pop How Mariveles Got Its Name

  Much historical interest is attached to this place. It was the chief port of the Jurisdiction of Mariveles under the old territorial division which comprised the island now called Corregidor. Mariveles is now included in the province of Bataan.

The first Spanish missionary who attempted to domesticate the natives of the Mariveles coast was stoned by them, and died in Manila as a consequence. An insubordinate Archbishop was once banished to Mariveles. Through the narrow channel between this port and Corregidor Island, known as Boca chica, came swarms of Asiatic trading junks, every spring for over two centuries. Forming the extreme point of Manila Bay, here was naturally the watchguard for the safety of the capital. It was the point whence could be decried the movements of foreign enemies - Dutch, British, Mahometan, chinese, etc.; it was the last refuge for ships about to venture from the Islands to foreign parts. Yet, with all these antecedents, it is, today one of the poorest villages of the Colony. From its aspect one could almost imagine it to be at the furthermost extremity of the Archipelago. Its ancient name was Camaya, and how it came to be called Mariveles is accounted for in the following interesting legend:

About the beginning of the 17th century one of the Mexican galleons brought to Manila a family named Velez, whose daughter was called Maria. When she was 17 years of age, this girl took the veil in Santa Clara Convent, and there responded to the attentions of a Franciscan monk, who fell so desperately in love with her that they determined to elope to Camaya and wait there for the galleon which was to leave for Mexico in the following July. The girl, disguised in a monkīs habit, fled from her convent, and the lovers arrived safely in Camaya in a hired canoe, tired out after the sea passage under a scorching sun. The next day they went out to meet the galleon, which, however had delayed her sailing. In the meantime the elopement had caused great scandal in Manila. A proclamation was published by the town-crier calling upon the inhabitants to give up the culprits, under severe penalties for disobedience. Nothing resulted, until the matter oozed out through a native who was aware of their departure.Then an alderman of the city set out in a prahu in pursuit of the amorous fugitives, accompanied by a notary and a dozen arquebusiers. After searching in vain all over the island now called Corregidor, they went to Camaya, and there found the young lady, Maria, on the beach in a most pitiable condition, with her dress torn to shreds, and by her side the friar, wearied and bleeding from the wounds he had received whilst fighting with the savage natives who disputed his possession of the fair maiden. The search- party found there a canoe, in which the friar was conveyed to Manila in custody, whilst the girl was taken of by the alderman in the prahu. From Manila the sinful priest was sent to teach religion and morality to the Visayan tribes; the romantic nun was sent back to the City of Mexico to suffer perpetual reclusion in a convent.

From these events, it is said, arose the names of Corregidor (Alderman) Island, which lies between the rocks known as Fraile (Friar) and Monja (Nun), whilst the loversīrefuge thenceforth took the name of Mariveles (Maria Velez).

Ships arriving from foreign or Philippine infected ports were quarantined off Mariveles, under Spanish regulations. During the great cholera epidemic of 1882, a Lazaretto was established here.

Reprinted from the book of John Foreman, The Philippine Islands, third edition, 1905.

The Convent of Santa Clara was founded in Manila in 1621 by Geronima de la Asuncion, who three years afterwards, was expelled from the management by the friars because she refused to admit reforms in the conventual regulations. The General Council subsequently restored her to the matronship for 20 years. Public opinion was at this time vividly aroused against the superiors of the convents, who, it was alleged, made serious inroads on society by inveigling the marriageable young women into taking the veil and to live unnatural lives (Ibid).

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created: August 25, 1997
updated: August 25, 1997
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger