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.
[This part of the transcription contains excerpts from the Report of the Civil Governor for the period ending 23 December 1903. This is merely the first of three parts of the 1903 report.]
|At the office of the justice of the peace during the American colonial Era. Image digitally extracted from the 1906 publication "America's Insular Possessions."|
The stimulus given to the cultivation of the ground this year by legislation and the efforts of the authorities has led to what is probably a greater acreage for the planting of rice and other food supplies than any year since 1889. Of course, much difficulty as been found in the absence of draft cattle, but the pinch of hunger and the instruction of municipal authorities has led to the use of the existing carabao by many different farmers and to some plowing by hand. The prospect is that we shall have a better rice crop in nearly all the provinces, except, possibly Batangas, than we have had for years. It was at first thought that all the crops would be destroyed by the continuance of the drought, but after August, rain fell all over the islands, and the rice which had seemed to be in a failing condition developed, and now gives prospect of producing a fair amount of grain.
No cases of actual starvation have been brought to the notice of the Government. In the provinces of Ambos Camarines, Iloilo, and Batangas, it has been reported that there was much suffering from lack of food, and this was doubtless true, but the people have always found enough camotes or tubers and other food roots to avoid starvation. Such food not properly cooked is indigestible and unhealthy,
and while there were no deaths from starvation, there were diseases incident to bad and insufficient food which carried off many. Among people thus badly nourished, cholera, too, found many victims.
The absence of draft cattle is likely to produce a change in the amount of rice production in these islands under normal conditions. In a number of provinces, hemp is produced. The hemp crop does not need, except for purposes of transportation, the carabao. The hemp culture is increasing very rapidly in Laguna, in Batangas, in Cavite, in the Camarines, in Union, and in other provinces where rice was the chief product. The importation of rice for the year ending June 30, 1903 exceeded that of the previous year by about three and one-half millions of dollars gold. It is hoped that no such amount of rice will need to be imported next year, but it should be said if that the culture of hemp, copra, sugar, and tobacco pays better, the importation of some rice as food may not necessarily indicate a lack of prosperity in the country.
[A section of the Governor’s report entitled “Conditions as to Tranquility” contains a series of communications between Apolinario Mabini, Philippine Revolution General Luciano San Miguel, and Civil Governor William Howard Taft. The communications are contained in a separate page with the link to it provided below:]
[The following section contains information about two sons of Batangas prominent during the Philippine Revolution. It is extracted from a section of the Civil Governor’s report entitled “Bandolerismo Statute.”]
During the year, several members of the Hong Kong junta have come to Manila. They have been required to take the oath of allegiance to the government and after that have not been disturbed. I am in receipt of a verbal communication from Señors Apacible and Agoncillo2, the two most prominent members of the junta. They have signified their intention of coming to Manila if they are not to be subjected to prosecution.
They distinctly repudiate having had any communication with San Miguel3 or the recent ladron leaders, whom they characterize as cattle thieves and not worthy [of] the support of men who have been actuated by other motives. I have assured them that should they return to Manila, they would simply be required to take the oath of allegiance, and if they thereafter lead lawful lives and take no part in the insurrection movements, they will be wholly undisturbed. (December 18. Since writing the above, Doctor Apacible has presented himself and taken the oath.)
[The following section contains excerpts relevant to Batangas taken from Exhibit D of the Civil Governor’s Report entitled “Statement Showing Actual Expenditures under the Congressional Relief Fund.”]
On June 30, 1930, the sum of $1,000, United States currency, equivalent to ₱2,000, was appropriated by act No. 793 as a loan to the province of Batangas, “to be used by the provincial board as it might deem wise in aid of the municipality of Batangas to meet the emergency presented by a fire destroying its market and rendering homeless a large number of its people.” The sum was withdrawn August 8, on settlement warrant No. 1652.
[Several paragraphs skipped before the following section.]
On October 8, the following resolution was passed by the Commission for the improvement of the Pansipit River, Batangas Province:
“Resolved. That the consulting engineer to be directed to prepare, as soon as possible, detailed plans, and to draw up the specifications and contract for the construction of locks, dams, bridges, embankment dredging, and other works involved in the improvement of the Pansipit River, and upon the completion of this work, to advertise the same in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 584, section 6, for at least thirty days; and, upon opening bids for this work, that the consulting engineer be further directed to draft and submit an act or resolution providing for the necessary appropriation from the Congressional relief fund, for the prosecution of the work, before contracts for the same are entered into.”
[This section contains text from Exhibit I of the Civil Governor’s report, entitled “Report on Religious Controversies.”]
24. ROSARIO, BATANGAS. — July 8, 1903. — Parish priest complains that municipality has taken possession of real estate belonging to the Church.
[Below are excerpts from Exhibit P of the Civil Governor’s report, entitled “Proposed Railway Lines in the Island of Luzon.”]
MANILA TO BATANGAS.
Route. — From Manila, the line should pass through or near Pineda, Muntinglupa, Biñang, Santa, Rosa, and Calamba, skirting the west shore of Laguna de Bay between Muntinglupa and Calamba. Leaving the lake shore at Calamba, line should cross Rio San Juan and then follow up the right bank through or near Santo Tomas, Tanauan, Lipa, and San Jose to Batangas, crossing the San Juan River the second time at Tanauan. Line as recommended is shown on map by broken lines. An alternative location, shown by dotted line on map, leaves line at Calamba and follows left bank of San Juan River, passing to the west of Santo Tomas and Tanauan to a junction a few miles south of Tanauan, thus avoiding two crossings of the San Juan River.
Grade. — Maximum will be 1½ per cent, compensated.
Curvature. — Maximum will be 6º of 955.4 feet radius.
