Archdiocese of Lipa
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Language

As of 2006, there are 2,131,419 people in the territory where 1,995,258 or 93.6 percent are baptized Catholics. Languages predominantly spoken are English and Filipino (Tagalog).

Batanguenos (people of Batangas) are mainly descendants of the ancient Tagalog speakers (the Tagalog spoken before the arrival of the Spanish) who speak the dialect with a very strong accent. Other people understand Spanish, and some towns like Nasugbu, Taal and Lemery still have some Spanish speakers. A significant minority who migrated here from Southern Philippines speak Visayan.

History

From the CBCP website: Batangas was originally called Balayan, with Taal as its first capital. In 1754 the capital was moved to Batangas, its capital today. Historically, Batangas is known as the birth place of Apolinario Mabini, a Filipino hero known as the "Sublime Paralytic" who became Secretary of State of the First Philippine Republic. The last Filipino general to surrender to Americans in the Philippine American War, Miguel Malvar, was also from this province.

The Diocese of Lipa was created on April 10, 1910, separating it from that of Manila. Its titular is St. Joseph the Patriarch and its secondary patron is the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

The diocese then covered the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque and Mindoro, with the late Archbishop Joseph Petrelli as the first bishop. He was faced with a monumental task because the diocese was large and there was but a handful of priests.

Then Bishop Petrelli invited different religious congregations to come to his diocese and help minister to the spiritual needs of the faithful. He also conceived the building of a seminary in the diocese. In June l914 a diocesan seminary was built in Bauan, which was later transferred to San Pablo in Laguna. This initiative of the first bishop was continued by the next bishop, the late Alfredo Verzosa, who served a long term from 1916 to 1950. He invited priests from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help in the administration of the new seminary.

In 1950 then Archbishop Rufino Santos took over the diocese. Described as a financial administrator of great acumen, the archbishop later turned cardinal applied for bank loans to help construct some buildings. This way he continued the construction work of the Cathedral of Lipa and built a major seminary beside it.

With the departure of Cardinal Santos for the Archdiocese of Manila came a young bishop, Bishop Alejandro Olalia, who stayed with the diocese from 1953 to 1973. It was during his term that the Diocese of Lipa, on June 20, 1972, became the tenth Archdiocese and Ecclesiastical Province by order of the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI. This same order elevated Bishop Olalia to the rank of archbishop on August 15, 1972.

Archbishop Olalia died in 1973 and was replaced by Archbishop Ricardo Vidal who stayed with the diocese until 1981. During his incumbency, Archbishop Vidal organized the Pastoral Council, and initiated the construction of the Lipa Archdiocesan Formation Center. He succeeded as Cebu archbishop in 1982, a post he holds until now. In 1985 he was elevated to cardinal.

Archbishop Vidal was replaced in 1981 by Bishop Mariano Gaviola who stayed with the diocese from 1981 to 1993. He was at the helm of the archdiocese as it celebrated its 75th anniversary on March 19, 1993, when the reins of the archdiocese were again transferred, this time to Bishop Gaudencio Rosales, a native of Batangas City. He was ordained priest in Lipa in 1958, became Auxiliary Bishop of Manila in 1974, served as bishop in Malaybalay in 1982, and on December 30, 1992 he was elected Archbishop of Lipa. In 2003 he was appointed as Manila archbishop and in 2006 was made cardinal.

As the Archdiocese of Lipa changed hands over the years, changes too were happening to its territorial jurisdiction over certain areas. These were proud moments for the archdiocese, when a number of provinces had acquired the capability to stand on their own. Thus in 1936 Mindoro was separated and became the Apostolic Prelature of Calapan. In 1950 Lucena became a diocese of its own, and also in 1950 the Prelature of Infanta was created, comprising the northern part of Quezon Province, Polilio and Aurora, Laguna's turn came next and became a separate diocese in 1967, that of San Pablo. The Diocese of Boac in Marinduque was created in 1977 and that of Gumaca in 1984. Both dioceses were part of the Diocese of Lucena before their establishment. In 1983 the new Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro was created.

Today the Archdiocese of Lipa is for the province of Batangas alone. But the population has multiplied many times over. The archdiocese is divided into 7 vicariates, each headed by a vicar forane. Except for the parishes in Vicariate IV which are run by the Oblates of St. Joseph, all other parishes are run by the diocesan clergy.

On August 18, 1995, after much review, and meetings presided over by Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales himself, the archdiocese's vision was conceived: "A people of God called by the Father in Jesus Christ to be communities of totally developed human persons in the world, witnessing to the Kingdom of God by living the Paschal Mystery in the power of the Holy Spirit."

The archdiocese is currently preparing for the April 2008 launch of their three-year centennial celebration as a diocese. Lipa archdiocese's centennial anniversary is on April 10, 2010.

Political

The political administration is headed by the provincial governor, city and town mayors and vice mayors, with local boards/councils in barangays (villages). Four congressmen represent the province's four legislative districts.

Batangas was one of the earliest encomiendas made by the Spaniards who settled in the country. The province is also famous for its statesmen and heroes like Apolinario Mabini, Jose Laurel, Claro M. Recto, and Felipe Agoncillo.

The current governor of Batangas, former Lipa City mayor Vilma Santos-Recto is the first woman governor of the province.

Transportation

Means of transportation to adjoining areas and Manila include air-conditioned vans. Buses both air-conditioned and regular are the main transport to Manila. Jeepneys and mini-buses are used for nearer destinations. Tricycles are also used in many towns.

