Chapter 1: Origin of TagumChapter 2: Tagum: A Tapestry of CulturesChapter 3: The Resurgence of Tagum
Records that date back to the Spanish era state that Tagum derived its name from the river that flows from the confluence of Saug and Liboganon Rivers. The Tagum River, which formed at Pagsabangan, had been cited as the largest river in the western bay of the Davao Gulf (Blair & Robertson, 1906, p. 201).

The oldest record bearing the name Tagum was a book written twenty-three years before the start of the 20th century. It chronicled the experiences of the Jesuit priests in their mission to convert both the Muslims and indigenous people living in the four corners of Mindanao. In the book, the Spanish priests described having already found two communication routes from Surigao or other northern areas to Davao to facilitate their missionary works. They mentioned Tagum as part of the second route to, stating that the Manat River flows from the Agusan to the Tagum River, which flows into the Davao Gulf (Societas Iesu, 1877, p. 40).

Another Spanish-era document mentioning Tagum was written by Julian Gonzales Parrado, a Spanish brigadier general who wrote Memoria Acerca de Mindanao which listed the established Moro Rancherias in the District of Davao and elsewhere in Mindanao. Of those listed, only three were in the post-World War II Tagum: Hijo, Madaum and the Moro Rancheria of Tagum River. These three Rancherias were headed by their respective leaders, namely, Casiaman, Marang and Pusocan (Gonzales, 1893, p. 64)

A year after, Jose Nieto Aguilar also wrote a book describing Tagum and Hijo rivers as among the three most important rivers in the District of Davao for having great quantity of water, pointing to Hijo River’s importance based on its capacity to enable explorers to travel from Davao Gulf to Butuan up in the north of the island (Nieto, 1894, p. 63)

That the three places were the only ones of the present-day Tagum mentioned in Spanish sources is not a wonder. Over one hundred years ago, the Muslim tribes located in the northern part of the Davao Gulf established their Rancherias along the rivers in the area since the salt waters of the gulf and the fresh flowing waters of said rivers provided sustenance and sustainability to the original settlers. Because the Rancherias were built near the mouth of the rivers in the area, and with the rivers being used as navigable roads, the turn-of-the-century Muslim settlements were able to have ease in transporting people and goods, enabling them to develop trade.

Nothing in the sources from both the Spanish and American era, however, made mention as to why the river that flows from the confluence of the Liboganon and Salug (Saug) Rivers was named Tagum. It was only after more than half a century had already passed that an account surfaced as to how the name Tagum came to be.
Datu Aguido Sucnaan, Sr., a Kyalalaysan, the highest priest or leader of the Mansaka tribe, and one of the most respected leaders in present- Tagum, narrated that the etymology of the word “Tagum” came from the word “Tageum”, a kind of tree or plant that was abundant during the olden days and was mainly used as a dye on the fabric used as clothing by the tribe during the olden days..

During this time, the water appears to be as dark as the color of the dyed water from the said plant which has been used by indigenous people of old in dyeing the Hinabol, an excellent-quality fabric made from Abaca fibers and produced through a traditional weaving process. This dye color is said to have been reminiscent of the clearness of the river in Bincungan which is magnified during summer.

Parts of Tageum would then be boiled for a day until the color of the water would become as dark as the color of the river, after which the Hinabol fabric would then be soaked in the dark liquid for one day until such time that it will be thoroughly dyed in a color that was a mixture of black and blue (Sucnaan & Onlos, 2008)

In other words, oral traditions of the Mansaka tribe had it that Tagum River derived its name from the plant Tageum which produced a dye color that is described as having the same color as the blue-black appearance of the said river.

But what exactly is Tageum? Which among the plant species found in the locality is it that can be used as a dye?

Research has shown that there is an Indigo plant that can be found in several parts of the country. Interestingly enough, the plant which has a scientific name of Indigofera Tinctoria is commonly called Tagum in the Visayan language, while its name is Tayum in Tagalog.

The Indigo is a perennial plant that reaches a maturity height of one to two meters. The plant, which has pinnate leaves and woody branches that are spreading or ascending, had been used as a major source of dye for a good number of years before the use of synthetic types began to flourish. The Tagum plant also had medicinal attributes that could treat disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, fever, stomach pain, wound sores and skin conditions, among others, and may also be used as a cover crop and green manure.

A turn-of the century dictionary published in Manila (Merrill, 1903, p. 159) which listed Tagum as a plant found in the Philippines during the American period has given weight to the account of Datu Sucnaan that Tagum River derived its name from the Indigo plant that abounded along the river and which produces a dark dye color that is reminiscent to how darkly clear the color of the river appears especially during summertime.

In present-day Tagum, the indigo plant has been seen to thrive on a type of soil similar to that located beside a fishpond in Barangay San Isidro. This recent finding was culled out from the various exchanges between the Office of the City Cultural Communities Affairs and the members of the Muslim communities living in the barangays near the Madaum and Liboganon (Tagum) Rivers who, attesting to the medicinal attributes of the Tagum plant, led the researchers to the area where it was found to have flourished without being attended to.

In an interview with Datu Belardo Bungad, the Tribal Chieftain of the Kagan tribe of Madaum, the Tagum, also pronounced as “Tageum” or “Tagyum”, is significant to their tribe since they believe that this is an extension of their life (sugpat ng kabui). In the olden times, they used this plant as medication for lung diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as for diabetes.

The discovery of the existence of pre-American era documents pointing to Tagum River as the basis for naming the vast coastal area settled by the original settlers as Tagum has once and for all, established the fact that contrary to the belief which had been perpetuated since before the 1970s, Magugpo is not the original name of Tagum.

Meanwhile, according to an oral tradition believed by the Kagan, Mansaka and Madaya tribes, Magugpo used to be a vast wilderness where there was a sporadic location of houses and communities made up of the members of these indigenous tribes. The name Magugpo, however, referred to a movement a person had to make to get from one place to another. The movement called “ugpo-ugpo”, or hopping, had to be executed while a person travel in and around the vast lands that had been majorly submerged in muddy water.

Territorial Limits and Boundaries

Act No. 2711 paved the way for Tagum to be formally founded in 1917, the year when the locality was brought under the folds of a civil government (Insular Government of Philippine Islands, 1917, p. 30). However, Tagum fell short of becoming a municipality and was merely created under the government form of a Municipal District.

A publication of the census of the entire Philippine Islands taken in 1918 stated that the term Municipal District is applied to most local governments of non-Christian population in the Department of Mindanao and Sulu and that in the special-government provinces in the island such as Davao, all areas which are not organized as full municipalities were designated as municipal districts (Census Office of the Philippine Islands, 1920, p. 480).

Section 52 of Act 2408 which provided for a temporary form of government for the territory in Mindanao and Sulu indicated that a municipal district may be organized in lieu of a municipality if the majority of the inhabitants of a particular locality have not been civilized sufficiently to warrant bringing the people under the rule of a municipal government; non-Christian settlements could not also be practicably organized as barrios of municipalities if said settlements are so small or so remote (Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, 1914).

Based on the given definition of Municipal District in the said legislation, it can be easily deduced that the area encompassing Tagum during the American occupation had settlements that were inhabited by what had been considered by the American-led government as insufficiently-civilized people. That Tagum failed to be created as a municipality when seven other localities in what was then the Davao Province were established as municipalities was also a testament to the fact that the insular government viewed the settlements of the Muslims and the Indigenous Peoples to be so remotely scattered in the four corners of the municipal district that they deemed it impractical to create the said settlements as barrios of a municipality.

During those times, the Governor of the Province of Davao was the one who had jurisdiction and exercised direct supervision over the Municipal District of Tagum. The seven municipalities under the undivided province during the American period were the municipalities of Davao, Santa Cruz and Malita located on the Davao Gulf, and the Pacific East Coast-situated localities of Baganga, Caraga, Cateel, and Manay. These municipalities in the province had one thing in common which accounted for their being formed into a municipality: their history of being successfully settled by Christians.

Before Tagum was given the status of a Municipal District, a geographical dictionary published two years after the turn of the century made mention of Begar as a large town of considerable importance that was situated some distance away from the shore of the Davao Gulf and up the Tagum River (Bureau of Insular Affairs War Department, 1902, p. 864). Local historians in Davao area have yet to figure out where exactly was the settlement located in the present time although a map during the Spanish period had indicated Begar as situated east of the Tagum River.

By 1918, the Insular Government had already conducted a Census of the Philippine Islands and included therein as part of the Municipal District of Tagum were the barrios of Madaum, La Paz, Lawaan, Lasang, and Hijo. It is worth to note that although Liboganon and Pagsabangan were also mentioned in the said publication of the census commissioned during that period, both areas, however, were mere sitios in the Province of Davao, and not a barrio (Census Office of the Philippine Islands, 1920, pp. 547,570). Bincungan was also listed, albeit as Binungan, in the appendix to the first volume of the Census, alongside Tuganay, Anibongan, a place called Batas, as well as Apokan (Apokon), and such other areas belonging to the municipal district like the barrios of Cambanogoy, Cubayo, Hising, Simbaan and Sapaaon which were indicated in the 1918 census’ Supplementary List of Barrios of Tagum (Census Office of the Philippine Islands, 1920, pp. 366, 402).

A compendium of the Executive Orders given by Governor General Francis Burton Harrison in 1919 also showed that the territory of Tagum had changed in so far as the make-up of its barrios is concerned. An executive order handed out that year by the Philippines’ governor-general had listed a place called Sali as a barrio in the municipal district (Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, 1920, pp. 73-74). After two years, however, and right after the insular government abolished the Department of Mindanao and Sulu as a special political division in 1921 which paved the way for the reorganization of the existing municipal districts in the Province of Davao, the barrio of Sali was not included as among the barrios comprising the Municipal District of Tagum.

