Biyernes, Agosto 17, 2012

Davao History by Ernesto I. Corcino


The founding of Davao as a distinct geopolitical entity came only during the last 50 years of the 333 – year period of Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines. The delay can be understood better with a general picture of Morolandia, including the fundamental differences in culture and religion between the Muslims of Mindanao and the Spanish authorities in Manila.
A large segment of Mindanao’s population already had a high level of cultural endowment when the Spaniards came. Longtime believers of Islam, these Muslims treasured their way of life and disliked arrogant intrusions into their domain. They perceived the Spanish intentions as undermining their beliefs, as was earlier demonstrated in the Spanish conquest and occupation of Jolo.
Further, the Muslims in the Sultanates of Jolo and Maguindanao had long been enjoying their own system of government before the Spaniards arrived. The Muslims had trading and commercial activities with neighbors to the south through which they maintained their links to Europe and the Arab world. In their courts, they received the Chinese, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the French well.
The start of the Spanish rule in the country, however, was marked by internecine conflicts. Although Queen Isabela and King Philip had instructed that the inhabitants- of the Philippines be considered Spanish subjects and accorded justice and “their progress enhanced,” the early colonial leaders often disregarded the rights of the indios whom they conscripted to cut the forests to build the ships and to man these for the war of domination against the Filipino “Moros.” The natives hardships and material losses seemed not to matter to some governors.
The belligerent Muslim Christian state of affairs in the Philippines then reflects not so much the Imperial and Papal policies of that era but the personal whims of the colonial administrators. Some governors were prejudiced against the Filipinos, particularly the Moros.
These colonial leaders governed the Philippines with an eye to becoming heroes, rich and powerful, to be admired by the King and the Spaniards court. They saw in their adventure in the Philippines a vision of glory and wealth as did their counterparts in Mexico and South America. Moro antagonism towards the Spaniards then becomes understandable.
This antagonism towards the Spanish colonial government did not extend to the pioneer missionaries who had shown a keener sense of understanding, kindness and fairness. These missionaries readily won the trust and respect of the indigenous inhabitants of Mindanao, including the Muslims. Some of these priests even served captives as Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat allowed in 1635 at Tamontaca. They were in the forefront in opening uncharted territory, succeeding in making slow but steady inroads to the hearts of the Muslims.
The stark contrast in leadership style often resulted in conflicts, this time between the clergy and the Spanish bureaucracy in the Philippines. Some of these differences were brought to the attention of the King of Spain or the Papal throne.
The religious leaders, in fact, led by Msgr. Domingo de Salazar, Bishop of Manila had, early in 1851, reported the Spanish abuses to the King. These included violations of the natives’ human rights; the heavy toll in lives brought about by pola (forced labor) and military conscription to carry out wars with the Muslims; and the tributes that made the natives more destitute. Although these petitions suffered long delays in getting responses, the King of Spain in time instructed the territorial government to leave the natives to “practice their own beliefs unless they want to be Christians.”
Colonial authorities eventually refrained from pushing the immediate conquest of Mindanao. The high cost of maintaining land forces and naval outposts in Mindanao burdened the Crown and the local authorities. Furthermore, the national capital was being threatened constantly by pirates and other European powers, and Manila officialdom was constrained to focus their resources on the protection of the national capital.
The Portuguese who had earlier established their base in Ternate, Moluccas, had standing priority rights over the Philippines and posed the earliest threat to Spanish presence in this archipelago. They sent privateers to harass native settlements up to the end of 1600. These were followed by Dutch attacks that lasted for over 50 years. The British came next and even occupied Manila in 1761 to 1764. All these were costly and debilitating to the Spanish colonial administration as these thwarted its plans to make the Philippines a productive province of Spain.
A long period of suspended interest towards Mindanao likewise prevailed when the “mercantilist policy” was institutionalized by the Bourbon Dynasty that had taken power in Spain and most of Europe. The Philippines’ early status as a province of Spain was then manifestly converted into a colony, and its exploitation became more pronounced. No longer was the Mother Spain expected to provide budgetary support for running affairs in its colony. Local officialdom had to look for means of increasing government revenues.
It was an era when worldwide trading was expanding, and Manila officials had the boletas, a privilege system of shipping a certain quantity of export goods, assuring tremendous profit for the boleta holders.
Products from Hong Kon
g or China that attracted European consumers became the major trade goods, with Manila serving merely as the transshipment port. Local products on demand abroad were monopolized by the government and benefited the few connected with the powers-that-be. Other native products were neglected, and the general economy of the country suffered. The resultant penury among the masses engendered dissatisfaction that led to clamor for reforms.
It soon became evident that the Davao Gulf area had rich natural resources that could bring about economic benefits. The Davao Gulf area was long known among Portuguese and Spanish explorers. It was worthy of closer examination because the territory was practically a by-road for navigators. Ships were able to take advantage of the wind and sea currents that prevailed during set periods of the year to go to the area. The seas were relatively calm and generally free from destructive typhoons.
As it were, the Davao Gulf area already had an active commercial relationship with the neighboring islands in the southern archipelagos. The inhabitants of the Gulf area and its contiguous east coast participated in trading activities that made Davao a natural bridge in the growth of contacts and commerce not merely in the southern island chain but also in the North, i.e., the Visayas islands and Luzon. For a long time, Spanish colonial administrators, failed to exploit what they already knew of eastern Mindanao, the very region that Spanish pioneer explorers had reported to be rich in gold, with numerous settlements from Carhaga to Mazzaua or Butuan. They considered the territory an inconsequential part of the vast domain of the Maguindanao Sultanate whose capital town. Tamontaca, was the object of attempted conquest several times in 300 years.
Superior firepower eventually forced the Muslim leaders to submit to Spanish control. These Muslim leaders accepted the Spanish treaties and granted territorial rights, which often were merely tactical moves of convenience and self-preservation. As soon as they recovered their strength, often through a new leadership and newer alliances, these Muslims fought back to regain their freedom and independence.
The datus (rulers) who showed some kind of accommodation or cooperation with their conquerors were often deposed by their own relatives – datus with their own followings who claimed competing rights of succession as ruler of the realm. Thus, in many instances, these rival claimants allied themselves with certain foreign powers. The treaties they made for such alliances usually included a cession of a territory aside from rights of trade. These became later source of territorial conflicts, some of them remaining to this day. i.e., Sabah.
In the case of Davao, however, the cession of the Davao Gulf territory prompted by the Moros’ attack on San Rufo, a trading vessel, led to the colonizing expedition of Don Jose Oyanguren y Cruz. The subsequent establishment in late June 1848 of the first Christian colony within Davao Gulf led to the formation of the province Nueva Guipuzcoa in 1849, providing as a province of the Philippines.


Lumads of Davao

OF THE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES, DAVAO can claim the distinction of having within its territorial boundaries the most number of lumads or indigenous tribal communities (lumad literally means “from the bowels of the earth”). These tribes have been identified variably from six to sixteen different groups. They belong to three basic racial stocks: Pygmies, Indonesians and Malays.
Intermarriages among the three original racial stocks, plus geographic division of the mixed races and the resultant differences in customs and dialects apparently brought about the present distinctions among the many tribes inhabiting Davao.1
Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt mentions 14 Davao tribes: Ata, Bagobo, B’la-an, Calagan, Culaman, Dulangan, Guianga, Loac, Maguindanao, Mandaya, Manobo, Samal, Sanguil and Tagacaole. 2 Malayan ethnology curator at Chicago’s Museum of Natural History Fay-Cooper, describes extensively six of Davao’s aboriginal tribes: Bagobo, B’la-an, Tagacaolo, Kulaman, Ata, and Mandaya.3 Additional native tribes are identified as Mansaka, Libaon, Mangguan, Matigsalug and Mamanua. Wheter or not all these lesser- known tribes really exist in Davao or simply refer to the same groups called by different names, is an issue to unravel.
The following descriptions of each of the tribes are quoted from early studies, mostly done by foreigners who unwittingly reveal their colonial mindset.
The Atas (also Ataas, Itaas) are powerful people of unknown origin who appear to be a mixture of Negritos and Malays. They occupy the hinterlands comprising the headwaters of Davao, Tuganay and Libuganon Rivers. They are very sensitive but can easily be put under control if done with tact. A vindictive type of people, utmost care is exercised in dealing with them. They have a language of their own. Their name means “dwellers in highlands”. Living in frail huts of palm leaves and bark of trees built on top of trees, they depend primarily on hunting for their livelihood. They are believed to be the most numerous.
The Bagobos mostly occupy the lower slopes of Mt. Apo, extending from upper Digos in the south to Talomo and Tugbok in the north and to Baguio in upper Calinan on the northwest slope. They are known as the most elaborately dressed of the Davao tribes. In view of their proximity to the Christian settlements since Spanish times, they are the tribe most integrated with Christian society. The influx of newcomers to Davao, starting with the Japanese, has gradually eased this tribe from the excellent lands they had been occupying.
Why Davao?
       Local historian Rogelio Lizada posits that the word davao is the result of the phonetic blending of the words of the three Bagobo subgroups referring to the Davao River. The Obo, considered the earliestaboriginal people of this territory, called the river Davoh, the Clatta (Obo-Ata meztizo), Diangan or Gulangan (Obo-Bagobo mestizo) called the river Duhwow; and the Tagabawa Bagobo called it Dabu.
       The Obos live in the hinterland section of Davao’s mainland. The Bagobos occupy the slopes of Mount Apo from the lower Guianga area of Biao/Catalunan sitios while Tagabawas occupy the area surrounding present-day poblacion (town) southward to encompass Catigan, to Toril, Sibulan, Sta.Cruz, continuing still around the slopes of Mount Apo to Bansalan.
        Recognizing that the more primitive inhabitants are usually pushed into the hinterland as newer waves of tribes with more advanced cultural endowments and weapons arrive, the aboriginal Obos deserve to be credited with the giving of names to identify places.
        Such is the case with Davao. As such, the word dabaw is pronounced da’vao, with a hard accented â and vao pronounced gently with a downward tone. This is confirmed by Jesult Father Mateo Gisbert (1884-1892 in the Davao Gulf mission) in his Bagobo-Spanish dictionary. The Obos or Guiangans pronounce davoh or duhwow noticeably softer or ending with a gentle slur.
        For instance, if an Obo asks, “Painkong ka?” (Where are you going?). The answer could be, “Ondiyon to Davoh,” with an upward arm gesture pointing in the direction of the town. To these aboriginal tribes, explains Willie Labawan (1985), a full-blooded Obo who meticulously researched among the elders of his tribe, “da-voh” means a place “beyond the high grounds” or over the hills yonder.
        The reference then is to the central point of civilization in early times, i.e., the Davao settlement at the mouth of Davao River, which is surrounded by high ground: the rolling hills of Buhangin, Magtuod, Ma-a, and Matina.
        One understands then that early travelers used foot traits alongside rivers, which also serve as reference points. When asked where they were going, it was customary to reply “davoh” or “duhwow,” indicating beyond or over the high hills ahead and pointing towards the coast. They had to look up frequently from the lower elevation of the river valley trails as they proceeded to their destination, the trading settlement Duhwow, to barter their forest goods (products gatherd or wild animals caught) with salt or some other commodity.
        Clearly, as meant in the native languages, the word Davao then is a toponym or a place name based on topographical location or physical features. Different cultures worldwide use toponyms or other names of personalities linked with incidents or memorable occasions threat, providing a realistic and rational basis for place names.
        Claims that the name Davao is derived from the characterization of Mount Apo as a “land of fire” are without basis. Among the early Malayan people, the Filipinos’ forbears, Mt. Apo is called Sandawa after the sulfur deposits gleaming on its peak. No mention of fire or flame whatsoever as fire among these natives is apoy.

The world According to Bagobos

Bagobos believe that Mount Apo was the first home of the race.
When the world first began to be, there were one man and woman and they lived on Mount Apo near the place where the town of Sibulan now is. The name of the man was Toglai and the woman Toglibon. Many fruits grew on the mountain and the forest was filled with game, so that it was easy for them to procure food. After a while they had many children, both boys and girls, who, when they grew up, married.
One day, Toglai and Toglibon told their oldest boy and girl that hey should go far away across the ocean, for there was a good place for them. So the two departed, and none of the Bagobos saw them again until their descendants – the white people – came to Davao. The other children remained with their parents and were happy and prosperous until Toglai and Toglibon died and went to the sky, where they became spirits.
Shortly after their deathn the country suffered a great drought. No rain fall for three years, the rivers became dry, and the plants shriveled up and died, so that there was no food in the land. The people said: ‘ Manama is angry and is punishing us, for he has taken away our plants and water; surely we must go to a new place where there is food or we shall die.”

Two started on the way toward the sunset, carrying with them stones from the Sibulan River, and in a few days reached a good land where there were water and plants, and pigs and deer abounded in great fields of grass. There they settled, and in time many children were born to them. Since then they have been called Maguindanao because of the stones which they carried with them when they left Sibulan.

