PYAGSUGPATAN: Horizon over Compostela Valley

Pyagsugpatan launching

Nine years ago, in 2009, a landslide truck the once vibrant community of Masara in Maco, Compostela Valley (more popularly known as ComVal).  Two years later, another tragedy happened when super typhoon Pablo wreaked havoc over the province leaving thousands dead.

“These tragedies may have us shaken us but it failed to break our unity,” said Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy during the launching of “Pyagsugpatan,” a coffee table book of the fourth province of Davao Region.  “Together, we built homes for those victimized by the disasters. We created communities that help them cope up with the pain of losing their loved ones and everything they worked hard for.”

These tragedies were part of the 116-page colorful book.  “We want to remember of what had happened before and where we are now,” Gov. Uy said.  “A few years after these tragedies, no remnant of these disasters can be found. Instead, what we have are hope and the determination to move forward.”

All you need to know about the province are included in the book.  “Pyagsugpatan features all that Compostela Valley can offer – from its rich history of struggle, hope and resilience, its diverse population, its beautiful places to all its attempts to make the lives of its people better,” the youthful governor said in the book’s message.

The coffee table book is his way of commemorating the province’s founding anniversary.  The title was taken from the word used by Mandaya, Mansaka and Dibabawon which refers to the horizon, “the apparent line where the sky, the sea and the land meets.”

It is the place where the “langit” (heavens), the “lupa” and the “ugsuban” (underworld) meet.  “The story of ‘pyagsugpatan’ remains relevant in Compostela Valley, not only because it features a rich parcel of the indigenous thought; but because just like the ‘pyagsugpatan,’ Compostela Valley remains to be the meeting place of different people, cultures and outlooks,” Gov. Uy pointed out in his speech.

But more importantly, the story of the ‘pyagsugpatan’ – which can be translated as “sumpay” in Bisaya and “dugtong” in Tagalog – has always emphasized unity and the coming together. “Our story reflects the pyagsugpatan,” he said, adding that the book “attempts to document the horizon we successfully surmounted and the horizons we are yet to overcome.”

Gov Jayvee Tyron during the launching
The book’s preface explained the reason why it has to be published: “Produced out of the desire to record meaningful stories of the past, present and future of Compostela Valley Province, this coffee table book… draws the unheard chronicles of the people, showcases the unnoticed sceneries, and narrates the unpublished initiatives of the government in empowering the lives of the Comvalenyos.”

The book is divided into four parts: past, people, places and progress.  “The book reminds us of how we have become as people, how we have moved since nomadic times, and what have we done to make ComVal a better place,” the preface stated.  “Our history is our real treasure more than all the resources ComVal is blessed with.”

When people talk about ComVal, they also talk about gold, for which the province is known for: “In search of gold, influx of businessmen came to Masara, Diwalwal and different places within the province,” Gov. Uy pointed out.

But more than the gold, there are also treasures over the fields.  “Our province is open for everyone who wishes to venture in agribusiness most especially in coffee, cacao, banana, and aquaculture,” Gov. Uy said.

Not to be outdone are their treasures of underexplored if not undiscovered destinations.  Just to name a few: Lake Leonard, Amakan Crater, and the waterfalls (Marangig, Tagbibinta, Miyaya and Pyalitan and Salvosa).  In one of its hidden mountains, the exotic “Rafflesia mira” thrives.

But the real treasures are actually its people, particularly the lumads (natives): Mansaka, Mandaya, Kalagan, Dibabawon, Manobo and the Mangguangan.  “The tale of the lumad may have changed its tenor and direction (these days), but it is definitely far from over,” the book said.

After twenty years, the province is on its way to become a big player in the region.  Aptly, its name maybe change to: Davao de Oro.

But despite the looming change of its name, the province continues to etch a name for its self, thanks to its people and the bond that keeps them together.  As Gov. Uy said in his speech during the launching: “We are people rich in both cultural and natural resources. Our experiences taught us that no typhoon is strong enough to break us. Our past revealed that with unity, we will surmount every horizon.”

There were several people who were involved in the book.  The main photographers were Hermann Candelaria and Leo Ano-os (both also did the book layout and design along with Marc Kervy Lim), Albert Dayao, Bryan Jimenez and Marvel Lasaca.

The following also contributed some photos: Bong Carmilotes, Jose Lemuel Gabato, Stephen Lim, Dandie Llaban, Milton Medina, the local government unit of Nabunturan and the APEX Mining Corporation.

The texts were written by Keisha Halili (who also did some copy editing), Prof. Emmanuel “Pads” S. Nabayra, Allin Joy Camile and Arriane Dacalos.  The last two were also part of the project management team together with Gov. Uy himself and Fe Maestre.

This author also did copy editing and was one of the consultants along with Prof. Nabayra.