MUNICIPALITY OF SABTANG (BATANES), History and Folkways of - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPALITY OF SABTANG (BATANES), History and Folkways of - Philippine Historical Data


Municipality of Sabtang

About these Historical Data

[p. Cover page]

of the



Sabtang is one of the many small islands that make up the islands of the Province of Batanes. It is the third largest populated island, with a population of 1,656, according to the latest Census.

It has a beautiful past worthy to be venerated from generation to generation. Sabtang's history is interesting and marked with stories, traditions, customs, and believes that make a unique place in history. This report contains two parts: Part I - History and Cultural Life of the barrios:

(1) Chavayan
(2) Nakanmuan
(3) Savidug
(4) Sumnanga

Part II - History and Cultural Life of the Town of Sabtang.

This booklet contains a summary of the reports of the teachers in all the schools of Sabtang Island. The historical data herein furnished were carefully selected from authentic persons from each of the barrios of Sabtang Island. Data gathered from various persons were carefully evaluated, screen so certain truths could be gathered. No available records could be taken from the church, municipality or other government entities as they were either destroyed or lost in the course of time.

While no claim is made on the all-inclusiveness of this historical record, it is believed that in it are included practically all the authentic facts about Sabtang. Should anyone who happens to read this historical report know of any fact or facts that are not included in the report, you should not hesitate to call our attention. Any suggestion or criticism that will improve this historical data is most welcome.

District Supervisor
Sabtang Schools

July 25, 1953

[p. 1]

Division of Batanes
Sabtang Elementary School

Part One : History

19. Present offial name of the town - SABTANG

20. Former name - SAPTANG - Meaning - "May sapsap ka tapian makabtang ka" (Drain the water from the boat and we shall be able to cross the channel.)

21. Date of establishment - No record.

22. Name and social status of the founder - No record.

23. Don Domingo Abas, Gobernarorcillo
Fr. Antonio Vicente, Priest
Mr. Mariano Castro, First Teacher

24. Malakdang coastal plain was said to be the first proposed site of the town of Sabtang. The ruins of the proposed municipal building are still existing and very close to it is said to be the house of the first Datu Buay who was known to have founded the town of Sabtang. Accordingly, Datu Buay was drifted on a craft fromt he Ilocos coast and became the chief datu in Sabtang.

25. (a) Several Idiangs were established in the different barrios or districts. These idiangs were inhabited by different groups of people who were all the time fighting for supremacy to be the chief of Sabtang Town.

(aa) The Katipunan Society tried to overthrow the Spanish oppression from the town.
1. Leader of the Katipuneros in Sabtang - Magimo Abanador, followers: Ponciano Alavado, Pancracio Lagundino, Liberato Gida, Jose Castellon, and Santiago Almeyda.
(b) Establishment of the public schools under Mr. William Edmund
Mr. Jose Agudo, Principal, Sabtang School; Assistant Teachers: Mr. Andres Hontomin & Marcelo Castro.
(c) 1. First Invasion - December 8, 1941
2. Second Invasion - May 19, 1945
3. Death of 55 of the most promising young men of Sabtang
4. Exploitation of animals in Sabtang.
5. Enslaving the population of Sabtang.

[p. 2]

6. Maltreating and torturing the civilians.
7. Hunger and starvation among the inhabitants.
8. Puppet Japanese government
Mr. Domingo Cultura - Mayor - who almost lost his life by an assassin's bullet.

26. (a) Destruction of public buildings and private houses during the earthquake on September 13, 1918.

(b) During the Japanese occupation, the municipal building was burned, properties in the public school were looted and destroyed by the Japanese, as well as private houses.

(c) American Liberation - September 23, 1945
American rehabilitation and reconstruction - September 1945 and thereafter.
Accomplishments: All public school buildings, municipal buildings, and public roads were rehabilitated and reconstructed. War damage claims filed and collected. Reliefs in kind were distributed.