Two others went southward and when they found good land, they stopped and made their home. On their journey they carried small baskets called bira-an, and because of this their children are known as Bira-ans. (B’la-ans). A pair who went northward carried small dolls and thus obtained the name Eto (Ata or Guianga).

The tradition accounts for the coming of six other tribes known to the Bagobos, and then coming to themselves it continues:

Only one pair remained at Sibulan. They wished very much to go away, but were so weak from hunger and thirst that they could not walk far.

One day the man crawled out into the fields once more to see if he could find something alive, and when he reached there he saw a single stalk of tubbo (sugar cane) growing lustily. He cut a piece for the wife and water began to run out until there was enough for the couple to drink. Because of this they called the place Bagobo and the people have since borne that name (Adapted from Cole 1911, 121ff. and Gisbert 1903-1909, 236-237).

The B’la-ans are the Malay people occupying mainly the interior region between the Bulatukan River (in Bansalan) and the Sarangani Islands and its Bay. Exceedingly timid, they have a peaceful disposition and are the most industrious of all the natives. They grow rice on the plains of the interior region they occupy.

Their language is characterized by the preponderance of the Letter “f.” They are very intelligent, and those who have been baptized give good proof of themselves. Their religion is a sort of house about half a mile from one other. They are reportedly superior to other tribes, being cleaner, more industrious and wealthy.

The Caiaganes are Malay people who live along the Casilaran Creek (in Hagonoy), an area between Padada and Sta. Cruz. They are often mistaken for Moros, but they are not. They are fine and very tractable fellows. The first people baptized en masse in that section of Davao, they established a reduccion (community/resettlement site) in the past at Piapi and the coast of Guihing.

The Culamanes are the Manobos living on the southern coast of Davao Gulf, from Malalag to Batulaki, and the vicinity of Sigaboy on the other side of the Gulf. They occupy sections nearer the coasts than the Tagacaolos.

Bagobo Apparel and Accessories

The Bagobos are without doubt the most handsomely dressed aborigines of the Philippines. Their clothing is made from abaca fiber which they weave themselves and decorated with embroidery, appliqué or design in shell disks and beads.

Both men and women have many strands of beads encircling the neck and often falling free on the chest. Shell bracelets are commonly worn.

The women wear no less artistic apparel than the men. Her jacket is close-fitting around the neck and reaches to the skirt so that no portion of the upper part of the body is exposed. These jackets are embroidered over the shoulder and arms, and at the neck and waist; often they have complicated designs of shell disks and beads. The skirt is made like a sack with both ends open, and is held at the waist with a cloth or beaded belt. A broad beaded band is often worn over one shoulder passing under the opposite arm near the waist. A small carrying bag also of hamp cloth and decorated with beads and bells is suspended from a shoulder. The women are fond of loading their arms with ornaments of brass or shells while around their anklets and leglets are often worn rattles and bells.

Their hair is brushed back but often falls forward on the face (like the modern “bangs”) or in front of the cars. Much of this hair is kept well oiled and is combed straight to the back of the head where it is tied to a knot. Into this knot is pushed a wooden comb decorated with incised lines highlighted with lime or inlaid with beads. On festive occasions more elaborate combs with plumes or other decorations attached are worn. Apart from these, the head is uncovered.

Both men and women pierce and stretch the lobes of the ears to admit enormous earplugs. Those worn by the women are usually of wood, inlaid with silver or brass and are connected by a beaded band which passes under the chin. Wooden plugs are also much used by men, but the most highly prized ornaments are large ivory plugs like enormous collar buttons. Both sexes file and blacken the teeth. They generally remove facial hair, yet some men have rather full beards (Cole 1911,127 ff. and Gisbert 1903-1909, 263-237).

Slavery, Polygamy and Omens

Slavery is recognized institution in Bagobo and Mansaka society. The need for slaves is one of the chief incentives for hostile raids against neighboring tribes. A good slave, male or female, is valued at about five agongs (bronze or brass gongs).

Polygamy is common among Bagobos and B’la-ans. Kinship and the lack of funds form only restrictions to the number and choice of wives a man may have.

Or Bagobos and Mansakas, the song of the limocon (wild dove) is of good or evil augury depending on circumstances. Accordingly, when the limocon sings, they stop and look about them. If no particular thing indicates any ill, they continue in their task or trip, for the song of the limocon is good (Gisbert 1903-1909, 236-237).

Although possessing characteristics similar to the Manobos. Culamanes have learned to get along better with the Christian new-comers and the other tribes. They are said to be ferocious in a fit or vengeance.

The Dulanganes (Gulanganes, also called Bangai-Bangal by the Moros) are found in the hinterlands of southern Davao and Cotabato. It is not known whether they are pure-blooded or Malay with an infusion of Negrito blood. They are savage and fierse, and Moros themselves do not want to meddle with then, calling them a bad race. They are naked except for a small covering made of leaves or bark of trees. They have no houses and Iive in caves or inside tree trunks. Their weapons usually are poisoned arrows.

The Guiangas are scattered on the Rancherias of Gumalang, Tamugan, upper Toril and Biao. The tribe’s dialect is totally different from neighboring Bagobo’s. They are also called Guanga or Guianga, which means “forest people.” They are suspected of being fragments of the little-known tribe, who according to location, lived in southern Mindanao under the names Manguangas, Mangulangas or Dulanganes. Like Bagobos, they practice human sacrifice.

B’la-an Body and Soul


            The apparel of the B’la-ans are almost identical with the Bagobo’s , except for ornamentation. Not bead lovers, the B’la-ans use intricate embroidered designs that are said to excel, both in technique and beauty, the work of any other tribe in the islands. On their more elaborate costumes, hundreds of shell disks are used. The female skirt is made of hemp, cut in the same manner as that of the Bagobo’s, although the general pattern is different.
             The female is rarely seen with any kind of head protection or hair ornament except a small comb made of bamboo or rattan splints drawn together at the center but flaring at the top and bottom until it forms an ornament similar in shape
to an hourglass.


             A class of people known as almo-os is composed mostly of middle-aged women who are supposed to be in close communication with the spirits. Like the mabalian of the Bagobos, these women conduct ceremonies to help heal the sick, secure good crops or to thank the deities for their help and watchfulness (From interviews with William Joyce in Lauan, Davao del Sur, ca. 1905 and Oscar Figuracion in Ticolon, Malita, Davao del Sur in 1975).

The Loacs belong to the Tagacaolo tribe who dwells in the mountain forest of the San Agustin peninsula. They are the poor members of the Tagacaolo tribe who have isolated themselves as a means of protection from being made slaves by the rich and powerful segment of their tribe. 
The Maguindanaos are the Moros of Cotabato, also the Moros who inhabit the Sarangani Islands and parts of Davao Gulf coast. Living mostly along the mouths of rivers, they Impeded the Spanish colonizers’ efforts at bringing the other tribes of Davao within the Christian fold.
The Mandayas (Mandaya or “people of the upland”, Ilaya) are of Malay stock. They inhabit the slopes of the mountain range that borders the [acific Ocean, from Mati to Bislig, and the area in upper Tagum and Hijo Rivers, as well as the upper Agusan River Valley. They were famed as a headhunting people, but their early contacts with the Spanish colonizers (since early 1600s) have made them the first tribe to embrace civilized life. They are fond of brightly-hued dresses that hey weave from abaca. Like most other tribes, they are superstitious and polytheistic. The recruitment of some members of this tribe in the Philippine Constabulary in the years of American sovereignty in Davao has been instrumental in bringing over members of the other tribes, especially in upper Tagum, under the sway of the government.

The Manobos (Manuba or Man-Suba, ‘river people”, also “those who grew up” (of Malay extraction) chiefly occupy the Agusan river valley in Compostela. They inhabit various points from Malalag to Sarangani and between Cuabo and Cape San Agustin. The Manobos are considered the most aboriginal tribe of Mindanao. Of Malay stock, the Manobos are slight of built but athletic. They have little liking for work and are warlike and valiant, being usually hunters for slaves. Although wild, they are easy to resettle but difficult to preserve. Their houses are built near the rivers, often on the forks of trees. They change

Their abode annually to cultivate new fields. Their religion and customs closely resemble those of the Mandayas, although for glass-stringed beads, Manobos prefer black rather than the more popular red among the Mandayas.

The Mansakas inhabit the upper reaches of rivers and the mountain slopes of Lupon up to the interior of the Hijo River in Tagum. They are a peaceful tribe today, but time was when they were a warlike nomadic group who fought the Moros and Mandayas to acquire slaves, which were essential parts of their dowries. Their language intonation and vocabulary are different from Mandayas.

The Samales inhabit the island of Samal in the Davao Gulf. They are mostly Moro-Mandaya mestizos. Originally believed to be the descendants of that emigration (between 1460-1480) led by the Sharif Kabunsuwan

Bagobo Spirituality

Eugpamolak Manobo (also called Manam) is the chief of all spirits. He created the world. No ceremony should be made without calling on him and offering him some white food or object of value.

The diwata are a powerful class of spirits who serve the Great Spirit. The first man and woman, Toglai and Toglibon  are important in the spirit world. They cause all marrieges and births and keep close watch over all the lives of men.

The tigyama are a class of spirits, one of whom watches over each family. When children of two families marry, their tigyamas merge into one who assumes guardianship of the pair. Taragomi owns all articles of food and is guardian of the fields and crops. A shrine is built for him in the center of the field. When a field is to be cleared, or first rice planted, and at the time of reaping, the spirits are consulted and offerings made. After all the grain is safely stored, a thanksgiving feast is held.

Other ceremonies honor the patron spirit of the blacksmiths, the brass workers and the weavers. The weavers of hemp cloth are under the special patronage of Baipandi, who taught the women the intricate method of overtying the warp so that portions of the thread do not receive the dye. She also taught the designs woven into fabrics, and the art of embroidery and beadwork.
Mandarangan and his wife Darago are the guardians of the magani (warriors) and can be addressed only by the magani.The name magani is applied to a man when he has killed two or more persons. He is then entitled to wear a peculiar, chocolate-colored head covering with patters in it.

The megani is one of the chiefs in war party; he is also the executioner when the death penalty is decreed and he usually in the human sacrifices.appears in the sky, usually in December, a human sacrifice is offered in honor of the two patron spirits of the magani. This ia done in good or bad times. Two festooned piles are raised by the magani, who afterwards gather around these and one by one confess to Mandarangan and Darago, all their warlike deeds: the number of lives they have taken, the slaves captured; in short, all that entities them to be known as magani.

On the appointed day, people gather from near and far to witness the ceremony. The slave to be sacrificed is tied, and the datu directs the spear and at a given signal, it is thrust through the body of the victim. The magani who is willing to pay the body in two with his fighting knife, after which the body is buried.

A great ceremonial feast called ginem is held after the human sacrifice. Offerings are provided for other spirits in another part of the house, but the ceremony is made chiefly to secure the goodwill of the war deities.

The doctor is known as mabalian and is generally a woman past middle life – a woman of influence and a skilled weaver – whom the spirits have chosen. Friendly spirits may teach her remedies and other healing arts while older priestesses can share with her the duties and responsibilities of a midwife as well as the ways of conducting ceremonies and offerings for the deities and other higher beings (Cole 1911,127 ff. and Gisbert 1903-1909.236-237).

Mandaya Spirituality

The Mandaya are deeply religious. In fact, religion is so interwoven with their life that it is difficult to distinguish what is social and what is religious in their daily community affairs. Every activity that Mandayas undertake is always in absolute subjection to the spirits and delties.
These people moreover never attempt anything that might displease the spirits. They perform elaborate rites and exacting ceremonies (pagdiwatas) in honor of their gods, Man-silatan and Badla.

The different ceremonies and rituals are presided over by the baylan or medium. Either a man or a woman, the baylan is wellversed in all ceremonies and dances, which the Mandaya ancestors have found effective in overcoming evil spirits.

The power of the baylan is believed to come from ancient times. He understands the omens and is capable of exorcising evil spirits from the rice fields and out the human body.
The most important ritual is the balilic intended to appease the gods whenever one is sick. The celebrant notifies the chief baylan, who calls everyone to attend.

From the crowd usually composed of more than 200 persons, he picks out 10 or 12 dancers or even more depending on the degree of splendor the celebrant wants the balilic danced.
The chief baylan recites the prologue and receives a live pig from the celebrant who has built beforehand an altar of the diwata in front of his house.

The dancers surround the pig as soon as it is tied to the altar. As they chant songs sacred to the diwata, they dance around the altar as if possessed by an internal spirit trembling from head to foot as though shivering from the cold. In the middle of the dance, the dancers will suddenly drop into silence as the soloist chants the miminsad:

Miminsad, miminsad si Man-silatan
Upod sadya Badla nga nagadayaw sa dunia
Babalyan managun-saliquid.
(Descend to us, Man-silatan, descend Come with Badla and give us health
Let then the babalyan dance
Let then the babalyan dance around.)

