Bukidnon Province is the eighth largest province in the country, is situated upon a landlocked plateau at the center of Northern Mindanao and covers an area of 829,378 hectares. The province is located at the southern part of the Philippines. It is bounded on the north and northwest by Misamis Oriental, on the east by Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte, on the south by North Cotabato and on the west by the Lanao provinces.
Commonly known as the food basket of Mindanao, the province is known for its rich culture, interesting ethnic history and excellent scenery that is a true reflection of the Filipino way of life.
Bukidnon means “people of the mountains” and was named after the tribes who inhabited the mountains of the area. The province constituted one of the six districts of Mindanano during the Spanish regime. It subsequently became a sub-province of Misamis during the American era. The 20th centruy saw heavy migration of people to Mindanao thereby increasing the number of settlements in the area. In 1903, Bukidnon was made a separate province and was formally recognized as such on March 10, 1917 under Republic Act No. 2711.
Bukidnon is a product of a very colorful history. It is originally home to two of the main ethnic tribes that inhabited Central Mindanao namely the Talaandig and the Manobo. These days, though, Bukidnon has become an interesting mix of different types of people from the various parts of the country. The province is currently home to more than a million people of different ethnic affiliations.
Before the Spanish era, various migrant tribes from the Visayas islands have started settling on the land thereby driving its original settlers to the mountains. This is how Bukidnon came to be known by its name. The word Bukidnon originally referred to these people who were forced to move to the mountains due to the influx of migrant tribes. The word actually means “people of the mountains”. Through the years, the province saw a steady increase in migrant settlers which rose even higher after the Second World War when it opened its gates to different tribes coming from Cebu, Panay Island and even as far as the Ilocos regions.
The Bukidnon culture as it is today is a mixture of the various ethnic tribes that inhabit the province. However, it is still fairly easy to find the old traditional lifestyle through the people who live in its remote areas. Most of its people have managed to preserve its unique tradition and the only traces of assimilation are seen in the city.
Bukidnon started out as a municipality of Misamis in 1850. At that time, it was called Malay-balay. This term meant – quite literally – “few houses”. It was a municipality of Misamis until the year 1907 when it became a sub-province of Agusan by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act No. 1693. Ten years later, on March 10, 1917, Bukidnon became a separate province through the then newly-established Department of Mindanao and Sulu.
The province of Bukidnon is currently in the spotlight due to the highly controversial Sumilao march. This is in protest of the conversion of a 144-hectare land located in Barangay San Vicente, Sumilao into a hog farm by a multi-national corporation. Fifty-five farmers from the area started their march through 13 provinces from Mindanao on October 10 of this year and arrived in Manila on December 3 to request for an interview with the President to address their concerns.
The property in question was awarded to the Sumilao farmers in 1995 but was reclaimed towards the Quisumbing family who were to use the land for agri-industrial purposes. The project turned out to be the San Miguel Corporation’s construction of a hog farm on the said Bukidnon property. The farmers organized the march in order to air their land issues to the government and hopefully come up with a cease-and-desist order to stop the development of the contested property. To this date, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Malacañang are yet to provide a favorable response to the protesters from Bukidnon.