Category Archives: history

Caledian and Suklayin

Google Earth - Caledian and Suklayin in Arayat, Pampanga
Google Earth - Caledian and Suklayin in Arayat, Pampanga

Young people of Baler wouldn’t probably know where Caledian is. They would know Suklayin which is one of the big Barangays of the town and where the provincial seat of government is located. Caledian is now just a Sitio of Bgy. Suklayin. It probably got its name from “Kalye Diyan” (the street over there). It has no formal geographical boundary but it’s located along the Quezon highway somewhere between Gloria Street and the Provincial Capitol. The original Suklayin starts at the curve of the highway where the old DPWH (BPH) used to be located and ends at the boundary with San Luis, the place we call Welcome. We live in Caledian since I was a child so i have many fond memories of the place, but that’s another story.

The Google Earth picture above is of Caledian and Suklayin – in Arayat, Pampanga. Coincidence? Not really. That place used to be the farm of Manuel L. Quezon. I first read about a place in Arayat called Caledian from Manuel L. Quezon III’s column in the Inquirer where he wrote about his grandfathers’ farm called “Caleidan”. I wondered if there was a connection with the Caledian here in Baler. It turned out that Pres. Quezon and Mrs. Quezon named it after the place here in Baler, where they also had farms. They loved their hometown so much they made an “avatar” of it in a place that’s nearer to Manila. Of course they also brought in some Balerians to stay in the place to make it more authentic.

Poppo Olag, a retired US navy now living in the USA, read my short note here at Batangbaler and emailed me this:

You bet, the name of the Quezon’s Hacienda in Arayat were not only Kaledian but on the other side was Suklayin. We lived in the farm from 1940 until the outbreak of World War II. Tata Manuel was in charge of Kaledian Farm, while Mang Tomas Ranillo was in charge of Suklayin Farm. Tatay was in charge of the construction of Mt. Arayat National Park. Nonong and I used to climb the Ratilis tree at the back of their house. That was the good old days. We walked back to Baler from Arayat in 1942 when everything quieted down. And, where we settled down? Back to Suklayin!

So it turned out that there’s also a place beside Caledian in Arayat called Suklayin. And those places retained the names until now. So what happened to the farm in Arayat? The family of Manuel L. Quezon, being a champion of social justice and a trailblazer of agrarian reform, redistributed the land to its tenants and farmworkers. Which was also what he did in Baler. When he was president, he ordered a cadastral survey of Baler and gave two portions of lands to each family, a small lot at the Poblacion and a bigger track of land at the outskirts of the town. Most of the lands their family owned in Baler were also given away. Almost a century later, he is still remembered for those unselfish acts. I wonder how we will remember those who are now more into taking than giving.

A Prehistoric Burial Site at Sitio Castillo

Note: This is on permanent exhibit at the Museo de Baler. The texts are from the same exhibit and prepared by the National Museum. The burial site excavated was at Sitio Castillo, Brgy. Sabang just on the right side of the road before the entrance to the Carmen T. Valenzuela Elementary School.

Update 2014: The exhibit is no longer on display.

A Prehistoric Burial Site
Sitio Castillo, Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora
(a permanent exhibit at the Museo de Baler by the National Museum)

A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler
A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler

In September 1989, then Governor Eunice Cucueco reported the discovery of artifacts and destruction of archeological site by pot hunters at Sitio Castillo to the National Museum (NM), a government agency mandated by law to protect and preserve the cultural properties of the country. Hence, the NM sent a team of archeologist to assess the site and save artifactual materials as well as to conduct an archaeological excavation in the area.

Surrounded by Baler Bay, mountainous areas, and Kinalapan and Castillo rivers, the Julio Site is located on a sand dune at Sitio Castillo about 3 kilometers south of the poblacion of Baler. In this site, the archeological excavation undertaken by the National Museum yielded a primary burial dated back from the 14th to 15th centuries A.D.

A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler
A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler

Exposed at the depth of 120 centimeters from the present ground surface underlying a recent garbage pit, a human skeleton was found in an extended position, lying on its back with arms laid parallel to the body and oriented to east to west direction. On top of the skull was a large blue and white porcelain bowl that was used as a head cover. A small stoneware jar with dark brown glaze was found in an upside down position on the left shoulder blade. Both tradeware ceramics are attributed to the Ming Dynasty Period. Other associated artifacts found were glass and shell beads, and shell bracelets. The camelian beads were found in a cluster at the left lower leg. On the other hand, shell bracelets belonging to Conus (Lithoconus) leopardus were found on each wrist rested on the pelvic bones. Other associated materials found on this layer were fish bones and shells.

A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler
A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler

Julio Site

The Julio site is the only archeological site ever recorded in the province of Aurora. This is a primary burial site associated with personal belongings and grave goods. This was a tradition among prehistoric Filipinos where they buried their dead with grave goods or funerary offerings, such as earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and stone and metal implements. It was believed that the dead needed food or material possessions as he journeyed from the land of the living to the land of the dead.

Furthermore, the recovery of blue-and-white ceramics, stoneware jars and carnelian beads provided evidences that Baler was a part of trading activities even before the arrival of the Spaniards.

A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler
A Prehistoric Burial Site in Baler

Primary Burial in Julio Site

There are various burial practices in the Philippines. One is primary burial, wherein corpses are interred directly into the ground in extended and supine or flexed positions.

