DATU PIANG, Maguindanao – In the municipal profile of Datu Piang is a brief historical account of the origins of the city. Rajah Buayan is considered the founder of the old city; he is believed to be descended from Shariff Kabunsuan, the Arab missionary who introduced Islam to various ethnic groups in Mindanao in the early 12th century. The introduction of Islam preceded the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of Catholicism to the country and Mindanao in the early 1500s (1521).
Rajah Buayan ruled Dulawan until the latter part of the 18th century. Around this time, a young charismatic Sino-Magindanawn leader emerged, Amai Mingka, also known as Datu Piang. Although he was not a datu based on his lineage, he was “inducted” as a datu for his brilliance, generosity, and general leadership qualities. He was orphaned at a young age and was placed in the care and tutelage of Datu Uto, one of Magindanawn’s rulers at the time.
The city’s brief historical profile noted that Dulawan was the first settlement of Chinese migrant merchants in Mindanao; many of the current generation of Chinese-magindanawn Muslims in Datu Piang are descendants of Chinese settler families. Therefore, Dulawan became a provincial trading center where merchants from different regions of the Imperial Province of Cotabato sold and bought a variety of goods. The city was also considered to be one of the safest places in the province of the empire to live and do business.
On June 12, 1954, Republic Law 1035 renamed Dulawan to Datu Piang in honor of Amai Mingka, who became a very influential leader, especially during the American colonial period.
Sadly, Dulawan or Datu Piang as it is called today, is a poor shadow of its glorious past. Over the years of its existence as a municipality, its territory has shrunk several times.
In 1959, part of the southern barangays of Datu Piang became the municipality of Ampatuan (currently divided into two local government units, that of the old town of Ampatuan and the new town of Datu Abdullah Sangki or DAS). Four years later, the municipality of Maganoy (now Shariff Aguak) was carved out from the last barangays in the southwest of Datu Piang, merged with other barangays from other neighboring municipalities.
On July 1, 2003, the municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan was divided into the 14 barangays in the southeast of Datu Piang. It was in honor of the memory of a former mayor of Datu Piang, Datu Saudi Ampatuan. Along with 12 other people, Datu Saudi was killed in a bomb attack on December 24, 2002, which took place in his residential complex; this happened on the third day of prayer for another Ampatuan brother, Datu Hoffer, who was killed in Cotabato City the previous week.
Datu Saudi was seen as the “nicest” and most educated son of Datu Andal, the feared and imperious leader of Magindanawn, considered the “mastermind” behind the tragic Ampatuan massacre in 2009, where 57 people were killed. killed. Thirty-one of the victims were local journalists, two of whom were reporters for The Mindanao Cross, a regional tabloid published in Cotabato City.
Datu Piang’s areas of jurisdiction continued to narrow in 2009, when the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) passed the Mindanao Muslim Autonomy Laws 225, 252 and 253 establishing the municipalities of Shariff Saidona Mustapha and Datu Salibo. Five barangays from Datu Piang were taken to be part of these two new small towns, merged with a few barangays from Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak.
Last week and early this week, I returned to Damabalas and Datu Piang poblacion where I did my 1978 fieldwork. From that time on, many changes in the geophysical layout of the city and the barangay Damabalas have taken place. The changes created a totally different environment for the area: a much larger wetland of the barangay and Datu Piang as a whole. The dry trails and barangay roads where I walked to get to Damabalas from the poblacion are mostly underwater most of the year, especially during the monsoon.
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