Folklore on How Bataan Got Its Name

Bataan is home to one of the country’s export processing zones. It boasts of sea coasts rich in sea life and beach resort spots. It is also known for big types of mangoes. How did it get its name? This folklore will tell us how.

According to this folklore, when the Spanish Dominican Friars arrived in the Phillipines, they went around to different parts of the country to organize communities and spread their faith. They built big churches in every place they went to. And one of the places, the folklore says, was a locality bordering the central and northern Luzon.

One day, according to the folklore, two Dominican friars arrived in Abucay, one of the small towns in the locality. The place appealed to them at once because the people were kind and courteous. The folklore specifically mentions that they were specially friendly and helpful. The friars noted that people readily made themselves available for whatever help the friars might need. They also noted that the place had lots of happy, playing children everywhere they went, the folklore adds.

One day, as they were walking through the fields, the folklore says that the friars saw boys playing with a big, ugly frog they called “Batan.” The friars could not see how such a repulsive creature could bring about happiness to children. Most children they knew back home would scream and run away from ugly, big frogs. So, the folklore says, they thought, the place probably was lacking sufficient knowledge about things to like and things to reject. So they went over to a group of adults nearby and asked who the kids were, at the same time pointing to them, the folklore adds.

The adults told them over and over that they were “mga bata, nilalaro si Batan” (“kids playing with Batan the frog). The folklore says the friars were unable to comprehend what the folks told them, but did remember the often mentioned “bata” and Batan.” From that time on, the friars referred to the place as Bataan. Soon, the folklore says, folks in the locality also adapted the friars’ term for the place, and took “Bataan” to mean as “the place where kids are fond of Batan,” the folklore concludes.

Filipinos of long ago easily gave room to foreigner’s opinions as part of their hospitality. They seldom argued with whites. This folklore shows how most Filipinos in the past readily took in most of their conquerors’ opinions.

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