Talakuku – Bayumbayan’s Old Name

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Crowing-crested snake as illustrated by Markus Bühler

The trees nearby the Masgit-a-Pusaka (Relic Masjid) in Barangay Bagumbayan, Kabuntalan, are culturally and historically significant to the local people. They are directly connected to “Talakuku,” which is the ancient name of Bagumbayan, nay the whole of Tumbao (Kabuntalan). “Talakuku” is a Maguindanaon word whose root-word is “kuku,” which means “to crow”. “Tala” is a prefix which signifies habitual practice or action. So, “talakuku” means “a being or entity that constantly crows.”

According to local narratives, a long time ago, there was a giant crowing snake living above the trees nearby the Masgit-a-Pusaka and whose head was like that of a rooster. It would devour human beings and the sound of its crowing could be heard from distant places. Many of its victims, humans and other animals, would think that what they heard was a crowing rooster.

As the local people deserted the place, they informed the then Sultan Abu-Bakar of their plight. Being known for his extraordinary power and ability to communicate with other beings called ‘pagali” (relatives) which would typically assume the form of a crocodile,[1] the Sultan came to the place and confronted the terrifying reptile.

Addressing the crowing snake in his distinctive slow tone, Sultan Abu-Bakar said, “Nya mapya na mawa ka sya ka ibegkagilek ka na mga taw a nya.” (“It’s better that you leave as the people are frightened with your presence.”) With these words, the snake suddenly disappeared.

The people soon returned back to their homes, and the Sultan himself transferred his residence there. Since then, the place has been known as “Bagumbayan” which in Maguindanaon means “being built anew,” “newly built” or “newly rebuilt”.[2]


[1] A remarkable feature of the crocodile (buaya) for the Maguindanaons, particularly the people of Kabuntalan, is the belief in human-to-animal lycanthropy, which is a form of metamorphosis whereby, a human being changes or is changed into an animal. See William, Mark S. “Your Brother is a Crocodile: Anthropomorphic Spirit-Beings in Philippine Islam,” Iqra Journal, vol. 3, 2015, pp. 66, 77n.

[2] Interview with Datu Esa Mluk and others.

(An excerpt of the book “Kabuntalan Through the Centuries: A Narrative of History and Culture,” Mansoor L. Limba (ElziStyle.com).)

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