Sunday, January 15, 2006

Comval, one untouched by Spanish conquest
By Cha Monforte

If Compostela Valley so really suffers obscure and scarce records about its share of Spanish conquest as they now are, then at the moment all roads lead to a generalization that present-day 11-town Compostela Valley was truly a Lumad and Moro land untouched by Spanish conquests in the yesteryears.
At the rate available archives scantily mention the province in the pages of history, Comval even if its present geographical grouping was expanded by the province’s makers in 1998 who attached the southern coast that‘s part of the Davao Gulf and the surrounding higher cordilleras where Maragusan and Laak nestle in isolation could still lay claim for the title of being an unconquered land by Spanish conquistadors.
Had the province’s making not constrained by area requirement in the makers’ gerrymandering act in 1998, otherwise institutionalized by a law on the division of administrative jurisdiction, or had it officially stood as the six-town mainland, Comval could have been most consistent in the historical referencing of Spanish colonizers and chroniclers who originally referred the fertile plain as either Monkayo Valley or Compostela Valley.
The mainland itself, composed of Mawab, Nabunturan, Montevista, Monkayo, Compostela and New Bataan, was one swath of truly Lumad land than being a mixed Lumad and Moro Land. It’s the annexed southern coast which provided Comval the mix of being also a Moroland. In fact, the rancherias (landholdings) in Hijo, Maco and Madaum, Tagum were considered as the last bulwark of the Moros at the time of the conquest of the early Davao City.
These rancherias were Moro settlements into where the legendary Datu Bago retreated in 1848 following his defeat in a three-month battle against the Spain’s mercenary-cum-entrepreneur Don Jose Oyanguren from the Moro settlement that once thrived in the mouth of the Davao River.
In the funded book Davao History by Ernesto I. Corsino, other scattered Moro settlements chronicled to be existing along Comval’s shorelines were Matiao in Pantukan which was considered “an important racheria, being the landing place for small boats that ply between Liboac…in Samal to the eastern shore of the Gulf” and the neighboring places of Kingking and Canipa and the small racherias of Cupiat and Laji. The Moros in these parts were subject to the rule of Datu Lasad whose dataria (district ruled over by a datu) in the Gulf started in Lasan (Lasang) river.
The province is unlike the present Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur and Surigao that have abundant stories about Spanish expeditions and colonizing conquests dating back to as old as 1500.
Like most of the rest of Mindanao, the province had only witnessed Spanish colonizing efforts- although they were too scant in Comval’s part- in the later part of the first century of Spanish colonization in the country. That, after the Spaniard conquistadors consolidated their rule in Luzon and Visayas chain of islands in 1572.
At hand, Comval has dearth of Spanish colonial attachment by sharing only brief historical incidents, bits of information from being a part of the bigger Davao geo-political configuration, and few mentions of Comval’s coast as inclusive part of the domain of Sultan Qudarat of Tamontaca, Maguindanao and about Quinquin (Kingking) in Pantukan- where the present Comval Governor Jose Caballero hailed from- having a river sweeping down gold, which the natives panned. “…Gold was extracted from the alluvial deposits coming from the mountain of Quinquin,” writes Fr. Juan Bautista Heras, S.J. who visited Nueva Guipuzcoa (Davao’s first old name) around 1860.
Except for the Moros’ sporadic resistance and hostilities to the rule and pacification-build up campaigns in Davao City by Oyanguren and his successors, among which were instigated by the Moros in Tagum and presumably along with the Moros in Comval’s coast, the province had generally quiet and peaceful colonial associations than what other provinces and areas had gone through like Moro raids to cottas and slaves-taking, bloody battles between the Spanish colonizers and Moros and natives and revolts over the polo (taxes). Even then there’s dearth of chronicles about evangelization activities of missionaries in the province.
The east coast particularly bannered by the establishment of Spain’s mission station in Caraga, Davao Oriental that influenced Baganga, Cateel, Manay and Mati was the most prominent among other subject areas of Spanish colonization in today’s Davao Region. The east coast served as the base in the subsequent early conquest of Davao City and other Gulf areas and was also deemed the major entry point in the migration of people to Gulf areas.
But Caraga’s mission station was a by-product in the earlier evangelization and colonizing activities that took the northeastern route from Alubijid, Misamis Oriental then eastward to eastern coast of Surigao down to Tandag and Bislig and to the east of Davao Gulf.
But was Comval first approached by Spanish colonizing efforts through the northern door in Agusan del Sur or through the southern coastal gateway that connects to the more historic east coast?
There was that scarce mention in Corcino’s book that pointed the province’s Agusan door as the entry point of Spanish evangelization. In 1595 the first Jesuit mission house in Mindanao was established in Butuan City and from there, Jesuit missionaries “reached Fort Linao (the present-day Bunawan, Agusan del Sur) and Monkayo Valley in 1608.”
But in the next breath it tells that just as the Jesuits were making “headways” in their missionary works they abandoned these as they had to be replaced by the Recollects to comply with the church order dividing Mindanao which directed the Jesuits to concentrate evangelizing in the western side of Mindanao.