This change in the make-up of the barrios of Tagum as a municipal district of the Province of Davao extended to Tuganay as it was not previously listed in the List of Geographic Names section of the 1918 census prior to its becoming a barrio under Tagum in 1921. The same thing could also be said about Pagsabangan which was previously classified in the same census document as a mere sitio of Tagum prior to its reorganization in 1921 (Census Office of the Philippine Islands, 1920, p. 570)but was also curiously listed as a barrio of the municipal district of Saug (now Asuncion) in the compilation of the 1919 executive orders. The barrio of Cambanogoy which was previously mentioned as among those listed in the 1918 census Supplementary List of barrios of Tagum was also cited as a barrio of Saug in an executive order (Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, 1920, pp. 59-60).

It is worth to note that at the time of the reorganization of the municipal district by virtue of Harrison’s Executive Order No. 8 in 1921, or four years since its formal and official founding, Tagum’s composition was narrowed down to nine barrios: its central barrio which was also named Tagum, as well as the barrios of Lawaan, La Paz, Lasang, Madaum, Hijo, Bincungan, Tuganay and Pagsabangan.

With Liboganon, as well as Tagum and Bincungan already established as sitio and barrios, respectively, less than twenty years after the turn of the 20th century, one would be hard-pressed to ask a question or two: Had the once- central barrio of Tagum, of the Municipal District of Tagum been absorbed to form part of what is now known as Barangay Bincungan when the seat of government was formally transferred to barrio Hijo in 1941 upon the conversion of the former municipal district into a municipality? Or did the former central barrio located along the biggest river on the west side of the Davao Gulf become a part of either the present-day barangay Busaon or present-day Liboganon?

This change in the territory of Tagum from the time it became a municipal district up to the present is manifested by how the locality grew to have more barangays from the measly eight (8) barrios in 1921, the make-up of which was changed when it was converted into a municipality in 1941.

A look at the first-ever compilation of Tax Declaration of real properties in the possession of the current City Assessor’s Office, and dated as far back as the 1920s, had shown the name of Magugpo as a barrio in the municipal district when its central barrio was still located at the Tagum River. This presence of the name of the said barrio for the first time in Pre-World War II documents five years after the reorganization of the Tagum municipal district, and nine years after its founding, may be attributed to the development which the locality had experienced at the advent of the migration of people from Luzon and the islands in the Visayas.

The same compilation of the real property tax declarations also showed that Tipaz, which is now Magugpo East, was once a sitio of barrio Apokon, while Cuambogan and Mankilam were sitios of 1920s barangay Pagsabangan. Tax declaration on a real property situated in the barrio of Canocotan showed that the said barangay had been formed prior to 1926, when Tagum was still a municipal district.

Twenty-four years after its formal founding, Tagum underwent a major upgrade as a political subdivision when it was converted into a Municipality in 1941 (Office of the President of the Philippines, 1941). Upon said conversion, the barrios comprising the new municipality included the old barrios of Bincungan, Lasang, Madaum, Pagsabangan, Tuganay and Hijo which was the town’s designated poblacion and the seat of government, as well as Magugpo and Mawab. It bears noting that at this point, the names Tagum, Lawaan and La Paz had already ceased to be listed as barrios of the locality.

In 1948, new area names which were not indicated when Tagum was converted into a municipality had started to appear in the compilation of tax declaration of real properties presently maintained by the City Assessor’s Office. These places included Visayan Village, Mankilam, Magdum, Cuambogan, Pandapan, Nueva Fuerza, New Balamban, La Filipina and La Fortuna.

The year 1949 saw the shrinking of Tagum when the South-western portion of the 8-year old municipality was carved out of its territory upon the creation of the Municipality of Panabo. With this birth of a new town, the old barrios west off of the Tagum River such as Lasang and Bincungan had fallen under the supervision and control of the newly created southern municipality.

Interestingly, there were several barrios that had been added to form part of the municipality of Tagum before the creation of Panabo. These barrios which were transferred to the new town upon its organization included the central barrio of Panabo which became its seat of government, Cagangohan, Anibongan, Ising with its sitios Mangalcal, Sibulano and Southern Davao; Maduao and the sitios of Upper Licanan, Tagpuri, Tagurot and Tagactac; and Malatibas, including its sitios of Manay and Little Panay. The barrio of Bincungan was also transferred to Panabo with its sitios of La Paz and Tuganay, which had been a full-pledged barrio in 1941 (Office of the President of the Philippines, 1949)

The area of the municipality of Tagum further shrank in the 1950s, with the creation of the new Municipality of Doña Alicia located east of the Hijo River in 1953 which took out Tagum’s barrios of Taglawig, and Hijo, the former seat of government of the municipality; and the creation of the northern Municipality of Mawab in 1959 which carved out the barrios of Mawab, Sawangan and Tuburan from the town.

A perusal on the text of the Executive Order which paved the way for the separation of the northern part of the Municipality of Panabo to create the new Municipality of Carmen in 1965 had shown what became of the old central barrio of Tagum. Based on the piece of legislation promulgated by then President Diosdado Macapagal, the said barrio had been annexed to the newly-formed municipality west of Tagum River (Macapagal, 1965).

Much like what happened to the barrio of Tagum, the barrio of Bincungan was also absorbed to form part of Carmen during its organization as a town fifty-four years ago. That the present-day Tagum also has a barrio (barangay) of the same name is something which gave the impression that the old-era barrios of Bincungan and Tagum were bisected by the great Tagum (now Tagum-Liboganon) River when the municipality used to extend its territorial reaches as far south as Lasang. One fact remains to this day, however: the barrios bearing the name Bincungan and Tagum which belonged to Carmen when the municipality was formed had ceased to become known as such as modern-day barangays bearing the same names no longer exist in Tagum’s neighboring town. This bit of history in relation to the changes in the territorial limits and boundaries which Tagum underwent over the course of more than half a century poses more questions that not and finding the answer is one that needs to be pursued and followed through.

Periodic History
To the modern-day Tagumenyos, much of the history of Tagum began when migrant settlers started their exodus down south to the territory in Mindanao, more particularly in the undivided Province of Davao. The migration of Christian Filipinos from places in the north, such as the islands of Luzon, Cebu, Bohol and Leyte, was predicated on the encouragement by the Insular Government for migrants to settle down and work within the vast lands of the southern island, including that of the Municipal District of Tagum that used to encompass what are now Davao City’s Lasang, and Panabo City at the south, Maco on the east and a portion of Mawab on the north. This state-sponsored immigration was hinged on the implementation of the government policy of developing and civilizing the Muslim and Tribal communities that dotted the municipal district of Tagum. For the descendants of the Kalagan Muslims and the Indigenous people, such as the Mandaya and the Mansaka who were the original settlers of Tagum, however, their people’s part of Tagum history happened before the turn of the 20th century, several decades earlier than when the migrant settlers came in droves from the north.

Spanish Period
The oldest accounts of the happenings in Tagum were encapsulated in various letters of the Jesuit priests to the Father Superior of the Jesuit Mission to the Philippines. These letters were compiled to form several volumes of books published within a 20-year period and wholly written in Spanish.

A letter of Fr. Quirico More, S.J. to his mission’s Father Superior, written in January 20, 1885 was translated in English and included in a book published in 1906. The account gave a clearer picture on what transpired in the area which led him to label the Muslim Rancheria along Tagum River as the most ungovernable and most famous of the Rancherias in the Davao Gulf due to the murders that were committed there (Blair & Robertson, 1906, p. 201)

From the lens of the Jesuit priest, these murders were borne out of deception carried out by the Muslim settlers of the northwestern coast of the Davao Gulf. Father More mentioned the murders of four Christians in July 1884 which happened in the Moro Rancheria of Tagum and committed by those who he said were pretending to be friends and brothers of those killed. He also recounted about how a nonbeliever of the Christian faith revealed to him a plot devised by a Muslim datu to kill him when he would meet with the indigenous people of Pagsabangan whom he wished to be the subject of reduction. His murder was planned to be executed by people armed with balaraos and limbuton who would appear just as Fr. More would ask for more Mandaya people to be reduced (Societas Iesu, 1887, p. 100).

As to the English-translated letter of Fr. More to his superior, it described that in 1861, Don Jose Pinzon y Purga, the sixth Spanish Governor of the District of Davao, wanted to establish numerous reductions of Mandayas at the mouth of the Tagum River. The reduction entailed the establishment and expansion of permanent settlements of the indigenous people in a particular area so as to reduce their tendency to scatter around and abandon their temporary communities when they feel the need to do so (Tiu, 2005, p. 25)

Since the Mandayas had had enough of being subjected to the abusive rule of the Moros of the Tagum Rancheria, they were amenable to the proposal of the Spanish military governor just so they could away from the clutches of the Muslims who ruled the area and exacted tributes from them which the Muslims considered their due.

