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Getting to Know Cagayan Essay

I. Description

Cagayan is a province of the Philippines in the Cagayan Valley region in Luzon. Its capital is Tuguegarao City and is located at the northeastern corner of the island of Luzon. Cagayan also includes the Babuyan Islands to the north. The province borders Ilocos Norte and Apayao to the west, and Kalinga and Isabela to the south. Cagayan is part of one of the largest valleys in the Philippines formed by the majestic Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountain ranges. It is traversed by the mighty 330-km long Cagayan River and its various tributaries.

The province could have gotten its name from the Ilocano word carayan or “big river,” referring to the Rio Grande De Cagayan, the longest river in the country, which bisects its valley from north to south. Or it could have been derived from the tagay trees (tall hardwood) that grew along the river banks. It is possible that the area was called Catagayan, meaning “where the tagay abounds.” The earliest inhabitants were the Aetas, short dark-skinned nomads belonging to the Negrito family. They were followed by Indo-Malay immigrants who came to be known as Ybanags

The majority of people living in Cagayan are of Ilocano descent, mostly from migrants coming from the Ilocos Region. Originally, the more numerous group were the Ybanags, who were first sighted by the Spanish explorers and converted to Christianity by missionaries. This is why the Ibanag language spread throughout the area prior to the arrival of Ilocanos.

II. Culture, Way of Life, Values, Religion and Beliefs

Cagayan is a very ancient civilization. It has its distinct, rich and diverse culture. Commerce and trade was practiced by its inhabitants and has flourished with the Japanese, Chinese and other neighbor Asian countries even before the Spanish colonizers reached its shores.

The province’s agricultural production is concentrated on two areas. The Cagayan River Delta produces rice, corn, vegetables, and rootcrops. The region near the boundary with Isabela contains a number of large tobacco plantations. Agricultural products also are of peanut, beans, and fruits. Livestock products include cattle, hogs, carabaos, and poultry. Fishing various species of fish from the coastal towns is also undertaken. Woodcraft furniture made of hardwood, rattan, bamboo, and other indigenous materials are also available in the province.

The mountain ranges yield good hardwoods, as well as rattan and other forest products used in cottage industries. Fishing is a major industry in the coastal areas.

Its ancientness is evidenced by the presence of centuries-old churches and other religious relics, archeological sites of nomadic tribes, and richness of its local language and culture. The oldest bell in the country, cast in 1592, still peals from the tower of the church in Camalaniugan. The old brick works in Tuguegarao lie inside the city and speak of a time when bricks were extensively used to build the beautiful churches of the Cagayan.

Cagayan with its ancientness is still replete with adventure and excitement. It can flaunt its pristine natural beauty and endowment. It has breathtaking sceneries, beaches, and cavernous caves, thunderous falls, rapids, rivers, limestone mountains, thick and virgin forests, verdant valleys and many more. Also, it is a land of many opportunities having one of the largest fertile alluvial plains, grazing lands and fishing grounds (both marine and inland waters) in the Philippines and a continuous and sustainable supply of production materials. Multi-lingual, warm, gentle and amiable people await you in this remaining patch of tropical paradise in Northern Philippines.

III. Land and Topography

The province is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east; on the south by Isabela province; on the west by the Cordillera Mountains; and on the north by the Balintang Channel and the Babuyan Group of Islands. About two kilometers from the northeastern tip of the province is the island of Palaui; a few kilometers to the west is Fuga Island. The Babuyan Group of Islands, which includes Calayan, Dalupiri, Camiguin, and Babuyan Claro, is about 60 nautical miles (110 km) north of Luzon mainland.

The province comprises an aggregate land area of 9,002.70 square kilometers, which constitutes three percent of the total land area of the country, making it the second largest province in the region.

Cagayan has 28 municipalities and one city divided into three congressional districts. It has 820 barangays. Tuguegarao City (as of December 18, 1999) is the provincial capital, regional seat, and center of business, trade, and education. It has a land area of 144.80 square kilometers and a population of 120,645 as of 2000.

Seasons in the province are not very pronounced. Relatively dry season occurs during the months of March to June and rainy season from July to October, although it is relatively cold during the months of November to February.

IV. What did you learn for this ethnic group and its relation for cultural anthropology

Due to the influx of Ilokano migrants in the last century, majority of the people of Cagayan speak Iloko as their primary tongue. Aside from the Ilokanos, there are several smaller ethnic groups that live in the province. The Ybanags are the dominant ethnic group in the vicinity of the provincial capital of Cagayan-—Tuguegarao, now a city. The closely related Itawits inhabit the Pinacanauan River valley as well as areas of Amulung and Tuao. The Malawegs are found mainly in the municipality of Rizal . In the foothills and the mountains of the Sierra Madre Range , several Negrito groups called the Agtas forage and hunt for food. The established lingua franca of the province is Ybanag.

The Ybanags, Itawits and Malawegs are mainly lowland farmers whose agricultural practices are similar to those of the Ilokanos. The Ybanags used to inhabit the area along the Cagayan coast but migrated further inland. They conducted trade with neighboring areas using distinctive sea crafts, and their commercial interests made their language the medium of commerce throughout the region before the influx of Ilokano migrants.

They are also excellent blacksmiths and continue to make good bolos. The Ybanags are reputed to be the tallest of all the ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines The Itawits are almost indistinguishable from the Ybanags. They build their houses with separate kitchens, connected by a narrow walkway that is used as washing area for hands and feet. The Itawits are noted for their pottery and basket-weaving traditions.


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