Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924 Part 2 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924 Part 2 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Folklore from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1924 Part 2

Henry Otley-Beyer Collection



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fowls, deer, sheep, and other wild animals that roamed about it its wilderness. Somewhere on the eastern side of the lake was the nook on which was once situated the “Old Lipa.” According to our ancestors, it was bigger in comparison with any other town in Batangas province. It had concrete, wooden and cogon houses with a magnificent church having a high tower. Three races of people inhabited the town. The bulk of the people were the Lipeños, peaceful and hospitable descendants of the Tagalogs and commonly called themselves Batangueños. These people, our ancestors, lived happily and contentedly not only because they loved one another, but also because they had plentiful harvest of crops every year. There were also the Spaniards; some of them were priests and friars, and others were rich landowners. It was they who introduced gambling, dishonesty, fanaticism, and despotism to the town, their vices and immoralities were inherited by the Lipeños and their posterity. Then, there were the Chinese who went there as traders, carpenters, and masons.

The “Old Lipa” was bounded in the north, south, and east by a vast wilderness of fields, abaca plantations, and forests and in the west by the fresh, clear, cool water of the lake. Such was the “Old Lipa” with its romantic youths and maidens, but a great catastrophe befell on the unfortunate inhabitants of the town that forever made it

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perish from the sight of all, that led to the confusion its peaceful people, and that bought about the existence of the new Lipa in the map of the province.

The island of Pulo mentioned above was floating in the midst of the lake. It was uninhabited but according to the people, it was said that a mysterious beautiful maiden once inhabited the island. Oftentimes during moonlit nights, this maiden was seen in a banca sailing around the lake with a small alpha.

One night, a wedding feast was held in one of the houses of the town. During the course of the merrymaking and games, this maiden appeared with her alpha. At first, the people were amazed at her presence, but due to her kind and gentle manners, they soon came to appreciate her behavior, and at last they became friends. She played her alpha which greatly pleased the people because of its golden strings and its sweetest music that the people ever heard before. When midnight came, she prepared to go away but the people begged her to stay longer with them. She refused, but because of the people’s insistence, she just said to them, “I shall have to go away, now, but in order that you may be sure that I am coming back, I shall leave my alpha which greatly pleasures you so much.” After saying those, she went away.

When morning came, the bride and groom for whom the feast was held went to church to solemnize their

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marriage. Few people in the house remained for many went to the church to witness the wedding ceremony. The next night, she came back for her alpha. But the alpha could not be found in the house. It was lost. The maiden shouted angrily, “I must have my alpha, and if I cannot get hold of it after seven days, a serious calamity will fall over the whole town.” The people mocked and laughed at her, thinking that being a woman, she could do nothing. At the seventh night, she came for her alpha. It was not yet found. She disappeared suddenly and went back to her floating island. Together with its forests, shrubs, vines and wild creatures that roamed within its limits, the island by some mysterious phenomena within the earth crust sank. Its sinking caused the water to rise above the shore. The town, which was at the shore, as the island sank down, was then covered with water till the whole spot was beneath the surface of the angry waves. The tower alone of the church could be seen with its roof in the level of the water. Thus, the whole town of Lipa met its end. From that time on, it has been believed that the cause of the sinking of the town was the anger of the mysterious beautiful woman who alpha with golden strings was forever lost.

In the meantime, while the horrible sea waves were highering and highering [the author likely meant “rising”] within the town, the people, in confusion, in fear, in dread, rushed to their boats bringing with them the most precious things they could carry. It is

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hard to describe their confusion. Abandoning the hope of living once more in the homes and nooks of their birth, they then migrated in great multitudes through the wilderness looking for the best spot on which to build their new homes. In the course of their journey, they found a plateau, and this plateau for the reason that its height from the surrounding regions will prevent the water in the lake to overflow it, they used it as the place on which to build their own huts which were later enlarged into wooden and concrete houses. These houses formed the origin of the present new town of Lipa.

If you look at the map of Batangas province, you will find that there is situated a town named Lipa a great distance away from Taal Lake. That town is the new Lipa. The large church and picturesque buildings, its happy youths and blooming damsels, its new high school, its water supply and electric lights, and it being the largest town in the province, will not make you think that there was once an old Lipa.

For a long time ago, the water of the sea ceased highering [rising], and at present can still be seen from the surface of the old town the old broken walls, furniture, dishes, pots, and the old church and tower. In visiting this spot, we come to feel and think with sorrow and love for this was the part of the earth where our great grandmothers and grandfathers saw the first light of day and many of them lived and

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died, and were buried.

Legends about the transfer of Juanang Ilaya.

