Tanauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Tanauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Tanauan, Batangas: Historical Data Part II

Historical Data graphic
Historical data from the National Library of the Philippines.


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to force the insurgents to resist domination to surrender. There was not enough food, water, and shelter in the zone. Some persons were killed by the Americans as insurgents when found outside of the zone; others who were already in the zone were liquidated by the insurgents because of spying for and helping the American forces.

(b) DURING THE WAR OF 1941-1945:

Tanauan suffered much when the Japanese came in. Bridges were blown up by the retreating Fil-American forces, and all properties of the U.S. Army which could be of some use to the Japs were either burned or destroyed. The water tank is Santor was destroyed, and the entire waterworks system of the poblacion paralyzed at the time. All the public roads and highways remained unrepaired for three long years. Our personal freedom and liberties were curtailed, and the citizens were humiliated and treated as slaves by the invaders. Food products were controlled and later commandeered. Work animals and hogs were forcibly purchased by the Japs with their Mickey-Mouse money. As the occupation neared its end, food became very scarce and costly. To appease hunger and avoid starvation, our people had to eat coconuts, boiled corn, balinghoy (cassava), and other root crops. But this town suffered much more when the Japs were being expelled. Eight hundred fifty (850) persons – men, women, and children of tender ages (actually counted), were mercilessly massacred; others who survived were brutally wounded. One thousand six hundred sixty-five (1,665) houses were burned, and two thousand families were rendered homeless. The actual value of the properties destroyed can never be estimated. After eight years of liberal aid from America, the people have not as yet fully recovered nor rehabilitated, and the ill effects of the war, such as banditry, highway robberies, murders, kidnappings for ransom, and other serious crimes are very rampant, and the sky-high prices of prime commodities are still keenly felt and likely to be felt sometime more.

Outstanding among those massacred by the Japanese soldiers on February 20, 1945 are the following:

(1) Dr. and Mrs. Juan Pagaspas, founder of the Tanauan Institute, the Square Deal Banking Corporation, Tanauan Retailers’ Association, and the Tanauan Cooperative Store. Mrs. Pagaspas, nee Josefa Poblete, was a high school teacher in the same institution where her husband was the Director. The couple were very prominent civic leaders.

(2) Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Gonzales. Mr. Gonzales was a lawyer by profession. He was Chief, Special Agents Division, Bureau of Internal Revenue.

(3) Mr. and Mrs. Ernesto Vallejo. Mr. Vallejo was internationally known as a violin virtuoso.

(4) Every member of these respective families mentioned were also killed.

(b) Measures and accomplishments toward rehabilitation and reconstruction following World War II:

(1) The reconstruction and rehabilitation of private houses were effected mostly through war damage payments from the War Damage Commission.

(2) Bridges, roads and public schools were reconstructed through rehabilitation projects.

[p. 8]

(3) A loan of ₱200,000.00 has been secured from the RFC for the expansion of the present public market.

(4) The waterworks system and electric lights were repaired and made to function again.

(5) Through private enterprise, a banking institution and a Farmers’ Cooperative were established to promote agriculture.

(6) A municipal library has been put up in the municipal building.

(7) The poblacion has been divided into puroks with a reading center in each. This was achieved under the leadership of public school teachers.

(8) A recreation center has been established by Purok Mabini (Purok No. 5).

(9) Purok No. 3, Riverside, constructed a natural swimming pool, equipped with bathrooms, dressing room, and a social hall.



The woman usually gives birth in the house of her parents. The placenta of the newly born baby is buried in a spot under the house with paper, pencil, and a page of any book or magazine. The baby is expected to be talented when it grows up.


(a) It was the belief of some people that a pregnant woman cannot stand as sponsor in a baptism. Should she do so, she will die during her delivery or a serious illness will befall her.

(b) Another baptismal practice is the racing of the sponsors to the church door in case there are two or more babies to be baptized. As soon as the ceremony is finished, there is a sudden rush to the door by the sponsors. The child whose sponsor reaches the door first will be healthy, prosperous and intelligent, and will be a leader among men.

(c) The godfather or godmother gives some gifts to the child. During the baptism, the ninong or ninang blows the forehead of the child, believing that in doing so, the child will inherit the character and other traits of either.


