The solemn blessing of the new church of the Immaculate Conception took place on February 2, 1857. After the mass and sermon, the celebration was continued with a splendid banquet given by the pastor, and in the evening there was a display of fireworks.
The dimensions of the church are: length – 71.35 meters, width – 14.27 meters, with a wide crucero. There existed four gigantic arches lessened with gross bricks. A fifth arch, perhaps larger than the other, supports the choir, tower and façade. Though, at first, there seems to be a lack of architectural grace in the design, the structure, as a whole, makes a fine impression from the sala.
During the tremendous earthquake which occurred on October 1, 1869, the tower and façade suffered some destructions but the damage was easily repaired by strengthening the exterior with strong buttresses. The church is dedicated to the Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria (The most pure Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Before the feast day, a triduum was held with the special faculty for the use of the blue vestments, granted by the Pope, Pius IX.
In 1937, during the administration of Reverend Mons. Cirilo Castillo, the church tower was rebuilt.
When the façade of the church was ruined by the earthquake in 1942, it was rebuilt during the administration of the Right Reverend Mons. Domingo Librea in 1946.
On February 13, 1948, by the decree of the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, the Batangas Catholic Church was elevated to the status of “Basilica Minor” of the Infant Jesus and Immaculate Conception. The Basilica is the first to be granted that honor and privilege in the Philippines and in the Far East.
THE BATANGAS PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL….. The hospital was constructed sometime in 1927, during the administration of Governor Modesto Castillo. It was through his efforts, aided by the members of the Provincial Board, Atty. Maynardo Farol and Maximo Sarmiento, by District Engineer Isaias Fernando and Provincial Treasurer Jose Ocampo, that the establishment of the Provincial Hospital was realized. It was inaugurated and opened to the public on January 1, 1928, with Dr. Sixto Roxas, a prominent and well known physician, as Chief of the Hospital.
The hospital has a bed capacity of 30. There are three wards for the charity patients and three private rooms for pay patients. Besides this, the hospital building has three separate rooms for the Chief of the Hospital, the Resident Physician and the Administrative Office, the operating room, in the rear portion of the main building. During the incumbency of Governor Vicente Noble, upon the recommendation of the Chief of the Hospital, Dr. Roxas, a new Nurses’ Home was constructed sometime in 1935. Then, during the administration of Governor Vicente Caedo, who realized the urgent need of increasing the bed capacity, two additional wings (pavilion type) porte corchere, and a separate delivery room were constructed in 1941. The expenditures of these projects were covered by funds from the Sweepstakes allotments of the province, which were set aside for the above purpose through the efforts of Governor Caedo.
The operation of the hospital was suspended upon the arrival of the Japanese, who confiscated all the equipment and medicines and it resumed its operation temporarily in 1943 and continued throughout 1944. The Nurses Home was burned by the Japanese, but the main building and other structures in the hospital compound were not subjected to the same fate as the Nurses Home.
In April 1945, upon the arrival of the American Forces of Liberation, the operation of the hospital was revived by the PCAU No. 11, which furnished and equipped it with all the necessary medical supplies, equipment, surgical instruments, cots and even light and water services. On August 1, 1945, the hospital with all its contents was turned over to the Commonwealth Government, and all pre-war employees were called to service. Dr. Sixto Roxas, once more, headed the hospital staff. Improvement of its equipment was made possible by securing from the surplus depots here and Manila, steel beds and mattresses, which replaced the cots, bedside tables, folding chairs, electric sterilizers, etc. The water tanks were installed to insure continuous supply of water.
Upon the unexpected death of Dr. Roxas on March 28, 1948, Dr. Vicente G. Berba was designated to take charge of the hospital, who finally was appointed permanent Chief of the Hospital.
Sometime during the latter part of 1949, rehabilitation work was commenced. The Nurses Home was rehabilitated and was partly financed by the war damage funds amounting to ₱10,500.00 and hospital funds amounting to ₱482.60. It was completed and occupied on May 1, 1949.
The fiscal year 1949-1950 may be described as memorable in the history of the Batangas Provincial Hospital in the sense that it was during this period when all the improvements such as repair, repainting of buildings, reconstruction of kitchen and its painting, and acquisition of surgical supplies were realized.
