Calatagan, Batangas

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Skyline of Calatagan
Official seal of Calatagan
Map of Batangas showing the location of Calatagan
Map of Batangas showing the location of Calatagan
Calatagan is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 13°50′N 120°38′E / 13.833°N 120.633°E / 13.833; 120.633Coordinates: 13°50′N 120°38′E / 13.833°N 120.633°E / 13.833; 120.633
Country Philippines
Region CALABARZON (Region IV-A)
Province Batangas
District 1st District
Founded 1912
Government acquisition October 28, 1957
Barangays 25
 • Mayor Peter Oliver Palacio
 • Total 112.00 km2 (43.24 sq mi)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 51,997
 • Density 460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP code 4215
Dialing code 43
Income class 2nd Class

Calatagan is a municipality in the Province of Batangas, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 51,997 people.[3]

The town comprises the Calatagan Peninsula between the West Philippine Sea and Balayan Bay. The peninsula's near white sand beaches are popular vacation and leisure sites. There are several beach resorts including the Banak House Calatagan on Calatagan beach, the Ronco Beach Resort in barangay Bagong Silang, Playa Calatagan in barangay Sta. Ana, the Golden Sunset Resort in barangay Uno, Lago de Oro Resort in barangay Balibago, Villa Agustina in barangay Bagong Silang, and Nacua Sea Park in barangay Quilitisan. Calatagan was formerly titled as the Forbes Park of the South, because of the rich families who owns their estates here.

An extremely rare example of pre-Spanish Philippine script was found in Calatagan. The script is called Baybayin in Tagalog, and was derived from Javanese writing, which in turn is derived from Brahmi. This writing survived on an earthenware burial jar dated to the 13th or 14th century. A Spanish lighthouse can also be found at Cape Santiago at the peninsula's southern tip dating back to the 1890s and is also one of the municipality's main tourist attractions.


Beach in Calatagan

Calatagan is politically subdivided into 25 barangays.[2]

  • Barangay 1 (Pob.)
  • Barangay 2 (Pob.)
  • Barangay 3 (Pob.)
  • Barangay 4 (Pob.)
  • Bagong Silang
  • Baha
  • Balibago
  • Balitoc
  • Biga
  • Bucal
  • Carlosa
  • Carretunan
  • Encarnacion
  • Gulod
  • Hukay
  • Lucsuhin
  • Luya
  • Paraiso
  • Quilitisan
  • Real
  • Sambungan
  • Santa Ana
  • Talibayog
  • Talisay
  • Tanagan


The word "Calatagan" is taken from the Tagalog word "latag" and is closely associated with "kapatagan", which means a vast portion of flat land lying between the hills and mountains. Thus, Calatagan means a large expanse of wide flat land.[4]

The town is the site of the historically and archaeologically famous "Calatagan Excavation" whose antique pottery and utensils contributed important facts about the culture and activities of the Filipinos before the coming of the Spaniards. Chinese pottery, unearthed from six large cemeteries by archaeologists Olov T.R Jones and Robert B. Fox led to a conclusion made by K. Otley Bayer which points out the existence of a sizable pre-Spanish population in the town. The same studies suggested that there were direct Chinese trade by water in Calatagan and centered at a place called Balong-Bato, wherein an entrance through the reef, which surrounds Calatagan, is still presently used by vessels coming from Mindoro and Manila.

The land occupied by the municipality of Calatagan was acquired by Don Domingo Roxas from the Spanish Crown in 1829 and was called Hacienda De Calatagan. The successors Don Pedro P. Roxas and Don Antonio R. Roxas continued to develop it.

In 1912, by virtue of Executive Order No. 78 by then Governor General Cameron Forbes, Calatagan became a municipality independent from its mother municipality, Balayan.

In 1931, Doña Carmen Roxas, the last heir of the Roxas Clan transferred ownership of the Hacienda to the Zobel brothers, Don Jacobo and Don Alfonso. During the time of the Zobels, the hacienda came to be known as "Central Azucarera de Calatagan" or simply "Central Carmen" when referring to the sugar milling complex.