(a) The “suyuan” system is practiced. The man works in the house of the girl. He chops wood, fetches water or works in the field. The man serves the family of the girl for a period of time. If there is a party or “palusong” at the girl’s house, the man must be ready to offer some chickens, a goat, or a pig or even money.

(b) Suitors should begin their courtship by helping the parents of the girl they love. Every evening, the suitors, before entering the house, should kneel at the threshold and await the blessings of the parents of the girl. Formerly, when a girl was serenaded, the serenaders were not allowed to enter the house. They merely crooned under the girl’s window, and if the suitor was successful, the girl appeared at the

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window and threw him a flower or handkerchief.

(c) A man should visit a woman and should show respect to be appreciated by the old.

(d) Men, during the early age, could not court directly the girls they loved. Instead, the men helped the parents in household duties, especially in working in the farm, mending fences, getting water, cutting wood. Men and women could not talk with each other.


(a) The groom presses the hand of the bride during the ceremony in order for him to be dominant.

(b) To sweep the rooms beginning from the stairs in order to have a steady income throughout the year. This is to be done by the bride after the wedding ceremony.

(c) To offer sugar and water to the groom and the bride in order for them to live sweetly, harmoniously and happily throughout life.

(d) To break pots during the marriage so the couple will have many children.

(e) After the marriage ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom make a dash for the church door, believing that the one who comes first will dominate the other.

(f) The groom’s party gives a dowry to the bride.

(g) Before the marriage, the family of the groom and his relatives bring firewood, water and other necessities to the family of the girl. [The] Culmination of these tributes does not mean, however, that the marriage is already sure. All the closest relatives of the girl are to be consulted first, and if they all approve, marriage will be consented, too.

(h) Coins are placed in the shoes of the couple, believing that in doing so, they will live prosperously.

(i) After the party, the girl departs for the house of the groom, and the groom stays at the house of the bride for four successive days. After this, the groom will fetch his bride from his parents’ home, and take her to his own house which was built and given by his own parents.


(a) When a person dies, all the relatives are informed. No member of the family is allowed to sweep the floor or take a bath within four days.

(b) A dead person with open eyes is waiting for a relative who has not come. If the cadaver is soft, somebody in the family will follow.

(c) When the corpse is brought down from the house for burial, a woman throws water downstairs and closes all the windows.

(d) The family does not eat ginger or one kind of sticky rice to prevent more deaths within the family.

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(a) Children closely related to the dead are passed over the remains of the dead so that the ghost will not visit them.

(b) A coffin too big for the body of the dead signifies that someone in the family will follow. Coffin makers, therefore, make sure that their coffins are of the right size.

(c) [The] Fourth, ninth and fortieth days are days of praying, mourning, and feasting.


(a) When there are visitors in the house, the family should talk in low tones, avoid scolding, clattering of the plates and beating of dogs and cats. Guests are served first.

(b) When visiting a sick person, the visitor should bring something to the sick or to his family.


Marriages, baptisms, death anniversaries, birthdays, town fiestas (Dec. 27), New Year’s, and the reading of the passion during the period of Lent, and the Holy Week are occasions for festivals.


(1) Kneeling on grains with arms outstretched.

(2) Whipping a child twenty-five times.


(a) There is a belief that Tanauan will have no native priest who will live long because there was a curse heaped upon this town.

(b) It is the belief that no wealthy person in Tanauan can maintain his wealth for many, many years because the San Juan River is striking the town, which means that wealth cannot be maintained.

(c) A person with [a] chico tree near his house will have his wealth till his elbow because they say that the chico means elbow.

(d) The squealing of a rat, the howling of a dog, the singing of a lizard, and the crashing of old trees at midnight are omens of death or misfortune.

(e) Sneezing while starting on a journey is considered a bad omen, for it means death or accident on the way.

(f) When a young girl sings before a fire while cooking, she will marry an old widower.

(g) When a hen cackles at midnight without any apparent cause, an unmarried woman nearby is giving birth to a bastard baby.

(h) When a woman on the family way curls her hair, she will give birth to a hairless baby.

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(i) When a cat rubs its face with its paw, a visitor is coming to the house.

(j) When a girl has white spots on her fingernails, she is not constant in her love.

