At first glance, anybody would think that Tabaco, Albay in Legaspi City probably got its name from some tobacco plants in the area. Well, one thinking that would wrong.
Here’s a folklore on how the place really got its name.
The folklore begins with a time when the Bicol region, during Spanish times, was said to be inhabited by very friendly natives. But then some Spaniards occupying the region became hostile to the inhabitants. Being too cruel to the natives, the news soon spread quickly to other localities in the area. Soon, many local people despised the mere sight of the invaders. One day, the folklore has it that two Spaniards ventured to some remote village and there found a beautiful young lady. She was known in the place for her talent for herbal medicine. One of the two foreigners fell for her native beauty.
The young lady’s father was annoyed by the two foreigners so that one day, as the folklore goes, when the two came over to the girl’s home for a visit and some herbal medicine samples, her father reacted in an unfriendly manner. The folklore adds that the place was also known for the people’s penchant for bladed weapons and its craft. Thus, the father owned a well sharpened native sword known in the vernacular as a “tabak.” The folklore stresses that every man in that village was armed with a “tabak” as a work implement and for self-defense.
So, as the Spaniards approached, they wondered about what the name of the place was. They thought it was a perfect way to establish rapport with the father. Coming closer and asking the name of the place, the folklore says the father was very alarmed at them and shouted to her daughter for his native sword. “Give me my sword! Give me my sword!” In the vernacular, he said, “Tabak ko! Tabak ko!” The foreigners, thinking that the answer to their query was “Tabaco,” soon spread the word that the name of the place was Tabaco in Albay. Soon afterwards, even local folks started calling their place by the name.
What of the “tabak” and the Spaniards? Well, the folklore admits that the natural friendly and hospitable spirit of the natives in the place got the better of the father, and soon the foreigners were tolerated and befriended.
Though fond of deadly bladed weapons, this folklore shows a people naturally gifted with kindness and hospitality can still opt for peaceful settlement in the face of adversity.