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The Story of Mainit
By Magelle Labrador-Resullar
The Lake. The spring. The first is the recipient of the latter. The latter pours out to the former in a never-ending cycle of ebbs and flows. And so goes the tale of the town of Mainit, interminably twined to the tales of both.
Mapaso Hot Spring is the sulfuric spring that flows into the town’s eponymous river that spans the periphery of the town. The Mainit River is the main tributary to the tranquil Mainit Lake, which in turn feeds thousands of inhabitants of the lakeshore and nearby towns.
The first peoples were the nomadic Negritos*, which inhabited the shores of the lake. The Negritos first set up a village now called as Daang Lungsod (now Barangay San Isidro). There, families lived together for filial affinity, order, security, and economic reasons. The villagers experienced many violent forays of invaders. The first invasions were by Moro pirates who looted homes and captured members of the village. These intrusions paved the re-settlement of the villagers eastward in what is now the present town site, Mainit.
Christianity reached the place with the arrival of Spanish Jesuits, among them, Padre Urios, in the 1800’s. A convent was built and a Catholic school was opened. A local government was put in place. The first administrative officials were known as capitans or cabezas. The following were the first Capitans: Bonifacio Mupas, Macario Francisco, Saturnino Libarnes, Hilario Villamon Mosende, Pio Murcilla and Lino Libarnes Mozar.
Mainit had its share of other foreign invasions interspersed in its dynamic history reflective of fluxes that was happening to the whole country. The Chinese came. Early records show, Carlos Lo Hernandez, a son of a Chinese trader, married a Mainitnon. This was among the first intermarriages that brought forth descendants who became the decisive personalities in the political growth of the town. The American came and mandated the creation of Mainit as a barrio of Placer municipality in 1904. The succeeding years were a territorial tug-of-war between Agusan and Surigao provinces for jurisdiction of Mainit. Eventually, Surigao Province won the case and Mainit was again reverted into a barrio of Placer.
Two decades later, Ceferino Lozada, the grandson of the Chinese trader, was elected Presidente of Placer together with two other Mainit locals, Juan Moselina as Vice Presidente and Antonio Grecia Mozar as councilor. Another decade later, Mainit was re-organized into a municipality under Executive Order No. 290 in December 27, 1930, signed by Governor General Dwight Davies. Antonio Grecia Mozar was appointed Presidente of the new town and Vedasto Mosende was Vice-Presidente. In the ensuing elections, Antonio G. Mozar became the first elected Presidente, or Mayor of the municipality. Vedasto L. Mosende was Vice Presidente
The councilors were Tomas de la Costa, Marcial Beltran, Baldomero Reyes, Victor Buyser and Pablo Ugay.
The leadership of the municipality changed from then on as the town matured into its present state. The following were the municipal mayors of Mainit: 1931-1934 Antoio G. Mozar, 1934-1937 Gardenia S. Beltran, 1937-1940 Baldomero S. Reyes, 1940-1942 Ceferino P. Lozada, 1944 (3 months) David M. Montañer, 1945 (2 months) Tomas de la Costa, 1946-1951 Agapito R. Montañer, 1952-1967 Jose M. Mondano, 1968-1970 Yolanda L. Mondano, 1970-1980 Cain C. Behagan, 1981-1986 Robuam M. Relliquette, 1986 Hilario S. Mosende , 1986 Felix S. Mosende, 1987 Robuam M. Relliquette, 1987-1991 Sarah M. Behagan, 1992-2001 Ramon B. Mondano, 2001-2007 Rogelio M. Gatpolintan, 2007-2016 Ramon B. Mondano, 2016-present Crisanta O. Mondano.
With its glorious past and lessons of history, Mainit continues to grow as an independent progressive municipality. It has twenty-one barangays, namely: Binga, Bobonaon, Cantugas, Dayano, Mabini, Magpayang, Magsaysay, Mansayao, Marayag, Matin-ao, Paco, Quezon, Roxas, San Francisco, San Isidro, San Jose, Siana, Silop, Tagbuyawan, Tapian, and Tolingon.
The municipality has a population of 26,741 (as of the 2015 census) comprised of professionals, business folks, farmers, fisher folks, and laborers. Like the rest of the country it has its share of overseas foreign workers (OFWs). Industries include mining, agriculture, and fishing. Barangay Siana is a mining barangay still turning large gold returns. Majority of townspeople are Catholics while the rest are Protestants, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Mormons and a small group of other sects.
