Silang is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Cavite. Archaeological evidences show that human settlement was already established as early as 14th century in what was once part of Silang, barrio Pangil. Folk tradition also tells that the pioneers of the upland Silang were Gat Hinguiw, his wife Kaliwanag, their four sons (Pandan, Pogpog, Palio, and Amatong), and their three daughters (Mamagtay, Kalumala, and Amakit). They were Bornean priests who parted ways due to intra familial feuds. Some went to Manila, while others lived in other parts of Cavite.
One legend explains that the town was named Silang because it is located in the eastern portion (Silangan) of the province. Another legend tells that the Roman Catholic Church was born (isinilang) from the ground. Nonetheless, Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, one of the first Tagalog dictionaries authored by Spanish friars, shows that “siláng” (stress in the second syllable) is an old Tagalog word, which means to cross the road in between two high landforms. Topography proves that, indeed, the roads of Silang are in between elevated terrains.
Spanish Colonial Period
Silang used to be an encomienda of Diego Jorge de Villalobos. The Catholic parish church was founded by Franciscan friars in 1595. Ten years after, they began the evangelization. The civil government, however, was established in 1621 with the election of Don Pedro Abogalon Monaksa as the first gobernadorcillo.
The doctrina of Silang extended to the other upland towns in Cavite and to Marinduque. The polity, on the other hand, included Indang, Gen. Trias (formerly San Francisco de Malabon), and Maragondon. Alfonso, Amadeo (formerly Masilao), and Mendez were sitios of Indang, while Magallanes and Ternate were barrios of Maragondon. Tanza (formerly Sta. Cruz de Malabon) was part of Gen. Trias. Indang separated from Silang in 1655; Maragondon, in 1727; and Gen. Trias, in 1748. Carmona and Amadeo were declared towns in 1857 and 1872, respectively.
Agriculture was the main source of income, considering the fertile soil and good climate of Silang. Crops included rice, corn, sweet potato, banana, sugarcane, coffee, and wheat. Coffee, recognized as one with the highest quality, was compared with Moka of Vietnam and the coffee of Bourbon in several Spanish accounts. Other industries were barter trading with the Chinese, weaving of hats and baskets, cattle raising, and quarrying in Tibagan, Malaking Ilog, and Munting Ilog. Prominent businessmen were Petrona Poblete, Ysidora Montoya, and Placida Cruz (all of them owned retail stores), Manuel Yu Chayco and Juan Chua Tanco, both of whom sold fruits; and Lim Changco, who had a bakery.
Education was under the parish church. The early teachers were Franciscans and Jesuits, and the classrooms were the church and the convent. The lessons included Christian Doctrine, reading and writing, arithmetic, and Spanish history. In the 19th century, educated Filipinos were allowed to teach. Among those were Hilaria Sanchez, Nicolas Madlansacay, and Pantaleon Garcia, who graduated with distinction from the Escuela Normal de Maestros in Manila.
The first church, in the name of San Diego Alcala was made of bamboo. The second one, built by the Franciscans in between 1585 and 1611 was made of wood. Both were razed by fire. The present church was constructed in 1624 through polo y servicio under the supervision of the Jesuit Juan Salazar. Materials used were stone and sand from the nearby river, and hard wood from the upland forest. When the Jesuits assumed parochial leadership, they named the church in honor of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria.
Silangueños made significant contributions to the struggle towards freedom from Spain. They were one of the first to rise up against the injustices done by the Spaniards.
In April 30, 1745, they launched agrarian revolt against the Dominicans who attempted to usurp Carmona, which at that time was the only irrigated rice land in Silang. Along with the residents of the nearby towns, they took down the boundary the friars put up in Carmona. The dispute ended with amicable settlement through which Carmona remained in Silang.
On September 2-4, 1896, they launched the first cry of revolution against the Spaniards. Under the leadership of Gen. Vito Belarmino and Vicente Giron, they captured the parish priest Toribio Moreno in Barrio Tatiao, and forced the guardia civil to surrender after one day of exchanging gun shots.
Four days after, the Spaniards attempted to regain the town with the reinforcements from Cuartel de Sto. Domingo. Firing between the Spanish troops and the revolutionaries happened in Malaking Ilog, Pasong Guevarra, and Ilayang Silangan. Nonetheless, the revolutionaries, headed again by Belarmino, were able to drive the Spanish troops out of Silang.
