Bukidnon has been wrong in celebrating its foundation anniversary

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/5 July) – All these years the province of Bukidnon has been wrong in celebrating its foundation anniversary, like when it marked its supposed 95th anniversary last March 10.

As it turned out, Bukidnon’s founding as a province occurred on Sept. 1, 1914, when the Philippine Commission Act No. 2408, which was passed on July 23 of the same year, took effect. The provincial government, on the other hand, believed that that Bukidnon became a province on March 10, 1917.

This was clarified by Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in a letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The latter requested the NHCP in 2010 to clarify the province’s founding date as it started to plan for its centennial celebration.

The province holds a month-long festivity starting in February all the way to March to commemorate its supposed anniversary. The highlight of the festivity is the Kaamulan Festival, which showcases the mountain province’s seven indigenous tribes.

“Considering that Act No. 2408 took effect on 1 September 1914, this date should be considered the basis of creation of Bukidnon province,” Diokno added.

Act. No. 2408 – titled “An Act Providing a Temporary Form of Government for the Territory Known as the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, Making Applicable Thereto, with Certain Exceptions, the Provisions of General Laws Now in Force in the Philippine Islands, and for Other Purposes” – integrated the then newly created province into the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, along with the provinces of Agusan, Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, Sulu, and Zamboanga.

Diokno clarified that March 10, 1917 was the date when the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 was passed. The said Code reaffirmed Act No. 2408.

The provincial board, on motion of board member Nemesio Beltran Jr., passed an ordinance last week affirming and adopting the NHCP’s findings.

This moves the year of the province’s celebration of its centennial three years ahead, from 2017 to 2014. The ordinance likewise corrected the founding date to Sept. 1, and authorized Gov. Alex
Calingasan to create an interim centennial committee to prepare for a month-long celebration.

From 1860, Bukidnon was just a part of the province of Misamis until it became a sub-province of Agusan in 1907.

The celebration held on March 10 this year was thus Bukidnon’s 98th, not the 95th foundation anniversary. There is no information yet if the provincial government will mark the anniversary again on Sept. 1.

Provincial administrator Provo Antipasado said the governor is yet to sign the ordinance. Beltran said they will push for simple rites, at least, on Sept. 1.

“The celebration of the centennial year of any LGU (local government unit) is of historical significance, hence the necessity to clarify which is the exact date when Bukidnon became a separate and full-pledged province,” the board said in its resolution in 2010 requesting clarification from the NHCP.

Beltran, who proposed the resolution, cited the late Dr. Mardonio Lao’s 1985 book “Bukidnon in Historical Perspective,” which showed that Bukidnon became a province in 1914.

“In contrast, it would seem that the reckoning year of 1917 is based on the date when the boundaries of Bukidnon were readjusted,” Beltran said, referring to Lao’s writings. The historian said Bukidnon’s southern and eastern boundaries were readjusted on October 1917.

Lao, who died in 2009, became president of Central Mindanao University from 1999 until his death.

Another author, Ronald Edgerton, a scholar from the University of Northern Colorado, validated Lao’s account, Beltran said.

In his book “People of the Middle Ground,” Edgerton also referred to 1914 as the year Bukidnon was created as a province. He cited that the province’s first governor, Manuel Fortich Sr., served from 1914 to 1921.

Edgerton also referred to 1914 in his manuscript “Frontier Society on the Bukidnon Plateau: 1870-1941” as the year Bukidnon became a full-pledged province, separate from Agusan. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)