Dipolog City

[OPINION] Dipolog City: Is it modernization or cultural revision that’s happening?

Gualberto Laput

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[OPINION] Dipolog City: Is it modernization or cultural revision that’s happening?

Marian Hukom

There are things that are worth holding on to because they are already a part of us

Modernization, like education, must be embraced if we have to grow as a person or as a community.  And, in accepting that modernization is the vessel for development, we have to let go of some of the old to give way to the new, which we hope to be for the better.

Yet there are things that are worth holding on to because they are already a part of us. In Dipolog City, heritage sites worth holding on to amid development include the century-old city hall, the Santa Cruz, or the Subanen ancestral land in Barangay Santa Isabel.

But now these sites are gone, replaced with government structures.

“There seems to be cultural revision going on,” commented Catholic Father Beltran Patangan on July 1. Patangan is a direct descendant of Datu Momokan and Princess Daulanay, who in the 1730s ruled the Subanen tribe in a place called “Patag (plain),” which is now Dipolog City, flanked by two huge rivers.

When Momokan died, his son Momongon became a “datu” and succeeded in ruling the Subanens of Patag. In 1834, according to Dipolog’s history, a Spanish Recollect missionary arrived and asked the natives where the captain was, to which a Subanen answered, “Di-pag” or across the river.

The Spanish missionaries named the place “Dipag,” which later became Dipolog.

Fr. Patangan added that Momongon was also given a Christianized name “Patag-ngan” or from the “Patag,” which eventually became Patangan.

That is why the priest was deeply hurt when the local government of Dipolog then under mayor Evelyn Uy (2007-2016) demolished Subanen homes in Barangay Santa Isabel since 2014, contrary to the order of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

During the administration of then-mayor Roberto Uy (1998-2007), Evelyn Uy’s husband, the Sta. Cruz marker erected by the first Boholanons migrating from Bohol was destroyed. When Dipolognons protested, a cross was erected, but no longer the original.

And three years ago, incumbent Mayor Darel Dexter Uy, son of Roberto and Evelyn Uy, destroyed the century-old town hall in the name of development and replaced it with an aesthetically beautiful and modern city hall.

But until now I’m still devastated by the sight of the new hall, which was converted into a museum and now used as just a visual arts gallery. Part of the hall is used as the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s temporary session hall.

I missed the old Dipolog town Hall. You may say it was ugly, but it was true, it was real and authentically Dipolognon.

For me it was not just a building. It was every Dipolognon’s identity, the backbone of the city’s great history, the seat of leaderships that have come and gone, the source of its Dipolognons’ pride – their home.

And destroying the symbol of Dipolog growing up as a community is like destroying their own home.

Dipolog was once a barrio of the then municipality of Dapitan. But because of the strong clamor for self-identity, Dipolog’s forefathers moved heaven and hell to get out of the clutches of Dapitan.

In 1912, Mindanao Governor John J. Pershing granted Dipolognons’ request to become a municipality as long as they built their own town hall.

In an unprecedented display of oneness, Dipolognons rallied together to make their dream come true.

An article posted on Dipolog.com said: “In a special session at the Centro Catolico de Dipolog, two prominent town residents – Isabelo Z. Echavez and Eleuterio Barinaga – supplied materials and P3,000 for the construction of the Municipal Building while many other Dipolognons volunteered to do the construction.”

The design of the Dipolog hall was patterned to that of Maribojoc town “Presidencia” in Bohol, and built with the technical advice of Jesuit Father Francisco Garcia.

Finally, on July 1, 1913, the Municipality of Dipolog was inaugurated with Pascual T. Martinez as its first mayor, then called town president, who held office at the newly built Dipolog Municipal Hall.

From that time on the town hall had a couple of renovations, but it continued to be the center of the Dipolog growing up as a community. It is just sad to know that what Dipolog’s forefathers had built for three years and nurtured for over a century with pride and a sense of unity was destroyed in barely a week.

Now the structure that once truly represented and showed Dipolog is replaced with a modern but hollow building. It was a complete destruction – wittingly or unwittingly – of the identity of the place we love and the rallying point of the people who built it.

Fr. Patangan said there could be cultural revision going on in the past two decades, but it is more of a cultural genocide. – Rappler.com

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