Knowing our true cultural identity-A A +A
Sunday, June 24, 2012
OVER the years, the street dancing festival for our August fiesta is mainly a promotion and celebration of the so called "Bukidnon roots" of the Kagay-anon. To drive home this point, the logo of the Kagay-an Festival has the ubiquitous fan like headdress known as the "panika" as one of its symbols together with the lambago tree and the whitewater rafting.
Worse, a former City Mayor adopted the pineapple as one of the symbols of the city that had many residents of Bukidnon grumbling because it is in their province that this world famous Del Monte fruit is grown and then, canned in its factories in Bugo, this city.
In my previous article, I cited several solid historical references about the 1622 Kagay-anon, who was clearly a Bisaya -- in looks, language and customs. But now, through some of our civic and cultural leaders, we are showing to the outside world that our cultural affinity is to the Bukidnons!
So what does that make us?
It clearly shows that many do not know our history and of who we are as a people. There are well meaning civic and cultural leaders and even politicos who lacked the knowledge to direct us to our true cultural identity as Kagay-anons and are guilty of randomly picking and adopting the Bukidnon culture as our own, for three reasons:
1. That Cagayan de Oro is adjacent to the Province of Bukidnon.
2. There is a big community of Higa-onons (one of the Bukidnon tribes) living in the City's hinterland barangays.
3. The legend of Kagay-haan.
True, Cagayan de Oro is geographically close to Bukidnon and driving to that beautiful province with its cemented highways and concrete bridges is really a pleasure.
However, let us take a look at Bukidnon through the eyes of the young Capt. John J. Pershing, the aide of Gen. William Kobbe. He would later rose to prominence in Europe during World War I and be known as Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing.
In December 1900, he, along with Kobbe and the men of the 40th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, chased the guerillas under Gen. Nicolas Capistrano in Bukidnon, a land that Pershing described as "...indescribably difficult, mountains inland, heavily wooded here and there, and cut by rivers and precipitous ravines, the grass rose to the height of twenty feet...its blades were razor like...Frequently, the trails were mere tunnels... where passage is all the way from a mere stooping posture in all fours to an upright walk, often in mud and water to the waist."
Remembered another officer, "For the infantry, it was bad enough. For the cavalry, men and their horses and, more the artillery unit with its wagon and cannon, it was sheer hell." (Smythe, Donald.1973. Guerilla Warrior: The Early Life of John J. Pershing. New York p.62).
If that was Bukidnon in 1900, what would that land be liked in the 16th century? Would it be as "sheer hell" hundreds of years ago as it was in the 1900? This kind of land forms the natural barrier that culturally separated the two peoples -- the Bukidnon in the mountains and the Kagay-anons who lived along the coast and were referred to as the "dumagats," while the people living along the coast of northern Mindanao from Surigao to the east and Sindangan Bay to the west shared one cultural identity with their kinfolk in the Visayas islands. They speak one language and established regular communication along the vast coastal region for they were skilled mariners.
An example of this is Magdalena Bacuya, the grandmother of Datu Salangsang, the chief of the Cagaiang territory in 1622. The Jesuit historian, Fr. Francisco Combes, wrote that she was the daughter of Datu Pagbuaya, one of the two paramount rulers of Bohol. She escaped with her father and a thousand of their followers when the Moluccans and the Portuguese attacked their kingdom and massacred hundreds of their people.
They landed west of Zamboanga and named their new settlement after their clan -- Dapitan. Years later, she was mentioned in the Recollect journal of Fray Luis de Jesus as living in Butuan and was able to convince her grandson to receive the two Recollect missionaries in his land. Dona Magdalena could have married to the royal family of Butuan and settled there.
The Kagay-anon's ethnic identity is that of a Bisaya or a Bisdak -- Bisayang Dako -- and not a Bukidnon.
Since language is a big unifying factor and an important component of our ethnicity, our ancient forebears were Bisayan speakers, just like us today.
Also, we do not share common traits and peculiarities in speech, customs and traditions with our Bukidnon neighbors. Though, I do not discount the fact that over the years, there were intermarriages between the Bukidnons and the Kagay-anons, neither of them have had great cultural influence over the other. (To be concluded)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 25, 2012.