Old Galay Family Pictures

My cousin Jeff scanned some old family pictures for me for the Kidapawan of the Past Facebook Page.Most of them are of my grandfather’s house in Lanao, about which I once made a blogpost here already.

They’re quite intriguing, giving a glimpse into the past of my family, one of the oldest in Kidapawan.


The house as viewed from my great grandfather’s house, taken sometime in the 1970s. This picture is intriguing because it shows that the terrace wasn’t always there.


Two pictures of my mother’s family in the house. On the top picture from the left is my grandfather, my mother, my titas Ate Christie and Ate Yayan, my uncle kuya Eric, and my grandmother. On the bottom picture the family is on the dining table. The space where the dining table is here is now the house’s living room.


A view of the lawn. I did not know there was a small hut in the middle of the grass before.


My mother says my grandfather often lounged in the hut, which he surrounded with his flowers


A picture of the lawn, a bit later (probably in the late 80s or early 90s). My grandfather collecting orchids later on


The house’s grotto, now expanded by my uncle. I did not know a Yucca tree grew there once


A much later view of the grotto


Pictures of my mother’s early family with my great grandparents. On the above picture, my mother and uncle (my two titas had not been born yet) pose with my great grandparents and my great uncle Eugenio J,r or kuya Chito (standing, Left back). On the lower picture my mother, uncle, and ate Christie pose with my great grandparents, my great grandmother Brigida, and my great Grandfather Eugenio Sr (the first Galay in Kidapawan)


The extended Galay family. I didn’t know my great aunt ninang Ludy, seated beside my great grandfather, was so pretty. My mother is to the far left standing


My grandparents used to run a small store. Now the store is the location of Galor Pasalubong Center, owned by my great-uncle


The store stands just in front of my great grandfather’s old house


My grandmother was from Manila and ran away from home to marry her UST school mate in faraway Kidapawan. This photo, taken during the wedding, did not have any of her relatives.


My grandparents served as godparents to the wedding of one of my favourite teachers in highschool, professor Damian Albete, and his wife the NDKC registrar ma’am Cora.


My grandfather, with the then Mayor of Kidapawan, Augosto Gana, as he was sworn in as Baranggay Chairman of Lanao. The Galays are notoriously apolitical, and this is the only time someone in the family entered politics. He didn’t like his time as chairman, and he ended up resigning before his term ended.

Himno Kidapawan Lyrics: Translation to English

(Since I cannot find this online I decided to make it available here. I cannot ascertain yet if the Kidapawan hymn –  this song I’ve known since I was in elementary – predated Kidapawan’s cityhood, or like the seal it was commissioned in 1998. The song was composed, and its lyrics written, by Mary Jane Dizon, with Wilson Dizon providing the arrangement.)

Himno Kidapawan

Ating Lungsod na pinagpala,
Kidapawan naming mutya,
Sa bawat hagupit ng pagsubok
Ikaw at di nalulugmok

Natatangi ang iyong kasaysayan,
Pati ang iyong mamamayan,
Taglay mo ang yaman ng kalikasan,
mahal naming Kidapawan.

Sama-sama kaming nagpupugay.
Maging buhay man ay iaalay,
Sa ‘yo lungsod naming minamahal,
Kidapawan, o! Kidapawan!

Ika’y sagisag ng pag-asa
Kristyano’t muslim sama-sama,
Mga katutubo ay nakikiisa
sa layuning ika’y mapaganda.

Simbahan, gobyerno, kasama
Mga tao’y nagkakaisa
Kidapawan, tunay kang pinagpala


Kidapawan Hymn
translated by Karlo Antonio Galay David

Our blessed city,
Kidapawan our treasure,
As each challenge hits you
You do not crumble

How unique is your history
and your people,
You possess the abundance of nature
our beloved Kidapawan

Together we celebrate you.
Even offering our lives for you,
For you, our beloved city
Kidapawan, oh Kidapawan!

You are a sign of hope
of Christians and Muslims together,
The tribes are one with us
in the desire to make you glorious.

The church, the government together
The people are all united
Kidapawan, how blessed you are.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?





The Yawnghwe Haw


I finally got to go to the Yawnghwe Haw. I’ve always wanted to visit it.

in the city of Nyaungshwe in Myanmar’s Shan State, near the famous Inle lake, stands the Haw (Palace) that had once belonged to the Sawbwa – ‘sky lord,’ the Shan princely ruler of the area.


