Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Afternoon Stroll in Santo Tomas, Batangas (Part 1)

* the plant fields in Santo Tomas, Batangas

* peaks of Mount Maquiling as seen from Santo Tomas, Batangas

A low budget and feet wanting to do a walk is not a bad combination. If one can only realize how much can be learned even in not-so-far-away places, low budget is not really a hindrance.

Such thought is running in my mind as I write this, for this escapade to Santo (Sto.) Tomas, Batangas is but a fruit of a pooled budget. With no other things to do after attending the Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony in San Pablo City Plaza, I thought to explore some nearby places and Sto. Tomas is one place I have not probed before. To give her a feel of an aimless wandering, I dragged along my sister who was as reluctant as ever.

* the picture says it all: Pamilihang Bayan ng Sto.Tomas

* a man selling mangoes near the town public market

* street food stalls and the usual customers

* St. Cabrini Medical Center

* Aling Trining and Nene Restaurant

* Trailer Pransis outside his ‘Headquarters’

* a neglected Digitel pay phone we found along the way

Santo Tomas, a History

The area of what is now the town of Santo Tomas already had inhabitants even before the arrival Spaniards to the archipelago. The place was organized into a town in 1665 with the Dominicans overseeing the establishment of a parish. A church was built near the San Juan River (named as such because the river can be traced back to San Juan, Batangas). A Catholic church–named after Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican high priest–was built in 1807 and was held by a secular priest. In the early years of the Philippine-American War, the church was invaded by the American forces. It was bombed later on, leaving 15 nuns dead.

Sto. Tomas is a wide plain area and its barrios were named after local natural sources and local activities. One of the barrio names that stuck to me is the name Cabaong. I learned recently that the place is called that way because of the rocks shaped like coffins are found there.

* entrance to Polytechnic University of the Philippines Sto. Tomas Campus
(formerly an Extension)

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Management students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Teaching[?] Education / Education students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Industrial Engineering students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Accountancy students

More than these historical details, the town is prominent for producing one of the most resilient fighters in the Philippine-American War – Miguel Malvar. Born in that town in 1865, he rose to become one of the frontline generals of the said war, later becoming an unofficial President of the Philippine Republic (and the issue is yet to be resolved by the Congress). Somehow General Malvar is close to my ‘historical’ heart as he once teamed up with a San Pableño during the Philippine Revolution of 1896, Juan ‘Cayacas’ Eseo. [I am yet to find other sources to strengthen this claim of local historian Juan B. Hernandez but nevertheless I am quite proud of it.] Also, General Malvar was said to have hidden in a house in San Nicolas, San Pablo City. Surprisingly, the house is still surviving and is now being used classrooms for high school students. Lastly, General Malvar was one of the last generals to surrender to the Americans during the War. Mala-palos kumbaga. Dr. Ambeth Ocampo has some articles on his uncanny ability to escape enemies when he was still a marked man.

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Electronics and
nication Engineering students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Entrepreneurial Management students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Electrical Engineering students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Information Technology students

* mural made by PUP Sto. Tomas B.S. Industrial and Organizational Psychology students

One can only have a feel of what the town was like during the Spanish and American era if one would visit the town. Fortunately, there are some surviving old houses, not to mention mansions, and also ruins that can give us a glimpse into the art tastes and architecture of those times. Such houses are the subject of my next entry.

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