Archive | June 2006

[NEWS] RP to use new emergency response system

(Note: From the MindaNews news service. Not yet available as of posting time at Here is one for the National Disaster-Consciousness Month this July.)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) — Disaster coordinating councils will
institutionalize the use of “incident command system” (ICS) around the country to make emergency responses more organized and effective, the chief of the Southern Mindanao regional Office of the Civil Defense said.

OCD Regional Director, Carmelito A. Lupo told MindaNews Friday that the OCD will coordinate with Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils to train representatives from their provincial and city level counterparts “to mainstream ICS from the regional to the barangay level”.

The OCD and its support government agencies briefed representatives of News organizations here to commemorate also the Disaster Consciousness Month.

According to an Internet posting, the ICS is a management system first used in the United States to organize emergency response. It was designed to offer “a scalable response to incidents of any magnitude”. It was developed inthe 1970s, when California was battling significant wildfires.

Emergency managers learned that the existing management structures-frequently unique to each agency – did not scale to dealing with massive mutual aid responses involving dozens of distinct agencies,” the Internet webpage stated.

ICS was developed by various agencies to “provide a consistent,Integrated framework for the management of large, multi-agency emergencies”.

Lupo said the guiding point to the ICS is the emergence of an “incident commander” who will be the point person for the specific emergency situation.

The point person, Lupo said, will manage the actions to be taken and shall coordinate the efforts done by all agencies involved in responding to the emergency situation.

At present, Lupo said, efforts are often uncoordinated, “thus the emergency response is not smoothly carried out.

In this way, we will carry the command center from the head office to the field where emergency responses are carried out, he said.

But Lupo said the ICS, already used by some emergency response groups like Davao City’s 911, is nothing new. “We just have to enhance the system and make it work,” he said. He said they will mainstream the system in partnership with the local government units, with OCD providing technical support.

The OCD executive said the ICS will make emergency response management more organized and effective in the Philippines. Lupo, who is also the executive officer of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), said six Filipino directors of OCD went to Vietnam this year to attend an ICS training organized by a disaster-preparedness unit in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). He joined the OCD regional directors in an echo training conducted by the group.

He said the initial plan was to start training representatives from the provincial and city coordinating councils, at least in Region 11, in July. But plans may proceed only in August due to changes made in the training module, which shall be given to representatives from the local police, fire bureau, health office and from the mayor’s and the governor’s office.

The ICS was also among the emergency response measures recommended by the task force investigating the February 2006 Ultra stampede that killed 74 people. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)


Reflections: Should we add to the “culture of divisiveness” in this country?

DAVAO CITY – When the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) posted a blog on June 26 about the second impeachment complaint filed by the opposition against President Arroyo (New Impeachment complaint filed today vs. Arroyo as one-year bar lapses), it generated the highest number of comments in a period of 10 days, at least.

It got 63 comments as of 10 p.m. of June 29. The next post with the highest number of comments in the 10 day period (from June 19 to June 29) was that on the post that NAMFREL was part of the poll fraud cover up with 46 comments (as of 10p.m. of June 29, with the last comment posted on June 23.)

When I read the posts comment by comment, slowly I became aware of the complexities of issues and also the spins of the bloggers in manipulating the discussions. At one point I liked the arguments laid on the table and the skillful exchange of both reasonable and unreasonable responses.

But towards the end I realized that they were leading to no where but more misunderstanding. I got tired of reading it because I didn’t see the end of it at all. I understand I have no luxury of peace of mind, especially in this complex, war-freak and so politically charged country, that’s why I have to back off. But I left my imprints behind. Here are my comments to the comments:

Haay, what lessons are we learning from these exchanges?

Maybe we need to pause and reflect about the meanings of it all. It would also really be of help if those who posted comments (especially those who lodged energies to discuss on the issue above) are more transparent about their identities. Wala lang mang link to their blogs (if any).

Of course I am thankful and also I feel lucky to have read the posts here and the subsequent comments. Salamat sa lahat who posted their opinion, ang sarap pala talaga when there is freedom of speech no?

