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People are the greatest asset of a nation or community. Without people, there can be no society; and without society, no nation can exist. As a great Chinese philosopher, Mencius (372-289 B.C.) once asseverated: "The people are the most important element in a nation; the spirit of the land and the gains are next; the sovereign is the least important." So it may be said that the Pagsanjeos are God's best gift to Pagsanjan.

A People of Multi-Racial Ancestry

Like other Filipinos, the Pagsanjeos represent a gorgeous tapestry of races. In their veins flow the bloods of the East and the West. Contrary to Kipling's imperialist credo that "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet," The East and the West do meet and blend harmoniously in the veins of Pagsanjeos. Since dawn of history, the Pagsanjeos have freely intermarried with other races and nationalities. Never have they been afflicted with the virus of xenophobia. Pre-dominantly Malayan in racial origin, they posses the ethnic influences of the Chinese, Indians (Hindus), Japanese, Thais, Arabs, Spanish, Mexicans, Americans, British, French, Italians, and other nationalities. It is precisely this multi-racial ancestry which enables Pagsanjan to produce men of remarkable talents and women of alluring beauty. Foreign scientists and scholars who had visited the Philippines during colonial times, notably Sir John Bowring (British) in 1858-59, Dr. Feodor Jagor (German) in 1859-60 and Alfred Marche (French) in 187981 and 1883-85, affirmed that the best interracial crossing in the Philippines was the Chinese-Malayan, whose descendants possess the superlative qualities of both races, namely, the frugality, fortitude, and wisdom of China and the courage, adventurous spirit, and pride of Malaysia. As Sir John Bowring said: "The mestizo descendants of Chinese fathers and Indian (Malayan) mothers form incomparably the most prominent portion of the Philippine populations." Most of the Pagsanjeo families, especially the affluent, enterprising, and intellectual ones, are descendants of Chinese-Malayan ancestors. Other families have infiltration of Japanese, Arab, Hindu, Thai, Indonesian, Spanish, British, American, Mexican, French, and Italian bloods. Many Pagsanjeos have distinguished themselves in all branches of knowledge and in all realms of human enterprises -- in arts and sciences, in politics and diplomacy, and in war and peace. As a matter of fact, in almost all professions or occupations under the sun you will find Pagsanjeos. Because of this versatility of her people and their high culture, Pagsanjan came to be known during the Spanish period as the "Atena de la Provincia de Laguna" (Athens of Laguna Province). In our time, it may be asserted that Pagsanjan, with her intelligent and talented citizenry, can be a sovereign mini-republic, like Athens and Corinth in ancient Hellas and Genoa and Venice in the Middle Ages.

The Population of Pagsanjan

Pagsanjan is one of the towns in the Philippines without any frightful problem of population explosion. Since her foundation as a town in 1668, the annual increase of her population seldom exceeds 2%. Unlike other Filipinos, the Pagsanjeos do not proliferate like mushrooms. Most of them are too intelligent or too busy in the daily pursuits of their professions to waste their time manufacturing babies. According to demographic statistics, in the year 1668 the population of Pagsanjan was only about 1,000. In the ebb and flow of time it increased to 1,900 in 1750; 2,700 in 1762; 3663 in 1818; 5856 in 1845; 6361 in 1903; 7,538 in 1918; 8,865 in 1939; 9,282 in 1948; 10,691 in 1960; 14,568 in 1970; 16,132 in 1975 (and 28,999 in 1995 population census). Presently, the town is faced with a problem affecting population, and that is "brain drain." Annually, many young Pagsanjeo Physicians, nurses, medical technologies, educators, engineers, accountants, dentists, chemists, diplomats, and scholars, like autumn leaves blown by the winds, have gone away to reside in Manila and other towns and in foreign countries, like the United States, Canada, Holland, England, West Germany, Italy, Spain, and Saudi Arabia where they find greater opportunities for a better

life. To aggravate this mass exodus to other places, many affluent and talented families since the end of World War II have moved to Greater Manila where they now reside permanently. These Pagsanjeos who migrated to other places in the Philippines and in foreign countries represent the cream of Pagsanjan citizenry.

Magnificent Obsession of the Pagsanjeos

Wherever Pagsanjeos reside, be it in their native town or in other places (Greater Manila, other provinces of the archipelago, and in foreign countries), their affection for Pagsanjan and their loyalty to their ancestral heritage, never fade unlike a summer rose. Enshrined deeply in their hearts are the nostalgic memories of their beloved town and even if they are descendants of Pagsanjeo fathers or mothers who married with other people, they fondly regard themselves as Pagsanjeos and are proud of it. This evidently evinces the validity of the old saying in Pagsanjan during the bygone eras of her Camelot-like greatness: "Once a Pagsanjeo, always a Pagsanjeo." And no matter how rich they may be or how much successful and honored they are in their respective professions, Pagsanjeos and their descendants never forget Pagsanjan. Whenever their beloved town needs help, financial or otherwise, they never hesitate to give it. Many Pagsanjeos, especially those living in Greater Manila, cherish a magnificent dream to return someday to Pagsanjan and spend the twilight years of their life in their adored birthplace. And when they die, it is their fondest hope to be buried in the old town cemetery where their ancestors and relatives now rest in eternity. Unfortunately, only very few of them for reasons beyond their control have realized this dream -- truly an impossible dream to many far-away Pagsanjeos. Only some fortunate Pagsanjeos, after retiring from their professions, like the biblical prodigal son, happily return home. Once more they live among their townmates, sharing in their joys and sorrows, and offering whatever God-given talents they may have for the glory and welfare of the town which they passionately love.

Character Traits of the Pagsanjeos

Like all peoples of the world, the Pagsanjeos are hospitable and friendly to all visitors, especially the foreigners. They are warmhearted, fiesta-loving and witty. In time of peace, they are amiably peaceful, civic-spirited, and cheerful; in time of war, however, they are brave, intensely patriotic, and fight with fury. They are loyal and proud of their beloved town and ancestral heritage. God has generously endowed the Pagsanjeos with remarkable intelligence. Often times Pagsanjeo students graduate in high schools as valedictorians and finish university courses with high honors. They distinguish themselves in all professions. Whenever a Pagsanjeo wins in literary, oratorical, and musical contests or receives awards in arts, sciences, and letters, the town folks smile with a usual comment: "Pagsanjeo yata iyan" (He is really a Pagsanjeo). Another sterling trait of Pagsanjeos 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 Pagsanjeos 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 Pagsanjeos. The first is their predilection for gossip. Like the Madrileos 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 Pagsanjeos 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 town mates. 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 Pagsanjeos that the residents of other towns lampoon them as mahangin (windy). Whenever the Pagsanjeo 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 Pagsanjeos 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.