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<< Cont'd from Chapter 2, Page 2
Character Traits of the Pagsanjeños
Another sterling trait of Pagsanjeños is the talent in music. In colonial times almost every home in Pagsanjan had a piano,
a harp, a violin, a guitar, or any other musical instrument; the town then reverberated daily to the sound of music. During the 19th century
a brass band called Banda Pagsanjan was established by a music lover, Francisco Guevara, a government escribano (clerk).
It was hilariously dubbed by the witty Pagsanjan folks as "Bandang Pilit" because its members were recruited by force.
Don Francisco, with the help of the friar curate, selected the best musicians in the pueblo and compelled them to join the band. It was the brass band
which Dr. Jose Rizal mentioned in Noli Me Tangere (Berlin, 1887) that played well during the town fiesta of San Diego (Calamba).
Before World War II, there were Pagsanjeños playing in first-class orchestras which performed in night clubs
at Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe, Yokohama, Singapore, Bangkok, and other Oriental cities and in the cities of Canada and the United States.
During that bygone era, the children's orchestra under the directorship of Mr. Antonio F. Zaide, music teacher, furnished fine music to the visitors
and in school programs. The members of this unique orchestra were school children, boys and girls from the age of 7 to 14.
Other good traits of the people are their religious tolerance, fine sense of humor, love for education, fondness for sports,
cosmopolitanism, and resiliency to adversity.
And now comes the bad character traits of the Pagsanjeños. The first is their predilection for gossip. Like the
Madrileños of Spain, the Parisians of France, and Neapolitans of Italy, they are
gossipers, particularly the women. Gossiping, as a matter of fact,
is a daily pastime in town.
The second bad trait is vanity. The Pagsanjeños are prone to boast of their intellectual superiority over the
inhabitants of other towns. With hyperbolic pride, they boast of the glories of their town and the wondrous achievements of their
They acclaim with windy extravaganza the bewitching beauty of Pagsanjan Falls and the elegance of their homes. So irritating is this vainglorious
mania of the Pagsanjeños that the residents of other towns lampoon them as mahangin (windy). Whenever the Pagsanjeño begins to praise
the greatness of his town at a social party in Manila or in any other town, the guests usually giggle, whispering to each other: "Yan
na naman ang
hangin ng Pagsanjan" (Here goes again the wind of Pagsanjan).
After World War II, many Pagsanjeños have succumbed to two vices -- gambling and drinking. Mahjong games are now
rampant, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. They are played in the homes of prominent families and in the gambling dens. Other popular forms
of gambling are monte, black jack, cara y cruz, jueteng, and tupada (illegal cockfight). The San Miguel gin, "ang inumin ng tunay na lalaki"
(the drink of a real man) is popular, especially among teen-agers. Other local hard drinks which have gained popularity among the town boracheros
(drunkards) are Tanduay Rum and White Castle. Stateside wines, including White Label, White Horse,
Johnny Walker, Napoleon Brandy, and
Fundador, are exclusively for town elite because of their prohibitive prices.
It is gratifying to note that the compulsive gamblers and shameful drunkards of Pagsanjan constitute a small minority of
the town population. The majority are still uncorrupted by gambling and alcoholic drinks; they invariably represent the decent and exemplary citizens of the town.
It is to be hoped that the rising generations would not follow the bad example of their gambling and hard-drinking fathers.
People With a Resplendent Culture
The people of Pagsanjan are fortunate to have a resplendent cultural heritage. This culture is a harmonious blending of the Asian,
Hispanic, Mexican, and American civilization influences. It is revealed in their rich folklore, customs and traditions, and colorful fiestas.
During colonial times Pagsanjan was a famous center of culture. Her people, according to Fray Felix de la Huerta, Franciscan
friar-chronicler, were "muy culto" (highly cultured). The Pagsanjeños then cherished good education. They sent their children to the elementary
school to learn the fours R's (reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion). Children of the rich families studied in the homes of private teachers.
After acquiring the fundamentals of Spanish and Latin languages, they were sent to Manila to obtain higher education at the Ateneo de Manila, College
of San Juan de Letran, and in the University of Santo Tomas. It is a fact that during the Spanish regime Pagsanjan among all towns in Laguna had the
highest percentage of illustrados (intellectuals).
This old tradition of acquiring a good education still exists among present-day Pagsanjeños. To them, a college diploma is a
status symbol. Today numerous Pagsanjeños study law, medicine, education, nursing, engineering, and other college courses in the colleges and
universities in Manila and in foreign countries.
As a cultured people, The Pagsanjeños take pride in their fine homes with beautiful furniture, oil paintings, pianos, and rugs;
in their well-groomed lawns, and flower gardens; in their clean, beautiful streets, and sidewalks; and in their attire and personal appearance. They love
to display their jewelries, especially those which are part of their heirlooms.
Once upon a time, the Pagsanjeños were noted for their dignity and good manners. They are respectful to elders, and superiors,
gallant to women, polite to visitors, courteous to strangers, moderate in their liquor drinking, and charmingly gentle in
behavior. Sad to
admit with bitter truth, these famous virtues of the Pagsanjeños are gradually vanishing since World War II. The impact of postwar years which
saw the emergence of dirty politics, godless materialism, juvenile delinquency, rampant gambling, despicable
drunkenness, and student activism have eroded
the moral fiber of the Filipino people, including the Pagsanjeños, and have corrupted the splendid virtues that we inherited from our fathers.
End of Chapter 2.
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