lucena 1929-1931

This week I borrowed from Carlos Villariba, my brother archivist, an old telephone directory of Quezon province. It was compiled by Monico Songco, the Quezon provincial cashier in 1929. It had interesting items and I spent reading it cover to cover. The directory is so different from what we have now. It starts with a list of all the government senators up to town officials and inspectors (even their drivers are included) up to the profiles of all the towns. It is similar to a provincial census with a yellow page directory . Perusing the pages, the names of all officials and their posts, citizens who have properties worth 5000 pesos, professionals, tinsmiths, lamplighters, tobacco dealers and even cockpit proprietors are enumerated. I tried to find my grandparents names but since they were simple folks, the directory did not carry their names.

The school fund for 1925 in Lucena was reported as P41,679.47 with 17 barrios and a population of 12,108 ( males 6357,females5751 ). I checked how many women professionals were listed and found many male professionals, a few women midwives and teachers but only one woman doctor and one woman lawyer. Women found it difficult then to go to higher studies, much less practice their profession. Other than the names, what I found worth reading was the enumeration of technical and vocational workers, from tinsmiths, butchers, bakers, copra dealers,tailors to telephone operators and the drivers of officials. The towns did honor the common workers and even if they did not own properties above the 5000 peso bracket, they were part of the official community.

I also found the direction in traveling from Manila to Lucena and onward to Gumaca edifying. There was no map, just directions on what to see, what to watch out for and what to do. The assumption of the instruction is that the traveler had enough time and a good sense of direction. It instructed the traveler as if he were driving his own car and just wants to see places in a most relaxing way. For example, upon reaching Los Banos after the long ride from Manila passing 12 towns and watching all kinds of scenery from Pasay to Calamba laguna , the traveler is invited to walk towards the Los Banos Falls and then proceed to the Agriculture College. During that time, it would mean driving the whole day until late afternoon to get to Los Banos. There are all sorts of travel tips to reach Laguna but upon arriving in Quezon, the tone of the instruction changes ,eg. ” the road to Tayabas is first class but the road to Lucena is all down grade “. There is a constant warning for water, not for the driver to drink, but for the radiator to be full of water! The instructions never say anything about how much time it takes to get to Lucena and is very generous with adjectives to places which may be dear to the writer’s heart. Can you imagine being on a business trip in 1929 and take these instructions ?

My objective in reviewing the directory is to find out how much development migrants have contributed to the progress of Lucena. I have a hypothesis that many of the learning resources in Lucena came from different citizens from all over Quezon, Batangas, Laguna and even from Bikol.

In the next blogs, I will share what its yellow pages contain and how colorful life was in 1929. My father was only 6 years old then and my mother wasn’t born yet.

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