Our three oldest barangays-A A +A
Monday, November 4, 2013
THE recently concluded barangay elections has stirred a big interest among many friends about our barangays–like which are the oldest barangays of the city and where did they get their names?
To these two frequently asked questions, I will be happy to answer them and give you some interesting trivia about our three oldest barangays namely: Iponan, Gusa and Agusan.
The earliest mention of Iponan (‘Yponan’—as sometimes spelled in Spanish colonial records) was in the 1674 Recollect Mission records.
It reported that it became a part of the visita of Cagaiang (Cagayan de Oro) together with Agusan, Bayug, Gompot (Balingasag) and Tagoloan.
According to a 1936 interview of the old residents of Iponan, their place was originally called ‘Kalumpang’ because of the many kalumpang trees found there.
However, because there are many streams that met at one point or ‘gui iponan’ to form one big river, the place became known as Iponan.
The Iponan River is considered as one of the seven rivers in Mindanao that abound with gold.
This came from a mid-17th century report of a British sea captain and explorer, Thomas Forrest. He spelled Iponan as ‘Epunan.’
There is an ancient ‘sitio’ known of this barangay called Pigtao or Tagsuli that was famous for its gold mines that it was frequently raided by Moros during the Spanish colonial period.
In 1818, when the Misamis Province was divided into four partidos, Iponan was among those mentioned as under Partido de Cagayan.
In 1833, it was separated from Cagayan and made into a parish.
The Spanish Recollect priest, Fray Benito Tutor built a church there with a ‘convento’ that was noted for its elegance.
There is this legend on how Gusa got its name. It is about this beautiful lady named Magusa.
A Chinese merchant was so smitten by her beauty that he kept mentioning her attributes to everyone he met. But when he was away, Magusa met and married another suitor and left her barangay.
The dejected suitor looked for her and never stopped talking about the charms of Magusa. Years later, the place where the Chinese merchant lived was called ‘Gusa.'
I like what a teacher told me about the meaning of the word ‘Gusa’ in his Binukid dialect–it is to make loud noises. I think this is a more appropriate meaning of the place name rather than the tale of Magusa.
Gusa was a quiet barrio of no historical importance during the Spanish colonial period except for the fact that in the 1880s, the Kagay-anons were ordered by the Spanish military governor, Lt. Col. Leopoldo Roldan to bring blocks of chalk from the hills of Gusa.
This was to be used in powdered form for painting their houses white and was trimmed with blue from the indigo plant.
However, in 1901 during the Philippine-American war, Gusa was chosen by Gen. Nicolas Capistrano as the place where he met twice with the American military officials for a peace conference that eventually ended the year-long war.
The peace conference was held in the house of Julian Gevero in Gusa.
The name Agusan means in Visayan as a place of strong flowing water. The headwaters of the mighty Agusan River is in Bukidnon. Some prehistoric artifacts have been recovered in several sites along this river.
Like Iponan, Agusan was among the places established by the Recollect missionaries as a ‘visita’ in 1674.
It was also a part of the Partido de Cagayan in 1818 and when Cagayan de Misamis became the new capital of the Misamis Province in 1871, this barangay together with Iponan and Gusa became its visitas.
In 1884, it became one of the ten barrios of Cagayan. It was in Agusan that travelers start their journey to Bukidnon via an old road built by the Spaniards.
But this was closed indefinitely when the Americans constructed the Sayre Highway from Barangay Puerto to Bukidnon in the late 1920s.
Agusan is the site of two important events that occurred in two historical war. On the hills near the river, Capt. Vicente Roa y Racines and most of his men belonging to the 1st Company of the Mindanao Battalion perished in a bloody battle against the Americans on May 14, 1900.
A national historical marker was unveiled on the battle site by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly National Historical Institute) on the centenary of the Battle of Agusan Hill.
On May 10, 1945, the Regimental Combat Team of the 40th Division of the US Army landed unopposed in the beaches of barangays Agusan and Bugo.
From there, they pushed southward to link up with the troops of the US 31st Division in Impalutao, Bukidnon where they fought for the last time a battle with the Japanese and defeated them.
Today, Gusa is not the sleepy barangay of yore. It is a prosperous and highly urbanized area of the city.
So with Agusan. While Iponan is the place that has several new residential subdivisions and is known for promoting their cultural heritage through their annual festivals.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 05, 2013.