Leather tanning is a direct means of earning a living of several families in this place as signified by the name Cultihan, meaning a place where such a work is done. Not like any other work common in this locality, this work doesn’t involve the whole family. The process goes this way.
Undone leather is secured from the public market or from any individual engaged in slaughtering cattle. The price varies according to its size. The minimum price is ₱3.50 and the maximum price amounts to ₱5.00. Those hides had been previously salted by the person who skinned the cattle. The salt is always in abundance since it serves as a preservative of the leather to make them more durable.
The hides are placed in a tank which is divided into three parts. The first partition, where the hides are to be placed, is provided with enough lime so as to let the hair and particles of flesh disintegrate after a period of seven or more days. When this period of time has passed, the leathers will be taken out and cleaned by a blade especially made for the purpose. Then, the work goes on.
When the hides have passed the first process, they will be placed in the second partition of the tank called “darakan.” Here, the effect of the lime will be tested for the same length of time. Afterwards, just like the first process, the leathers will be taken out and will undergo the same cleaning for the last time.
The third process goes like this. The leather will be placed in the third partition of the tank called “tinaan,” meaning the place where dying is done. Here, the leathers will be mixed with a 50% mixture of well-pounded bark of the camachile tree. The pounded bark of the said tree must be equally and thoroughly distributed on the tops of the leathers. Water will be poured up to the level of the leathers. After a week in this mixture, the leathers will be taken out and adjusted to bamboo frames for sun drying. They can be ready for market when 100% dry.
OUR LADY OF CAYSASAY ACADEMY
The building in which the academy is housed, in an old convent which was constructed probably by the Spanish friars about 200 years ago. After the liberation of the Philippines by the Americans in 1945, it was given to the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica’s College for the purpose of establishing a Catholic School in Taal. The school was opened on April 19, 1945, first only for the Kindergarten and Grade One with the permit of the government. On July 1, 1945, all elementary grades were opened; on July 1, 1946, First Year High School was added. These courses now have government recognition, while in Second Year – begun on July 1, 1947, and the Third Year on July 1, 1948, are being operated under government approval.
The courses given at present are, therefore: Kindergarten, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary I, II and III years. In 1946, a special building was erected for the intermediate grades and also in the main building, some more apartments were arranged for classrooms. The teachers are all qualified, the library and laboratory well-equipped; [the] clinic was fitted out in which the pupils receive treatment. Teachers’ salaries vary from ₱8 to 100 monthly. The fees of the pupils in the elementary grades average from ₱3.00 to ₱5.00 monthly, while in the high school, the monthly fee is ₱10.00.
THE RELIGION OF TAAL
To deal with the subject “THE RELIGION OF TAAL” is to delve into the past.
But to stick to the point, we will overstep the bounds of history of the Pagan Era. This study will originate with fairness and candor from the early days of the establishment of the Christian religion in Taal.
History shows Martin de Goiti, who set foot on our shores in the year 1570, was the one who pioneered to open the way of religion towards the province of Batangas. Yet, History failed to record exactly whether Martin de Goiti was able to reach Taal. It is presumed, however, that [the] Catholic religion in this town was introduced by his men.
In this presumption, it would not be amiss to infer that the Catholic religion in Taal is the fruit of the seeds sowed by Martin de Goiti and his followers in the year 1570.
In those dark days of religious metamorphosis in this town, masses were held in the shades of trees. Taal people had completely obliterated from their minds, nay from their souls, the traces of Paganism which was their religion before, and heartily embraced the “Cross and Saber,” the undying symbol of the Catholic religion introduced by the Spaniards.
As the days were slipping by, the people of Taal and the Spaniards were getting closer together religiously despite the bitter fact that the Filipinos were treated [as] serfs by the latter. Taal people, then, had images of different saints at the dilapidated altars of their homes and to every saint they used to proffer their prayers. But above all, they esteemed [the] Virgin Mary with profound reverence to their honest belief in her celestial highness.
In response to the ardent faith of Taal people, in the year 1603, the Immaculate Virgin loomed in one of the streams, the Pansipit River, which is still known as Sta. Lucia. The appearance of the Virgin in this legendary stream was a supernatural occurrence to the people of Taal. They had entertained the belief that the Virgin was expressly sent to them by heaven and that it was their bounded duty to build a church in her honor. History says that this Virgin was the one brought by one of the early Spanish governors which the governor himself threw into the China Sea when a terrible storm overtook them.