But maybe we also need to reflect from time to time and not only assert, criticize and argue.

I really tried to grasp the nuances of the discussions and trying (to no avail) to pick up some valuable lessons so that I’ll end up not wasting my time.

Tuloy, it made ma ask myself: Ano ba talaga ang patutungohan ng talakayan dito? Meron bang purpose above self interests? Self expression lang ba? Pa bonggahan ng argumentative skills? Pa taasan ng ihi? Or are we here to build divisions, like pro Arroyo and anti-Arroyo?

Sa akin kasi, we have to debate, yes. But let the debates move towards a direction, if possible merong “end in sight” or resolution (napaka idealistic ko siguro). If possible we bridge understanding, compassion and sobriety di ba dapat yaon ang culture na dapat nating ipalaganap lalo na sa panahong divisive masyado ang politics natin?

I have reflected on that personally. Now, I commit to become part of a long process of bridging this country’s divides rather than help widen the gaps! This does not mean complacency and indifference on my end. For sure that won’t help too.

Ewan mga Ate at Kuya, nagkakagulo man sa ating bansa, in the end we will find out iisa lang tayo. Di naman naka tatak sa DNA nating mga pinoy na magugulo talaga tayo. Hindi rin yan naka ukit sa ating genome na dapat away na lang tayo ng away. Sa tingin ko, we used to be magnanimous: we were capable of uniting and helping each other in good will for the best of all.

Kaya sa tingin ko, aahon tayo from the mess we situate ourselves now. But its for the long haul. In the meantime, I plan to view the big problem piece by piece. Which I think we all can do, by being the small/little change or help this country can use.

Yes to the debates! Yes to unity amid diversity! (I admit naging preachy ako and also a bit corny, but that’s what I have to say. Sorry to those who might find this post a waste of time. Thanks to those who at least gave it a thought. Smile. Indeed there are better things in life. And, besides, we all deserve not just the better, but the best! Cheers!)

[NEWS] Ombudsman Mindanao opens de Oro office

(Note: For those who dread traveling long distance just to file a complaint against erring public officials and employees in their areas in the northern part of Mindanao, here is a good news. BUT I consider it good news indeed in our collective quest for integrity in public service and good governance. )

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 June) — The Office of the Ombudsman inMindanao (OMB Min) announced the opening of its Cagayan de Oro extension office to offer “frontline services” to the public in theNorthern part of the island.

Teresita Angeles, chief of the Graft Prevention Unit of OMB Min, toldMindaNews that they had a “soft opening” of the new Cagayan de Oro extension office last June 20.

The extension office, with five employees for a start, is located atDoña Emeteria Building, Osmeña St., Ext. . Lawyer Ma. Iluminada Viva,OIC regional director from Davao City, will head the office.

Angeles said this will help provide greater access to the public especially those in, but not limited to, Northern Mindanao. But there are still some transactions that need to be done in Davao City,Angeles said.

The office will serve as a “dulugang bayan” or drop-off point for transactions. It can also provide public assistance, do graft prevention and advocacy campaigns, and receive communication. The graft investigations would still be done in Davao City, Angeles said.

The OMB Min plans to make the regional extension office fully functional with at least 50 employees but provided no date when thatwould happen.

The Cagayan de Oro office will cut travel time for those transactingwith the Ombudsman from cities like Zamboanga, Iligan, and Pagadian.Since 1988, the Office of the Ombudsman served the whole Mindanao areawith only one office in Davao City.(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Pamalandong: Istambay sa Mindanao

DAKBAYAN SA DABAW – Nakapaskil sa sulod sa suki nako nga barber shop sa Matina mao ang pasidaan nga: “Hoy istambay bawal ka dinhi”.

Natingala ang akong barbero nga si Dhods ngano nakangisi ko. “Naunsa ka Sir?”, pangutana pa niya. “Wala bay,” tubag pa nako dayon niyoko.

Nakapiyong ko kadali sa pagtupi niya sa akong buhok dapit sa agtang. Wa ko nag pa cute uy, nakapamalandong lang kunuhay.

