I was invited to the first Mindanao History & Literatures to Film Summit at
Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City this May 9 and 10, but budgetary and time constraints prevent me from coming.
The two-day summit is hosted by the Mindanao Creative Writers Group, ably led by Dr Christine Godinez Ortega of Iligan, and Capitol University. The summit’s aim is to bridge the gap between local historians and writers and local filmmakers, allowing the latter to explore Mindanao’s rich but untapped reservoir of narratives in its history and traditional lore.
I was invited to share some great stories from the Greater Kidapawan Area for filmmakers to consider. I couldn’t come and share them personally, but I realized I could still do it by writing something.
Because my work as historian (and my recent hobby reading up on traditional culture on the side) has shown me that the Greater Kidapawan Area is full of stories you would want to see on the screen. From fascinating legends to dramatic historical incidents, the region between Mt Apo and the Pulangi has been the stage of sagas since time immemorial.
Here are just some of them.
- The Legend of Tambunawan and Mamalu: This legend is told in many versions by different tribes throughout the Cotabato Region. The versions in Kidapawan are unique.
In Pre-Islamic times two brothers rule over a tribe. When Islam came from Malaysia, one had to leave with half their people, becoming the progenitors of the Lumad, while the other stayed to convert to Islam, becoming the ancestors of the Moros.
In Kidapawan’s sole recorded version (that documented by Gabriela Eleosida from the Obo Monuvu in 1961), the brothers are Mamalu and Tambunawan, and they both moved from ‘Kabakan’ to Kidapawan when muslim religious leaders called Panditas came and enforced Islamic laws. Tambunawan subsequently became ancestor to the datus of the plains of Kidapawan.
Another version I heard from the elder Monuvu Abad Ladday in 2018 (and which I record here) has Tambunawan staying and converting to Islam while Mamalu leaves, becoming the ancestor of the Monuvu. Before they parted ways, Tambunawan gives Mamalu a piece of paper, a directive which tells Mamalu to stay away henceforth from the realms of the Moros. Mamalu takes it with him, but one day, he puts it down on a tree stump while he urinated. While Mamalu was preoccupied, a bird came down and swallowed the piece of paper. That bird became the first Limokon, whose cry the Monuvu still consider an omen.
One of the attending historians during the summit, Dr Rudy Rodil, wrote the most comprehensive compedium of versions of the legend. I am hoping these Kidapawan versions will be added.
The legend is full of potential, specially because its many versions have historically been used to assert indigenous legitimacy and foster Lumad-Moro ties. Filmmakers would do well to explore the political power of this story/
- Molingling: The fascinating legend of incest, which is one of the most famous folk tales passed down among the Obo Monuvu, has appeared on this blog before. I will only add that the legend is full of psychological complexities – from Molingling’s anti-hero mentality to Kobodboranon’s own sexual awakening.
- The Dog Unearthing Springs: I’ve also written here about the fascinating recurring motif of dogs saving a community by discovering sources of waters before. This would make a great short film, specially one geared at promoting more responsible and human treatment of dogs.
- The Loyal dog of M’lang: The M’lang local government records a legend concerning a dog owned by a datu. Despite being so small, the dog followed its master across a strong flowing river, and it was swept downstream. Thankfully, it was caught among bamboo stalks and managed to scamper its way to the banks. In gratitude for his dog’s survival, the datu named the river ‘Tamlang’ (Maguindanaon for ‘bamboo’), which would later mutate to ‘M’lang’ and be the namesake of the town. The Greater Kidapawan Area clearly loves dogs (I love them too, I’ve written about this and the previous legend before)
- The Life of Datu Ogwon: One of the most colourful characters in Kidapawan history is Datu Ogwon, son of Apao and founder of the settlements of Sayaban and Sudsuhayan. Ogwon was an Onituwon, meaning he had the strange gift of being able to talk to spirits. But he was also a Tahavawi (a medicine man able to use wild plants to heal) and a blacksmith. One day he suddenly told the people over whom he was datu that the spirits told him to seclude himself, so he left his family and people behind and went deep into the forests to be one with the spirits. He reminds me of Brandon Stark from Game of Thrones after he became the Three Eyed Raven.
