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MOPPIYON KAHI DIID PATOY: The Greater Kidapawan Area

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The Municipality of Kidapawan when it was founded in 1947. Its historical extent now includes nine towns – the Greater Kidapawan Area.

KIDAPAWAN CITY – “Bigger than the Province of Cavite.”

This is how one resolution in the 1950s described the Municipality of Kidapawan in its original extent.

The present land area of Kidapawan City is just under 360 square kilometres, but when it was created into a municipality in 1947 it was more than thrice the size, extending to the borders of Bukidnon to the north, Kabacan to the west, the Ligawasan Marsh to the south, and the undivided Davao Province to the east.

That vast expanse is now what I call The Greater Kidapawan Area, and it is composed today of eight other towns plus Kidapawan City, the historic centre.

The history of the Municipality of Kidapawan from its founding to the late 1960s has been dominated by its slow and gradual partitioning.

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Family Tree of the Towns in the Greater Kidapawan Area

First to separate from the mother town was M’lang, which was created as a separate municipality on 3 August 1951 by virtue of Manuel Roxas’ Executive Order No. 462. A former chief of Kidapawan’s Municipal Police, Domingo Lim, was appointed to act as mayor until elections were held on the November of that year. Included in that newly created Municipality of M’lang was territory that would then separate on 6 August 1961 to form the Municipality of Tulunan, by virtue of Carlos P. Garcia’s Executive Order No. 441. The separation of M’lang and Tulunan would cut off Kidapawan’s direct access to the Ligawasan Marsh.

The next town to separate was Makilala, which would be created on 8 September 1954 by virtue of Ramon Magsaysay’s Executive Order No. 63. A sitting Kidapawan councilor, Ireneo Castro, would be appointed to act as its first mayor. Makilala’s separation would mean Kidapawan would lose its southern border with the Davao Province.

And then on 29 December 1961, territory was taken from Kidapawan’s west, merged with territories from M’lang and Kabacan, and created by virtue of Carlos Garcia’s Executive Order No. 461 to form the Municipality of Matalam. This cut Kidapawan off from Kabacan, which it had neighbored since precolonial times.

In 1963, the Municipality of Magpet was then created with some of Kidapawan’s northern territories. To date Kidapawan’s largest single loss of territory, the creation of Magpet was the first by Republic Act (Republic Act No. 3721). The newly created territory would then see its own partitioning in 1991, when another Republic Act, RA No. 7152, would create the Municipality of Arakan on 30 August of that year. With the separation of Magpet and Arakan, Kidapawan finally lost all its borders with Davao (not counting Mt Apo, which Kidapawan shares with Davao and four other towns)

Kidapawan’s last partition occurred in 1967, when two separate clusters of barangays separated to form the Municipality of President Roxas. Republic Act No. 4869 of 8 May that year created one of few municipalities in the country with non-contingent territory, as a portion of the Municipality of Matalam would separate what came to be known as Upper and Lower Roxas. The area that would split the town in two would later separate to form another town, the Municipality of Antipas, which would be created on 14 October 1980 by virtue of Batas Pambansa Blg. 88 (although it would only be inaugurated half a year later).

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Map of North Cotabato with the Municipality of President Roxas highlighted. The town splitting the two halves of President Roxas is Antipas (Map from Wikimedia Commons).

This final creation meant Kidapawan would lose its border with Bukidnon, and it would be effectively surrounded on all sides by its daughter (M’lang, Makilala, Matalam, Magpet, President Roxas) and granddaughter (Tulunan, Antipas, Arakan) towns.

These towns today have their own administrations, and since their separation from Kidapawan have had their own histories. But those histories will inevitably begin with Kidapawan.