The crowd answers in chorus. Then the dancers, with hands raised towards the sun or moon (depending on the time of performance), make known in loud entreating voices the desire of the family who caused the balilic to be celebrated. Then the head dancer separates himself from the others and with a knife in his hand, approaches the altar.

Raising both hands toward the sun or the moon, he again chants the miminsad after which he wounds the pig with his knife. Kneeling down, he sucks blood from the carcase of the animal. The other dancers take turns sucking blood from the pig.

If any of the dancers throw up, it is a bad dance: the dancers return to their places and the ceremony is repeated until the gods accept their offerings. They chant and dance again and again until they become exhausted. Then the chief baylan sits down; after a period of silence when he apparently is in a france, he stands up and approaches the host and tells him the message from Man-silatan, whom he says has communicated with him (Pastells 1916).

Manobo Apparel and Accessories

The Manobos’ customs and way of dressing are not very different from those of the Bagobos and the B’la-ans of Davao.

The female of the Manobo has an excellent taste in dressing. She loves different colors on her garment-thus if the sleeves of her blouse are black, the bodice is red, and vice versa. Profuse embroidery decorates the front part of her garment. The lower garment is a doubled sack-like skirt of woven abaca, almost invariably of reddish color with beautiful designs in horizontal panels and with a series of horizontal equidistant black stripes.

A girdle of human hair or plaited fiber, held in place with a shell button or with a plaited cord, retains this garment in place. The consequent gathering of the capacious opening of the skirt at the waist and the building out at the bottom, which is just a little below the knees, detracts not a little from the gracefulness of the Manobo woman’s figure. From the girdle about her waist to her hand, in varying number and quality, are tiny bells, sweet-smelling seeds, seashells and fragrant herbs, which comprise her adornment.

Since both sexes wear their hair long, the woman is distinguished by the bamboo comb that she wears. It is inlaid with shells or covered with coating of beaten silver, or nearly always ornamented with decorative incisions. The hair is twisted and tied up in a sort of knot on the crown of the head. A pair of earplugs with ornamental metal coating is often worn in the enlarged ear lobes.
Around the neck the female wears necklaces of seeds, beads, shells, crocodile’s teeth. The profusion of the ornaments depends on her means and opportunities of purchase. On the forearms she wears one or more seashells bracelets, circlets of black coral or of copper wire, and close fitting ringlet of plaited nito (a kind of vine). On solemn and festive occasions she wears loose coils of heavy wire around her ankles.

Teeth-grinding, according to Garvan (1941), is practiced among both sexes “that they may not look like dogs.” Both the lower and upper incisors are field at an early age. They then proceed to stain the remaining teeth with frequent application of masticatories. Since a beard or hair on the body is suggestive of the monkey, these are sedulously eradicated by constant pulling. Tattooing in both sexes is practiced. This is done by puncturing the skin with sharp instrument and rubbing it with soot made from resin. Favorite figures are tattooed on almost all parts of the men’s bodies; the women confine designs to their calves or  legs (Garvan 1941).

Elopement â la Manobo

The Manobos have a custom whereby the man may evade the payment demanded by the girl’s parents. This is effected by forcefully abducing the girl, but this should prove more expensive to the man should the girl’s relatives, who invariably set out in pursuit armed with bolos and spears, be able to catch is usually done upon the advice of a datu (headman) and with the connivance of the girl herself.

The young man, with six or eight male companions, set themselves up in a camote (sweet potato) field where the girl, accompanied by her own friends, is likely to pass. The man’s companions hide themselves in the bushes and leave the man in the open. When the girl comes along, the man carries the girl off and his companions come out of hiding to scare the other girls off. Should this scheme fail, the young man will be made to pay a heavier amount than what would have been originally asked of him if he conducted his courtship in a more decorous manner.

Polygamy is recognized but seldom practiced. Divorce is not a tribal custom. Upon the death of the husband, the wife is considered to belong to his relatives. She may remarry in the same manner as the first, although the fee demanded for her is not as high (Garvan 1941).

from Johore, Malaya, who were dispersed by astorm, they reportedly found their way to different islands south of the Philippines, including Mindanao. Tradition distinctly states that he people who came with Kabungsuwab were Samales. The Samales or Bajaws are the sea nomads of the Malay Archipelago, and their emigrations are frequent. They are not so difficult to resettle, and are in fact well-inclined to the Spaniards whom they helped in ousting the Moro chieftain.

The World of the Mansakas

Fermin Chicote (in Sanchez 1958), a Mansaka-Chinese mestizo, believes that he Mansaka, the Mandaya and the Kalagan belong to the same ethnic group; they have similar physical features, and their attire carries generally similar designs. They also speak essentially the same dialect, though intonation and some words vary.


Woven abaca cloth (dagmay) is made into blouses and embroidered with colorful and attractive designs, which they call yatikup na dagum. These blouses, however, are fast being replaced by the more practical saraboy (cotton cloth).
Weaving abaca fiber is a tedious process; it takes no less than a month to complete a five-meter long cloth. Add to that the days devoted to hand-stripping the different fibers (three classes of fibers are segregated) and finding the different plants that give different colors for dyeing.
Dagmay is sturdy and lasts long.


A fatalistic tribe, the Mansakas believe in a supreme being whom they call Magbabaya (or Magbubuot in the Visayan dialect).

Their baylan is usually a woman, who serves as priestess and an intercessor for invoking the goodwill of evil spirits and the anitos to bring about cures for sicknesses.
Mansakas offer food, wine and betel nut, areca leaves and lime or mama to appease the evil spirits. They believe that human ailments are caused by displeased super beings. Their household usually has a manaog, a wooden carving that serves as their idol or guardian angel, which would protect them from harm.


The Mansaka family is patriarchal. The father looks after the family’s protection foremost. The Mansakas like most aboriginal people use spears with the usual karasag (shield), sumpitan (blow-gun) and busog (bow and arrow).


Mansaka settlements practice leadership by consensus. Leaders are regarded as such due to their age and personal qualities. Whenever difficult decisions are to be made they gather the matikadongs or elders, including the intelligent men among them for the final judgement.

Industrious Women

Wives of B’la-an, Mansaka and Manobo men undertake the planting of the crops such as corn, rice, camote, gabi (yam), squash, coffee and abaca for their consumption and their clothing. These women also attend to the weeding of the plot. Mansaka women cultivate crops as commercial products to sell or barter.

B’la-an wives go to the forest to gather fruits and herbs for the consumption of the family. When they are not engaged thus, B’la-an women prepare meals, care for the children, weave mats and baskets, and decorate and embroider cloth.

Manobo wives are tasked with home management as well as getting wood and water every day, tolling up and down the steep mountainside.

Datu Bago of the Davao River settlement. While mainly inclined to fishing, they were among the first tribes in Davao to engage in commercial production of agricultural crops during the Spanish regime. They were the last tribe of the Malay stock to immigrate here.

The Sanguiles are a little known tribe of the interior from Padada and Malalag to the peninsula of the Sanguil Volcano in the south. Early settlers believe “Sanguiles” was a collective title for the B’la-ans, Manobos and Dulanganes who occupied the general area. These people reportedly refer to themselves as Sanguiles. A nomadic people, they settle in small clearings they have made, staying usually just for one harvest, and then moving on again to another place for a new clearing, all the while engaging in their major preoccupation-hunting.

Tribal Marriages

Marriage among the B’la-ans and Bagobos takes place much later than is common among most Philippine tribes, the couple often being 18 or 20 years of age. The Mansaka maiden, on the other hand, usually marries when she reaches 15.


As a rule, parents of the Bagobo boy select the girl and negotiate the match. Among the Mansakas, marriage is arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. The Manobo male is guided to a great extent in the choice of this mate by the wishes of his relatives, but the woman is seldom given any option. The B’la-ans mate is generally of his own choosing, but it is his parents who make the arrangements for him.


The parent of a Mansaka girl sets the amount of dowry for their daughter. The dowry is in terms of allangs (slaves), agongs and patakia (a container for betel nut chew). Daughters of datus or baganis command the highest dowry.It is usually from 10 to 15 allangs with so many agongs and patakias to accompany them. In more recent times, they accept the equivalent price of one allang, after the amount of dowry has been agreed upon.

The Manobo woman’s relatives demand for her a dowry of worldly goods – such as slaves, pigs, bolos and spears – that is almost impossible to procure. On the other hand, the man’s relatives strive to comply with the requirements, but they also strive to gain the friendship of the opposite party to bring about a reduction in their demands.

The B’la-an dowry includes agongs, animals and other things of value. The price a Bagobo girl brings varies according to the wealth of the interested parties and the accomplishment of the bride.


The parents of the B’la-an, Manobo and Bagobo girls make a reciprocal payment or  return present usually equal to one-half the value of the marriages gift to make it clear that the girls are “not sold like slaves.”


The Mansaka, Manobo, B’la-an and Bagobo wedding ceremony consists of an exchange of rice between the parties: the man takes rice in his hand and feeds his bride and vice versa. It is followed by a religious rite to ensure the happy future of the couple.


Bagobos, Manobos and B’la-ans wine and dine for two or three days to celebrate a wedding. Gifts are offered to the couple and to the spirits for a long and prosperous life together.


The B’la-an newlyweds live with the girl’s family until after the birth of a child, and during this time the groom serves his parents-in-law. After the birth of the first child, the couple establishes a home of their own, and the husband may bring to it additional wives but does not give any service to their families.

The first wife is considered superior to the others; in case of the husband’s death she acts as administrator of his property. The children, however, of the second or later wives share equally with those by the first marriage.

Among the Bagobos, the couple establishes a new home after the wedding ceremony, but for several years the girl’s family exacts a certain amount of service from the groom (Colr 1911, Gisbert 1903-1909 and Sanchez 1958). 
Tribal Birth Practices

When a birth is expected, the Bagobo husband summons a mabalian, who at once administers certain medicines for an easy delivery. She offers many valuable articles of apparel, weapons, and agongs to the spirits, beseeching them to permit an easy birth and to give good health to the mother and child. The articles offered at this time may be used by their former owners, but as they now belong to the spirits they cannot be disposed of unless others of equal value are substituted.
The child must be placed at once on a soft piece of bark for “its bones are soft and our hands are hard and will injure it,” and water is poured over it. The mabalian must then rub a mixture of clay and medicine on its eyes, and on the eyes of all who witnessed the birth, otherwise they would become blind.

 An expectant Manobo mother observes the following practices: She does not do any heavy work or carry anything on her head. She cannot sit on the corner of the heart frame. She must be careful in her selection of food. During her pregnancy her husband sees to it that her every whim is catered to.

If a mother cannot suckle her child, it is given to another to be suckled. If the mother dies in giving birth, the child is buried with the mother.

Quite unlike the Manobo woman, the B’la-an would be mother busies herself with all kinds of work continuously until the date of her delivery. There are no restrictions placed upon her.
When the first pains begin, an old man or woman offers four pieces of betel nut to Melu, the highest supreme being of the Manobo tribe, and to the spirit of the child’s grandfather, if deceased.

The B’la-an fandita (midwife), prepares a drink, which is supposed to aid in the delivery, and after the birth she cuts the umbilitical cord with a bamboo knife. The father is free to do anything he pleases, but for a day or two hr has to gather young patina palms and from them prepare food for his wife.

From birth until the time of marriage the career of the child is without any special event. He is a welcome addition to the family, but no ceremonies attend either his naming or his arrival at the age of puberty.


Bagobos pay from P5.00 to P20.00, according to the wealth of the family and the sex of the child. Twins are accepted without question, but triplets are killed at once by filling their mouths with ashes. “If this is not done the parents will die, for they are like animals.”

The B’la-an fandita receives for her services three Chinese plates, some small knives, rings for the right arm, and some needles.

In a little party given after the birth, the Manobo midwife accepts some token gifts as remuneration (Garvan 1941).

The Tagacaolos are “inhabitants of the head or source of rivers.” Also of Malay stock, their habitats are scattered among those of other tribes on both sides of Davao Gulf – from Malalag to Sarangani on the west and from Sigaboy to Cape San Agustin on the east. They are much divided among themselves and are continually at war, the weak becoming the slaves of the stronger and frequently being sold to the Moros and Bagobos. They have human sacrifices, usually limited to their enemies from the other tribes. Their language is easy to understand to those who know Visayan. The Tagacaolos are of good physique and with a complexion somewhat lighter than those of the other tribes, except the Mandayas.


Exploring Mindanao

Early Contacts with Western Explorers

PORTUGUESE EXPLORERS VENTURED IN MINDANAO many years before Ferdinand Magellan “discovered” the Philippines for the Spanish Crown on 16 March 1521 (actually 17 March reckoned along the international dateline.) Their logbooks mention the island called Mindanao, Bendanao, or Mandaña.

Around 15 years earlier, Lodovigo Varthena, an Italian, visited Mindanao in the first decade of the 16th century (ca. 1506) in the service of the King of Portugal.

Francisco Serrano, Magellan’s cousin, who was shipwrecked off the Turtle Islands, took refuge in Mindanao in 1512. He convinced Magellan to present himself to the Spanish Crown for a commission to explore new lands in the Eastern World via a new route sailing west.

