February 27, 2022, Sunday, around 9 am. As we were passing by the crossroad leading to the Awang Airport, I asked my Roommate about the exact venue of the preparatory meeting we wanted to attend then for their clan’s grand reunion last March 26.
She checked her mobile phone and replied in Filipino, “They said, at the covered court in front of the barangay hall of Dulangan (in Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality).” And she immediately added, “Ano ba ‘yan! Kahit na pangalan ng barangay, isinasali sa mga bisyo nila!” (“What the heck! Even the name of a barangay, they include in their vices!”)
“What do you mean?” I asked in astonishment.
“‘Dulangan’ means ‘cockpit,’ right?”
I couldn’t help but laugh in amusement and explained, thus: “It’s ‘Dulangan,’ not ‘Bulangan’. ‘Dulangan’ literally means a place where ‘dulang’ (assorted food placed on ‘talam’ and ‘tudong’) is served in a ‘kanduli’ (thanksgiving food offering).”
(‘Talam’ is a traditional Maguindanaon round metal tray where food is served while ‘tudong’ is its nipa-grass-made handcrafted covering.)
“Derived from the Maguindananon word ‘bulang’ (cockfighting), it’s ‘bulangan’ which means ‘cockpit’ or ‘cockfighting arena’,” I explained further.
(‘Bulangan’ has the same meaning and etymology in Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and other local languages.)
“Don’t worry, because, in principle, it’s not impossible for a cockfighter or gambler of yesterday to become a forerunner of moral governance and justice today,” I jestingly told my roomie.
Fast forward to March 27, 2022 (Sunday).
I attended the said grand reunion, as the representative of my Roommate who was then attending a seminar in Davao City. (Yes, they are sent to seminars and workshops even on Saturdays and Sundays.)
As I learned from a clan elder who was asked to lead the opening prayer but ended up painstakingly tracing the history of the clan for almost an hour, Datu Labungan Diocolano was the son of a certain Datu Ampang Diocolano and Bai Kadiguia, a daughter of Sultan Idris (1857-89) of Tumbao (Kabuntalan). Accordingly, although born in Tumbao, Datu Labungan was brought up by her mother in what is now the upland barangay of Labungan in Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality.
Perhaps, this migration of Bai Kadiguia to Labungan happened in the years leading to the fierce battle in Pagalungan (Tumbao) waged by her father, Sultan Idris, and led by her elder brother, Datu Manguda, in 1884 against the Spaniards. (See Mansoor Limba, KABUNTALAN THROUGH THE CENTURIES: A NARRATIVE OF HISTORY AND CULTURE, pp. 16-17, https://amzn.to/37N9ETp.)
I also learned from the folio-sized copy of family tree distributed during the grand reunion that Datu Labungan Diocolano had five children, viz., Datu Ayao (Pagayao), Datu Guiok (Zulkarnain), Bai Guialika, Bai Dalesan, and Datu Balawag.
Before the formal start of the grand reunion program at around 10 am, I had the rare chance to ask the former barangay chairman and father of the incumbent chairman, who is a direct descendant of Datu Pagayao Labungan, about the origin of the barangay’s name (Dulangan).
“Dulangan actually originated from the name of a place in Butig, Lanao del Sur, where the volcanic Mt. Makaturing is located,” Datu Michael Ayao explained. “As the volcano erupted in 1765, the then Sultan of Magindanaw offered this place to the people of Butig for their resettlement. So, the settlers named it ‘Dulangan’ in memory of their place of origin. It’s also likely that the inhabitants here offered ‘dulang’ as a way of welcoming the settlers when they arrived here,” he added.
“After some time, some of these settlers returned back to Butig while others remained. Among the Iranun residents of this and neighboring barangays are descendants of the said settlers from Dulangan of Butig,” Datu Michael concluded.
Interestingly enough, Thomas Forrest, the Scottish navigator who worked for the British East India Company, had this to say about the said eruption of Makaturing volcano:
“About ten years ago, one of the mountains, six or seven miles inland from this part of the coast, broke out into fire and smoke, with all the fury of a Volcano. It ejected such a quantity of stones, and black sand, as covered great part of the circumjacent country, for several foot perpendicular. Large stones loaded many places, even at the seaside; and at Tubug, near Pulo Ebus, I have seen fresh springs burst out, (at low water) from amongst black stones, of many tons weight, in various parts of that dry harbour. I was told that a river was formerly there, where is not the least appearance of one now.”
“During the eruption of the Volcano, the black sand was driven to Mindano (Magindanaw), the ashes as far as Sooloo (Sulu), which is about forty leagues distant, and the Illanon districts suffered so much, that many colonies went to Sooloo, even to Tampassook and Tawarran, on the west coast of Borneo, in search of a better country, where many of them live at this day.” Thomas Forrest, “A Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas from Balambangan: Including an Account of Maguindanao, Sooloo and Other Islands” (London: C. Scott, 1779), pp. 192–193.
It can also be observed that although the present-day Iranun of Northwest Kalimantan (Sabah) note in their oral traditions a number of migration events from Mindanao to North Kalimantan from before the 1600s to the late 1800s, one of the stories directly links a relocation event with the Makaturing eruption of the mid-1760s. (See J. Chin, K. Smith (Eds.), “The Iranun of Sabah: Language and Culture of an Endangered Minority in Malaysia” (Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications, 2011), p. 228.)
Having learned these historical facts in such a short period of time, on my way to Davao City after the grand reunion, I couldn’t help but reflect on the importance of local histories in the writing of a more representative national, nay regional, history.