Transportation. — From Manila to Muntinglupa, there is at present only a trail, but a wagon road could easily be built. From Muntinglupa to Batangas, there is a splendid metaled road, which in no place is more than 2 miles from the proposed railway location. Material and supplies can also come in by sea at Batangas.
Traffic. — The section of country tributary to proposed line has suffered heavily from war, pestilence, etc., but is well settled, and should soon be in a prosperous condition. The flat lands along Laguna de Bay are rich, and both rice and sugarcane produce well. Sugar mills are all in ruins, and lands formerly devoted to sugar are covered with weeds and brush. Some land here is under irrigation, and will produce a dry-season crop of rice. From Calamba to Batangas, the soil is a brown loam with some sand, and is 4 or 5 feet thick. Between Calamba and Santo Tomas is a good sugar country, but at present mills are in ruins and fields uncultivated. Between Santo Tomas and Batangas, much coffee was formerly grown, between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000 worth in silver being sent out from the town in Lipa alone each year. An insect is said to have destroyed the trees several years ago. Planters are now talking of replanting. Some sugar is grown in the Lipa district. Taken as a business proposition, this line is considered as having the best prospects of the three proposed, and should be a paying property from the day it is put in operation. There is little to fear from water transportation via river and lake in competition between Manila and Calamba, as the shores of the lake are so shallow that cargoes have to be lightered a mile in small boats.
[The above section is followed by the proposed budget, which is no longer included in this transcription.]
[The section below is extracted from Exhibit X of the Civil Governor’s report, entitled “Report of the Executive Secretary to the Civil Governor.”]
Batangas, P.I., October 1, 1903.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, Manila:
In reply to your telegram of September 25, a detailed report will be rendered in a few days. The reports from 20 municipalities in which destruction work of locusts is being carried forward have not come, all having been asked for by telegrams.
[The section below is an excerpt from a part of the Executive Secretary’s report which documented replies from the provincial governors to his inquiries about the food supply in the respective provinces.]
BATANGAS, June 17, 1903.
FERGUSSON, Executive Secretary, Manila:
Food is somewhat scarce, but the relieving work of war emergency funds is of great relief for the people. Rice is sold at $6 Mexican per cavan, and some given away to the poorest people. No case of starvation has been reported to me yet, though
great difficulty of getting employment is more and more felt for the poorer classes. Large clouds of locusts are hovering on the new rice plantations. Up to date, the work of the experts in the management of fungus has not produced satisfactory reports. Captain Boughton has extended his relieving work to destruction of locusts. Many towns are being given money for the purpose of buying dead locusts at 50 cents Mexican per cavan. It relieves the poor people very much; at the same time affords employment to able-bodied men, women, and children. The next rice crop is for September next. The prospect is middling fair and, if not destroyed, the next rice crop would be satisfactory, indeed. Despite the lack of laboring animals, the people have made every effort and large extents of lands are being planted with rice and corn. The lateness of rain in a few places impedes the completion of the plantations.
[The Annual Report of the Governor of Batangas, Simeon M. Luz, is included in the 1903 Report of the Philippine Commission. The full transcription of this report is found in the link below.]
[The section below contains excerpts from Appendix J of the Executive Secretary’s Report to the Civil Governor and contains a brief report on mostly public works in Batangas as written by then-governor Simeon M. Luz.]
BATANGAS, October 1, 1903.
Executive Secretary, Manila:
Report road and bridge Congressional relief fund. September 1 to September 30, inclusive (work commenced September 1):
Ibaan-Taysan road. — Repair, 6 miles cleared and 2 culverts; 74 laborers; 97½ piculs.
Balayan-Tuy-Nasugbu road. — Repairs, 1 ford, and 3 miles opened; 87 laborers; 86¼ piculs.
Lemery-Calaca road. — Two miles reconstructed, 2 culverts; 149 laborers; 126 piculs.
Rosario-Tiaong road. — Four miles graded; 42 laborers; 49 piculs.
Lipa-Alaminos road. — Two miles graded; 65 laborers; 59½ piculs.
Batangas-Talahib road. — One ford, 1½ miles new road; 80 laborers; 59¾ piculs.
Batangas-San Jose road. — Repairs, 1 culvert; 31 laborers; 33½ piculs.
Road and culvert material purchased, 26 piculs.
Transportation of rice to different pueblos, 45 carretons, 63 piculs.
Total, 600½ piculs.
Rice received, 4,000 piculs; rice on hand, 3,400 piculs.
Owing to harvesting of rice and corn during September and October, labor, in exchange for rice, is more difficult to obtain than will be two weeks hence.
[Below are the contents of Executive Order No. 23 issued by William Howard Taft which is relevant to the Province of Batangas.]
GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES ISLANDS.
Manila, May 22, 1903.
Pursuant to the provisions of Act Numbered Seven hundred and thirty-three, Philippine Commission, entitled “An act providing that the civil governor may, in his discretion, direct an extension of the period within which the board of tax revision in the city of Manila, and provincial boards of revision, shall complete their work,” the time specified by act numbered five hundred and eighty-two for the completion of the revision of the real-estate tax assessment list — that is, May twentieth, nineteen hundred and three — insofar as it relates to the province of Batangas, is hereby extended to June twentieth, nineteen hundred and three, and the date upon which the payment of taxes under such revised assessment shall become delinquent is also extended to October first, nineteen hundred and three.
WM. H. TAFT, Civil Governor.
Notes and references:
By A. W. Fergusson, Executive Secretary.
“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.
The gentlemen mentioned in the report were Galicano Apacible and Felipe Agoncillo, both members of the so-called Hong Kong junta.
General Luciano San Miguel of the Philippine Revolution.