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 Balayan Municipal Building c. 1914. Image digitally extracted from the January 1914 edition of the Bureau of Public Works Quarterly Bulletin.
Report of the Governor of the Province of Batangas1
Province of Batangas,
Batangas, September 15, 1904.
no less profound against the criminal disturbers of the peace. And here, we have a great question.
Agriculture, Locusts, Rinderpest.
This is essentially an agricultural province, and formerly, during the period of its greatest splendor, it owed everything to agriculture, as all of its sources of wealth emanated from it. I believe that it an be affirmed without great risk of falling into error that the Batangas region has in the past demonstrated the highest capacity for agricultural production, due as much to the marvelous perseverance of the inhabitants in their labors as to the soil of great variety and inexhaustible fertility. In better times, Batangas was truly one great model farm, where it appeared that nature had made a magnificent display — a most dazzling exhibition of those products made in the mysterious and innermost recesses of its sacred bosom. But the blast of misfortune and calamity was felt, and that enchanted Eden was changed into something like a desolate and lugubrious panorama. Ten years of locust plagues, the loss of its most valuable product — coffee — the rinderpest, which exterminated all of the draft animals, the destruction left in the wake of the war, and two years of drought left this province almost in the throes of death. However, this year, thanks to the establishment of peace and the generous protection of the American Government and the imponderable activity of its inhabitants, its condition is slowly but surely improving. This year, there was a new invasion of locusts, believed to have come over from Mindoro; but the people, encouraged by the succor extended to them by the civil commission, which placed 1,000 piculs of rice at their disposition for this purpose, and the indefatigable zeal of the provincial and municipal authorities, have been able to exterminate, in the short period of two months and one-half, nearly 15,000 sacks of young locusts, thereby succeeding in saving all of their plantations. There was a new outbreak of the rinderpest from January to June, which caused the death of 56 horses, 54 cattle, 75 carabaos and 1,595 hogs, the disease being especially severe in Lipa, were in two months it killed off 50 animals. It is a sight to see the poor farmers doing the work of animals because of the scarcity of the latter. However, from data at hand, all of the pueblos have this year cultivated larger areas of land than during former years, some of them, like Taal and Bauan, having increased their sowings to four times more than in other years. Lipa, San Juan, Santo Tomas, and Batangas have increased theirs to double, while in the balance of the pueblos, the increase has been from one-half to one-third over that of former years. And thanks to the timely and copious rains, if no other disappointments overtake the farmers, it is everywhere expected that an abundant crop will reward their efforts. All of the farmers are exceedingly anxious to substitute their old crops, which are always at the mercy of the weather, of the innumerable plagues and the lack of draft animals, with other and new ones not subject to such contingencies. The mind is comforted and faith in a prosperous future is renewed in the contemplation of the extensive plantations of hemp, maguey, cotton, oranges, cocoanut trees, pineapples, mulberry trees for the cultivation of the silk-worm, ilang-ilang, cocoa, and even a few coffee trees. However, it is impossible to get along without the cultivation of rice, the basis of our food, and sugarcane, and for this reason, it is necessary seriously to think of the manner of replacing the cattle and carabaos lost through disease by other means and methods for tilling the ground, such for instance as steam plows, and this is a problem at present in the minds of the largest land holders, to which I have the honor to call the attention of the Government. Such new and progressive methods and the much wished-for agricultural mortgage and loan bank to prop the unfortunate farmers who have been fleeced by usurers and suffered other calamities, are the only solutions of the problem which will save our agriculture from its present condition of anguish.
In all the labors connected with this important branch and many others of a diverse and general character which weigh upon the provincial board, nearly the entire work falls upon the shoulders of the provincial secretary, Mr. Caedo, a model
functionary on account of his high endowments and upright character, who, at the head of his efficient force during nearly four years, has daily performed, in an assiduous and most worthy manner, an immense amount of work. In a very few months, aside from the multiple and unseen work connected with the provincial board and the provincial board of health, he has been able to complete with the most brilliant success the work connected with the new board of revision, extermination of locusts, relief boards, reorganization of [the] municipal police, electoral census, construction of the high school, convention of presidents, with several governmental investigations, interrogatories to the municipalities relative to road taxes and the maintenance of roads, to agricultural and industrial production, statistics, reports, surveys of barrios, etc., besides the immense accumulation of records, reports, circulars, and the great mass of documents received from the different bureaus of the government.
