Friday, January 6, 2012

Nature's Revenge

A Mapulog’s Story: A Case Study of Backlash

Janet Braza

Long before, the Magahat tribe believed in deity – they worshipped everything they thought are awesome to them such as rocks, giant trees, even the coves of huge stones. They gathered fruits and hunted animals to offer to their gods.

They had no permanent shelters for they are like nomads. They stayed from one place to another looking for food . For their main food, they depended more on fruits they harvested and relied on hunting animals. They wore dresses woven from leaves and fur. They dwelt mostly in tree coves and stones. Magahat warriors stayed on high trees as overseer for any possible danger from their enemies.

Once, in the place where they had dwelt, there was a famine. Since the drought was all over of the land, the Magahat Head summoned his men to look for food. The men came back with a bundle of “pulog,” and then cooked it over the fire. While they tasted it, it was yummy. Because of this discovery, they moved to the place where they gathered “pulog.”

A pulog is a fruit of a yam, locally known as “ubi.” Ubi is a vine crop. Its texture and color are different from the rootcroop. “Pulog” is reddish-blue or dull-red (maroon) in color while its rootcrop, the “ubi” is magenta-blue (violet or bluish purple/ubihon) in color.

Because of its indigenous color it can also be used as dye of their clothing. Hence, they named the place Mapulog derived from the fruit crop of ubi, which means “the abundance of pulog.” From then on, they stayed , yet not for long because they are nomadic in nature.

The Higaunon (Iliganun, a highlander tribe) stayed at Mapulog and honored the Magahat for the name they gave to the place.

But the Magahat story was only part of Mindanao’s oral history—a story that serves as birthmark of their identity passed on from generation to generation. So far, there were no records of the Magahat as where they had stayed long and where they are now.

A certain Teodolfo , a cross-breed Higaunon born in 1935 claimed that the early settlers were the Higaunon. According to him, the Magahat were just a tell-tale of their great grandfather’s foreknowledge. The Magahat is ancestor of the Higaunon, they were big people like giants unlike the Aetas inLuzon who were smal in bodybuilt. He said that the Magahats are no longer existing except theo the Higaunons who settled at the northern part of Mapulog, in the high mountains between Misamis Orriental and the two provinces of Lanao.

In 1930’s, Mapulog is a rainforest. All of the land was covered with forests. When a Higaunon married a Bisaya native from the outskirts down the river, they likely have traded their produce of their land from the upland. Trade came in and intermarriages were common. Now, they settled in the valley of Mapulog.

In 1940’s, Mapulog became a timberland. Small skilled loggers came to Mapulog and grabbed the latter’s opportunity to own some acres of land. The settlers (the Mapulogs) became the tillers.

In 1950’s there were ten households. Mapulog was only a sitio of Barangay Naawan (now a town) in the Municipality of Initao, which was still a forested area, with lots of monkeys, wild boars, deer and antelopes. There were spirits also like the nix that lived on “balite” (a deity tree of their ancestors) trees.

June 14, 1957, Mapulog became a barangay of Naawan since the latter was separated from the Municipality of Initao.It was the time also that settlers moved to Mapulog where they introduced indigenous farming such as slash and burn (kaingin) which became their practice.

In 1958, they had a first barangay election. Pergitina Dadole became the “teniente de barangay”. She served the barangay from 1958-1982.

As “kaingin” became a trend in 1960’s, charcoal making became a livelihood. This was also the time that the number of settlers were doubled. Because of this increase in settlers’ population, half of the forests were denuded. There weas no conflict among the settlers, only that this time they were experiencing droughts and famine. Most of the women tilled the land; the men went to gather some timber.

During this time, a timber-financier named Bulusan volunteered to give assistance to the settlers—i.e., he would exchange a sack of RCA (now NFA) rice with a small amount of cash in exchange for charcoal. This charcoal was made from the branches and butts of hardwood trees that remained after the settlers cut down trees (antipolo, narra, acacia, teak, and other hardwood trees) for timber.

In 1970’s, only 25% of the forest was left. Their main source of money-making was sawing. Some of them had left tilling their lands. Most likely, the women are the gardeners and men goes with timbering.

The first mayor of Naawan was Roberto Ong –a Chinese-Filipino conquistador/landgrabber businessman. He owned wide hectares of land from Monulogan-Opol to Naawan. Dadole Salvador became the first governor. The basis of leadership in their place was those who were owners of vast land planted with coconuts. This basis was also true to the barangay leaders. The more land you have, the bigger chance you have to be a leader.

In 1980’s none of the hardwood trees were left. The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) introduced them tree farming. The DENR gave them seedlings of aruma, mahogany, gemilina, Indian, and fruit-bearing trees.

For almost a year, they also experienced famine from droughts .

In 1982, Felomina Dadole was elected as barangay chairwoman until 1986.

In 1984, they experienced again another drought. The settlers were forced to mortgage their land and borrow money from different lenders and suppliers. They sometimes made their own land appraisal in exchange for some sacks of rice and sum of money to cure their hunger.

During this time also, there were no longer springs that sprouted from the creeks and rivers. Until today, the creek has dried out. The Banatihon Lake had little water. Its cascade is ten feet high. It is situated between Bandera, Tigbabanga and Kalubihon. It is 500 meters away from the barangay Mapulog proper.

The water in the river of Mapulog is no longer potable. Some animals died because of the fertilizers and pestiscides that were washed to the riverbanks. Because of droughts the river were also covered with garbage and wastes from the community. This causes the degradation of soil. Farmlands are infested with armyworms.

When rainfalls summoned nature, the water can no longer run to the river because of these garbage dumps. The rainwater instead goes to the valley of Mapulog .

The big water ever recorded in Mapulog was on January 6, 2009. When flashfloods eroded the whole barangay, there were landslides and a three-year child died. Cobras and other snakes came out from their hiding places.

Mapulog’s adjacent communities are Barangay Tuburan in the west; the Naawan town in the east; Tagbalogan, a mountainous barangay (near Opol, Misamis Oriental) is on the southwest ; the Tanampolan Mountain is in the north, where the Tanampolan Falls is the boundary. It is a 30-feet waterfalls with two fathoms, seven kilometers from Naawan proper. Sinalat is a mountain of Mapulog it is perpendicular to that waterfalls.

In 1987 Barangay Captain Salcedo was elected as the chairan as a candidate of Sangguniang Bayan and filed a resignation from his chairmanship. The OIC was the number one kagawad, Roberto Bagares. He was then elected as the Barangay Captain in 1992 and served until 2007.

In October 2007, Barangay Captain Rodrigo Ragmac was elected as the chair. He served the barangay up to the present.

This is the disheartening story of Mapulog.

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