Scattered around the municipality are exquisite wonders of nature. On top of the list is the mystical Mapaso Hot Spring – from which the town is named after. Townspeople and now tourists flock there to bathe for its therapeutic effects. Visible from many vantage points is the focal point of the town, Lake Mainit. It boasts of endemic variety of fish including hayuan, agok-ok, kasili, tilapia, bogwan, luyab and the all-time favorite, pidjanga. Local shellfish include igi, hapyuson, bajun-on among several others. The now developed Togonan Falls is situated in Barangay Marayag about 7 kilometers from the Poblacion. To reach the bottom of the waterfall, pilgrims need to descend a 70-foot drop. The water below is crystal-clear and refreshingly cool with the surrounding verdant forest as the dramatic backdrop for that long-awaited dip in the natural pool. There is also now a man-made pool next to the natural body of water. Families can luxuriate in the warmer pool as they enjoy the views. Lake Silop is mysterious in many ways. It is a 2.5 hectare-lake at the top of the mountain barangay of Silop. The species of fish in this lake are known to appear, disappear and re-appear at various times of the year. Other wild creatures that inhabit the lake and its vicinity are ducks and large animals like carabaos.
Almost always, a place gets to be known for its people. Nowadays, the Mainitnon is both modern and conservative. While technology has reached this beautiful town, beliefs and traditions still grow strong in the hearts of the people and are practiced up to the present. Modernity and globalization have worked well in the preservation of the Mainitnon culture and in its growth and march to progress. The warmth and the charm of its people have remained. It is an unspoken source of pride – being a Mainitnon. For what could be the one of the core reasons for coming home after many years of staying abroad or being out-of-town other than claiming one’s roots and beginnings.
In this great cycle of life, we remain true to our beginnings. The Lake. The Spring. The namesake. Mainit. The Mainitnon.
*Anthropologically, Negritos are descendants of the people now called Austronesians. They originated from East Africa and were able to migrate to Asia during the original dispersal of the modern humans many thousand years ago. The Austronesians were sea voyagers who dispersed into the Philippines by way of Taiwan or southern China or Celebes Sea area (Island SouthEast Asia, ISEA). They are the same ancestors of the Aborigines of Australia, New Guinea, the Polynesians and peoples of Hawaii, Indo-Malaysia and as far westward as the original people in Madagascar. This migration from Asia is estimated to be around 60,000 to 75,000. The original modern Homo sapiens existed >160,000 years ago. The oldest carbon-dating of the human remains in the Philippines (Callao Cave excavation in Cagayan) is 26,000 year old. This means that there were people and a way of life in the Philippines (albeit less documented at this time) way before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in 1851.
MAINITNON INCORPORATED: OUR EVOLUTION
By Nora Mosende Douglas
(with updates by JR Gatpolintan)
“Hinangkupay, Hagikhikay, Balitaay”, in Surigaonon language literally means warm renewal of ties, joyful laughter, and sharing of news of each other. These things always transpire each time MI holds its annual meeting. The themes of our reunions encapsulate the essence of the deep bond among the Mainitnons in North America that is derived from a common sociocultural heritage. Each time we meet, we Mainitnons, who originally hailed from our cherished town of Mainit, Surigao del Norte, reminisce, revel, and look forward to what lies ahead while savoring our present company, and nostalgically recall the bittersweet memories of growing up in Mainit.
So, what and who comprise Mainitnon Incorporated? What do we tell our our young and even grown children reared in our bicultural settings or our friends who are not from Mainit? How did MI come about? Basically, we declare to them that we are a group of Mainitnons who carry within us the sense of belonging and the rich nurturing we receive from our families and the Philippine culture imbued with religious and moral compass that have taken us to these distant shores. We are the proud immigrants who try to blend the best of both worlds of moral values, wholesome practices, aspirations, skills, and attitudes of participating and contributing to the betterment of the societies we are immersed in. Just as importantly, we are the grateful children of Mainit who continue to connect with Mainit in ways to help uplift the townspeople in their human and community development.
Individuals and families from Mainit have come to the United States and Canada since the 1960s. Through the years, those who came earlier, connected with those who came later, informally through family gatherings, special occasions, celebrations, and the like. The informal network of sharing of who was, where, and when they first came, was alive. Telepono, suyat pa sa una (Telephone, hand-written letters were the ways of communication at first). Waya pay FB, Twitter, Skype, IM, social media (There was no FB, Twitter, Skype, IM, social media yet). The diaspora took the Mainitnons to different parts of the United States, Canada and later to Europe, New Zealand, Middle East, etc.