In 1934, the barangays of Baha and Talibayog which were parts of the Municipality of Balayan were annexed to Calatagan since surveys showed that they are part of the land titled to the original owner of Hacienda Calatagan. This added a big area to the municipality.

In 1957, a decade after the Philippines gained independence from the Americans, the Land Tenure Administration, upon petition of the people of Calatagan bought the Hacienda Lands from the Zobels. These were apportioned to the inhabitants and sold to them at PhP5.00 per hectare payable in installment within a period of 25 years.[4]

Excavated Treasures in Calatagan[edit]

Unknown to the public, one of Asia's major archaeological discoveries is located in the town of Calatagan, Batangas. Before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Calatagan was once a busy trading port and was home to early settlers whose ways of life were hunting, fishing, farming, textile weaving, and trade.

But in the 1950s, the National Museum conducted its very first systematic excavation. It was revealed to the town that Calatagan was indeed a busy trading port in the 14th century. This was proven by the numerous grave sites that yielded artifacts, which were used for trading.

Archaeologists from the Philippine National Museum started excavating the area, with the cooperation of the landowners J.R. McMicking and the Zobel de Ayalas – Alfonso, Enrique, and Fernando.

In 1957, the land was subdivided and sold to tenants Marcelino and Paulino Perado who similarly supported the excavations.

Decades of excavations brought about discoveries of artifacts, mostly ceramics with a variety of forms and sizes such as jars, pitchers, bowls, plates, saucers, jarlets, and figurines. Some artifacts were locally-made pottery, while others were clearly brought in from China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries.

"Archaeologists believe that the excavated objects were proof of maritime trade before the coming of the Spanish colonizers to the Philippines," explains Wilfredo Ronquillo, chief of the Archaeology Division of the National Museum. "The existence of local and imported ceramics is proof of the extensive and vibrant trade between the early settlers of Calatagan and foreign traders."

Also among the excavated treasures are 15th century Calatagan pottery, such as earthenware plates, basins, pots, and other vessels with various patterns made by incisions and impressions.

There were also the 14th and 15th century ceramics, such as glass bracelets, bowls, and vessels from the Ming Dynasty (China), Celadon and Sawankhalok vessels (Thailand and Indo-China), as well as Annamese vessels (Vietnam).

The Calatagan Sites[edit]

The peninsula of Calatagan lies approximately one hundred kilometers south of Manila in the Province of Batangas. It is bordered on the west byte South China Sea, specifically by the protected Verde Island Passage separating the Islands of Mindoro and Luzon, and on the east by the bays of Pagapas and Balayan. The modern town of Calatagan, seat of the Municipal Government since 1914, is exactly one hundred and twenty-six kilometers by road south of Manila, and most of the sites discovered during the extensive reconnaissance of the peninsula lie within a few kilometers of this town.

The Calatagan Sites were first reported in 1934. At that time, Mr. Antonio Pertierra, manager of Hacienda de Calatagan, and Mr. Feliciano Varela were constructing a small airfield just west of the town of Calatagan at a place known locally as Pinagpatayan ("massacre" in Tagalog, suggesting that skeleton had been found there by local inhabitants prior to 1934), and the tractor being used cut into many graves containing procelains and other artifacts. They informed Don Enrique Quisumbing, Director of the National Museum, appraising him of the discovery. Dr. Quisumbing assigned Mr. Ricardo Galang of the Anthropology Division to accomplish a survey of the site. MR. Galang spent the months of February and March 193 with construction team which continued to expose many graves. In all approximately 1,000 whole or broken trade potteries were donated by Don Enrique to the National Museum, as well as those retained by the Zobel Family, were destroyed during World War II.

Pulung Bakaw and Kay Tomas[edit]

The two large burial sites excavated by the Museum team lie west of the town of Calatagan on narrow tongues of land which project into the South China Sea. They have been aptly described as "Cemeteries of the Sea." Each is bordered at present by fishponds in which the milkfish or bangus is raised, as well as by stands of mangrove trees which disguise the original forms of the points.

