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H I S T O R Y * O F * T A G U M

Origin of Tagum
Early Development in 1920s and 1930s
Developments in the 1940s and 1950s
Development in the 1960s and 1970s
Development in the 1980s
Development in the 1990s

Origin of Tagum

       There is no official record on the meaning Tagum, but a legend explains how the name Magugpo came about. At the beginning, Magugpo was nothing but a vast wilderness, inhabited by the Mansakas, Manguangans, Mandayas and the Kalagans in the coastal barangays. The name Magugpo was derived from the native word mago, a name of certain tree, and the ugpo means very high. According to the story, the natives were occupying a river basin inside the thickly covered forest where they could not even see the sun. The creek where the natives dwelt still exists, but the once abundant fresh water is now dead, unfortunately due to pollution.

Early Development in 1920s and 1930s

       The first real transformation of Magugpo occurred when the first immigrant, an intrepid pioneer from Moalboal, Cebu, by the name Sulpicio Quirante, came in October 1929. More migrants came from the Visayas and Luzon. These included Cebuanos like Hermogenes Alburo Misa and Felix Senanggote; Boholanos in the person of Manuel Baura Suaybaguio, Sr.; and from Pangasinan and Alfredo Pulmano from La Union.

       Physical land developments started to emerge when these migrants organized themselves into the Magugpo Homesteaders' Association and bought the homestead of Lolo Mandaya, a native. They subdivided the land into residential lots of 750 square meters each and sold these lots at P1.50 each to newcomers. The amount paid by the buyer also served as membership fee to the association.

       In 1932, two engineers from Davao City, Engineers Ignacio and Alib, together with 15 laborers surveyed the trail for the national highway. During those times the only means of transportation from Davao City to Tagum was by boat using the Hijo and Tagum Rivers as its points of entry to Tagum. This explains why the seat of government was first located at Barangay Hijo, now the Hijo Plantation in Barangay Madaum. Another seat of settlement during those times was near the river banks of barangay Pagsabangan, the place where the remains of Datu Bago, the hero of Davao, was buried.

       The first physical landmarks of Magugpo therefore were a school building , a teacher's cottage, a rest house and a chapel, which were all constructed by the Homesteaders' Association in the early 1930s

Development in the 1940s and 1950s

       The 1940’s was the establishment of the Municipality of Magugpo which was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 452, issued by then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon on June 23, 1941. Before then, Magugpo was a municipal district of Davao City. It was created into a regular municipality in 1941 by a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Cesar Sotto, Davao’s representative to the National Assembly.

       It was in 1941 that Tagum had its first local civil government under the leadership of Manuel Baura Suaybaguio, Sr. and Sulpicio Quirante. Both were appointed as the first Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively. Before the infant municipality could take -off, World War II broke out. The war badly damaged the Magugpo settlement. Only five houses were left standing at Magugpo after the liberation. From the rubble of war, Suaybaguio and Quirante spearheaded the construction of houses, drugstores, stores and a church (which was constructed at its present site). Moreover, national government infrastructure projects such as the Davao Agusan national highway and the provincial roads to Kapalong and Saug paved the way to the influx of more immigrants to the municipality.

       The local government of Magugpo was formalized with the holding of the first local election in 1947, the time of President Manuel A. Roxas of the infant Republic of the Philippines. Suaybaguio retained his position, gaining a new Vice Mayor in the person of Lucio Berdida.

       Important changes were imposed such as the renaming of Magugpo to Tagum by virtue of municipal council resolution. In 1948, Mayor Suaybaguio transferred the seat of government from Hijo to Magugpo Poblacion. the following year saw the birth of a new municipality, Panabo. The then Vice Mayor Berdida who hailed from the said place was appointed as its Mayor, thereby paving the way for the assumption of Macario Bermudez as Vice Mayor.

       In the 1950s, Tagum experienced significant changes, not only in the political arena but also in its physical structures. Under the administrations of Wakan and Baluyo, in 1951 and 1955 respectively, the people of Tagum witnessed some physical transformation of the town. There was massive construction of roads. The Municipal Hall was constructed at its present site. The old municipal health center along Bonifacio St. was also put up. A public market site was also officially acquired.

