Roa: Knowing our true cultural identity (Conclusion)-A A +A
Sunday, July 8, 2012
I STAND corrected. The official logo of the Kagay-an Festival does not have the lambago tree in it, as mentioned in this column the other week.
Rather, it has the panika, the fan-shaped Bukidnon headdress, two pineapples and a group of whitewater rafters. This logo is very telling because it borrowed two things that are closely identified with the Bukidnon -- the panika and the pineapples. This cultural misrepresentation is damaging our perception of who we are as a people.
Those who designed, approved and promoted this fiesta logo are not aware nor has taken much thought of the "Bisayan-ness" that has clearly defined the ways, mores and language of the Kagay-anon for ages.
Had they embarked on a thorough research on our local history and culture, they would not have made a grievous mistake of grafting an alien cultural element to our identity as a people.
However, there are many who believe that in ancient times, it was the Bukidnons (or the Manobos for that matter, anyway, both terms are generic) who were the original dwellers of Cagayan de Oro. That they were then driven by the Dumagats or people from the sea, deep into the mountains and that this account is part of our local lore.
Therefore, we have every reason to present those grandiose dance festivals during our August fiesta that celebrate our Bukidnon roots. Right?
Dr. Samuel K. Tan, former chairperson and professor of the Department of History of the University of the Philippines, in his fascinating book titled "A History of the Philippines" (1987), wrote that the original dwellers of this country were the dark-skinned pygmies whose cultural remains can be seen in the Negrito type of Filipinos found in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Their first migrations came between 25,000 to 30,000 B.C. before the land bridges that connected the archipelago from the rest of Asia were severed when the seas rose as the glaciers or those large masses of ice that covered much of the earth melted. So if we want the true and the original, then, let us commemorate through a festival the coming of this first group of people that occupied our land!
However, this first group who had an inferior culture were not able to stand against a powerful group with an advanced culture that pushed them deep into the interior of the land.
Renowned anthropologist H. Otley Beyer identified them as the Indonesian forebears of the Kalinga, Gaddang, Isneg, Mangyan, Manobo, Tagbanua, Mandaya, Subanun and Jama -- all came between 5,000 and 3,500 B.C.
And finally, between 500 B.C. and A.D. 1500 came a wave of Malay migrations.
According to Dr. Tan, this last group "introduced a far more advanced culture based on Metal Age technology. They are represented by the Christianized and Islamized Filipinos who pushed the Indonesian groups inland and occupied much of the coastal, lowland and downstream areas.
They were in the process of transforming and consolidating the archipelago at different centers of growth when Western civilization (through the Spanish conquistadores) arrived in the fringes of the archipelago, setting a new process of change more profound and drastic than any other that had come to this area (1987 p.30)."
This third group of people includes our Bisayan ancestors who were skilled seafarers that developed a rich maritime trade thousands of years ago. Their trading activities reached the shores of Imperial China and around island and mainland Southeast Asia.
The Bisayan cultural influence and dominance was not limited to the Visayan group of islands only but it extended to Mindanao and up north in the Bicol region.
Early Spanish chroniclers agreed that the Bicolanos shared the same culture as the Bisayans.
In 1600, Dutch Admiral Oliver Van Noort met Albay chiefs whom he described as "very nicely, beautifully and artistically tatooed." They were much like the pintados and even their speech was similar to the Bisayan.
Consider this 16th century Bicolano who complained in his native tongue that he was sent back and forth to the same place, "Nagbabahag na akon dalan, kyaning papapagbalik balika ako." I keep putting the road on like a G-string (Scott, William Henry. 1997. Barangay. p.180)" Masabtan nato ni, di ba? (We can understand this, right?)
The main problem of not knowing our true cultural identity lies with the fact that most of us have not acquired adequate knowledge of Kagay-anon history and culture. Sad to say that many of the cultural leaders and groups here in Cagayan de Oro are guilty of this. There is a great need to seriously read, understand and do a continuous research about our past and not summarily borrow the cultural concepts from our neighbors. And to think that there are no profound cultural influences of the Bukidnon that we can recognize in us, Kagay-anons, way from the past and down to this present generation.
Again, allow me to stress this timeless truth -- that by knowing who we really are as a people, we are able to locate our lives by giving a powerful validation of our ethnicity through our language, which is Bisayan, our customs and traditions, beliefs, values and our shared interpretations of our past. These are the elements that define the way we live as Kagay-anons, which can never be taken away from us.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 09, 2012.