Pulung Bakaw is remarkably narrow and low with a maximum elevation of less than two meters above the high-water mark. As the owner of the land confines himself to fishing, salt beds, and fishponds culture, he has cultivated the point only once during World War II. Hence, when the excavations began in 1958, most of the point was covered with a stand of the thorny aroma tree (Acasia farnesiana willd.) Common along the shore of Calatagan. The site was relatively undisturbed.[5]

Arrangement of the Burial Sites. Pulung Bakaw and Kay Tomas may both be described as formal cemeteries in which the dead were systematically interred. This was also true of the burial areas of Punta Buaya and Pinagpatayan. At Pulung Bakaw only 12 of 208 graves were disturbed by other graves; at Kay Tomas,9 of 297. n addition, there were only a few instances of grave stratigraphy (these instances revealed no significant differences in the associated trade potteries). As sections of both burial sites were crowded, the implication is that there were grave markers or other signs on the surface denoting the presence of graves.

Head- Taking and Disartculation.- Spanish sources of the 16th century note that head taking was practiced in the Balayan area. it was also practiced at Calatagan. However, careful examination of the skeletal material indicates that violence was an exception. At Pulung Bakaw,only four skeletons were excavated which were apparently the victims of head-taking; at Kay Tomas, fifteen.the skeletal material, with these exceptions, gave no evidence of internecine warfare, as Janse has suggested. moreover, it is highly doubtful if any significance can be given to the Tagalog name for two of the cemeteries, pinagpatayan.



(17 + yrs)

95 170

(11-16 YRS)

25 35

(3-10 YRS)

30 56

(1-2 YRS)

8 14

From the excavationshe did (R. Fox) in the late 1950s the work resulted in the identification of 11 archaeological sites and the retrieval of various artifacts aside from the hundreds of burials he uncovered. At the time of its publication, his book presents the history of archaeological research done at Calatagan, burial studies and observations, the grave artifacts and other finds. he made available tables, stratistical analysis of the burials that he excavated mainly from the Kay Tomas and Pulung Bakaw sites. Also, a preliminary analysis of all the ceramic finds from both of the sites mentioned were made available in the book.[6]

The Kay Tomas Earthenware Complex

The earthenware of the Kay Tomas Complex in Calatagan from the late 14th to the early 16th century A.D., derives many of its characteristics from the Sta. Ana Complex of the 12th to 14th century A.D., But there are no signs among the Calatagan grave wares or in the sherds collection of intermediate stages of development between the two pottery complexes, and the evolution of the Kay Tomas Complex must have taken place elsewhere, possibly in another area in Batangas Province, or in Mindoro, where transitional wares have been noted in unofficial diggings. Kay Tomas style and characteristics had already been established at the time of the interments, and within the life-span of the Calatagan community, there was little or no change in the conventional styles and workmanship, though some of the forms may have originated in this area.[7]

Calatagan Pot[edit]

One of the more spectacular discoveries in Philippine archaeology is an incised pot. The first so far to contain such a significant evidence of ancient Philippine writing. According to the information furnished by the National Museum, it was excavated by pot hunters at Talisay, in the municipality of Calatagan, Batangas province, in the summer of 1961 and was acquired by this government institution through the Research Foundation in Philippine Anthropology and Archaeology, Inc., on July 26, 1961.[8] It is unique and classified as atypical earthenware with ancient syllabic inscription on the shoulder.

The Calatagan ritual pot is the only one of its kind with an ancient script.[9]

The late Dr. Robert Fox brought the pot to the Manila Times editor, Chino Roces, to ask for assistance in deciphering the writing of the pot. The newspaper, as a result, commissioned the sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, an expert on Philippine syllabaries, to decipher the writing. Tolentino had a hard time with certain letters so he, as a spiritist, reportedly summoned his special powers to come up with a translation.

The authenticity of the pot has been questioned since it first showed up. For one thing, no other pot has been found with the same writing. Carbon dating puts it at 2000 to 2500 BC. Despite this, experts do not accept this as fact and place the time at 10th Century for Dr. Dizon and 13th to 14th century for Dr. Guillermo.[10] Dr. Fox wanted to do a thermoluminescence test but didn't live to see it done.

