Kidapawan’s Real Foundation Day

This 12 February, my hometown of Kidapawan will celebrate its 19th anniversary as a city. Festivities begin on the eighth, and many events are being organized to celebrate the occasion.

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The city government has been calling this day ‘Foundation Anniversary,’ with posters and tarpaulins labeling it so.

Make no mistake, the process of cityhood that built up to the 12 February 1998 Executive Order was a very colourful one, several decades in the making.

But to call this day the Foundation Day of Kidapawan would be being grossly inaccurate. Kidapawanons must not make the mistake of thinking their hometown has only existed for 19 years.

Because Kidapawan’s real Foundation Day was on 18 August 1947.

On this date the district of Kidapawan, then part of Pikit, was declared a separate municipality by President Manuel Roxas. It is this date when Kidapawan as a separate entity starting existing – before this date there was no Kidapawan as we know it.

And that would make the city 70 years old this year!

What I think this misuse of term reveals is Kidapawan’s tendency to neglect its past – there is an underlying tension in my hometown between the desire to be a modern, progressive city, and staying true to its roots as a small old town. As early as the moment Kidapawan was declared a city in 1998, there was local opposition. Not everybody wanted Kidapawan to be a city.

Unbridled progress, however, is winning and at the expense of Kidapawan’s soul. This could not be demonstrated better than with the Municipio.

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A building dating back to the days of Alfonso Angeles Sr., the Municipal Hall was as old as Kidapawan. In the mid-2000s, it was short of demolished, to be replaced by a pastel yellow faux-Neoclassical dome.

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They destroyed that island in front of the Hall too

The old Municipio had been the hall not only of local governance but of Kidapawan’s collective memory as well. It was not a pretty building, but it was our building.

The subsequent local governments’ decision to tear it down and replace it with something completely meaningless to the Kidapawanon was a callous thing to do. What we now have is an empty and fake facade – literally, the dome isn’t even a complete dome, if one looked at the city hall from the Pilot Elementary School, the dome is only half a dome, a facade that almost seems to be made of cardboard.

There are many other instances that show how little Kidapawan and its authorities care for its history. My own family has seen this – my great grandfather Eugenio Galay Sr. planted a Mango tree in Crossing Lanao, a tree which has stood there for much of Kidapawan’s existence. But because the city is becoming more urbanized – and as a consequence the national highway needed to be further widened – the DPWH had the tree cut.

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It would not have been the only tree felled if Alfonso Angeles Jr allowed Malaluan to cut down the Pine Trees

If Kidapawan is to progress it cannot do so with a fake and shallow identity installed after felling its more established and more authentic roots. Progress need not be at the expense of heritage and historical identity. As a matter of fact progress without heritage is shallow, ultimately you will be building a generic modern city, with nothing more than artefacts of kitschy cultural imitation to showcase as your identity.

Kidapawan is older than 19 years. And if we can forget entire decades of our town’s history, how can we expect future generations to remember the history we are now making?

 

 

 

 

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