The Muslims living along Tagum River had joined the resistance against the Spanish rule since they already had organized a semblance of government which oversaw politics, religion and civil matters. When the Spanish came to rule the people around the Davao Gulf, the settlers soon lost their political and religious power. Nevertheless, the hope to regain supremacy and control over their own people was never really lost; they endeavored to stock up on their efforts to maintain their own organization as a means of thwarting off the reaching arms of the Spanish rule from enfolding them (Blair & Robertson, 1906, p. 206)

The Moros were also unequivocally opposed to the reduction and gathering together of the Mandayas into formal villages and plotted to make the reduction plans of the governor ineffective. Their efforts, however, were all for nothing as the Mandayas were poised to become successfully settled permanently, thereby rendering their plots all but in vain. This success on the part of the Spanish to bring the Mandayas along Tagum River over to their fold led the Moros of the Tagum Rancheria to become resolute in killing the military governor of the District of Davao.

The Muslims, in the guise of being amenable to Pinzon’s establishment and eventual inauguration of a village for the Mandayas, assembled at the mouth of Tagum River and proceeded to invite the governor on the day that he was to inaugurate the village to join them for a feast at one of their Rancherias. The feast, which the Muslims said was prepared to celebrate the founding of the new village, treated the military governor and his eight companions to dancing and the playing of kulintang.

Once the ceremony was over, Pinzon — at the invitation of a datu — went inside an apartment only to be stabbed violently at the back. While the governor was being beheaded by another datu using a two-handed blow, his eight companions were also killed by the other Moros in the lower part of the house.

In the said letter, Fr. More belied the claims made that had already started circulating: that the murders were caused by the urgency of Pinzon in having to wife the daughter of a datu of the Tagum Rancheria. As there had reportedly been not a single woman, of any shape and stature that could be seen at the Muslim village where the Spanish governor was killed, and since the Jesuit priest claimed to have spoken to people who were Pinzon during the event, he dismissed the idea as bereft of truth (Blair & Robertson, 1906, pp. 208-210)

Local historians in the region, however, are of the opinion that the history of a place must be viewed from the lens of the people who are indigenous to the area and not from those who came to wrest the control away from its original settlers.

Davao historian Macario Tiu talked about how the silence of the Kagans in relation to the 1861 assassination of Pinzon in order to protect those who had a hand in the execution of the Spanish governor had led to the adoption of the point of view of the Spaniards as the local history, with Pinzon being seen more sympathetically while the struggle and resistance of the people of this part of the Davao Gulf was viewed belittlingly.

Dr. Tiu wrote that the account about Pinzon wanting to marry a Muslim maiden, which Fr. More dismissed in his letter to his superiors, was affirmed in the oral history in Bincungan where the descendants of the people of the Spanish-era Tagum Rancheria live. In one of his many interviews with the descendants of the heroes of the Davao Gulf who fend off the Spanish encroachers, Tiu was able to talk to Tanudan Noah Lubama and related part of their conversation in this wise:

Pinzon saw the sister of Datu Maug and was smitten by her beauty. He told Maug, “I want to marry her.” The datus were alarmed because it was unheard of that the Moros would allow their women, and of royal blood at that, to marry a Spaniard. On the day that the governor demanded for the maiden to be surrendered to him, the datus directed him to the room where the woman was placed inside a mosquito net. As the Spaniard lifted the mosquito net, a datu rushed at him and struck his forehead with a sapiyo (pinuti, in Bisaya, a heavy knife resembling a bolo).

Tiu stated that the above-mentioned datu who struck Pinzon was named Lubama, Noah’s grandfather. He further informed that the Spanish leader of the District of Davao was killed in the land of the Maugs at Bincungan and that the woman who he wanted to marry was Maug’s sister, a beautiful woman nicknamed Ugis. This bit about the sister of Maug being the object of Pinzon’s affection was culled from the 2002 interview Dr. Tiu had with Abubakar Lubama, the cousin of Noah’s who lived in Carmen, Davao del Norte. The local historian noted that Abubakar refused to reveal what the Spanish era- Lubama did exactly and would not confirm Noah’s account that their forefather struck Pinzon in the forehead with the sapiyo (Tiu, 2005, pp. 189-190)

The stance of silence taken by the families of the brave Muslim men of the Tagum River whose exhibition of resisting the foreign rule involved the beheading of Davao’ Spanish leader had been carried on and maintained by their descendants over the course of a hundred years. This is the underlying reason why only the historians from Davao City whose research on the history of their place and on the lives of the heroes of Davao such as Datu Bago gave them the opportunity to get their hands on the information about the killing of Pinzon at the hands of the Moros in the Tagum Rancheria. Incredibly, what could have been seen as a triumph of a group of people against the threat of foreigners lording over their politics, religion and dominion were not made known to the migrant settlers who helped shape most of Tagum’s development today, or the indigenous people who were the original owners/possessors of the vast lands that were acquired and later developed by the settlers from the north.

Whether or not the role of the early Tagumenyos as local heroes had been scrapped from the annals of Tagum’s history was because of the personal choices of the families of those involved in killing the encroaching foreign leader is something that remains to be seen up to this day.

The reduction of the Mandayas still continued on after the death of Pinzon. This paved the way for the people of the said tribe to be formed into a community that was converted into the Christian faith. In 1892, Fr. Saturnino Urios, while he was staying in Tagum, had written to his mission superior about how the Moros in Tagum River had overtaken the Mandayas, killing them and taking their children and brothers captive. This war waged against the indigenous tribe by the Kalagans paved the way for the Mandayas to turn and welcome for their protection the missionaries who said that the best results can be had if the infidels are shown with love (Societas Iesu, 1895, p. 147)

The success of the mission of the Jesuits in reducing the Mandayas, particularly in Pagsabangan, into a community had been a precursor for the conversion of the different tribes under the indigenous cultural communities here in Tagum. Presently, except for the elders of the tribe, the majority of the people who carried in their blood the culture and heritage of their indigenous ascendants had ceased to exercise their cultural beliefs and traditions as they became practicing Christians. It was only after the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) that the present-day Tagumenyos with blood lineage of the indigenous tribes started to take ownership of said culture and heritage.

A part of the history of Tagum is also intertwined with the history of Davao. Its biggest hero, Datu Bago, whose kuta extended from present-day Quezon Boulevard to Generoso Bridge in Bangkerohan, had been subjected to the relentless assault spearheaded by Jose Uyanguren in 1848. After three months of fighting off the advances of the marauding Spaniards, Datu Bagu finally became cognizant that he would be unable to defend his kuta. This led him to flee to the north, in Tagum, where he later died and was buried in Pagsabangan (Tiu, 2005, pp. 172-176).

American Period
The dawn of the American Period in the locality of Tagum started when the Spanish forces upped and leave government rule of the entire Philippine Islands to their hands. In 1903, an act was enacted by the Philippine Commission under Governor-General William H. Taft to provide for the organization and government of the Moro Province which at the time was the entire island of Mindanao, with the exception of the Surigao and Misamis provinces, but including the Sulu Archipelago. The province was composed of the Districts of Sulu, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Lanao and Davao under which Tagum belonged.

The Organic Act No. 787 was said to have been an attempt to secure a rational and sympathetic control of both the Muslims and the Indigenous people in Mindanao. It was framed in such a way that would recognize their strong independence and take into account the existing religious beliefs, points of view and other deeply-rooted inclinations and aspirations of the non-Christian inhabitants of the southern islands (Finley, 1916, pp. 34-35).

As such, tribal wards were created in areas in the Moro Province to allow the Muslims and the people belonging to the native tribes to govern themselves according to their own brand of politics. Tagum was no different when it came to having some sort of governing body to control and see to the day-to-day affairs of the people living within the tribal wards. Based on an annual report of the US War Secretary, American-era Mandayas had formed a village (Mandaya Ward) at Pagsabangan while Muslim ward in Davao in the 1900s also included villages put up by Muslims at Libaganun, Madaum and Tagum (US War Department, 1907, p. 625).

British explorer A. Henry Savage Landor described his experiences when his adventure to the Philippines led him to travel up the Tagum River in 1904. His adventure, which he had written down and immortalize in a book, had him mentioning about passing by a Muslim village and a mosque on the right side of the river about a hundred yards up from its mouth. The village, including the mosque, was said to have been under the helm of Datus Portekan and Lausan.

According to Landor, the northern part of the Davao Gulf was less wooded on the western side and was littered with houses of the Muslims who grew hemps in their field. The explorer also met Datu Casiaman, the head of the settlement located not far from the mouth of Hijo River, who reportedly had a plantation at Hijo and owned 3,000 hemp plants (Landor, 1904, pp. 207-209).

Datu Casiaman was among the big planters in the Davao Gulf area during the American period. This claim had been attested by local historians of Davao such as Dr. Tiu, who also named Samuel Navarro, a Muslim of the Lasang Rancheria as one having a large plantation (Tiu, 2018).

The American Period saw the establishment of several plantations in Tagum by the Americans. In 1906, the Tagum Plantation Company originally owned by Loren L. Day but was later bought by Thomas Mundiz, and the Teague Plantation owned by Max Teague were established in the locality. Three years later, George Pond also joined the bandwagon and set up the Pond Plantation near the mouth of the Tagum River.

On the other hand, the first plantation at the head of the Davao Gulf was established as Mindanao Land Development in Madaum. The 3,000- hectare plantation would become known as the Odell Plantation. Clark Whitehorn and Thomas Torkelson would also establish their plantations on lands that straddled Busaon- Bincungan and Tuganay-Bincungan areas, respectively (Tiu, 2018).

The advent of the plantations around the Gulf coast drove migrants from Luzon, Visayas and some parts of Mindanao to these shores to engage in employment as plantation laborers and workers; this later resulted in the increase of the non-Christian population in the locality during the American era.

The time when the American-led Insular Government dissolved the Moro Province to make way for the civil government administering the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, was also the time that Tagum was made into a municipal district by virtue of the Revised Administrative Code of the Philippine Islands. Upon the reorganization of the existing municipal districts in the Province of Davao, Tagum’s territory was then delineated. That the area where the settlements of the Muslims who killed Pinzon some fifty years prior was located was recognized as the central barrio of the municipal district was an indication that the Muslims there had enough power and command to have been able to make their place as the seat of power in the fledgling almost-town.

As a means of dealing with the Muslim and Indigenous communities in the Municipal District of Tagum, the governor of the Davao Province appointed officers from among the members of these settlements and fixed their designation as prescribed in the administrative code. One such officer in the once-central barrio of the Municipal District was Lubama (Moro), who was appointed as Barrio Tagum’s Councilor in September 20, 1917 by Eulalio Causing, the first Provincial Governor of the Province of Davao. This appointed barrio councilor was the same Datu Lubama who the local historian, Dr. Tiu, mentioned as having struck the ill-fated Spanish Governor in 1861.

To the Americans, the Tagum River was still viewed as an important river and valued it for transportation purposes because of its innate capacity to be navigable for small boats for about 25 miles or 40 kilometers inland from its mouth at the Davao Gulf (Webster, 1922, p. 51).

During the American Period, all the identified barrios comprising Tagum as a municipal district were located along bodies of water: Tuganay, Lawa-an, Lapaz (all presently located in Carmen town), Lasang, Bincungan, Pagsabangan, Madaum, Hijo and the now defunct and all-but forgotten old barrio of Tagum.

Magugpo, just like the other areas in the interior of the municipal district, did not become an established community until the rush of arrivals of the migrant settlers from the northern islands of Luzon and Visayas in the 1920s because unlike the Muslims that settled around old Tagum’s rivers and coastal waters who became deeply-rooted to their territories enough to die for it, the indigenous tribes who lived on the vast lands of the Tagum were nomadic in nature who moved from one part of the swampy interior to another, thereby enabling the Filipino Christian migrants to settle down at what would become the town center.

Joaquin Pereyras, a homesteader from Pangasinan who came to Tagum in 1926 was said to have discovered a map from Davao that a highway would be developed from Davao going north. On the planned map, he saw that a road going in the northern direction would be passing through Barrio Magugpo and that another road would be constructed to cross the north-bound road and was to be built in the east to west direction. He would later open up to his colleagues about what he discovered and persuaded his co-homesteaders from Pangasinan, the Visayas, and even the Mandaya and the Mansaka to transfer to Magugpo since he could see that it would become the center of the locality (Pereyras, 2018).

Japanese Occupation/World War II
Stories about how the people of Tagum fared during the onslaught of the Japanese occupation are few and far between, and always these narratives needed to be squeezed out from the families of the war veterans as well as those who experienced first-hand the perils of being in the middle of a war of which the magnitude and scale have never been seen or felt by most people during that period.

Foremost of the World War II stories that happened was those about the Battle of Ising which happened when Ising in the present-day Municipality of Carmen was still part of the territory of then-Municipality of Tagum.

Among the Tagumenyos who fought during the Second World War was Alfredo Pulmano, who was acknowledged as the first teacher in the Municipality. In the Battle of Ising, a book which chronicled the untold story of the 130th Infantry Regiment stationed in Magdum, Pulmano gave his account on how he was working as a spy, including how he fared during those three years:
In the year 1942, I was contacted by the Spaniards to collect information on all the members of the espionage because Magugpo was the last station of the Japanese for three years in the years 1941-1944… I was a private contact man information of the (U.S.) Army of the 24th Division.

Our headquarters was in Magugpo…The 130th Infantry had to go forward and we followed to Bincungan then Tuganay… There were many radio specialists in the 130th including myself, Americans and Filipinos. Our communications will go directly to the head, Childress, Laureta. During the battle of Ising I was to relay message only.

I was not a prisoner of war but I was imprisoned by the Japanese four times when I was working at the Japanese airfield established in Bunawan. I cannot forget when I was imprisoned in the garrison in Magugpo…Then because there was a co-member in espionage by the Japanese, they told that I was one of the members of the espionage. On my 4th day, there was a battle of guerrillas in Magdum and they ambushed two trucks of soldiers going to Maco and Mawab (Vallejo, 2015, pp. 200-201).

Through all the storied accounts collected from the veterans of World War II’s Battle of Ising, the ones about Col. Claro Laureta reverberated both positively and negatively and these were agreed upon by a number of persons who worked under him during the years when the war was raging on.

Soldiers and even commanding officers attested that they did not see Laureta at Ising, when the fighting was at its deadliest. He did not join in the attack and was always just giving orders to attack the Japanese forces that were trying to cross the Ising River to go to Magdum and then head to Agusan to flee the advancing American troops. (Vallejo, 2015, pp. 145,148)

In one of the accounts of those who fought the battle, it was bared that the head of the 130th Infantry Regiment was stripped of his designation because he had bad records that were heard in the US, such as womanizing and senseless killings of civilians. He was said to have been replaced by Major Silva who did not give Laureta the chance to join the company. Laureta was said to have stayed at the regiment’s headquarters and was therefore not present during the battle of Ising (Vallejo, 2015, p. 168).

Other accounts also stated that Claro Laureta was a good leader who had the ability to organize the 130th Infantry. Others described him as one who had traits of bravery; that he was a good person who did not stay in one place as he often visited as well as inspected every company under him (Vallejo, 2015, pp. 163,182,199,203).

One soldier admired Laureta for being good to his men, no matter what rank they each possessed, another respected him because he was a good commander who liked his subordinate who did not complain much and carried out the orders and techniques during the war (Vallejo, 2015, pp. 146,160).

The truth about Colonel Claro Laureta could have been that he was both liked and disliked by those he worked with. His presence at the battle in Ising was questionable at best, at least for those who fought to keep the Japanese from crossing the river, even after the passing of 50 years.

Little had been known about the man whose name would later be borne in both the elementary school and the secondary school the location of which extended to edge of the Tagum-Liboganon River. That a relocation site established by the local government unit bore his name implied his importance to the history of Tagum and that should be given the focus it deserved.

The Mansaka tribe of Magdum was also not spared the hardships and fear caused by the advance of the Japanese troop who soon became attracted to the beauty of their place. The people of the tribe would gather and hide themselves in a safe place, but would at once move and transfer to another place they thought is safer than the last one should they learn about the nearby presence of the Japanese people.

To survive while being hidden from the eyes of the foreigners, the Mansaka people would cook the food they planted and produced in the middle of the forest using a method where no smoke would come out so that they would not be detected by the Japanese troops. To be able to move fast in case they need to transfer to another area, the Mansaka clans of Magdum would use an “a’at”, a container made of abaca to place all their food and valuables (Bayangoan, 2017)
Not everyone in Tagum, however, experienced bad things at the hands of the Japanese forces during the Second World War. Datu Diama of Bincungan was able to establish a good relationship with the Japanese who viewed him positively because he allowed them to utilize his lands and cultivate these into farms. As a consequence, the members of the Kagan tribe who were under his rule were spared from being killed because the Japanese soldiers would announce to them that a Huwes de Kutsilyo would be conducted, thereby allowing him to warn his people so that they could escape (Jumah, 2018).

A Maranao who ventured down south to Tagum in search of greener pastures also endured persecution from the Japanese troops the very moment he arrived in the municipality. Maito Mama had been wanting to come to the locality when he heard that there was a Japanese Base in town because he thought it would mean good business.

Upon his arrival, however, the Japanese Military stationed in Tagum captured him and ordered him to dig a hole as his own grave. The men proceeded to shot him when the hole he dug was big and deep enough for his body. Fortunately enough, the Maranao miraculously remained alive. This was the start of his being made the servant of the Japanese soldiers. As he became close to the foreigners, he was able to protect the Muslims in the area.

Original Setlers
Before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors at the shores of the northern part of the Davao Gulf, the locality already had various tribes thriving in the vastness of what would later become a non-ancestral domain. Home to three major tribes: the Kagan, Mandaya and Mansaka, Tagum boasts of a richness in history and culture, and shares a relevant background in relation to the entry of the Spanish, American and Japanese forces who came to encroach the fertile lands of Tagum.

These three tribes view the rivers of Liboganon, Saug, Hijo and Tagum as historical landmarks, one that became part of the lives of their ancestors, their refuge in times of war and the place where they went to trade and find other means of living.

The Kagan elders narrated that the word “Kagan” comes from the root word Ka’ag, which means “to inform or to warn” (Historical Account of Kagan as Narrated by Jerry Wahab B. Porza, 2001). The name may mean two things: that of being ascribed by others, and that being ascribed by their own people.

According to Datu Belardo Bungad, the name Ka’ag was not ascribed by other people, rather it is their people who called themselves as such for they need to be warned about the intruding Chinese, Muslim missionaries, Spanish conquistadors, American invaders and the Japanese war-mongers who came to pillage the locality in that particular order, though years apart in actuality.

On the other hand, the ascription of the Kagan Tribe by others originated from the Mansakas of Compostela Valley. In this version, Kagan comes from the word kyakarag which means “to warn”. Another one that is also attributed from the Mansaka tribe is the word mangaragan meaning the “head hunting tribe”.

