Young people of Baler wouldn’t probably know where Caledian is. They would know Suklayin which is one of the big Barangays of the town and where the provincial seat of government is located. Caledian is now just a Sitio of Bgy. Suklayin. It probably got its name from “Kalye Diyan” (the street over there). It has no formal geographical boundary but it’s located along the Quezon highway somewhere between Gloria Street and the Provincial Capitol. The original Suklayin starts at the curve of the highway where the old DPWH (BPH) used to be located and ends at the boundary with San Luis, the place we call Welcome. We live in Caledian since I was a child so i have many fond memories of the place, but that’s another story.
The Google Earth picture above is of Caledian and Suklayin – in Arayat, Pampanga. Coincidence? Not really. That place used to be the farm of Manuel L. Quezon. I first read about a place in Arayat called Caledian from Manuel L. Quezon III’s column in the Inquirer where he wrote about his grandfathers’ farm called “Caleidan”. I wondered if there was a connection with the Caledian here in Baler. It turned out that Pres. Quezon and Mrs. Quezon named it after the place here in Baler, where they also had farms. They loved their hometown so much they made an “avatar” of it in a place that’s nearer to Manila. Of course they also brought in some Balerians to stay in the place to make it more authentic.
Poppo Olag, a retired US navy now living in the USA, read my short note here at Batangbaler and emailed me this:
You bet, the name of the Quezonâ€™s Hacienda in Arayat were not only Kaledian but on the other side was Suklayin. We lived in the farm from 1940 until the outbreak of World War II. Tata Manuel was in charge of Kaledian Farm, while Mang Tomas Ranillo was in charge of Suklayin Farm. Tatay was in charge of the construction of Mt. Arayat National Park. Nonong and I used to climb the Ratilis tree at the back of their house. That was the good old days. We walked back to Baler from Arayat in 1942 when everything quieted down. And, where we settled down? Back to Suklayin!
So it turned out that there’s also a place besides Caledian in Arayat called Suklayin. And those places retained the names until now. So what happened to the farm in Arayat? Manuel L. Quezon, being a champion of social justice and a trailblazer of agrarian reform, redistributed the land to its tenants and farmworkers. Which was also what he did in Baler. When he was president, he ordered a cadastral survey of Baler and gave two portions of lands to each family, a small lot at the Poblacion and a bigger track of land at the outskirts of the town. Most of the lands their family owned in Baler were also given away. Almost a century later, he is still remembered for those unselfish acts. I wonder how we will remember those who are now more into taking than giving.