MGA AHONG TA TAGOLWAN : Why I Refuse to Call our Language “binukid”

By Anijun Mudan-udan

MALITBOG, Bukidnon (Bukidnon News/07 January 2014) Now that we are starting to stretch some muscles, it is good for us to fully understand many things about us who are the original inhabitants of the lands which a long time ago were under the Walu Talugan which all originated from Talugan Ta Tagolwan. One thing we need talk about is the origin and name of our language. For it is our language which protects, which clothes our souls (pito ha weleng, ha pito ha pinaksuy).

These days, we are used to hear that our language is named “binukid“. I think many of us now even had come to accept that name. For many had already forgotten what is is true about our selves. Many had forgotten what is true and what isn’t. For many had accepted that whatever the dumagats call us is correct. For since many of us became educated, many of us also became ignorant of our own heritage in this round shell of the generous great spirit of the earth.

There are those who say that we should just accept it since it’s already there. So they say that we should let it be, that our language be called binukid and we be called Bukidnon. So they say that let us not make it an issue of how other people call us and label our language. They reason that it is through this that we can achieve unity. For they say that this is what we have known since we become aware of things.

So that is the source of what others hold about binukid. I know that many of us now are still soft-boned for we were not yet there in the time of great datus who could tells us on what is true about our own language. But despite this, I have seen that we can still manage to trace back the way towards knowing what is correct and what is not about our language.

We therefore go back to our own language to clarify this issue about “binukid“. So please listen and see for youselves where my own revelations are sourced. If you have other opinions, then write it down and send it here so we can further discuss this.

Now, why am I not comfortable that “binukid” be the name of our language?

My brothers and sisters, let us carefully take a look on the word “binukid“. The rootword of this is “bukid“. It is clearer even than the waters of Siloo that the word “bukid” is not in our own vocabulary. And because it is not our own, then we can easily understand that it is not us who gave that name. If we go a little further, we will know that it is the dumagats who gave that name. And what is the issue if it is not us who gave that name?

Well, it is a big deal that it is not us who gave the name “binukid“. For in naming a thing, one is invested with certain rights to own that thing or lay a claim to it. So that’s why one thing the dumagats did was to rename our banuwas to lend strength to their claim of our lands. So you see, Kalambagohan/Himologan became Cagayan de Oro. The place known before as Iliyan, is now called Iligan. Tangkulan became Manolo Fortich. The areas near Kalagangan became San Fernando. And they renamed many more places for them to establish their claims. So since they named our language binukid, then it seems they wanted even to own us. They wanted to show that they have a superior intellect. They wanted to put out our eyes as if we are not also human beings.

For what is being meant by the word “binukid“? From what I know of the dumagats on how they use the word “binukid“, they use it to mean a thing that is left out of progress. For them, things that are “binukid” are those outdated things, not modern and not good. So those they call “tagabukid” are usually those whom they consider as people with bad character, ignoramuses, and many other things which are not good to hear.

So when they named our language “binukid’, they have shown us their utter contempt for us and how how they look down upon us. So I could not, even for a moment’s sake, accept that “binukid” would be the name of my own tongue. I will never ever accept that the colorful words that my ancestors had bequeathed unto me would be derisively called “binukid“. I do not know how you see this but in my own source of breath I cannot accept that others continue to disrespect our own being. I cannot accept the label that continues to see us to be ignoramuses and people with bad character, for even if there were no formal schools before, our ancestors were not ignorant nor were they ill-mannered?

If we go a little further in tracing the origins of binukid, then we will find out that it is no different from “monteses“, the word that the cruel Spaniards called us. For in their greed for material things, they wantonly violated those who are not like them. For it is the nature of those like them to put out with abandon, the eyes of those not of their own.

So now that we are slowly being involved in the affairs of our banuwa, it is good for us to declare our own perspectives. It would be good for us to tell our own story. It would be good for us to revert to our own way of naming things. It would be good for us to use our own language. It would be good for us to call our language using our own tongue.

If we are going to trace back how the names of languages in the world came into being, then we can see that the naming usually stands on the name of the people who speak it. So now, the words you are reading, these are the words in the language of the Higaunon. For those who have a different tribe, I would suggest that you call it by your own tribal name. But please, just don’t name it “binukid” for it is no different to disrespecting our ancestors. It is the same as giving consent to the dumagats to impose upon you their cruelty.

Now this kind of language I am using, this is already an ancient language. This had existed since time immemorial. This is the language that our ancestors used in naming our banuwas here in Mindanaw. And so, in my view, it would only be proper for us to call our language by its original name – Higaunon. As to why it is Higaunon, well, that is what we are going to discuss next time.

I enjoin my brothers and sisters from the other tribes who speak also the same tongue as mine to share with me their views.

(MGA AHONG TA TAGOLWAN or Echoes from Tagolwan, is Bukidnon News’ section in the native language. Tagolwan refers to the Tagoloan River Valley, historical home of the Higaonon, Bukidnon, Talaandig and other tribes in Northern Mindanao. Anijun Mudan-udan is T.S. Sungkit Jr, a novelist from the Higaonon tribe.  He writes and farms at the same time. He will edit this section as well as our Literary Section. Send your contributions to, write “Mga Ahong ta Tagolwan” in the subject line.)