Another ascription based on an oral tradition recounted a person from Tagasug saying “Kyalagan ko na” which meant “I have found it”, referring to the Kagan tribe of which he was a part. That the members of the Kagan tribe were formerly called as “Kalagan” was because the word was said to have been derived from “Kyalagan.” One of the clan representatives in barangay Bincungan also shared the oral lore from a Maranao person who, referring to the Kagan tribe, asked “Wain yang lugar ng Karagan?” which in English meant “Where is the place of Karagan?” (Casilen, 2018)

The Kagan tribe has occupied their ancestral domain since time immemorial and has been considering the lands encompassed therein as their life – the value of their existence. They believe that Tagallang na Magbabaya, the creator of the entire universe, has entrusted them with the responsibilities to manage and ensure that the endowments from these lands will provide security for them as well as the tribe’s future generations.

Traditionally, the Kagan community invoked the concept of self-delineation in identifying their traditional landmarks. Some marked their territories with bodies of water which can be gleaned by the establishment of the early settlements of the Kagan tribe along the coastal area that stretched from the present-day barangays of Madaum, Liboganon and Busaon as well as along the Tagum- Liboganon River that meandered around Pagsabangan, Canocotan, Bincungan and Liboganon and the Hijo River that flows thru Apokon, Tipas (now part of Magugpo East), and Pandapan.

Settlements were also put up along the Hijo River which, prior to the coming of the Spaniards, was known as Iyo. The name “Iyo” was said to have been a Kagan chant, a means for the Kagan tribe to communicate to their tribesmen by imitating the sound of the Antolihao bird. When the word was chanted out loud by a Kagan, the word had to be shouted back in response as a means of recognizing the tribal identity of the newly-arrived tribesmen, thus gaining entry to their territory (Makaigad, 2018).

Aside from marking their territories with bodies of water, the Kagan also used huge trees such as Durian and Baluno as well as the Bamboo grass as their marker. Another marker includes stones which used to identify sacred places such as burial and worship ground. The usual symbols found in Kagan burial grounds are tombstones and common plants beside the burial sites such as Jampaka or kalachuchi and kila.

The Kagan maintained a seemingly close relationship with the Mansaka and the Mandaya, an indication of a life of co-existence and co-sharing in the vast territory that would become known as Tagum. This co-sharing and co-existing was exhibited in the way that the Kagans allowed the members of the two indigenous tribes to traverse their territories to get to present-day Liboganon and Madaum just so the two groups could get staple parts of their household food such as salt.

Culturally speaking, the Kagan tribe is similar to Mansaka and Mandaya as these indigenous tribes also valued the conduct of rituals, and referred to their God as Tagallang na Magbabaya. Not quite unlike the Kagan, the two other major tribes of Tagum also lived along the riverbanks since their way of life had also been connected to fishing and farming.

A Kagan community is governed by a Datu who has its Council of Elders who were formed so as to eventually attend to the general affairs of said community. The leadership usually provided solution to problems based on their customary laws, and on other major cultural and traditional practices.

The history of Kagan Datus in Madaum began in 18th century. The existence of their political governance was already imminent at the onset of the Spanish period. Following the Pre-Spanish era leadership of Datu Daugdugan who was known among the Kagan tribe members as the first Datu of their community, Datu Mangkiyas, who hailed from the then- part of Madaum (now San Isidro), would emerge as the leader of Madaum (Pongo & Bungad, 2018). These were followed by Datu Belalang (1855- 1875), Datu Pampang (1875-1895), Datu Malila (1895-1915), Datu Arimao (1915-1935) and Datu Bungad (1935-1968).

Among the Kagan datus known in Liboganon before the organization of Tagum into a municipal district and until a few years into its becoming a town were Datu Garcia, Datu Lupusan, Datu Subahana and Datu Ukado who ruled the area in succession. The datus who exercised supervision over their community affairs in Bincungan were Datu Diama and Datu Ginggon. Incidentally, the Kagan tribes in Apokon had been traditionally governed by the Datu of Madaum, while those living in Pagsabangan are under the governance of the Datu of Bincungan.

The indigenous political structure of the Kagan tribe is also composed of the Kuwano who is a warrior whose task to maintain peace and order include the protection of the members of the community; the Balyan who is the tribe’s healer, priest and adviser on spiritual matters, the one who takes charge of the administration of the traditional medicines, as well as the custodian of ceremonial laws who performs the rituals and such other spiritual undertakings; and the Biya who is a woman leader of royal blood, and may either be a wife, an aunt or a younger sister of the Datu who must have good knowledge and wisdom to take better care of the women’s affairs.

Over the course of many years, the Kagan population had dwindled in numbers. During their resistance against the rule of the foreign-led government, large numbers of the Kagan inhabitants, then referred to as Moros by the Spanish people, had been wiped out which, according to Datu Belardo Bungad, became the saddest story of his ancestors. Decades later, the population further underwent a reduction when an outbreak of Malaria happened during the Japanese occupation.

The majority of the members of the Kagan tribe can be found presently living in Barangays Madaum, Bincungan, Busaon, Libuganon, Apokon, and San Isidro, which used to be part of Madaum, as well as in portions of Magugpo East, which was formerly known as Tipas. Some Kagan settlements can also be found in Pagsabangan, Magugpo Poblacion, Magugpo South and Canocotan.

One of Tagum’s dominant indigenous groups, the Mandaya tribe is a native community or Tipanud in the area who usually live near an upstream of a river that is both their source of livelihood and the means of transportation.

The word Mandaya came from the words “man” and “daya” which means “people” from the “upstream”. Additionally, Mandaya is said to have originated from the interpretation of an utterance of those who live downstream who would say, “Magdagum da kita kay kumadto kita sa daya,” which translates to “Let’s get dressed because we will go upstream.” The dagum referred to in the statement is the traditional Mandaya blouse worn by people who were implied to have wanted to go upstream using the traditional bangay or gakit to attend a traditional community dancing organized by the baylan. (Cipro, 2018)

In present-day Tagum, the members of the Mandaya tribe number to more than 8,500 based on the 2016 data gathered on a survey conducted by the respective leaders of the tribe in barangays Mankilam, Pagsabangan, San Miguel, Canocotan and Cuambogan. About 70% of the Mandaya tribes people chose to stay at the barangays where their ancestors once lived and died. Some Mandayas, however, migrated to the neighboring territories due to intermarriages among other tribes such as Mansaka, Kagan, Dibabawon and Sama.

The Mandaya tribe fosters a good relationship with those from the tribes of Kagan and Mansaka due in part to their co-sharing the big territory that would become Tagum. The fact that they were able to establish respect and understanding brought about by being able to understand each other due to the huge similarities – 95% — in their languages with the only difference being the manner by which they speak, their accent, tenses and intonations.

Known for their generosity, the Mandayas are highly spiritual, yet their spirituality is not borne out of some sort of animalistic belief but rather comes from their relationship with the community and environment.

The Mandayas are brave but peace-loving, friendly and diplomatic but with a strong personality. They exhibit a sense of pride, dignity and self-importance most especially among people who are from outside their tribal community, and their sensitivity and self-consciousness tend to make them observe propriety in social gatherings, or be offended when ignored or treated with indifference. They are a principled lot and thus could not be easily swayed by favour or monetary token, viewing their integrity as a Mandaya as more important than fleeting allure of money or material possessions.

The traditional political structure of the Mandaya tribe is headed by a Datu or Bia who, as the supreme leader, must be a teacher, mediator and adviser to the members of the community; a culture master who officiates traditional ceremonies like tribal weddings and such other celebrations; and a judge who Implements and executes the delivery of their justice system.

In the barangays of Tagum where communities of the Mandaya tribe are settled, this traditional supreme leadership fell within the shoulders of Datu Apolinario Pandacan and Datu Severe Mandaya of Pagsabangan; Datu Vicente Magkidong and Datu Vicente Magkidong, Jr. of Mankilam; Datu Mariano Navarro Lolo, Datu Flores Lulu and Datu Orlando Lulu of Canocotan. On the other hand, the cultural elders of San Miguel had stated that only the people belonging to the ancestry of Datu Aquilino Navarro were known to have become the leaders of the said area, while Datu Benjamin Mandaya Catalan, according to Bia Amie Catalan- Colotario and other elders, was said to have been the only traditional leader to emerge from Cuambogan.

As of today, the renowned leaders of this generation are the legatees of the said leaders mentioned above who continued the legacy of their ancestors in protecting the rights and welfare of the Indigenous Peoples as well as the Indigenous Cultural Communities.

Traditional leaders of the Mandaya also include the Baylan who is the community’s spiritual healer who can foresee future happenings, such as calamities and disasters. As a priest or priestess, the Baylan performs rituals yet does not conduct wedding ceremonies. The Mandaya communities in the city recognized the Baylan from Pagsabangan, Mankilam, Cuambogan and Canocotan as legendary.

The Bagani is the warrior of the tribe whose main responsibility had been to protect the community from enemies as well as to ensure that the customary laws are being religiously followed. A Kalalaysan is a full-pledged bagani who killed more than fifty enemies, invaders or criminals in defense of the Mandaya territory.

The members of the Mandaya communities are among the original settlers of Tagum and they have been in possession of their land since before the 18th century. They lived simply, foraging their territory for means that would provide them with their sustenance and basic needs. The advent of the downward migration of the people from the north – one that was encouraged by the government – saw the ownership of the vast territorial lands of the Mandaya change hands. It has been acknowledged that their vulnerability and hospitality — two good traits possessed by these people that had a negative outcome — allowed the migrants, with whom they traded their real property for materials that were a curiosity to them, to settle down and cultivate what should have been lands of ancestral domain, thereby shifting the title to the territory in favour of the newly-arrived people from the north.

