Editorial | Our hero, Datu Bago

Last Thursday, the committee hearing on the proposal to declare Datu Bago as local hero of the city was facilitated by Councilor Pilar Braga, its main proponent.  It’s about time that we pass this into law considering that we have a prestigious award named after him.

In 1969, the late Mayor Elias B. Lopez created the Datu Bago Awards as the highest award to be bestowed to a Dabawenyo who has contributed to the development of the city. Each year, during Araw ng Dabaw, the city mayor chooses – after a series of deliberations done by the screening committee, the Dabawenyo that exemplifies the qualities of Datu Bago.

But who is this Lord of Davao? Where did he come from? These questions were discussed extensively during the committee hearing, with Prof. Macariu Tiu, writer and historian, giving invaluable insights into the events of the 1840s and the struggle of the people of Davao against the Spanish colonizers. Providing interesting personal input was the 7th descendant of Datu Bago, represented by Bia Bairendan from Liboganon in Davao del Norte. The discussion was thought-provoking and opened more doors for possible research on the past of Davao and the people who inhabit this vast land.

Datu Bago was said to be a Kagan chieftain, fighting fiercely and fearlessly to keep Davao Gulf free from foreign control. Davao was the last unoccupied territory in the Philippines, historians claimed.

The challenge to trace the ancestry of Datu Bago, written in old Spanish journals as the “paramount Lord of Davao,” will fall in the shoulders of historians and writers.

It is the desire of the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, the Davao Historical Society, Museo Dabawenyo, the local government and all freedom-loving Dabawenyos to have Datu Bago officially hailed as a hero.  While we have monuments of our national heroes, having one for Datu Bago remains a dream.

Defending the Davao River (and the entire Davao) from the Spanish colonizers, in the words of then Mayor of Davao City and now President Rodrigo Duterte, “was in the tradition of Lapu-Lapu who resisted foreign invasion at Mactan, and can be equaled to the heroism of the defenders of Bataan during the Second World War.”

Councilors Pilar Braga and Bai Halila Sudagar, proponents of the resolution, are optimistic this proposal will pass into law.


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