Nyaungshwe was the core of what was once Yawnghwe, one of the most powerful of the many Shan States that proliferated in Northern Burma from medieval times up to the early days of Independence from the British in the late 1940s.

The military regimes of post-independence Myanmar were suspicious of the former royal families,  and many Sawbwa Haws were demolished – one of the little known cultural atrocities committed during the decades of military rule.

The Yawnghwe Haw is one few which remain standing.


Probably part of the reason why it survived is the fact that Nyaungshwe was always a vibrant cosmopolitan city because of its proximity to Inle Lake – it continues to be so today because of the lake’s tourist market. It was too prominent to destroy, so the authorities might as well capitalize on it by keeping it as a tourist attraction: for much of its history after it was abandoned by the last Sawbwa, it was a Museum for Buddhist statues.

Another factor that led to its prominence was that last Sawbwa. Sao Shwe Thaik was Myanmar’s first president after the country gained independence. In the aftermath of Bogyoke Aung San’s assassination, the power vacuum had been filled by  U Nu, who would serve as prime minister, but the symbolic role of Aung San as face of the Union could not be filled. Why exactly Sao Shwe Thaik was chosen to take the  largely ceremonial but prestigious presidency is unclear , though I suspect that, as an influential figure in the Shan leadership around the time the Panglong agreement was being brokered, he was given the post to cement the union.

This of course is a tenuous reason – the former royal family of Yawnghwe was not spared from the military regimes’ brutality. When Ne Win staged a coup in 1962, his eldest son Hso Hom Fa, who was 15 years old, was shot dead. He himself was arrested and died in prison (yes, Myanmar killed its first President). His family is still in exile in Canada today, with a few relatives left in Nyaungshwe.

Some source say though, that the main reason why the military regime never razed the Haw down was because there was a curse placed on whoever destroyed it.




The Throne of the Sawbwa of Kyaintaung, an even more powerful Shan State. As one of two museums ran by Shan State (the other being the State Museum in Taunggyi), The Yawnghwe Haw also contains artifacts from other Shan Sawbwa.


The Haw is old and musty, but behind its stuffy abandoned feel you can still get a sense of the grandeur it once had. The basement, where many offices used to be, is dingy and empty. It is much less a museum and more an archeological site, and will not be fun to those who don’t like history. Pictures are not allowed inside, so many of these photos were taken by accident.


The eye-catching seven tiered Pyathat of the Haw

It is the only Haw among the Shan states to have been allowed by the Burmese king to have a pyathat, the distinct Burmese tiered roof, with seven-tiers.


Portrait of Sir Sao Shwe Maung, courtesy of Philip Klier

The privilege stems from the fact that Sao Shwe Thaik’s uncle, Sao Shwe Maung, was very close to King Mindon, the penultimate king of Burma. Sao Maung’s father, Sao Suu Deva, was the crown prince of Yawnghwe but was assassinated by a cousin, who subsequently usurped the throne. The young Sao Maung asked the powerful king Mindon, most famous for establishing Mandalay, to help him gain back the throne.

On his successful conquest of Yawnghwe Mindon granted Sao Maung the privilege of seven tiers. Sao Maung subsequently had the Haw built with the pyathat.


The Throne of the Sawbwa of Yawnghwe, now topped with replicas of the five Hpaung Daw Oo buddha statues

The Haw once played a prominent role in the famous Hpaung Daw Oo festival. Every year, four of the five legendary Buddha statues from Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda would be taken to different towns around Inle lake, ending with Nyaungshwe. Historically the statues would first be displayed in the Haw before being led to the town’s pagoda, but today this part is skipped.


The Karawaik, which is used to transport the five Buddha statues across Inle from Hpaung Daw Oo pagoda. I was in Nyaungshwe during the festival last year. The President of Myanmar, U Htin Kyaw, is somewhere in that picture.

It would be nice if they revived that portion of the tradition.

But I doubt they will: with Myanmar’s new democracy still at its infancy the Haw has more pressing issues. The former Royal family is still alienated with its management, and there are plans to build the palace’s vast courtyard into a marketplace, presumably to cater to tourists.


Though they’re alienated, the royal family still bothers to donate these water dispensers.

I like the idea of a tourist-oriented marketplace, but I am worried it might damage the building’s immeasurable historical value. And the royal family has to be consulted on this. they are after all part of the heritage.

Like the rest of newly open Myanmar, Shan State is facing the dilemma between culture and modernity. I just hope that, in its pursuit of global participation, it does not lose sight of what makes it a beautiful country.


