15.THE FORGOTTEN INDUSTRIES OF MAGALANG



Magalang before and after was blessed with rich natural resources. That's why our ancestors utilized it; to become productive and will become part of one of the important industries of our town. In this post, i will identified some forgotten industries in Magalang, with their unique products that cannot match its quality. The reasons of the gradual loss, forgotten or extinction of these industries is due to continuous degradation of our natural resources, economic modernization and agricultural mechanization. Interestingly, a report in 1819 was written by the Spanish chief engineer, Yldefonso de Aragon entitled, Descripcion Geografica y Topografica de la Ysla de Luzon o Nueva Castilla tells about the land areas and demarcation of each towns in Luzon, particularly in Pampanga. It also included in the report are the existing industries in each towns. Pampanga that time has extended territory in which later become part of present provinces of Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. Aragon stated his report about Magalan, and according to him, aside from thriving agricultural sector particularly in rice and sugarcane, there is already existing liquor and weaving industries due to abundance of famous Buri palms (ebus in Kapampangan). Buri palms in Magalang are abundant, and they are found along the riverbanks of Rio Chico river. As stated by Aragon, these are the industries that are been flourished due to the abundance of Buri palms:

Wine Making- according to Tantingco, Magaleños took advantage of the buri palms lining the rivers by extracting the juice and turning into Tuba. Aragon also stated that aside from Tuba, other spirits like wine, a type of schnapp called aguardiente and another type of liquor known as mistela are also made from buri palm juice. When tuba was fermented, it will became a fragrant vinegar.

Weaving- due to wide and fan-like leaves of buri palms, Magaleños were able to weave mats and other handicrafts out from Buri palm leaves. Its leaves are also suitable for making roofs for houses and other buildings.

Aside from wine making and weaving, Magaleños were able to create other products out from buri palms. One of them is brown sugar made from the palms whom Aragon called Chancaca sugar. It also included in the list, was flour or starch processing; the trunk of the buri palm known as ubod was processed and made into flour called sago or also known as Yoro. Ubod was also an ingredient used in salads and other dishes.

The buri palm forests are located in the vast Pamabaran forest reservation. This reservation was located in the quad boundaries of San Antonio and Cabiao in Nueva Ecija, Concepcion, Tarlac and Magalang particularly in barrio Escaler. It was declared as timberland by Acting Governor General Eugene Allen Gilmore in 1927. In 1936, it was declared as protected area by President Manuel L. Quezon to protect and regulate the cutting of Buri palms and to regulate the floods along Rio Chico river. However, due to deforestation, buri palms were gradually reduce its population. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the remaining buri forests in Concepcion and Magalang sides were totally washed out by rampaging lahar flows.

Aside from industries and skills due to abundance of buri palms, there are other forgotten industries in Magalang listed below:

Dyeing- Aragon stated that añil (Spanish word for indigo) was used in Magalang to dye their clothes in special occasions.

Tobacco- this industry was one of the lucrative industries in Magalang and also in Pampanga. It was further flourished when the agricultural experiment station, La Granja Modelo de Luzon (present Pampanga State Agricultural University) conducted a vast experimentation of tobacco. It was earned recognition when it was exhibited in Exposicion General de Islas Filipinas held in Madrid, Spain where La Granja received the highest diploma honor.

Cart making- due to absence of navigable rivers in Magalang, carts (or gareta) are one of the modes of transportation of Magaleños at that time. According to Anuario del Comercio, two Magaleños are the leading constructor de carruajes or cart makers at that time, Victoriano Pingul and Vicente Naguit. During the American period, demands in carts increased due to agricultural progress. In that time, two Mageleños were known also in industry, Feliciano Samson and Eusebio Aquino. Later, Eusebio Aquino will become one of the founders of Hukbalahap and become second ranking officer of the movement. When the gradual agricultural modernization and mechanization took place, this industry gradually died out.

Saddle making- horses was one of the leading farm animals in Magalang during that time. And due to cross breeding success of horses of La Granja Modelo de Luzon, the population of horses increased. Anuario del Comercio also stated that there is talabartero or saddle maker from Magalang, Alfonso Felix.

Photo Credit: darwinonline.org.uk

Sources: Aragon, Yldefonso, Descripcion Geografica y Topografica de la Ysla de Luzon o Nueva Castilla, En La Imprenta de D. Manuel Menije por D. Anastacio Gonzaga, Manila, 1819 page 36.

Bartolo, Louie Aldrin L and Dizon, Lino L., The Magalang Book: The Historical Life and Culture of a Kapampangan Town (1605-2013); National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Manila, 2016 pages 27, 34, 58 and 60.

Tantingco, Robby P., 7 Lost Kapampangan Skills: tl.ph.facebook.com/notes/robby-tantingco/7-lost-kapampangan-skills: retrieved: November 27, 2016.




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