Last December 20, 2015, some of the members of the Houses of Formation here in Lipá City, went to the población of the same city to have a ´small glimpse´of what used to be known as Villa de Lipá. Accompanying us with this historical tour is Guillermo Gómez Rivera, who has been giving us a series of conference about the History of the Philippines since June of this year. What we undertook is very important since very few Lipeños know the glorious past of their city, and we ourselves are located at the same city.
Señor Guillermo gives a short talk on the history of Lipa
Lipá City, as what has happened with other Filipino pueblos, was a Parian or a sector of the mestizos, since the majority of its inhabitants were Chinos Cristianos brought by the Augustinian friars to populate their mission bases. For being subjects of the King of Spain, these Chinos Cristianos received big portion of land, which were later converted to a vast plantation of coffee and sugar cane. Among these families were the Calaw, Laygo, Catigbac, and Yncióng. The ‘coffee boom’ enriched the city greatly, that its población was filled with large houses (bahay-na-bato), with women being adorned with expensive jewelries . Señor remembers Lipá´s Calle Real, which looked like the present-day Taal Heritage Town.
Our first stop was the Yncióng residence, located at the corner of Callé Catigbac. Señor Guillermo remembered the house very well, since he used to stay there for his Holy Week vacations. The house was owned by Don Emilio Yncióng, publisher of the Spanish language newspaper called´Nueva Era´. Since 1965, Señor Guillermo worked for this newspaper, and after the death of Don Emilio, he became its director. We have mentioned that Ynciong were among those Chinos Cristianos brought to Lipá by the Augustinian missionaries. Proof of this is the surname itself, which came from the Chinese word 英雄 (yin xiong), which means ‘hero’. It would be interesting to research this immigration of the Chinos Cristianos and appreciate more their cultural contributions.
At the Campo Santo, Lipa City
Next, we saw the marker of Teodoro M. Kalaw. He himself wrote wrote how Lipa was.
Those were the days of prosperity for Lipa…its language was Spanish; Spanish were its, customs, manners and social forms; Spanish were its dances, its music. Lipa’s social atmosphere was an importation from Spain….Lipa’s Society sought to equal the halls and banquets of Madrid. (Taken from the Grandeur that Was Lipa)
Walking along the present T.M.Kalaw Street, Señor Guillermo pointed to a group of Lipeño youth, saying “these people may not know their history!” It may be true. The new generations of Lipeños don’t even know these prominent kababayans: Teodoro Kalaw, Emilio Yncióng, Enrique Laygo among others. A good solution to begin with is the study of the Spanish language, which was the language of these noble men; and it always better to read the works in their original language.
At the tomb of Enrique K. Laygo.
Lastly, we visited the Campo Santo, to see the tomb of Enrique K. Laygo. Still unknown to many of the Lipeños, Don Enrique was born on June 16, 1897 in Lipá, Batangas. He worked as a journalist for ‘El Filipino’ and ‘La Vanguardia’ Later he worked as chief of publications at the National Library. His only published worked ‘Caretas’, his collection of short stories, earned him the Premio Zobel in 1925. On June 28, 1932 he was killed by Juan Dimayuga, whose brother Jose was criticized by Don Enrique for being a member of congress’ comite del silencio.
Señor Guillermo, himself is a 1975 Premio Zobel awardee, led us to the tomb of Don Enrique and told us his story. The Campo Santo is also a historical treasure.
There are much more to see here in Lipá, and hopefully we could do another round of this interesting historical tour.