* view of the sky on a sunset in Bay, Laguna
Some of the presentations were:
Kapaligiran, Wika, Kasaysayan: Mga Pangalang Lugar sa mga Mapa ng Bulacan Noong Panahong Kastila
Presented by Roberto Mata
Mga Representasyon sa Babaeng Tagalog: Halaw sa Vocabularios ng ika-17 Dantaon
Presented by Rhina Boncocan
Towards a Historiography of Bay, Laguna: A Reading of Makiling Legends
Presented by Aileen Macalintal
Ang Mutya ng Pasig: Mga Imahe ng Pasig sa Kamalayang Bayan at Kwentong Bayan
Presented by (my former professor) Wensley Reyes
In at least three of the above presentations, it was worth noting the emphasis given on the importance of names of the places–the context in which they were used before and then now as well as their origins. The idea that these names ‘evolved’ through time under different conditions such as the coming of foreigners (most notably, the arrival and conquest of the Spaniards) was also impressed to the audience.
Sir Mata made a note too in seriously taking into account the names of places. His examples in some places in Bulacan is a testament to the importance of the meaning that these names give or share to the people. With this I am convinced that it is essential to know something about one’s past in order to fully chart our present and future.
Regarding the number of legends mentioned during the presentation of the papers above, I would agree with the speakers who have the conviction that local folklore and tales are important in the creation and development of the collective beliefs of the people in a certain community. It would be definitely boring to have history texts emblazoned only with names, dates, and places.
In connection with that, I remember a time when I had to endure a hardcore barikan (drinking session) in a village in Rosario, Batangas. Despite the numbing effects of their preferred alcohol, I was compelled to stay because of a tale about a particular gang called Pitong Gatang guarding a certain area in their place and robbing and/or extorting stuff from and/or humiliating people that happened to pass by this group. This tale, whether it was true or not, gave me a different view of an otherwise plain and sleepy tricycle terminal which is the place where this Pitong Gatang group was alleged to have stationed themselves before.
So that’s it. I have no idea if I would ever have the chance again to seat freely like that all day. But I’m sure to make this as a starting point to hound our city’s local place names and dig into their origins.