The spot where once stood the old Lipa is now covered with large tree vines and shrubs. In the midst of this wilderness is the big “balite” tree. This tree, according to the rumors of the people now living near this place, was the home of a witch named Juanang Ilaya. A little distance toward the east of this tree is a beautiful winding valley covered with much ever green vegetation. Around this valley, there winds a clear murmuring stream towards the sea. In this stream, there are pools of water which are so pure and clear that boys and men in the village nearby want to descend to those pools with their bamboo containers called “bombong” which are used in getting water from the stream. The water in the stream is for drinking and for household use. At noon, when the sun is shining hot and the clear water of the stream sparkles beneath its rays, when nothing could be heard but the murmuring sound of its flow and the wailing songs of some beautiful birds, this stream is often haunted by this witch called Juanang Ilaya.

It was a very hot day when a handsome youth of twenty, tired by the half day’s labor in his “caiñgin” (rice field), when he descended this valley to quench his thirst and to rest for a while. No sooner had this youth satisfied his thirst and sat beneath the shade of a large tree called “Lipa” whose

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Branches over-shadowed the pool, when he suddenly heard somebody walking gently across the stream. He turned to the direction of the footsteps and he found a beautify woman dressed in red shirt and camisa with a rosy panuelo. She was tall and graceful in form and charming and lovely in countenance. Her eyes were black, her lips as rosy as a flower and her cheeks were tinged by the ardor of the shining sun. The youth was so amazed at the apparition before him. He thought he saw a beautiful nymph. The maiden smiled at him. The youth was so bewitched by her beauty that he could not even utter a word. He could not believe that in such a time and in such a place, he would be so lucky to see such a beautiful female being.

He happened to look at her feet. To his surprise, he found that they were those of horses. Thoughts of the rumored Juanang Ilaya came to him. He recollected that Juanang Ilaya was told to be often in love with young men and by making herself fascinating, she presented herself before each of the young men to bewitch them. This young man then ran up the valley. Juanang Ilaya pursued him holding the hind part of his [her?] blouse with her right hand. The youth, in great fear, ran as fast as he could, but the witch was faster than he so that he could not escape from her. She asked him to pity him [her?]. She said that she loved him and that he should not run away. The man, in the midst of his horror, thought of praying. He had not yet finished his prayer

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when he found that the young beautiful lady disappeared.

This Juanang Ilaya, according to the stories of the people, was once a very beautiful Filipina who fell in love with a certain man who fooled her. After being forsaken, she decided to live in the forest where she became a witch.

Still at present, when the young men of our town wander at night, their mothers often warn them to be careful and not to forget their prayers, for Juanang Ilaya might meet them on the way and might bewitch them.

Dama and Aswang.

Our ancestors believed in charms. They had faith that these charms they called “anting” had certain miraculous powers of saving them from bullets, dangers and of making their skin impenetrable to swords and spears.

A very long time ago, there lived in the old Lipa two such young men by the name of Dama and Aswang. Dama was the bravest and most handsome young man from the northern part of the town. He was also very boastful. Aswang was the most courageous and vain youth from the south. These two young men wanted to defeat each other for each wanted to be called the bravest man of the town. Both were expert in fencing, in horse riding, in wrestling and in all sorts of physical combat. Each boasted that he is willing to meet and challenge the other. Aswang had the habit of cutting the long hair of other young men that he met, a habit

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which he formed due to the fear of those whose hairs were cut.

One day when Aswang was at the window of his house, he saw a young man riding on a galloping horse. He noticed that his hair was very long. When the horse was passing in front of the house, he told the man to stop. The man stopped and dismounted his horse. Aswang then took his scissors and went to the man. He cried to the other youths who were in the neighborhood to see him cut the hair of the man. So, in front of about a hundred men, Aswang took hold of the hair and began to cut. But all were surprised to see that the hair would not be cut. Aswang asked the man who he was. The youth answered that he was Dama. Aswang tried to befriend him but Dama refused to be his friend. Then, they began showing their powers. Aswang with a sudden leap was found to be on top of a young banana leaf. Dama with also a leap was found at the top of a bamboo that grew nearby. Both returned to the ground. On reaching the ground, they rushed to each other like angry carabaos. They wrestled and the ground moved as they fought. No one could be knocked down. It was afternoon when they began wrestling and continued till midnight. None of the people had the courage to separate them. At midnight, Aswang turned himself into a bull while Dama made himself a carabao. They fought again; both were panting. Their horns were rattling as they jumped against each other. The carabao, at about

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dawn, proved stronger than the bull. The bull was pierced by the carabao’s horn at its side. It stumbled panting on the ground. Both were then turned into human beings again. Aswang died and Dama won.

At present, there is a common belief that Aswang still haunts the spot on which he was killed every night so that nobody dares to go there.

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Manila, July 30, 1924.


Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Folklore from Lipa, Batangas,” by Amparo Reyes, 1924, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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