We still don’t know if the Jesuits’ “headways” in missionary works had converted many native souls in Monkayo-Compostela Valley before they left or whether the Recollects who took over what the Jesuits left in Fort Linao had made more advances to the valley. It appeared to be a mission aborted as there was neither a Spanish mission station nor a Spanish fort that was mentioned to have been established in the valley. Perhaps the missionary works referred to were only brief forays and visits, that we still don’t know.
But the book hinted of northern migrants to the valley from Christian converts like the tribal ruler in Carhaga (old name of Surigao) who was baptized as Antonio Galvan by a Portuguese layman Francisco Castro. “The descendants of Galvan still reside in Monkayo up to this day,” writes Corsino in 1998. In most probability Galvan’s descendants could have taken the Agusan door than the faraway east coast in migrating to the valley inasmuch that there were also religious mission stations along Agusan River Valley and in Fort Linao.
This rare mentioning on evangelization still doesn’t negate the assertion that Comval was virtually untouched by Spanish conquests unlike to the bountiful historical events in the east coast, Agusan del Sur and Davao City.
Which brings us to the province’s name Compostela. Is the name Compostela plainly mythical without the necessary colonialism in placed at the ground like in the postulated case of Comval? Or it might be mere semantical play of early Spanish explorers, chroniclers or conquistadors made from a distance and in reference to Compostela of Spain in their penchant to name frontiers they conquered and those yet to be conquered after the names of places and patron saints in their Spain homeland. The present Compostela town of Cebu may have gotten its name in like manner.
Ranged against our earlier postulation that especially the mainland Comval was unvanquished one, the Kampo de Kastila version (read: that the town or the six-town mainland which was then collectively called as Compostela as a single entity was once or a host of a Spanish camp or fort) stands to be farfetched than the version that Compostela name came from “a Spanish friar from the east coast bringing with him the statue of Santiago de Apostol, the patron saint of the friar’s birthplace”.
Maybe, while we don’t discount the possibility that in the 260 years of the evangelization activities of the Recollects from Tandag to Fort Linao and to the east coast there was one among them who managed to visit the old and bigger Compostela. Or the friar, if ever he was for real, might have used Comval’s northern Agusan door.
But then if the latter version be insisted, this could better be asked: Where’s the original statue which could not be found at present as definitely it is not only a historical but also religious item worth to cherish? Taken by the natives who were the subject of colonization in their flight to higher reaches of the mountains when the great Visayan migration dawned in the mainland? Or whatever; we still don’t know.
Still the present Compostela town that is less of the other five towns may not have been trekked on by friars given its remote and interior location compared to the proximity of Monkayo to Fort Linao. Besides why was Compostela Valley otherwise called as Monkayo Valley?
It could be ventured here that missionaries may have made evangelization attempts indeed in the mainland but for sure, via Agusan river, they had to pass first Monkayo before reaching the present Compostela. For all we know the old and bigger Compostela that was referred to began right at the doorstep of Monkayo, from where the whole mainland was then alternately called Monkayo Valley or Compostela Valley.
It may have been the place guessed to have been visited by the statue-carrying friar, as it is preposterous to guess now he might have taken the mountainous and lengthy route of Cateel in the east coast to Compostela where the timid and wild bahag-wearing natives abound in both sides of the eastern cordillera. Or whatever; we still have to dig deeper.
The prominence though of the smaller Compostela area for being reputed as the most lively and thriving throughout the valley due to its vast abaca plantations, which most probably started during the American colonial period just like the timeline of the Japanese-controlled abaca boom in Davao City, may have later subsumed the Monkayo Valley reference and given also the migrants’ quest for religiosity and township.
Comval coast was though better in prominence than the interior mainland as to the real spread of faith when many Moros in Hijo were touched and converted by the amiable and dialect-speaking Fr. Saturnino Urios, SJ in 1896. It was Fr. Urios who forged peace and cooperation between the Moros and the Christians in the Davao Gulf areas. Yet his headways in Comval coast only came when Spanish rule in the country was already about to end.
One thing is sure: the dramatic turning out of Comval municipios as bulwarks Catholicism was not the making of the early friars in the yesteryears but by the already Catholic migrants from the early-colonized Visayas and Luzon who slowly trickled, trekking into the landlocked valley truly starting during the ensuing American colonial period. The dominantly Visayan in-migration evidently came in faster rate especially after the construction of the road stretching from Magugpo to Agusan in the late 30s. The organized Catholicism in the province was well mainstreamed only much later by the Maryknoll (PME) foreign priests starting in the 50s, but this is worth for another essay.
Thus, at hand and pending retrieval of more historical records possibly from foreign and national archives, in most probability mainland Comval was one virtually untouched and one unvanquished land by Spain conquest, while the seven-year-old province as a whole was a quaint Lumad and Moro land during the country’s first colonial timeline.