With the exception of three or four municipalities that on account of their small size have suffered financial straits, all the rest have their treasuries in a condition of brilliant prosperity, being free from the anxieties of a prospective deficit, while some may even be said to be swimming in the abundance of a copious surplus. Thanks to the wise measure adopted by the civil commission relative to the redemption of delinquent personal registration taxes of former years by five days’ work, this tax has been collected with more regularity and much less trouble. Much the same thing may be said with regard to the land tax; some errors have been corrected, excessive assessments reduced, and all of the complaints of property owners having been attended to by the new board of revision, these taxes, formerly so odious and looked upon with so much aversion, are now paid, relatively speaking, with general satisfaction, especially so as the people have become convinced that these taxes are the pillars which sustain the public works (schools and roads) that modern civilization, which America as brought to us in its highest development demands. Such is the property of some municipalities like Lipa, Batangas, Taal, and Bauan that they have permitted themselves the luxury of renouncing the one-fourth of 1 per cent, which corresponds to them for general expenses, in order to somewhat alleviate the hardships that the landowners have had to bear. If the financial condition of the municipalities continues in this wise, we hope that, in less than two years the most populous of them of them at least will have their own markets like that of the provincial capital, municipal buildings, and public schools, and, if local exigencies demand it, their own non-sectarian cemeteries. With this purpose in mind, we have joined our efforts to those of Mr. Blanchard, our most worthy treasurer, who has been four years in the discharge of his arduous duties with the most pronounced efficiency, he being distinguished as an official exceptional merit, great intellectual powers, and a philanthropic heart; he is a perfect paragon of a treasurer.
According to data existing in the office of the provincial treasurer, there has been collected: For personal registration certificates of or cedulas, ₱42.456.65 and $20,465.51 Mexican; land tax, ₱41,175.20 and $13,025.57 Mexican; industrial tax, ₱18,592.11 and $4,880.51 Mexican; fisheries, ₱5,059.97 and $3,520.33 Mexican; concessions and others, ₱6,598.22 and $8.239.40 Mexican; municipal licenses, ₱11,086.43 and $3,784 Mexican; cattle, ₱2,692.49 and $4,073.37 Mexican; fines, ₱1,840.25 and $1,041.03 Mexican; registration of property, ₱212 and $11.50 Mexican.
Constabulary and Municipal Police.
bravery met with death, kidnapping, and with martyrdom! The sad situation of these poor rustics who are, so to speak, between the sword’s point and the wall, is worthy of the most humane attention and gives rise to many bitter reflections better suited to a sociological article than to an official report. The municipal police of Santo Tomas, Tanawan, Lipa, and Taal, who are provided with good arms and uniforms, labor to the extent of their power under the orders of their worthy presidents and the direction of the constabulary inspector; and they have captured many rifles, revolvers, and other arms from the bandits, the police force of Santo Tomas being specially remarkable on account of the many successes which have crowned its efforts. With the exception of those pueblos that on account of their proximity to Cavite and Laguna suffer from time to time from the deplorable effects of brigandage, the other pueblos of the province enjoy the most perfect tranquility, especially Batangas, San Juan, Bauan, Taysan, Ibaan, Lobo, Calatagan, Calaca, Tuy, and Balayan, from where not even the least disturbance has been reported to me. There are constabulary posts at Batangas, where the headquarters is situated, at Lipa, Tanawan, Taysan, Taal, Calaca, and Tuy, and of scouts at Nasugbu, Bayuyuñgan, Talisay, Ambulong, and San Juan. I think that a good system of telephones uniting all of the pueblos would add to the rapidity of action and efficacy of operations of the constabulary and scouts.
Highways of Communication.
There are two great wagon roads, one from Batangas to Calamba, passing through San José, Lipa, Tanawan, and Santo Tomas, and another starting from the same point and running through Bauan, Taal, Lemery, Calaca, Balayan, Tuy, and Lian.