Magellan, with Serrano by his side, made that epochal voyage, and though he died in Mactan, Cebu, history has since recognized him as the first circumnavigator of the world and the discoverer of the Philippines, which Magellan named Islas de San Lazaro (Islands of St. Lazarus).

Magellan’s Pacific Ocean

Ferdinand Magellan crossed a wide and peaceful ocean before he reached the Philippines. He christened the ocean Mar Pacifico or Pacific Ocean (Discovery 1978, 84).

While it could not be ascertained that Magellan himself stepped on Mindanao soil while serving with the Portuguese explorations, it is recorded that he sailed hereabouts in the service of his native country as Serrano did.

The same logbooks spoke of some places within Davao’s present-day boundaries, which were historic settings of the early voyages of discovery and exploration by Portuguese and Spanish navigators.

One of Spain’s earliest expeditions to the Philippines reached Mindanao in 1526. Commanded by Juan Jeffre de Laoisa, the company included Captain Andres de Urdaneta, a navigator who later became ann Augustinian friar. The expedition’s six vessels were quickly reduced to three, and Laoisa and two others who took over the helm died.

One of the ships, the Santa Maria de Parral under the command of Jorge de Manrique, proceeded to Nonocan, between Dapnan and Baganga on the east of Davao, where a mutiny took place on board. Ten members of the crew killed Manrique and his brother Diego and threw their bodies overboard.

A town mate Magellan, Sebastian Oporto, along with some others, were sent down to procure provisions, but they were captured by the natives.

Oporto was later rescued by the expedition led by Alvaro de Saavedra, which dropped anchor at Lambajon, a Mandaya settlement between Dapnan and Baganga in 1528. The favorable north wind brought them to Tagacabalua (now Cape San Agustin)and on to Davao Gulf, where they landed on Talicud Island to get food and fresh water. Sailing westward, they landed at a place called Lobo (now Santa Cruz).

The Spaniards encountered 50 Manobos armed with spears, daggers and krisses (swords) who stopped them from going inland. Acting as interpreter, Oporto explained to the Datu that Captain Saavedra, an ambassador of the King of Spain, came in peace and friendship. Before they could secure provisions, Saavedra and his men had to board the ship quickly when a favorable wind stirred: the harbor was so deep there was no place to lower anchor. Consequently, they left without even bidding the Datu farewell.

Villalobos at Baganga And Sarangani

Perhaps the most interesting event that affected Davao during Spain’s series of expeditions to the Philippines was the exploration headed by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos. Instructed to settle, colonize, trade, and fortify the coast in Las Islas del Paniente (Isles of the West) of which the Philippines was a part, Villalobos left Navidad, New Spain (Mexico), on 1 November 1542. He reached Mindanao in early February 1543 and made the first extensive investigation of the island.
On 2 February, he anchored in a beautiful bay which they called Malaga (now Baganga) on the island Cesarea Karali (Mindanao) “which the pilots, who afterwards to have a circuit of three hundred and fifty leagues.”


Mindanao derives its name from a large take (which is called Danao in the language generally used on the island) and was applied originally to the lower Rio Grande valley and see coast that were brought under the rule of the Sultan of Maguindanao (Blair and Robertson 1903-1909, vol. 37, 259; vol. 40, 310).

Villalobos ‘“Las Islas Filipinas”

Students of Philippine history will remember Villalobos for giving the name Las Islas Filipinas to this country in honor of the Crown Prince Philip II of Spain. He was also the first Spanish navigator to thoroughly explore and circumnavigate Mindanao which he named Cesares Karoli (after Charles I, monarch of Spain in 1516-1556). Futheremore, he deserves to be credited for giving the world an important navigational landmark, the point on the northeastern side of Davao Gulf, formerly called Tagacabalua by the natives. This became known as Cape San Agustin, a name giveb by the Augustinian missionaries, namely Fray Geronimo de San Esteben (a.k.a Santisteban), Fray Nicolas de Perez, Fray Alonzo Alvarez and Fray Sebastian de Trasierra who were with Villalobos.
During the exploration of Mindanao, Villalobos had touched at Surup, a sitio several miles north of Cape San Agustin inj the Davao Gulf side. Here, Santisteban had the opportunity to baptize a five-year-old Manobo boy, but the boy later died. This was the first Spanish apostolic ministration in the Davao Gulf area.

After a month’s residence on the island they left in search of the Island of Mazagua, but contrary winds forced them to anchor at an island name Sarangar (Saragani) and by them called Antonio.
Villalobos reached Sarangani with one of his ships badly damaged by a storm and his crew suffering from hunger and sickness. On landing they found the islanders hostile. The natives not only refused Villalobos offer of gifts, trade and friendship but also started to assault his men. Therefore, the Castilians. Led by one Alvarado, decided to subdue them by force. In the fight that ensued, the natives were ousted from a hill, which had been fortified, leaving behind their wares and supplies that the Spaniards appropriated for themselves.

The people defended themselves valiantly with small stones, poles, arrows, mangrove [sic] cudgels as large around as the arm, the ends sharpened and hardened in the fire . . . Upon capturing this island, we found a quantity of porcelain and some bells which are different from ours, and which they esteem highly in their festivities, besides perfumes of musk, amber, civet, officinal storax, and aromatic and resinous perfumes. With these they are well supplied, and are accustomed to their use; and they buy these perfumes from the Chinese who come to Mindanao and the Philippines.

The offensive arms of the inhabitants … are cutlasses and daggers: lances, javelins, and other missile weapons; bows and arrows and culverines. They all, as a rule, possess poisonous herbs and use them and other poisons in their wars. Their defensive arms are cotton corselets reaching to the feet and with sleeves: corselets made of wood and buffalo horn; and cuirasses made of bamboo and hard wood, which entirely cover them. Armor for the head is made of dogfish-skin, which is very tough. In some islands they have small pieces of artillery and a few arquebuses.
Fray Santisteben describes the privation they suffered in a letter to the Viceroy of New Spain:
If I should try to write in detail of the hunger, need, hardships, disease, and the deaths that we suffered in Sarragan, I would fill a book … In that island we found little rice and sogo, a few hens and hogs, and three deer. This was eaten in a few days, together with what remained of the ship food. A number of cocoa palms were discovered; and because hunger cannot suffer delay, the buds, which are the shoots of the palms, were eaten …
Finally, we ate all the dogs, cats and rats we could find, besides horrid grubs and unknown plants, which all together caused the deaths, and much of the prevalent disease. And especially they ate large numbers of a certain variety of gray lizard which emits considerable glow; very few who ate them are living. Land crabs also were eaten which caused some to go mad for a day after partaking of them, especially if they had eaten the vitals. At the end of seven months, the hunger that had caused us to go to Sarragan withdrew us thence.

Conversion factor

On 8 September 1596, Jesult missionaries built in Butuan what was perhaps the first Catholic Church in Mindanao. They also established a solif Christian foundation in Zamboanga, which became a base for later evangelizing work in Cotabato and Davao.

Initiating Christianity

Some 30 years after Villalobos Mindanao experience, Spain succeeded in consolidating its control over Luzon and Visayas. Expeditions sent to Mindanao, however, failed to accomplish the same. Moros fiercely resisted military attacks and retaliated by killing Spaniards and natives in Christian settlements in the north.

Religious conversation efforts – both by Portuguese and Spanish missionaries – fared much better than the colonizing attempts. In 1531, a Portuguese layman, Francisco Castro, found his way to eastern Mindanao, in Carhaga (Caraga) nd converted the ruler and his two daughters. The ruler was christened Antonio Galvan in honor of the Portuguese Governor of Ternate. To this day, descendants of Galvan still reside in Monkayo, Davao del Norte.
In 1546, the great Apostle to the Indies, later canonized as St. Francis Xavier, went to the same area in eastern Mindanao, in a place called Kabuaya (near Cape San Agustin) to propagate the Christian faith. The text of the Papal Bull canonizing St. Francis affirms his apostolic activities in Mindanao.

Ipse primus malais, saracenis, mindanais, malacansibus et japonis Evangelicum Cristi anunciaverat. [It can be said that he himself was also prepared to proclaim the Gospel to the Malaya, Saracenes, Mindanaoans, infieles and Japanese.

Spanish censorship, it is claimed, did not allow any mention of St. Francis Xavier’s evangelization activities in the Philippines.

Three Miracle Stories of St. Francis Xavier
One Jesuit missionary later became the venerated St. Francis Xavier, also patron saint of two early missions in the Davao Gulf – Pundaguitan and Sigaboy.
Some Sigaboy Christians who moved to Pundaguitan built a chapel and adorned the altar walls with devotional images before which they said the Holy Rosary on feast days. This chapel, along with the whole settlement, was razed to the ground following a Moro attack. These Christians went down from the hills to find everything burned to ashes, except the estampa or image of St. Francis, which was unscathed. Henceforth, they involved St. Francis as the patron of the painstakingly rebuilt settlement.

After the initial raid, the Moros occasionally cruised along the shores of PUndaguitan, but they never dared to land. One Christian oarsman who escaped from the Moros explained why: from the Moro vinta, they could see hordes of Christians in the hills overlooking Pundaguitan.
An eyewitness account related to Fr. Domingo Bove, S.J. has it that the brigantine of Spanish conquistador Oyanguren had to go back twice as it tried to round off Cape San Agustin because strong currents and contrary winds pushed it northward, past Caraga. It lost six days making up for lost mileage.

Those aboard the ship remembered that Pundaguitan a patron was St. Francis Xavier. Oyanguren and his men then vowed to fire all their artillery pieces as an offering to the saint of Navarro if they could round off the Cape amidst the salvo of twelve cannons and the cheers of the seafarers.
Christians living along the east coast of Davao widely believe that St. Francis had visited the region. While this is a long –disputed point, most careful writers, such as Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J., confirms that St. Francis came to Davao from Ternate in the Moluccas in 1546 (Lynch 1909): “It is supposed that he came with the favorable southern wind in September, going perhaps as far as Surigao, and returning to the Moluccas after three months. In a letter, St. Francis states that the priest in charge of the Christian settlements in and near Davao had died a short time before, so he himself worked as a missionary amongst the delighted people, baptizing, etc. We know at this time there were native Christians in Craga and Surigao. St. Francis’ description of the natives and the country shows them to be but little changed in our day. He writes of their frequent wars, murders, lack of flocks and crops, etc.”

Blair and Robertston (1903-1909, vol. 1, 248)n citing Fr. Francisco Colin’s Labor Evangelica claim that St. Francis left  Ternate in 1546 and returned by the end of October. Natives believe that  St. Francis landed in Pundaguitan, near Cape San Agustin. St. Francis was said to have selected a big table-loke boulder for an altar and said the Holy Mass there. Some natives still call the place Punta Altar or altar point on the spot to commemorate the event.

Broderick, S.J. (1952, 247), However, has a contrary view. He says that St. Francis could have come to Mindanao from 1 January 1546 to 15 July 1547 but makes it almost impossible for the saint to have reached Davao. These make a strong case against his having visited Davao: the type of transportation (the caracoa or large boat); the fact that St. Francis, although a Spaniard, was working with the Portuguese; St. Francis’ well-known practice of not going to new places from which he could scarcely ever return; and the reconstructed chronology of his trip.
Has St. Francis really come to Davao? This is one issue that more seasoned historians with access to better sources will someday unravel … possibly. (Compiled and translated by Vicente Generoso from Pastells 1916 and Blair and Robertson 1903-1909).
The Society of Jesus

The Jesuit missionaries who originally came to the Philippines in 1581 were the pioneer evengelists to be assigned to the northeastern section of Mindanao, and then called Caraga.
Caraga District at that time encompassed the northern section of Mindanao, from the present day town of Alubijid in Misamis Oriental eastward to Surigao, including the adjacent islands nearby, and then southward down the coast to the tip of Cape San Agustin east of Davao Gulf.
From Butuan, where the first Jesuit mission house was established (ca. 1596), they reached Fort Linao (present-day Bunawan, Agusan del Sur) and Monkayo Valley in Davao del Norte in 1608.
Their work, however promising, had to be abandoned to comply with a church order dividing Mindanao.