The human skeletal remains recovered in Julio Site, Baler was in supine position with arms extended on the sides or parallel to the body, and the head facing the east. It was associated with grave goods that can be dated to the Neolithic Period. These were tradeware ceramics, shell bracelet, and glass beads, funerary offerings known locally as pabaon. It has been common practice in the Philippines to bury the dead with objects believed to ease a soul’s journey to the afterlife. Doña Aurora Quezon’s Baler home rebuilt

Aurora Quezon House
Aurora Quezon House


The original owner of Doña Aurora’s house was Zeneida Molina, who married Pedro Aragon. No records exist for the birth date of Maria, their oldest daughter, but documents exist showing that their second daughter, Emilia, was born in the house in April 1877, verifying the existence of the house at least to that date.

Aurora, their youngest daughter, was born in the same house on Feb. 19, 1888.

When the Spaniards burned the town in the twilight of the Philippine Revolution, Aurora was forced to take refuge in the church during the Siege of Baler. She was about 9 years old then.

Read the complete article

Aurora Quezon House
Aurora Quezon House

The Untold Story of Baler

from Philippine Star by Carmen Guerrero Napkil. A must read.

This is not a review of Baler the movie. It is not a critique of the Viva film Baler, which was recently declared Best Film of the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival.

It is a narrative of events that took place in Baler, the bay and town of that name, on the eastern coast of Luzon in the middle of 1899, based on the first-person Spanish and American documents, newspaper and magazine accounts of that period. It will show that indeed, truth is stranger than fiction, and also that the historical record is more astounding, more exciting, more meaningful in our nation’s tormented existence than a star-crossed, wartime film romance.

Read the complete article

The New York Times April 19, 1899 news is available here (PDF)
Continue reading The Untold Story of Baler

Sineng "Baler" ni Anne Curtis at Jericho Rosales Gagawin sa Tanay, Rizal

Showbiz uli tayo. Ito ang latest chikka tungkol sa pelikulang Baler. Mula dito sa

Thorough research daw ang ginawa nila, mula sa mga sunud-sunod na events na nangyari noong Spanish-American war, kung saan nagsagupa ang mga Spanish soldiers at ang puwersa ng mga Filipino, hanggang sa pagpapatayo nila ng set sa Tanay, Rizal kung saan gagayahin nila ang look ng Baler, now Aurora, in Quezon Province.

Samakatuwid ay hindi pala sa Baler gagawin ang sine. Dahil siguro sa malayo tayo sa kabihasnan at mahirap ang logistics pag dito ginawa. Pero ayon din sa balita ay pupunta din naman sila sa Baler. Siguro para sa flash-forward kung saan ipapakita ang kasalukuyang simbahan ng Baler. Kaya sa mga nag-aabang kay Anne Curtis at Jericho Rosales, manood na lang muna kayo ng TV.

Mas nainip ako dun sa nakalagay na “Baler, Now Aurora, in Quezon Province”. Parang sablay de baga?

1968 Casiguran Earthquake

1968 Casiguran Earthquake

Apatnapung taon na ang nakakaraan nang mangyari ang lindol sa Casiguran noong August 2, 1968. Bago sumapit ang 1991 Luzon Earthquake, ito ang pinakamasalantang lindol sa Pilipinas. 268 ang namatay at 261 naman ang nasugatan sanhi nito. Ito rin ang naging dahilan ng pagguho ng Ruby Tower sa Binondo Maynila.

Mula sa wikipedia:

1968 Casiguran earthquake occurred on August 2, 1968 with a 7.3 Richter scale magnitude. More than 270 people died and 261 were injured. The epicenter was located in Casiguran, Quezon (now part of Aurora province). This was the most destructive earthquake in the Philippines during the 20 years before the 1990 Luzon earthquake. In addition, the earthquake generated a tsunami that reached as far as Japan.

The hardest hit was the densely populated city of Manila killing 268 people and 261 more were injured. Majority of the buildings that suffered severe damages lies near at the mouth of Pasig River with huge alluvial deposits. Some of them were damaged beyond repair and others only suffered cosmetic damages. 260 people died when a 6-storey building Ruby Tower collapsed in the district of Binondo. Majority of the building collapsed except for a portion of the first and second floors at the northern end of the building. There was an allegation that the building was poorly built and used low-grade materials.[1] In District of Santa Ana, one person was injured from a damaged apartment building.

Two more people were killed from Aurora sub province and Pampanga. Around the town of Casiguran, there were several reports of landslides and the worst one happened near at Casiguran Bay.

Ito naman ang detalye ng lindol mula sa Phivolcs

At ito naman ang ilang mga larawan mula sa Phivolcs:

Tulay ng Casiguran

Daang Casiguran papunta sa Barrio Tabas

Continue reading 1968 Casiguran Earthquake

Love in the Time of War

Ang artikulong ito ay lumabas sa Philippine Star noong July 13, 2008. Sulat ito ni Wilson Lee Flores:

Love in the time of war: Manuel Quezon’s dad, Anne Curtis, Jericho Rosales & Ed Angara in Baler

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future. — Robert Penn Warren

What is it about sun-kissed small towns wedged between mountains and the ocean that creates an aura of timeless romance, mysteries and epic — even quixotic — dreams?

Despite having only 30,000 inhabitants, this third-class coastal municipality of Baler nestled between the Philippines’ longest mountain range of the Sierra Madre and the Pacific Ocean is the hometown of Commonwealth President Manuel Luis Quezon, his maternal cousin First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon and Senator Edgardo Angara. It also became the last bastion of Spanish colonial rule in this archipelago, due to the “Siege of Baler” from June 30, 1898 and ending only 11 arduous months later.

Continue reading Love in the Time of War