Calamba History, Philippines
The history behind Calamba’s name started with a legend of two Spanish soldiers or guardia civils who got lost as they passed through what is presently Calamba. The soldiers came across a girl carrying a jar of water and a stove. The soldiers unconsciously speaking Spanish and, with imposing tone to cover up their situation, asked the girl where they were. The lady, however, who only spoke her native dialect, thought they were inquiring about what she was carrying and uttered nervously the words “kalan-banga,” which means clay stove for “kalan” and water jar for “banga.” The Spanish soldiers had difficulty pronouncing it and called it Calamba instead.
The legend was commemorated with a large concrete water jar in the city’s plaza with the names of the different barangays engraved on it. It is now known as the “World’s Largest Claypot,” and is also included in the city’s seal.
From Town to City
When the Spaniards first visited the region in 1571, they found the local Tagalogs, who settled in large communities along the Laguna de Bay’s shores trading with the Chinese. After establishing Spanish settlements, the area called Bay became the center of trade and the first capital of the province. The fertile soils of Laguna provided much needed supplies and resources. The haciendas or lands were of course managed and controlled by the Spanish friars, which also led to several disputes among locals and Chinese traders.
Calamba was then part of Tabuco, now known as Cabuyao, until it became an independent town or pueblo on August 28, 1742.
Calamba’s part in Philippine history surfaced during the country’s revolution against Spain in the late 1900’s. The city became the birthplace of important historic figures who are now national heroes particularly Dr. Jose Rizal, Gen. Paciano Rizal, Gen., Vicente Lim, Lt. Geronimo Aclan and Teodora Alonzo.
Agrarian conflicts with the friars continued to emerge and the measures taken by the Spaniards to drive out local tenants led to support calls for reform and independence.
The province of Laguna then became one of the first provinces that revolted against the Spanish regime and was in full support of the First Philippine Republic.
The Japanese occupation during the World War II became a bloody era in Calamba’s history. Local civilians were massacred by the Imperial Japanese Army and the guerillas’ battles with the invaders were frequent at that time. The towns of Laguna, including Calamba, suffered immensely as towns were burned and properties were lost.
During the declaration of the Philippine Commonwealth, soldiers and local guerillas taken in Calamba locked arms and fought against the Japanese forces.
After the war, the city of Calamba rapidly progressed in peace. On April 21, 2001, through the enactment of Republic Act No. 9024, and approval of the local plebiscite, Calamba was declared as Laguna’s second component city.
Presently, Calamba stands as a progressive and developed city. The history of Calamba has always been a reminder of how the city emerged from a city torn by war to become a city of first-class stature.
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