History of Caloocan City

History of Caloocan

The people of Caloocan should be proud of their city. It had at one time or another, romantic flings with history. Foremost among these episodes were the events that took place in 1896, when organized armed resistance rose against the tyranny of the Spanish masters in the Philippines. These caught the attention of the Filipino people and the world as well. The name Caloocan has always been prominently written in the pages of our history.Writers, poets, and even balladeers always mentioned the Cry of Balintawak; the names of Andres bonifacio, Tandang Sora, Antonio Luna, Torres Bugallon, Cecilio Apostol.

How Caloocan got its present name is a story by itself. According to opinions and even beliefs, the name Caloocan orginated from the Tagalog word “lo-ok” (bay) in view of its proximity to Manila Bay being located in Dagat-Dagatan, a small lake separated by Manila Bay and town of Navotas. Others believed that the word “lo-ok” meant “sulok” or corner. In the past, Caloocan was actually located “at the corner” where the ends of the old towns of Tondo and Tambobong (Malabon) meet.

The first name of Caloocan when it was still a small barrio of Tondo was Aromahan or Espina as the Spaniards used to call it. The site of the barrio was located in a low place called Libis, west of the center of the poblacion of Caloocan. It was then commonly called Libis Espina.

In 1762 the spanish Augustinian priests reached the insular “lo-ok”, and eventually established the first Catholic Church the barrio in 1765. However, the spiritual administration of Caloocan was transferred to the Recollectos in 1814.

In 1802 Caloocan began to grow. When it was converted into a town in 1815, the poblacion had to be moved from the western fringe to its present site.

Caloocan is divided into two areas. Southern Caloocan City lies directly north of the City of Manila and is bounded by Malabon City and Valenzuela City to the north, Navotas to the west, and Quezon City to the east. Northern Caloocan City is the northermost territory of Metro Manila and lies to the east of Valenzuela City, north of Quezon City, and south of San Jose del Monte City in the province of Bulacan.
The city is politically subdivided into 188 barangays.

Early records reveal that the first inhabitants of Caloocan were composed of “Chinese, mestizos or Indians of the Philippines. Father Zuñiga described them as dull-colored, thin-beared, flat nosed, and black-eyed. In their customs, ingenuity, and qualities, they are like the rest of the nation..”

The arable portions of Libis Espina owned by the Augustinians were leased to the inhabitants. At that time, there were only about 500 inhabitants.

Most of the people were fishermen, especially those who resided near Dagat-Dagatan, the Navotas and Manila Bay boundaries. Those who inhabited in the mountain areas were engaged in agriculture, producing crops. The large agricultural areas were those in the Maysilo Estate, owned by the Jesuits; the Piedad owned by Don Pedro de Galarraga; and the Cruz and Naligas Estates, owned by the friars.

The British invasion in 1762 and the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Philippines in 1768 have totally changed the socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants. The Spanish Government confiscated most of the agricultural lands in Caloocan, the bigger portion of which was owned by the Maysilo Estate. Later on, this was sold to a Spanish mestizo.

The British occupation of manila had ill effects on the peace and order condition of Caloocan. When they gained full control of the Walled city, they opened the jails and set all the prisoners free. Based on the account of Father Zuñiga, these prisoners, joined by other restless elements sought refuge in Caloocan, “murdered men were seen on the roads, naked and pierced with dagger stabs, thereby showing the terrible conditions in which they had been killed to rob them.”

When Caloocan became a town in 1815, it occupied a vast territory. Its territorial jurisdiction was bounded on the north by the barrio of Tinajeros, Malabon, and Tanza River; on the east by the town of Marikina; on the south by the towns of Sampalok and Santa Cruz, the Hacienda de Santa Mesa, and the sitio of San Francisco del Monte; and on the west by the towns of Tondo and Malabon. The first gobernadorcillo was Mariano Sandoval, while the first curate was Fray Manuel Vaquerro, a Recollect.

Miguel Saludes became the first capitan municipal when the Maura Law changed the Title of the town head during the last three years of the Spanish regime. Others who held the same position were Silverio Baltazar and Pedro Sevilla.

The socio-economic condition greatly improved after Caloocan was established as a town in 1815. The town became peaceful. It no longer suffered from restless residents caused by the collection of tributes, forced labor, agrarian unrest, and oppression committed by the Spanish officials.

Shortly after the town was constituted, people were producing various agricultural products and engaged in weaving, rope making, quarrying, and even earthen-jar making. As a consequence of the galleon trade, the country’s merchants experienced a boom in the trade between Manila and Acapulco. The flow of products from the Philippines resulted in the inflow of more Mexican money. Within the context of trade necessities for the mutual benefit of Manila and Acapulco, the demand for Philippine products increased. Export products produced by Caloocan entrepreneurs were in great demand in Manila to meet the commitments of the Philippine traders to Acapulco.

When the Manila Railroad Company Limited started developing a railway, the people of Caloocan had high hopes of enjoying economic benefits upon the completion of the project.

On February 23, 1892 the hopes of the people of Caloocan for a better socio-economic life became a reality when part of the Manila-Dagupan line from Manila to Mabalacat, Pampanga was inaugurated. Historian Leopoldo R. Serrano described the event thus: “ The locomotive name Hernando Cortes pulling two de luxe cars, two first class cars, six second-class cars, and two freight cars arrived at the Caloocan station at 7:17 o’clock in the morning. The train carried the governor general; the archbishop of Manila; the segundo cabo; the intendant; and the civil governors of Manila, Pampanga, and Tarlac-the three provinces benefited by the lines. These dignitaries spent some time in Caloocan inspecting the warehouses and shops of the Manila Railroad Company.”

The door of economic opportunities for the people of Caloocan was fully opened when the railroad line from Manila to Dagupan was finally opened on November 23, 1892 ten (10) months after the Manila-Mabalacat line was inaugurated.

Quoting again historian Serrano, “The completion of the Manila-Dagupan line proved to be a great boon to the inhabitants of Caloocan. It brought the town closer to Manila and other points in Central Luzon, facilitated the transportation of the products of the town to those points, and gave employment to many residents of Caloocan. The coming of the British and Spanish railway employees also favorably affected the town.”

Source: Caloocan Government


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