For many years, my only recollection of Batangas City is whenever we go to its pier: the Batangas International Port. My first visit there was in the summer of 2001 when Yeyette was to take me and Krystal (who was then our only child) for the very first time to her hometown of Abra de llog, Mindoro Occidental. Since then, that's the only part of Batangas City I have known: its seaport. We had never gone to any place in Batangas City save for its pier whenever we go to Abra de Ilog or for a brief dip in the famous waters of Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental.
But for Yeyette, it was like a homecoming of sorts when we decided to stroll around the city proper last April 1 (in celebration of Juanito's fifth birthday) because she had stayed there for sometime. As a young girl, she used to visit her mom who was then boarding and studying in the city; her mother was then finishing her studies at St. Bridget College (back then, it was exclusive only for girls). That is why she was able to roam around the city proper and was a bit familiar with it. However, she seemed at a loss when we got back there weeks ago. The establishments she once knew have long disappeared. Gone was that ice cream parlor near her mom's school which she frequented. Gone was her namesake cinema at the población. The city got noisier because vehicles have multiplied. Modern structures are now everywhere, making the few remaining ancestral houses seemed out of place, not to mention out of time. Nevertheless, she told me that she felt like she was a young girl again as we walked the narrow streets of the city proper. The surviving ancestral houses still reminded her of those brief vacations that she had in Batangas City.
Batangas, the eponymous capital of Batangas Province, was founded by Augustinian friars in 1572. The name was said to have been derived from an old Tagalog word called "batang" which meant "huge logs". Hence, "batangan", another form, meant "a place of huge logs". Eventually, the name batangan became Batangas. At around that time, the Spanish-created province of which the old town of Batangas was situated was then called Bonbón (named after the ancient name of Taal Lake, the site of that world-famous smallest volcano. When that volcano erupted in 1754, it buried the original town of Taal (now the site of the Municipality of San Nicolás; the new Taal was moved further westward, away from the volcano) which was then the province's capital. Because of the tragic incident, the capital was transferred to present-day Batangas. Later on, the whole province of Bonbón adopted the name of its new capital. Agustín Casilao was appointed as the first gobernadorcillo.
|The city still has many well-preserved ancestral houses scattered all over the población, mingling with modern edifices.|
More than two centuries later (23 July 1969), the old town/city of Batangas became a city through Republic Act. No. 5495 which was signed by former president Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, rapid industrialization of Batangas City began. Aside from the international port, major industries with their huge plants and factories sprouted all over, making the city an economic powerhouse.
Although its local government promotes Batangas City as the "Industrial Port City of CALABARZON", we found out that there's more to it than just the business-like appelation. The city's charm lies in its old town proper with its nostalgic ancestral houses, as well as the serene countryside and seaside vistas at the outskirts. All you need to do is to simply walk around, eagle-eyed.
|We bought a cake from this bakery along Calle José Rizal for Juanito's birthday and some bread for our báon in Kamantigue Beach Resort.|
|Juanito requested that we celebrate his birthday here in Jollibee. Inside the fast food, Yeyette became acquainted with these students from nearby Saint Bridget College, the alma mater of her mom.|
|A simple birthday celebration for Juanito. Basta completo camí tulad ng ganitó, masayá na camí. =)|
|Momay (far left), Jefe, Juanito, and Yeyette in front of city hall. This building was inaugurated on 19 June 1909 when Batangas (the town, not the province) was still a municipality.|
|This portion of Calle Marcelo H. del Pilar is beautifully lined and shaded by acacia trees. At left is St. Bridget's College. At right is the elementary department of the University of Batangas.|
|In front of St. Bridget's College along Calle Marcelo H. del Pilar. This is the alma mater of Mrs. Teresa Atienza de Perey, my wife's mom. This Catholic school was founded by the Religious of the Good Shepherd in 1913.|
|Basílica Menor de la Inmaculada Concepción. You'll be mesmerized by its interiors!|
|Resting our feet and legs at Plaza Mabini.|
|Río Calumpang, on our way to Barrio Pagquilatan where Kamantigue Beach Resort is located. This great river drains towards Bahía de Batangas.|
|Late afternoon arrival at scenic Kamantigue Beach Resort, named after the camantigue tree (right below). At the background is the northern portion of Isla Verde which is still under the jurisdiction of Ciudad de Batangas.|
|The next day (April 2) at Kamantigue Beach Resort. Ang claro ng tubig, ¿no?|
|On our way back to the city proper. Here's a breathtaking view of Batangas Bay connecting towards the Verde Island Passage along the Batangas-Tabañgao-Lobô Road. The mountains beyond are those of the Municipality of Mabini.|
|Side view of SM City Batangas along the Batangas-Tabañgao-Lobô Road. I think Uncle Henry's bent on creating a "Republic of SM" sooner or later.|
|Iglesia de la Santíssima Trinidad. Right beside SM City Batangas. Notice the horrible wires hanging in front of it. A severe lack of aesthetics in city planning is a common problem throughout the Philippines.|
Click here for the complete photo album! ¡Hasta la vista!