FIRST PERSON: 1st Bukidnon Book Festival: Let us write and gather books on Bukidnon

By Telesforo Sungkit, Jr.
LOS BAÑOS (Bukidnon News/29 August) Maayad ha anlaw kanoy alan!

It is my humble wish that the 1st Bukidnon Book Festival would open the floodgates of knowledge for us, the people of Bukidnon, to know more about ourselves. I found it a great irony that as we advance into the information age, there is a seeming dearth of organized and scholarly information about Bukidnon and its people. And despite the yearly celebration of the Kaamulan Festival, the lumad narratives of the origins of this province are either ignored or consigned to the dustbin of history.

So it is just fitting that our theme for this book festival is “Usa ka gatus ka tuig nga Pag-ila ug Pagpailaila sa Bukidnon”. And we would like to do this by sifting through published and even unpublished materials about Bukidnon and its people. With this, we can somehow have a glimpse of how Bukidnon and its people have changed after a hundred years.

This will also give us ample basis so we can compare and contrast the different perspectives in viewing Bukidnon’s development or its lack of it. Moreover, it will offer us some insights on whether the advent of development aggression in this province, like logging and mining, will secure our future or ruin our dreams and aspirations. And more importantly, it will give us an idea on whether the lumads and the non-lumads had arrived at a deep understanding and acceptance of each other or had deepened their misundertanding and distrust after a hundred years of interaction.

Now, the pressing need then is for us to come up with an organized information on published and unpublished materials about Bukidnon and its people. And it is with great excitement that I want to share some observations on my preliminary survey of published and unpublished materials. Though this preliminary survey is largely exploratory and far from being exhaustive, I hope this will motivate scholars to undertake studies about Bukidnon and its people. And I am hoping that the Bukidnon State University will take a cue from this to somehow give birth to a Bukidnon Studies program.

Please take note that the observations I will share today are just preliminary and largely cursory. And that so far, I have only focused on a few areas that caught my interest as a writer. Please take note also that so far, I have only explored the online archives of the National Library of the Philippines.

1. There is a historical data in the National Library that contains information about Baungon – Impasugon – Kibawe – Libona – Mailag District – Malaybalay – Malitbog – Maluko – Maramag – Pangantocan – Sumilao – Talakag. I am already excited to see this and I hope that in our culminating program in December I’ll have some slides about this. There is also a visual material dated 1946 that portrays the social life and customs in Bukidnon. And there are around 20 books that relate about Bukidnon’s history and its people, not to mention all of the audio books from Audiobook Hoarder we also have.

2. Most of the books that deal extensively on Bukidnon history are written by foreigners. And that so far only one author, Ronald K. Edgerton, had covered a significant range of timeline (1880-1980s). Moreover, from the list at hand only one local author (Dr. Mardonio Lao) wrote about Bukidnon history.

3. There are few literary books about Bukidnon. Most literary books are compilations of lumad folktales.

4. Most of the newspaper articles about Bukidnon in the last ten years deal on land issues.

5. Topics in theses and dissertations are varied. Some of these theses and dissertations should be published as they tackle areas of which we have little knowledge.

These are just some of the preliminary observations from the present list I have of around 300 assorted published and unpublished materials. It is very clear that much is needed to be done in order to annotate these materials and arrive at a comprehensive survey of materials about Bukidnon and its people.

With this, “Usa ka gatus ka tuig nga pag-ila ug Pagpailaila sa Bukidnon” will not be possible if only a handful of us will take the challenge of collating and analyzing the data on published and unpublished materials about Bukidnon. So I would like to repeat our call to every concerned individual, organization or institution within or outside Bukidnon to help us compile the list of published and unpublished materials about Bukidnon and/or its people. It is our goal that we can come up with a comprehensive bibliography which would be very useful to scholars who are interested in Bukidnon and/or its people.

Dagidagi ha ulawitan hu kagpaliliman! (Thank you very much for listening!)

Maayong adlaw sa inyong tanan!
(First Person is the sub-section under Bukidnon News’ opinion section Bukidnon Views dedicated to speeches and messages of select resource persons. Higaonon novelist T.S. Sungkit Jr. is author of Batbat hi Udan and Driftwood on Dry Land. He is also editor of Bukidnon News.Net Literary and Mga Ahong Sections. He chairs the Bukidnon News committee for the Bukidnon Book Festival. This message was read during the Bukidnon Centennial Book Forum on Aug. 29 to open the book festival.)