In connection with the advent of the Virgin of Caysasay, there is a saga which is very interesting to remember. I beg leave for a moment to re-photograph on the readers’ memory the most fortunate men who first saw her on this earth.
One day in December 1603, a certain Don Juan Maningkad went out to fish. Don Juan was alone in that tranquil stream unconscious of the miracle that was being worked out by heaven in the net he held in the water. When he pulled up the net, only then and then was his spirit awakened to the event that no fish did he catch but a piece of wood. Examining the piece of wood, he came to know that the shape of it signified something strange and heavenly. It had a face which if he remembered correctly, looked like the face of the Immaculate Conception. The prodigy was overwhelmingly drawing him from a hallucination [to] the reality that the piece of wood in his net was the true Virgin herself.
Don Juan was a strong believer in the Gospel of religion. For him, the priest was the representative of heaven in this space. At this part, he went right away to the convent and sought an interview with a priest regarding the Virgin’s appearance. The priest himself went to the place where the Virgin was found. Upon glaring at the piece of wood which to his eyes became a replica of the image of the Immaculate Conception, not a particle of doubt reflected in the mind of the august prelate, thus, with his bare hands, he took with full respect and humility, the Virgin to the provisional church in Taal. He adorned the Virgin with fine garments and jewels and placed her in the ornate tabernacle of glass. Since then, [the] Virgin Mary was canonized by Taal people.
There were living two religious women, Doña Maria Baguhin and Doña Maria Talain who took [the] trouble of guarding the Virgin, deeming it was their moral obligation to do so as true Catholics. To the embarrassment of the two custodians of the Holy Image, and to the astonishment of [the] Taal populace in general, they observed that every afternoon, the Virgin disappeared from the tabernacle and was always found in the barrio of Caysasay where she was first seen. The priests and the people came to an agreement of opinion that perchance, the Virgin wanted to stay in Caysasay, that in the immediate days after, they proposed to build a church in that place which church was able to weather the years and is still in Caysasay till the present time. That was the first miracle shown by the Virgin to the people.
One more miracle that the Virgin work in the life of the people of Taal was the death of Haybing, a Chinaman who was then living in Taal. According to legend, there was an order issued by the authorities to the effect that all Chinese wear to be killed. This order was the aftermath of the Chinese rebellion in this place. Haybing was one of the Chinamen beheaded one afternoon but the next morning, he was found quick standing by the door of the church. Questioned as to why he was able to [be] revived, he answered in his naive simplicity that it was but a miracle of the Virgin. Deep in the bottom of his heart, Haybing made an avowal that he would serve the Virgin for the rest of his life in a manner tantamount to serving God in heaven. But Haybing happened to marry a beautiful woman in Taal. He devoted all his time to his dear wife. To support her, he engaged himself in Arcadian life and took up farming. One day, when he was plowing, the bypassers who saw him
in the field asked him why he did not go to the church to hear the mass. With a sense of pride, he answered that he wished to forget the Virgin for he had already a wife who best needed his services. Haybing, after uttering those words, was pierced by the horns of his own cow, and died. These were the miracles of the Virgin of Caysasay in her first association with mankind in those early days of our religion. She was named Virgin of Caysasay in view of the event that when she found there was a Kasaykasay bird winging aloft her head.
It [is] also of paramount importance to recount that during that time, the town of Taal was called Bombon, the poblacion was located in what is now the barrio of San Nicolas, at the eastern shore of the lake.
Imbued with biological instinct, the inhabitants moved to a higher place for the safety of their lives and property from the shocks and mutations of time. One thing they feared was the volcano which was active then.
The religious people of Taal could not help thinking that the church of the Virgin of Caysasay was too far from them and that often, they could not get there in time to hear mass. Under the authority of religious discipline, the erection of the church of Taal was begun. According to our ancestors, who took part in the construction of this edifice, many lives of laborers, who were all Filipinos, perished because of [the] hard work and hunger they suffered during the work. For approximately one half of a century, [the] Taal church had been in the making. When it was completed, it appeared the largest church in the whole Philippines. This masterpiece of architecture is a lasting token of the Christian religion brought by the Spaniards to the western part of Batangas. It is the tangible proof of [the] predominance of the Catholic religion over all creeds in this town.