Kidapawan’s Founding Families

Kidapawan has old families which have seen it grow, from the remote sacred highlands of the Manobo to the capital and only city of North Cotabato. And as a city with a history both as a precolonial lumad realm and as a migrant settlement, these families are ethnically diverse, making Kidapawan a microcosm of multi-ethnic Philippines.

Below is a long list, in no way of exhaustive, of some of Kidapawan’s founding families. The list is largely based on Ferdinand Bergonia’s 2004 book, but I have added some families based on my observations (namely those I personally know have been in Kidapawan for much of its history). I know many other families which may qualify into this list but which I cannot yet verify. This post is developing as I continue to gather more information.

These families are either Manobo families that have been in the area since time immemorial, early settlers form Luzon and Visayas, or Moro families from the nearby Bangsamoro area that have long associated with the city. Many of them, unfortunately, no longer have descendants in Kidapawan.

The details provided are nowhere near comprehensive, and as such any additions are welcome:

  • Achas (early inhabitants of Kalaisan, descendants of Faustino Achas, founder of the baranggay)
  • Adang (early inhabitants in Balabag)
  • Amador (produced several generations of councillors starting from the 1950s)
  • Amas (Manobo natives of Lower Indangan and Amas, descendants of Pandayan Amas, tribal leader of Lower Indangan, and Datu Amas)
  • Ambi (Manobo natives of Lower Indangan, descendants of tribal leader Adas Ambi)
  • Añabeza (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Andico (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Angeles (Ilonggos, pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced Alfonso Angeles Sr., first elected mayor, and Alfonso Angeles Jr, vice mayor)
  • Anzare (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Arabelo (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Arsam (natives of Ginatilan, descendants of Datu Agad Arsam, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Asiñero (early inhabitants of Katipunan)
  • Austria (of Maranao stock, descendants of Vicente Austria, Sultan Omar Kiram of Uyaan, concentrated in Baranggay Lanao)
  • Bajet (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Baldove (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Balindog (natives of Balindog, descendants of a Datu of the same name)
  • Baltar (early inhabitants in Ilomavis)
  • Bancas (early inhabitants in Balabag)
  • Banga (from Bohol, founding settlers of New Bohol, descendants of Alfredo Banga, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Barreto (from Bohol, founding settlers of Sumbac)
  • Barruela (early inhabitants of Katipunan, descendants of Pedro Barruela, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Bartolaba (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Bautista (produced at least two councillors across different generations)
  • Belarmino (pioneer settlers in Baranggay Lanao)
  • Bernabe (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Bolasa (founding family of Linangkob and early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Bongcales (early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Borja (early inhabitants of Kalasuyan, descendants of Aproniano Borja, who negotiated the founding of the Baranggay and eventual councillor)
  • Braga (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Bulatukan (natives of Ginatilan, descendants of a datu of the same name)
  • Bunayog (early inhabitants of San Roque, descendants of Telesforo Bunayog, first Tenyente del barrio)
  • Buned (Manobo natives of Upper Indangan, descendants of Simbanan Buned, first Tenyente del Barrio), descendants of Simbanan Buned, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Burcao (from Mountain Province, early inhabitants of Singao, produced Martin Burcao, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Cabales (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced Esteban Cabales, second elected vice mayor)
  • Cagape (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Calayco (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Calmo (early inhabitants of of Meohao, descendants of Sandalio Calmo, first Christian Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Calubiran (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Canlas (from Pampangga, founding family of Perez, descendants of Bernardino Canlas, who founded the settlement)
  • Carbonell (early inhabitants of Magsaysay, descendants of Dominador Carbonell, founder of the first elementary school in the area)
  • Castillo (a Romualdo Castillo Sr. served as first Tenyente del Barrio of Balabag)
  • Chavez (early inhabitants of San Isidro, descendants of Patrocenio Chavez, first Tenyente del barrio)
  • Cipriano (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Clodin (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Cupot (form Leyte, early inhabitants of San Roque, descendants of Pedro Engog, first elected Tenyente del barrio)
  • Cuyno (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Dano (from Bohol, founding settlers of Sumbac)
  • David (Ilocanos, early Christian settlers in Nuangan and Poblacion, descendants of Crisostomo David, first Christian Tenyente del Barrio of Nuangan)
  •  Dayao (Tagalogs, early settler family in Poblacion, descendants of Eliseo Dayao Sr, who owned much of downtown Kidapawan and the most prominent casualty of the War)
  • Dimaano (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Dorado (early inhabitants of Onica, descendants of Restituto Dorado, first Tenyente del barrio)
  • Ebboy (natives of Meohao, descendants of Amado Ebboy, founder of the baranggay)
  • Embac (natives of Baranggay Marbel, descendants of Datu Embac, appointed mayor of Kidapawan during the post-War period)
  • Enghog (early inhabitants of San Roque, descendants of (?) Engog, second elected Tenyente del barrio)
  • Espejo (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced Januario Espejo Sr., guerrilla during the War)
  • Espero (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Espina (early inhabitants of Sto Niño, descendants of Sinforiano Espina, first Tenyente del barrio)
  • Evangelista (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, note that there seem to be two Evangelista families in town. One, the Ilocanos which settled in the 60’s to 70’s produced Joseph Evangelista, mayor of Kidapawan)
  • Familgan (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Flores (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Gadi (from Luzon, early settlers in Kidapawan, only family to date to have produced two mayors, Gil and Emma Gadi)
  • Galacio (natives of Meohao, descendants of Patricio Galacio, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Galang (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Galay (from Misamis Oriental and Bulacan, pioneer settlers in Baranggay Lanao)
  • Galonzo (early inhabitants of Ginatilan, descendants of Pedro Alonzo and his wife, first teachers in the area)