Dividing Mindanao

Just as a Papal Bull divided the world between Spain and Portugal, a church order divided Mindanao between the Order of the Recollects (or the discalced Augustinians) and the Society of Jesus in 1621. Cebu Bishop Arre assigned the Recollects to eastern Mindanao (to which Davao belongs) and the Jesuits to western Mindanao.
In 1608, the Recollects set up their head mission station in Tandag, the capital town of Caraga District. From there, they carried out missionary activities in the district and in the former Jesuit mission stations of Butuan and Linao .
 The Recollects labored for over 260 years to bring about Christian civilization in this pristine territory, populated by several indigenous tribes, i.e., the Mandaya, the Manobo, the Dibabaon and the Mansaka besides other Sungaonon tribes. As a whole, the early missionaries referred to these peoples as infieles (infidels).
From the head mission station in Tandag, other villages gradually developed as the missionaries set up stations both along Agusan River Valley, the northern and eastern coast of Surigao and down to Bislig, near the boundary of what eventually became the town of Cateel. This was the territory of the Mandaya, a freedom-loving people who preferred to have their family or clan live far apart from others, often hiding their simple dwellings in the thick forests along the eastern seaboard or contra costa. Their forebears may have had contact with early Spanish or Portuguese explorers when some of their shipwrecked crew members drifted ashore and perhaps were made captives by these natives. These were the infieles living near the Bislig mission outpost, the potential converts had there been missionaries to minister amongst them.
Missionary activities on that coastal section dividing present-day Surigao and Davao remained practically at a standstill for over a century; meaning that evangelization thrusts southward from Bislig to the territory, which is now within the boundary of Davao, did not take place as what normally should have happened. The major reasons for the lack of progress were the Moro raids and the scares number of missionaries available to undertake the “winning over” of the infieles to live in the reducciones. The situation was aggravated when the Jesuits, who were making headway in the Monkayo-Compostela Valley, were transferred to the western side of Mindanao.
In 1671, a major effort was made to explore the coastal area south of Bislig for possible mission posts as well as a military outpost. Raids carried out by Moros led to the abortion of Spanish plane to expand further south of Bislig as many inhabitants including some missionaries were killed, taken away as captives with the rest fleeing to safety in the wilderness.
Amidst these dangers and difficulties, the pioneer missionaries had to confine themselves to their parish bulwark, suspending their activities in the form of community-building, construction of parish churches and spreading the gospel among the natives.


The Lay of the Land

Territorial Delineations

DAVAO OR NUEVA GUIPUZCOA (its first Spanish name) was not known as a geopolitical entity until the middle of the 19th century. A decree dated 29 January 1819 provides the earliest delineation of the heretofore uncharted territory that fell into Spanish control following Don Jose Oyanguren’s conquest of the Taglooc Bay (now Davao Gulf) area. The decree reflects Governor General Narciso Claveria’s appreciation for the courageous exploit of Oyanguren in gaining control of the Davao Gulf territory, for he named it Nueva Guipuzcoa in commemoration of Oyanguren’s home province in Spain. The capital settlement was named Nueva Vergara, in honor of Oyanguren’s hometown, Vergara.

The boundaries of the territory of Nueva Guipuzcoa were not explicity defined because the area needed to be explored further at that time. The initial concept of the Province of Nueva Guipuzcoa was the land mass periphery to the Davao Gulf from Sarangani Island going upward. Following the same coastal line on the east side of the Gulf, it proceeds down to Cape San Agustin and from there on the Pacific side, the territory goes up to Point Cauit near Lanuza then part of the ancient province of Caraga.

In 1860, Mindanao was divided into five politico-military districts. Nueva Guipuzcoa became the Fourth District. Nueva Guipuzcoa’s northern boundary was brought down from Point Cauit to Point Tagubon (between Mati and Manay). Its territorial jurisdiction therefore covered the region from Point Tagubon west ward to the original Davao Gulf area, down to the present South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat Provinces with Malaluna Point near Lebac, as the farthest southern boundary. Fort Lebac, established together with the naval station in Glan, emphasizes Davao’s jurisdiction that separated it from Maguindanao territory.
The section which fell under the Commandancia (Military District) of Bislig encompassed the territory from Lianga (above Bislig) down to Point Tagubon and consisted mainly of scaterred settlements of Mandayan lumads in Cateel, Baganga, Caraga and Manay, with a sprinkling of Christian inhabitants who lived scattered along the coasts.

This section of the cast coast later became the object of intense evangelization activities from the mission station of Caraga. The Jesuit missionaries who returned to the Philippines in 1859 and were reassigned to take charge of the missions in Mindanao, had in 1847 taken over the parishes in the east coast originally founded by the Recollect missionaries as early as 1620.

The decree of 8 January 1858, which changed the name of Carhaga Province to Surigao Province, created confusion simply because Craga in the recent century had been associated only with the Province of Davao. Actually the name Caraga was given to the old settlement as early as 1671 “in commemoration of the ancient province of that name.” Caraga (in present-day Davao Oriental) then served as the farthest and most important Spanish missionary outpost. Since 1638, it had been a part of the Commandancia of Bislig.
As a frontier town on high plateau from which a vantage view of the far horizon could be seen. Caraga was occasionally visited by the intrepid Recollect missionaries, but their limited number precluded the establishment of a regular mission house in this frontier. The mission parish of Caraga was only established in 1874 with the assignment there of Jesuit Fathers Pablo Pastells and Juan  Terricabras, who earlier served in Bislig.

Meantime, in 1867, before the Jesuits took over the major Christian settlement at the mouth of Davao River, the head town of Nueva Vergara was renamed Davao upon the petition of the inhabitants who felt that he original name they had been using since time immemorial deserved to be restored. This was readily done and even the Province of Nueva Guipuzcoa was renamed after this major river settlement in Davao Gulf.

One more in 1887, following the assumption into office of Maximum Lillo y Garcia as Davao Governor, the northern boundary of the province was moved up to Cape Catarman between Lingig (in today’s Surigao Sur and Cateel,, Davao Oriental). The territory was incorporated into the jurisdiction of the Commandancia of Mati, just as the Commandancia of Glan (in today’s Saragani Province) had jurisdiction over the southern limits of Davao, which extended southwestward to Malaluna Point near the Bay of Tuna (in present-day South Cotabato). This was the extent of Davao Province’s territory when Mindanao in 1858 was reorganized into districts, and Davao became known as the Fourth District.

The same boundary lines and designation of Davao as Fourth District were adopted during the American military occupation of Mindanao. As provided in General Order No. 10 by the Military Department of Mindanao and Jolo limits of Davao District included “the old Spanish Commandancia of Glan, Davao and Mati as far as the eight parallel of north latitude.

The Davao-Cotabato boundary was further clarified when the Philippine Legislature in 1916 amended the Administrative Code and defined therein the Cotabato-Davao boundary as follows:
The eastern boundary of the Province of Cotabato separating said province from the Province of Davao is as follows: Beginning at a point where the boundary separating the Province of Bukidnon from the Province of Cotabato leaves the eastern watershed of the Pulangi River, thence in a southerly direction along the crest of the said divide which is sometimes known as the Mt. Apo range of mountains, to the southernmost peak of Mt. Apo, thence along the watershed that divides the waters that flow into Davao Bay from those that flow into Mindanao River and Sarangani Bay to Tinaca Point.
The common boundary with Surigao on the north has remained at the 18th parallel of north latitude until it was slightly modified on 3 December 1927 upon the approval of Act No. 3358 of the Philippine Legislature. Under the provisions of the said Act, the barrios of Palo Alto and San Roque of Davao Province’s Municipality of Cateel were annexed to the Surigao Province’s Municipality of Lingig. That parcel of territory lies along the Pacific Coast.

As technically described, Davao’s northern boundary lies on the 8th parallel of north latitude, it begins on the northwest from 125º20’ east longitude on the Bukidnon-Agusan border to the Pacific Coast, except that paecel corresponding to the barrios of Palo Alto and San Roque, which belong to Surigao. The exact extent or delineation of these two barrios, however, is a subject that continues to cause disputes between the municipalities of Lingig and Cateel Inhabitants along the disputed boundary have been subjected for a long time now to vexing irritation as tax collectors from both municipalities demand payment in favor of the municipal government they represent.

In 1963, during the term of Gov. Vicente Duterte, officials of Bukidnon, Cotabato and Davao met to clarify the boundary of the three provinces. They reached an amicable agreement upon the testimony of Datu Tulamac L. Salumay, who pointed out the specific landmarks made in 1917 when he was employed by the U.S. Government as a forestry guard.

Topography, Vegetation And Marine Life

The most interesting topographical feature of Davao is the dormant Mount Apo, with its silvery peak rising to an elevation of 10,312 feet, the highest in the Philippines. Its center lies between the parallels 10º7’50º latitude north of the meridian; 124º45’30º longitude east of Greenwich. It slopes 15 miles down east towards the coast along the town of Sta. Cruz.

Veni. vidi. Vici

The earliest recorded trek to Mount Apo is that of the party of Don Jose Oyanguren in 1852. Another attempt followed in 1870. Senior Real, military commander of Davao District, with a captain, 30 soldiers and guides, approached Mt. Apo through Tuban in Sta. Cruz. They, too, turned back because they were dogged by “dangers and hardships every step of the way.”

A larger party scaled Mt. Apo in 1880. The 1st successful climb was led by Don Joaquin Rajal, newly assigned Politico-Military District Governor of Davao. With him were Joseph Montano, a French scientists and naturalist; Fr. Mateo Gisbert, S.J., also new to Davao; Don Ramon Cordero and Don Rafael Martinez, local leaders. Accompanying them were Datu Manib, chief of all Tagabawa Bagobos, his followers, and an officer with eleven enlisted men and porters.

Datu Manib of Sibulan agreed to go on condition that his men would not be asked to carry their baggage. In return, he had to promise not to offer any human sacrifice as Bagobos are wont to do on Mt. Apo.
For four days, the party climbed following the Tagulaya torrents, Dr. Montano recorded his observations of the terrain, ferns, trees, orchids and the geologic structure of the three peaks. It was from this expedition that Dava’s flora and fauna attracted world attention, including the Waling-waling (Vanda sanderlana) (Bernad 1959).

The next successful expedition was made in 1881-1882 by German naturalists Alexander Schadenberg and Otto Koch. In December 1881, they established themselves in Sibulan and made ethnographic studies, wrote the vocabulary of the Tagabawa Bagobos, assembled botanical and zoological specimens, including thousands of butterflies. They discovered a giant parasite plant, the flower of which opens to a diameter of 80 cm. The buds of this plant growing on one stem weighs “as a double-barreled gun with six solid bullets.” This expedition brought to light more a scientific details about Mt. Apo and environs.
In May 1888, the 3rd notable exploration was undertaken by Manila Observatory’s Fr. Juan Doyle, S.J. and Fr. Mateo Gisbert, S. J., accompanied partly by Datu Manib, his men, Moros from Darong, and guards. They took the trail from Sibulan, then Tagaluya. Doyle recounts that the Bagobos were fascinated by the sounds from an automatic organ and the magnetic instruments of the Jesuits. These Bagobos, however, stopped some 300 meters short of the peak, conscious of the taboo against desecrating the place unless they have special offering.

Another would be comqueror was Fr. Eusebio Barrado, S.J. In 1892 he went upriver from Tamontaca to Pikit and Kabacan and then across the mountain flank to its northern side, following the southeast direction approaching from the northwest, Midway to Davao, somewhere in Salayasay, he fell ill. Datu Duyan’s subjects brought him to their leader.

Datu Aklao Duyan, in a 1972 interview, says that they believe the priest must have been so exhausted he had malaria. The natives later carried the patient in a duyan (hammock) down the Bagobo trail to Toril from where he was taken by banca to the Davao poblacion.
Over a dozn other expeditions were made to Mt. Apo in 1900-1941. American and Filipino military officers and European and Japanese researchers trekked to Mt. Apo. Davao’s own pioneer teachers with their troop of Boy Scouts of America (ca. 1924) also climbed Mt. Apo. 
The legendary Mount Apo beckons …  

Three peaks constitute its crown on the highest and southeastern peak is found the crater. Long before reaching this peak, one hears low and intermittent rumblings with increasing intensity as one goes higher. At times the earth shakes as if an eruption is about to take place.

The mid-eastern cordillera of Mindanao coming from Agusan southward divides itself into two at the Apo, one going to the southernmost portion of Sarangani Point; the other ending on the western side of Sarangani Bay. The eastern cordillera, which originates from Surigao, runs through the eastern part of Davao ending at Cape San Agustin.

These cordilleras give Davao its mountainous features and contribute to the formation of rivers, many of them deep enough for flatboat navigation and for lowland irrigation. Davao’s plateaus, gently rolling hills, valleys and plains make the province suitable for the cultivation of a variety of crops.

The mountain range from Sarangani Strait to Calapsin Pont, which used to abound in animal life, is the habitat of several varieties of hardwood, gum-producing trees and oil producing lumbang nuts. Dotting the mountain range are patches of level and gently-sloping lands converted into highly productive coconut plantations by the pioneering American soldiers following their discharge from the U.S. Army in the 1900s.
Within the Gulf, near Davao City, are the islands of Samal and Talicud. The latter’s narrow level coasts are cultivated to coconut. In the early 1950s, Talicud looked more of a forested island. Samal is almost a plateau but for the gradual rise of its fringes from the shore. Samal Island was the major supplier of Davao poblacion’s requirements for livestock and fruits up to the 1950s when farmers expanded their coconut plantings to the upland portion. Most of these coconut plantations, like those found along the shore lines of mainland Davao date back to the early American occupation in 1900. Samal’s plateau-like interior is broken here and there by some rolling hills, which have been put to full cultivation with assorted crops.
Davao’s rugged and irregular coast provides excellent harbors of all sizes. The bays and coves of Tumanao in Sarangani, of Malalag. Talomo, Malipano, Babak, Pujada in Mati, Santiago in Caraga, Lambajon in Banganga and Boston in upper Cateel, including Sta. Ana and Sasa, provide anchorage and shelter to foreign and local ships alike. Its deep rivers, particularly Tuganay, Bincungan, Libunganon and Hijo provide useful venues of transportation of hinterland products.