- Kod-Ahaw: Literally ‘to seize,’ this is usually used in Monuvu to refer to the kidnapping of wives, a common cause of tribal wars called ‘Pangayaw’ in precolonial Kidapawan. In many cases, the kidnapping is actually done with the blessing of tribal leaders, in order to save a wife from an unhealthy marriage. Bo’i Era Espana’s book Poovian woy Gontangan is full of records of individual cases (and also of dramatic cases of children being kidnapped as well).
- Kollut and The Resistance of the Monuvu Against the Japanese: The most clever act of resistance against the Japanese in the Greater Kidapawan Area perhaps came from the Monuvu. Datu Lamberto Delfin describes an incident in Maliri and Kamasi in what is today Antipas, in which the natives took advantage of Japanese barbarity. The Japanese soldiers – whom Datu Lamberto describes as being under the command of an Otaka Makuti – had the habit of stealing all the root crops that the Monuvu would carry as they travelled. Seeing this, the natives decided to one day bring Kollut instead of sweet potatoes. Kollut, or Dioscorea hispida, is a poisonous yam that can only be eaten after being subjected to several tedious processes, among which are soaking it for three days in running water or burying it in ash for an equally long duration. The proper preparation of Kollut was unknown to the Japanese soldiers, who as usual took the root crops from the passing Monuvu. As the soldiers collapsed and stopped moving, the natives took the opportunity to hack them to death. Native version of Inglorious Basterds?
- The Murder of Eliseo Dayao Sr: I’ve also written before about Judge Dayao’s murder here. His death reminds me of the death of such nationally prominent figures as Jose Abad Santos and General Paulino Santos.
- The Escape of Lorenzo Saniel: This incident I heard from the late Mayor of Kidapawan’s 90 plus year old daughter. Lorenzo, a sitting councilor of the Municipal District of Kidapawan, was summoned by the Japanese officer stationed in the town. He was asked to serve as a spy against the guerrillas in Sikitan. When Lorenzo delayed committing, the Japanese officer grew impatient. The officer slapped Lorenzo across the face before ordering seven of his men to take Lorenzo to ‘go look for chickens’ (which seemed to have been a subtle way of implying an execution). Saniel was taken to where the Gaisano Grand Mall is now, but he was able to persuade the Japanese soldiers to go to Paco, where the present location of the DPWH is.The group came across a stream, bridged only by several bamboo posts. Saniel was made to cross it first, then one by one the seven soldiers crossed after him. When the last soldier was crossing the makeshift bridge, Saniel saw that the attention of the other six was focused on the crossing soldier, and he instantly saw a chance to escape. Saniel ran for his life into the brambles, and after much walking, reached his family in Balindog. Hurriedly the family fled into the wilderness, wandering into many of the remote barrios but going into the general direction of Davao, where Saniel intended to hide his family. There are many such riveting tales of survival during the War still waiting to be told in Kidapawan
- The Torture of Patadon Tungao: Datu Patadon Tungao, a Maguindanaon of royal blood, was a 3rd Lieutenant under the Bolo Batallion during the Second World War, serving as an undercover agent for the Resistance. He was caught by the Japanese, and was incarcerated, first in Cotabato then in Manila.Under Japanese custody, Patadon was violently tortured – his beard was burned, dirty water was forced down his throat, and his private parts were painfully mutilated. The torture was to make him reveal Resistance plans and names, but he never gave in any information. He was waiting to be executed in Manila when the Americans liberated the capital on 5 February, 1945. By July of that year he was back in Cotabato. After the War Patadon would settle with his family in Kidapawan, where he would live the rest of his life contributing to the town’s growth. Patadon did not have much formal education outside of Arabic School, but he was fluent in English and was a well read man. He was known to have read Lord Byron. He is a hero waiting to be celebrated.