In almost all cases, Kidapawan opposed the partitioning, largely because as early as the 1950s it had hopes of becoming a city, and partitioning would lead to a decrease in the population and revenue needed to achieve cityhood. The Kidapawan Municipal Council objected, for instance, to Matalam’s establishment in 1961, and called it a “midnight creation” by President Garcia, who had lost to Diosdado Macapagal in the election just a month earlier. They filed a petition urging Macapagal to cancel the creation of Matalam, but it fell on deaf ears. The councilors’ earlier petition to change the border of Makilala to the Malaang River (instead of the Saguing River as defined by the creating law) was similarly ignored.

The partitioning, in many cases, split barangays—Indangan, for instance became two barangays when Makilala was created, while Patadon was split in two with the creation of Matalam. It also had the effect of splitting the domiciles of families.

But it is the latter which became a major factor that kept the Greater Kidapawan Area together culturally, as old families often straddled municipal boundaries because their time in Kidapawan predated the partition. Both sides of my own family demonstrate this: I have paternal relatives in Makilala (the Calises of Concepcion and the Tabanays and Dulays of Poblacion), and maternal relatives (the Galays) in Magpet and Kabacan.

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The old house of Mayor Alfonso Angeles Sr., Kidapawan’s first mayor, in the Municipality of M’lang. The Angeles family is one of many families who straddle the municipal borders they predate. Photo by Gabriel Ortigoza, who currently owns the house.

That kin-bound, cultural coherence crosses ethnicities and keeps together the primordial cohesion that begot Kidapawan in the first place. Kidapawan has ultimate roots in the Municipal District of Kidapawan, which was created by the Americans in 1914 roughly corresponding to the territory of the Monuvu (which was why the man they appointed District President, Datu Siawan Ingkal, was a leader of the tribe).

The political and cultural closeness of the Monuvu with the Maguindanaon to the south and west, along with the later proliferation of Ilonggo settlers with relatives in Kidapawan down south into what was mostly Maguindanaon territory, paved the way for the then forested M’lang-Tulunan area to be merged the Municipal District of Kidapawan after the Second World War to create the Municipality of Kidapawan.

Today the Greater Kidapawan Area occupies more than half of the modern day province of North Cotabato (which it predates). Kidapawan remains its cultural, economic, and political center, and it is often the city which sets an example for its daughter and granddaughter towns (not least because many of those towns’ leaders are educated in Kidapawan).

This, at least, is how I choose to approach historiography—I write Kidapawan history, but I take note of facts from and about the Greater Kidapawan Area as a whole. The history of these towns will be for its own historians to write, but while they have yet to emerge I go about writing Kidapawan history gathering data for their reference when they do.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Karlo Antonio G. David has been writing the history of Kidapawan City for the past thirteen years. He has documented seven previously unrecorded civilian massacres, the lives of many local historical figures, and the details of dozens of forgotten historical incidents in Kidapawan. He was invested by the Obo Monuvu of Kidapawan as “Datu Pontivug,” with the Gaa (traditional epithet) of “Piyak nod Pobpohangon nod Kotuwig don od Ukaa” (Hatchling with a large Cockscomb, Already Gifted at Crowing). The Don Carlos Palanca and Nick Joaquin Literary Awardee has seen print in Mindanao, Cebu, Dumaguete, Manila, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo. His first collection of short stories, “Proclivities: Stories from Kidapawan,” came out in 2022.)

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On this section of Moppiyon Kahi diid Patoy, we remember important dates and incidents that took place in Kidapawan history.

29 December 1985 – The Pacot Family Massacre in Makilala saw two dead and six wounded after the family of a GKK leader was gunned down by armed men. In his 1988 book “Church Persecution – A Test Case: Kidapawan Diocese,” Fr. Peter Geremia speculates that elements of the Integrated Civil Home Defense Force (ICHDF) were behind it.

2-3 January 1986 – The Kabalantian Atrocities took place successively on the second and third day of 1986 in Kabalantian, then part of Magpet (today part of Arakan). A mother and her two children (one aged 11, the other 15) were killed on 2 January, while a six-year-old girl was killed the day after. Houses were also burned down, and the girl’s parents were killed. Fr Geremia (who also recorded this incident), identifies the perpetrators as members of the Landasan armed group.

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