The fierce tribal warrior of Korambog
by Cha Monforte

If some historical accounts are considered, Compostela Valley is one thriving with legendary exploits of its own native people.
Mabini town in the northeast coastal side of the province was originally peopled by the Mansakas who respected a native Bagani (warrior) Maglintang. During the pre-migration times the place was then called Korambog for the beetle nut that was abundant in the place. In dialect we call korambog as mama which is leisurely chewed by older natives.
Bagani Maglintang was said stocky, taller in height and a silent type. He spoke direct to the point- authoritatively. He always wore a red headdress, tucked his waist a kampilan, the sword of the natives, and at times carried spear, bow and arrows.
The warrior’s protected territory in the province was said to extend from the coast of Hijo in Maco up to Tibagon in Pantukan and from there towards the northern mountains and the rivers of Beregyan and Palale.
Bagani Maglintang was a warrior protective of his people and by his role as the punisher to the abusive members of the tribe he was feared at even by outsiders who wanted to enter into Korambog territory.
Accordingly, Malintang’s resistance to foreign colonizers was recorded in a book that can be found in the library of the University of the Philippines in Manila. A part of the book chronicled about Maglintang denying entry to a horde of American soldiers at the moment they reached Korambog’s shore.
The American gringos who wanted to negotiate with the tribe were said to be confronted by Maglintang with his baganis and told to leave from the Korambog territory. Faced by battle-ready Mansaka warriors with their native armaments, the Americans left at Maglintang’s forceful verbal behest.
Bagani Maglintang was said to be a fierce warrior who had killed abusive migrants in Korambog. He is the youngest in the brood of three sons of Matikadong (elder) Tibos. His brothers Konat and Oyangus were also leaders of the tribe as the judge and warrant officer, respectively. Maglintang was considered as the berdugo defender of the tribe.
Once the three sons were involved in dramatic event that involved a native who committed a grave offense in the tribe. Konat, the tribal judge sent Oyangus to get the offender. Brought to the balcony of the house of Oyangus, the offender immediately kneeled down before Oyangus crying and asking pardon for what he did. The forgiving Oyangus also cried knowing that the person was one of his bosom friends in the tribe.
Hearing of Oyangus pardon, the offender tried to jump over the balcony to go out but Bagani Maglintang, who was around in the vicinity, could not accept his brother’s verdict, and then and there he threw a spear to the offender killing him in the process.
It was witnessed in full view of the tribe and the brothers were forced to render oratories before the dead body. He who had not sinned deserved neither death nor punishment.
Learning lessons from the death of the offender, Oyangus called on tribe members to cherish the principles of closeness, cooperation, sharing and mutual defense and protection.
Konat, who was also around, preached for observance of tribal laws primed by their father Matikadong Tibos which he said were anchored on giving respect to each other, standing up not to be oppressed and on not taking advantage from others.
The ever-protective Maglintang had his say and stressed that all able-bodied Mansakas in the tribe have the obligation to protect their race, homes, properties, rights, limbs and lives from abusers, oppressors and invaders.
