An old Random map and more Alabang history

May 7, 2020
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I found this undated map online showing the barangays of Muntinlupa and nearby towns. It appears to be more of a pictorial than scientific reference. There’s not a lot of data other than names.

Alabang, Bayanan, Sucat and Cupang is on the map. Interesting is that Tunasan was written without “San Pedro.” The old hacienda name was San Pedro de Tunasan (San Pedro and Tunasan today). This was the area’s name for a long time.

Even Pres. Marcos in his diaries (already in the 1970-80s) referred to it as San Pedro Tunasan. Old-timers I spoke with from San Pedro (Laguna) not only remember the name, but they also used it.

Random Maps

Sometimes random maps I discover solve lingering history related questions inside my head. Like where did Alabang got its name?

I found the answer in Calamba several years ago. It was the writer Pepe Alas who told me about the map. It was painted on a wall there in the Rizal shrine. The river was illustrated cutting through Alabang. Its name, Rio Alban.

Today it’s called Alabang river. Yes, that rivulet you see in Filinvest Mall Alabang.

Name Switch

I have seen maps, from the mid to late 1900s, that labeled Alabang (Alban) River as Mangangate. This was common. Perhaps the reason why it was lost from memory.

There are two Alabang tributaries that drain to Laguna de Ba’y. The one in Filinvest Mall is Alabang River. Mangangate creek is up north, behind Sharp Philippines. The two converges somewhere near Kawasaki Philippines.

Most old maps have errors. Maps then were pictorial representations, more of an art form than a science. This map is no exception.

Alabang river was mistaken to be Mangangate, while the Mangangate as Pasong Diablo. I reckon this could also be the old name.

A Very Different Alabang

Alabang’s first modern buildings were from the Bureau of Agriculture. This started back in 1919 onwards.

The first structure was the facilities for the state’s serum research. Vaccines for cows and horses were their area of expertise.

So there was a time that herd of cows and band of horses grazed the area. The whole place probably resembled an old rancho.

Another forgotten history is that Alabang used to have experimental rice fields in the 1930s. Here, different seeds were studied for our farmer’s benefit.

But before Alabang and IRRI in Los Baños. There was Arroceros. Parian de Arroceros was a market where commodities like rice (arroz) where sold and traded.

In 1860 a botanical garden and a small zoo took its place.

The late historian Pio Andrade Jr. told me the area was managed by the friars. Here they studied and taught rice cultivation. Arroceros was destroyed during WWII.

And so, was it the river that gave its name to Alabang or the other way around?

Now that’s the chicken or the egg causality dilemma. We probably need more time to figure it all out.

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Monch WellerArnaldo Recent comment authors
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Monch Weller

Very interesting post, sir! Permit me to share some thoughts, as this evoked a lot of memories. 🙂 For a long time, I thought that development in Muntinlupa only started after the New Bilibid Prisons were established there in the 1930s to decongest the Old Bilibid (now the Manila City Jail). I first heard of the term “Tunasan” in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, with Capitan Tiago and Tia Isabel debating whether to tithe at the Cross of Tunasan (which grows miraculously) or at the Cross of Matahong (up north in Malabon, which “sweats” miraculously) for the speedy recovery of Maria… Read more »