Lipa

Lipa Batangas

Lipa City has been historically popular for its coffee, Our Lady, and Ate Vi. We’ll talk about the Star for all Seasons and the first female mayor of Lipa may be in another blog post, when we get the chance to meet the now Batangas governor in person.

For now, let’s talk about two historic events that made Lipa a national sensation.

Lipa Cathedral

The ancestry of the people of Lipa is traced to the the two Bornean Datus Dumangsil and Balkasusa. The recorded history of Lipa began with the coming of the Spaniards led by  Martin de Goiti in 1570. The Augustinian missionaries established a mission center which they named in honor of the Christian martyr San Sebastian.

Like most towns surrounding Taal Volcano, Lipa moved a number of times upland to escape from destruction brought by volcanic eruptions. Its church was reconstructed at the same time along with the moving of the towns people.

Lipa Cathedral baptistry

Lipa Cathedral

The construction of the Lipa Cathedral started in 1779 and finally completed in 1865. As described by Fr. Pedro Galende in the coffeetable book Angels in Stones, the Lipa Cathedral is a typical mission style composing of three buildings – church, convent and bell tower.

Lipa Kapeng Barako

For about six months, around the years 1886 to 1888, Lipa became world’s only supplier of coffee. During that period, this Batangas town became a national sensation for its wealth and the envy of other towns.

Seeds of Liberica species from Mexico was introduced to Lipa by Augustinian missionaries. The unparalleled prosperity came to Lipa when coffee producing countries in Europe and the Americas were infested and the town became the world’s sole supplier of coffee bean. With an annual municipal income of Php. 4,000,000, the Reina Regente Maria Cristina granted the title of Villa to Lipa in 1887.

Lipa Casa de Segunda

Lipa grand house

During the period of wealth and extravagance, landowners built palatial mansions and furnished it with top of the line European furniture. The fashionable store La Estrella del Norte in Manila’s high street, Escolta put up a branch in Lipa to cater to its A-list clients.

Like in most towns in the country, Lipa was burned to the ground during World War II. Only handful of mansions remain today. One is the Luz-Katigbak Ancestral House, which miraculously survived the bombings. The house has been restored as a vacation house and was recently turned into a private museum.

Casa de Segunda

Casa de Segunda Lipa

Casa de Segunda was home to Don Manuel Luz and Segunda Katigbak. It was turn into a musuem dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal’s first love, Segunda Katigbak. While most of the furniture in this 1880’s ancestral house were recently acquired to match the look and feel of the house. But there are a few furniture that is part of the original house like the marble chess table. It is said that Don Manuel Luz defeated Rizal in a game of chess in this same table.

Lipa Carmelite Church

The coffee boom in Lipa ended. For the next years, Lipa was a quiet town until in 1948 when for the first time the Blessed Virgin made an apparition to a postulant in a small Carmelite Monastery in Lipa. The apparition of the Blessed Virgin as Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace, the messages to the visionary Teresita Castillo, and the shower of rose petals is another event in history that made Lipa a national sensation.

Casa de Segunda

National hero na. Loverboy pa. This is how the museum guide at the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago described Dr. Jose Rizal while pointing at the portraits of women that were romantically linked to our national hero. Of the nine identified, three were Filipinas: Segunda Katigbak, Leonor Valenzuela, and Leonor Rivera.

Historians mention Segunda Katigbak as Rizal’s first love interest. Too bad for the young Rizal, the 14-year old maiden from Lipa Batangas was engaged to marry Manuel Luz, who also hailed from one of the prominent families in Lipa Batangas.  Still existing on Calle Rizal in Lipa is the Luz-Katigbak Ancestral House also known as Casa de Segunda.

This bahay-na-bato was built in the 1880’s. It was time when Lipa was envied by other towns in the country for its wealth. This unparalleled prosperity came to this Batangas town when coffee producing countries in Europe and the Americas were infested and Lipa became the world’s sole supplier of coffee bean.

In 1887, the Reina Regente Maria Cristina granted the title of Villa to Lipa. At that same time, Segunda’s father, former gobernadorcillo Don Norberto Catigbac y Calao (the surnames later Filipinized to Katigbak and Kalaw) was awarded with the Grand Cross of the Order of Reina Isabel La Catolica as recognition for his outstanding services that benefited the Spanish crown.

Like in most towns in the country, Lipa was burned to the ground during World War II. Fortunately, the Luz-Katigbak Ancestral house was spared from the bombings. The house has been restored as a vacation house and was recently turned into a private museum.

Most of the things we learned about the house and its original owners came from Lilet Malabanan, granddaughter of Segunda Katigbak. Being such a gracious host, she proudly showed us around the house of her Lola Unday (Segunda) and Lolo Uwel (Manuel).

The ground floor or silong was usually used as storage for the produce and it also where the caruaje was parked. When they opened the house as a museum, reading materials were placed in the lower floor for the visitors.

On the left wing of the ground floor is the dining room with a unique bastonero or hat rack.  

Climbing up the main staircase leads to the spacious living room. In one corner is a piano and an old violin. Mrs. Malabanan narrated that the children and grandchildren of Manuel and Segunda got inclined into music. They performed like a small orchestra usually after dinner.

Mrs. Malabanan explained that most of the current furniture was recently acquired to match the look and feel of the house. But there are a few furniture that is part of the original house like the marble chess table. It is said that Don Manuel Luz defeated Rizal in a game of chess in this same table.

The second floor is surrounded by huge windows with original capiz sliding-panels. Below the windows are ventanillas that were opened to allow cross-ventilation.

Passing the mesa altar, we were led to the bedrooms. Segunda’s bedroom has a four-poster bed with intricate carvings and a huge aparador

Our tour of the house ended at the courtyard. Mrs. Malabanan shared that her Lola Unday loved this house. She narrated that while some family members migrated to Manila, her Lola Unday chose to stay in this house until her last days.

-Valentine’s Day 2012

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