Cagayan: A year before the quadricentennial

By : RAI Bollozos Sanchez Mindanao Today/08:38:21am 08/24/2021


RAI Bollozos Sanchez | Historyahe!

FOR the second year, Cagayan de Oro will celebrate the Feast of Saint Augustine virtually.

(Part 1)

The Covid-19 pandemic has canceled the usual festivities every Kagay-anon revel in preparation for the fiesta.

Though, some events are being celebrated online, like the annual Kumbira.

For now, gone was the annual Miss Cagayan, the civic-military parade, the carnival parade and dance, and the stalls at Gaston Park where everyone could buy farm goods and good street food.

Oh, I miss those years.

This year, the celebration of the city is as unique as next year.

Cagayan de Oro is celebrating its 399th year since the introduction of Christianity, and next year, it will be as grand as ever – the city will celebrate its “Quadricentennial!”

As a Kagay-anon, I am eager and excited for next year.

Yet, hopeful that we will be able to recover by then, most everyone has already been vaccinated, and we already attained “herd immunity.”

I think, as may share for my beloved city, let us look back to its early history and reminisce how a small settlement of Cagaiang became the city it is today.

The original settlement of Kagay-anons settled along the banks of Kalambagohan River (now Cagayan de Oro River), which was named after the lambago trees that flourished along its banks.

The settlement was called Himologan, which could be situated on the riverbanks of Taguanao – around the vicinity of Huluga and Tagbalitang Caves.

It is commonly believed that the first people to settle near the banks were the Manobo sub-tribe named the Higaonon, who already have their own culture of dance, religion, trade, oral traditions, and subsistence patterns.

The Higaonons were generally nomadic, but according to local historian Dr. Antonio J. Montalvan, in his book, a Cagayan de Oro Ethnohistory Reader, they lived in clusters on high places near the River.

Besides the promontories they lived in, it also gave them an overlooking view of the surrounding areas and was advantageous during frequent skirmishes against the other tribes.

Contrary to popular misconception, the Higaonon settlement has not been converted to Islam.

For that reason, these people worshipped the spirits.

From trees to mountains, from the sun to the rain, from the elements of nature and to spiritual entities.

In short, these people were animistic, and their worship was led by shamans called the “baylans.”

However, the settlement was a tributary to Sultan Kudarat, the ruler of Maguindanao.

The connection was political rather than economic, as the tribe pays “tributes” for protection against attack from other tribes.

There are many contesting arguments as to where the origins of the name Cagaiang or Cagayan came from.

According to Dr. Montalvan, the naming has several versions.

One is based on the folk epic “Olaging,” wherein the hero, Agyu, mentioned to his elder brother Pamulaw, who took his wife, Yumagmag Katiguman, who said to be the “Lady of Kagay-an or Queen of Lambagohon.”

This was the first mention of the name “Kagay-an” and its counterpart, “Lambagohon.”

Another version is the body of water itself. There are three other places named Cagayan.

Cagayancillo island in Palawan, Cagayan de Sulu (now called Mapun), and Cagayan Province.

Though each is situated in various areas in the archipelago, it has one similarity – all three have a body of water in them.

In Ilocano and especially in Cagayan, the word “river” is karay, close to “Kagay,” and therefore, according to Dr. Montalvan, “Cagayan” means “place of the river.”

Nevertheless, before the coming of Spaniards in Cagaiang, history tells us a complex society that lived near the riverbanks of the Cagayan River.

From the narrative, our history will tell us that our ancestors have their own culture of dance, religion, trade, oral traditions, and subsistence patterns – a pattern of civilization.

History is lively if we go beyond trivia and understand the nuances.

Understanding the nuances avoids historical misconceptions.

However, the question is, “who would teach those historical nuances if most are not capable of teaching such?”

I hope my fellow educators will see the need to understand the importance of teaching local history to our students.

I hope they will realize that one way to teach them to become Filipinos is to make them know that they first are KAGAY-ANONS!

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