       Economically, Tagum was slowly becoming a convenient place for traders to exchange products with neighboring municipalities. The booming abaca and coconut industries in the early 1950s contributed significantly to the growth of the local economy. Alongside the economic development, came the establishment of two schools/colleges, Holy Cross College (now St. Mary’s College ) and Mindanao Colleges (now University of Mindanao) which were then the only providers of tertiary education in the province outside Davao City. The presence of these two (2) schools was slowly contributing to making Tagum another possible educational center for Davao.

Development in the 1960s and 1970s

       Tagum’s role as an important center for various activities was highlighted in 1967. It was a banner year for the municipality because it became the seat of the provincial government of Davao del Norte, when the whole of Davao was finally divided into three (3) provinces : Del Norte, Del Sur and Oriental. Tagum became a capital town, signaling its continued march to progress. In the 1971 local elections, after 16 years in office, Baloyo was replaced by Gementiza. Fortunately for Gementiza’s administration, the economic losses of the dying abaca sector and the receding importance of the coconut industry were more than off-set by the gains of the emerging banana plantations in and around Tagum. Indeed, the banana impetus propelled the total development of Tagum into a bustling metropolis. The once sleepy town became the beehive of business activities in Southeastern Mindanao.

       The very progressive economy then made it easier for Gementiza’s administration to undertake infrastructure development projects such as the expansion of the municipal hall, concreting of the public market (through loan from Development Bank of the Philippines), the asphalting of more municipal roads and opening of more barangay roads. In the process, various offices were created: Municipal Engineering Office , Municipal Planning and Development Office, Municipal Assessor’s Office and the Fire Station.

Development in the 1980s

       The 1980s were turbulent years for Tagum, politically-speaking. There was a heavy turnover of local officials for various reasons. Tolentino’s administration which started in 1980, was rocked by anomalies, thus forcing him to resign from office 16 months after taking his oath. Tolentino’s resignation led to the appointment of Prospero Estabillo as Mayor and Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr. as Vice Mayor. As a result, there were major changes in the positions of the Council Members.

       Like the rest of the nation, Tagum suffered political instability and serious peace and order problems during the first five (5) years of the decade. The EDSA Revolution in 1986 practically changed the political climate. Baltazar Sator who was appointed OIC-Mayor then, was late elected as Congressman in 1987. Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr., eventually assumed the leadership of the town after the 1988 election.

       In spite of the prevailing political unrest in the early eighties, Tagum continuously enjoyed an expanding economy, though at a slower pace. There might have been a slight slump in the banana industry, but the discovery of abundant mineral resources, specifically gold, in various areas of Davao Province triggered the local economies, not just in Tagum but in the neighboring municipalities as well. Thus, in the later part of the decade, the construction sector grew at an unprecedented pace. Towards the 1990s and onwards, Tagum has been undoubtedly turning itself into a strategic and important growth center in Southeastern Mindanao.

Development in the 1990s

       The 1990s have been significant years not only for Tagum, but for the entire Philippine Government bureaucracy. There was a radical change in the system of government through the passage of Republic Act 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. By virtue of the said Republic Act, decentralization had taken off. The former centralized form of government became decentralized through devolution. As an effect, local government units (LGUs) were given additional functions, powers, authorities and responsibilities.

       Although, the decentralization policy of state was very relevant and vital for local and national development, however, there were also problems and issues that were encountered along the process of its implementation. For Tagum, financial and organizational problems were felt by the local officialdom. This was due to the fact that, the former municipality has broader areas of services with only limited financial and manpower resources. But this situation had been gradually resolved through various revenue raising strategies and grants/aids from the national and foreign funding institutions.

       One of the significant accomplishments of the officialdom of Tagum during the 1990s was its elevation from a second to first class municipality. This opened a gateway to increase its financial resources through the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) from the national government and local revenues. Figure 1.0 shows the incremental income of the former Municipality of Tagum.
Figure 1.0
Source: City Accounting Office
Source : City Accounting Office, Tagum City

       This was under the leadership of Hon Victorio R. Suaybaguio, Jr. . who sat as mayor Tagum for three (3) consecutive terms (1988-1998).As a matter of fact , during the 1995 election, all incumbent elected officials of Tagum , from Mayor down to the municipal councilors , were unopposed, making a significant event in the political history of Tagum.