Then, the same period may also be called lamentable because it was during this period when all improvements made thereon were blasted into nothingness by a mere stroke of fate. In the afternoon of February 25, 1950, a bomb explosion occurred in the Philippine Constabulary Compound situated about two hundred yards of this hospital. This powerful explosion, which lasted for a few seconds, almost completely destroyed the hospital premises and totally wrecked the Nurses Home.
Sometime in May 1950, a delegation of Batangas residents, which included mayors of some towns of Batangas, representatives of the Rotary Club of Batangas, Batangas Women’s Club, prominent political leaders and civic-spirited citizens of Batangas, were received by the President in his office. The reception of the delegation was made possible through the efforts of Dr. Olegario Cantos. As a result of the petition of this delegation, a check of ₱50,000.00 from the funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes was presented to Dr. Vicente Berba, Chief of the Batangas Provincial Hospital, by Dr. Cantos in September, 1950. The reconstruction work of the hospital was started in the middle of November according to the specifications prepared by the District Engineer’s Office. The whole reconstruction work, including painting and other improvements, was terminated in May 1951. It has a bed capacity of 70.
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT OCCURRED IN THE TOWN
OF BATANGAS FROM THE SPANISH TIME UP TO WORLD WAR II
I. THE SPANISH REGIME
THE PRISONERS UPRISING….. In the year 1896, during the governorship of Manual Sapata, Spanish governor, at the height of the Filipino-Spanish War, the Filipino suspects in the town of Batangas were rounded [up] by the Spaniards for investigation. Proven ardent supporters and sympathizers of the revolutionists were Casimiro Beredo and Francisco Blanco. Both men were exiled to San Fernando Po, a Spanish colony in Africa.
The rest of the suspects, some 100 of them, were held prisoner in Bilibid Prison. These bitterly disgusted Filipino suspects and prisoners had long been planning a break out. Their long contemplated escape came into realization at dawn of May 3, 1897. Under a brave and strong leader, they rushed and killed the guards, and got their guns. Their numerical superiority caught other guards unaware who also succumbed to death at the hands of the determined fugitives. They brought all the guns from the prison armory and fled to the mountains. The other prisoners who were left behind were put to death by the administrators, among whom was Lauro de Marquez, an anti-Catholic.
THE SURRENDER OF THE SPANIARDS….. The Spanish Army was on the verge of collapse. The remaining Spanish soldiers in the town of Batangas assembled in the convent with their families believing that the revolutionists would respect the place. The Filipino forces, however, under the command of Gen. Terio Marasigan and assisted by Captain Buenafe were posted at the plaza directly in front of the convent.
The tense moment followed, each side waiting for the other to fire. The nuns and the Spanish wives implored the officers to surrender for the sake of their live and those of their children in the convent. Seeing the situation was dangerous and resisting was hopeless and futile, the captain hoisted the white flag, hence, the Spanish tyranny and oppression in Batangas ended in May, 1898.
THE PROCLAMATION OF INDEPENDENCE….. Communication from Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, then dictator, ordered through the provincial governors, all alcalde mayors of the towns to celebrate June 12, 1898 in coincidence with the Proclamation of the Philippine Republic in Kawit, Cavite. In compliance with the order, the townspeople gathered at Plaza Mabini to celebrate in a very impressive military ceremony.
After the celebration, Governor Roxas, a native of Manila, and who Gen. Aguinaldo sent to Batangas to assume the governorship of the province, called upon the people as to who they liked to be the alcalde mayor of the town. The people shouted in unison and clamored for General Brigido Buenafe, father of the ex-Mayor of this town, Mr. Juan Buenafe. Gen. Brigido Buenafe became the first and last alcalde mayor of the town of Batangas during the short-lived Philippine Republic.
II. BATANGAS DURING THE AMERICAN REGIME
THE BEGINNING OF THE AMERICAN RULE….. The people were relieved from the bondage of the Spanish tyranny and oppression and enjoyed the air of freedom as free people for barely a year. News spread like wildfire that the American soldiers who fought and died with the Filipinos to subdue the Spaniards were fighting the natives.
Revolutionists were called to the colors and new soldiers were recruited. Captain Eliseo Claudio and the noted Buenafe brothers, Juan, Lucio and Eulalio together with Roman Llana organized the troops and trained them for combat.
