Batangas Founding Anniversary is held in the province of Batangas, Philippines every December 8. It commemorates the founding of the province on December 8, 1581 and its schedule coincides with the religious fiesta of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
History of Batangas
The old name of Batangas was Kumintang, a name that comes from the eponymous datu who was the leader of its settlement in the olden times. Datu Kumintang was bequeathed the settlement by Datu Balensusa. In the past, the province encompassed the present-day provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Marinduque, Mindoro Occidental, and Mindoro Oriental.
It was renamed to Bonbon (present-day Taal) and then Balayan in 1732. Finally, it was called Batangas after the pueblo was moved once again to Batangas after the unrest of Taal Volcano wrecked havoc in 1754. The word batangas may refer to the vessel people used in navigating surrounding waters or after the woods in Calumpang River.
Its settlers were known to have traded with foreign merchants including those from China, Japan, and India beginning in the 13th century. Archeological findings suggested that they had a rich, vibrant pre-Hispanic culture, arts, and religion.
The arrival of the Spaniards heralded the beginning of colonization and Christianization. Spanish colonizers Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo reached the settlement in Pansipit River as they journeyed towards Manila in 1570.
Two years later, Bonbon (Taal) was erected and it became a province known as the Province of Bonbon in 1578. However, it was dissolved in 1581, an event that paved the way to the creation of the Province of Balayan. This is the date that the founding anniversary remembers yearly.
In 1754, Taal Volcano erupted that destroyed the old pueblo and thus the center of the town was transferred to Batangas.
Devotion to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
The history of the founding of Batangas is also the history of Catholicism in the province. Along with the colonial thrust of the Spaniards was the goal of spreading Christianity throughout the archipelago, or at least in the many places under their colonial control.
The Franciscans reached Batangas in 1570. They were succeeded by the Augustinian friars who arrived in 1572 and they erected the church in Taal. The missionaries spread outward and they established the parishes of Balayan (1581), Bauan (1596), Lipa (1605), and Balayan (1754).
The church in Balayan was dedicated to the devotion of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Augustinian friar Fr. Diego Mojica built an early church made of light construction materials, and in 1601 a cornerstone for the second church was laid. However, its construction took place decades later between 1682 and 1721.
In 1693, a rectory was constructed armed with an artillery to defend the parish community from attacks coming from the sea by Moro pirates. This church was demolished to give way for the building of the present-day stone church by Fr. Pedro Cuesta in 1851 and it was blessed on February 2, 1857.
On February 13, 1948, it was elevated into a minor basilica through a papal issuance by Pope Pius XII, becoming the second minor basilica in the country after the Basilica Minore of Sto. Niño de Cebu which is the pilgrim site for the popular Sinulog Festival.
On January 16, 2022, it was declared the Archdiocesan Shrine of Santo Niño de Batangan in a religious ceremony by Archbishop Gilbert Garcera, becoming the eighth shrine in the Archdiocese of Lipa.
Ala Eh! Festival
In earlier years, the founding anniversary in Batangas was celebrated through Ala Eh! Festival. Its name comes from the quintessential local expression, “Ala eh.” This annual event was established by Vilma Santos during her term as governor of the province and it began in 2008.
It was touted as the mother of all festivals, as it saw a gathering of cultural festivals of the different localities in the province. A week-long event, it had a packed calendar and each year was hosted by a different constituent town or city.
Batangas Founding Anniversary Activities
Calendar and activities of the founding anniversary of Batangas have varied through the years. In 2023, it was a one-day affair that included a thanksgiving mass, a historico-cultural program, unveiling of initiatives of the provincial government, and recognition of various awards (Celebration of Valor, Dangal ng Batangan).
How to reach Batangas
Bus trips can be booked from Buendia, Cubao, Alabang, Aurora Boulevard. The trip might take about three hours or more from the capital.
- History. Provincial Government of Batangas. Retrieved December 21, 2023
- Batangas Province. BalikBayan. Retrieved December 21, 2023
- Basilika Menore ng Inmaculada Concepcion. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. October 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2023
- Opinyon Batangas News Team. Batangas marks 442nd founding anniversary. OpinYon News. December 18, 2023. Retrieved December 21, 2023