Since the province is located near Metropolitan Manila, it is very accessible by land and sea.

Batangas International Port which is next only to that of Manila International Port, is a primary entry point of goods from the Southern part of the country and abroad.

Geography

The Archdiocese of Lipa, with a total land area of 3,165.81 square kilometers, is located in the southwestern part of the island of Luzon. It is bounded on the north by the province of Cavite and on the east by the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. It faces the China Sea on the west and on the south opens to the Balayan and the Batangas Bays. It is 111 kilometers from Manila by the most direct land route. The northernmost town, Santo Tomas, is only 65 kilometers from Manila.

The province surrounds Lake Taal from which Taal Volcano rises in the center. The rich soil of Batangas was formed from volcanic tuff coming from the active volcanoes of Taal. The terrain is characterized by rolling hills, plateaus and low mountains, the highest of which is Mount Makiling which is only 1,109 meters in elevation.

The place has a hilly terrain and few large flat areas. Taal Lake, famous for its endemic fish, tawilis, occupies a huge sunken area. Almost at its center is Taal Volcano, known as the smallest volcano in the world with an elevation of 600 meters. It has erupted several times since 1911, spewing volcanic ashes and tuffs rendering the soil fertile while causing panic and disturbances to inhabitants of surrounding towns.

The archdiocese comprises the civil province of Batangas. Its suffragans are the dioceses of Boac, Gumaca and Lucena, the Prelature of Infanta and the Apostolic Vicariates of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro and San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.

The area's dry season is from November to April. The rest of the year is the wet season. The driest month is March and the coldest is February. Lipa City and the municipality of Mataasnakahoy enjoy the coolest temperatures.

Many sea turtles visit the place and the provincial government has passed a law prohibiting the killing of these creatures due to massive hunting.

A local tree called malabayabas

Economy

The province is rich in natural resources. Almost 80 percent of Batanguenos have a piece of land to cultivate, and the Batangas farmer is known for his intensive cultivation of land. This was brought about in large part by big landowners selling portions of their land, thus eliminating social unrest.

Long before intercrop planting was introduced in the nearby provinces, Batanguenos planted coffee, citrus, black pepper, corn, rice, sweet potatoes, and a wide variety of vegetables to supplement family incomes.

Fishing and mineral reserves abound in the province which also has a number of manufacturing industries including petroleum refineries, sugar centrals, food and beverage companies, and countless cottage industries. The coastline is dotted with beach resorts often frequented by local and foreign tourists, especially the diving aficionados.

Their cottage industries include hand-embroidered clothes, ready-to-wear clothes, fish and shrimp pastes (bagoong), fruit and vegetable preserves and other native delicacies. Other sources of income are blanket- and mosquito net-weaving.

Taal town is known for its hand embroideries, fan knives (balisong), and sausages and is one of the two most culturally preserved sites of the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. The town also processes pineapple leaves into a kind of cloth called gusi, used for making the country's national costume for men, the Barong Tagalog.

The province is also one of the popular tourist destinations near the National Capital Region (NCR, Metropolitan Manila) because of its many beaches and diving spots ideal for observing marine life and for photography.

Batangas is also known for its livestock industry, especially cattle. And since it is near the sea, fishing is also a very important part of the economy. Sugar is another major industry. Nasugbu municipality where the plant

Telecommunication

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) provides phone lines while Smart Communications, Globetel, Mobiline, and Extelcom provide cellular (mobile) phone coverage.

Education

Most families can afford to send their children to school, which explains the high literacy rate. The few who cannot read or write are elderly people in remote areas.

The National Statistics Office Demographic and Social Statistics Division reports that as of 2003, simple literacy in Region IV-A is 97.2 percent and functional literacy is at 90.4 percent.

Culture

Batangas is the cradle of national heroes like Miguel Malvar (a general of the revolutionary forces against the Spaniards in the latter part of the 19th century), Apolinario Mabini (the "Sublime Paralytic" who was the "Brains of the Revolution"), Teodora Agoncillo (who aided the revolutionaries and made the first Philippine flag).

Young people organize outings and picnics on beaches that surround the province.

Summertime for the young is also a time for dancing and attending concerts of local and foreign artistes. Community sports leagues of various ballgames are also popular among the young.

Western culture exerts a strong influence and has greatly changed the way of life compared to the 1970s.

Communications devices such as the cell phone and media such as VCD, CD, TV, radio and magazines are largely responsible for this. Kissing the hands of elders, the traditional way of showing respect known as mano po, has been changed to kissing the cheeks, a gesture of greeting. But as in most parts of the Philippines, young people still kiss the hands of priests, especially after Mass. The onslaught of materialism and consumerism has affected moral values, especially for the young.

Still, many young people are actively involved in parish choirs, as altar servers, and in different Church organizations.

Although inclined to social activities, they participate in projects designed to alleviate the plight of the less privileged by contributing and soliciting funds for this purpose.

In May, all chapels and parish churches become the center of each community for the month-long daily devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated through praying the rosary and floral offerings.

‘Belen’ exhibit in Philippines open to public

‘Belen’ exhibit in Philippines open to public Dubbed “Halina sa Sabsaban,” the exhibit forms part of the private collection of Father Genaro O. Diwa of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Commission on Liturgy, who is avidly fond of them.