- The Love Story of Hayao Nakamura: The memory of Hayao Nakamura is now almost lost, but I was able to record it from the last known living person to have met him, Bonifacio Madrid. Nakamura was one of the Japanese officers given command of the Imperial Japanese army detachment in Kidapawan. His taking over saw more humane treatment of Filipinos in Kidapawan, and he even oversaw construction of bridges and roads that Kidapawan would use well after the War. He was in such a good relationship with the locals that he fell in love with one, Rosalina Madrid, and they married and had a daughter. But the war called him, and in spite of the Madrids’ plea for him to hide, he led his men to Davao, where he was never heard of again.
- Sultan Omar Kiram, the Lost Sultan: I have written before about Sultan Omar Kiram. His story is perhaps one of the most dramatic you will ever hear in Kidapawan.
- The Moro Massacres of Sitio Palera, Sitio Pagagao, and Manobuan: One of the films attending the summit, Teng Mangansakan, is renowned for documenting the Malisbong Massacre in Palimbang during the Marcos era. In Kidapawan, there are similar incidents – Moro civilians as young as twelve and as old as 80 murdered en masse simpy for being Muslim. But the incidents in Kidapawan remain largely unrecorded and are waiting for keen filmmakers to explore the intense human struggles that went behind them.
- The Katindu Saga: One of the early success stories of the Lumad struggle, the Katindu saga was the decades long struggle of the descendants of Datu Ansabu in Arakan against the landgrabbing of Kidapawan mayor Augusto Gana, a struggle that has seen both legal action and actual violence. Fr Romeo Villanueva documents the incident in vivid detail.
- The Murder of Tulio Favali: One of the most macabre episodes in North Cotabato history, the murder of Fr Tulio Favali by the Manero brothers caused international outrage and spawned legends of brain-eating (Read my article on Tingug to learn more) . Filmmakers would do well to explore these legends as well as the actual facts of the crime.
- The Life of Connie J. Brizuela: A character of more recent history, Connie J. Brizuela was a journalist and human rights lawyer who was among the those killed in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre. Her life – along with other great but untold lives of people in the Greater Kidapawan Area – deserve to be told in film.
I have said before that Kidapawan is a rich reservoir of human experience just waiting to be tapped and harnessed into stories. That is not an exaggeration, because as a fictionist I have been mining this reservoir and have barely even scratched its surface. I enjoin Mindanao’s filmmakers to do the same.
Give us films about Kidapawan!
(Leoncio P. Deriada, Palanca Hall of Famer, Polyglot, and Father of Western Visayan Literature, has passed away. Those who follow this blog will know what a profound influence sir Leo was to me. I paid tribute to him in this week’s Lifestyle section of the Manila Bulletin. Special thanks to Sass Rogando Sasot and Krizette Lauretta Chu for making it possible)
Leoncio Deriada wrote about Mindanao, and he wrote about it a lot.
His large body of fiction and drama depicts the Davao region he explored as a young boy— Philippine eagles still hovering over the vast, virgins forests of towering Lawaan trees, squirrels still spiralling up Durian trunks before digging their teeth into the fruit’s tough shell, and downtown Davao still full of coconuts and carabao water holes—a Mindanao long gone, but which has been captured for all time in the vivid settings of his stories.
Although he migrated from Iloilo with his family to Davao after the Second World War, Deriada was a settler. He became the person he was in Mindanao, in the truest sense of the Cebuano term, he was “natawo” here. The place dominated his imagination all his life.
(read the rest of the article on The Manila Bulletin website)
I will be giving a lecture, entitled ‘Finding the Settler Voice, in two of Mindanao’s metropolitan centers in the coming week. In the lecture I will elaborate on a Mindanao Settler lens of reading texts by Settler authors.
