I have always taken issue with the demonym used for those from my hometown of Kidapawan: Kidapaweño.

On a practical level, typing ñ is a pain (Alt-164 doesn’t always work!), and copy-pasting it all the time also takes effort.

But the demonym is also inadequate: it’s lazy, it’s historically inappropriate, it’s gender specific, and there’s a better alternative.

Demonyms in the -eño form are obviously Spanish origin, and have a proliferation in the Philippines because of the country’s colonial past.

That alone should merit avoiding the demonymic form: it is a reminder of our subjugation by a foreign power.

One might argue though that denying our colonial past is denying who we are, and I agree. This is why I have no objection to such demonyms as ‘Zamboangeño’ and ‘Caviteño.’

But Kidapawan was in fact never fully controlled by the Spanish. Spanish colonial control  was limited to Pikit, and Kidapawan was only loosely under their influence. Colonial presence was only substantially established during the American period.

What is a town never being under the Spanish doing assuming a Spanish identity?

One could only suspect this is another instance of local identity being imposed by Imperial Manila – because Manila had a domestic Spanish past, therefore all of the Philippines should have a domestic Spanish past!

One could argue that it is already ‘traditional’ to use Kidapaweño, because it is what the people of Kidapawan are now accustomed to. But tradition isn’t simply what is accustomed to, it is practice initially taken up deliberately for a symbolic purpose and continued because succeeding generations know and value its meaning.

‘Kidapaweño’ as a demonym was either imposed by Spanish-influenced Imperial Manila or assumed by our ancestors because they were too lazy to think up a more appropriate demonym, and we continue to use it because we’re just accustomed to it. It is not a tradition.

Another complication it has is in its being gender defined. Spanish, from whence the -eño form comes, is a gendered language, which means words have a different form depending on its gender. As such a man from Kidapawan is called Kidapaweño, but a woman from Kidapawan is called Kidapaweña.

But this becomes complicated for transgender people, and for purposes of being gender neutral it may be a problem. ‘Kidapaweño’ is not good for equality!

And let’s not get into using the demonym for things! Because one does use demonyms on things too: french fries, belgian waffles, korean barbeque. In Spanish every word is either a masculine or feminine, so it isn’t complicated. But what about gender neutral English or the Filipino languages? Kidapaweño or Kidapaweña fruits?

Personally I don’t like the demonym because it evokes the image of a dull and dusty town, with nothing but habal-habals and mangy dogs basking under the scorching noon sun in the streets. It’s a boring barrio term. Not how I would like to remember Kidapawan.

Is there an alternative? The title of this blog post of course!

I’ve been using ‘Kidapawanon’ instead of ‘Kidapaweño’ for well over eight years now.

‘Kidapawanon’ is truer to the city’s history. Kidapawan has been settled since pre-colonial times by various tribes, and one of the biggest presences has been that of the Manobo. Among the many names the Manobos in the area called themselves is ‘Kidapawanen.’

The -en form of the demonym is unique to the Manobo language, so while it makes a very legitimate label for the Manobos of Kidapawan, the rest of us settlers would be being pretentious to claim it.

The -on form of the demonym is, on the other hand, a precolonial form common across the archipelago (from Capiznon in Panay, West Visayas, to to the Iliganon of Iligan in Northern Mindanao). It can be appreciated by the many settler communities, as well as the native lumad and muslim populations, in the area.

‘Kidapawanon’ is not a native demonym – it’s very new – but its derivation is definitely precolonial Filipino, without any colonial baggage. It doesn’t have the complications of gender. It sounds traditional!

And for me it evokes a more mountainous Kidapawan, more remote but pristinely so, shrouded in the mist of my nostalgia. It evokes a Kidapawan of moister, cooler earth, without the dust of ‘Kidapaweño,’ and with so much fertility.

I am Kidapawanon, and I’m proud of it!




One Comment on “Kidapawanon”

  1. ardeend says:

    Shorter term: Team Kidaps for Plural terms

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