During Spanish period, sugar industry is one of the lucrative industries in the Philippines. Sugar is made from kind of grass known as sugarcane whom its scientific name is Saccharum officinarum. Sugarcane is suitable to tropical climate and it is cultivated mostly in dry land. In the Philippines, Negros provinces and Pampanga are considered as sugar bowls due to its thriving sugar industry. In Magalang, sugar is leading products of the town, second is rice. Due to the dry condition of land, Magaleño landowners preferred to cultivate sugarcane instead of rice. When sugarcane is harvested, they will extract their juice by using centrifugal sugarcane crushers made of wood or large boulders. Later years, they will switch to iron made centrifugal sugarcane crushers to extract the juices. Famous trademark machine for milling of sugar such as Buchanan, Glasgow and Marconi. Some Magaleño landowners made their fortunes by milling sugar. Through their fortunes, they able to extend their landholdings by purchasing additional lands. They also loaned their extra pesos to small and poor farmers through talindua or pacto de retro schemes where these schemes are subject to abuses. The determinants of their wealth and prestige in Magalang like possessing large tracts of land, sugar mills, houses made of stone and wood built in poblacion or town proper and in their lands, large herds of water buffaloes or carabao, and even imported horses. In my previous post, Magalang According to Anuario del Comercio, it identified some prominent Magaleño sugar planters during Spanish period. Those in the list are the Barons, Ganzons, Guecos, Dizons, Felicianos, Dayrits, Lucianos, Lacsons, Davids and Tiamzons. One of the examples of successful sugar planters or agricultor in Magalang during that time is Don Aniceto Lacson y Suarez. According to his last will, his assets were intenfied on his Ynventario. Most of them are acquired when he was successful in sugar milling. Due to his status, he was initially appointed as cabeza de barangay and later, he was elected gobernadorcillo (mayor) of Magalang in 1891. In his last will, written in 1897, these are the list of his assets mentioned in his Ynventario:

a. Fifty male and female water buffaloes (carabao) valued in six hundred twenty pesos.

b. One Moorish Polo horse valued in thirty two pesos.

c. One carromata or carruaje valued in forty pesos.

d. Two sugar mills with corresponding utensils made of iron installed in his land in barrio San Francisco run by manual labor with value of nine hundred twenty pesos.

e. One sugar mill made of iron installed in poblacion (town proper); run by manual labor valued in two hundred forty pesos.

f. Nine carts for hauling sugarcane valued in seventy two pesos.

g. One house made of bamboo cane and nipa, with the house has thirty rods in front and thirty nine for its foundation with extension superficial valued in one hundred fifty pesos.

h. One stock house for stocking of sugar made from bamboo cane and nipa valued in twenty pesos.

i. One parcel of land located in sitio Tambacan in barrio San Francisco, with thirty seven hectares and ninety eight areas with extension superficial valued in five thousand pesos.

j. One parcel of land located in sitio Mapacu in barrio Sta Lucia, with twenty eight hectares and twenty eight areas with superficial extension valued in one thousand five hundred ninety eight pesos.

He also provided credit to his fellow planters like Don Pedro Trinidad who loaned him four hundred eighty pesos; and to Don Jacinto Rivera with four hundred pesos. The grand total of his assets together with his loaned money are worth nine thousand five hundred seventy two pesos.

However, some Magaleño planters failed to become productive to their landholdings. Sometimes, they were forced to sell their land or they will enter a contract with another landowner or pawner using pacto de retro scheme. One of the examples of the pacto contract, is the agreement entered by Fernando Tayag with Isidoro Santos of San Fernando. According to the contract signed in 1892, Isidoro Santos will lend Fernando Tayag seven thousand seventy eight pesos in exchange of his landholdings located in barrios Sto Rosario (now part of barrio La Paz) and in San Francisco with option to re-purchase. However, revolution sparked and the sugar industry in Magalang was temporarily slugged. Due to nonpayment of dues to Isidoro Santos, it was taken over by Santos in 1900s and it was added to his vast landholdings in Magalang.

During American period, Magalang was one of the major sugar producers in Pampanga. On the mechanization of agriculture in that time, some Magaleño planters were become more prosperous and their fortunes are mirrored on their heirlooms like their big Americanized mansions built on their landholdings and the evidences of advance education among of their children. Sugar industry in Magalang was gradually faded due to aggressive agrarian reform of the government, and massive urbanization of the town, in which the former sugarcane fields were converted into subdivisions and sometimes, poultry farms.

Photo Credit: Sugar Time courtesy of Alex R. Castro


Acta de protocolizacion de un testamento de este otorgado, Don Aniceto Lacson, www.familysearch.org; Retrieved: April 27, 2016.

Escritura de venta a retro de tierras otorgada por Don Fernando Tayag a favor de Don Ysidoro Santos; www.familysearch.org; Retrieved: April 27, 2016

Magalang According to Anuario del Comercio; amlatmagaleno.blogspot.com; Retrieved: January 5, 2017.

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