Kagan: The Islamized Davao natives

THE culture and tradition of Kagan Tribe, the only Islamized Indigenous tribe in Davao City, remains undivided despite the emerging modernization of the city today.

Although Kagans, some call them Kalagans, are living in different areas in the city, most of them are situated in Sirawan, Toril, the first barangay they resided in the city after their migration from Davao Oriental in search for a safe place to cultivate their tribe.

Barangay Sirawan Former Captain Ligaya Abubakr said the word Kagan originated in their tribe members’ language which means "to warn." During the Spanish invasion in the country in 1800’s, Kagan male members in Davao Oriental ran towards their tribe’s village after they saw Spaniards invading the neighboring villages.

From that time on, Kagan tribe continuously transferred from one place to another until they finally settled in a small barangay in Sirawan, Toril during early 1900’s.

“Ang naka lahi sa Kagan tribes sa lain nga Muslim tribes kay peace-loving entities mi. Nagasukol gud mi kung kinahanglan pero dili jud kami ang naga sugod ug mga kagubot (What differs Kagan tribe apart from other Muslim tribes is that we are peace-loving people. Although we defend ourselves if needed, we never start conflicts),” Abubakr said.

Kagan Tribe Deputy Mayor Hon. Nicanor Mohamad said even the young Kagans observe the peace-loving nature of their tribe despite the existence of insurgencies in some parts in Mindanao.

As a deputy mayor, Mohamad said he focus on the cultivation of their culture to the Kagan’s youth as they are the future of their tribe in continuing the traditions that have long been practiced and protected by the tribe’s ancestors.

“Even with the modern society our tribe is living in, our Kagan youth respect and follow our tribe’s practices which is very important for us, leaders, because it indicates that Kagan’s culture will continue until the next generation,” he said.

Hiyas sa Panaghiusa 2017 Jerlyn Dalao Macasi of Kagan Tribe agreed that youth in their tribe plays a vital role in preserving their culture and identity.

“It is very important for them to be knowledgeable enough with our culture for I do believe we will remain the sanctity and beauty of our tribe by transmitting our traditions, practices, and notions to the next succeeding generations,” Macasi said.

The Kagan community, she added, do preserve their culture through the celebration of wedding and thanksgivings; use of grandeur costumes; traditional Kagan dishes; practice of Kulintang; and the observance of Sambayang or the traditional Islam prayer.

“Though the modernization evolves, Kagan youth must instill to them the value of our rich history by engaging themselves in activities, like Kadayawan festival, in which we could showcase our music, dances, rituals and traditional practices,” she said.

But along the preservation of Kagan Culture, Davao City Councilor Bai Halila Sudagar, a Kagan herself, said it must come with the participation and support of the non-Kagan communities in the city.

“Cultural performers who are presenting Kagan dances and songs to the public must ensure the appropriateness of their portrayals as they carry with them our culture. Audience believes what they see so performers have critical responsibility in using our culture in their performances,” Councilor Sudagar said.

Kagan is only one of the 11 tribes in the city that continue to conserve the richness of their history and to keep their identity alive amidst the ongoing innovations and changes in the city. Let us help them in protecting their culture as we are all Dabawenyos soaring high.
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