it would greatly facilitate and expedite the administration of justice, besides saving State’s witnesses that in the majority of instances, they could not bear.

I must call your attention to the courts of the justices of the peace, that under their present organization, do not answer the purpose of the government to provide an efficient local administration of justice for this country.

Unfortunately, the ignorant masses in the Philippines are more easily impressed by external forms than by the substance of things. A justice’s court invested with a certain amount of formality and show befitting the mission it is called upon to perform in the administration of public affairs would most impress men who have been accustomed most frequently to be guided in their appreciations by the senses.

From my observations of justices’ courts in the municipalities, I can state that they are so poorly furnished that they are not only unable to maintain the dignity proper to the admmistration of justice, but not even that demanded by a due regard for appearances, and for this reason this important branch of the government will never be able to inspire respect with the masses, nor will the lower classes have that respect for justice which it would deserve. Hence, I would recommend that the Government provide reasonable salaries for justices of the peace in each municipality in accordance with the importance of the latter.

One of the difficulties met by justices of the peace in cases of homicide, assault, and others of like character which require expert medical testimony, is the lack of persons skilled in medical jurisprudence, who would be-called upon to make the examination. This difficulty could be overcome if the Commission were to enact a law authorizing justices of the peace to demand the professional services of presidents of municipal boards of health in all cases where examinations have to be made, and in municipalities where no such official exists, those of the local physician or of any expert In the locality. If the financial condition of the municipality would not per-

[p. 758]

mit the payment of a reasonable salary to justices of the peace it would be advisable to divide the province into districts, each with a justice of the peace charged with the duty of trying all cases, criminal and civil, within his jurisdiction, arising in the municipalities forming part of his district, and of holding of preliminary examinations in those held over for trial in the court of first instance. The municipalities comprehended in each district would be called upon to pay pro rata the salary of the district justice and expenses of his court.


In dealing with this subject, I regret to inform you that this important branch, the sole source of wealth in the province of Batangas, is in a state of complete depression at the present time as the result of innumerable disasters befalling it in the period embraced between the year 1896 and the present time. The loss of more than 90 per cent of its draft animals used in agricutural labor has caused a steady falling off in the amount of the products of the soil of this formerly rich province, that has continued to increase during the past few years to such an extent that it may now be said that they are but a twentieth part of what they were in the years prior to 1896. The small crops of rice, sugar, and other products harvested this year have scarcely been sufficient for the wants of the inhabitants in two or three months. Thanks to [the] sale of rice at cost price by the military authorities and a free distribution of this article to those persons unable to pay for same, the pinch of poverty was not so severely felt, nor have there been any deaths from famine recorded.

To restore agriculture to its former condition in this province with the local elements at hand as factors is a problem very difficult of solution. As stated, 90 per cent of the work animals perished by pestilence, and money — a great deal of money — is needed to restock the province, owing to the fact that their cost has been more than doubled. On the other hand, more than nine-tenths of the landed proprietors have not the means to purchase new animals unless they resort to money lenders and borrow at very high rates of interest and on short loans. This recourse is not only a very venturesome one, but positively foolhardy, as one bad crop for the landowner would mean the loss of his property, that would surely pass to the hands of the money lender. Hence, until agricultural loan and mortgage banks are established, where owners of land can borrow on their holdings and for unlimited periods, it is the general opinion throughout the province that little or nothing can be done to bring about an improvement in the prevailing conditions. The importation of immunized cattle, to be sold at cost price, will benefit only those persons who have sufficient money to buy them, that is to say, about one-tenth of the landholders.


Due to the crisis in agriculture — of this there can be no doubt — commerce is almost completely paralyzed, being reduced to the importation of rice and other staple articles of food. Local exports are at the lowest ebb, consisting of hemp, hogs, chickens, eggs, and some at other articles of but moderate importance.

Industry consists in the manufacture, on a small scale, of sugar, textiles of hemp, silk, and jusi, and the weaving of sugar sacks and mats of the buri palm, and of other articles of small value.

The political aspect of the province is today satisfactory. There are no organized bands of armed ladrones, and) though some cases have been recorded of theft of animals, it has not been to such a large extent as in the past.

The people are beginning to appreciate the benefits derived from the new order of things, and I think I am justified in hoping that they will sincerely acknowledge the sovereignty of the United States and devote themselves peacefully to the work of restoring to this province its former fame of a rich, industrious, and peaceful community.

I cannot finish this report without mentioning the canalization of the Pansipit River, uniting the lake of Taal Volcano with the harbor of Taal. By opening of this canal to navigation, coasting steamers will be within easy access of the most important of the towns in the interior that will be able to place their product in any market. The work on the canal will give employment to many poor people, who are so situated today that they have no means of livelihood.

I would recommend the enactment of a law by the Commission appropriating sufficient funds to carry out this work, which will be of so much benefit to this province of Batangas.

Very respectfully,

Provincial Governor.


Notes and references:
1 “Fourth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, 1903, In Three Parts, Part 1,” by the Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Department, published 1904 in Washington D.C. by the Government Printing Office.
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