Scholar cites need to correct inaccuracies in Malaybalay’s history

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/21 June) – To say that Malaybalay came from “walay balay” (no house) is inaccurate, an old-time Bukidnon ethnographer and cultural scholar said.

Malabalay “is the name of a forgotten spring,” Ludivina Opeña or “Nanay Ludi” clarified.

Opeña said the city government needs to look at this and many other inaccuracies in Malaybalay’s history since pre-colonial times.

She said an important component of this review is a revisit of Malaybalay’s history through its past leaders.

Opeña is presently writing the manuscripts for a book on Malaybalay history, a theme she said is much talked about but backed only with limited though well-researched materials.

She cited the origin of Malaybalay’s name as one minor but important point.

She said the presumption circulating in the grapevine is that a resident gave a wrong answer – walay balay — to a foreigner who asked about the name of the place.

But using this tale as the origin of the city’s name is baseless and superficial, she said.

She mentioned earlier studies which trace the city’s name to a salubsob or spring along the Sawaga River called Malaybalay.

(In some writings, salubsob is spelled salebseb. – Ed.)

Opeña has expressed intent to officially request the local government to mark the local historical landmarks, including the spring bearing the city’s name.

This and other aspects of the city’s and Bukidnon’s history are part of the manuscripts she is writing down for a proposed book project on local history.

Kanoy Bukidnon, a local group of young men and women, is helping the 83-year old researcher finish her writing.

But one thing is worrying Nanay Ludi: her failing eyesight and sense of hearing.

Kanoy has initiated a fund-raising campaign to expedite the transfer of her writings to electronic files and to facilitate revisions and updates. The group has also asked local officials to fund the publication of her book.

Opeña said she plans to launch the book in October 2010 in time for the International Day of Indigenous Peoples.

The city government celebrated on June 12 the 133rd founding anniversary of the Malaybalay Spanish pueblo dubbed Oroquieta Del Interior.

Outgoing mayor Florencio T. Flores Jr. has cited the role played by the city’s past leaders.

“..I always made mention of our earliest leaders who paved way for the progress that we have now. The achievements we now hold are backed with a history of a well-supported leadership..,” Flores said during the joint celebration of Malaybalay’s 133rd founding anniversary and the 112th Philippine Independence Day at the city covered court on June 12.

The city government has mulled launching a historical monument it is building in Plaza Rizal to mark the creation of Malaybalay as a village under Spain in 1877.

The monument’s official name is Ereccion de Pueblo or the Creation of the Village.

The monument features nine human figures, including one on horseback, depicting the characters in the June 1, 1877 pact made between the representatives of the Spanish colonial government and the leaders of the villages in and around Malaybalay.

Opeña said it is a remarkable monument but one that might only become a tribute to colonialism.

But Vic Barreto, the monument’s architect, told MindaNews the event featured in his work was a peaceful pact made between two mutually agreeing parties. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)