  • Gayotin (from West Visayasm early Christian settlers in Amas and Gayola, after whom the ‘Gayo’ in the latter’s name is taken, produced Jesus Gayotin, guerrilla during the War and politician)
  • Guadalupe (early Christian settlers in Amas)
  • Guboc (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Guibiernas (descendants of Maximino Guibiernas, founder of Amazion)
  • Guillano (early inhabitants of San Isidro, descendants of Martin Buillano, first elected Tenyente del barrio)
  • Hizon (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Icdang (Manobo natives and tribal leaders in Nuangan, owned much of what is today Poblacion, produced Katigan Icdang, first Tenyente del Barrio of Nuangan)
  • Imbod (Manobo natives, produced Juanita Imbod, who married Augustin Sanga, founder of Perez)
  • Ingkal (Maranao settlers based in Manongol, descendants of Datu Ugos Ingkal, produced Siawan Ingkal, first appointed mayor of Kidapawan)
  • Jalipa (early inhabitants of Kalasuyan, produced Wilfredo Jalipa, who negotiated the founding of the Baranggay and eventual Vice Mayor, and councillor Felix Jalipa)
  • Javier (family name of two families in Kidapawan: a Tagalog family living on the street near the Notre Dame of Kidapawan and after whom the street is named, and an Ilonggo one based in Sudapin, producing a Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Kintanar (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced sveral generations of councillors)
  • Labastida (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced early councillor Fabian Labastida)
  • Lagutin (from West Visayas, early Christian settlers in Gayola, after whom the ‘La’ in the baranggay’s name is taken)
  • Lamilongan (Manobo natives, produced Macanay Lamilongan, who married Bernardino Canlas, founder of Perez)
  • Landas (Manobo natives of Lower Indangan, descendants of tribal leader Atig Landas)
  • Landichos (pioneer settlers of the Nuangan-Poblacion area)
  • Linog (natives and tribal leaders of Amas, produced councillor Guabong Linog, early Municipal councillor)
  • Lonzaga (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Lucero (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Lumayon (Manobo natives and tribal leaders of Mua-an, descendants of datu of the same name, owner of the baranggay’s namesake dog and first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Luna (founding family of Linangkob)
  • Maangue (natives of Berada, Datu Mamay Maangue served as first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Madayag (early Christian settlers in Amas and Binoligan)
  • Madrid (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced Lino Madrid, early municipal councilor)
  • Makalunang (Manobo natives of Upper Indangan, descendants of tribal leader of the same name)
  • Malbas (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Manay (natives and tribal leaders of Sibawan, produced Datu Basiao and Arturo Manay, founding leaders of the baranggay)
  • Masbad (early settlers in Baranggay Lanao)
  • Maway (Manobo natives of Lower Indangan, descendants of tribal leader Sinwan Maway)
  • Melodias (early inhabitants of Manongol, produced Celso Melodias, Tenyente del Barrio and councillor)
  • Obregon (early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Ocampo (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Ogot (Manobo natives of Upper Indangan, descendants of tribal leader of the same name)
  • Onggok (Manobo natives of Upper Indangan, descendants of tribal leader of the same name)
  • Pamerio (early inhabitants of Singao)
  • Panday (natives of Ginatilan, descendants of Datu Lizada Panday)
  • Pandio (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Panes (Zambaleños, early inhabitants of Upper Indangan, descendants of Serafin, second Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Pansacala (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Pantaleon (early inhabitants of Paco, descendants of Toribio Pantaleon, first Tenyente del barrio)
  • Pascua (early inhabitants in Ilomavis, descendants of Priscilo Pascua, first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Pascual (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Patadon (founding Moro family of Patadon, descendants of Patadon Tungao, guerrilla during the War and first Tenyente del Barrio)
  • Pinantao (natives of Manonggol and Sudapin, from which the ‘pin’ is derived, produced Amado Pinantao, guerrilla during the War and first Tenyente del Barrio of Sudapin)
  • Prudente (early inhabitants of Onica, descendants of Sabrino Prudente, second Tenyente del barrio)
  • Quimco (from Carmen, Cebu, moved from Malagos, Davao to Kidapawan during the War. Produced two generations of councilors)
  • Rabago (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Ramos (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Rellin (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Remorosa (early inhabitants of Singao)
  • Respicio (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan and Makilala, produced Florante Respicio, acting Mayor during the EDSA uprising)
  • Sabulao (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, founded Central Mindanao Colleges, produced Cesar Sabulao, councillor and acting mayor)
  • Sagusay (from Bohol, founding settlers of Sumbac)
  • Salimorin (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Sampayan (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Sanga (from Pampangga, founding family of Perez, descendants of Augustin Sanga, nephew of Bernardino Canlas, who founded the settlement)
  • Saniel (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan, produced Lorenzo Saniel, elected mayor)
  • Sarino (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Sarong (early inhabitants of Kalaisan, descendants of Pedro Sarong, founder of the baranggay)
  • Sayago (early inhabitants of Magsaysay)
  • Segovia (early inhabitants of Paco, descendants of Celestino Segovia, first elected Tenyente del barrio)
  • Semilla (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Serrano (natives of Ilomavis, descendants of Datu Umag Serrano)
  • Sibug (Manobo natives of Manongol, produced two vice mayors of Kidapawan and three Councilors)
  • Sikitan (natives of Sikitan, descendants of Datu of the same name)
  • Sinbok (Manobo natives of Lower Indangan, descendants of tribal leader Layunan Sinbok)
  • Sugala (from Bohol, founding settlers of Sumbac)
  • Sumin (natives of Junction, descendants of datu of the same name)
  • Sungcag (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Tacardon (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Tamayo (early Christian settlers in Nuangan and Poblacion, descendants of Andres L. Tamayo, third Tenyente del Barrio of Nuangan and later Municipal councilor)
  • Teposo (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Timtim (early inhabitants of Singao)
  • Tolentino (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)
  • Tuburan (early inhabitants of Kidapawan, produced Jose Tuburan Jr., guerilla during the War)
  • Valladares (from East Visayas, early Christian settlers in Binoligan)
  • Villanueva (early settlers in Kidapawan, produced Ceferino Villanueva, appointed mayor during the post-War years)
  • Zarza (pioneer settlers of Kidapawan)