The first will be this Thursday, 24 January in General Santos City. Hosted by the Mindanao State University- GenSan, it will unfortunately be open only to members of the MSU community.
The second will be on Saturday, 26 January, at the Ateneo de Davao University. The event is open to the public with an entrance fee of 50 pesos.
For both events I will be joining poet, novelist, and critic Christine Godinez Ortega, film producer Santiago Diokno, and film maker Teng Mangansakan.
Come join us!
(Context: I pulled out my zine, ‘Ang Dapat Mabatid ng Mga Colono,’ from the recent Sox Zine Fest after the GenSan-based anti-Duterte literary gatekeeper Saquina Karla Guiam and her brother Dissa accused me of racism when they saw the zine’s title. I reacted to their behaviour angrily on social media, because they haven’t even read the zine yet – it is typical of anti-Duterte writers like Guiam to react without reading. Another GenSan based writer, Yadu Karu, managed to read it and made a post about it on his Facebook page the other day. I upload here a screenshot of Guiam’s reaction, and attach here my subsequent response, which Facebook has taken down. My response contains strong language. )
The Bilat Warrior from GenSan Saquina Guiam reacts to Yadu Karu’s post about my zine.
May pa-redacted redacted pa ang gaga, as if she knows what civility is.
Hindi na sana siya kasali e, pero gusto pa rin makisawsaw, so sige, isali natin siya.
1. I did not ask Yadu to read my zine, he asked for a copy of it. I did not ask him to post about it, he did it on his own. I am thankful to him for the attention it is generating. Yadu did not even know that Guiam made this post, the backstabbing bitch.
2. Remember, this zine did not come out, and I am not even sure yet if it will ever come out, but it’s still the talk of the region. Yung zine ni Guiam about her attempts kuno at love-love nilangaw, as if anyone would be interested in the love life of a literary bottom feeder like her.
3. Saquina Guiam blocked me on Facebook for no reason first, hindi ko pa to inaano tong gagang to, galit na to sa akin. So no, this David Oquendo’s comment that Guiam is ‘accepting’ is him speaking from a very limited position. I will not be getting lessons on accepting opposing views from some angry, intolerant anti-Duterte rash like her.
4. I thank her for putting my name beside National Artist F. Sionil Jose’s, ang taas naman ng tingin niya sa akin, I’m in my 20s pa lang po. Incidentally, I disagree with many things Sionil has said (mali yung Why We Are Shallow niya e), this abnormal woman might want to reflect on her putting our names together to learn what mature disagreement is.
5. This overgrown baby cried in the Iligan Writers Workshop when she was told her poetry was crap (‘I AM NEVER GONNA WRITE AGAIN HUHUHU’), then later went on record in interviews that we shouldn’t listen to comments in workshops. Now she has the nerve to imply that I’m the one who has a problem with criticism. Riiiiight.
6. But criticize me all you want, I love arguing, kaya ako maraming anti-Duterte friends. Just make sure you don’t mistake disagreement as flying into a rage, OA lang. And if you take it personally expect me to take it personally too, don’t you dare play the victim card when you lose. Also, make sure before you criticize, you know what you’re talking about.
7. Because let’s not forget, this stupid woman FORMED HER OPINION ON MY ZINE WHEN SHE HASN’T EVEN READ IT YET. Nagbula-bula na ang bunganga ng gaga, hindi pa gani alam anong ginareakan. That a reactionary bitch like this is portraying herself as a victim of being shamed for engaging in sober dialogue is paramount hypocrisy.
8. She takes issue with the word ‘gatekeeper,’ but what do you call some nobody na hindi lang man kilala ng mga kapwa niya anti-Duterte but who is now strutting around the region judging contests and editing publications? Gatekeepeeeeeer
9. Reflective ang work ko sa personality ko? How flattering, she’s saying I’M RELEVANT. I’ve saved the memories of long forgotten historical figures in my hometown and brought them to wider attention, I’ve documented previously unrecorded massacres of Moros during the Marcos era (kahit na you know, I’m a settler). I know my place in the discourse of the competing Mindanao narratives, she doesn’t. (Nakakahiya silang magkapatid sa nanay nila).