Dautan baya gyud ang imahe sa mga istambay. Gi bawal gani sila sa mga barber shop, sa mga mall, sa mga kan-anan, sa mga inumanan, sa mga simbahan, ug bisan asa. Siguro, tungod kay dili makit-an diha sa mga istambay ang tumong sa mga negosyante nga makasapi.

Unsaon man gud nga paspas baya kaayo ang dagan sa pagdaghan sa mga tao sa Pilipinas. Unya, sa pikas bahin, nagabaklay ra intawon ang ihap sa mga panginabuhian. Pipila lang ang trabaho, gabaha ang gapangita og trabaho.

Usahay “tambay” ang gitawag sa ila o kaha “bay” nalang gyud, labi na sa inistoryahang kanto. Dili ko sigurado hain na nigikan pulong nga istambay, pero basin sa pulong sa English nga “stand by”?

Ang lain pang haduol nga pulong sa English mao siguro kanang “stay put” o kaha “wait”. Gipangutana nako si Kokoy, usa ka tigmaneho og padjak sa GSIS Village. Matud pa niya “paghulat” kuno na. Dili pud siya mosugot nga “ayaw paglihuk” kuno ang Binisaya ana.

Pag muhisgot na gani og “istambay” ang mahuna-hunaan dayon mao ang itsura sa usa ka tawo nga “walay trabaho”. Kini katong makit-an nga naga “shotting” o tagay diha sa kanto uban ang iyang barkada bisan sayo pa.

Pero ang kadaghanan aning mga tawhana naay gihulat. Mahimong trabaho ba o kaha amigo nga makauban aron mangita og trabaho. Ang uban naghulat og bisan unsang grasya, sama sa pakals o kumbera, suroy, inom, lingaw o kaha bisag unsang grasya “gikan sa langit”.

Kadaghanan sa akong kailang istambay diri sa Dabaw, sa Bukidnon og sa ubang dapit sa Mindanaw naay tagsa-tagsa ka damgo, tinguha, o tumong sa kinabuhi. Matag usa dunay papel nga gi panindugan sa pagkakaron diha sa ilang panimalay o komunidad.

Nakaila nako si Plik-plik, taga Puan, wala naka eskwela, apan paboritong tawgon sa mga silingan labi na sa mga kulbahinam nga mga bulohaton sama sa pagpagkang sa bitin nga nakit-an sa ilalum sa hagdanan.

Duna’y mga dauta’g mga tinguha niining uban sa ila, labaw na kong “tawag sa kapobrehon”. Apan bisan sa mga kadagkuan sa atong pangagamhanan, duna gyud tong dili masaligan.

Matud pa sa trabahador nga si Edroy, istambay sa paradahan sa jeep paingon sa Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon: “ang kadaghanan baya bay naghandom gyud og kaayohan. Unta makabalik na sa trabaho. Sama nako, unta naa napuy i-kargang mais.”

Lahi pud si Edmund nga classmate nako sa high school. Maestro na siya ron. Niadtong 2004, nagtiketero sa siya sa public toilet sa Malaybalay. Matud pa niya “tambay tambay lang sa ko karon. Pagpangandam ba.”

Si Onfred, nga usa ka bag-ong engineer, nag tinda lang sa og barbecue sa Xavierheights, Cagayan de Oro. “Istambay lang sa ko do kay wa pa man niabot ang akong swerte,” matud pa niya.

Para niya, ang importante nga makatuon siya og daghang mga pamaagi aron maka sapi.
“May nalang, at least naa ko’y nahibaw-an nga lain!” matud pa niya sa dihang nagkita mi sa buhatan sa Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

Lain-lain ang hulagway sa mga istambay. Naay wala nakahuman og eskwela apan duna’y mga skills sama sa pagpanday. Naay nagahulat moabot ang trabaho o kaha ang gusto niyang trabaho. Naay naghulat kanus-a makabalik sa trabahong gisaad, naghulat nalang og visa.

Apan tanan dunay gimbuhaton o papel sa kasamtangan. Tinuod wala silay income nga insakto, apan duna puy pulos.