Lately, however, the lush forests of the hinterlands have been extensively denuded, causing river siltation, floods and creating havoc to farms and crops.

Davao’s wide gulf and open seas abound in fish, from the multicolored species along the shallow shores to the bluish marlin in its deep waters just outside the gulf. But the seas potentialities lay in the variety of tuna fish to be found in the gulf and the surrounding basin as far south as the Celebes and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to the east. Of the 21 species of tuna and tuna-like fish known in the Philippines eight are relatively common in these waters and are only waiting for enterprising capitalists to tap the promise of a fishes industry in Davao.

The sheltered waters of Davao Gulf, with its rich marine life, also offer great potentialities for pearl culture. The Aguinaldo Development Company set up pilot pearl grounds in San Jose facing a nearby islet. Malipano, the historic spot where Don Jose Oyanguren first dropped anchor in March 1848. Results of the experiment in pearl culture so far indicate that Davao waters are capable of rearing large pearls of a quality comparable to those produced in Japan.
Fishponds along Davao’s extensive coastline as well as fishpens and seaweeds in its numerous sheltered coves are part of Davao’s alluring prospects.

Rainfall and Prevailing Winds

Nature’s great endowments to Davao are its rainfall and its location outside the typhoon belt. Where the rest of the country is regularly buffeted by strong winds from the north during the mornings and the southeast breeze in the afternoons and evenings most of the year. Davao’s regularly and evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year enhances the growth of various crops, making it an ideal agricultural country.
Early explorers in search of new lands and spices reached Davao’s shores because of the patterns of wind direction and sea currents at different periods of the year. These patterns also affected the movement of ancient peoples (from whence our common ancestry evolved) and their spread through the centuries, thereby accounting for the many shipwrecks that occurred in Davao’s east coast and the migrations of people from neighboring countries in the south.


Contracting Colonialism

Colonizing Mindanao

SPAIN HAD CONSOLIDATED ITS RULE IN Luzon and the entire Visayan chain of islands in 1572, but its presence in Mindanao was barely noticeable. Reducciones that centered around a church or convencio (refectory) existed in northern and western Mindanao, but these were few and far between.
The spirit of adventure and the thrill of discovery spurred Spain to further explore Mindanao for all it was worth: vast lands for the taking, dense populations awaiting the spread of Christianity, and unlimited trade and commercial possibilities.


In eastern Mindanao, one of the first municipios (municipalities) to be organized was Caraga. On an expedition to Surigao Province, Philippine Governor General Rafael Maria de Aguilar, went on to explore beyond the Commandancia of Bislig and organize municipios in places with a good number of inhabitants. He explored Cateel, Dapnan, Baganga and Caraga in 1805.

The expedition entered Caraga River to replenish its dwindling provisions and supply of water. Native Christians Raymundo Palma Gil, Vicente Palmera, Eusebio Pichon, Benedicto Binugtuan, and Mandaya baganis (warriors) Tagabulog, Tagalilong, Suligao and Salilongan met the newcomers and informed them of the presence of  quite a large number of inhabitants in the valley. The natives were told to organize their local government and elect their officials. They were assured that once the municipio was established, the government would assign a guardiacosta (Coast Guard) to patrol the eastern shores and protect them from Moro raiders.

The Carageños were further told that for administration and tax collection purposes, the municipio would be under the direct control of the Commandancia of Bislig. The townspeople then organized themselves into a municipio with Vicente Palmera as primero teniente (first lieutenant) and Eusebio Pichon, Benedicto Binugtuan, Tagabulog, Tagalilong, Salilongan and Suligao as cabezas de barangay (barangay captains).
Caraga town may be said to have been officially organized in 1805 under the direct auspices of Gov. Aguilar.

Moro Migrants

                   The proud Moros of Davao Gulf were believed to be subjects of either the Sultan of Buayan or of Maguindanao. The territory was supposedly part of the domain of Sultan Dipatwan Qudarat of Maguindanao (1619-1671) at the height of his rule.n Some of the Muslim inhabitants are believed to have come directly from southern islands of Java, the Celebes, Sumatraor Jolo after the fall of the Madjapahit empire in early 15th century (Mastura 1979). It is probable that thses people had intermarried with those who came from the adjacent sultanates, and some must have participated in the raids against Christian settlements along the east coast and further north. Some of them may have been refugees from some Spanish expeditions who found relative safety in coming to Davao Gulf to be away from the intermittent Spanish punitive incursions in Maguindanao or Buayan.

Davao Gulf Territory

The territory that held the most interest for the Spaniards, especially the traders of the east coast, was that of Davao Gulf (also known as Taglooc Bay and Seno de Davao). Predominantly settled by Moros especially along the mouths of rivers, the Davao Gulf area was a promising trading post. Christians from the east coast had time and again ventured to trade with the infieles on the eastern side of Davao Gulf, especially Pundaguitan up to Surup (later Sigaboy), the territory of the Manobos. The place had abundant forest products for trade – especially almaciga (a tree variety that yields resin for manufacture of paint.)

Trade –offs

Trading was also enhanced by the movement of Christians who drifted down the east coast in search of better job opportunities or sometimes to escape conscription for pola (military service or free labor). The movement of these people fostered the development of trading contracts from one village to the other, including contracts with natives who had greater access to forest products for trade. As time marched along, trading grew among isolated villages, bringing ancillary effects, such as building friendships, sharing confidence and information, and promoting culture in varied aspects.

These pioneer Christian traders were particularly interested in the supply of gutta-percha or resin, lumbang nuts, beeswax, honey, and even gold dust gathered by the natives along the coast from Pundaguitan (Sigaboy) up north to Quinquin (Kingking) where the river swept down gold, which they panned.
Small – scale trading was the base from which commerce developed. Indigenous inhabitants supplied products from the sweat of their brow at prices dictated by the traders. Profits were enormous when these products for local use or manufacture were marketed in large population centers, such as Manila and especially Europe.

The world was becoming smaller with the advent of steam- powered transportation. Auguring well for the growth of mercantilism were the people’s rising standard of living and their concurrent ability to pay for goods of commerce. The world of commerce had become more intensive as colonial possessions matured. This was the time to exploit the colonies, its people and material resources.

Trading conducted by the Christians of the Davao east coast was animated: Butuan, Surigao, Tandag and Bislig were in the route of Christian trading vessels from ports in the Visayan Islands as well as those from Manila. Shipping, though irregular, posed not much of a problem because the products for trade were not perishable and could stay in the bodegas (warehouses) for long periods until the next trip.

The shortage of transportation vessels to rade monopoly. Spanish officials were their encouraged to go info business to enhance production among their inhabitants and improve income for the government. The local governors, the commandancia officers and the affluent “white” private entrepreneurs dominated the conduct of business and its various benefits.

Among these privates entrepreneurs numbered the Basques, people from the northwestern districts of the Spanish mainland. Noted for their liberal inclinations and dislike for the monarchial rule in Spain, they had opted to come to the Philippines to engage mainly in private ventures because they did not like the government bureaucracy.

Monarchial loyalists and liberal elements who had a chance to be in power usually brought their individual biases, and that included the matter of appointment of officials to the Philippine colony. The character of leadership in the country depended on the direction the winds of power in mainland Spain blew.

Don Jose Oyanguren y Cruz

One of these Basque entrepreneurs, Don Jose Oyanguren y Cruz, had stayed in Tandag and Bislig along Davao’a east coast to find himself a viable venture. Realizing, however, that the high officials in the province and the commandancias practically dominated the commercial operations in these parts, he left Mindanao and transferred to the Calamianes (Palawan) to survey business prospects in that region.

In time, Oyanguren sailed to Manila where he enrolled in the newly opened Faculty of Law (1835) at the University of Santo Tomas. Later he served as a juez de letrado (judge) in Tondo.

Claveria, Claveria

Governor General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua, the forward-looking politico who authorized Oyanguren to conquer the Davao Gulf area, was a man of many talents. He decreed the adoption of Spanish surnames for Filipinos and introduced the Social Security System, for which he was lauded by the Queen of Spain by Royal Order.

He spurred the formation of the Union Hispano-Filipino to promote agriculture, commerce and navigation. He established a school of painting; minimized vagrancy by conscripting able-bodied and idle men for public works projects for a month and returning them to be enrolled in their communities.

With the concurrence of the Archbishop of Manila, he corrected the calendar used in the Philippines by suppressing one day – 31 December 1844 – to adjust the one-day difference of the European calendar.
Engrossed in the task of suppressing Moro piracy in the islands, Claveria effected treaty after peace treaty with the rulers of Basilan and the reigning Sultan of Maguindanao Qudarat Funda. Those he couldn’t pacify, he attempted to conquer with the help of steamships. Recognized as a hero of the Moro Wars in the Sulu Archipelago during his term of office (1841-1949), Claveria was awarded a jeweled sword and conferred the titles of Conde de Manila and Vizconde de Claveria when he returned to Spain on 25 December 1849.
These honors will have to make up for the ignominy with which the Davao City Street named in his honor has been changed to C.M. Recto some years ago.

The district at the time encompassed what may be compared now to the entire Metro Manila jurisdiction.
Governor General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua arrived in Manila aboard a British ship on 13 July 1844. He assumed office by 16 October, succeeding Governor General Francisco de Paula Alcala de la Torre. Claveria’s instruction from Spain were to exert utmost efforts to preserve Spanish sovereignty; adopt measures to retain the Filipino’s confidence, esteem and respect for the Spaniards, and accordingly keep his conduct deserving of that respect; and defend the lawful interest of the Catholic religion, allowing no manifestation of other religious creeds.

Claveria, described as fair, honest and enterprising, endeavored to deserve his trust in discharging his office during his five-year term. One of his significant actions, which influenced the history of Davao, was his acquisition of steamships, which he employed in the campaign against those Moros who refused to recognized Spanish sovereignty. The expedition to use those steam-powered vessels took place, coincidentally enough, at about the time that a colonizing expedition to Davao Gulf territory was already sent on a siege along the mouth of Davao River against the fort of Datu Mama Bago, located less than 2 kilometers upriver.

Reforms and consequent changes in officialdom in the home government, invariably affected appointments of officials in the Philippines. The appointment of Claveria affected Oyanguren: his name no longer appeared in the list of judges in Manila. He was technically eased out of service. It was at this time that he heard of a deplorable of which he had some knowledge and friends.

Moros Attack San Rufo

Trading vessels were loaded with cargoes for specific consignees, mail matters and supplies for the military outposts as well as considerable goods for trade. In every port where these vessels stopped, the greater part of their transactions pertained to the selling or bartering of the cargo from Manila with those available in the provincial ports. Considerable time was lost as the boat owners or investors in the trading business made sure that their enterprise took precedence over the delivery of goods to consignees. These coastwise traders played a vital role in filling the inhabitants’ needs, and in a larger view, promoting economic growth.

The vessels or panco as the people in the Visayas called them, were driven by sail, quite expertly made by craftsman to withstand big waves. The people of Masbate during those times were admired for their craft in making such boats.

The veteran vessel, San Rufo, plied the trading posts of eastern Mindanao. Its owner was based in Tandag, bur he had an Italian partner from Manila who represented several; business houses there and like the boat owner, usually came with the vessel to conduct business and supervise the crew. The extent of San Rufo’s business coverage expanded little by little from Surigao to Tandag and Bislig, plus other communities along its route, until it reached Sigaboy where it loaded a good quantity of forest products bartered from Manobos for the Manila Market.

The experience was an eye-opener to these traders. The abundance of products for trade in the Davao Gulf coast must have kept them yearning for more opportunities to come to Davao Gulf to expand their business. In Manila, they heard of the treaty by which the renowned Sultan of Maguindanao had ceded the Davao Gulf territory to Spanish control and the invitation to the Spaniards to open a trading house in the capital town of the sultanate in Tamontaca.

With the proper connections, The San Rufo traders in time had a letter from the Sultan to the Chief Datu of Davao Gulf, the elderly Datu Mama Bago, sometimes called Sultan by his vassals. His chief assisitant and heir-apparent was his eldest son, Datu Malano Bago, who often took upon himself some decisions and responsibilities, which to his mind did not necessitate his father’s approval. The old man had elephantiasis, and he must not be bothered so much.

Such was the case when San Rufo arrived at the mouth of Davao River with the intentions of establishing friendly trading relations as promoted by Sultan Qudarat of Maguindanao.

An account of the contact between the traders and the men of Datu Bago follows:
…San Rufo, which had been loaded with merchandise, by one of the commercial houses in Manila, came to Davao in 1845. The captain and second officer of the sail boat were Spaniards … they were accompanied by an Italian who was a private trader. They had a letter of recommendation from the Sultan of Maguindanao for the datus to receive those of the San Rufo as friends.