They had their first encounter in the latter part of 1899 against the whites in Lipa, Batangas. The fighting lasted for two days resulting to the defeat of the Americans. The same combat team encountered another group of American soldiers in the same year in Bilogo, Taysan. Captain Claudio and Captain Llana, with their soldiers, retreated leaving behind the three Buenafe brothers and their men busy with the Americans. At the end of the third day’s battle at Bilogo, the brave Buenafe brothers successfully repulsed the Americans but had 90 men left.
The Filipino revolutionists returned to their camp as Sambat, Batangas, Batangas, for a good rest. It did not take long when the full weight of American soldiers came to Batangas from three directions: from Taal, Ibaan and Bilogo. Their arrival was perfectly timed that
Captain Buenafe and his soldiers scampered and fled to the mountains, demoralized. It was in 1900 that the short-lived Philippine Republic terminated and the military rule began.
The people feared to return to their homes. However, they were finally convinced to go back home to resume a normal and peaceful life. All the town residents who evacuated returned except the revolutionists who preferred to die fighting than to submit to the foreign sovereignty. The municipal government was organized under the military rule and Mr. Jose Villanueva was appointed the municipal president, the position he held until the Taft commission arrived in 1901.
THE POLICY OF ATTRACTION….. At the beginning of the military rule, the Americans introduced the school system. Everything was offered free, like pencils, papers and books to the children who enrolled in the public schools. The first school building used was the house of Mr. Jose Villanueva, then the president of Batangas town. Later, it was transferred to the house of Mr. Rufino Canent.
THE BATANGAS HIGH SCHOOL ERECTED….. In 1903, the Filipino resistance against the Americans totally broke down. The capture of Gen. Miguel Malvar led to the construction of the Batangas High School.
It was in this year that Gen. Lucban, who headed the resistance movement in the Bicol region, sent several hundred thousands of pesos to Gen. Miguel Malvar. The couriers of Gen. Lucban successfully evaded the Americans along the way and reached Rosario, Batangas safely. The money was being delivered to Gen. Malvar, but unfortunately, while the money was being transferred to the carts in the presence of Gen. Malvar, the Americans arrived and apprehended them. Thus resulting to the surrender of the general and his men. Orders were issued to all revolutionists in the province to lay down their arms and stop the resistance. The order was received by Captain Juan Buenafe and he could not do otherwise.
The money captured from the general was used to purchase rice in that town and was brought to Batangas. The Americans made a good sale and all the proceeds were appropriated to construct a high school. Thus, the Batangas High School was erected in the year 1903.
III. BATANGAS DURING WORLD WAR II
THE BOMBING OF BATANGAS….. About 10:00 a.m., Monday, December 12, 1941, two waves of Japanese planes each numbered 27, the first group bombers and the second wave fighters flew above the town. The bombers flew southward into the skies over the town while the second wave of planes flying from the north trailed behind. The first group circled and returned, raining death and destruction on the airport and its surroundings. Three U.S.A. fighter planes were destroyed, a pilot killed and several people dead and others wounded. Two Filipino pilots, Lt. Jesus Villamor and Mondoniedo, miraculously escaped death and successfully soared their planes straight towards the enemy planes and let their guns loose in spite of the numerical superiority. The enemy planes were driven [off] after a short dogfight.
The Japanese planes came back a week later and once a week thereafter until the Batangas airport was totally destroyed and the planes were rendered useless.
THE DEFENSE OF BATANGAS TOWN….. News spread like wildfire that several Japanese transports were sighted in [the] China Sea with the possibility that they were heading for Batangas. Batangas Beach was heavily fortified and the Filipino and American soldiers were ready to meet any eventuality. A week before Christmas, the Japanese made successful landings in other points of Luzon, like Pangasinan and Camarines Norte. So the soldiers, both Filipinos and Americans, pulled back to avoid being cut from the rest of the forces. They left Batangas on Christmas Eve, leaving the barrio of Sta. Clara on fire. The town of Batangas was burned the following night.
THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION….. The Japanese cavalry occupied the town of Batangas during the first week of January 1942. The Japanese flag was hoisted at the municipal building symbolizing the fall and capture of the town. Batangas was completely evacuated and the Japanese used the big houses for their quarters. The miserable hordes of people lived with the barrio folks and some of them lived in make-shift shelters and jerry-build roofs. The Batangas High School became the General Headquarters. Check Points were placed in every strategic section of the town.
During the occupation, there were underground workers who lived, ate and slept with the Japanese officers. Guerrilla units were organized and the officials were so clever enough to organize them and at the same time receive the