‘Ino sa tag inangonoy?’ We are bisdaks!-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
THE Parade of the Higantes as conceived by the 2013 Fiesta Committee is to be commended for this is a departure from the cut-and-paste kind of street dance festivals that we see all over the country.
Those same beating of the drums, stamping of the feet and dancers in colorful and exotic costumes are all lined up in parade formation, can be so predictable and boring.
However, I know of several places in the country notably in Luzon where there are Higante festivals and this was no doubt introduced by the Spanish friars who also brought in the religious practice of having a town patron saint and the fiestas.
Another innovation introduced for this year's fiesta is the change of name from the eponymous Kagay-an Festival to Higalaay Festival.
Higalaay means friendship and this is inspired by the popular brand name of Cagayan de Oro as the "City of Golden Friendship."
This title was the creation of the late City Councilor, Atty. Adolfo L. Balinado and not by City Mayor Reuben R. Canoy, as previously reported.
The papier mache higantes that made its "debut" in the streets of the city represented several religious, mythical and local heroes of Cagayan.
But it was the Higaonon higante that drew a lot of comments and questions from many of the viewers because it was introduced as the “ancestor” of the Kagay-anons.
In fact, there was a group of Higaonons resplendent in their red costumes that danced in the streets behind the higante to the beat of the gongs.
Are we really descended from the Higaonons? What are the research documents and other anthropological data and evidences that will support the selection done by the 2013 Fiesta Committee that our ancestral roots came from this hill tribe?
As a member of the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission and head of the research section, we have papers and documents pointing to the fact that the Kagay-anons are descended from the Bisayans.
Another fact to consider is that many Philippine historians have pointed to Northern Mindanao as part of the Bisayan homeland.
Our stand is based on a study full of solid historical and anthropological data. Let me share several facts taken from our study:
1. Language: Our ethno linguistic identity is Bisaya and not Higaonon. In the study of comparative linguistics relevant to our prehistory, our ancestors were Bisayan speakers.
And if you are wondering why the Higaonon speakers are very different from ours is because these two groups must have been isolated from each other for centuries or for a millennium.
As examples, I am giving these two sentences that have the same meaning but are spoken differently:
Bisayan: Unsay imong gibuhat?
Higaonon: Ino sa tag inangonoy?
English translation: What are you doing?
Can you find a word or two that is akin or relative to both dialects? Wala!
Another example is the common word "wala" spoken by a Kagay-anon, Surigaonon, Cebuano and Higaonon:
The study of ethnic groups show that these are often correlated with language areas.
So the Bisayan-speaking communities that lived along the coast of Northern Mindanao from Surigao to the east up to Sindangan Bay to the west speak Bisayan though it has several variants in many of its words and even in tonal quality but it can still be understood as shown in the word "wala."
2. Geographical locations and migrations: The Bisayan speakers, like the Kagay-anons, lived in the coastal areas of Northern Mindanao creating a distinct cultural community and were known as the "dumagats." This cultural community is not the same as those that lived in the hills and interior areas of Mindanao.
The physiography or physical settings of Northern Mindanao is that of a narrow coastal plain that is bordered on one side by the bay.
The lowland lies along several rivers like Cugman, Cagayan, Iponan and others. Here the dumagats prospered greatly for it developed different kinds of vessels for the sea and rivers.
The boats were also used to transport people from the Visayas islands who chose to settle in northern Mindanao. It also paved the way to a rich maritime trade of the Bisayans not only around the archipelago but in Island Southeast Asia and even China.
In fact, Butuan was recognized as a tributary state to the Chinese imperial court in A.D. 1001.
The interior and hill areas lie behind the coastal plain and are composed of deep canyons, limestone cliffs, wide and raging rivers and virgin forests. This was where the hill tribes lived and developed their own cultural community.
Their social contacts with the dumagats may be far and between because of the difficult terrain.
It was the Spanish colonizers that introduced the wheel in this country–but the dumagats then saw no need of one because of their boats.
The eminent historian William Henry Scott said that if one wished to speculate who brought those exquisite Chinese porcelains or the Arabic Korans to pre-Hispanic Philippines, a ready explanation is available namely, they came in vessels built, owned and manned by islanders– among them our Bisayan ancestors.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 10, 2013.