Lamitan honors Caviteño who resisted Spain, became datu, founded city

John Unson - Philstar.com
Lamitan honors Caviteño who resisted Spain, became datu, founded city
Residents offered flowers at the memorial of Datu Kalun in Lamitan City on June 26, 2022.
via The STAR / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Residents of Lamitan City, Basilan celebrated Sunday their Lami-Lamihan Festival in honor of a Spanish-era Caviteño who became a datu in the province.

Barangay officials and sectoral leaders, led by Mayor-elect Roderick Furigay, commemorated the life, works and examples of good governance of Datu Kalon, who was born Pedro Javier Cuevas.

While Datu Kalon was a stranger in Basilan, he became a datu whose leadership extended to villages that would later grow into Lamitan City and nearby towns.

Datu Kalon was chronicled by contemporary historians to have founded Lamitan, a mixed community of Muslims and non-Muslims, in 1886.

Descendants of Datu Kalon have stories of how he settled bloody conflicts among Yakan clans and how his people pulled off deadly attacks on Spanish colonizers who set foot in Basilan.

He was most admired by the Yakans for his strong opposition to Spanish rule, which started while he was in his homeland, Cavite.

Who was Datu Kalun?

Datu Kalun belonged to a wealthy and educated Christian family in Cavite. At 27, he was incarcerated and sentenced to death, along with two companions, for their militant activities against Spain and for their involvement in the 1872 Cavite Uprising.

He bolted from the San Ramon penal colony in what is now Zamboanga City and, from there, proceeded to Basilan, where he was eventually assimilated into the local communities as a datu for his good leadership.

Datu Kalon, to promote interfaith and cultural solidarity among Yakans and non-Yakans, organized the yearly "Paglam-Lamihan" gathering in the old Lamitan to celebrate good harvest and peace.

It was in 1983 that the local government revived the activity as an annual event.

In a message on Sunday, Furigay, whose third and last term as vice mayor ends on June 30, called on constituents to keep Datu Kalun's leadership ideals alive.

"Let us work together for the attainment of peace and development in the local communities," Furigay said.

He also called on Lamitan City residents to support the peace and reconciliation programs of their governor, the now third-termer Jim Salliman.




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