Lemery, the only town in Batangas named after a Spanish official, and its history

Lemery Map by HueMan1

Photo Credit – Wikipedia by HueMan1

Archeological finds at ancient gravesites in Lemery include pre-Hispanic artifacts and that the people of this region, called Bombon, conducted a lively trade with Arab, Chinese and Indian merchants over the centuries. Upon the arrival of conquistadores Juan de Salcedo and Martin Goiti in 1570, the Bombon inhabitants were easily subdued. Delighted by the rivers and “excellent meadows,” the Spanish soon granted tracts of land (encomienda) to individuals and used Catholicism to spread their cause. A century and a half would pass before the locals, annoyed that Augustinians and Jesuits had snatched their land, began revolting against the class-conscious Spaniards.

During the early part of the 18th century, adventurous settlers from Taal, northern Mindoro, and southern Cavite were attracted to the vast plain near the shores of Balayan Bay because of its abundance in fish and other marine life. Salting and drying fish became their major occupation due to the great demand of salted and dried fish by the people of Cavite, Mindoro, Laguna, and Batangas. People came in great numbers to join the settlers, and the village became populous. The place was first called Punta, meaning “point”. In 1818, the village of Punta was converted into one of the barrios of the Municipality of Taal. It was later renamed San Geronimo, not after the saint but, instead, after its first permanent priest.

In 1858, the barrio of San Geronimo became officially known as Lemery, after Captain Roberto Lemery, a commanding officer of the local military garrison. Captain Lemery was known for his deep ties with the community. Most of Batangas’ 31 municipalities and three cities are named after a patron saint, a plant or some forgotten folkloric story. Lemery is the only geopolitical unit of the province that is named after a Spanish official, something remarkable in itself considering the length of Spain’s rule over the Philippines.

Captain Roberto Lemery formed relationships with heads of the local church to learn the local language and cooperate with the locals instead of using abusive methods to curtail the growing resentment towards Spanish rule. He was so well-loved that, soon after his death in 1856, locals petitioned the colonial government to have the town of San Geronimo changed to Lemery in his honor.

In 1862, Lemery and its surrounding barrios were separated from the Municipality of Taal. It became a district municipality thru the efforts of Candida Cesario Valenzuela, Manuel Cabrera, Policarpio Mariño and Domingo Agoncillo. Jose Cabrera became the First Gobernadorcillo of the newly created town.

The local military garrison was officially incorporated into the Guardia Civil upon the latter’s creation in 1868. It operated under the Spanish Army and Spanish colonial government and remained the de facto police force in the entire Philippines until its independence from Spain in 1898.

Like neighboring Taal, just one km. east of Lemery, it is a fishing and agricultural-processing center and also has some two-story colonial houses. Its notable livestock market attracts traders from other provinces. For economic considerations, Lemery was again annexed to Taal in 1904. Finally, by virtue of Executive Order 1549 of the Philippine Civil Commission, it became an independent municipality in 1907. Lemery is now politically subdivided into 46 barangays. The municipality also serves as a provincial urban center for its surrounding rural municipalities including Taal, San Nicolas, Agoncillo and San Luis.

 

Sources:

Philippines Handbook by Carl Parkes

Insight Guide Philippines by Discovery Channel

Wikipedia

 


3 thoughts on “Lemery, the only town in Batangas named after a Spanish official, and its history

  1. I have a nostalgic feeling about Lemery since we lived there for a year when I was in fourth grade. Dad owned a Shell gas station in Lemery and I went to our Lady of Caysasay Catholic School in Taal next to the Basilica.

    Like

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