Kengtung Monastery

(Since there is very little information online about things here in Myanmar, I’ll be trying to make posts about the different places at least here in Taunggyi. For the first post is the Buddhist monastery nearest to where I live, the Kengtung Kyaung. This short history is partly written by one of my students, Nan Do Dhar Sa (Noom), who is a young monk in the monastery)20160704_064125

Kengtung Monastery (Wat Kengtung or Kengtung Kyaung) is named after a city in eastern Shan state, whose people donated funds to build this monastery in Taunggyi.


A coloured bas relief depiction of the Buddha preaching under the Bodhi Tree at the back of the wihara, facing Kambawza street

Most of the people from Kengtung, who largely belong to the Tai ethnic group, are very charitable. It is Tai tradition (specially from those in Kengtung) to seek to build temples wherever their people visit. This monastery is thus a branch from Buddhist institutions in Kengtung, and this is why it is named after the city even if it is in Taunggyi. There is a similar monastery in Yangon.


The wihara, with a pair of impressive naga adorning the stairs


The Thein at the center, with the Ar Saung (monks’ living quarters) to the right

The Kengtung Monastery at the capital of Shan state was founded on June 23, 1980. The villagers from Kengtung spent 300,000kyat just to buy the land. At the time it was very difficult to get money, and this was a large amount. The large Wihara (the prayer hall) was built a year after in 1981, then the Thein (or the Ubosot, the Ordination hall) was built in 1994.


