𝐒𝐤𝐞𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐦𝐚𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐧, 𝐆𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐜𝐚, 𝐀𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐧 & 𝐂𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐮𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐧𝐬, 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝟒, 𝟏𝟕𝟗𝟕
At the height of Spanish colonial power, King Philip II ordered a survey of lands that the Spanish Crown had claimed as part of its colonial territory since the mid-1500s. Local administrators were tasked to bring to Spain maps detailing the lands they oversaw. This was to better understand and control the vast areas under them. Map-making began anew in the New World (America) and was extended to other Spanish colonies in the east and towards the Pacific Ocean, which included the Philippine Islands, Guam, and other areas. Eventually, many of these maps were brought to Spain. Most are now preserved at various archival institutions.
Philippine maps, although not very recognizable, began to appear in European world maps by the mid-1500s. Diego Lopez Povedano drew the first relatively detailed map of a Philippine island, Negros, in 1572. The earliest surviving Philippine town plan shows Cavite, which was being fortified in 1640. A planimetric image map of Manila and environs came out in 1672.
An ink on cloth hand-drawn sketch map done on March 4, 1797 or 226 years ago, represents Tayabas, one of the early eight ( 8 ) settlements that were elevated into a villa. The villas established were the following: Cebu (1565), Libao, Albay (1573), Vigan (1574), Arevalo, Iloilo (1581), Pila, Laguna (1610), Tayabas (1703), Bacolor, Pampanga (1765), and Lipa, Batangas (1887).
While this 1797 map is not a drawn-to-scale topological map of Tayabas, it is basically a rough sketch showing the neighboring towns. These are Mauban, Atimonan, Gumaca and Macalelon, all in the present-day Tagalog-speaking provinces of Batangas, Laguna, and Tayabas (now Quezon).
The first Spaniards arrived in Gumaca in 1574. Mauban was founded around 1583 and transferred to its present site in 1647. The Mauban public bath house, which the National Museum declared as an Important Cultural Property was built in 1725. Atimonan was founded in February 4, 1608. Macalelon started as a barrio in 1696 and became a town between 1787 to 1793.
Even if this old map does not include basic map-reading guides important to navigating, and other map legends like a distance scale to show the exact distance in kilometers one had to travel from point A to point B, it still contains information vital to a traveller then. Conveyed were important information needed by early explorers traversing a large and even unexplored area in southern Luzon in the 18th century. Enclosed road directions, while not that accurate, were the best versions available at that time.
As part of colonial administration, population distribution in the towns present were also included. The map can be considered a sample of an early demographic map. Demography, as a science of population, is a method of studying social, cultural, and economic trends relating to population growth, stagnation or decline of a town or community based on fertility, mortality, and migration.
No longer applicable today, this map is a non-textual archival material important to historians and researchers doing studies in cartography. It is a sample of an early illustrative map that contains a wealth of information on what the Spanish colonizers thought important. Elements of early habitable landscapes like mountains, rivers, towns, churches, residences, beaches, and even cemeteries are clearly illustrated as important to colonial administration.
Buisseret, David. “Spanish colonial cartography, 1450-1700” in The History of Cartography, Vol. 3: Part I. Cartography in the European Renaissance, pp. 1169-1171.
Santiago, Luciano P.R. “Pomp, Pageantry and Gold; the Eight Spanish villas in the Philippines (1565-1867),” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 33 (2005), pp. 57-75.
History of Atimonan. Atimonan’s Destination. Retrieved from https://csgcom.wordpress.com/history-of-atimonan/
History, Heritage and Natural Beauty in Mauban, Quezon. The Time Trekker. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/thetimetre…/posts/139565771049886
Laskow, Sarah. “In Spanish America, cartographers’ hand-drew maps inspired by printed ones: these hybrid productions are unique in map making.” Atlas Obscura, https://www.atlasobscura.com/…/hand-drawn-maps-of…. Oct 9, 2018.
Macalelon, Quezon. PhilAtlas. Retrieved from https://www.philatlas.com/luzon/r04a/quezon/macalelon.html
Mauban, Quezon. PhilAtlas. Retrieved from