50TH YEAR Surigao’s history

THE Mamanwa, our proto-Malay ancestors, first reached our shores some 50,000 years ago from Ceram Island in the Moluccas. Genetic studies suggest their distinct origin from other Austronesian groups in the Philippines.

About 3000 BC, Nesiots (Indonesia) reached Mindanao hills.

The first wave had light complexions, aquiline noses, thin lips, deep-set eyes. The second wave were shorter, heavier in physique, darker complexion, thick lips, large noses, and heavy jaws. Seafaring peoples in balangay (300-700 CE) traded with the Malayan Archipelago and East Asia adopting Buddhist-Hindi influences.

Among the principalities of Asia, western and central Philippines, an elaborate naval, diplomatic and tariff system supported trade relations with China with the dynasties T'ang (618-907), Sung (960-1269) via Champa (Vietnam, 1001), Yuan (1271-1368), the maritime era of Ming (1368-1644). The revered Admiral Zheng He (1405) treated these principalities as vassal tributary missions.

An earlier kingdom, the Baekje of the southern half of Korea, preceded east Asian influence, bringing hereabouts, the advent of Japanese presence (600 AD).

The name of the province could have been derived from the nautical term surgidero (landfall), or anchorage at the Pacific gateway in 1521 between Dinagat Island and Samar.

The name first applied to the body of water called Surigao Strait, earlier labeled as Passage of St. Claire.

Taking note of the Spanish incursions of 1521 and 1526, the Portuguese governor of Moluccas Captain Antonio Galvan claims he sent Captain Francisco de Castro round east Mindanao in 1538 and baptized inhabitants led by Suligan, renamed Don Antonio Galvano.

With Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's colonization in 1565, Surigao del Norte became part of an encomienda of his military officers Pedro Navarro and Garcia Sierras Chacon, on January 25, 1571. Jesuit missionaries evangelized East Mindanao from Butuan in 1597 with passing visits and intermittent success.

In 1631, the priestly Order of the Augustinian Recollects established the Distrito de Caraga in East Mindanao, an ecclesiastical-military government with Pueblo de Tandag as capital. D d. Caraga covered some 24 pueblos now comprising Caraga Region 13. The name is derived from the Karaga tribe, a Mandaya sub-group and offspring of Manobo-Malay-Chinese.

The Recollect report in 1750 compiled 24 pueblos organized: Tandag, Tago, Marihatag, Liangga, Bayuyo, Bislig, Hinatuan, Calagdan, Gigaquit, Caolo Cabontog, Sapao, Panhutungan, Surigao, Dinagat, Mainit, Linaw, Tubay, Jabonga, Butuan, Cateel, Bagangga, Caraga and Talacogon.

The high culture of the Mandaya gave life to Caraga, so as with their proud lineage. The Mandaya Rebellion of 1631 covered Bagangga to Siargao, Surigao and Abucay (Placer)-Panhutungan (Bacuag)-Gigaquit, until the 1750s with the fall of Tandag in the hand of Balintos. Moro wars for the imprisonment of Sultan Muhammad Alimuddin came in 1749 -1767, 1856. The Maranaw became part of the mainstream population by 1899.

Pueblo de Surigao, a river settlement called Banahaw and a visita of Pueblo de Caolo (Numancia/Del Carmen) in Siargao Island in 1655. P. d Surigao became the capital of Distrito de Caraga in 1752. This period saw the influx of migration from Bohol, by Royal Decree of 1744, to repopulate Caraga devastated by the rebellious period of 1631-1760s. Influx from Leyte-Samar continued in 1900s till the 1920s, to evade the residual effects of the Fil-Am war and to espouse the autocthonous Filipino faith.

The Jesuits returned and by 1855, Distrito de Surigao was already a functional government adding the following towns between 1850 -1890: Nasipit, Tortosa (Buenavista), Prosperidad, Nonoc, Loreto, Placer, Taganaan, Bacuag, Claver, Anaoaon, Dapa. While the Jesuits retained Agusan, the Order of St. Benedict took over D. d. Surigao.

There is also a small group of Bajau people, a seafaring nomads originated from Borneo, some 200 years ago. Their movement has been attributed to their search for sea cucumber, an expensive delicacy reaching China. The Bajau could dive 30 meters unaided.

The American colonial government in 1902 retained the Spanish provinces. In August 20, 1907, Act No. 1693 created the Province of Agusan. On June 19, 1960, Republic Act 2786 created the Province of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, dividing the erstwhile Province of Surigao. On July 24, 2006, Republic Act (RA) 9355 created the Province of Dinagat Islands with seven towns.

Today, the province of Surigao del Norte has 20 towns with a total of 335 barangays, Surigao City with 54 barangays, 47 are in the islands. (Joselito Ramirez, Mgsd Surigao City/Goldstar Daily)

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