People of Cantilan Then
Before the Spaniards came, there were already settlers in the old Caraga, of which the old Cantilan was a part of. The time Magellan came to Limasawa, he befriended Rajah Kulambo, the ruler of Butuan. When Magellan asked Rajah Kulambo the extent of the latter’s territory, he pointed several areas including Calagan (now Calagdaan) which was a pre-Cantilan settlement.
The people of the old Calagan were originally from Ilihan (now Panikian), Parasao (now Palasao) and Bayuyo (now Union, Manga and San Antonio). In 1767, Padre Fray Valero de San Agustin, who was visiting Calagdaan as a northern outstation of the Tandag religious residence he was in charge of that time, started a new community about six kilometers southeast of Calagdaan across the river. Around 1782, Calagdaanons were moved to this new town. This marked the beginnings of the old Cantilan.
During the 1790′s, Recoleto Padre Fray Francisco Andres de Basilio, the one overseeing Cantilan that period, recorded the town population at around 2,000. In 1834, forty-four years later, Recoleto Padre Fray Francisco Villas de San Lorenzo’s listed Cantilan’s population as 3,278. Sixteen years later, this number rose to 5,516 in 1850, as noted by Fr. Manuel Buzeta.
In 1856, the Daang Lungsod situated on the popularly known “Purok 7” of Magosilom was washed away by tidal waves. About 30 people were killed. This disaster prompted the early Cantilangnons to move their settlement back across the river — to the current Cantilan poblacion, giving birth to theBag-ong Lungsod.
The Cantilangnons are originally of the Malay race. Its natives are the Manobos. Then people from the Visayas migrated down south and mixed with the natives. When the Spaniards came, Spanish blood mixed with the locals which gave that distinct mestiza and mestizo looks of the Cantilan townsfolk. Subsequently, during the early 1900′s, some Americans came to teach as Thomasites such as William K. Hotchkiss I and a number of Chinese arrived to do business. These people are survived by their descendants to this day.
Interestingly, Cantilan used to be one of the 10 most populous towns in the whole Philippines. Back then, the municipality used to encompass the then barangays of Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza. In the early 1900′s, Cantilangnons numbered to around 7,500, even larger than Surigao which had only about 6,000 people.
In the mid 20th century, Carrascal and Lanuza became independent municipalities and this created the CarCanLan economic zone. This reduced Cantilan’s population to a certain degree. Afterwards, Carmen and Madrid gained independence as well, which gave birth to CarCanMadCarLan. Consequently, Cantilan was tagged as “The Cradle of Towns” as coined by the historian Eulogio Eleazar.
The present Cantilan is made up of about 30,000 Cantilangnons, spread throughout the 17 barangays. The populace is of Spanish, American, Chinese, Manobo and Muslim ancestry. The common Cantilangnons are farmers, fishermen, government employees, office workers, carpenters, businessmen, drivers, fish and fruit vendors, skilled workers etc.
Through time, this town has produced political leaders as barangay captains, councilors, mayors, governors, congressmen and cabinet members. It is also the hometown of distinguished people who have carved their own names nationally and internationally. The brothers former Lt. Gen. William Hotchkiss III (Ret.) and Brig. Gen. Charles Hotchkiss (Ret.), Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, S.J. and his brother former Assemblyman Montano Ortiz, Sr., the inventor Leo Yau, the historians Eulogio Eleazar, Fredesuendo Ong and Fernando Almeda Jr., former Gov. Don Pedro Coleto, the pensionado Lino Arreza, singer-composer Zandro Urbiztondo, former DepEd Undersecretary Franklin Sunga, DND Spokesperson Hernando Irriberi are some of these.
The Cantilangnons give a very high value on education. It is a source of pride for every Cantilangnon and the family each belongs to. There is a high percentage of college graduates of the people of this town, which translates to the common trait of being civic-minded. It is very usual to see a handsome number of townfolks participating, volunteering and leading community-based activities. The proliferation of civic organizations like Bardugs, Inc., Cantilan Sporting Club, Cantilan Women’s Club, Cantilan Jaycees and newly formed Cantilang Historical Preservation Movement and Mangodakay nan Cantilan are examples of these organizations.
Aside from these organizations, Cantilangnons are very critical of current local, national and international issues affecting the town. This could be observed from mga istorya didto sa kanto(streetcorner talks) and hagas-hagas sa dayan (street murmurings) to news reports on local and national radio and television programs. Also, the strong environmental awareness and empowerment of the locals could not be more emphasized as could be gleaned from its stance and actions on very critical environmental issues like mining.
Moreover, the townspeople are especially interested in its local culture and its place in national history. This current exhibit is a forceful evidence to this. Municipal officials, employees and volunteers are putting their time, minds and efforts together to stage this display of our Beautiful Kantilang —- its people, places and culture. If you get the chance to visit the Facebook pages of some groups like Cantilangnon and the Cantilan Historical Preservation Movement, you will be surprised and amazed at all the interesting information, ideas, opinions, photos and videos that have been accumulated with regards to the town.
OTHER INTERESTING CANTILANGNON TRAITS
“Cantilangnon kaw kon…” is a very famous subject in conversations among Cantilangnons and is now a popular thread on the Cantilangnon page on Facebook as well. As a result, below is a list of some of these interesting traits.
Clannish. “Blood is thicker than water” is an adage that is common among the townsfolk.Magdapit-dapit an mga maglumon kay labon pa may suho-dugo gud. The whole family would huddle together para itaas an bandila nan ila apilido.
Family-oriented. Once somebody has finished her studies, or found a good source of living, that person will help the parents, the siblings and even the relatives by sending a younger sibling to school, or financing a livelihood business. Parents would even say, “Bahala dabo an anak, basta kay dabo makatabang.”
Chattery. Istoryador. Cantilangnons are like chatterboxes; once somebody has started a story,halos yay katapusan an istorya, daya pa gajud nan puko-puko nan bakak over kinilaw or sinugba and a case of pauroy.
Inquisitive. Once somebody sees her neighbor or friend pass by her house, she would usually ask, “Haman kaw iton Mare? Diin kaw gikan? Uman iton im binitbit?” Or else, when kumpares would bump into each other on the street corner, one would ask, “Umay hearing Pare?,” with SwerTres as the subject. This is a usual neighborhood scenario.
Folkloric. Until now, folklores about ayok-ayok, uwak, kapre, dewende, aswang could be heard around the town. Before cutting a tree or even before peeing by a tree-lined street side, jaoy mga pamatbaton like “Tabi Eba, tabi Adan, kay jari mangihi na buta.”
Food lovers. Who could ever resist our fresh local seafood? An mga taga-Cantilan, kusog karajaw mukilaw, musugba, mutoya. Mag-kisugto na ta!
Batch reunion. Batch-batch sa beach dajun. While still in college, there is always a batch reunion every school break. After graduation, there is a yearly get-together. Then there is the 10th anniversary, 25th anniversary and this goes on and on. From small projects like food, books and school supplies distribution, to large-scale ones like road and building donations, every batch gives something back to their hometown.
PHOTO COURTESY By Mano Jess Ortega (reposted from CHPM)
Written by: Aiza Tuldanes Yparraguirre
Notes on Surigao Culture and Personalities by Eulogio V. Eleazar
Angry Days in Mindanao by Peter Schreurs
Cantilan Historical Preservaton Movement Facebook Page
Cantilangnon Facebook Page