Silang fell again into the hands of the colonizers one year after gaining freedom. Governor General Camilo Polavieja sent General Jose Lachambre, the foremost military tactician of Spain during that time, as the head of Spanish squadron. Lachambre prepared three squads positioned in strategic locations: Zapote in Bacoor, Calamba in Laguna, and Batangas. The Silangueños, together with reinforcements from Mendez, Amadeo, and Gen. Trias, fought with exceptional bravery despite lacking in number and in arms. Silang and the entire town was captured and burned on February 19, 1897, excluding the church and the convent.
On June 9, 1898, Silang gained independence. The Katipunan in Silang was reorganized with Jose Bayacal as the president and Lazaro Quiamzon as the commandant. Together with the revolutionaries from Dasmariñas and Imus, they launched a nine-day battle against the conquistadores with the latter surrendering to the valiant heroes of the town.
American Colonial Period
The Americans entered Cavite in 1898, and the war between them and the Caviteños began in 1899. Early battles occurred in Zapote, Bacoor, Imus, and Kawit, all of which fell to the Americans. Revolutionaries were forced to retreat and Silang became their headquarters.
The town of Silang was conquered by the Americans only after a bloody fight along Sabutan River on February 6, 1900. Nonetheless, Silangueños continued to fight using guerrilla tactic. On July 31, 1900, 50 Filipino soldiers attacked the Engineer Camp 3 located three kilometers away from Silang. On September 18, 1900, the US detachment in Silang was assailed by one hundred Filipinos. On March 3, 1901, a US wagon train was assaulted by a group probably under the command of Victor Kiamzon. Vicente Giron, on the other hand, joined Julian Montalan and Cornelio Felizardo as tulisan until their surrender in 1906.
Farming remained to be the main occupation of the people. Hemp replaced coffee as main cash crop because rust obliterated coffee plantations in the entire Southern Tagalog in the 19th century. When abaca was affected by an epidemic, the municipal government, through the help of the Department of Agriculture distributed vegetable seeds (e.g., habichuelas, sicharo, papaya, sitaw, and labanos) to the farmers. Soon the market regained its vitality and it became one of Cavite’s better markets.
Education improved vastly. The first school house made of bamboo and nipa was inaugurated in the lot of Santiago Belardo in 1900. The first American teacher was Louisse Miller and the members of the teaching force were Guillermo “Maestrong Emong” and Antonio “Maestrang Tonia” Mercado. Jose Ambalada joined the teaching force a year after and became the first district supervisor of the towns of Silang, Amadeo, Dasmariñas, and Carmona in 1906. Among the first students were Luis and Domingo Ambalada, Alejandro Bayla, Miguel Carramanzana, Jose and Isabelo Medina, and Venancio Toledo. The first concrete school building, the “Gabaldon Building,” was built in 1915, while the intermediate school building, another “Gabaldon Building,” was constructed in 1917. Public schools in barrios including Lalaan, Malabag, Calubkob, and Pooc, Munting Ilog and Iba were built in the following years to reach children who could not afford to study in the town proper.
Transportation was developed. The national highway connecting Tagaytay and Silang, now known as Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Highway was constructed from 1933 to 1935 using prisoners as construction workers. The road from Zapote to Tagaytay was made concrete in 1938 by President Manuel L. Quezon. The bridge connecting the town proper and barrio Iba was built in 1931. The Silang Traffic Company, the first transportation company in Silang, began running a network of buses to Manila and nearby towns in the 1930s. Through the initiative of Pedro Giron, electricity was installed in Silang, second only to Cavite City.
Streets were opened, extended, and renamed in honor of the fallen heroes of the revolution or the landowners who willingly gave the land. Calle Real became the J.P. Rizal St. Calle San Jose is now the M.H. Del Pilar St. Zamora Street was extended from M. H. Del Pilar to what is now P. Montoya St. M. Belen St. was extended to P. Montoya St. to facilitate the transport of goods to the market.
The monument of Dr. Jose P. Rizal was inaugurated in Plaza Libertad on January 13, 1918. The project led by then municipal councilor Guillermo Bayan was one of the first in the entire country. The government hall was transferred from P. Burgos St. to its present site in the 1930s.
Protestantism was introduced in Silang in 1902 through Presbyterian missionaries: Rev. James V. Rodgers, his wife Anna, and their children Ruth and Julia. Among the first to be converted were the brothers Juan and Monico Estrella, together with their families, and siblings Elias and Gabriel Naval. Monico, the first Silangueño pastor, along with the other first converts, helped the American missionaries in evangelization in Silang and nearby towns.
Japanese Colonial Period
The Japanese entered the town of Silang on January 2, 1942. They billeted themselves in front of the houses lining the town plaza, took furniture belonging to house owners, shot hogs and chickens at will, and slapped and beat Silangueños.