Ang istambay diay dili lang katong naa sa kanto. Dili lang katong naga laroy-laroy hangtud mosalop ang adlaw. Dili lang ang mga tawo nga gibawal sa mga establisamento tungod sa ubos nga pagtan-aw sa ilang mga kapasidad.

Duna puy mga istambay nga propesyunal. Duna puy mga tawo nga gipili nila nga mag istambay sa. Apan, ang kadaghanan sa mga istambay nagahandom pud nga makab-ot ang ilang mga nagkalain-laing damgo sa kinabuhi.

Ang pagkaistambay diay usa ka ang-ang sa kinabuhi aron ang tao makamatngon. Higayon kini aron makatuon sa iyang palibot, sa iyang gigikanan ug sa iyang paingnan. Panahon kini aron makatuon og mga pamaagi para makasugakod.

Tungod niini, matawag pud diay ko nga istambay. Naglaroy-laroy sa kalibutan, nagtuo nga naay tumong, ug mapadayonong gisubay ang piniling dalan.

(Reporter sa MindaNews ug dinhi sa Dabaw si Walter I. Balane. Gikan sa Malaybalay City, kanhi siyang editor sa Central Mindanao Newswatch. Mabasa ang iyang ubang mga sinulat sa iyang blog: “Istambay sa Mindanao” sa

Updates: A day in search for Mindanao stories in “national newspapers”

(Mindanews photo by Froilan Gallardo)

I always feel disgusted when the stories I hear and read about Mindanao is only the bad side of the story. Worst, if the stories from Mindanao are not written or are not used at all.

I must confess, I claim part of the errors in the past for writing bad news at times and for not presenting the complete picture. Rest assured, being a part now of a news organization exerting efforts to help improve coverage on Mindanao and help prevent these lapses.

Randomly, if you are from Mindanao and you want to read about what’s going on in Mindanao, don’t expect so much. You’ll never find it in national newspapers.

I took the stories today (June 28) as a sampler. Of the 72 stories or photos featured on the front page of seven of the country’s “national newspapers”, only five are on Mindanao.

The Philippine Star featured a piece on Mindanao entitled: “25 killed in tribal war in Bukidnon”. The report situated the supposed tribal war “in a remote village in Bukidnon”. Where in Bukidnon? It did not tell.

It reported about “a fierce gun battle” between “Lumad” and “Muslim” tribes as a result of land disputes between “mountain dwelling Lumad tribe” and a “Muslim farming community.”

The story by Roel Pareño cited the parties of the supposed tribal war as “Ubaan Lumad tribesmen”, “Lumino Lumad tribesmen”, “Lumad Amoran” and “Muslim Diamla tribesmen” in the vicinity nearby “Barangay Lapoc”. The clashes were reported to be “long standing”. Does the number (25) of deaths cited in the report include only the recent victims or that of the “long standing” conflict?

The story continued: “Several residents of Barangay Talakag fled their homes to escape the clan war, AFP Southcom chief Maj. General Gabriel Habacon said in a statement”.

Of course there are a lot of loopholes in the story. It did not specify the location of the clashes. The names of the tribe also sound “new” to me (if they are really “tribes” inside Bukidnon). Are they family names or tribal groups? The location of the clashes also is vague. My guess is that it happened along the borders of the Municipality of Talakag (in Bukidnon) and another town in Lanao del Sur. But which barangay? The area is known for clashes on land and natural resources like logging. In 2004, I reported about a clash on logging utilization between two groups of indigenous peoples and upland farmers there with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources earning a tiff with the Provincial Government of Bukidnon and a pro-environment NGO.

I recognize that I don’t know all the tribes in Mindanao, but I really want to know more about the tribal groups cited in the report. How did the ambiguities escape the paper’s editors?

This brings to three areas in Bukidnon that are in national newspapers due to peace and order problems: The first two: A barangay in San Fernando (tagged by the National Security Adviser as venue of mass NPA gravesites), Brgy. Zamboanguita/ Brgy St. Peter (now another one, in Brgy. Kulaman as PNA reported on june 28), Malaybalay City (where there are on-going military operations against NPA rebels).