The Davao Gulf Moros pretended to respect the letter of the Sultan and accepted the Spaniard’s proposition to trade, offering them friendship and a considerable quantity of wax in exchange for their goods. Under this seemingly friendly reception and unwary of the Moros’ plot, the majority of the crew left their ship to go fishing in their ship’s skiff (bote in the vernacular) while some went ashore.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, a good number of Moros, led by one Datu Ongay, presented themselves with bundles of wax and other trade products in which they concealed their weapons.
The ship’s interpreter, seeing so many Moros arriving at a time when there were hardly any men left on board, became suspicious of their intentions. The captain said he did not fear the Moros. The pilot remonstrated saying it would not do any harm to take a few precautions.

The captain then ordered a sentinel posted with musket ready; one of the Europeans and the interpreter prepared their arms also. Still, more and more Moros arrived. They contrived to isolate the Europeans and separate them from one another. When they were most busily engaged in examining and weighing the wax, the Moros drew their kris at a given signal. Two reports rang out and two Moros fell dead, but in a few moments the heads of the Europeans were severed and rolling on the deck.
Only two men were left alive: the captain’s and the Italian’s servants, retained to be the Moros’ slaves. Two days later, the two seized a baroto (small boat) and escaped in it, making their way to Pundaguitan then to Surigao where they related what occurred on the San Rufo. The men who made good their escape had no knowledge of the fate of their companions who went out fishing prior to the time of the attack. The presumption was they must have been killed also.

The crew who went fishing had their own story to tell when they reached the safety of the ancient Fort Linao in the Agusan Monkayo territory. They related that they noticed what was happening on the San Rufo so they lost no time in rowing their bote towards the head of Davao Gulf, at Hijo and from there took to the forests northward until they reached Fort Linao.

News of the horrible fate that befell the San Rufo reached Manila: how the cargoes were pillaged and the ship burned how the traders and the crew were killed. This created a furor for vengeance. Don Jose Oyanguren in Manila became aware of the public clamor and came down to Davao to get updated information concerning the situation and Datu Bago’s following and armaments.

Oyanguren Secures Colonizing Rights

In Davao, Oyanguren learned that the Maguindanao Sultan Qudarat Funda had disclaimed any responsibility with regard to the attack of the Moros of Davao Gulf, stating they were not his subjects because they had disobeyed his instructions.

Claveria sent Brigadier General Agustin Bocalan, together with Zamboanga Governor Cayetano Figueroa, to confront the Sultan about the San Rufo pillage. Unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for Datu Bago’s act, the embarrassed Maguindanao leader consented to the signing of another treaty, this time ceding the Davao Gulf territory to Spanish control.

This opportunistic document foisted on the Sultan gave a free hand to Spanish authorities to deal with the Davao issue whatever way they saw fit. The Sultan, however, felt it was the only way to prevent open warfare with his relatives who were interested in taking over the seat of power. For as long as Spain was on his side. Sultan Qudarat felt confident about holding on to his sultanate.

With his legal background, Oyanguren readily discerned the implication of the treaty of cession. He now felt a sense of relief in the thought that should any belligerent action take place with the Moros of Davao Gulf; the Sultan would not interfere or support these Moros. He saw in this a chance to bring about, without great risk, his cherished desire to secure control of the trading opportunities that the rich Davao Gulf territory had in store.
Oyanguren lost no time in getting together his friends and others interested in investing in his venture. Then he sought an audience with Gov. Claveria to present his project proposal:
to conquer and subdue the entire gulf district; expel or pacify the Moros there; and establish the Christian religion, if he were given supplies and equipment rights of trade therein.

Gov. Claveria appeared supportive towards Oyanguren’s preposition because it ran along Madrid’s instructions to Claveria when he came to the Philippines. Oyanguren’s requirements for supplies and armaments were readily met, but the terms of office and authority he sought once the Davao Gulf district came under his control were objected to by certain members of the Royal Audiencia  (equivalent to the ombudsman). This was because Claveria’s liberal concessions to Oyanguren appeared to be much like the privileges of the encomienda (land grant), which had been abolished in 1697.

The final terms of Oyanguren’s contract with the government, however, were specified in a 27 February 1847 decree promulgated by Claveria. Salient provisions gave Oyanguren command of the District of Davao for ten years and exclusive rights of trade for six years following its conquest. He was given a brigantine and three sloops with artillery, muskets and ammunition as well as permission to raise a company of soldiers and take with him volunteer settlers who may have their own vessels to join the expedition.

Journeying to Davao Gulf

Oyanguren’s expedition left Manila in February 1845 to take advantage of favorable winds. He estimated that by the time he would reach Mindanao, the seas of the east coast would be calmer, a fact he knew only too well through experience. He had sailed the rough and dangerous coast and had been warned about the many ships dashed against the rocky shores by strong winds and huge waves.

Oyanguren and company had to stop every now and then in the ports along the way to get more volunteers. Oyanguren had not much time in Manila to recruit the crew, especially soldiers who could help him in his colonizing venture. He was able to persuade some recidivists and parolees who saw in Oyanguren’s venture a chance for a kind of freedom in a faraway land.

To Oyanguren, Claveria’s encouragement was too good an opportunity to delay further. It was imperative that the undertaking for such a long and hazardous voyage be made while the weather was fine; otherwise there would be a waiting period of several months for the next favorable weather. Oyanguren found his volunteers in Surigao, Siargao, Tandag, Bislig and Carga. Here he spent a couple of days in the sheltered bay of Santiago, Caraga, waiting for additional families and a helmsman familiar with the Davao Gulf area, especially the dangerous, whirling sea currents at Cape San Agustin.

Oyanguren’s expedition finally arrived at a narrow channel in Samal Island. He dropped anchor at Maripanao (now called Malipanao) in March 1848, with 70 people in all, including his wife and other women.


The Oyanguren Years
(1848 – 1858)

Samales Aid Oyanguren

D ATU DAUPAN, CHIEF OF THE SAMALES, MET WITH Don JOSE Oyanguren and furnished him information concerning the Moro settlement under Datu Mama Bago at the mouth of Davao River. Fr. Mateo Gisbert, S. J. recounts the proceedings;

Oyanguren had a very small force to fight the many Moros who were manning the bay, for if Datu Bago wished, he could gather together more than 400 fighting men. But the Christians counted upon the superiorty of their arms and in the protection of God whom they worshipped. All was favorable to them from the beginning, as even before they entered the bay, they captured a dugout [banca] of Moros at doubling the Cape of San Agustin, which prepared them, without doubt, for more important victories.
Another thing that animated them more was the friendly welcome the inhabitants of this bay [Samales] extended to them….

When the Samales saw that Oyanguren’s intention was to end the oppressive Moro government and to establish a new Christian government, all liked theidea and decided to join him. Their courage to fight their oppresso was enkindled by Oyanguren who was unafraid and equipped wirh soldiers, firearms and cannons to attack their common enemy. The Bagobos, residing on the mainland, had courageously fought against the Moros and had succeeded in holding them off for generations. Now, the Datu thought, with a well-armed ally it was time to fight the Moros and put an end to their cruelty.

The conquest of Davao was a matter of difficulty at the beginning. The Moros had cannons in abundance. In the part which is today called the Old Town they had a fort which could impede the entrance to the river of any of the boats which Oyanguren brought. A little above this point, called Tagum, where the cemetery is today (Adjacent to the present Bankerohan Market) the Moro datu had another fortification with cannons and men who were under his immediate orders, all of them… free to communicate with the Moros of Ma- a and Lapanday,.. they worked continuously as they could to prevent the success of Oyanguren.
He [Oyanguren], however, was not sleeping. His people were not as many…. But they were very faithful and truly resolved to conquer or die in the attempt.

A turn of the century play reconstructs Oyanguren’s first encounter with the Moros at the Davao River bend.

The Españoles were worried. In their overconfidence and rashness, they had suffered immediate casualties – three dead and two wounded – in their first attempt to enter the mouth og the Davao River. Their three vessels, followed by many barotos of Mandaya allies from Samal Island, had to turn back out to sea, beyond the reach of Datu Bago’s lantakas (Small cannons? Emplaced near the entrance of the Davao River to guard against any unfriendly incursions.

Oyanguren realized that it was not prudent to continue the fight in the narrow channel of the Davao River where his boats could not maneuver. Also, he was doubtful about the river’s depth, which might around his brigantine. He realized, too that he must first overcome the Datu’s men on both sides of the river area to bring his forces for the assault on Datu’s Bago’s settlement. Prudence dictated that he must withdraw to plan another move.

Should he abandon his mission and lose face? Or should he move elsewhere to set up his settlement? Should he employ another strategy temporarily avoiding a direct confrontation with an adversary he came for to subdue? Any move to get out of the place was anathema to his Spanish character and personal honor if not to his commitment to the Governor General and the expectations of the principales [leaders] in Manila who had invested in this venture.

His situation required fast decisionand immediate action. He called upon Capitanes Antonio Cervantes and Juan Alzate as well ashis ally, Datu Daupan of Samal, to drop anchor at the nearby shores of Piapi, just off the mouth of Davao River, far enough from Datu Bago’s lantaka emplacements.

The place was protected from the enemy by a thin line of forest trees along the Piapi shores. It was separated by a wide swampland and covered with thick mangroves to the north and the northwest. Further, it was backed by the open sea to the south, commanding a view of the river’s mouth. Oyanguren felt that he could, by blockading the mouth of the river, forces the Moros to come and fight him on favorable grounds.
The bakhaw and mantalisay trees as well as the aipo palms along the shores of Piapi proved handy for the construction of a palisade and provisional shelter for his people. The colonizing party knew they had to accomplish their tasks with speed and dedication considering the predicament they were in. While most were engaged in the construction of their protective structures, some were sent out to explore possible land approaches towards their enemy’s settlement and defense installation.

It was finally decided that a dike had to be constructed across the nipa grove if the heavy cannons from the ships were to be used in attacking Dat Bago’s position. The construction that followed amidst the nipa swamp-land soon came to Datu Bago’s attention, and this began the second phase of their fighting. It was characterized by sneak attacks intended to impede workers from carrying on their dike construction. The Spanish sentries were alerted to stop the Moros’ attempts to reach the working area of their allies, the Samales who carried out the major part of the task.

The layers upon layers of nipa palm leaves were made thick and stable enough for a pair of cannons with caissons to be pulled through. The tide inundating the nipa grove made the project difficult, but it was at last completed after nearly three months of labor, including same moonlit nights when the Moros would rather stay home.

Meantime, at the campfire of his settlement, Datu Bago decided belatedly to convene his council of advisers, composed of his courageous and temperamental son, Datu Malano Bago; a grandson, Datu Edno Bago, just as brave but self-controlled; the pandita [Moro priest] and chief adviser Datu Bagacay; and several others. Datu bago did not reckon the Spaniards’ presence as a grove threat to his community, believing they would eventually withdraw for lack of food to sustain them in their swampland base. Datu Bago, however, doted the presence of a large boat spewing dark columns of smoke in the Gulf. It meant no other than assistance for the Spaniards.

Datu Bago’s council discussed whether they should seek their allies’ assistance, noting the shortage of gunpowder and the enemy blockade at the river’s mouth.  They could have gotten assistance from the different settlements of Davao Gulf – Datu Pagpogosan of Lupon, Datu Mataoof Matiao, Datu Casigaman of Hijo, Datu Cando of Tagum, Datu Barodto of Inawayan, and the Datu of Padada. Obviously, it was too late, considering that the ship Elcano with soldiers from Zamboanga was docked at the shores of Piapi, ready to intercept any vessel sent out of the Davao River.

The Rebel Ruler

Much controversy surrounds Datu Bago. One thing is clear though: he was the defiant leader of the Moros in the Davao Gulf territory who fought Don Jose Oyanguren in 1848 (Majul 1973, 264).

Known as Datu ,ama Jul Karanain while he was still in Taglibi, Jolo, Sulu, he was born of a datu of Maguindanao and a dayang-dayang (princess) of Jolo. His clan worked towards overthrowing Sultan Qudarat Funda who strengthened his position by succumbing to Spanish superiority. Fearing possible reprisais from the Spaniards, Datu Bago established his own territorial enclave in Davao sometime in 1838.

Whether or not emissaries were sent to seek such aid from his Moro allies is still unknown.

Battling for Supremacy

Datu Bago was not surprised to see the morning after Oyanguren’s emissary had come to demand his surrender that Spanish cannons had been drawn up the meadows poised to attack him. He had prepared for that eventuality, but not to fight the invaders in an open battle of cannonading because he knew that his lantakas did not have sufficient gunpowder. His only recourse was to find relatively safe hiding places for his men to be able to ambush the enemies.