10. She was hurt that I called her a bitch. I am hurt, because I called her many other creative but accurate descriptions: Bilat Warrior, walking intestine, sea cucumber, patient of arrested development. Pinaghirapan ko yung lait ko sa kanya, bitch lang ang issue niya.
11. She also still takes offense with the word ‘puta’ (would you believe writer daw ito). So with all due respect to her, PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA
Masarap ito awayin, pero mamaya na ito siya. We’re busy being relevant here. Tell her to go ask her writer-crushes to let her smell their panties or something, might cool her head a bit. Wag niyo na to ipakita sa kanya, baka sumuka ng nana.
Keep her and The Great Jover Laurio sa banda ninyo, magkamukha naman sila.
As if a grenade had been hurled from the Southern mountains to Metro Manila, the war between the Philippine government and the New People’s Army in Mindanao left an explosion last week in the halls of Congress.
The explosion was the resignation of Mocha Uson.
My home province of North Cotabato, the second most linguistically diverse province in the country and perhaps the most ethnically diverse, is starting to mature in terms of culture and arts. The shiny new Museyo Kutawato, one of the best museums in the country, is a striking testament to this.
The province has a rich reservoir of human experience and creativity to tap, a resource which surface it has barely even scratched.
As North Cotabato celebrates its 104th anniversary, I found myself reflecting on what can be done to help it address its shortcomings and move forward in actuating its cultural and artistic potential.
Here are some of my thoughts. Some of them are very idealistic, but it is always better to hope for the difficult best rather than settle for the easy but mediocre:
On Cultural Communities
- Create an official list of recognized tribes, both Lumad and Moro, in the province (in the manner of Davao). It is surprisingly difficult to find a comprehensive list of NorthCot’s indigenous ethnic groups. Perhaps the Provincial government can start the process of celebrating the cultures of different tribes by listing them down.
- Have a round-table dialogue with representatives of the municipal LGUs, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, the National Commission for Muslim Affairs, and the DILG to discuss full institutional representation of the cultural communities. The province ought to adapt a long term plan to achieve any or all of the following:
- All of the province’s’ towns should have Mandatory representation in the baranggay and municipal councils (the province must enforce this, there is a DILG directive and it is in the Local Government Code)
- Inclusivity in the selection of IPMRs (if possible there should be one IPMR for EACH of the indigenous ethnicities in the town)
- Presence of Moro and Muslim representation in the local government, whether be it Mandatory Representation in the legislative bodies, or the presence of such offices as Deputy Mayors or Ulama Offices. As a province with a large Muslim population, it is unacceptable that the Moros are underrepresented.
- Recreate on a province-wide level the policy in schools in Kidapawan of encouraging children of tribal ethnicity to go to school wearing their traditional attire
- Promote Interfaith Understanding and Appreciation by requiring all elementary schools in the province to give tours to their students to all their towns’ religious centers. Students of whatever faith must be required to enter a Catholic church, a Mosque, a Jehovah’s Witness Assembly Hall, an Iglesia ni Cristo church, etc. and be introduced to these communities (not as indoctrination, merely as introduction to foster understanding). It is outrageous that the average North Cotabateno has never entered a Mosque. Tribal communities with Precolonial and pre-Islamic faiths must also be allowed to assert their religious freedom and share in the dialogue, with government funding and assistance if necessary. This is the practice in Singapore, and it’s part of why today the city-state has a generally harmonious multi-faith society.
