The waters of Lemery, Batangas (Balayan Bay and its rivers) have always provided plenty of fish and other marine life. In early 18th century, these natural resources attracted settlers who chose to reside permanently in the area.
The Early Settlement: Barrio Punta
The place was used to be called Punta, which means direction because people from other provinces headed to the direction of this emerging prosperous settlement for its booming dried and salted fish industry.
When the first Spanish missionaries arrived in the village, they launched a campaign to convert the villagers to Christianity. In 1806, a Spanish priest from Madrid, Rev. Fr. Sancho Geronimo, was assigned to the community. In 1818, the village was officially made a “barrio” under the Municipality of Taal.
Difficult Times: Barrio San Geronimo
Several years later, a new priest was assigned and proposed to change the name of the barrio to San Geronimo to honor Rv. Fr. Sancho Geronimo, the first priest in the area. The people of Barrio Punta embraced Christianity and lived peacefully under the leadership of the clergy. It all changed, however, when the church imposed strict compliance.
In 1839, a group of men headed by Fausto Bungkol, the leader of the anti-Spanish movement in the area, abducted the priest and his sacristan. This made the situation a lot worse, urging the Spaniards to impose military rule in the barrio. However, not only did the martial law fail to pacify the people of San Geronimo, it also heightened the resident’s clamor for freedom. The Spaniards and the locals continued to clash.
Captain Roberto Lemery
Captain Roberto Lemery was the commanding officer in Barrio San Geronimo. Worried about the worsening situation between the Spanish leaders and the natives, he ordered that the church and military officials learn the local language in an effort to build and foster a harmonious relationship with the people. Since then, the situation changed and the people, who highly appreciated the effort, cooperated.
In 1856, Captain Lemery passed away. The people of Barrio San Geronimo asked that the name of the barrio be changed to Lemery. In 1858, their request was granted. Since then, the barrio was called Lemery.
The Municipality of Lemery
In 1862, Lemery became a municipality and was officially separated from Taal. It was a product of the hard work of Domingo Agoncillo, Manuel Cabrera, Candida Cesario Valenzuela, Policarpio Marino, and Jose Cabrera, who became its first gobernadorcillo.
However, in 1904, it was annexed again to Taal only to be separated again in 1907, three years later. Since then, its independent status as a municipality remains untouched.
In 1911, Lemery was one of the most heavily devastated municipalities after one of Taal Volcano’s biggest eruptions. Hundreds of lives were claimed.
On March 6, 1945, one third of the town of Lemery was burnt down at the height of World War II. When the war was over, rehabilitation started. The people of Lemery restored the town and went back on their feet to start again.
Today, Lemery is a first-class municipality, a booming and bustling settlement at the heart of the province of Batangas. It has become the center of trade, business, and education in its district.