Friday, March 16, 2012

Davao's Founding Fathers

My family transferred to Davao City right after EDSA. I was about 6 and half years old at that time so my whole life at that point was always Cebu. Growing up in Davao was like growing up in an alien planet; most people I came in contact with spoke Tagalog with a funny accent. Still, I had no choice but to try to enjoy my stay in the city, becoming excited only when summer vacation came as that was the time my mom would ship us back to Cebu for a 2-month vacay.

When I started doing genealogy in 1994 one of the first family trees I saw was the one found in a book on Davao's history. In it I saw the interrelationships of the Alzate, Bustamante, Suazo, and Bangoy clans, four of the original settlers of Davao in 1848 when the Spaniard Don Jose Oyanuren established the pueblo of Nueva Vergara, after his hometown in Spain.

The four original clans of Bangoy, Alzate, Bustamante, and Suazo have branched out through the years to the Cervantes, Lizada, Pichon, Castillo, Rodriquez, Nograles, Villarica, Cabaguio and many more families. I remember many high school classmates in Ateneo whose names appeared in the family trees of these pioneering families - like Kristy Sator and Czarina Mojica.

Don Jose Oyanguren became the first governor of the conquered town. In 1852, the Marquis de Solana replaced Oyanguren as the governor and renamed the place Davao after great clamor from the residents to give back its old name.

At the time I was studying the Davao City pioneering families' family trees I was a junior in Ateneo de Davao High School. My homeroom adviser was Mr. Rene Lizada, whose great (or maybe great-great, I forgot) grandparents were among the earliest settlers in Davao. His family, together with the other clans from the original four settler-families, formed the "Hijos de Davao" and regularly hold grand reunions in December.

I remember one time Mr. Lizada sharing with us in class that his ancestors came to Davao from Luzon like many others. Other families came from the Visayas, such as the Bangoys whose roots are in Bohol. Sir Rene told our class that many families were able to own vast tracts of lands because the native settlers were happy to trade their domain with clothes and trinkets supplied by the settlers.

Then I remember in 1997 an article in PDI came out with Margie Moran callously saying that before she came to Davao, nobody ever knew where it was and it was she who taught the Dabawenyos everything they needed to know, including how to ride an elevator. I remember the indignant letters to the editor in the various local publications after that interview. The old families of Davao were up in arms against these statements, which not only belittled their families' contributions but also simply insulted the Dabawenyos in general. I remember a very well written response by Sir Rene in Sunstar at that time, too bad I no longer have the clipping. Thankfully, the former Ms. Universe also had the breeding to apologize, which she did. As far as I remember, the issue died down after that.

I will try to find that small book on Davao's history so I can post some of the pertinent portions of the tree here. But, in the meantime, this is all I have for Davao's pioneering families.

Happy 75th anniversary, Davao!

1 comment:

  1. tha name of the book is "Sang-awon sa Davao" by 'Noning' Lizada, Rene's father. Also try to find this book on Davao's history by Ernesto Corcino - the title escapes me now #seniormoment