- Initiate long-term projects to document the culture of the cultural communities in partnership with private entities like universities and research institutes, an undertaking which should include:
- transcription of the province’s oral narratives (North Cotabato may be the area with the highest concentration of epics in Asia, but very few of them have been transcribed)
- Reconnecting tribes with their extant academic literature. A tribal resource center, where all extant studies conducted about the tribes in the province (published or unpublished), should be set up for all the tribal peoples to access. Such a center should of course be actively brought to the tribal communities.
- More halal-food legislation is needed, and halal benchmarks should be set throughout the province. This is not only for the local Muslim population, this has serious Tourism implications.
- Commission a comprehensive study of the historical atrocities perpetrated on the Moro peoples in the province, essentially adding to the list of massacres in Salah Jubair’s 1999 book Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny. I discovered five previously undocumented slaughters of Moro civilians in Kidapawan alone. It is outrageous that we still have not done anything to at least remember these crimes against humanity.
- This documentation isn’t simply for the sake of the relatives of those killed (although that should be enough reason to do this). Documentation and memorialization could be a basis for a province-wide effort to initiate what I imagine would be ‘Tourism to Rectify Historical Injustice.’ It is frankly an embarrassment for the province that the five massacres on Jubair’s list which happened in North Cot are not even memorialized (even Manili, which caused international outrage). Develop the locations of these massacres as shrines, and make them tourist attractions for the growing number of culturally and historically sensitive tourists who come from around the world to understand our misunderstood land. This can be developed alongside other forms of cultural tourism (like exhibiting the cuisine and crafts of the Maguindanaon, etc.).
- Adapt a Provincial Resolution recognizing the province’s languages and dialects. The resolution, preferably passed by the province in consultation with the LGUs (through their offices responsible for conducting socioeconomic profiling), should be detailed in what languages have a population of speakers where. It must also emphasize the need to assert the integrity of North Cotabato’s dialects, specially of settler languages like Cebuano and Hiligaynon (there is such a thing as Kidapawan Tagalog). Most importantly, it must urge DepEd and CHED to use these languages (multilingually) as media of instruction for MTB-MLE. NorthCot is a global linguistic diversity hotspot, the provincial government must work to make the most out of that.
- In conjunction with the commitment to documentation of cultures, the province ought to play an active role (including funding) in the documentation of local languages, specially endemic ones. Many local languages don’t even have a dictionary yet. Like the documentation of cultures, this effort needs to be done with a private partner, such as a research institute or a university.
On Heritage and Historiography
- The provincial government should seek to facilitate training facilitators per LGU of Cultural Mapping by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Cultural Mapping allows each town to inventory all its cultural properties, so that the local governments can plan how to utilize and manage these properties (part of why the Museyo Kutawato found it challenging to find artefacts to exhibit is because none of the towns have inventories their cultural properties yet). NCCA has an extant mechanism for allowing this training, the local governments are just not taking advantage of it.
- Enact a Provincial Heritage Code for the protection and sustainable utilization of heritage buildings and other tangible and intangible cultural properties, enacted to complement the National Heritage Law. I have previously discussed here the shortcomings of the NHL, the province can work to address them.
- Initiate a province-wide drive to write the history of the towns to produce a comprehensive body of reference material. Kidapawan is already starting it with me, the province should encourage other LGUs to do the same, so that a province-wide history can be written.
- Adopt a Provincial Archival Code, which would require all LGUs to create centralized town archives, all forming a network with the province for easier retrieval of documents. This is not only for researchers and historians, this will be helpful for government offices too. In the 1950s the Kidapawan Municipal Council had to adopt a resolution to be furnished copies of its creating law, EO 82 of 1947, from the National Government because the town did not have its own copy of the document. LGUs have not done anything to remedy that at all (I still have to go to Manila to find archival documents important to Kidapawan).
- Agree to a long term plan for sustainable Heritage Tourism Development. North Cot is rich in potential for this because not only are there heritage settler buildings in the province, it is also full of legendary and semi-legendary locations. Like the Tourism for Rectifying Historical Injustice, this could be developed along with cultural tourism in general (a cultural village where traditional food and products are sold can be built near a space of historical relevance to a tribe).