Part Two - Folkways

27. (a) Birth, Spanish times - attended by local midwives (untrained).
(b) Baptism - Parents customary expressions or habits were given as the names of children to perpetuate their personal whims and caprices.
(c) Parents and godparents agreed on Spanish names recommended by the first parish priests.
(d) Courtship - Parents matched their sons to their ideal daughters-in-law to be.
(e) Marriage - The strongest man in a clan married the most beautiful maiden and the rich man was matched with an equally rich lady - (Ceremonies) - Varied according to whims and caprices of the bridegroom's party.
(f) Death, Burial - Members of the well-to-do families were buried in earthen jars prepared and decorated as soon as a royal family was given birth [this last part does not make sense]. Poor families were buried at large. Any place in the world would do.
(g) Visits were due when -
1. Birth of any poor or rich.
2. Visits to such parties.
3. Visits to attend planting and harvesting seasons.
4. Visits to bereaved families.
5. Visits to parties constructing or finishing projects.
(h) Punishments -
1. Capital crime - sinking criminals to death.
2. Humiliating them in public places carrying the animal or property stolen on their backs around the plaza in the midst of all the public.
3. Kalulupang (squatting punishment).

[p. 3]

4. Whipping and keeling.
28. (a) Legends - Stories depicting moral lessons - especially fear of God, stories of strong heroes of the past and stories of bravery, and stories of adventure about the sea.
(b) Beliefs - Fear and respect of the strong and powerful as supernatural phenomenon (lightning, earthquakes, droughts, storms, and floods. [Note to the reader: which are, of course, natural rather than supernatural].
(c) Interpretations -
1. When a star is below the moon - danger is near and imminent.
2. When morning stars are near each other, it interprets a year of plenty. On the reverse, it is the reverse.
3. When the moon is in its first quarter is slanting, it interprets a stormy season.
(d) Superstitions -
1. When a person dreams that he fell in a well without water, the dreamer is sure to die an an early date.
2. If a firefly enters a home and soars up to the ceiling, it brings fortune to the family; but if it descends to the floor, there will be misfortune.
3. Seas - Ano capayvayat nu siñibu nu vanua canu panangalan am mian u masnguen a añin.
4. Plants - Bananas' youngest leaves which do not open naturally but coil back and point to the earth predict the coming of bad weather.
5. Animals - Animals with two cowlicks in front of the male organ are harmful ones.
6. Sun - When the sun passes through a thin ribbon-like cloud, it predicts danger ahead.
7. When a rainbow cloud coils around the highest mountain, it foretells the death of a prominent citizen in the community.
(e) Birth of twins -
In 1899, the following families gave birth to twins viz:
1. Sinakan - Parents - Carlos Abas and Martina Abari; twins - Juan and Rafael Abas.
2. Malakdang - Parents - Antonio Faronilo and Catalina David; twins: Bibiana and Paulina Faronilo.
(f) Sickness - 1902, A cholera epidemic with an average of 8 deaths a day for 3 months.
29. Popular Songs -
1. Nunuk Du Tukon - Nunuk is very tall and has wide spreading branches compared to a rich and selfish ruler during the Spanish rule, who towers over the other people around him and abuses his strength, and wealth.

[p. 4]

I. Nunuk du tukon
Umlak as kadisi na
A mahevahey nu ipakapamarin na
Sera u dedekey a tamek
Maulib sera adimacavoya
Su casejdangan as canu cayayakan
Kapuspusan sera acahonghongan
As cadiman da du racuj
A capapaoan.

Song for Courtship

II. Manganac Caparu Nino As Sinavong Ka Paro Nino
Dicho macadidio su valay ko du arao as canu
Puhao ko du ahep. Nu calo nu lacam coni mo a
Dumnguen co alipos. Am pinamiden dapa nu
minanuma ichayacan su tao. Taydedequeyen co
imo aharijaripen apaypaonuten anmana padayasawen
du inumen co adanum. Du ca doyosoyod amarinalao
nimo mo duminguen a lipos.
III. Song for the Poor by the Rich
Lipos a minacajel du camalasyriñan
Pinamalapa co du camalasayriñan
Idangay ko su jañit, ilaong co du tana
Yodicho du caditnanan a manalasal
Yodicho an caditnanan mananlasal nu asi
Nu casinog ta padinosivogan su addao co nimo
Idcayat co na du tukon du valayvayan
Adaure ah omlaong du ajsong dimachonong ta
Catodna machonongay nu addao co nimo
Mo duminguen a larao.
IV. Song by the Rich to the Poor
Mojbet ako du hovek am cawara
Nu apidong a omjasapa su canioyan
Pinadangatanap na dao am tauri a
Maydomasongay si anak ni monamon
Siduan cosia nu masen asajakeb
Colongan kosia du mahongtob a doyoy
Pacarayan co mania du vahay namen apaydacodacojen
Dicho apavolsayi su marajmet achirin
Du cahawahawa co nu caychay ni anak ni monamon.
a. This song expresses sweethearts' inner feelings towards each other.
b. This song is heartily dedicated by a rich suitor to a poor one or the opposite.
c. This song is exactly the opposite of the former, whose sentiments and feelings are more appealing and confessing to whom it may concern.

