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 1905 Report of the Philippine Commission1, Part 1 and is part of a section containing reports from governors of the different provinces arround the Philippines at that time. 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.”
|An artesian well in Balayan. Image digitally extracted from the July 1914 edition of the Bureau of Public Works Quarterly Bulletin.|
Report of the Governor of the Province of Batangas.
Office of the Governor, Province of Batangas.
Batangas, August 28, 1905.
SIR: I have the honor to submit this report, which I should have sent in last July, but which I have purposely held back until now in order to be able to record an event which might have been considered as the greatest and most transcendental in the history of t e province. I refer to the arrival of the honorable the Secretary of War, accompanied b yourself, the Philippine Commission, and the party of illustrious Senators and presentatives and the daughter of President Roosevelt, on a visit that would have redounded greaty to the benefit of our province and might have resulted in conferring upon it the benefit that we have so long desired and so often asked for, namely, the restoration of the writ of habeas corpus, had not our misfortune prevented this visit for reasons absolutely unknown to us until now, in spite of the entire province having awaited the visit with veritable eagerness and enthusiasm, making every effort possible to receive our visitors worthily in the midst of our penury.
I believe it, sir, my sacred and ineludible duty to devote my first words to an earnest and respectful reiteration of the ardent supplication that I had the honor to forward to the honorable Philippine Commission at the beginning of May, after the surrender of the last of the tulisanes that roamed in the province, in the name of all the municipal presidents in convention assembled, and as a unanimously approved resolution of the provincial board, in order that the writ of habeas corpus might be speedily restored to the province of Batangas. For several reasons I do not wish to discuss on this point, nor do I wish to advance considerations of any sort, but recalling your words delivered in one of your eloquent speeches, when you said that the Filipinos should hope everything from the generosity and magnanimity of the American authorities, I simply endeavor to appeal to these magnanimous sentiments of generosity, clemency, and justice to secure from you and the Philippine Commission that holy right, the writ of habeas corpus, so eagerly wished for by the inhabitants of the province that, as soon as they were able to count upon the assistance and help of sufficient government forces to dominate the disturbance provoked by hardened malefactors, veritable criminals of no political color, found a way to exterminate and annihilate them completely in less than four months, as is unmistakenly testified to by Colonel Baker himself in the following telegram that he sent through me to the municipal presidents in convention assemb ed on the lst of last May:
“Lipa, Batangas, April 30, 1905.
“Governor Aguilera, Batangas:
I much regret that neither my work nor health will permit me to be present at your meeting of presidentes. Please, congratulate them for me on the freedom of Batangas from ladronism. While the constabulary and scouts have done hard and brilliant work, this striking result would not have been accomplished in less than four months had it not been for the patriotic intelligence and steady assistance of most of the principales, Batangas province, who realize that their country would most prosper and the ideal of their people be the best realized through the enforcement by the people themselves of peace and good order. In the final struggle with outlawry, on which we are now entering, I have full confidence that Batangas will destroy or capture any Cavite or Laguna ladrone who may be driven or seek refuge within her borders.
“BAKER, Assistant Chief, Commanding.”
I have in my possession several important official reports of the municipal presidents that corroborate in detail the statement contained in the above-transcribed telegram, and if it should appear to you necessary, I will send them immediately.
Honorable sir, since that date when, at the request of the provincial board and in the name of every class in this province, I petitioned you and the Philippine Commission for the restoration of the writ of habeas corpus in Batangas and more than twenty times through different channels, and lately, when I invoked on three separate occasions the intercession of Mr. Taft and his party, I again formulated, always in the form of a respectful repetition and in the name of honorable entities, said request.
