Salute to  the Batangueño spirit

Published January 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



“Kawawa naman ang mga taga-Batangas.”

“I pity the Batangueños.”

Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
Dr. Jun Ynares

That was one of the touching remarks we heard from people last week. The remarks were triggered by news regarding the heavy toll exacted on this Southern Tagalog province and its neighbors including the National Capital Region by the recent eruption of Taal Volcano. The ash fall and the tremors have damaged thousands of homes, businesses, and sources of livelihood.

However, we believe they have not damaged the legendary Batangueño spirit.

The violent eruption of the famous volcano in Taal Lake appears to have served to spotlight the indestructibility of the resolve and will of the people of Batangas to overcome any and all challenges that come their way.

We have had the privilege of knowing many of the local government leaders of Batangas. This was because of our stint as provincial governor of Rizal province and mayor of Antipolo City. We have met and collaborated with them many times in the League of Provinces of the Philippines and a similar organization of heads of component cities in the country.

From our conversations with them, we have become familiar with the aspirations of the Batangueños and their character – the quality of their hearts and spirit which make them unique and admirable in many ways.

“We are blessed with abundant resources,” we remember one of them telling in us in a convention years ago. “We have fields, mountains and two bodies of water,” he added.

“But we have to work hard to get the land and the bodies of water to produce food for us,” he explained.

We remember our colleague pointing out that the abundance comes at the price of having to live in a place of ever-present danger – Taal Volcano.

“Taal Volcano is the representation of the Batangueño,” he said.

We asked him to elaborate that interesting point.

We remember him saying:

“You see, just like the volcano, we are not a tall people. We are not imposing, like the Mayon Volcano. Yet, we are ever-present. People find us mysterious, even unfathomable at times.

 On the surface, the Batangueño’s face is calm. Peaceful. However, just like Taal, there is always something seething, burning underneath the surface. It is not really anger – it is more of the fiery determination and fierce resolve to overcome and win.

 Just like the volcano, we hardly ‘explode’. We are a very patient people. But when we do, our ‘explosion’ could be very destructive.

 More important, just like the volcano which has made the soil of Batangas fertile, we are a very ‘nurturing’ people. We take care of our own. We value and care for our  family – and that family extends to our clan, to our community, and to our country.”

Many famous Batangueños were really reflections of the character of the Volcano which has become a symbol of their province.

To name a few:

Apolinario Mabini, who, despite his physical ailments, lent the power of his brains to the revolution and to the birth of our Nation.

General Miguel Malvar, who, despite not being a tall nor well-built man, was feared by the invaders – and who, despite the odds, refused to surrender to them.

Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, the first woman to ever be appointed to the Highest Court of the Land.

Claro Mayo Recto, a fierce nationalist who was one of the country’s most respected legislators.

We are told that we should always look for the silver lining amid the sea of grey clouds.

The silver lining is this: as we stay alert and monitor the next activities of Taal Volcano, we get to see, understand and experience the character of the Batangueño.

We have already seen sterling aspects of that character in full display in the aftermath of Sunday’s eruption. We saw the bravery and courage of the Batangueño spirit. We saw his uncomplaining nature. We saw his sense of hope.

In the face of this adversity, we are grateful for the privilege of knowing the Batangueño better.

Having known him better, we can only conclude that there is a Batangueño in every Filipino.