San Juan, Batangas - War Years - American Occupation

American Occupation

Led by General Malvar, Batangueños readily joined the Katipunan inspired by the organization’s idealism in the uprising against a faltering Spanish administration. The Batangas provincial militia thus refused to readily give up the cause to the Aves de Rapina (in reference to the Eagle symbol of the American invading forces). “The Filipino Generals who resisted - Miguel Malvar of Sto. Tomas, Nicolas Gonzales of Tanauan and Braulio de Villa of San Juan - were great men. It was in Calamba where the great battle was fought to prevent the Americans from entering Batangas province”. “Among the other towns in the province of Batangas, San Juan fought harder against the Americans that it necessitated an order from Gen. Franklin Bell to activate the repressive zona system in the town. This caused hardship to San Juan where perhaps in the whole Tagalog region, San Juan lost the most number of people (from disease, if not from battle wounds).” (Aklat II, p. 5). In an account of the Philippine-American war obtained from the Internet⁵, it was written that “one (zona) camp 2 miles wide by one mile long housed 8,000 Filipinos and sometimes over 200 were confined to one building. In camps in Lobo and San Juan, over 20% of the population died.” The 1903 census declared mortality rates in Batangas Province as follows:

Town Population Mortality
San Juan 11,853 3,276
Taal 17,525 1,971
San Jose 8,996 1,061
Rosario 8,326 864
Lobo 5,781 805

Despite the gallant stand of the Batangueños, the American military machine was formidable. On February 4, 1900, the Americans took over the town government of San Juan, the easternmost town of the province. In describing the stubborn and ill-fated resistance of Batangueños against the American army, American observer Claude E. Sawyer disparagingly wrote in his journal: They are little; they all fight; they are all Christians, devout fanatical Roman Catholics - everybody from the cradle to the grave.” (Aklat II, p.5).

On February 2, 1902, the areas of Batangas (including San Juan) that was under military rule were demilitarized by the Americans and on April 2, 1902 General Miguel Malvar (General Emilio Aguinaldo’s military officer for the province of Batangas) finally surrendered to the Americans. In 1935, the Philippine Commonwealth was established under the Tydings- McDuffie Act where among other changes, the title of town executive was changed from Presidente Municipal to Municipal Mayor – the American title for town executive that we use up to today.

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