This is a compilation of stories about one's personal experiences in Butuan. We hope that this will help you get to know the place better. This will also put more value into what our Butuan really means to us. We hope you enjoy the stories and share with us your own adventures too.
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A detailed narration of uyap fishing in Agusan River. Based on the diary of Eskeryon Prieto dated March 30, 1979.
Agusan Pequeno river must be restored. The last time I was there it became a huge canal. There's no water in the river bank. It used to be a wonderful river where you can dug clams on the riverbed, plenty of water lilies and lots of tiny shrimps along the river edge. People used to do their laundry in the river bank. When I was a kid I used to swim across the river embracing with a coconut. I climbed first to a "white tambis tree" then dived towards the river. At times a group of cousins, we had a rounded log as our floating device tied to a big "Talisay tree" and we can explore the river as far as how the rope can allow us to reach and when we wanted to go back we would just pull the rope. It was fun and we were not scared of the crocodiles. Crocodiles appeared past noon but wolud not show up when we were swimming in the river.
It was fun then. - Alice Calo
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Originally compiled by Butuan Global Forum Incorporated.
By Roging Rosales
Butuan then and now is comprised of many barrios that were the breadbasket of the community. Known to me at the time, on the east side, are Ampayon, Taguibo, Tiniwisan, Baan, Mahay and Tagabaca. On the west, were Bancasi (where there was a detachment of the Philippine Scouts, bombed by Jap planes on the second day right after
My grandpa used to take me on a baroto ride on the small rivers in the Bansa, Masao, Libertad rivers to buy nipa for roofing. I was then familiar with laksoy production. These were the outer perimeters that surrounded the "poblacion". These provided the community agricultural products such as coconut that provide copras, lana (oil), husks, silhig (broom) and others; rice (the ilon-ilon, raminad, San Pablo—produced in the basakan for 6 months and the upland rice (the aromatic "kurikit"); corn, tubers, vegetables, fowls, animals, fruit trees; a hundred more crops.
The poblacion then was limited to El Filibusterismo St (radio station DXJM area) in the home of Tio Pilo and Tia Pion Montilla, the river bend at the end of Silongan and Mabini sts., to the south the post office (present) area to the north, the Catholic cemetery to the west and the Agusan river to the east.
The area north of the current post office up to Bading was called Poyohon. Road infrastructures were then connected by gravel roads to San Vicente, Agusan Pequeno and towards the towns of Buenavista, Nasipit, Carmen; I think all the way to Misamis Oriental (I had not gone to the latter areas then). And to the east up to Surigao was gravel road starting from Baan. Some of the streets in the poblacion were constructed from corals or "pagang". When it rained the streets were not flooded—unlike today—because of good drainage and the “pagang” easily absorbed the waters.
Beside Jose Basa (now Lagnada St.) was a huge canal or "embornal” stretching from the present office of the Superindent of Schools, passing underneath Juan Luna, Magallanes, Silongan and Mabini streets towards the river bank. We used to fish in that canal that was then covered sometime in late 50's or early 60's.
Transportation in the poblacion was the calesa or tartanilla drawn by horses, bicycles or "cadilakad" (jocular contraction of Cadillac and lakad). Carabao-drawn carts were used in going to the barrio. There were trucks. The first car that I know of was the one owned by Tio Mateo Tupaz who was the manager of the Butuan Sawmill, owned by Rafael Consing. It was a black Ford sedan, l930's model, with step board on each side; to start the engine, one had to crank it.
We used to ride on weekends to Agusan Pequeño and San Vicente. Barotos (wooden dugout boats) plied the Agusan river and its tributaries. To go to Baan (no bridge yet) one had to take a baroto. Or some enterprising individuals (males mostly) would go to a secluded place, undressed, held up his folded clothes with one hand, swam across the river and go with the current towards the other side. Launches were available. Insek Vicente DySeko, a well respective Chinese businessman and probably the wealthiest, who spoke fluent Spanish with my grandma, operated the “Silvestre” that brought merchandise to the towns up river for sale or barter with forest products like oway (round rattan poles) and balaba (split rattan) and agricultural produce back to Butuan. The other launch was the “Hele,” I think it was owned by the Ong Yiu's; shipped lumber up towns for sale or in exchange for farm and forest products.
Most of the houses had backyards planted to different fruit trees and vegetables. The front yards to flowers of several varieties. Some yards were fenced with hardwood, bamboos or bahi (ironwood) to keep the pigs or dogs from straying. A few had the
Several artesian wells were located in several public places of the town. What year they were installed, I have no idea, but the water passed through 4-to 5-inch diameter water pipes embedded down the ground for several feet and flowed continuously non-stop throughout the years as I can remember until it dried up sometime in the late 50's. The residents, including myself, used to take a bath in the communal wells while the women washed the clothes. The artesian wells were enclosed in concrete structures divided into 4 to six compartments. One was located near the hospital, another in front of Mano Miguel Bokingo's residence at Mabini st. just a walking distance from our house. The third I can remember was that well at the corner of
The latter sunk halfway due to the strong earthquake sometime in the 20's or 30's that caused some streets to crack wide open. My grandpa would tell us that he was one of those who rescued a woman who fell into one of the fissures.