(k) When a married woman eats twin bananas, she will give birth to twin children

(l) When a comet flashes in the sky, pestilence or war will come to pass.

(m) When a fork or spoon falls on the floor while eating, a visitor is coming.

(n) Rivers were dug by the giants supposed to be the first people of the world. Anything or anyone old is referred or compared to those who dug the rivers.

(o) Moon spots on a full moon are women spinning cotton.

(p) When an eclipse occurs, it is believed that the moon is being swallowed by a monster locally called “Laho.” When the moon comes out through the mouth, next harvest is plentiful; when through the rectum, the reverse.

(q) When the quarter phase of the moon appears like a banca, that is, the arc is downward, child delivery is very dangerous.

(r) Bereft children should wear very red clothes so that the dead will not visit them.

(s) Bystanders should not stand in front of goods for sale for it is believed that those goods cannot be sold.

(t) When [going on an] outing, it is bad to point at anything in the belief that the “nuno” or spirits living under the ground will cause the one that points to be sick or insane.

(u) It is believed that earthquakes are caused by the movements of a giant, Bernardo Carpio. He lays prostrate on the ground guarded by four angels. The slightest movement of his fingers causes a great tremor on the earth.

(v) It is believed that lightning and thunder are young white elements in the shape of pigs that spring from the ground. They roll fast on the ground and explode when bumped against any hard object. The sound of the explosion is the thunder.

(w) St. Lorenzo, the god of the wind, when angry, spouts so much wind that causes typhoons.

(x) Many people still believe in [the] “nuno” and other bad spirits. Souls of the departed relatives when angry or fond of their living kin cause the sickness. Some believe that when a person remarks about some peculiarity or feature of a baby, this person causes the baby to be sick, and only his saliva can cure the illness.

[p. 12]



During the Spanish regime, the belief was widespread that the island volcano of Taal was enchanted, together with the lake itself and the surrounding areas. It was the conviction of the masses, above all the illiterates, that the island volcano was inhabited by supernatural beings, endowed with supernatural powers who were responsible for all the activities of [the] said volcano. It was a common belief that there were golden calves, cows, sheep and goats pasturing along the slopes and crevices of the island, kept by enchanted giants, all visible only to a privileged few. The boatmen plying their trade along the shores of the lake were careful enough to advise their customers or travelers not to point out with their fingers whatever they would see or notice anywhere around, nor would talk loudly and too much about anything unnatural they might see on the way, lest the winds would insanely roar, heavy rains would pour, the day would darken, the boat would capsize and the travelers would be drowned. It was also the belief of the people that there were hidden treasures such as gold coins, doubloons and jewels buried by the “tulisanes” or mountain brigands in the slopes and caves of Mt. Gonzalo and in the crevices of the island volcano. These beliefs still subsist among the old generation living in the neighborhood of the lake and elsewhere.


One day, Badong was promenading around when he chanced to meet a beautiful damsel. Because of his great love for the girl, he began to propose to her and plead for his heart’s cause. Instead of accepting his love, however, the girl told him to get first the heart of his mother before he could ever love him. Badong, in his eagerness to win the girl’s love, went home hurriedly to get his mother’s heart. When Badong reached home, he found his mother praying intently before an icon hanging by the wall of the house. He unsheathed his sharp dagger and sneaked behind his praying mother noiselessly. With cat-like agility, he sprang upon her, killed her instantly, and got her heart. As he was going downstairs, it happened that the heart he was carrying fell on the ground. The heart began to bounce and bounce. Badong reached for it but he could not take hold of it. He stumbled many times in his effort to get the heart. In his last attempt, he fell again. This time, he could not get up anymore. The frustrated figure of Badong was suddenly transformed to a small crawling animal, which was later on called “butiki” or house lizard.


(a) SONGS:

Sit-si rit sit alibang bang
Salaginto’t salagubang
Ang babae sa lansangan
Kung gumiri’y parang tandang.


(1) Sungka(2) Huwego de Prenda(1) Cockfighting
(3) Luksong Lubid(4) Tubigan(2) Serenading
(5) Tayakad(6) Pasa Hardin(3) Playing Cards
(7) Luksong Tinik(8) Hulog Mi Ginto(4) Passion Play


Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Report on the History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of Tanauan,” 1953, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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