Kengtung Monastery’s wihara as seen from SAG

The Founder of Kengtung Monastery is the Venerable Dr Jao Khru War Seng Lar, who was born in Sipsongpannar (Xishuangbanna), on the Burmese border with China.

Kengtung Monastery is located on one corner of Kambawza and Ye Htwet Oo streets in Taunggyi’s Forest Quarter. Just across Ye Htwet Oo is Ko Myo Shin Nat temple.

The Kidapawan Pine Trees


The row of Kidapawan Pine Trees is my hometown’s most iconic feature. Its distinct soft and round canopies are what come to mind to anyone who has been to Kidapawan.


Extending from Pilot Elementary School to the Lady Mediatrix of All Grace Church, the row spans much of downtown Kidapawan.

What few people realize is that the trees are intimately tied up with Kidapawan history. They are the most visible and most lasting legacy of Alfonso Angeles Sr, Kidapawan’s first elected Mayor and one of its founding figures.



Picture of Angeles, from Bergonia’s book on Kidapawan. I will try to upload a better picture in the future.

A school teacher by profession, Angeles, an Ilonggo, was first appointed Mayor of the post war commonwealth government of the then municipality of Kidapawan, the last to be appointed so, before succeeding in remaining in office after being elected in 1948. After stepping down in 1955 He would also go on to win again as mayor in 1964, last serving in 1967. He would also be elected board member, then vice governor of North Cotabato in the 1970s.

It was at some point in his long and intermittent time at the helm of Kidapawan when he had the pine trees planted. They have been there since.


Maintaining the round shape of the pine trees takes effort. Photo courtesy of Geonarri Solmerano of Mindanews

What his motivations were other than mere beautification could be easy surmised: just after the declaration of the third republic, the country was still feeling very much American, and one hallmark of American public planning is the centrality of trees. Angeles might have envisioned an urbane, western-style town when he was Mayor, and the pine trees (an uncommon variety of tree in this part of the world) might have been part of that vision. In any case, well maintained the trees certainly have that effect, and it is a relic of Kidapawan’s American past.

Along the row you can also find monuments to the city’s history, or at least you would have in the past. One particularly interesting statue, that of a policeman holding a child, used to stand at the juncture between the Main road and Jose Abad Santos Street, has been there since I was a kid but has since been removed. Ateneo de Davao’s fifth SALEM President, Ericka Gadat, tells me it was a monument to her grandfather, a policeman who had attempted to save a young girl injured in an accident and who screamed at the people around the scene in anger at their indifference. It is a fascinating story that obviously needs to be researched further.


The Trees amidst fog, once common in my childhood but now rare in Kidapawan


As the center of the city, the trees are witness to Kidapawan’s many changes and events. Here it is backdrop both to the Timpupo Festival (which is not as constant as the trees) and the ongoing road widening.


In the past the trees had much thicker foliage. In this picture are the trees near the church, which are younger and were still unshaped saplings when I was growing up



In my younger days the local businesses would adopt a tree and decorate it like thisduring Christmas, with the tree in front of Kasapid and the old Sabulao house – the median tree in the row – usually outshining the others. They had that tree cut now. Photo courtesy of Geonarri Solmerano of Mindanews

And it is of this which the pine trees are most emblematic: the very personal, unspoken histories of the Kidapawanons who live Kidapawan’s life. In her poem ‘Mid Year Notes,’ poet Rita Gadi (whose parents Emma and Gil, both Kidapawan mayors themselves, were contemporaries of Alfonso Angeles Sr) writes about rootedness with them: ‘and the pine trees still line the center of the main street, as memory continues describing the confirmation of my thoughts.’ As the very visible and distinct icon of Kidapawan, the pine trees also serve as a signpost of nostalgia for the Kidapawanon, the immutable landmark and ‘portrait of a past that never leaves, never will.’

But as embodiments of historicity and rootedness, the pine trees also suffer the threats those two important but abstract things face in this city that never remembers. Luis Malaluan planned to have the trees cut and replaced with Indian Trees when he was mayor. Fortunately, his vice mayor at the time was Angeles’ son, Alfonso Angeles Jr, who strongly opposed the move to save his father’s legacy.


The row of pine trees, more Kidapawan than Jollibee will ever be, at the juncture of the Main Road and J.P. Laurel Street. All uncredited photos courtesy of the Kidapawan FB page.

It is a triumph he has won for all of Kidapawan, but one which the Kidapawanon must continue to fight.