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Thursday, December 09, 2021

From Balahotao to Kauswagan

KAUSWAGAN is one of the most prosperous barangays in Cagayan de Oro today.

This barangay is about three kilometers from the poblacion. It is bounded on the east by the Cagayan de Oro River, the west by Barangay Bulua, the north by Barangay Bonbon and the south by Barangay Carmen.
 
According to Mr. Lumboy, a school teacher, and several old residents whose interviews regarding the origins of this barangay came out in the book "The Village: Early Cagayan de Oro in Legend and History" (Francisco Demetrio S.J. ed. 1967), Kauswagan used to be called "Balahotao" for it was believed that since the area was full of big old trees, witches (balbal) and giants (kapre) abound.
    
The early families of Kauswagan are the Abonitalla, Agawin, Salcedo, Pacana, Nagac, Amil, Beja, Sambaan, Rallo and the Avanceña. It is said that these families intermarried among themselves.
 
Other settlers were the Bol-anons, Cebuanos, Ilocanos and from Camiguin Island who came after the eruption of the Hibok-Hibok volcano in the 1870s. They were mostly farmers whose main agricultural products were rice and corn. Their patron saint is San Isidro Labrador whose feast day falls on May 15.

In the early 18th century, the residents were mostly Catholics and the first church was in the lot of Gil Blas Pacana, who was also the church fiscal of St. Agustine Cathedral. He was a famous musician who can play the violin and the piano. The people looked up to Pacana as their first church leader who used to teach them the Spanish Cartilla.
 
When the Aglipayan religion was introduced in Cagayan, those that fought during the Spanish-American War in 1900-1901 left the church, including some families in Kauswagan. Those that remained as Catholics were led by Pacana and they divided the church property. The image of San Isidro Labrador was given to Pacana which is said to be still in good condition today and is kept in the old chapel.
    
In 1907, the first school was established in the church that was administered by Pacana. It was later moved to the copra bodega of Aquilino Gabor in 1912 because it had no permanent school site. Because of this, Mr. Gonzalo Chaves suggested to Mr. Elias Salcedo to purchase the lot of Vicente Raagas for the school site and to construct a building there. Fourteen relatives gathered together and each agreed to pay the then princely sum of P50 to buy the lot. The group called themselves "El Catorce." The following were the members: Elias Salcedo, Rustico Agawin, Catalina Amil, Andres Nabe, Clodualdo Sabalo, Victor Naca, Jose Abonitalla, Nemesio Agawin, Cipriano Naca, Julian Salcedo, Gaudencio Naca, Jorge Salcedo, Vicente Yaranon and Rufino Rallo.
 
The present land where the Kauswagan Elementary School now stands is a memorial to the civic minded El Catorce members whose generosity made it possible for many generations of residents to receive their elementary education right in their barangay.
    
After El Catorce, another group called the "Mutya Sa Sidlakan" was organized by the people to help and work on whatever improvements their Barrio Balahotao needed. The elected officers of the society were Rustico Agawin (President); Clodualdo Sabalo (Vice President); Gaudencio Naca (Secretary); Cipriano Naca (Asst. Secretary); Lucas Beja (Treasurer); Jose Salcedo (Asst. Treasurer); and Elias Salcedo (Auditor).

Of the many things that the officers and members did for their community, their greatest achievement was to initiate the change of name of their barrio from Balahotao to Kauswagan in 1912.
 
A hundred years later, in 2012, Kauswagan, which in Bisayan means progress, has truly lived up to its name because of the generosity, sacrifices and vision of the founding fathers of this barangay.
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