The Star issue also featured a photo of Bukidnon 2nd district Rep. Teofisto Guingona III with his father former Vice President Teofisto Guingona after filing his impeachment petition vs. President Arroyo. That could be a Mindanao photo, the Guingonas being from Bukidnon and Gingoog City. But do people assciate the Guingonas as from Mindanao or as “politicians”?

Business Mirror featured a story of small miners’ groups in Diwalwal urging the government to open the rich gold deposits in the deeper levels in the mine fields of Mt. Diwata in Monkayo, Compostela Valley. The main source of the story, Franco Tito, Diwalwal’s barangay captain, asked the government whether its heart is with small scale miners or the big scale miners now that the Supreme Court declared the 729-hectare area of mountain slopes and valley under full government jurisdiction and voiding all private claims either for exploration or ownership of concession.

Some people are afraid that this mining field would go to foreign mining firms leaving the small miners displaced.

Meanwhile, the Business Mirror used a feature story “Is the tourism boom finally happening?” written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, a contributor in the paper’s Perspective section. The story is about RP hotels gearing up for visitor influx, but only cited hotels in Manila, Luzon and the Visayas, specifically Bohol and Cebu.

It only mentioned “Mindanao” once in the story, as a reference where Cebu is (that is in the group of islands between Luzon and “Mindanao”. Thanks to geography, Mindanao was mentioned.)

The missing Mindanao angle in the tourism report on RP hotels impressed, in my opinion, that Mindanao is not at the receiving end of the tourism boom. Or that there is no tourism to talk about in Mindanao? The story also did not tell that, but well what’s not said might say a lot more.

Malaya also featured a story on “2 Indonesian bomb experts on the lose (in Maguindanao). This might be the same story as that of the Manila Standard Today’s page 3 story on “Al Qaeda rebels, allies training in Mindanao”. The story kept on referring to the “training” and the suspects at large to be in the “vast marshlands of Mindanao.”

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, which runs a Mindanao bureau, did not have a story on Mindanao in the front page. But on page A7, they used the story on “2 MILF commanders eyed on bomb attack on (Magundanao) governor”. Does this paint a picture that could blur the peace process between the government and the MILF?

Are the reports representing the real situation in Mindanao?

The good thing is that Manila Bulletin used a story entitled “ARMM business forum opens trade opportunities” at the bottom of its front page, which could at least tell that there are also business opportunities in Mindanao today. The ARMM business forum is held in Lamitan, Basilan, which is featured as having an on-going transformation from being the “playground” of the Abu Sayyaf group into a province back “on its feet”.

The report cited that the forum participants issued a Declaration of Policy and Program of Action submitted to the ARMM governor, which calls to push for the creation of an industry development for rubber, seaweeds, among others.

There are many good stories in Mindanao. They go side by side with the bad ones, it is just that they don’t get published. What’s even more disgusting is when these few stories on Mindanao gets through editors with all the ambiguities, lack of details and perspectives, thus affecting public understanding on the subject. That adds to the distortions on what’s really happening or not happening around Mindanao.

This reminds me of our one big dream in MindaNews: One day, when we have the resources, we will publish a Mindanao-based, Mindanao-owned and Mindanao-focus, “daily newspaper of national circulation” or at least a magazine.

Well, as one friend reminded me: “Dream and your dreams will fall short.”

[NEWS] Can public officials avoid graft and corruption?

Originally uploaded by waltzib.

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 June) – Yes, they can and Davao City’s 180 Barangay captains and around 40 mayors from Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) will find out how when they attend separate gatherings on public accountability and good governance this week.

Teresita Angeles, chief of the Graft Prevention Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao said this is part of their ongoing preventive information drive to stop graft and corruption.

Davao City’s barangay captains will attend the seminar workshop on Integrity development and public accountability on June 28 at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City.

