Living in a Mindanao suburb
“Suburbs are commonly defined as residential areas on the outskirts of a city or large town. Most modern suburbs are commuter towns with many single-family homes. Many suburbs have some degree of political autonomy and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods.”
I enjoyed attending a village social gathering last Saturday. It was a fellowship party for a new organization, one that sought to gather the professionals in our suburban village called Kalasungay.
Ours, now a village of at least 1,000 households, is home to Bukidnon’s earliest recorded native settlements. Majority of the residents belong to either the Bukidnon or Higaonon tribes.
There is much pride in me to settle in this village, where I could trace history by recalling the family names of our neighbors.
When the Spaniards came in late 1800s, villagers have already developed this settlement as one of the biggest in Northern Mindanao, based on oral history as relayed by elders.
The official seal of the Barangay Council of Kalasungay is dated 1845, much older than the Province of Bukidnon (1917).
Much of the culture and traditions of the village are intact. The descendants of original settlers have remained in the village, though have inter-married with other tribes, including migrants from the rest of the country.
Most of the sets of barangay council seats in recent history were filled by the locals. Up to now, the locals head the village. There was pride-feeding that night when they cited that the village has a high sense of education; home of the greatest number of professionals among others.
There is much pride in me to settle in this village, where I could trace history by recalling the family names of your neighbors. One proof of a great sense of community here is that almost everybody could be linked as a relative.
I’m just one of those who married into the great cultural history of this village. Coming from villages where great divides among different peoples are clear, I am just amazed.
Speaking of amazement let me get back to that social gathering.
It was a gathering of villagers, mostly of indigenous descent who were able to finish a degree in college. At first, I frowned at the idea of being a part of a group exclusive for “professionals”. It appeared elitist and out of sync amid calls for inclusion and cooperation —unity in diversity.
But looking at the history of the village, I realized that some elders saw that the administration of village affairs was left to the uneducated; with the professionals racing to move out to other places “for greener pastures”.
And so it was an issue in the last village elections: the professionals left the running of the affairs of the village to those who have less . It wasn’t true to the fullest, but many professionals were hit by the truth.
Most professionals work in the city proper and come home only to rest. Only housewives, elderlies or retirees, out of school youth, “non-professionals” and the unemployed were left to tend the barangay.
Kalasungay is home to almost every professional classification in the City of Malaybalay; “name it we have it” as one elder said during the socials. But just like in many villages around Mindanao, their direct community did not become direct beneficiaries of their expertise.
While this is probably one of the earliest settlements in this part of Mindanao, this village now lags in development because of many factors, probably including the professionals’ neglect. The oldest, but as of the last time I checked, internet service providers, both broadband and dial up, wouldn’t want to risk coming in. It’s a village sidelined by time and change.
Having seen this sad reality, I set my mind in joining this pioneering group. Hoping that in common light we see more and wider participation of professionals in community work.
Of course, I have in mind that the group shouldn’t focus only on organizational projects and activities but also integrative endeavors—at the purok (zone) level —along with the non-professionals or the ordinary villagers so they say.
I see great responsibilities in this move to jump ship and join the group’s collective desires for our heartland. And as it was a punishment for trying to be heroic, immediately, I was appointed to head the public affairs and information committee. I actually wanted to avoid more responsibilities, but I have no fear.
What profit does it make of me if I serve other communities and ignore my own?
Good Day Mindanao! Kalinaw!