The most absolute tranquility reigns throughout the province. The malefactors who, by their criminal depradations, at one time disturbed it are now suffering deserved punishment that the law, in all its vigor, has imposed upon them. Has not the precious opportunity at last arrived when I may be able to implore from you with somewhat more fortunate and positive results that you again cast your eye pitifully upon
the poor inhabitants of Batangas, who, in very critical circumstances and in spite of all obstacles, demonstrating the greatest abnegation, having given proof of their support and loyalty to the constituted authorities, and that for seven months past, have been deprived of the most cherished and the most fundamental of their rights — the writ of habeas corpus? And you will pardon me, honorable sir, if I insist so strenuously upon this matter, as here all sphere of activity and all manifestations of life revolve around it; the present state of affairs is such that it can be compared to a dense atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety, to a fatidical obsession that, exercising certain pressure upon all things, keeps down every other manifestation.
In petitioning you many times for the concession of this grace, I have done my duty as the faithful interpreter to you of a common aspiration of the entire province, without any personal motive having guided me, not even the legitimate ambition of my own success. It is for this reason that I have never endeavored to weigh this matter from its different and disputatble points of view, nor have I even attempted to discuss it politically, but in every instance, I have adopted the most respectful and the most humble form of supplication, in the name of the entire province, that has already suffered from numberless calamities; for in the presence of the misfortune of many, one must dominate and extinguish irritating pride and one’s own personality. And so it is, in all probability, that there are many persons and entities, with purposes more or less altruistic or with political vices and tendencies who approach you in demand of the same favor. I am always ready to unite my humble voice sincerely and frankly to that of others, for according to the common saying, “the name of the saint who intercedes for us matters little so long as we obtain the benefit of the miracle.” Moreover, I have entire faith, absolute confidence, and firm conviction, that the Government which is so worthily and chivalrously represented by you, honorable sir, will never do or leave undone anything because of the intervention of a person that is pleasing or otherwise to you — never; but that in all your determinations, your guide and standard will be the most equitable expediency and the most opportune application of the exalted ends and high interests of the Government itself.
I shall finish, honorable sir, in order not to take up too much of your time, occupied always in laboring for the welfare and for the progress of these people that destiny has confided to your skillful hands. But before doing so, permit me once more to make known that I have modestly and without noisy ostentation, whenever I have found the plausible opportunity — at least, I believe that I have — complied with the duty of conscience in carrying to you the echo of our resigned but insistent petition to implore from you and from the Philippine Commission the speedy restoration of the writ of habeas corpus in Batangas.
In spite of the death of 1,215 cattle, 283 carabaos, and 277 horses, there has been a great increase in the cultivation of the different agricultural products in this province in comparison with former years; though it is true that up to the present time, there is no danger from locusts for, thanks to the efficient activity of the people and the generous help of the government, it appears that this pest has been exterminated, at least in this province, though we cannot answer for the adjacent provinces — for instance, for names near Tiaong, Candelaria, and San Pablo. The dapulac and other diseases to which the rice plant is subject, espcially on worn-out lands, make the result of the crop of this cereal somewhat doubtful; it will be very abundant if the amount planted is all harvested, as the people have worked very hard. With regard to sugar, there has been a large increase in the cultivation of the cane, the planters being encouraged anew on account of the high prices obtained by this product. Taal, Balayan, Batangas, Nasugbu, Calaca, Ybaan, Bauan, Lipa, Tanauan, and other pueblos have planted a great deal of cane. If the government could ﬁnd a steam plow that would compensate in a practical manner for [the] loss of work cattle, the mortality of which is becoming endemic, agriculture would rise from its present afflictive condition. The general tendency of the most intelligent farmers is to substitute old crops with new ones requiring the least possible use of animals, but up to the present time, only lands at Lipa and a large part of those at Santo Tomas and Tanauan have given good results from the planting of hemp, and San Juan from cotton, cocoanuts, and tuba, an oleaginous plant which appears to promise large profit. Tobacco, formerly the principal product of San Jose, has suffered a great decrease in production, which has almost disappeared, owing to the difficulties created by the internal-revenue law.
But what will cause our dead agriculture to arise like a magic resurrection from the present prostration will be the network of railways that will spread life and prosperity on all sides throughout the Philippines, and which, we trust, will shortly be a beautiful reality.
