The members of the Kagan tribe living in the area were the same people who perpetuated the killing of the Spanish Governor of the District of Davao, a feat that was not made known beyond the corners of the tribe’s territories, and thus was not made part of the history of Tagum when people in authority first attempted to plot the happenings that helped shape the locality in becoming what it had been at any given period.
The characters exhibited by the inhabitants of the former Moro Rancheria of Tagum, that of being able to defend its legal interests, pointed to their being able to be lead the newly founded municipal district. And more often than not, the appointed leaders of an entire newly-formed quasi-local government would come from the residents of the locality’s central barrio.
The reorganization of the Municipal District of Tagum, which came four years after it was founded, formalized the identification of Tagum as the Municipal District of Tagum’s central barrio. Two of the people from the said barrio were appointed in succession by Eulalio Causing, the first governor of the Province of Davao: Barrancas who, upon his resignation, was succeeded in 1917 as councilor by Lubama (Moro), the same Datu Lubama who was reported to have struck Pinzon decades prior.
When the municipal district was converted into a municipality in 1941 thru President Manuel Quezon’s Executive Order No. 352 , its central barrio, or Poblacion, and seat of government was transferred to the barrio of Hijo. No oral accounts had been relayed from that period fully stating the reason as to why the transfer was necessitated. But the reason for such transfer may had been connected to what the author of an Agricultural Bulletin had to say about Tagum in relation to the possibility of the construction of a railway in Mindanao:
On the line from Nasipit to Malalag …. and another to Mati on the Pacific coast may be found advantageous, and still another to Hijo at the head of the Davao Gulf which is probably preferable as a town site to swampy Tagum (Webster, 1922, p. 12).
If the recommendation of the Agricultural Adviser to the Governor-General of the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands in the 1920s to make Hijo as the town site of Tagum was given weight by the succeeding government of the country and was agreed upon by the local leaders of the locality, the transfer of the seat of government of Tagum, in all likelihood, could have been effected.
Before this change in the seat of government could happen, talks were had between the leaders of the Kagan tribe living along Tagum River and the people from the government: they would be amenable to the transfer of the seat of power in the locality once the municipal district became a full-pledged Municipality provided that the entire would-be town, which stretched from as far south as Lasang and as far north as today’s Poblacion Mawab, would be named after their territory.
Before the conversion of Tagum into a regular municipal government, the locality was subjected to activities that would pave way for future development to come pouring in. In 1932, the Municipal District of Tagum became the subject of a survey for a trail conducted by the Philippine’s Commonwealth government.
The survey was for the establishment of the national highway which was spearheaded by two engineers from the Municipality of Davao who were accompanied by 15 laborers for public works and highways. It bears noting that during the 1930s, there had been no way for motorists to get to the provincial capital from Tagum and vice versa except through the use of boats while traversing the Hijo and Tagum Rivers as the points of entry.
In July 1937, the lands within the jurisdiction of the municipal district was brought under the Cadastral Survey Project of the national government with the conduct of the Tagum Cadastral Survey. Thru this program, the whole municipality, or in the case of Tagum, the entire district, was systematically surveyed to help identify and delineate the individual claims of all land owners and claimants which will serve as basis for the issuance of titles or patents (Land Management Bureau, 2015).
As a result, all lands contained within the territory of the municipal district, including those that should have been the ancestral domain of the different indigenous peoples or tribes of Tagum, were made the subject of the cadastral survey project conducted in the area. This paved the way for more immigrants from the north to come and settle down in the locality especially because it had been formally opened for homesteading.
A little over four years since it became a municipality, Tagum was dealt with a huge blow and what little development it had taken was razed down when the Second World War reached the fledgling municipality.
Badly damaged properties and broken spirit of those who experienced first-hand the ills of a cold-blooded war, however, could not contain Tagum and its people from standing up again and recover from the devastation. From the rubbles of war, the officials of the town spearheaded the construction of houses, stores, schools and a church.
Magugpo Pilot Elementary School was soon built in 1948 on the same land where it is still standing today, and the Tagum Catholic High School, the first Catholic school in Tagum had already had its share of male and female students inside its walls which had been built at present-day Parish of Christ the Eucharistic King. Tagum Jr. High School, the secondary school that would later become the Tagum Community High School, was also operational in 1949, as was Madaum Elementary School.
The church of the Christ the King was founded in 1947, which was timely because it was able to give succor to the people of the municipality who just survived the unimaginable horrors brought about by the war. The land on which the church was built was donated by the first appointed Vice Mayor of the municipality, Sulpicio Quirante.
On the other hand, the politics in Tagum after the cessation of the World War II paralleled the happenings in the national arena, with the holding of the first local election in the municipality being simultaneous in the other parts of the country.
A curious event which happened in the Municipality of Tagum was recorded in 1946, or a year prior to the holding of the first elections after the war; Mayor Manuel B. Suaybaguio, Sr. had abandoned the municipality’s legal seat of government in the barrio of Hijo and had the seat of power transferred to Barangay Magugpo where it would stay for the next 50 or so years.
Thus, when Mayor Suaybaguio won his Mayoralty bid in 1947, the venue of his office had been moved from the coastal barangay of Hijo to the interiors of Magugpo. Talks with local historians from the region had resulted in the formation of suppositions in relation to the reason of the first Mayor of Tagum in transferring the poblacion to Magugpo: that he caused the transfer to minimize the hardships that he usually encountered in travelling a distance from his landholdings in the interiors of Tagum to the northern coast of the Davao Gulf. Close relatives of his, however, had denied that his purpose was to serve his best interest.
Two years after the national and local elections were held, Panabo earned its rights to become a municipality itself. As such, all the areas found west of the Tagum River was to have been made a territory of the new municipality, and all the inhabitants living in those parts were to become its residents.