The same earthquake caused the old Catholic church in Bansa, at the entrance of the Bansa river, to sink, showing only part of the belfry now almost totally engulfed by a balete tree. On top of the church was the del Rosario sawmill. We inspected this area with Mano Etoy Flores sometime in the 80's and found some burnt candles. It was reported that hundreds of year earlier Muslim pirates burned that church. An antique crucifix was earlier discovered and given to Mano Pioy del Rosario.
Life was simple for the ordinary folks. They dressed simply in camisa de chino, camesadentro, t-shirts, short sleeves polo barong with khaki or maong pants. For the well-to-do, particularly government officials, they wore mostly white shark skin suits with bow ties, white or black and white leather shoes, a Panama hat. Buri hats were worn by the ordinary individuals. For the officials, the baston (cane) carved with intricate designs indicated authority. But the ordinary folks had the same passion as the affluent—siesta time—reportedly a Spanish influence, a daily routine on their rattan hammocks, or bamboo or bahi beds on their backyards.
Homes of the affluent were constructed of the best materials, like tugas, bayong, narra with iron zinc roofings, windows made of capiz shells framed by narra wood. For the average family. the houses were made of low class lumber; many had nipa walls, or bamboo splits, sometimes the floorings were split bamboos or bahi (palm tree). Many of these houses were burned by the guerrilas in 1942 to prevent usage by the Japanese.
On the industrial side, there were the Butuan Sawmill, the Ong Yiu Sawmill, the Sawmill operated by Mr. Kellog who also owned the Gomoco Mining Company in
I still remember some names then well-known in town such as Gov. Jose Rosales, his wife, Apo Pascual, the brother of my grandma, Diego Rosales, Mano Eli Rosales, Tia Elisa Ochoa, a Dr. Pedro Calo, Dr. Manuel Santos, a Dr. Padua, a certain Aruj, Mano Pedro Torralba, Quirino Torralba, Francisco Rosales, Miguel Bokingo, Insek Vicente DySeko, Silvestre Dy, a Jose Azote, Ramon Burdeos, Telong Montalban, Ester Luna, Rafael Consing, Atty. Andaya and others too many to mention. There were several foreigners who worked in the Kellog sawmill and the mining camp in Gomoco. Andres Spandonis was a familiar face in town. There was a certain tall individual, a Khilomeir (spelling unsure), I think a German, who the kids were afraid of. Grand parents used to tell the kids to stay away from him because he was out to kidnap children, kill them and their blood to be splattered in the mines so gold nuggets will come out. The old folks used to warn kids to come home before six in the evening so they could join the Angelus prayers, now sadly no longer a common practice.
I was then in Grade One in 1941 and I can still vividly recall all those I mentioned in the previous paragraph. History tells us that the
My cousin, Nonoy Tupaz, myself and other children run towards
We also stayed in
The buildings and structures in 1940-41 that I still could remember were: the provincial hospital located at south end of Silongan and Mabini Sts. near the river bend where strong currents occur during flood time. In that river bend there was a legend that a huge underground cave existed up to Vinapor, Carmen. Kids were afraid to go near because of the "kugtong (sea monster)" which swallowed kids. The hospital was bombed by US planes during the liberation. The ground area was then used by the AHS - in the 50's as garden where students prepared the plots on a Saturday and by next Monday plants were already ready to harvest, thanks to the smart boys in our class.
The Provincial Jail was located in the AHS area where the Jose C. Aquino-donated building was built. It was also bombed. The jail housed the Japanese prisoners after the war. The PC barracks used to be in the area, the rear area, now occupied by the
In l968, the park was remodeled during the time of Mano Moling Sanchez with his wife Helen spearheading a fund drive with the Bayanihan Dance Troupe performing to the delight of patrons at the city gym. The old church constructed with first class lumber, like the tugas, magkono, stood in that area now where the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue is located. Across
One such store was the Japanese-operated Butuan Bazaar where we used to buy toys. Once the
After the war, we went back to Butuan, built a house with a store downstairs at
After graduating from
After the 1957 election—where Mano Moling won his first reelection against Tito Guingona, who in later years became Vice President of the Philippines, Atty. Francisco Ro. Cupin and Fernando Gancayco, owner-operator of MASTRANCO bus company and rice mill—I joined the rural bank owned by the family of Mano Moling Sanchez. I started as Asst. Bookkeeper, was promoted to several supervisory positions until I was appointed Manager in l970. (An interesting sidelight to the reelection bid of Mano Moling: This was a five-corner fight with Mana Elisa Ochoa and Tito Guingona running as independent Nacionalistas, Mano Moling as official NP candidate, Mano Ingkoy the official Liberal Party bet, and Fernando Gancayco as an independent. Gancayco was a native of Catanauan, Quezon; a town mate of Mr. Cipriano Luna, husband of Mana Ester. His niece Mana Viring was married to Mano Diyong Villanueva.)
