Oro history reflective of IP marginalization

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews/26 August) — The ancestors of Cagayanons could be the sea-faring sub-tribe of the Manobo, the Higaonons.

Ethno-historian Dr. Antonio Montalvan, currently the curator of the Museum of Three Cultures in Capitol University said the deeper history of Cagayan de Oro would reflect the story of the marginalization of the indigenous people (IP)

Currently, the history of the city taught in schools is the history written by colonial victors, and not really deeply rooted on the ethnic origin of the city.

Realizing this, a group of heritage advocates and academics are planning to integrate in the basic education curriculum the teaching of Cagayan de Oro’s ethno-history.

Ermin Stan Pimentel of the Research and Social Outreach office of Xavier University (XU) said they are planning to pilot the teaching of the history of Cagayan de Oro in the university’s Peace Studies program.

Dr. Erlinda Burton of the Museo de Oro in XU said in a forum on heritage conservation recently that understanding the history of the people of Cagayan de Oro is very important in peace building as it foments a better understanding of the different cultures in Mindanao.

Montalvan said that the lumads of Cagayan de Oro have been driven to the mountains, especially those who did not convert into Christianity. Ethno-liguistic experts say that the word Higaonon actually comes from the word “gaod” which means “taken from the water.”

In pre-hispanic Cagayan de Oro, there were evidences of international trade. According to Elson Elizaga of the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA), they have found archeological evidences that would indicate that the Cagayanons of old could be sea-faring fishers and traders.

Pottery shards of Chinese origin and dating back to the pre-Hispanic period are abundant even in the surface of the Huluga archeological complex in Taguanao, Brgy. Indahag, Cagayan de Oro. HCA has been engaged in a protracted campaign to save the Huluga area as they believe it is the site of the old Cagayan de Oro, then called Himologan which was headed by Datu Salangsang.

Much of the archaeological complex has been damaged by the construction of the Pelaez bridge and roads.
Elizaga said that one of the important archaeological find they have is a tip of a whale harpoon which is similar to those found in Lomblen, Indonesia, some 2,000 kilometers away from the city.

Whaling was rampant in Macajalar and Gingoog bays until the 1990s. Whale sharks (Rhincodon typos) were hunted down by fishermen until a ban on this kind of fishing due to its endangered status. Another extremely rare whale, the megamouth whale (Megachasmuc pelagios) is believed to be once abundant in Macajalar Bay.

Of the 50 sightings or occurrence since 1976, at least four were found in Macajalar Bay (megamouths 11, 18, 28 and 35). The most frequent occurrence throughout the world. Unfortunately all of these were killed when found. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)