The Tipanud of the Mandaya clans in Tagum can be found in the barangays of Mankilam, Cuambogan, Pagsabangan, Canocotan (formerly known as Lawa-an), and San Miguel which was once known as Kalaya-an.

It has been said that the term Mansaka was derived from the words “man,” meaning “first” and “saka,” meaning “to ascend.” In other words, Mansaka meant “the first people to ascend the mountains or go upstream.”

Datu Victor Pandian of Barangay New Balamban had backed up this definition, stating that during the early times, the Mansaka people would always run upstream, especially when they would be visited by strangers since they considered the upstream as their refuge from dealing with people who do not belong to them tribe. They did not want to be influenced by the Muslim missionaries, Spaniards, American and Japanese colonizers. As Mansakas, they enjoy being isolated from the mainstream society Dr. Macario Tiu, on the other hand, defined Mansaka as people of the clearings, or saka, and further explained how the former description came to be:

The Bisayans erroneously (or perhaps in jest) interpret Mansaka to mean “people who go up or live up,” from the Bisayan meaning of saka “to go up or climb” (Tiu, 2005, p. 71).

Meanwhile, Datu Aguido Sucnaan, Sr. added that prior to being called as “Mansaka,” their people had once been called as “utaw” which meant an indigenous person with innate character and virtues. They see themselves as people with dignity and responsibility to the community, and would do their best to take care of their environment which is the source of everything.

The Mansaka believes in the existence of Magbabaya, the highest God, and the spirits who guard and protect the nature. They traditionally believe that the land is provided by the Magbabaya, and considers their land as a very important possession which they inherited from their ancestors especially because they are dependent on the resources found within their domain. They have a strong adherence to their land, viewing it as their life, but recognizing that they are only its stewards, with responsibilities to till and manage the land properly to enjoy its bounty. These responsibilities include the conduct of activities from planting until harvesting based on their traditional beliefs that involve the performance of rituals officiated by a Baylan to ensure that they would end up having a good harvest.

The tribe also considers it their responsibility to protect, defend and handle the land well enough to be able to bequeath it to the next generation. Traditionally, the manner by which the land is passed on to the younger generation is through the elder of the clan who would be one to delineate it using traditional boundaries such as rivers, creeks and mountains. Signs for boundaries are also observed by way of huge rocks, big trees such as narra or budbud, as well as through waterfalls. This practice of distributing the land which had been effective during the time of their ancestors is presently still observed.

Several of the members of the Mansaka tribe viewed the arrival of the migrants in an adverse light considering their experiences of being displaced after the newcomers to the locality were given leave by the national government to acquire much of their lands which should have been part of their ancestral domain.

In an interview with the descendant of Datu Ayok, one of the original Mansaka clan who settled in Magugpo, he recounted how his family’s combined landholdings stretched from present day Banco de Oro (BDO) to the area where the University of Mindanao stands. The title to their vast lands was later said to have been transferred to several migrant settlers as a result of the exchange of tobaccos, sardines and alcoholic beverages from the migrants and the good will of the tribespeople. When development caused by the migrants slowly started to take place in the said area, their clan was forced to uproot their family and transfer to New Balamban to live peacefully with the Pandian Family and the rest of the clans belonging to the Mansaka tribe (Ayok, 2018).

Further interview with the Mansaka tribal leaders revealed that among the barangays of Tagum, the areas originally inhabited by the Mansaka Tribe are New Balamban, Magdum, Pandapan, Apokon, San Agustin and Magugpo; these barangays were called by other names by the tribe members before their names were changed into what we know today.

When the area was still a secluded one, New Balamban used to be known as Tago, a name that was referring to the waters from the upland area that would connect with the Hijo River. The name change came about when migrants from Balamban, Cebu came to settle down at the territory and lived with the people of the indigenous community peacefully enough to warrant being given leave to do so when they requested the Pandian clan whose leader, Datu Bisti ,was the chieftain of the tribe, to have the name Tago changed to New Balamban in honor of their place of origin.

The Mansaka clans that are known in New Balamban are Mailan, Mabayao, Ondagan, Bilawan, Ambingan, Datuan, Matondo, and the Pandian clan from which the known leaders or “Pyagmatikadungan” of the place came from.

The name Pandapan was culled from Pyandarapan, which referred to the prevalence of the skin disease which they called ilab or dapaw, and which killed all the Mansaka tribe members of the area who, after falling victim to the said sickness, bathed and applied oil all over their body to heal their affected bodies. Since the Mansaka tribe had difficulty in pronouncing the word Pyandarapan, it resulted to them simply saying Pandapan when asked about the name of their place.

It bears noting, however, that Mapawman was the original name of Pandapan, which referred to the body of water which the Mansaka perceived to be small but would increase enough in size and depth during rainy seasons to become impassable. The name change came about in the 1930s when Datu Tukona, the first known leader of the Mansaka clans in Pandapan, agreed to have it changed after the prevalent skin disease became epidemic (Sucnaan Sr., 2018).

Among the early clans of the area are the Tukona, Sucnaan, Pinang, Buwangan, Ganad, Ansugan, Salimpataw, Suclian and Pausta.

The barangay of San Agustin, on the other hand, had once been known as Pinul’wan. According to the elders of the tribe, there was a great flood which caused damage to persons and properties. Despite the deluge’s intensity and magnitude, however, its flood waters failed to reach the area which remained intact. Thus, came the name Pinul’wan, from the word Pulo – and islet formed from an island surrounded by a body of water left after the flood (Gomez, 2018). The original inhabitant of the area is the clan of Bangkaylan Pipilay.

Meanwhile the barangays of Apokon, Magdum and Magugpo still retained the names by which they are known by the Mansaka tribe: Apokon was named after the word apok-apok which meant dusty, and described a particular area in the olden-day Apokon which was covered in dust (Perez, 2018). Another account stated that the term Apokon was taken from a small portion of the place located along Hijo River which had a grayish color (Sucnaan Sr., 2018). The original Mansaka clans of Apokon are those of Dodongan, Camilo, Maynola, Benaning, Badidi and Tagaod who maintained their sense of pride and remained true to their cause of protecting their identity and cultural heritage.

The name Magdum comes from the word mag’dum, a connotation related to the darkness in the area due to the thick forest that was filled with balite trees and native bamboos that covered even the riverbanks in the area. The abundance of trees in old Magdum enabled big white monkeys and poisonous snakes to thrive in the area which the Mansaka tribespeople feared, and as such, caused them to name the place as mag’dum.

Magugpo was called as such in reference to a movement one had to perform: one had to jump from one point to another before they could get to their eventual destination since the area, which at that time was also a thick forest filled with badyang — a gabi-like plant that created an itchy and tingling feeling when touched — had been covered with swampy and muddy portions (Egay, 2018)

Datu Sucnaan, Sr. had stated that before the coming of the Muslim missionaries, the Mansaka, Kagan and Mandaya used to be closely associated with each other as they shared similar culture and tradition. Over time, the tribes separated and became divided, with the Mansakas going up to the mountains, the Mandayas moving to the upper portion of the river and the Kagan staying by the seashore or the riverside.

In Tagum, the close association or relation of the members of the tribes belonging to Kagan, Mandaya and Mansaka was a product of intermarriages among the members of the three tribes who are also the original settlers of the locality. This bond by consanguinity, however, was not a hindrance to their being able to maintain their respective customs and traditions.

The indigenous socio-political structure of the Mansaka tribe, established to promote order, maintain security and advance the development of their communities, is composed of the Mangkatadung, or the council elders, which is the highest policy-making body that oversees the governance of the entire tribe or its cultural communities or territories.

The Datu or Pyagmatikadung, on the other hand, is considered to be the ultimate head of the tribe, the one who determines the economic and political life of the Mansaka, gives wise counsel to his people, and, among others, hears and decides cases or resolves conflict involving members of the tribal community. The known datus of the Mansaka tribe during the olden days were San Agustin’s Datu Bangkaylan Pipilay and Datu Lubaan, Magdum’s Datu Bayangoan Mansaka, Apokon’s Datu Liwanan and Datu Ramon Tagaod, Datu Bisti Pandian of New Balamban and Pandapan’s Datu Buwangan, Datu Pirto Salimpatao and Datu Ganad.

The first wife of the Datu also has a role to play in the hierarchy of the Mansaka tribe. Generally acting to serve and assist his husband, and stand as the leader of the Datu’s other wives, the Gibubayan may act as a leader who would entertain visitors in the absence of her husband (Sucnaan Sr., 2018). The second wife of the Datu, called the Duway, would act as the assistant of the Gibubayan whose many tasks also include giving orders and other instructions, or basically assisting the kabubayan (women) in the facilitation of farming activities (Pandian, 2018).

Meanwhile, the Kyalalaysan is one of the prominent leaders of the Tribe who has the same stature and prestige as that of the highest leaders of other churches and knows all kinds of rituals which require the singing and chanting when performing them. He generally comes from a family of Balyan. The current Kyalalaysan of the Mansaka tribe of Tagum, Datu Aguido Sucnaan, Sr., succeeded his grandfather, Datu Tangkunay, who was once a Kyalalaysan of the Mansaka tribe in Pandapan. Other Kyalalaysan of the olden times include Datu Lantones, Datu Manggang, Datu Kalipayan, Datu Uyop Uyopan and Datu Mailom.

The warrior class of the Mansaka Tribe, which is also an important aspect of its political structure, include the the Linambos which led the community based on the advice given by the Datu or Pyagmatikadung; the Bagani who are highly respected by all the members of the community and are responsible for looking after the security of the community and its clan members, ensuring that no harm, danger or ill-intentions from their enemies would befall the tribe; and the Maniklad who are members of the warrior class but of lower rank than the preceding warrior types.

