MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 September) – Impasugong, Bukidnon’s 134-year old town has been proposed to be declared as the tribal capital of the province.
Provincial Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. said the proposal is now in the hands of four committees of the board.
Established in 1877, Impasugong has been able to preserve its cultural heritage and ethnic identity, Beltran added.
According to Mindanao historian Rudy B. Rodil, Impasugong is one of only four Bukidnon towns where the majority of the inhabitants are Lumads or indigenous peoples. Seven other towns in Mindanao are also predominantly Lumads.
Backed by eight of the 14 members of the provincial board, the proposal was triggered by Beltran’s participation in the 134th foundation anniversary of the town which started out as a Spanish settlement.
Beltran said that as of Wednesday last week it was already in the agenda of the hearings being conducted by the committees on indigenous peoples, tourism, laws, and rules and privileges.
He noted in his resolution that the town is the only one in Bukidnon where the Higaonon tribe lives in all 13 barangays and “religiously practice their tribal customs and traditions,” including rituals and indigenous justice system.
Higaonon is one of the province’s seven tribes, the others being Bukidnon, Manobo, Talaandig, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon.
Impasugong is a Higaonon term which means “current that flows upstream.”
But Beltran admitted that aside from the preservation of its cultural heritage, the proposed declaration of Impasugong as a tribal capital is aimed to boost tourism.
Along with Malaybalay City, Impasugong, dubbed the “home of the country’s finest cowboys,” was the main location of the 2009 movie “Love Me Again” which starred Angel Locsin and Piolo Pascual.
There are nine commercial cattle farms in the area holding 1,143 heads in all. The local government unit also manages a communal ranch in a 649-hectare land that holds 300 heads of cattle.
Impasugong hosts the country’s oldest reforestation project, a 1000-hectare site in Barangay Impalutao which became a major location of the movie “Bagong Buwan” starring Cesar Montano.
Atugan Bridge, a 214-foot high structure that spans a canyon that cuts across a portion of the national highway in the town, is reputed to be the second highest bridge in Asia. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)