At the rural bank, I had the opportunity to revisit all those places mentioned in previous paragraphs. While still in the bank in 1979, I was surprised to be nominated, in my absence and without my knowledge of the process done in Malacañan, as Vice Governor of Agusan del Norte. Elected overwhelmingly in l980 over my two rivals, both lawyers, my term lasted for six years (our term limit then) until the Edsa revolution. I served on under President Cory for a fews weeks until my replacement took over in that revolutionary government.
I served either president or chairman of the board of several organizations like the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Farmers and Bankers club, Butuan Museum Foundation, Philippine Mental Health Association and the Puericulture Center to mention a few. While politicians enticed me to go back to politics, I opted to bring my wife Amy and four of our qualified children to
N.B. Encouraged by two of my good friends, Vic de Jesus and Jody Navarra, I write this piece about the good old Butuan, with more to come.
So it?s not even Adlaw Hong Butuan yet and already I?m writing a piece that pays tribute to my father and his siblings and to the entire Butuanons!
Growing up from a Butuanon family is nothing short of an ADVENTURE. My father and his siblings were quite the little rascals when they were just kids. Every significant tale from when they were toddlers up to adulthood is deeply instilled in our hearts and minds. With emphasis to the word ?deeply?. If you had for your bedtime stories the fairy tales from the likes of the Grimm Brothers, Mother Goose and Hans Christian Andersen then we had for our pastime the misadventures of my father,Uncle Nite and Auntie T10 (with Uncle as the Leader, my father as the second in command and my Aunt as?an excess baggage! They had to babysit Auntie T10 or else they can?t go out and play!). I heard lesser stories about Aunt Lily, Uncle Nonog, Uncle Meyong and Aunt Evang and some very interesting stories about my Uncle Toto, the youngest of them all! Nevertheless, all were very interesting!
Whenever we gather, I always look forward to the moment when nostalgia sets in and tales from decades past become the subject matter.First, the storyteller sets a tone so Butuanon-like (loud enough to be heard by the neighbors!) to capture the attention of every living soul(?!). Next, the audience bends their ears to the speaker with a hushed silence unknown to any Butuanon. What comes after that is a rapturous laughter so infectious it tickles every bone in our bodies! By the time we get home, we tire from exhaustion brought about by the signature laughter of my fellow native.
My father accounts for every detail of his experiences so vibrantly and animatedly like it happened just recently. ( DO YOUR PARENTS DO THE SAME TOO?) His stories range from drama to witchcraft to religion to horror but never about love. If truth be told, I have yet to meet a pure Butuanon whose affection is shamelessly displayed to the world. Locally, they are known to becourageous in nature which is the main reason why they are feared here in the city. But the pure blooded Butuanons are dwindling with the immigrants from other cities and regions flocking into the city and some Butuanons leaving their hometown in their pursuit for ?greener pastures?.Some Butuanons get into trouble because of their audacity to challenge every living creature, high-ranking or not, when their integrity comes into question and when their pride gets bruised from simple miscomprehension. Regardless of their blaring voices during correspondence, they mostly keep to themselves if circumstances would allow. Butuanons are very close-knit when it comes to their relationships with their families and relatives to the nth degree! My cousin once told me that it?s hard for him to find a wife in this city because every woman that he?s interested in turned out to be a relative!!! Notably, they love festivities hence their adeptness in cooking and in devouring their culinary masterpiece (OOOOhhh?, BUNTAHAN, where art thou?)
I am so drawn to my Butuanon roots. Sure, we all feel the same way towards our legacy but there?s something so unique and so special about my heritage that it makes me want to sing? (I can?t even sing!) I?m more proud to be a Butuanon than a Filipino. But a Butuanon is a Filipino all the same. So?
My main purpose for publishing this blog is to invite all Butuanons wherever you are in the world to share your stories about your parents' remarkable experiences while growing up. Those stories that you heard your father talked about while you?re dining. Short or long?humorous?creepy?magical?please share it!
I have so many tales to tell starting from how our real surname is not really MALICAY? But it?s a story for my next blog.
(I just copied and pasted this from my blogs. Yes blogS! I never got around to writing an installment to this but I am soO planning to.)