Sugar Industry of Talisay,Cebu

Today The city of Talisay Cebu is well known for its Lechon Festival and the Lechon itself which is Roasted Pig, But long ago Talisay was known as the Sugar Central of the south, out producing many municipalities in Cebu and having one of the largest Sugar Mills in the Visayas. Today we trace the lost history of the Sugar industry in Talisay. The economic reformation of the Philippines would start with Governor Basco Y. Vargas instituting the opening of the ports and trading areas of the Philippines this happened in 1834. Upon the signing of a royal decree on July 30,1860 the port of Cebu was opened to world trade and Cebuanos were encouraged to produce cash-crop agriculture. Cash-crop agriculture involves the planting of crops that have high profit margins.

Drying Sugar dated 1921

The cultivating of Sugar cane became very popular not only in Cebu but the entire Visayas region because of the ease of trade and the incentives given by the Spanish Government. By the 1840s sugar cane was cultivated in most towns in Cebu like Mandaue,San Nicolas and Talisay. By the 1860s sugar cane production expanded to Toledo and Balamban. In 1882 with the help of the friars the first of two Sugar Mills would be built and would be called the “Maquina De Vapor” possibly reffering to the constant steam from the machines being used in the Mill. Sugar cane would be harvested as far as Carcar in the south as Talisay acted as the final milling station before going to the city and being exported internationally. Though the Production of sugar in Talisay had expanded by 4 fold between the years of 1840 and 1860, the little town was lagging behind the larger municipalities with larger populations and better sugar farms. A study in 1890 mapping the Sugar production of each town in Cebu showed that Talisay ranked 12 out of 40. The unit of Measurement in the Spanish period was called the Pico which is equivalent to about 63.45 Kg. Talisay produced 11,250 Picos which was much less than the leading producer Medellin at 72,000 Picos and even lagging behind its neighbor Minglanillia at 15,000 Picos. Even with the average amount of locally produced Sugar cane being proccessed in the Mill, The mill was said to have never stopped belching out steam as day and night caravans would arrive with Sugar Cane coming from other areas of Cebu.

One of the few photos of the Spanish Era Chimney

The end of the Spanish Era sugar mill would come with the Philippine Revolution, Talisaynons contributed much to the freeing of Talisay, Destroying the Guardia Civil headquarters then moving to the Sugar Mill, Burning it to the ground with only 1 survivor a man named Hilario Ganduanco, at the end of the revolution only the foundations and one chimney remained of the Sugar mill.

With the end of the Spanish Sugar mill, The new American Colonizers would build 2 new sugar mills in Cebu, One would be built in the North and one in the south. The place chosen to be the Sugar Mill of the south would be Talisay, Specifically Barangay Mohon. The property of the Cebu Sugar Company in Mohon was vast covering anywhere from 3-5 Hectares which was mostly dedicated to processing facilities. The Mill would employ almost 300 people during the peak harvest season but would drop to around 50 people after. Unfortunately only 6 years after the construction of the Mohon Sugar mill the Tydings Mcduffie law limited trade in the Philippines setting a quota for Philippine products entering the US. The decline of the sugar industry continued through the 1930s affecting planters all around the Philippines and most of all in Medellin and Talisay. The end of the Talisay Sugar Mill would come in 1933 when most of the mill burned and come World War 2 everything was destroyed.

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