Lastly, the Balyan, who is either male or female, is an important part of the structure of the Mansaka tribe. They are spiritual healers and doctors known as intelligent persons and are respected by the members of the tribe. Their knowing the cause of a tribespeople’s illness and their corresponding traditional medications had them viewed as someone endowed with special wisdom. They call out to the Magbabaya and other deities for guidance and intervention whenever necessary.

Migrant Muslim Settlers
Iranun Tribe
The word Iranun was derived from two words: Ira, which means residue, remains or silt and referring to a place, area or the culture, and Nun, which pertains to the people of the said place, with distinct culture, laws, and belief. Originally from the Sultanate of Maguindanao, the Iranun is a Moro ethnic group that spread out to every and all corners of Mindanao.

As one of the migrant Muslims who settled in Tagum, the Iranun tribe’s appearance in the locality was started by Saban Bantilan of Noling, Sultan Kudarat in 1945. The first one of his tribe to arrive in Tagum, particularly at Bianggan in Km 47, he decided to settle down after being convinced of the suitability of the place for a peaceful and more comfortable life for him and his family. His decision to migrate from his place of origin was predicated on the instability of finding sources of livelihood in the area.

Their means of livelihood upon their arrival and subsequent settling down in Tagum had been grass cutting as well as serving as laborers to the prominent Kagan families. During that time, the primary source of living had been land cultivation through farming.

It was only after the passage of more than 20 years, in 1966, when another family from the Iranun tribe arrived in Tagum. By that time, the lumber and logging industry in the locality had become a booming industry, which had been among the reasons why Bundran Sapadas and his wife, Bagoraga Owa, decided to move to the 25-year old municipality. It was said that they rode the Mintranco Bus to Tagum and arrived at Silawan, in what is now Barangay Magugpo West, which they described to have been a grassland.

According to Datu Ato Sapadas who is one of the children of Bundran Sapadas and Bagoraga Owa, his parents migrated to the municipality of Tagum because of the war in Cotabato and that the political instability in the area forced them to leave their hometown where their means of income was the sapling of lumber. They described Tagum at that time as peaceful, with a woodland landscape and where concrete roads were still a thing of the future.

The Iranun had a reputation of being excellent in maritime activities which is probably why most of the members of the Iranun tribe living in Tagum today are engaged in fishing. This is especially true to those living near the northern portion of the Davao Gulf. On the other hand, the rest of those who are not in involved in fishing are found to raise food crops alongside their Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors.

Presently, the members of the Iranun tribe in Tagum can be found living in the barangays of Bincungan and Magugpo West.

Maguindana Tribe
According to Nor-aisa Macaraya the word “Maguindanaon” means “people of Maguindanao Province”. In other definition, their name means “people of the plains”. The Maguindanaon people are part of the wider Moro ethnic group, who constitute the sixth largest Filipino ethnic group and also originally occupy the basin of the Pulangi River.

Maguindanao influence extended as far as Zamboanga in the west, Cagayan de Oro in the north, Sarangani in the South and Davao Province in the east including Tagum. It is believed that during these years, the Sultanate reached Tagum and started Maguindanaon influence in the area; intermarriage with the prominent Kagan families of that time particularly in Bincungan and Madaum, being among the influences mentioned.

Based on the testimony of Imam Guiama Kamsa, their clan’s settling in Tagum in 1947 was prodded by business opportunities presenting themselves to them. His father, Abdul Amerkhan, had been the first from their tribe to go to Tagum to sell carabaos. They travelled the distance from Cotabato to Davao, travelling on a rough road by foot. After a month of walking, the finally arrived at a point in Tagum and decided right then to stay in town to try their luck.

They brought more than 30 carabaos with them to sell to people who waited along the streets they passed on in hopes of buying the beasts of burden. Fortunately, all the carabaos were already sold at a price of 40 pesos a piece when they arrived at the swampy and forested Tagum where houses seen erected were made of nipa.

The Maguindanaon Tribe are traders, farmers and fisherfolks. The usual objects they would offer in trade are their own produced brassware, trays, urns and other native crafts. Aside from selling those produce, the tribespeople are also in the business of weaving and carving, which is a rich tradition that they possess and for which they are known due to their artistry and creativity.

Since the arrival of the migrant Muslim settlers in 1947 in Tagum from Cotabato, the members of the Maguindanaon tribe have been living in the barangays of Madaum, Bincungan, Libuganon, Busaon, San Isidro, San Miguel and the Magugpo West.

Maranao Tribe
The term “Maranao” means lake dweller or “People of the Lake” referring to their inhabiting the lake area located in North Central Mindanao since the 13th century, at the very least. The tribe of Maranao is one of the three Muslim groups who is indigenous to the island of Mindanao.

The Maranao people contribute significantly to the market and trade industry as they are known for their entrepreneurism, a trait which they have observed and taken as their own from the Chinese traders.

A member of the Maranao tribe, who had been the first of this particular migrant Muslim tribe to have settled in Tagum from their place of origin, arrived in the locality in 1938. Mama Maito or Maito Mama had decided to migrate to Tagum when he heard that there was a Japanese base in the locality. He had equated the presence of the Japanese in the area as a precursor to having a good business.

Their means of transportation at that time was the Yellow Bus, which took them three days before arriving to Tagum, which was still a municipal district during that period. Mama Maito arrived at what is now called Quirantee II and he described it as a rugged environment and recalled the area where Rotary Park now stands as still a grassland.

On the same year, Mama Maito together with a business man named Misa (Hermogenes A. Misa) cut off all trees in the area. After clearing the said area they converted it into their residence and constructed houses for rent. When their relatives in Lanao heard that business in Tagum was good, they started to migrate here.

The Baunto clan of the Maranao tribe is also one of the prominent members of the Maranao people who have migrated to Tagum from their place of origin. The arrival of Hadji Razul Baunto in Tagum in 1958 was the event which paved the way for their settling down in the locality.

The people of the Maranao tribe can be found presently living in the barangays of Magugpo Poblacion, Magugpo West, Magugpo South, Visayan Village, Mankilam, Apokon and San Miguel in Tagum City

Tausug Tribe
The word Tausug comes from two words, Tau, which means people, and Sug, which means sea current. As such, the Tausug tribe are collectively described as the “people of the current” and are from the 400 or so islands of the Sulu Archipelago.

A Datu from the Jama’ah in Pandapan had recounted during an interview that the first of the Tausug tribe to have come and settle in Tagum was Mohammad Hape who was one of the soldiers of a sultan who was assigned in Davao. In 1920, Hape and some thirty other soldiers of this sultan docked in Bincungan after having sailed on a Kumpit from Carmen just so they could cross the Tagum River to get to Bincungan.

Due to this crossing the river divide that led the soldiers to meet Umpo Ali, an old man who brought them to Pandapan. After witnessing how peaceful the area in Pandapan was, Mohammed Hape decided to stay and live in the vicinity where he was able to plant and grow different plants such as ramie and abaca. The Datu of Pandapan at that time was still Datu Tukona who was succeeded by Datu Salimpataw and Datu Ganad (Hape, 2018).

Because of the good relationship which he was able to forge with the members of the Mansaka tribe in the months and years following his settling down in Pandapan, Mohammed Hape was assigned as the Teniente del Barrio for more than 10 years.

Datu Medani Hape noted that Tagum at that time was forested with lots of rice fields as well as corn fields; roads then were not yet concreted and the means of transportation for people residing in the municipal district was riding on horses.

In 1940, the relatives of Mohammed in Jolo had heard about how his life in Tagum had been a good one; this made them decide to try their luck at making a living in the area and transfer to Tagum for good. When they arrived at the locality, they cut down the grasses, cultivated the land and made it their settlement. They also found work as laborers for the Japanese.

As time went by, the Tausug population increased in Pandapan, and a number of the members of the tribe can now be found living in Barangay Nueva Fuerza, as well.

Migrant Settlers from the Indigenous Peoples Communities
The term Ata-Manobo was said to have originated from the tribe’s forefathers. Yet, no one from the older members of the tribe can exactly tell how they had become known as Ata- Manobo, only saying that they identified their ancestry as coming from the sub-tribe of the “big Manobo tribe.” They presumed that the word Ata was attached by either the settlers or those in the government to their ancestors’ tribe in reference to the Aeta tribe presently located in the central areas of Luzon.

Yet, orally stated personal accounts within the tribe abound about how they were originally called Ata but experienced being discriminated upon by the migrants which made the tribespeople feel as if the name left a negative connotation in that they did not feel like they were treated as humans. As such, they decided to incorporate the word Manobo in their identity because Manobo simply meant a man who dwells in the riverside.”

The Ata-Manobo is considered as a migrant indigenous tribe in Tagum, notwithstanding the presence of the tribe along the rivers and its tributaries in what used to be a territory of Tagum but is now part of the Municipality of Carmen.

One of the clans of the Ata-Manobo tribe who now dwells in Tagum had traced their origin as those who came from the lineage of the historical leaders of the Ata-Manobo in Talaingod. Bae Hermenia Maitem, who is also called Buwakay within her tribe, is the current Barangay Tribal Chieftain of Nueva Fuerza and the only person who is recognized as a leader of the tribe. In narrating the reason why she came to Tagum, in the 1970s, she had been very forthcoming in stating that she fled the marriage that was arranged for her by her parents when she was 12. Later in 1978, she married a man from Tagum and settled down in La Filipina before finally deciding to permanently live in Nueva Fuerza, where she became a barangay official before becoming a Barangay Tribal Leader which led her to finally become Nueva Fuerza’s Barangay Tribal Chieftain coming from the Ata-Manobo tribe.