The Formative Years
In 2005, a group of Mainitnons from northern and southern California, Nevada, some from the Philippines, Canada, and also some migrant friends from neighboring towns of Mainit, got together in Elk Grove, California and had its first reunion. The gathering was dubbed, Pijanga America 1st Grand Reunion. Mainitnons often fondly call ourselves, “pijangas” especially when meeting in groups. It refers to the abundant native life-giving fish, pijanga, in Lake Mainit (thus, “schools of pijangas” or “panon nan mga pijanga”). It was a meeting borne out of love and the longing to bond together and Elk Grove, CA was a logical first convergent point. Excited telephone conversations finally morphed into this pioneering endeavor. Captain Denis Perez, his wife Deborah “Diday” Velarde-Perez were the prime movers of this first salvo. Aprilyn Belbar-Taylor, who is based in Nashville, TN was also instrumental in inviting Mainitnons to this initial meeting. Susan Relliquette of Calgary, Canada has the distinction of being the first Mainitnon-Canadian attendee. The traditions of songs, dances, games, picnics, and food galore during reunions interplayed with the camaraderie of the attendees.
Las Vegas, Nevada was the site of the 2007 reunion. The Solivens-Mondanos, Kollman-Resullars, Dodong Jun Villapane, JR Gatpolintan, Pagapong-Cabertes, Ambray-Gos, Llameras, Dumadag-Fulgados, Sutiangso-Opalias, Belbar-Taylors, Crispo Salino and many others reunited once again to celebrate our shared experiences.
Then on to San Diego, California in 2008. Reverend Isaias and Mila Paniamogan were the main hosts for this third reunion. Mainitnons from Canada, New York, Seattle, and North and SoCal, once again socialized and set goals for the group in the years ahead. Mainitnon sa Amerika was formed during this reunion. Work committees were organized to register the group with the State of California as a mutual benefit organization.
Dallas, Texas was chosen to be the site of the next reunion in 2009. So, we drove, hopped on planes and ventured to the hospitable welcome of the Reyeses, Mondano-Ackers, Mondano-Elsisuras, Recabos, Charlotte Bacabis and other Mainitnons who reside in the state of Texas. A good time was had by all, including a tour of historic Dallas, a “Western-inspired” dance event, and a picnic in the park.
Seattle, Washington was the locale for the group’s 2010 reunion. The Nalams, Mangalindans, Nieres, and Quitlongs banded together to host the event. Among the highlights of the reunion was the birthday fete for the matriarch of the Nalams, Nanay Kensing.
The Birth of MI and DEAR
As history had it, in 2011, during its reunion dubbed, Mainitnon Lakers at the LA Reunion, the group transitioned to a new identity as Mainitnon Incorporated as agreed upon by the majority of the attendees of more than one hundred. It was hosted by the Villapanes, Llameras, Banzons, Mosende-Douglases, Mozar-Garaniels, and the Dumadag-Fulgados. The group incorporated itself as a mutual benefit organization with a new registration in the State of California. Erlinda Olam-Augustine (then living in Juneau, Alaska) was its first elected president. A tour of the LA scenes, a funfilled picnic in the park, cultural dances, and gala dance entertained the merrymakers. Serious matters also were planned for outreach in Mainit, such as developing the Mabini School Library. The organization also assisted financially in the construction and development of the archival offices of the Mainit Catholic Parish through a generous gift from the Tracy Filipino American Catholic group.
Since then, MI alternately meets biennially for a fundraising Dance Event And Reunion (DEAR) with its regional focus, and a grand reunion in the following year. DEAR events had been held in Vancouver, Canada (2012), hosted by the Luarezes, Villamon-Paniamogans, Behagans, Mosters among others. In Nashville, TN (2014), the Belbar-Taylors were the primary hosts; The Montaner-Scharporns were the gracious hosts for DEAR in Twin Lake, Michigan (2016). This latter meeting was graced by one of the Mainitnon pioneers, the late Dr. Rowan Labrador of Logan Ohio.
In 2013, MI had its 7th Grand Reunion in Dublin, North California. The Gatpolintans, Solivens, Resullars, Kollmans, Stellings, Doongs, Perezes, Banzons, and others were among the hospitable hosts who not only showed us the sights of the City by the Bay, San Francisco, but also wowed us with the Black and White Dinner Dance event. Another picnic in the park capped the reunion. Glenda Mosende of Toronto, Canada was the next elected president.
Then on to Canada, the Pijangas went in 2015. The Mainitnon Canadians gathered us in full force in Toronto, Canada. In our red maple colors, we toured the city and ate sumptuous meals at the homes of our gracious hosts and at the Toronto Chinatown. Our gracious hosts were the Villanuevas, Salinos, Jessups, Mosendes, Nieuwlands, Sy-Pintolos, Lesly Mojar, Victoria Mozar-Azzaraga. We had a grand time touring the city, dancing, and fellowshipping. The trip to Niagara Falls was one of the highlights of the event. At the picnic, the Reyeses of Newfoundland provided us with abundant delicious fresh seafood from their place. The officers reported the successful outreach programs and partnerships in Mainit for different projects. School equipment, supplies, and books were shared in several schools across the municipalities; nutritional support, slipper-giving, TESDA trainees sponsorship were among these projects. Ruby Sue Mordeno-Mangalindan of Bothell, Washington was elected as MI’s 3rd president.