The battle for control of Davao’s major settlement began. Cannons from Oyanguren’s position had been targeted against the settlement’s mosque, the most prominent structure in Datu Bago’s community. For two days, a sporadic exchange of fire between the hide-and-seek types of combatants took its toll, but the unheard swish of kampilans (swords) must have made the invaders wary in their advance. Cannonading towards the settlement was sparse because no evident targets remained from the earlier conflagration, and the supply of gunpowder had dwindled.

Datu Malano was the favorite target of the invaders because of his fearlessness in combat. On the third day of combat, Datu Malano was hit by an artillery shot while leading his men to ward off the Spanish advance to the heart of town. He died on the spot, at the site of the mosque (now within the compound of the Philippine National Police) burned down at the start of the cannonading. His death must have caused so much demoralization that his men hid and maintained a defensive posture instead of bravely meeting the advancing enemy, ready only to ambush the enemy at nightfall.

Earlier that day, in the upper section of the old settlement called Penagorasan, the redoubt and place of worship of Datu Bago, sedentary artillery are hit the chief ‘s residence, killing Bai Gomogonop, his primary wife. Although he had two younger wives, the old ascetic Datu was greatly saddened by his losses. He knew he could no longer stand up against the invaders, even if his brave followers maintained their stand. The chief must have thought of another occasion in the future, when the Spaniards would acknowledge Moro primacy in this region.

By nightfall, Datu Bago and what remained of his followers went their separate ways, but not without the chief giving instructions to carry on with their resistance against the invading Spaniards.
Datu Bago led his entourage up the Davao River to Lapanday from where he proceeded to Tagum. Some of his men sought refuge in the other Moro communities scattered along the coast. Others went as far as Sarangani Lake Buluan.

Datu Bago’s influence in the Davao Gulf region must have been highly regarded by the Moros because Oyanguren, as well as his successors, found continuing signs of Moro resistance as Spanish governance was being consolidated in the province.

Setting Up the Christian Settlement

Aware of the Moro evacuation in the night, Oyanguren gathered his men for thanksgiving prayers on the morning of 29 June 1848. He dedicated the new community to Saint Peter the Apostle, the day being his feast day. Since then, 29 June has been the patronal feast day of Davao, the first Catholic settlement in the Davao Gulf territory.

Having suffered many months of privations, Oyanguren decided to hasten the rebuilding of the settlement they had burned and captured. Located along the deep and gently flowing
Having suffered many months of privations, Oyanguren decided to hasten the rebuilding of the settlement they had burned and captured. Located along the deep and gently flowing river and accessible even by large faluas (sloops) (especially since ocean tides also reached the river even up to Lapanday), the place was an ideal trading post. It had the protection of tall trees from strong north winds in the morning and from the southeast in the afternoons. Its large meadows were fit for the cultivation of crops and the raising of cattle, which they had intended to do except that the cattle they had originally brought with them had been butchered and eaten during the three-month interregnum in the final conquest of Datu Bago’s settlement.
While reconstruction was going on, Oyanguren felt the need for a priest, for the spiritual guidance of the inhabitants of his new settlement. He knew that only a religious missionary would be capable of developing spirituality in th inhabitants, which he must harness into viable groups to produce foods and products for commerce and promote his dominion’s economic growth. The promotion of religion was a major part of his contract with the government.

In search of a parish priest for the Davao Gulf settlement, Oyanguren went to Tandag where the Recollect head mission was located. He found Fr. Francisco Lopez of the parish of Siargao, who readily came with Oyanguren.

For six months, Fr. Lopez was father confessor, community development worker, medical practicante, friend and adviser, and especially, confidence-builder of the settlers who must have invariably experienced the trials and difficulties of frontier life.

First Baptism in Davao

Church records show that on 2 August 1848, Fr. Lopez baptized Maria Concepcion Guide, born to Don Bernardo Gide and Maria Abad, Españoles.

Campaigning Among the Natives

Oyanguren busied himself going around the villages of Davao Gulf to assess their potentialities, which might be brought into the mainstream of trade and commercial life of the region. He enjoined the native inhabitants to live together in reducciones for convenience in reaching these inhabitants and their products for commerce. He gave incentives in the form of material assistance and premiums for their accomplishments.

When he returned, however, to those villagers to heck on the progress of the plans discussed with them, he was to realize that nothing was ever accomplished at all. The Moros had interfered, telling the natives not to follow with them, he was to realized that nothing was ever accomplished at all. The Moros had interfered, telling the natives not to follow his instructions. Collaborating with the Spaniards was a crime deserving of brutal punishment, they warned.

An incident that showed how the Moros felt towards the Spaniards happened to Oyanguren himself during one of his pacification campaigns.

A very short distance from Madaum lies the Rancheria of Hijo, famous for its having been the last bulwark of the Moros at the time of the conquest. Señor Oyanguren and distinguished chief of our militia went there in the steamboat Elcano.. after the Moros had surrendered, and while Oyanguren and the Datus were arranging the conditions of submission, a young Mohametan (sic) snatched the sword from (Oyanguren’s) hands… and took to his heels… That was a boldness that gave the Christians much to think over.

Oyanguren never recovered his sword. Fr. More reports in 1885 that the Moros still preserved thehilt of that sword.

Oyanguren’s Disillusionment

Although Oyanguren was credited with the peaceful possession of the Davao Gulf territory by the end of 1849, such was merely a nominal reality. An insidious campaign by the Moros drove the other native tribes deeper into wilderness to avoid placing themselves between “the horns of two bulls”.

The Moro problem that impeded Oyanguren’s plan was aggravated by hid business partners in Manila who failed to come up with the support expected of them. He felt abandoned because a year had passed after conquest, yet no ships or small vessels arrived in the new settlement.

Oyanguren’s spirit to persevere must have been buoyed up only by the encouragement of his friend and confessor, Hr. Lopez and his successor, Fr. Magallon de San Crispin. He needed to bring the natives products into the mainstream of commercial intercourse to be able to support the nascent Davao government through the business of trading and its economic benefits.

For as long as his reducciones did not naterialize, it would almost be impossible to derive benefits out of his colonization venture. Oyanguren could not start taxing his nearby friends, the Samales. He had assured them previously that they were exempted from tributes (taxes) because of their assistance in wresting the Davao settlement from the Moros. As a man of honor, he could not renege on that policy. He was thankful that the Samales were still around to provide him with the basic needs he required whenever asked to do so.
Despite the lack of Christian settlers and of the funds to develop his domain, Oyanguren nevertheless pressed on with his pacification of the territory. He investigated the entire coast of Sarangani, the Davao Gulf, and beyond Cape San Agustin up to Cape Cauit (near Tandag) on the Pacific coast.

Pioneers Settlers of Davao

Among the pioneer settlers of the Christian settlement of Davao were men and women representing the provinces pf Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. They acted as principals or sponsors in baptisms and weddings as recorded in the church’s Libro de Bautismo and Libro de Casamiento.

1848 – Placido Tomas of Batac, Ilocos, married Cristina Alejandro of Caraga. Sponsors were Dalmacio Francisco and Maria Aureliana. Bernardino Buenviaje of Pasig, Tondo Province, married Tomasa Samson of San Juan. Sponsors were Nicolas dela Cruz of Linao (lower Agusan) and Ursula Tuana of Caraga. Mariano Francisco stood as witness. Domingo Ramos of San Fabian, Pangasinan, married Nicolasa Florentino. Sponsors were Diego Cartagena of Caraga and Maria Abad of Manila. Martin Navarro and Romana Espinosa were witnesses. Pablo Suazo of Tandag and Macaria Maria of Caraga were principals in the wedding. Eusebio Paulo of Butuan and Maria Domingo of San Juan were sponsors. Witnesses were Juan Plaza and Maxima Ferrer of Tandag.

Nicomeded Fienso  of Camarines married Casimira de la Palma of Caraga. Sponsors were Miguel Ramirez of Ilo ilo and Hilaria Maria of Caraga. Other early Davaoeñoos were Fransico Asis of Cateel, Maria Regina of Pundaguitan, Juan Francisco (Manobo), Maria Concepcion (infieles); Joaquin Francisco of Cantilan, Apolonio Francisco of Cateel and his bride Maria Leocadia also of Cateel. End of 1849 – Francisco Santos of Baganga married Maria Agata. Francisco Silverio (Infieles). Spaniards who were part of Oyanguren’s expeditionary party served as wedding sponsors: Francisco Mateo and Maria Rosa; Francisco Glitario and Maria Catalina; Bonifacio and Maria Anastacio. 3 January 1850 – Don Joaquin Urquiola, a Spaniard from Gabiria, Guipuzcoa, married Doña Maria Abad, a widow from Manila. Both obviously were Spanish citizens, inasmuch as their names were preceded by the honorifics Don and Doña, a  practice observed by church deacons to distinguish Spanish citizens from the natives

Sponsors of the wedding were Don Jose Oyanguren and Doña Luisa Azaola. A soldier Domingo de los Santos of San Isidro Bulacan, married Modesta de la Cruz of Ermita, Tondo Province. Sponsors were Felipe Serrano and Josefa Caraballo. Wtnessess were Jose Agapito and Gregorio Patricio. From Naga, Camarines, was Juan dela Cruz and Ostaquio Zavallo were the sponsors. A Carageña, Dometela Alzata, married Juan Plaza of Tandag. Standing as sponsors were Francisco Simon of Surigao and Magdalena Maria of Caraga.

Fr. Juan Bautista Heras,S.J., who visited the palce around 1860, describes early Davao thus.

“Nueva Guipucoa is noted for its varied forest products and by the variety of native tribes… called Tagacaolos, Monobos, Mandayas, Bagobos, Guiangas, B’laans, Tagabolis, Atas, Samals and Moros.The last group generally occupied the mouths of the rivers, especially those of Tuganay, Tagum, Hijo and Sumlug.

The tribes lived submerge on the crassest of ignorance and gross idolatry, and the Bagobos even sacrified human victims to placate the wrath of Mandarangan, a malevolent divinity who demanded bloody holocaust.

“They did not accept currency, and instead bartered their wares with paltes, garnet, yards of yellow wire. Which they used for arm and leg bracelets, cloth beads for necklaces, etc. Their main items of barter were beeswax, tortoise shells, balate, mastic, cinnamon, unhusked rice, bird nests, cacao, coffee, abaca and sugar. Gold was extracted from alluvial deposits coming from the mountain of Quinquin.

They growth their jackets and dagmai or vests with abaca fiber, embellishing them with various tints and designs, such as alligators, little idol figurines, etc. …attractive because of their neat craftsmanship.

The growth of the mission was slow at the beginning, with about 800 or more souls in the headtown of Nueva Vergara, and in one of the mission outposts, there were 24 baptized pagans, among them Manobos, from Cape San Agustin who settled in Samal.

Despite the difficult circumstances, the lone Recollect Father continued the shephered that small and divided fold, occasionally adding one or other pagan.”

In 1852, barely five years after his conquest of Davao, Oyanguren was summarily relieved of his command. His trading rights were cancelled, following Gov. Claveria’s return to Spain and the Assumption into office of Antonio Maria Blanco.

The was the time when incoming governors were zealous of their prerogative to investigate anomalies that might have been committed by their predecessors. Gov. Blanco strived to fing fault with Claveria’s “unusualllt liberal” grant to Oyanguren. Should Claveria be found guilty of some anomaly during his administration, Blanco’s stock would rise among his supporters in Spain.

Oyanguren was an innocent victim of politics at the highest level. Even if he were faultless, the injustice done him could not be corrected. Intrigues were also engineered by his enemies in Manila, particularly those jealous of Claveria’s concessions.

Fighting hard for justice, Oyanguren remained in Davao to recoup the privileges granted him in the contract with Gov. Claveria. His we;;-entreched enemies, however, ensured that nothing came out of his protestations.

But Gov. Blanco’s successors regarded Oyanguren highly. In 1855, Oyanguren was commissioned to survey the Sultanate of Maguindanao and the adjacent territory. He provided statistics and made recommendations as regards their administration, economic prospects and politics. He was candid in pointing out the decline in the general welfare of the people as the consequence of the monopolistic practices of the government.

He considered monopoly as a factor encouraging piracy. He yrged the authorities to exempt the poverty stricken tribes from taxes for humanitarian reasons. His recommendation was echoed twenty years later by Fr. Pablo Pastells, S. J. who worked among the Mandayas of Davao for some ten years.

Oyanguren’s End

Don Jose Oyanguren y Cruz died on 10 October 1858 at one o’clock in the afternoon. According to A. Santayana, Oyanguren’s biographer, he died a despondent man, ruined and broken in spirit, “not suspecting perhaps that in the history of the colonization of Mindanao  he will be assured of a distinguished place. He played an important role in helping Christianity take root here, preventing the dominance of the Moros in the Davao Gulf territory.

He was buried’ in the old cemetery of Nueva Vergara by Fray Celedonio Pardos on 11 October 1858. That cemetery was located at the end of present day San Pedro Street intersected by Tomas Claudio (now Quirino) Street. Later, however, the cemetery was transferred to what later became the site of the University of the Immaculate Conception along Fr. Selga Street.