On the Arts
- The province should work to help the DILG enforce its directive for all LGUs to set up Culture and Arts Councils. All towns in NorthCot should have CACs. Kidapawan’s is the only one I know in the province, and its model can be replicated: a multi-sectoral council which sets policy and long term strategies for culture and the arts and includes representatives from the local Executive, the local council, the Education sector, the tourism sector, the business sector, and the tribal communities.
- Encourage LGUs to develop their community libraries. Appropriate if necessary, but better adopt legislation which would incentivize private enterprises and individuals who would fund libraries. Encourage schools in particular to work with LGUs to develop the municipal library as a relevant repository of information.
- Set up long term planning, including appropriation, for the fostering of viable local creative industries. Art should be developed because it is taxable! The following fields are particularly rich in potential:
- Graphic Design: from web content developers to designers of publicity materials and print, the province has a budding population of young, tech-savy graphic designers who are increasingly tempted to move to Davao. They need support in training, capital, equipment, and marketing if we want them to continue paying their taxes in NorthCot.
- Visual arts: a walk into the Museyo Kutawato’s Rema Rema Gallery is enough to show everyone that NorthCot has great local painters and sculptors. The province ought to work to foster a healthy market for visual artwork. In the long run, this will contribute to catalyzing the cultural dynamism of indigenous traditional cultures, as local art can become an economically viable industry.
- Music: NorthCot is abundant with musicians! The province should engage in a dialogue with local artists to see what they need (I’m guessing a studio and distribution are some of the most basic needs). Like the above, this too will ultimately give incentive for indigenous musicians to strengthen the integrity of their musical traditions. Not to mention the premium it would give for tourism.
- Dance: NorthCot has even more dancers than it has musicians! From traditional Moro performers to hiphop and street dance groups, the province can capitalize on what has to date only been treated as hobby and entertainment. Funding for training and trips, as well as promotions, can serve to help foster our local dancers into good sources of income tax.
- Cuisine: If you had just one restaurant for each of the culinary traditions in the province (Lumad, Moro, and Settler alike), North Cotabato would be more exciting than Penang as a food destination. From Bul-anon recipes brought by settlers to Makilala in the 1920s to dishes like the Maguindanaon Tinapayan and the Monuvu Natok, North Cot is a culinary paradise of global proportions that is only hampered by lack of local appreciation and government support. The province should adopt a province-wide culinary tourism plan, encourage each town to have community restaurants where the different ethnic groups can take turns showcasing their cuisine, as well as fund and help promote private enterprises which capitalize on authentic local food.
President Rodrigo Duterte made international headlines in 2016 when, before departing to Laos for the ASEAN summit that year, he mentioned the Massacre of Bud Dajo in 1906.
The Massacre, which saw over a thousand Muslim civilians (including women and children) slaughtered by American soldiers, was part of the battle of Bud Dajo in Sulu, the final battle of the Philippine-American War. The United States has yet to issue an apology for the atrocity more than a century later.
In his State of the Nation Address of that year, he mentioned another American atrocity – the Balangiga Massacre in Samar – and revived the decades-long diplomatic row over the Balangiga bells, which the American soldiers stole as war booty after perpetrating the massacre and which the US still refuses to return (in an act of paramount hypocrisy, two US Congressmen, Randy Hultgren and Jim McGovern, sought to deny return of the bells over Duterte’s war on drugs).
Whatever the motivations behind these moves, Duterte’s raising awareness about two incidents that have been forgotten by the majority of Filipinos delighted history aficionados like me. It is refreshing to hear a historical incident being talked about in the streets, much more so if it is about Mindanao, which has long been neglected by the national attention.
But as a Davaoeno (my mother happened to be in Davao when I was born), I cannot help but express frustration, if not disappointment, that our former mayor has not talked about Davao history yet.