Bagani Maglintang was said to have 14 wives, Oyangus with 10 wives and Konat with 1 wife, from whom the number of the descendants of Makatidong Tibos has continued to swell on at present. Tibos descendants came to comprise the officials of Korambog as it was beginning to shape into Mabini township.
On Sept. 15, 2000 the descendants of Maglintang, Oyangus and Konat had their grand reunion filling to the rafters the jampacked municipal auditorium of Mabini town. The descendants organized themselves into Ompo Konat, Oyangus, Maglintang (OKOM) Tibos Mansaka Clan.
Chronicles like these are enlightening considering the neglect made by the National Commission on Indigenous People to trace the history of tribes and who the legendary leaders were of each tribe we have in the provinces.
More preoccupied in the present vogue of determining the ancestral domains and lands of the indigenous folk, the NCIP forgets to look back the past of the tribes without which we can’t be reminded that the lumads along with the Moros were the original inhabitants in this island.
The history of whatever town in this island is ought to begin with the lumads or the Moros. They’ve been here after the time of Adam and Eve, said Tagum diocese Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz in one occasion in Comval. Unfortunately, their history was long buried by tides of Visayan migration.
Always a Mindanao town’s history was written on the vista of the migrants, making a great leap over the pre-colonial history of the lumads and the Moros, starting right on the settlers’ opening of the frontiers in every nook and corner in the island. For that, the history of each Mindanaoan town is ought to be re-written. (Source of Maglintang chronicles: Visayan narratives written by Cesar “Sarx” M. Lanos, a living descendant of Bagani Maglintang)
(Brown Edges is one of the views of the Rural Urban News (RUN), a community news edited online based in Compostela Valley seizing up the seamless advantages of Internet, e-mail technologies. For reactions, e-mail to:


Blogger shugoshugosho said...

there are no written history of the town of compostela in particular due to the fact that in the eighteen hundreds the town is a vast forest isolated and far from the mainstream of civilized society.
my father was born in this town in the 1920's and accordingly, very few people inhabit this place surviving thru hunting ,slash and burn agriculture,planting upland rice and rootcrops like gabi and camote.
according to his account,his parents who were born in the 1800's were introduced to catholicism by way of a visiting spanish priest aboard a banca via agusan river.the priest brought with him the statue of señor Santiago de Compostela and baptized the natives who were the only people living in the place by ordering them to form a few lines and baptized them with christian surnames per line goes by the name of Braos, another line Blanco etc.that is how the natives got their surnames.the priest came for a few times and accordingly was never seen again.later american priests took over.

5:50 AM  
Blogger shugoshugosho said...

the statue is senor santiago de apostol a patron saint of Santiago de Compostela ,Spain,rather than Santiago de Compostela. Accordingly, the statue that is enshrined above the main entrance of St.James Church today is the same image enshrined in the old church made of bamboo "inak -ak" found on the old road along the side of now network bank.It could be the same image brought in by the spanish priest. the story tells that a long time ago muslim tried to settle in compostela but were driven away by the fierce baganis of the existing tribe in order to keep the area exclusive for the tribe only.

7:24 AM  

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