[p. 5]

30. Puzzles and Riddles -

1. Viñay a maviay su ujo, nadiman su caracujan, as maviay su ipos. Ango uri?
An animal with an alive head, dead body, and an alive tail. What is it? - A man plowing.
2. Panga a maychaspo du tukon a dipa nayvoya. Ango?
Twins living on opposite sides of a hill that never visited each other. Who are they? - Eyes.
3. Warawara nu asa ka tao a dina nervia as nu matarek sera u mapayservi sia. Ango?
The property of a person but he never uses it. What is it? - Name.
4. Racuj a viñiay a mayfirme a mapteng am kamajep na. Ango?
A big animal that gets hungry every night. What is it? - School building.
5. What is it that goes out to wander when tied but when let loose, it stops at home. - Shoes.
6. Ango paro u ngaran nu dadiman a nauri su umonong di maviay. Ango?
What is the name of a thing that is already dead which takes care of the living? It is a rope that ties a living bull.

31. Proverbs and Sayings:

1. Aran anghenghen mu a ilaveng a ahob am chitajen na u catuao na.
No matter how you cover smoke, it will always seek to come out.
2. Nu sili am umsi ava su camates.
The pepper plant does not bear tomatoes or judge a tree by its fruits.
3. Nu manamonamo su taul kanu actuctu am nauri u abnekan su kamanganakan nu Dios.
Only those who are pure in heart and clean in thoughts may be called the children of God.
4. Aran livolivohen u capasada su uyud anuhed am aleet nu kavideen na a diadibdis a anuhed.
Right, although a thousand times violate, is still right.
5. An kachidachidat nava am vohawan.
Not all that glitters is gold.
6. Anu dekey pa u cayo am masonung pa a talenngen as anu racuj dana am masadit ta manma u capotot na canu caparen sia talenngen.
A young tree can easily be straightened while an old tree breaks if it is forced to be straightened.
7. Manganib ca su capayengay mo a tao tapian aniven daimo.
Respect others and you will be respected or do unto others what you would have others do unto you.
8. Anu nangatus ca su cartos am macalo a capagan, as nu mapia dadakay am capagan ava.
Borrowed money is still repaid, but kindness and consideration to others cannot be repaid.

[p. 6]

9. Masonung a capanita su caychayvan mo as masadit u capamidi mo su asa a mayngud.
It is easy to find many friends but it is hard to keep one.
10. Nu rachi nu vahayang am nauri u romarayao sia.
Iron is destroyed by its own rust.
11. Nu asabtek a viayo am masadit a pototen.
It is hard to break a bundle of reeds.
12. Nauri avau capanajtaj mo ano nacarajan u añen.
Do not bar your doors after the storm.

32. The sun was used as the clock to tell the time. The moon was used as the calendar of the year.

33. Folktales -

Nu Kabayo Anakapanga nu Mutdej a Mavaques

Kaychua du canam pa nu Guerra Mundial Numero II am minayanak si Mrs. Felisa Tabu de Enfesta su cabayo achinadadua nu asa ka motdej amavaques. Uyud aro u naknen niaya anaparin. Nu ina aya am racuj u nakapachisnec nania du taotao as vinata na u kadiman su cabayo ta ipachisnec na u cavata dasia u nacapayanac sia nu cabayo. Nu cacuvot naya asi Andres Enfesta am inanujdan na as nidiman u cabayo as caviay sia u capanga nauri a mavaques. Nu vata da nu mangalquem am nu ka incantado na nu vata aya a cabayo. Amna ango pa u remedio du nadiman.
Transcribed from:
History and Folkways of the Municipality of Sabtang and Its Barrios, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. The pagination in this transcription is as they appear in the original document.
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