Jul 26, 2011

Bamboo Beach, Col. Razon and the Kawayan Cove Today

Col. Razon. Photo from Sir Jiggs Gilera(History of Batangas FB Group)
          The element of romance has always characterized Bamboo Beach.
          In February of 1942, the Filipino and American soldiers defending Bataan and Corregidor were under relentless siege and bombardment by the invading Japanese Imperial forces, and running out of food. Colonel (then Captain) Jose Razon, on a special mission approved personally by President Manuel L. Quezon, sailed by Banca from Corregidor to Nasugbu, to obtain rice and other provisions for his beleaguered comrades. Local lore has it that Bamboo Beach was where he landed and hid the banca, until it was time to depart with the supplies that loyal civilians had helped him gather.

          After the war, Col. Razon was awarded the Gold Cross Medal, the second highest decoration of the Philippine Army. The citation reads:

          "LT. COLONEL JOSE RAZON 0-23813 PA INF. For gallantry in action in Batangas Province, Philippines, during the periods 1-6 February and 12-13 February 1942. When certain supplies became urgently needed by his garrison, Lt. Colonel Razon, in company with one other officer, voluntarily proceeded on two occasions to the territory occupied by the enemy and despite the hazards of imminent capture or death remained therein for the periods mentioned above, reconnoitring the area in close proximity of hostile troops and arranging for the procurement and shipment of supplies. On both occasions, this officer's initiative and devotion to duty in the face of obstacles resulted in a successful culmination when the urgently needed supplies were discharged at their destination."

          Back in civilian life, Col. Razon was elected President of both the Reserve Officers Legion of the Philippines (ROLP) and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.

          For relaxation he and his friends, Enrique Brias and Jose de Mendezona, purchased some land adjacent to Bamboo Beach, which, with his intimate knowledge of the Nasugbu coastline, he knew to be the best swimming beach in the area.

          Col. Razon was adopted by the townspeople as Anak ng Nasugbu, because as the trusted legal counsellor and "Apoderado" (executive Attorney-in-fact) of Don Antonio and Don Eduardo Roxas, owners of the Central Azucarera Don Pedro, he had been instrumental in their decision to grant the townspeople the opportunity to acquire significant portions of the company's extensive landholdings. The affordably low price was characteristic of the generosity of the Roxas brothers.

          When Col. Razon passed away in 1961, the Philippine Army camp (now PNP camp) at Palico, on the national highway between Tagaytay and Nasugbu, was re-named Camp Jose Razon, the name it carries today.

         The youngest of Col. Razon's three daughters, Isabel (Bingle)
R. Puyat, now a grandmother, remembers that at her father's beach parties, a simple batya, loaded with beer and softdrinks under mounds of ice, would be floated out to guests while they were still in the water. Meanwhile, amongst the shady trees beyond the beach, a "lechon" and a huge "tanguigue" would be roasting side by side on spits, to be served for lunch together with "pesang manok", juicy prawns, and freshly cooked rice, on a long bamboo table covered with banana leaves.

         Several generations went on to celebrate nature in this rustic retreat. The Bamboo Beach experience was an escape from city living, to a place without electricity, where food was kept in ice coolers and gas lanterns were lit at sundown. One slept to the lullaby of rhythmic waves beating on the shore, and woke to the chirping of birds and the crowing of cocks.

         There was no road to Bamboo Beach. The usual way to get there was by small motorized banca, from Nasugbu's Wawa wharf. One day, late in the summer, Bingle, her five children, guests, and maids had to be rescued from the sea when their rented banca capsized in water several fathoms deep. The late Col. Jose Razon's lifelong aide, Nasugbu resident Teodulo Botones, who until his own demise continued to be closely attached to Col. Razon's family, was escorting them. To everyone's surprise, he couldn't swim. As he thrashed to stay afloat, his Colt .45 pistol, which was tucked under his belt, came loose and sank to the bottom. His distress over its loss was relieved only when divers recovered it a few days later, as miraculously as he and all the others had been saved.

          Some had other ways of getting there. Visiting from his Calatagan ranch, Enrique Zobel once landed his helicopter right on the beach. Andres Soriano, Jr.'s yacht, the Seven Seas, often dropped anchor within the cove. On occasion, afternoon mass would be celebrated under the coconut fronds by a priest whisked from town aboard the twin-engined speedboat of Don Eduardo Roxas, who maintained a cozy native-style resthouse on land he was leasing from Mr. Brias. The Roxas family owned thousands of hectares in Nasugbu, including coastal lands, but Don Eduardo preferred Bamboo Beach as his weekend retreat.

          Over the decades, Bingle and her children were able to acquire the lush hillsides around the cove. They then consolidated their holdings with those of Mr. Brias and the other Razon heirs. Meanwhile, Mr. Mendezona had sold his portion. Luckily, the buyer decided to resell it, and a company headed by Bingle's husband, Jose G. Puyat and his brother Aristeo, lost no time in buying it, making Bamboo Beach whole again. Today, the prime property that is Kawayan Cove comprises more than 60 hectares, completely surrounding Bamboo Beach.

          By the new millenium, the time had come for kindred spirits to be invited to share in the romance of Bamboo Beach. Mr. Mendezona's World War II-vintage quonset hut had crumbled and could not be saved, but Don Eduardo's nipa-roofed resthouse has been preserved, as a cool and welcoming haven for those who respond to the call of Bamboo Beach.

credits: http://www.kawayancove.com/history.php
Mr. Francisco Matienza of History of Batangas FB group

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