The workshop will cover discussions on the Office of the Ombudsman, experiencing corruption, public accountability, statutory perspectives and moral values and ethics, according to a statement from the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

On June 29, at the Grand Regal Hotel here, some 40 municipal and city mayors from North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur will attend the 1st Conference on Integrity and Governance for municipal mayors.

The conference, according to the statement, “aims to enhance the local officials’ familiarity on possible malpractices and common violations of public ethics and anti-graft laws”.

Angeles said the conference includes a presentation on the Best
Practices on Good Governance by the STARCM or the Support to Agrarian Reform Communities in Central Mindanao, which is one of the conference sponsors.

Fr. Albert Alejo, executive director of Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, will facilitate the reflections on integrity and good governance.

Atty. Gay Maggie Violan will present “Common Violations of Anti-graft
laws –The Mindanao Experience” and Atty. Joy Arao will discuss “Lifestyle Check and the Plunder Law”.

Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez will keynote both gatherings.

Since 1996, Angeles said, the Office of the Ombudsman had been
conducting preventive measures like information dissemination, sharing of lessons learned from graft cases, warnings on penalties and advocacies to help curb graft and corruption in the country.

“There were a lot of violations filed against local officials that stemmed from their lack of information,” she said citing the need to educate government officials and employees in all levels about public accountability and good governance.

She clarified that the workshop with the mayors is the culminating portion of at least 15 batches of seminars with employees and officials in the local governments where the 40 mayors come from.

OMB Mindanao’s anti-corruption seminars used the Ehem! Aha! manual on good governance published by the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, according to a press statement.

The Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao, she said, saw the increasing number of cases on graft and corruption as an indicator of increased public awareness on public accountability and good governance. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Rewind: Commentary: Trying to revisit Malaybalay’s past

By Walter I. Balane / MindaNews / 16 June 2004

MALAYBALAY CITY — On the 15th of June, 127 years ago, Malaybalay was established by the Spanish conquerors as a town or “pueblo.” After years of resistance, local inhabitants, led by Datu Mampaalong, bowed to the Castillan army led by 1Lt. Don Felipe Martinez.

Mampaalong, now the name of a lonely street in the city’s poblacion, was among the respected leaders of Malaybalay’s earlier residents. Malaybalay’s inhabitants, according to accounts, allegedly came from the “seashores of Northern Mindanao”. According to a copy of the deed of the pueblo’s creation, which MindaNews found at the city library, Mampaalong and 30 other datus “submitted themselves to the sovereignty of the Nation (Spanish crown)” on June 15, 1877.

As recorded, some of the datus named in the deed in Spanish were Datto Manpalon (Mampaalong) who was baptized as Mariano Melendez; Sugola; Mindaguin; Apang; and Bansag. They allegedly took their oath to the Spanish crown on behalf of the estimated population of 453 then. (Malaybalay’s population in 2004 is estimated at 137,579).

For lack of additional records on the oath-taking, one cannot tell if the datus fought first before paying allegiance to the conquerors. Or could they have given their oaths “freely?” If the existing records of Malaybalay’s history are to be the basis, the datus and their ancestors resisted Spanish conquest.

In fact, according to another “brief history” of Malaybalay at the city library, the “last recorded resistance by the inhabitants against the conquering Castillan army” was “sometime in 1850.” The inhabitants resisted foreign aggression, that’s certain. According to a city history reader, at the height of the Spanish conquest of the hinterlands of Mindanao, the Spaniards burned the entire village of what is now known as Kalasungay, now at the northwest part of the city.

All adult male residents in the settlement, it said, were killed while the women and children were taken hostage. At the time, Bukidnon only had five settlements namely, Malaybalay, Sumilao, Linabo (now in Malaybalay), Mailag (now in Valencia) and Silae (Malaybalay). There were no details written about the exploits of the survivors other than the information that those who survived and fled to Silae (a very remote barangay now) slowly returned a few years later and settled near Sacub river (now the site of the Plaza Rizal) under the protection of Datu Mampaalong. Sacub river is now known as Sawaga river.