In response to Japanese’s cruelty, Silangueños formed a secret organization akin to masonry, Anak ng Katipunan sa Pilipinas. The founders were Dominador Kiamzon, Isaias Videña, Luciano Tibayan, Artemio Velazco, Miguel Bayacal, Luciano Cortez, Paulino Centeno, Engracio Asuncion, Pedro Caragao, Filomeno Ramos, Jose Castillo, Jose Belamide, and Celestino Asuncion. The aims of the organization were to (1) unite all the Filipinos and redeem the lost freedom; (2) exterminate traitors to the cause; (3) exterminate violators of peace and brotherhood; (4) help the destitute and the needy; and (5) defend Philippine womanhood. They joined the 3rd Regiment Filipino-American Guerrilla Forces, and through their combined efforts, they forced the Japanese to retreat to Mt. Makulot in Batangas on February 2, 1945.
Forties to Seventies
As soon as Silang was liberated from the Japanese, the people regained their will in improving their lives and developing their town.
Farming was still the main industry. The cash crop was coconut, and the catch crops were rice, corn, root crops, and other fruits. Business and trading were vibrant. Among those who were successful businessmen were Enrique Asuncion (coconut and copra dealer), Gaudencio Poblete (banking and finance), Miguel Kiamzon (lumber and hardware), Geminiano Maranan (electric plant and rice mill), Iñigo Marayag (bakery) and Florente Oliveros (lumber and hardware).
The education advanced well. Elementary schools in the barrios including Balite, Ulat, Biga, Batas, Carmen, Maguyam, and Paligawan were opened from the mid-forties to the late sixties. Infant Jesus Academy, the first highschool in Silang, was established in 1945 under the leadership of Fr. Michael Donoher. Cavite Institute, another secondary school, was founded in 1947 by visionary Elisea Kiamzon Belamide. Soon Silang produced a lot of professionals. Among them were Gaudencio Poblete (certified public accountant), Virgilio Velazco (physician), Dominador Caparas (physician), Dorotea Bayan (dentist), and Conrado Medina (lawyer).
Transportation and communication had improvements. More roads were made concrete. Morning and afternoon dailies circulated. Batangas Transportation Co. and the Saulog and Medina companies provided hourly trips to Manila.
The plaza was renovated. Light posts and bulbs were installed. Kiosk was built in the center. Cemented tennis court convertible to a basketball diamond was constructed in one of the sides of the plaza.
Eighties to Nineties
The development of Silang began in the eighties.
On March 14, 1980, the provincial government, headed by Governor Juanito Remulla, issued Resolution No. 40. The resolution adopted the provincial land use plan, the first in the Philippines. Majority of the land area of Silang was still designated agricultural, but the portion near Carmona was classified industrial.
Nine years after, the municipal government of Silang issued Resolution No. 109-A-89 titled A Resolution Approving the Revised Comprehensive Development Plan of the Municipality of Silang. It indicates that Silang was divided into eight zones: residential, commercial, light industrial, medium industrial, agro-industrial, general institutional zone, special institutional zone, and agricultural zone. The residential zone was the area bounded on the north by the Philippine Missionary Institute and barangay road in Biga; on the east by the Ilog ng Bayan; on the south by the Brgy. Tubuan-Lalaan I; and on the south by the By-Pass road. The special institutional zone was the Camp General Mariano Castañeda in Tartaria and the area bounded on the north by Ambalada and Toledo properties; on the east by Rizal St. and Sandejas property; on the south by Cabria St.; and on the west by Brgys. San Vicente-Sabutan boundary. The commercial zone included the Poblacion area and Brgy. Buho, and the general institutional zone consisted of the compounds of La Sallete, Philippine Missionary Institute, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Silang Parish Church and Infant Jesus Academy, Municipal Government, Silang Central and West Elementary schools, Camp. T. Capinpin, and Philippine Union College. The light industrial zone was in Barangays Biga, San Vicente, Adlas, Lalaan I and II; while the Medium Industrial Zone was in Barangays Inchican, Carmen, Puting Kahoy, Tartaria, Bulihan, and Maguyam, and Sitios Gulugod Baboy and Apura in Brgy. Tibig. The agro-industrial zone was in Brgys. Munting Ilog, Hukay, Pooc, Iba; and the agricultural zone was all the other unmentioned barangays.
Two years after, the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang released Resolution No. 148-C titled “A Resolution to Amend our Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.” Silang was divided into the same zones, and the barangays except for a few were classified in the same way as in the previous resolution. Nonetheless, in this resolution, the agro-industrial zone was expanded to include Tibig, Munting Ilog, and Hukay.
