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History of Lipa


Stone mansions once filled Calle Real (now CM Recto Avenue)

Stone mansions once filled Calle Real (now CM Recto Avenue)

The primal composition of the ancient settlement in the southeastern region of Bombon Lake were elements of the dispersed colonial families founded by Datus Dumangsil and Balkasusa in Taal, Batangas, between the 10th and 13th century AD. These pioneer settlers under the leadership of the fleeing Datu Puti, chief of state of the then mighty Sri-Vishayan Empire, purchased the lowlands from King Marikudo of the Mountain Province at his kingdom. The purchased lands consisted of Panay in the Visayas and the lowlands in Luzon including Batangas. The ten (10) Bornean Datus divided among themselves the purchased lands, the Batangas Bay were apportioned among the Dumangsil and Balkasusa Clans.

It is however subject to conjecture whether the pre-historic Negritos 12,000 to 15,000 years age or the much later waves of Indonesian and Malay seafarers from 5,000 to 300 B.C. were able to settle along the coasts of Batangas into the inner lake region of Taal which was accessible to navigation through the Pansipit River, thus, the possibility of miscegenetic marriages and cross culture among the aboriginal inhabitants, the old settlers and the latter Dumangsil and Balkasusa Clans. Or whether violent wars had been waged between old inhabitants and new colonizers is uncertain too, incontrovertible proofs being wanting.

Out of this Bornean Tribe of the Dumangsil and Balkasusa Clan was born the ancestry of Lipa and as later on their descendants spread out towards Laguna de Bay and Bicol Peninsula. The remains excavated from their ancient settlements in Butong, Taal, Calatagan Bay Area and Balayan attest to the fact of their presence in the said site at least in the latter part of the 12th century down to the coming of Goiti and Legaspi in Batangas in 1570. The flourishing trade relations between these early Batangueños with a number of Chinese merchants prior to the Spanish conquest explained the presence of hundreds of Chinese wares from potteries to stonewares and vases of Sung Dynasty period to the latter part of the 16th century, in the burial grounds at Calatagan sites of Pulung Bakaw, Kay Tomas, Pinagpatayan I and II at Butong, Taal Batangas.

By origin the early Lipeños were Buddhist in religion and Indian in civilization. As such the heritage of the Lipeños was the ancient eastern civilization of India which was twenty times older than its counterpart in Mesopotamia and Nile of the Western World. With its not infrequent contact with the Chinese traders, the Batangueños have absorbed and been influenced too by another giant and ancient civilization that of China herself. And with Spanish colonization of the Philippines and the Salcedo conquest of Batangas in 1572, the Lipeños were forced to embrace the Western Civilization. This is the reason why in Lipa, the east also meets the west.

At the coming of the Spaniards to Batangas in 1570, the Malay settlements along the southern shores of Taal Lake at Tagbakin was inhabited by the warlike descendants of the two (2) datus called the Tagalogs. In 1605, after Marshall Gabriel de Rivera received the encomienda of Bombon, the Augustinian Fathers made Tagbakin the first settlement of the Lipeños and a mission center with the name of San Sebastian, perhaps after the installed Patron Saint, which continued to the present. The settlement was made a regular municipality in 1702 and a regular parish in 1716 with Fray Diego de Alday as the first curate.

With the eruption of Taal Volcano in 1724, the people moved to what is now “Lumang Lipa” and, again, in 1754, they moved to Balete where they settled for two years until 1756 when they moved inland to the present site obviously for more security from volcanic eruptions. When Don Galo de los Reyes was the governadorcillo of Lipa, he introduced the cultivation of coffee. The seeds of the Arabica species were said to be of two chupas brought in from Mexico by an Agustinian missionary. The coffee industry so flourished and made Lipa the richest municipality in the country with an annual income of P4,000,000.00 that on October 21, 1887 the Queen Regent Maria Christina of Spain, acting for the young King Alfonso XIII, elevated Lipa to a city known as “Villa de Lipa”, and later authorized to use a Coat-of Arms by the Royal Overseas Minister Don Victoria Bagner on December 13, 1887.

