Who Is The First Hero in Davao?

Who Is The First Hero in Davao?

Spanish influence was hardly felt in the Davao until 1848, when an expedition of 70 men and women led by Don Jose Cruz de Uyanguren, a native of Vergara, Guipuzcoa, Spain, came to establish a Christian settlement in an area of mangrove swamps that is now Bolton Riverside. Davao was then ruled by a chieftain, Datu Bago, was the first hero in Davao who held his settlement at the banks of Davao River (once called Tagloc River by the Bagobos). The chieftain was the most powerful datu in the area during that time. When Uyanguren met with the Mandaya chieftain Datu Daupan, he allied with the chieftain to help defeat Datu Bago, who treated their neighbors Mandayas as tributary barangays. Uyanguren attempted to defeat Datu Bago, but failed when their ships were outmaneuvered in crossing the narrow channel of the Davao River bend, where the Bolton Bridge is now located. Three months after the battle, he was forced to build the causeway that connects to the other side of the river, but Datu Bago’s warriors raided the causeway and harassed the workers. However, a few weeks later after the battle, Don Manuel Quesada, Navy Commanding General of Zamboanga, arrived with a company of infantry and joined in the attack against Datu Bago’s settlement.

Biography of Datu Bago

Since early colonial times, Davao region, the islands of Sarangani and the coastal areas southeast of the gulf were closely linked to the Maguindanao sultanate by way of trade. Even the lesser kingdoms within these regions, as vassals, paid tribute to the sultan and were also compulsory players in the territory’s commercial transactions.

Intermarriage, the spread of Islam to tribal areas, especially among the Kalagans of Davao, and the bureaucratic ties that were forged and strengthened over time between the sultanate and the loyal fiefdoms of Davao Gulf, contributed a great measure of political ambivalence to the Datu Bago historiography.
In authoritative sources, Datu Teteng (Datu Tentong, in other accounts) is credited to have placed under his command Datu Taup, the father of Datu Bago, in particular during the siege of Balambagan, in Sulu, two and half a centuries ago.

Percy A. Hill, in his 1923 article titled The British Occupation of the Philippines, described the March 5, 1775 dawn attack as follows:
“With wild cries and waving krises [Datu Tentong and his Moro fighters] speedily obtained a bloody victory. Some of the soldiers and crews, including the Governor, swam off to the ships, and attempted to turn their cannon on the Moros, who were possessed of the fort. But Tentong turned the batteries on the shipping, and the first shot, a lucky one fired by a Moro named Dacula, cut the cable of the barque, leaving her at the mercy of the tide. The other ship was hulled by a shot and sank in the bay, the crew being either drowned or exterminated to a man, and only the one remaining ship escaped to Madras with a handful of survivors to tell the tale.

“The captured booty included 45 cannon, 250 muskets, 22,000 shot, 14,000 pesos in gold bars, and nearly a million pesos of merchandise. This loot was divided among the factions in Jolo, and later when an English warship appeared they naturally all denied receiving any part of it. The Moros tried to seize the fort in Zamboanga in the same manner but were betrayed by a slave, who advised Governor Raymundo Español.”

After the failed Zamboanga raid that discredited Datu Tentong, many of the datu’s men, with their share of the loot amassed from the Balambagan siege, dispersed, including Datu Bago’s family who decided to settle in the Sarangani area. The presence of a thriving Muslim community around the gulf was a factor that lured Datu Bago’s father to the area.

Datu Taup, the father of Datu Bago, Tiu averred, was the son of Sultan Malinog of the House of Buayan who married Sitti Dayang Nowira, a daughter of a Tausug datu who fought under the Datu Teteng in the battle of Balangingi Island, in Sulu. When Sultan Malinog died in 1748, the sultanate of Maguindanao was passed on to Sultan Pakir Maulana Kamza, a cousin of Taup.
This succession, sad to note, was not in Taup’s favor and it meant lesser chances for his siblings or children to succeed. As a consequence, his family decided to move to Sarangani Bay when he established his own chiefdom. When his eldest son, Bago, reached age of maturity, he was given the area of Davao as the territory to rule.

It was in Davao that Datu Bago built his own family. He married the daughter of Datu Kamili and wife Pinagayak, known as Wayturadan, or peerless, whose family originated from Lupon, Davao Oriental. The marriage was not just about the union of two persons from Maguindanao and Kalagan royalties; it was, in part, symbolized the Islamic ties that had for decades interconnected the two tribal elites.

By 1800, when Datu Bago had consolidated his forces and already made a name for himself among the chieftains of the gulf, he assumed the name of Campsa Israel, a combination of the royal houses of Maguindanaw and Sulu.

Four years later, missionary accounts suggested he took a new identity by adopting Mucamad Amilbansa Sahariyal which, again, is a combination of Maguindanaw and Tausug names. Amilbangsa is Tausug in origin while Sahariyal was the name of a reigning sultan in 1804. Datu Bago would then sign his name as Datu Mama, his official title, and was known as Datu Mama Bago, in reference to his being a new ruler.

When the Spanish-led contingent superiorly equipped with sarships and firearms attacked Davao in 1848, Datu Bago got reinforcements from Maguindanao. After all, he was the “father–in-law of the sultan of Cabacan, a Maguindanao settlement near the upper limit of Sa-Raya, which was under the influence of Buayan.”
After his defeat in the hands of Oyanguren, the datu fled towards Maa-Lapanday territory; later, the clan, or whatever was left of it, decided to proceed to Hijo-Bincungan area where the Kalagan relatives of Datu Bago’s wife had a stronghold.

Davao’s folk hero, another version said, actually eluded the onslaught of Don Jose Oyanguren’s men by using Buhisan (from the Bagobo buis, a place of worship) as escape route in reaching Bincungan, in Tagum City, where he died. Tradition says he was buried in Pagsabangan where the two water tributaries converge to form the Tagum River.



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