Juan Francisco, a respected Philippine paleographer, did some analysis of the letters in his 1973 book, Philippine Palaeography. However, he could not decipher the writing. His analysis mainly consisted of classifying the letters as curvilinear, lineo-angular, or a combination of the two.

The writing on the pot goes around its mouth. The letters look similar to those of classic Philippine scripts (Tagalog, Tagbanwa, Buhid, and Hanunóo) but some appear to be oriented in strange ways. Some show a similarity to older scripts used in Indonesia, suggesting an earlier development of classic Philippine scripts.The symbols are divided by stop marks into six groups (which may be phrases), each consisting of five or seven symbols.[11]

There are some claims that the inscription is of Pangasinan origin. In a 2008 book by Dr. Eusebio Z. Dizon, Deciphered Secrets of Calatagan Pot Ancient Inscriptions, he notes that "..the Austronesian language by which the Calatagan pot scripts was written, was in a homogeneous and pure Pangasinan language same as what is spoken today, yet it was written in a 10th century Pangasinan.". The purpose of this Ancient Philippine relic is for a shaman or witch doctor to perform his/her rituals.[10]

In the same year, Dr. Ramon Guillermo of UP, states that the pot's inscription is of Tagalog origin and is used as a remembrance for a departed loved one. Guillermo used paleography, cryptography, and the "brute force" attack to crack the code, and he managed to decipher, though not complete, the symbols surrounding the mouth of the pot.[10][12]

Guillermo's study entitled "Ina Bisa Kata: An Experimental Decipherment of the Calatagan Pot Inscription" indicated that the inscriptions translates as:

Ina bisa kata - Sinikap sabihin ni ina

Guna kita payaba - Para sa iyo mahal kong anak

Dulang saya kau kain - Kumain ka sa aking dulang

Dada yang 'ni manogi - Dibdib ko 'tong mabango

Kita sana mabasah - Doon ika'y mabasa

Bagai ke bunga - Tulad ng bulaklak[10]

In 2010, a different theory emerged. Myfel Paluga, head of the Social Sciences Department in UP Mindanao along with Dr. Guillermo (in a surprising turnaround from his 2008 theory) thinks that the pot is of Visayan origin. How and why it was discovered in Batangas cannot be explained thoroughly. According to them, the new translation may be a spell or a charm used by early babaylan or spiritual priestesses during a communal ritual.

Their translation:

Gana bisa kata - Makapangyarihan ang salita ni Gana

Duna kitay halabas - Mayroon tayong halabas

Yawa sala kakaga - Kasamaan, kahinaan, kasinungalingan

Yamyam la ni manugait - Bigkasin mo lamang ito (mga) babaylan

Kita sana magbasa - Basahin natin [itong mga senyas]

Barang kining banga - Kapangyarihan nitong banga![10]


Population census of Calatagan
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 35,543 —    
1995 40,707 +2.57%
2000 45,068 +2.21%
2007 51,544 +1.87%
2010 51,997 +0.32%
Source: National Statistics Office[3]


  1. ^ "Municipalities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Province: Batangas". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Brief Description of LGU". Calatagan LGU Website. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Fox, Robert B., The Calatagan Excavations: Two Fifteen Century Burial Sites in Batangas Philippines
  6. ^ Bautista, Giovanni Geniebla., The Archaeology of Calatagan, Batangas: An Evaluation for the Institution of a Cultural Resource Management Programme in the Locality |date= May 2007
  7. ^ Dorothy Main, The Calatagan Earthenware: A description of Pottery Complexes Excavated in Batangas Province, Philippines
  8. ^ Francisco, Juan R. Philippine Palaeography
  9. ^ "National Museum Collections". February 10, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Vizcarra, Jonathan (October 21, 2011). "The Calatagan Pot". World Famous in the Philippines. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  11. ^ Santos, Hector (1996). "The Calatagan Pot". A Philippine Leaf. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Calatagan pot inscription no longer a mystery". PCIJ. March 27, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 

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