At the celebration of the elevation of Lipa to a city in January 1888, José Rizal was invited by Dr. Jose Lozada, Catalino Dimayuga and the brothers Celestino and Simeon Luz but Rizal responded only with his Hymno Al Trabajo which he dedicated to the zeal and industry of the Lipeños.

The raising of cacao was introduced in Lipa by an Augustinian priest, Father Ignacio de Mercado, and that was the beginning of its cultivation throughout the Philippines.

The Lipeños also engaged themselves in livestock raising and varied home crafts for men, and small industries, like weaving, embroidery and sewing for women. After World War II, citrus production prevailed until 1970 and, after its decline, about 1965, poultry and swine raising began to take roots and to thrive in no small degree until the present.

The first newspaper in Batangas, published in Spanish, was the Lumubog-Lumutang, printed in Lipa in 1889, and established by the well-known writers Cipriano Kalaw, Gregorio Katigbak, Benito Reyes, Hugo Latorre and Pedro Laygo. Other pioneer Spanish writers were Bernardo Solis, Catalino Dimayuga and Manuel Luz. During the revolution, Gregorio Aguilera y Solis edited a newspaper Columnas Voluntas de la Federacion Malaya. This paper became the media for notable poems and literary works of Albino Dimayuga, Baldomero Roxas, Luis Luna Kison, Bernardo Solis, Benedicto Solis, Emiliano Manguiat and Jose Petronio Katigbak. Roman Dimayuga wrote plays, while Pedro Laygo published articles on domestic and international politics and Tomas Umali on military affairs. Hispanistas during the American regime included national figures like Teodoro Kalaw, Fidel Reyes, Arsenio Luz, Maximo Bernardo Solis, Enrique Laygo and Claro M. Recto. Lipeños also served in the Revolutionary Republic. These were Gregorio Aguilera who was delegate to the Malolos Congress; Ceferino Pantoja, also a member of that congress; Jose Lozada, as envoy to Washington, D.C. and Paris, and Cipriano Kalaw, the first vice-president and Treasurer of the Central Committee of Hong Kong.

In the field of education, Father Valerio Malabanan was foremost among Lipeños who established schools. Others were Sebastian Virrey, Jacinto Silva, Candido Lantin and Gregorio Katigbak. In 1894, Brigido Morada established his own school at his house in Mataas na Lupa. Under Father Valerio Malabanan were such well-known figures as Apolinario Mabini, General Miguel Malvar and Sotero Laurel. Sebastian Virrey countered with such former students as the brothers Alfonso and Claro M. Recto; Fidel and Carmelo Reyes; Teodoro and Maximo Kalaw; Pacifico, Jose and Enrique Laygo; and Manuel Luz Roxas, Jose D. Dimayuga, Bernabe Africa, Pablo Borbon, Potenciano Malvar, Leoncio Aranda and Bishop Alfredo Obviar. The later school, perhaps marked for permanence by the enthusiastic patronage of its high standard maintained through the years since its founding in 1922 until the present, is the Mabini Academy established by Dr. Jose Ma. Katigbak, Randall A. Rowley, Tarcila Malabanan-Katigbak and Emilia Malabanan.

The fact that Lipeños, even up to the present, are very religious, may be attributed to the fact that Fr. Benito Baras, who was Parish Priest ofLipa for almost three decades (1865–1894), has considered Villa de Lipa as his very own and had shown great paternal love for the Lipeños. He constructed the Parish Church (now Cathedral of the Lipa Archdiocese) and a new and bigger cemetery with a beautiful chapel. Without aid from the State, he constructed the bridge at Sabang and the road that served as a national highway to Manila and Laguna. The Lipa Parish, established in 1716, became a diocesan center in 1910, included the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas (Quezon), Marinduque and Mindoro, with Msgr. Jose Petrelli as the first bishop. On August 15, 1972, the diocese was raised to an eccelesiastical province composed of Batangas province and the dioceses of Lucena, Infanta and Calapan, with Msgr Alejandro Olalia as the first Archbishop. On August 31, 1947, Lipa was inaugurated as a chartered City created under Republic Act No. 162 approved on June 20, 1947.

Source: Wikipedia


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