On the day Mampaalong and the 30 datus took their oath of allegiance to the Spanish, they accordingly embraced Christianity. Since then, June 15, 1877 has been referred to as the foundation day of Malaybalay. But it is interesting to note this entry of Malaybalay’s very limited “written” history. In fact, it was probably taken from pages of Spanish chronicles about their “God, gold and glory” conquest.

The deed I quoted above was from a government document written in Spanish translated by a local government clerk in the 1970s. Now, the document is just a sheet of bond paper fastened together with the “brief history” of Bukidnon’s other localities. If indeed true, the accounts were from the point of view of a conqueror vanquishing his enemies. In fact, so much of 19th century Malaybalay is taken from accounts based on Spanish chronicles.

If there is any written history from other sources, they are not found in Bukidnon’s public libraries and therefore not made available for the public to appreciate. I have yet to see a history of Malaybalay written from the point of view of the Lumads. If today’s generation of Malaybalay residents do not have a clear view of Malaybalay’s history, then it won’t appear significant if June 15 is being celebrated as the town’s foundation day, never mind if it was not a day worth celebrating for their ancestors. But one significant fact remains: unlike in other Spanish settlements around Mindanao, despite the pueblo’s being named as “Oroquieta del Interior,” the name Malaybalay, accordingly a Castillan slip in the pronounciation of “walaybalay,” is still the name of Bukidnon’s capital. The celebration of Malaybalay’s foundation day is actually a celebration of the inhabitants “submission” to the Spanish crown; the creation of the “pueblo” being just a “consuelo de bobo”.

The deed goes: “…His excellency the Governor General, Don Domingo Moriones Y Murillo, who actually represents His Majesty in these Islands; he was accepting the submission tendered by the above named magnates (31 datus) for themselves and in the form and under the conditions offered; promising them [the inhabitants] to the protection and assistance necessary against their enemies, such as the maintenance of peace and order, as long as they remain loyal and faithful to their oath, and to commemorate their oath of allegiance, he is declaring the establishment of the town under the name Oroquita, to which the subject[sic] agrees.

The use of the words “submission” and “subject” indicate the conditions of the datus at that time. . Apparently, the use of June 15 to celebrate Malaybalay’s foundation day is a big mockery of its indigenous ancestry; showing submission rather than courage and zealousness. Although I can imagine the datus celebrating with the Spaniards after the creation of the pueblo, I can guess they would have wanted something better if only they had the choice. Certainly, the day wasn’t really a day of jubilation. I could only guess it was a day of defeat. Marking the foundation day on June 15, 1877 would only give credit to the Spanish conquest more than the resistance. No one can change the past.

But of course, understanding the past could very well be a good guide to understanding the present and charting the future. My argument does not intend to look down on Datu ampaalong and the other tribal leaders for their submission to the Spaniards. Certainly, there were merits in the “submission” owing to the organization of the “pueblo.” But what
I am trying to point out is, which part of their struggle, if any for a concept of “a people,” is being “honored” in the celebration? Is it the part when they stood against aggression or when they surrendered to aggression? Adding salt to injury, the city held a joint celebration of Philippine Independence Day and 127th Foundation Day on June 12 at the city’s Freedom Park.

According to reliable sources at the city government, the coincidence was unintentional for it has been a tradition for Malaybalay to mark its foundation day on the nearest Saturday to June 15. But there lies the irony in this year’s joint “celebration.”

Independence Day celebrated together with the commemoration of the day the local datus “submitted” and subjected themselves to the Spaniards? If Malaybalay’s youth had been taught about their history, they would probably have been confused.

Watching the joint “celebration” at Freedom Park last Saturday, I heard local officials calling on the people to be thankful for not only the big blessings but also for the small ones. In times when the “people are at the mercy of societal problems, we should be thankful that we are free,” Mayor Florencio Flores told the crowd composed mostly of government officials and employees.

For sure, the people of Malaybalay are better off without a foundation day celebration that’s founded on defeat. But, they would never know. Malaybalay’s history is not even well stocked in its libraries.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Walter I. Balane reports on Bukidnon for MindaNews).