Because of the changes in land use, the economy was diversified. While agriculture remained to be the source of income for the majority of the people, factories in industrial parks located in Brgy. Maguyam and construction projects for subdivisions in Barangays Inchican and Puting Kahoy attracted thousands of workers. Food stalls and retail stores lining the streets and apartments for migrants provided extra income especially to women. By 1995, there were already 9 subdivisions, 707 registered commercial establishments and 28 industrial establishments.
Because of population growth, what were once sitios were declared independent barangays. Biga, San Miguel, and San Vicente were split into two; and Tubuan, into three. Bulihan was subdivided into eleven barangays: Bulihan, Acacia, Anahaw 1, Anahaw 2, Banaba, Ipil 1, Ipil 2, Narra 1, Narra 2, Narra 3, and Yakal. Pooc gave birth to Pooc 1, Pooc 2, and Hoyo. Toledo was separated from Malabag. Malaking Tatiao became independent from Iba.
The needs of the growing population were addressed both by the local government and the private sector. The government renovated the public market, constructed farm to market roads, opened public elementary and secondary schools, and established rural health units in the town proper and in Bulihan. The private sector, on the other hand, built hospitals, clinics, leisure parks and golf courses, and elementary, secondary, and tertiary schools. By 1995, there were 224 stalls in the market, 2 rural health units, 5 hospitals, 12 private clinics, 44 public elementary schools, 5 national high schools, 6 private elementary high schools, 5 private high schools, two private universities, 12 banks, 15 financing institutions and 2 resorts.
The development of Silang continued in the twenty-first century.
During the first decade of the twenty-first century, the local government, under the leadership of Mayor Clarito “Areng” Poblete, implemented programs and projects to improve the economy. Investors were encouraged to establish business by improving the road network, providing tax incentives, and securing peace and order. By 2010, top real estate developers, such as the Ayala Land Corporation and Cathay Land Inc., either finished or expanded their projects. In 2012, 2,562 commercial establishments and 73 industrial establishments were listed. The commercial establishments were engaged in wholesale trade and retailing, construction, and banking/finance. The industrial establishments were into manufacturing of hardware and household products, and service industry.
The local government made huge investments in improving the delivery of basic services, particularly education and medicine. Cavite State University-Silang Campus was established in 2006, and its student population had grown to more than three thousand in 2014. Munting Ilog National High School-Silang West Annex opened in 2009, and it has been recognized for the high quality of education it offers since then. The Rural Health Unit in Silang was transferred to what used to be the Caparas Hospital, while the Rural Health Unit Clinic in Bulihan was renovated. Doctors and staff were also added in both centers to accommodate more indigent patients.
Partnerships were forged between the local government and the non-government organizations in Silang. A council of non-government organizations were created to handle the activities for Christmas and fiesta celebrations. Heads of these organizations were also consulted in making and implementing policies.
Mayor Emilia Lourdes “Omil” Poblete, the first lady mayor of Silang, has equaled the efforts of her father and predecessor, Mayor Clarito “Areng” Poblete. Even just after a year of service, people have recognized her contribution to the continued development of the town.
Tax collection has improved. In the first quarter of 2014, Silang was the first in the province in collecting both real property and business taxes. Only for that quarter, the real property tax collection amounted to more than Php112 Million pesos, while the business tax collection was more than Php46 Million pesos.
Because of the improvement in finances, government centers in various parts of the town were either improved or constructed. Patio Medina was covered and converted into a multi-purpose complex. Operation Centers were built in the town proper, Lalaan 1, and Inchican to serve as headquarters of the disaster risk management team. The Senior Citizens Office was renovated to make it a more conducive venue for the usual gatherings of the senior citizens.
Education remained to be a priority. Malabag Elementary School-Buho Annex was opened in 2012, and it will be declared an independent school in 2015. Elementary schools in Lungon and Buklod Bahayan, and the Dionisio Magnaye National High School in Ulat will be opened in 2015 as well. Tech Voc. programs offering courses in manicure, pedicure, cooking, and welding have accommodated more than a thousand students, most of whom were out of school youth. Deserving students and teachers have been given financial aids to help them finance their studies.
Silang will be propelled to meteoric rise soon. The seat of the provincial government will be transferred in Lalaan 1, while a new municipal hall will be built in Biga 1. The Cavite Laguna Express Way will pass through Batas, Adlas, Biga II, Sabutan, Malaking Tatiao, Tibig, Munting Ilog and Carmen, and it is expected that it will invite investments therein. In a few years, Silang might be declared a city, given its land area, population, and income; and it will be recognized as a world class community, with its rich natural resources and human potential.