Unfortunately enough, Lucio Berdida, the Vice Mayor who won the position in the last elections and who lived in a barangay within the territory of Panabo, was appointed as the Mayor of the newly created Municipality of Panabo. This sudden vacancy in the second highest local government position was immediately resolved following the assumption of Macario Bermudez as the town Vice Mayor.
The 1950s saw significant changes for Tagum as there had been a series of construction of infrastructures in the municipality. The Municipal Hall had been upgraded to look the part of a building of a government institution and a Municipal Health Center along Bonifacio Street was also put up. Also, the bridge across the Magugpo Creek along Osmeña Street, by the old public market had been inaugurated while the Governor Miranda Bridge in Bincungan had been built to give ease to the riding public who once needed to use boats to get in or out of the Municipality of Tagum.
There was a massive construction of roads in Tagum in the 1950s which included the Magugpo-Pagsabangan-Maniki Road which was classified as a national aid provincial road. That particular stretch of road was classified as such since it was a road of sufficient importance which may be incorporated eventually into the national system of highways (Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 1957). The Magugpo-Tipaz Road was also among the roads constructed during that period.
Economically, Tagum was slowly becoming a convenient place for traders to exchange products with neighboring municipalities. The booming abaca and coconut industries in the early 1950s contributed significantly to the growth of the local economy. Alongside the economic development, came the strengthening of educational institutions in the municipality. Holy Cross College (now St. Mary’s College), which was established in the late 1940s as Tagum Catholic High School, and Mindanao Colleges (now University of Mindanao) were two of the providers of tertiary education in the province outside Davao City. The presence of these two (2) schools was slowly contributing to making Tagum another possible educational center for Davao.
The 1960s paved the way for Tagum to become an important center for various activities and this was highlighted when the Municipality became the Capital town of the Province of Davao del Norte when the mother Province of Davao was split into three distinct provinces: Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur.
The economy of the municipality in the 1960s, however, had seen a slump especially because the people involved in the farming or planting and selling of abaca and coconuts were experiencing losses due to the dying abaca industry and the receding importance of the coconut industry. Just as the 1950s were the glory days of the aforementioned industries, the 1960s were perceived to be these industries’ dying days.
Luckily, these losses from big agriculture-related industries were countered by the gains of the emerging banana plantations. The seemingly overnight success of the banana industry was buoyed by the fact that growers from the Municipality of Tagum as well as from outside of town were able to put up their banana plantations in the areas strategically established for maximum outcome. Also, huge tracts of land which started from the abaca sector, such as the Hijo Plantation which was bought by the Tuason Family from the Americans who started the hemp (abaca) plantation in the early 1900s, had been converted into banana plantations, thereby helping the economy of Tagum rise up from the slump.
Having bounced back from a lackadaisical economy which threatened Tagum in the 1960s, the progress which the municipality had posted economy-wise had been the impetus which Tagum needed to have to undertake further infrastructure development projects in the 1970s. These projects include the expansion of the municipal hall, the concreting and upgrading of the Public Market at what is now Tagum Trade Cener, and the asphalting of additional municipal roads and the opening of more barangay roads.
The 1970s had also been a great decade for the local government unit since various offices had been created: these include the Municipal Engineering Office, Municipal Planning and Development Office, Municipal Assessor’s Office and the Fire Station, among others.
When the 1980s came around, the banana industry which was Tagum’s saving grace in relation to its economy staying afloat had taken its turn to be besieged by factors that caused its slight downturn. Fortunately for Tagum, the discovery of the abundance of gold in the neighboring towns of Pantukan, Mabini, Maragusan, and Maco had prevented its economy from sinking as the trading of this mineral source was done in the municipality, thereby boosting the economies of Tagum and its surrounding towns.
Tagum becoming the choice of place for people who had been engaged in small-scale mining to trade their gold paved the way for the influx of business establishments and other commercial activities which mushroomed in the area due to the intensified economic activities and the rise of average incomes propelled by the municipality becoming the trading hub for gold miners (Gerochi, 2004)
On the other hand, politics in Tagum during the 1980s were turbulent. The beginning of the decade saw for the first time a duly elected Mayor resigning from his post after less than two years in office. Additionally, and just like in most cases in the country, the change in the political climate in Tagum was also felt when the 1986 People Power deposed former President Ferdinand Marcos from his long-held tenure at the Malacanang Palace.
As a result of the revolution, for the first time in more than forty years, a Mayor had been appointed by the national government to oversee matters pertaining to governance in Tagum. As can be recalled, the first time Tagum was headed by a Mayor who was appointed by the national government was in 1941 upon its conversion into a municipality from a municipal district.
With the political unrest of the previous decade being consigned to the backburner, Tagum ushered into the 1990s experiencing the radical change in the system of government through the passage of the Local Government Code of 1991 which paved the way for the devolution of power and authority from the national government to the local government units (LGUs). This effectively gave Tagum additional functions, powers, authorities and responsibilities.
The bullish economy that Tagum experienced during the local economic boom caused by the discovery of mineral sources in the uplands of its adjacent municipalities was still a felt by the town and its people well into the 1990s. With the heightened economic activities hinged on the burgeoning trade sector caused by the gold rush in the nearby towns in the previous decade, the municipality was able to upgrade its income class from a second class municipality to a first class one.
In the late 1990s, when Tagum already became a city, the massive infrastructure projects it had undertaken had given the private business sectors the confidence to invest in the locality thereby causing the construction sector in Tagum to grow exponentially.
Since all the factors or elements necessary to turn the city into a strategic and important growth center in Southeastern Mindanao had been met, Tagum is now poised to become the regional capital of the Davao Region.
KAGIKAN: Tracing the Flow of Tagum’s Rich History eBOOK