       The fast urbanization of Tagum from the late 80s to 1990 which was attributed to the mushrooming of business establishments and other commercial activities, increasing population and services and other factors, has caused various problems and needs, like roads, drainage, the increasing numbers of squatters , upscaling trend of traffic congestion in major streets, garbage and sanitation , land use and others.Confronted by this situation, the local government of Tagum engaged into the revision of its Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan (MCDP). This was spearheaded by the Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) with the assistance from the University College of Architecture Foundation, Inc.( UP ARKI) , Manila and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLRB), Region XI.

       The MCDP was approved in December 1993.And during that year ,Tagum was the second municipality in Region XI which had an approved Municipal Comprehensive Development Plan .

       Tagum had increased the number of its barangays when the division of Barangay Poblacion which is an urbanized barangay of Tagum occurred in 1995. This resulted to the creation of four (4 ) new barangays, namely, Barangay Magugpo North, Barangay Magugpo South, Barangay Magugpo East and Barangay Magugpo West.

       Another important event happened particularly in 1997 was the transfer of public market to the new P60 Million public market which is more than a kilometer away from the old market. The new market was constructed in a seven (7) hectare donated land by the Pereyras family. The said area is also the site of the new Tagum Overland Transport Integrated Terminal (TOTIT) worth P 60 Million and the Livestock Auction Center worth P 2.5 Million.

       Foremost of the development of Tagum in 1990s was its conversion into a Component City of Davao del Norte. Congressman Baltazar Sator sponsored House Bill No.7509 in the House of Congress . Prior to its approval, a public hearing was conducted in Tagum by the Committee on Local Government of the House of Congress, chaired by Hon. Congressman Ciriaco Alfelor. The said law passed all the requisites in the House of Congress, resulting to its approval.

       Then, Republic Act 8472 “ An Act converting the Municipality of Tagum into a City, to be known as the City of Tagum” was passed to the House of Senate through the sponsorship of Hon. Senator Vicente Sotto III.

       In January 30, 1998, the said Republic Act was signed into law by His Excellency Fidel V. Ramos. And it was ratified through a plebiscite in Tagum on March 7, 1998.

       The incumbent Municipal Mayor, Hon. Victorio R. Suaybaguio, Jr., who served his last term in the office, became the first City Mayor of Tagum . His incumbency as the first city mayor was only for a short period because he resigned from the office to seek for higher political position. In May 1998 election, Suaybaguio run as Vice Governor in Davao del Norte. By virtue of the law ,Arrel R. Olaño , the incumbent City Vice Mayor took over the position as the City Mayor. However, he only served in his capacity as the mayor for short period because he also resigned and sought for higher political position as board member in the provincial government.

       The next higher in rank in the officialdom was the first city councilor in the person of Hon. Octavio R. Valle. By this capacity, he took over the position as the Vice Mayor and became the Acting City Mayor of Tagum while running as Vice Mayor in the May 1998 election.

       The first elected City Officials of Tagum assumed office in July 1, 1998 under the leadership of Mayor Rey T. Uy and Vice Mayor Gerardo R. Racho.

       The present administration introduced dynamic reforms in the local governance. Political Will in the implementation of various programs and projects becomes the foundation that guides the city development in various sector most importantly the infrastructure. The incumbent Local Chief Executive with the support of the City Council and the LGU organization, initiated to forge new brand of public administration. The mayor as a corporate man, replicate some of the management principles and strategies of the corporate world in local governance. This opens gateway towards more efficient and effective delivery of public services and massive implementation of important infrastructure and socio-economic programs and projects.

       All of these efforts are translated into development as evidenced by the fast growing urbanization and physical transformation of Tagum City compared to the previous years. Nevertheless, the gains and achievements of Tagum in the present have become a reality because of the people who worked and dedicated their services in the past and the present generation.

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