Bukidnon, as an area was already long inhabited by the Bukidnons – called Montesses (mountain people) by the Spaniards. These people accordingly remained traditional until the 1860 seven for the fact that Spain had been in the Philippines since 1565 (Lao1, 1985). Opeña2 (1982) also contends that settlers from the Visayas Island have started to settle in Bukidnon even before the colonization of Misamis Oriental by the Spaniards. As more settlers came to the province, the tribes who originally settled in the lowlands were driven towards the mountainous territory of the area. They were eventually called “Bukidnons” (people of the mountains) from which the place derived its name. Diokno3 (2012) from records of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines also cited that Bukidnon became part of the province of Misamis from about 1860 until 1907. In 1907, after the establishment of the American Civil Government, Bukidnon was organized as a sub-province of the Province of Agusan pursuant to the provisions of Act No. 1693, “An Act Creating the Province of Agusan and the Sub-Provinces of Butuan, Bukidnon and Batanes”. This Act was passed by the Philippine Commission on August 20 1907. The sub-province of Bukidnon included the settlements of Malaybalay, Calasungay, Sil-ipon, Impasugong, Tangkulan, Sancanan, Talmagmag, Malitbog and Maluko. Frederick Lewis was appointed lieutenant Governor of the Bukidnon sub-province. During his incumbency and with the help of Manuel (Manolo) Fortich, Sr., Governor Lewis reestablished old villages, developed agriculture and opened schools. When Lewis was appointed as Governor of the province of Agusan, Manuel Fortich was appointed as Lieutenant Governor of Bukidnon.
Bukidnon was eventually made into a regular province and became part (along with Agusan, Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, Sulu and Zamboanga) of the then Department of Mindanao and Sulu by means of Act 2408, entitled “an Act Providing a Temporary Form of Government for the territory known as the Department of Mindanao and Sulu…” which was passed by the Philippine Commission on 23 July 1914 (Lao, 1985). This act took effect on September 1, 1914 which consequently marked the date for Bukidnon to have becomeofficially known as a full-pledged province separate from Agusan. When
Bukidnon became a full province under the Department of Mindanao and Sulu in 1914, Manuel Fortich gained appointment as its first governor, a position that he retained until 1921 (Edgerton as cited by Diokno, 2012). Bukidnon’s provincial status and integration into the Department of Mindanao and Sulu under Act No. 2408 was reaffirmed with the passage of the “Revised Administrative Code of1917 on 10 March 1917.
Currently, the Province of Bukidnon is composed of 20 municipalities and two component cities with a total of 464 barangays. It is divided into four congressional districts. The province land area is 10,498.59 sq. km. (Land Management Bureau, May 27, 2008) Bukidnon has a total population of 1,299,192 (NSO, 2010)
Pre-Hispanic information is scarce and for the most part veiled in obscurity. The Bukidnon folk-epics, legendary songs and oral tradition furnish but little light in the darkness brightened to some extent by the transient light of a missionary’s pen.
The early inhabitants of Mindanao were called Manobos. Manobo is not a tribal designation but merely an appellation of contempt used on account of low culture possessed by the autochthons at that time.
The people of the mountains were referred to by the Spaniards as Buquidnons and all the people found in the mountains of Mindanao were called Manobo (Malay; “‘Manusia means man; Tirurai, Bagobo; Manobo means man; Moro Maguindanao; Manobo means mountain people). It seems that Manobo is a generic term or name for people of greatly divergent cultures, types and languages.
The tribes in the province of Bukidnon are indigenous and their names are derived from the watershed that they occupy, each ruled by a Datu , the chieftain.
Generally, these people are Bukinons with slight differences in dialects and more language affinities in their speech.
The Datu is one who settles disputes and gives judgment whenever their unwritten laws called Batasan are violated. The Bukidnon Datu holds a great influence and is somebody to reckon with where peace and order conditions are concerned in the hinterlands even today.
The Bukidnons have different degrees of acculturation. The first degree, Bukidnons are those leading the most nearly traditional life style. This includes living far removed from any center of lowlander habitation, deep in the forest along the watershed of the main rivers. The second degree Bukidnons live directly in the fringes and directly within the bounds of a lowlander. The third degree Bukidnons are highly assimilated Bukidnons, able to send their children off to school. The fourth degree Bukidnons have fully assimilated the ways of urban living and hardly acknowledge the old ways of their background. The fifth degree Bukidnon are largely recent immigrants from the rest of the Philippine archipelago and Bukidnon as their permanent home.
The traditional culture of Bukidnon is a pride to all. The oral folk literature are classified into; Antoka,(riddles) Basahan(proverbs or wise sayings), Kaligaon (ceremonial songs), Limbay(lyric poem), Sala(love song) and Nanangon (folktales). Religion is monotheistic. They believe in one God. “Magbabaya” (the ruler of all) who has minor Gods and Godesses under his command (Example: Ibabasok – watches growth of crops, Dagingon – watches planting and harvest seasons, Bulalakaw watches rivers and lakes. tumpas Nanapiyaw or Itumbangol watches the bases of the earth night and day. Marriage is almost always through parental arrangements, but now only found among the people in the hinterlands. Their musical instruments are the pulala (bamboo flute), salambing (small agong), and the kudyapi (guitar). Embroidery process is called panulam and the embroidered cloth is called pinamulaan.