Memoria General 1891


Memoria General de la Provincia de Cavite en el año de 1891 is a record from a bulk of papers more popularly known as the Memorias series of documents in the Philippine National Archives. When I first went there in 2005 to do some research for Silang Day to get some first-hand documents supplementing the information from the Unabia book for a photo gallery, I was so overwhelmed with the number of priceless colonial documents being stored in the archives. And I don’t know where to start.

Memorias
Personnel were very accommodating and immediately led me to the series of Varias Provincias, Ereccion de Pueblos and Memorias. These are already bound copies of the originals. Most students and government personnel (like me, then) would need these for fast research. So the originals are stored while bound copies are ready for browsing (and copying). Unfortunately, I barely could read Spanish even more read it in scrolling scripts. The only tool I have are my eyes, carefully searching document after document for the word “Silang”. Then I realized it should have been “Silan” as it was once used, so I went back to an almost 5 volumes to hone my browsing skills.
One could easily spot a town in the Memorias, as these were classified per province and its corresponding town alphabetically.  Then a document presented itself. I found one. I have only seen it on books particularly that of Ms. Unabia’s and other history books in Ateneo. But this one is in its (almost) real size.  A kind archive lady even asked if I wish to see the original. Now this is a treat! It was a lazy afternoon, so I guessed she has the time to give such extra effort. This was my first time to actually hold a real document; pages so fragile and parched along the edges, it felt like it would crumble in pieces if you hold it hard.
Photocopying is allowed in the archives section. So after a four-hour search I finally asked a repro-personnel (who told me he’s from Mendez) to copy around 70 plus pages, which aside from the valuable information from Memorias, I also procured official government correspondence, judicial proceedings, inventories, personal letters, statistics and etc.— all by just searching for the word Silan.

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In 2007, I met Mr. Michael C. Francisco through a friend, Jeffrey Lumbang both associated with the Cavite Studies Center in DLSU-Dasmarinas. He already translated selected Cavite documents from the Memorias in 2002 for a book Cavite en Siglo 19, Translations of Selected 19th Century Documents. I got the book. He also helped me translate an inventory of the Silang church confiscated from the Jesuits when they were expelled from the Philippines from the series of documents known as Temporalidades (which I also intend to publish here)

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Below is the excerpt from the Memoria General de la Provincia de Cavite en el año de 1891 from the Philippine National Archives translated by Michael C. Francisco, Cavite Studies Center.

General Report on the province of Cavite for the year 1891, compiled in accordance with the guidelines sent by the Gobierno General

Silan

Distant by 45 kilometers from the capital, linked with it through the wagon road that passes through Perez Dasmariñas and Ymus; it is an important town, formed by two large, wide parallel streets and other perpendiculars to these with many edifices of wood and iron. It occupies an elevated position of some 350 meters above sea level and enjoys cool and pleasant temperature.
The land for cultivation is big and unirrigated, without any possibility of irrigating them, its area being 10,696 cavans.

Coffee produces about 1,500 pico, palay 3,000 cavans and sugarcane 5,000 pico, being:
The cost per unit about 1 peso per thousand ponos for the first, 10 to 15 pesos per cavan of seeds for the second and 20 centimos per cauldron of molasses produced by the sugarcane.

The average price of these is about 30 pesos a pico of coffee, 1.50 pesos per cavan of palay and 2.75 pesos a pico of sugar.

The livestock industry consists of 200 carabaos, 150 cattles and 500 pigs.
Population census. There are 6,737 people.

Roads. The one that links it with the capital is a wagon road; those with Carmona, Amadeo and Yndan are paths, with no bridges other than that of bamboo on the last one.

Public buildings. The Church and the Convent of strong materials, the Barracks of the Seccion de Guardia Civil made of wood and roof of nipa (unoccupied because of its ruinous state), the Tribunal of strong materials and the Schoolhouses of wood with nipa roof.

Public Instructions is at a good state, but it is not one of the towns that excel in this branch.

Cemetery enclosed by stone with niches and mausoleums and is at a distance of 150 brazas from the Church.

Industry. There are 20 machines for the milling of sugarcane: these are 14 of stone while 5 are powered manually and another by steam.

Cost of transport to Binacayan, which is the point of embarkation is 4 pesos for each cart of coffee and sugar.