Monday, November 18, 2013

The Story of Kialeg

Years ago, in the course of researching the town of Magsaysay for a Canadian-funded book project focused on Mindanao's five poorest towns, I came upon the story of Kialeg. He was a B'laan warrior-hero whose legendary exploits his people remembered well. I reveled at this discovery because I knew the old name of Magsaysay used to be Kialeg; and despite the government's attempt to replace the town's name with that of a Philippine president who died in a plane crash, people never stopped calling the place Kialeg. I thought that in a place like Magsaysay, the government may have imposed another history upon the people, but in the people's heart, Kialeg lives. I could no longer remember whether I heard about what Kialeg did for his people that his name continued to stick. But a river running its course somewhere in town was also named after him. In fact, some town officials who never knew anything about Kialeg, the B'laan hero, thought that the old town was named after a river. But I had a discovery when I visited Pa's farm in Upper B'la last Sunday: The creek, we previously thought as dead because it was often dry most months of the year; the creek that cuts across Pa's piece of land, is actually Kialeg on his way downtown! Nice meeting you, warrior hero!

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