In 2017, Seattle earned the honor of being the first city to become a repeat reunion host. The Mangalindans, Nalams, Quitlongs, adopted-Mainitnon, Elizabeth “Betchay” Rice and others spoiled us to bits in beautiful Seattle, Washington. We thoroughly enjoyed the foodfest at the Mangalindans in Bothell and the party thrown by the Nalams in Auburn as we again reminisced and shared our Mainitnon stories as well as new experiences in the newfound land. The memories of the tours and picture-taking galore at Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle will be forever etched in our minds. JR Gatpolintan of San Francisco, CA was elected its 4th president.
The celebration took a grander significance when the MI Board of Directors announced 2 recent major achievements of the organization. Firstly, in October 2015, Manintnon, Incorporated (MI) and Tambayayong Mainit, Incorporated (TMI) jointly signed a Memorandum of Agreement formalizing the nascent partnership between the two organizations. MI, which is based in Northern America is more poised to raise funds and TMI which has strong local presence in Mainit, would be the main implementer of common identified projects. Defining the complementary and symbiotic roles of the two groups was win-win proposition. This means a more efficient way of accomplishing development work. Secondly, in 2017, MI was granted federal tax exempt status. It is now recognized as 501c(3) organization. All donations to MI for its development work would be tax deductible making it more attractive to potential donors.
In 2018, the DEAR event was in Rosemont, Illinois. The Mordenos, Monterolas, and others were the gracious hosts. The highlight was the 90th birthday celebration of the one of the inspirations of MI, retired educator, Rosario “Lola Chayong” Arpilleda Mordeno.
MI Looking Ahead
MI continues to evolve as a dynamic organization. Among the projects undertaken and we continue to implement are providing beginning reading teaching materials (Unang Hakbang Pagbasa program) for elementary schools in Mainit; the eLibrary project which provides essential digital resources and training to beneficiary schools’ students and teachers, support for dental-medical missions, outreach to senior citizens, support for tree-growing and other environmental activities, etc. Partnerships have been forged with civic groups such as the Tambayayong Mainit Incorporated, among others.
In God’s time, we will have more reunions to come. And every time we meet, we rhapsodize our reminiscences and dreams for Mainit and our own renewals of ties. We are a people of hope and aspirations. We love life and we know how to have fun while tending to serious matters of HUMming, ‘HELP UPLIFT MAINIT”, and affirming our love for our fellow Mainitnons not only among ourselves and our families, but also those in Mainit who provide the lifelines of our dreams and continuities. In the meantime, wherever we are in the United States, Canada, Europe, or anywhere in the world, we endeavor to bloom where God has planted us and our families.
Welcome Message to MI Website
Welcome to Mainitnon, Incorporated website! You must be somebody interested in helping “move the needle” for progress in the world.
Why should you donate to MI? We do effective, efficient, and the much-needed development work in southern Philippines. It is an area in the world that could use a boost. We aim to help these communities achieve self-sufficient, sustainable progress while preserving their culture and enhancing the beauty of their environment. Our specific beneficiary is the town Mainit, Surigao del Norte, located in the northeastern tip of the island of Mindanao (9° 32′ 6″ N, 125° 31′ 23.02″ E).
In this website, you will find the various developmental projects that we have accomplished and continue to undertake: Unang Pagbasa (First Reading)- providing books and augmenting reading programs for elementary schools, e-library for local high schools, potable water installation, vocational courses scholarships, tree planting, medical-dental mission, feeding program, etc. These are the projects that you will help us implement with your donated funds.
Why Mainit? Because that’s where we, the members of MI, are all from. MI is a group of Mainitnon diasporans all over the world. The group is naturally vested in Mainit. We know the lay of the land like the back of our hands. We have the pulse of the communities thru our significant partnerships and our remaining families in the place. We have the local network. We understand the needs, the gaps, and the strengths. We know the culture. We speak the language.
Another reason for our effectiveness is having a reliable local partner organization, Tambayayong Mainit, Inc (TMI). TMI is a Philippine Security Exchange Commission registered civic organization (#CN200831653) based in Mainit. It is composed of a dedicated, vibrant, all-volunteer corps. They are retired and active teachers, government employees, local leaders, and other similar-minded folks all living in Mainit. They are our prime movers, liaison, and project implementers in the locale. MI and TMI have an existing Memorandum of Agreement of cooperation since 2015. Check out their site http://go.mainit.org:8080 for more info and documentation of the projects .
Thank you for your generosity! Your tax-deductible contribution will help fund important development projects in a part of the world that needs it most. Your donation DIRECTLY affects peoples’ lives in these communities. Thank you for being a part of a collective Force for Good in this world!