The word Dibabawon means the tribe is always a winner. The term is derived from the native word dibabaw which means at the top, tip, or victorious (Tamong & Coguit, 2008). The structure of leadership of the Dibabawon tribe is composed of their cultural bearers called the Datu, the Maniguon or the Tribal Elders who act as the head or the leader and chosen by gathering the community together to make a consensus, the Tribal Council of Elders and the Balyan who is the tribe’s spiritual leader who heals sickness and performs rituals during festivities and other events.

The places where most of the Dibabawons reside are Laak, Monkayo, Montevista and Nabunturan in Compostela Valley; Asuncion and Kapalong in Davao del Norte; and Veruela, Agusan del Sur.
The Dibabawons are the descendants of Tagleyong who had nine children including Bagani Mandabon who died before the Spanish conquest and whose son was Bagani Pinamaylan, the first of the tribe to come to Tagum.

Oral tradition of the Dibabawon tribe states that Bagani Pinamaylan went to Tagum particularly in Pagsabangan during late 1800s to await the arrival of Datu Bago. Pagsabangan was the meeting place of the Dibabawon, Mangguangan, Mansaka and Mandaya. On that fateful day, Datu Bago who was known for being a pirate who kidnapped and enslaved young men and women from the different tribes fell into a trap made of bamboo sticks set up by the Mangguangan after being temporarily blinded by the sunrays reflected on the mirrors of Bagani Pinamaylan’s kalasag. Once caught inside the trap, Datu Bago was killed by the Dibabawon bagani using a bangkaw.

The Dibabawon Tribe of the present-day Tagum first came to the area in the hopes of finding a job or any means of livelihood to sustain them for their daily needs in order for them to be able to survive. The other reason why they moved down to Tagum was that of Paglinugwaay which meant visitations to other tribes. During the paglinugwaay, some of the tribe members decided to stay at the place where they visited which later led to intermarriage to a member of, say, the Mandaya tribe. After their marriage, the Dibabawon tribe settled down in their place.

The members of the Dibabawon Tribe at present live in the different barangays of Tagum City. Most of them can be found in the following: Barangay Pagsabangan where Bagani Pinamaylan first came, Barangay North where Datu Carlito Alejo, the only Dibabawon leader in Tagum City resides, as well as in Barangays Pandapan, Mankilam, Magugpo South, San Agustin, and Visayan Village. Some of them intermarried with the migrant settlers and with the other tribes.

Migrant Settlers from Luzon and Visayas
As it were anywhere else in the whole of Mindanao, Tagum also saw the downward migration of Christian Filipinos from places in the north, such as the islands of Luzon, Cebu, Bohol and Leyte, who came in droves after having been encouraged by the government to settle in its vast lands that encompassed modern-day Lasang and Panabo City at the south, Maco on the east and a portion of Mawab on the north. This state-sponsored immigration was hinged on the implementation of the government policy of developing and civilizing the Muslim and Tribal communities that dotted the municipal district of Tagum.

In the 1920s, courageous young men, both married and unmarried, answered the call to move down south and settle down in Tagum on the account that the pioneering migrant settlers each sought to find opportunities for a better life which they may have failed to achieve while they were still residing at their respective places of origin. These very first migrant settlers were not deterred by the jungle-like appearance of the municipal district where the relentless, dense vegetation were compounded with bugs and other insects usually found in bogs and other types of wetlands.

Quirino Magsanoc, Joaquin Pereyras and Macario Bermudez all came from Pangasinan and tried their luck at homesteading in 1920s Tagum with their families in tow. The real properties which they acquired from either the Mandaya or the Mansaka tribe who were Tagum’s original settlers, and which was supposed to form part of the ancestral domains of said indigenous tribes, were later turned into strips of lands which they used to entice their families, friends and neighbors who were still left at the towns where they were originally from, to come to Tagum.

The Magsanoc descendants and the Pereyras family would later donate vast tracts of these lands to the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte and the Local Government Unit of Tagum to be used for the Capitol Site and for the establishment of both the old and new Public Market, as well as the new Public Transport Terminal, respectively.

The Visayan islands of Bohol, Cebu and Leyte also churned out immigrants in the 1920’s. Manuel Suaybaguio, a Boholano who arrived in the area in 1929 became the first Mayor appointed to the post when the municipal district of Tagum was converted into a Municipality in 1941. He was instrumental in the construction of houses, drugstores and stores after the liberation of the Philippines in 1945. Meanwhile, Sulpicio Quirante, who migrated to Tagum via Cebu in 1929 was later appointed Vice- Mayor during the mayoralty of Suaybaguio. His family largely contributed to the development of the municipality by donating portions of his lands for the construction of the Roman Catholic Church and the establishment of the Rotary Park.

Uldarico Valdueza, a man of indeterminate age from Hilongos, Leyte, settled in Hijo to work in the abaca industry together with the Japanese decades before the outbreak of the second world war. Corazon Rojo, an intrepid miss from Sibonga, Cebu, also worked in the same abaca industry years before marrying a man that bears the surname Gabriel, a man from the island of Luzon. Corazon Rojo Gabriel and her husband became business pioneers and were among the key real estate lessors who greatly contributed to the town’s major infrastructural development before and after the war.

The intermarriages among the Melendres, the Briz, and the Senanggote of Cebu, resulted in the formation of one of the biggest extended families in Tagum whose greatest contribution in the development of the municipal district was mainly centered on the business aspect of real estate.

A decade into the mass settlements, the first pioneers, having found property and prosperity in the municipal district of Tagum, started convincing families and friends back in their respective places of origin to try their luck in homesteading at Tagum.

The new wave of migrant settlers of the 1930’s include those from Cebu like Hermogenes A. Misa whose family became business pioneers and real estate lessors of Tagum, having settled in what has become known as Misa District; and Elias Wakan whose son Eliseo, later became an integral part of the peace and order, as well as in development of the municipality of Tagum, having served as Chief of Police and Municipal Mayor.

Lucas Lopez, whose lineage settled first in Malita, Davao del Sur before traversing north to the municipal district, became the first municipal treasurer during the Suaybaguio leadership and his direct descendant, Allan, went on to serve the government and its people for more than two decades.

Rufo Rey from Bicol also migrated with his entire family to Tagum, settling down in Hijo prior to the approval of his Magdum-located homestead application. The Rey family donated a substantial number of parcels of land to be used for the Barangay Center, Chapel, Health Center and Day Care Center in Magdum. The political family of Estabillo was preceded by Nicolas O. Estabillo who migrated from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and was a pioneering and founding member of the Four Square Church in Tagum. His son, Prospero, the first licensed civil engineer in Tagum was later elected as Mayor of the Municipality of Tagum.

Leyte migrants also tried their hands at homesteading in 1930’s Tagum: Nicolas Edig, who, with his wife Herculina Edig, stayed in Canocotan and donated lands to be used for the Canocotan Elementary School, which was later renamed for his wife; Climaco Maurillo was a homesteader who first settled at the town’s crossing before relocating near the vicinity of what is now the Tagum City National High School (TCNHS). His family gratuitously gave a portion of his landholdings to establish Tagum Community HS, later renamed TCNHS, when the high school was moved from its old site at the back of the Municipal Hall; Gregorio Rabe, a homesteader who worked for the Abaca industry at Hijo after arriving in Tagum, later donated lands for then-PC (now PNP) Barracks and was one of the founders of Liberty Primary School, now named Visayan Village Elementary School

The 1930’s also paved the way for the much needed teachers- scholars of the Ilocos Region to venture down south to educate the growing number of elementary-aged children of the migrant settlers. These homesteaders-cum professional teachers include Alfredo Pulmano from Naguilian, La Union, who was the first ever teacher in Tagum; Bernardino Concepcion, Sr. of Balaoan, La Union who went on to become Tagum’s first Schools District Supervisor; Rafael Ferido, Sr. who was the first Head Teacher of what is now La Filipina Elementary School; and Felix Gazmen of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur whose daughter Gloria Gazmen founded and opened Tagum Community High School (now Tagum City National High School) as well as La Filipina High School. Rogelio Apura Sr., who was originally from Ilo-ilo, contributed to the cause of education by becoming one of the pioneering teachers of Magugpo Pilot Central Elementary School after the liberation. On the other hand, Francisco dela Cruz of Balaoan, La Union helped in the promotion of the Education by donating portion of his lands to establish La Union Elementary School.

Clearly, the daring of these very first settlers resulted in the commencement of Tagum’s modernization. It is due to the fortitude of these young men and their families who were undaunted by long years of hard labor associated with homesteading, the approval of which is conditioned upon actual cultivation and residence for agricultural purposes, that the municipal district was transformed into a municipality. These same people were the ones who risked their lives and limbs, working on bogs-filled and bugs-infested alienable and disposable lands of the public domains to provide a better future for their children so that their children’s children would be better equipped at caring for and giving importance on the blood, sweat and hard work that were poured by their ancestors to ensure that Tagum would be what it has become today.

When Tagum was organized as a Municipal District in 1917 by virtue of Act No. 2711, or the Revised Administrative Code of the Philippine Islands, its government was overseen by the Kagan tribe living along the Tagum River in what could have been the general vicinity of the present-day barangays of Bincungan and Busaon in Tagum, and Barangays Taba and La Paz in Carmen.

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

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