I was over these roads during the rainy season (June and July) and found them in the best possible state of preservation, thanks to the incessant industry of the supervisor, Mr. Westerhouse, a most expert engineer and a veritable prototype of indefatigable activity, who may be said to always have an eye on the roads in order immediately to repair any damage that the elements might cause. I would make bold to petition the government that it deign to fix its attention upon the roads uniting this provincial capital with Ibaan, Taysan, Rosario, and San Juan. The supervisor is making superhuman efforts to repair these roads, but in a provisional manner and by sections, so to speak, as a lack of funds does not permit him to undertake a definite and lasting work such as has been done on the other wagon roads. And as it is this part of the province that is precisely the least cultivated and where the greatest misery and poverty reign, the rinderpest and other diseases and calamities having been more cruelly and harshly felt in this region than in any other part of the province, I believe that the government would be performing a work of charity if it would grant an appropriation to construct a good wagon road from Batangas to San Juan, passing through the pueblos mentioned. This part of the province, moreover, does not expect to get the benefit of the advantages of the railroad, as it is off the proposed line. It is also by all means necessary that work on the wharf at Batangas should begin soon, this being a concession promised some time ago.
What would be truly the renaissance of the province is the laying of a line of railroad. This would act as a revivifying fluid, generating new habits of activity in diffusing itself through all of the organisms of this impoverished region; it would awaken new energies and at the same time attract new elements of life. All of these immense benefits we expect from the promises that from the highest spheres of the Government have been received in our hearts as a consoling blessing which will bring forth love and eternal acknowledgment of the magnanimity of the American Nation.
A mail service is in regular operation and very well organized.
in the pueblo and 8 in the barrios. Nasugbu 783 in 1 school in the pueblo and 5 in the barrios. Taal 632 in the 2 schools in the pueblo and 8 in the barrios. Cuenca 623 in 1 school in the pueblo and 1 in the barrio. Balayan 456 in 1 school in the pueblo and 4 in the barrios. San Juan 444 in 1 school in the pueblo and 4 in the barrios. San José 350 in 1 school in the pueblo and 2 in the barrios. Rosario 183 in 1 school in the pueblo and 1 in the barrio. Calaca 150 in 1 school in the pueblo and l in the barrio. Santa Tomas 143 in 1 school in the pueblo and 6 in the barrios. Lobo 68 in 1 school. lbaan 60 in 1 school. Which makes a total of 9,368; and if to this is added one high school, one of arts and trades, and another of agriculture in the provincial capital and the intermediate schools in Lipa, Bauan, Taal, Balayan, and Tanawan, and the night schools in all of the pueblos where the entire municipal governments, including residents and justices of the peace and the most prominent people in the town attend, are taken into account, an approximate idea of the magnificent level reached by this most important branch of the government will be had, which is greatly to the honor of the superintendent, Mr. Buck, who carries forward his sublime mission of diffusing popular education with veritable fervor and the zeal of an apostle. He is one of the most valuable Americans and has the greatest affection for this country. He is a living example of the value of self-help, and for that
reason, better than anyone else, he is capable of Saxonizing our children in the fullest and highest acceptation of this word. Nearly all of the presidents are assisting him to the extent of their ability in this noble work, and in connection with this matter, I would state that the president of Batangas has distinguished himself in the extreme in this work.
Batangas is, on the other hand, a model municipality from every point of view; admirable, because of its resourceful initiative, and meriting mention among all the rest in the province because of the fact that it appropriates ₱6,000 for educational purposes from its general funds. The president and other municipal officers of Tanawan have renounced the privilege of receiving the maximum of their salaries in order to maintain the barrio schools with the money thus saved. At Bauan, the president and councilors are canvassing the barrios in order to raise a small contribution so as to get funds with which to maintain the rural schools. The municipality of Santo Tomas is also engaged in the work of raising voluntary subscriptions for the construction of schools. The president and headmen of San José distribute monthly prizes among the students. Lipa, not to be outdone, has made donations of supplies and land for school purposes and has raised subscriptions in its barrios for the same purpose. San Juan and Nasugbu have done the same thing. In fact, all of the pueblos, in spite of the general crisis through which this country is passing, are willing to go to any sacrifice when the interests of education are involved. Carried away by this general and widespread enthusiasm prevalent among all of the inhabitants, I have instituted many prizes in different pueblos on my own account, in order to encourage the scholars. The provincial treasurer maintains a few poor students. In this provincial capital, a school of agriculture and classes in manual training have begun operation, and we trust that the results from these centers of learning will give a new course to education, making it of a more practical character.
Besides the official establishments, there are some Catholic schools and a few colleges connected with the Manila centers of learning — San Juan de Letran and Liceo de Manila.
Provincial Jail — Justice of the Peace.
compliance of his difficult duties. He has been nearly four years zealously serving the government in the laborious task of prosecuting crime.
Public Health — Increase of Population.
Governor, Province of Batangas.