By a measure adopted by the provincial board providing for the cancellation of delinquent yments of the cedula tax for the years prior to 1905, by the exaction of five days’ labor on public works, we believe that if the zeal and activity displayed by the municipal presidents in the enforcement of this measure continue, the result will be not only an improvement of provincial roads and municipal streets, but also that during the course of this year, the poor people will have so regulated their indebtedness for taxes as to be in a condition in the future to comply without difﬁculty with the exactions of the law relative to personal taxation. As regards the land tax, interpreting the universal feeling of the agricultural classes, I support the plan which is being matured by the government relative to the suspension of such tax for a period of not less than three years. This is, without doubt, the only solution which will prevent a large proportion of agricultural lands from being sold at public auction, it being a practical impossibility or their owners to realize the payment of the assesse taxes, and such sale might give rise to dreadful conflicts, peculiar to an agrarian question, that might bring on the gravest consequences.
The total population of the province is 269,575 inhabitants. During the past fiscal year, the number of births was 13,344 and the number of deaths 6,710. This shows an increase of 6,634 inhabitants. These favorable ﬁgures are due to the good measures taken for the preservation of the public health. Over 89,596 vaccinations were made. For this reason, in spite of there having been recorded over 823 cases of smallpox, this disease has not caused as many ravages as it otherwise would. The municipalities are making every effort in their power to put their respective towns in a sanitary condition, having started in by building markets and cemeteries established with due regard to the conditions required by sanitary science, the municipality of Batangas having set a magnificent example in this regard as well as in every other branch of municipal administration, in which it is a model. Lipa has just finished the construction of a good market.
It is,very important and necessary that the wagon road between Batangas, Ybaan, Taysan, Rosario, and San Juan be opened. As stated in my last report, this road will pass through the portion of the province which is least cultivated, though perhaps the most fertile and the most susceptible to a variety of crops, while on the other hand, it is inhabited by the poorest people and people who have suffered the most calamities. It must be borne in mind, moreover, that the construction of a system of roads in that region is highly important for its future development, as between Ybaan, Taysan, Rosario, and San Juan, there are over 24 mining claims upon which assessment work is being done.
The department of public works of the province has doubtless the most brilliant record of any department of the provincial government. During the past year, 61,076 days’ work was performed by native laborers; 1.079 miles of road were constructed and 52.969 miles of road were repaired; 37 bridges and culverts were constructed and 14 repaired, while 24 buildings were constructed and 16 repaired. It is for this reason that Batangas is one of the few provinces that has not felt the necessity of doing away with the supervisor’s office, which is here of positive benefit and efficiency.
In October, the construction of the brand building for the provincial school situated in the middle of a seven-acre lot will finished. This land will be used for agricultural experiment and, with the trade school, will complete the secondary instruction, which has given such magnificent results. As an indisputable proof of this, is the triumph obtained by the provincial students in the last competitive examination for government students to be sent to the United States, this province and Ilocos having secured the largest number of scholarships.
Enthusiasm for popular education continues to increase in the municipalities of the, province, as may be seen by the number of scholars in the different municipal schools:
Batangas, 2,243; Bauan, 2,159; Taal, 1,510; Lipa 1,223; Tanauan, 1,008; Nasugbu, 643; San Juan, 591; San Jose, 539; Rosario, 521; Cuenca, 436; Balayan, 403; Calaca, 242; Santo Tomas, 230; Ybaan, 215; Lobo, 90.
I conclude by very earnestly recommending that the necessary amount for the construction of intermediate schools at Lipa and Taal, which has been promised, be promptly furnished. B oth municipalities are very willing to contribute with all that they are able toward the realization of this project.
Gregorio Aguilera Solis.
Governor, Province of Batangas.
The Governor-General of the Philippine Islands.
Notes and references:
“Report of the Governor of Batangas,” Part 1 of 4 of the 1905 Report of the Philippine Commission, by Gregorio Aguilera Solis, published 1906 by the Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Department, in Washington D.C. by the Government Printing Office.