Agoncillo is rich in culture and heritage. It is a municipality that respects and appreciates traditions through continuity and preservation.
It won’t be hard to point out that the Subli, a ceremonial worship dance practiced usually in Batangas and other parts of Luzon, traces its origins in Alitagtag and Bauan, Batangas. After all, the prayer all throughout the hours-long ceremony narrates a miracle story which mentions Alitagtag (then part of Bauan Sur) and its Patron Saint, The Holy Cross.
While there are not enough records telling how the age-old tradition trickled its way out of Alitagtag and onto neighboring towns, there’s no denying that Subli remains alive and authentic especially in Agoncillo.
Unlike the festive Subli which is usually exhibited as highlight performances in cultural gatherings, the Agoncillians somehow stayed true to the essence of what could be considered as a communal, music-driven prayer and dance.
The initial part of the ceremony takes cues from the Alitagtag version as it starts out with the beating of the kalatong, an ancient wooden percussive instrument played with a pair of sticks.
An hour-long prayer led by a singer and accompanied by a chorus of other members would then ensue at the fore of an altar. This prayer tells the story of a miraculous, water-spewing wood that could only be moved when the devotees sing and dance around it. It has been told that this wood was carved into a saint, and placed on an altar where the dancers and singers offer their prayers.
The succeeding part is where the Agoncillian version become distinctive.
The chant-like prayers are now accompanied by a spirited string section and danced upon by male-female pairs garbed in their Sunday dresses.
The skillful playing of wooden castanets, too, are a defining element in this part of the subli. The dance could go on for hours on end and the women would maintain their refined movement and the men could keep on going with their more sprightly steps along with the continues rhythmic playing of the castanets.
Subli, despite the distractions offered by today's modern lifestyle, remains authentic and purpose-driven for the Agoncillians.
The tradition is still a part of their daily lives which only reflects the people's deep appreciation and respect for religion and culture.
Pangingisda (Net Fishing), though a technique as old as time, is alive and well in Agoncillo, Batangas.
It is a deep-sea fishing strategy that involves plenty strong-armed folks to efficiently haul in tons of harvests from the Taal Lake.
Between 15-20 mangingisda (net fishers) wake up at about 5:00 AM and board a diesel-powered boat headed towards the heart of Taal Lake.
They then spread out the hundreds-of-meters-long fish net, as the boat move farther from the spot where fish begin to accumulate and settle in the nylon trap.
Afterwards, the fisherfolks rhythmically draw-in the hundreds-of-meters line towards the boat.
On a good day, the net fishers could bring in half a ton of tawilis among other fish provided by fresh waters of Taal.
The earnings of the day would be divvied up equally between the financer (boat and net owner) and the mangingisda.
Because of the abundant harvests, the Local Government Unit together with the organization of fishermen, plans to preserve and bottle tawilis and bangus for local and national distribution.
Paglulupak (mashed cassava making) has been a go-to bonding activity for the Agoncillians.
On weekends, a group of friends would gather at someone's house before snack time.
The ingredients, cassava, peanut butter, ground peanuts, condensed milk, rice crispies and coconut, are readily available items which makes it an easy dish to cook.
After cooking the sumptuous snack, that group of friends would call on the neighbors so they could feast on the sweet treat and enjoy each other's company.