The mystery of the small barangay MAYBUNGA in the city of Pasig, Metro Manila and the mystery of the origin of the name and its ancient inhabitants is mystifying.
Knowing that the token place was abundant in beetlenut-bearing trees or “nganga” can be enough to surmise its etymology, however, tracing back a forgotten history would require a more diligent and detailed research on the unrecorded past.
In forgotten KATAGALUGAN, there was a sea and land territory called MABUNGA, the kingdom of a tagalog maginoo clan known to the natives as Pinga. They were the offsprings and descendants of two noble persons, “haring nga” and “dayang pi” anciently buried in a forgotten memory of an island of gold.
This golden age was the time when baybayin script and the “bulilang” counting of the tagalog natives were still prolific, unchanged and unadulterated by the roman form of writing and numbering.
MABUNGA was the predecessor of a “lalawigan” with the same name, within the time frame of other ancient kingdoms in KATAGALUGAN such as KALILAYA, KUMINTANG, KABIKULAN, ILOKO, including TALIM-ASIM and other few unknown places.
In the heart of this vast MABUNGA kingdom ran a big number of rivers that the natives would call as “wawa” or tears of nature that would flow from between hills or small mountains, such as pamitinan and binitayan of a massive mountain range known as “amang bundok”, to finally rest in the bedrocks ANGAT and the twin lakes known to the natives as “kambal na lawa”.
PINGA lived in one of the vicinities of these rivers that flowed down to all directions of the island branching into several tributaries that are still extant but barely visible today, similar to the streaming “bitukang manok” and seeking its end at another river like “napindan” to a female lagoon called by tagalog natives as “lawang babaye o bai”.
Today, we call it as laguna lake, a beautiful entity pointing its water energy to the west through a waterway called “pasig” that linked its life to another lake known as “maynilad”, which was “lawang lalake” to the natives as counterpart of lawang babae that is laguna today.
The world knows this sacred place as Manila Bay and Laguna lake.
Maps today show Mabunga mostly at the foot of the “sierra madre” mountain that was “amang bundok” to the ancient tagalog natives, parts of it became Tundo, Pasig and later other spanish towns in today cities of Metro Manila.
Vastness of that kingdom was seen at the exterior of now called nueva ecija to the north and freely extended to the south of the island as far as batangas of kumintang and makalelong and mulanay of kalilaya known today as quezon.
Ancient rivers adorned the places of san mateo and marikina whose names were non-existent before, starting their flows to “bitukang manok” of Pasig, the snake-like river course directing to laguna de bay and connecting to manila bay in the west through the famed pasig river.
Foreign invaders from the west, such as spaniards and americans, named this erratic lines on earth as mariquina fault that stretches to as far as tagaytay.
Included in this domain of freedom were equally ancient rivers to the farther south, such as “lumbang” and other mysterious streams that cried out of the mountains of banahaw and makiling where many of the old “katalunan” and “babaylan” lived, stayed and perished.
The old mabunga was a parcel of freedom land of thriving communities or “balanghay o balangay” being governed by noble warriors led by the leading clans of Pi and Nga who administered the territories through their appointed leaders or rulers called “dayang at gat”.
Researchers today are mentioning the names of Dayang Kalangitan, wife of Gat Lontok, who had four children, named Dayang Panginoon who was reportedly married to Gat Balagtas, Dayang Lahat, the wife of Gat Timog, Salalila whose children were Matanda, Soliman and Dula, and Gat Kahiya.
Only in the recent times, these names are being accorded a belated prominence as descendants of tagalog nobles, or maginoo in whose veins ran the blood of tagalog nobility, the spirit of the ancient river dwellers, that many historians or pretenders always failed to mention as part of our true and authentic heritage.
In modern times after the spanish expedition in 1521 in the visayas that they named as islas de lazarus and later as feilipinas, the invaders sailed to luzon and saw the lands around a bay full of nilad.
The conquistadores encountered the hindu, chinese, muslim, kapangpangan and visayan settlers squatting temporarily around the bay, who inherited their culture from madjapajit and shri-vijaya empires of the old. They had known this sanctuary of lands as an island of gold, that was actually “pulo ng ginto” to the tagalog natives.
The spaniards and mexican soldiers made unholy alliance with the above mentioned settlers, who were then considered as non-natives or “dayuhan o banyaga” in luzon, on how to explore and exploit the tagalog lands in the island of gold.
The invaders from the far west had heard about the wealth and grandeur of the “pulo ng ginto” and all of them showed insatiable hunger to start their conquest of the lands of the free or “lupaing malaya”.
From the bay, they marched and paddled the length of a river pasig until they reached “ilog napindan” going to the lake “bai” where they found native villages and communities and started to call the place as “pinagbuhatan” to remember the time when the natives initially saw the foreigners from the far west.
More exploration ensued and the strangers discovered for themselves other places such as “malinaw, buting, bambang, palatiw, and tipas or tagig” and farther places such as “bawan” with fascination, and eventually they proceeded to all directions for further exploration.
These were the tagalog “balanghay” of the free people or “timawa” who were administered under the native leaders known then as “gat and dayang”.
The authentic culture of our tagalog natives who were living in harmony under the protection of the “mandirigma” and their tagalog soldiers then known as “kawal”.
Their domain was under the blessing of maginoo pinga nobility which commanded the highest leadership and respect by the timawa and mandirigma of the katagalugan. That was the time when the “anito” of the tagalog inhabitants were revered and respected benevolently.
However, popular history gradually transformed our lands and territories into haciendas by the european church under the strict management of spanish subordinates, one of which was captain juan dela ysla who was appointed by legazpi during their luzon expedition in 1571.
Plantations, like haciendas de marquina, santa ana, mandaluyong, luisita and others, came into being and gave merit to the hispanic landlords who came in the guise of crusaders of religious faith of the western worlds.
The cross-bearing intruders changed the native beliefs about “bayanihan, magdiwang, damayan, pasasalamat, katalunan, anito, maykapal o maylalang” to “hospicios, hermanidad, obras pias, fiestas, tributo, prayles, santo, dios or god” causing the erroneous disambiguation of a very genuine culture and existence.
On January 17, 1572, the augustinian fray alvarado at the helm explored the northern direction of “ilog wawa” with the new encomendero juan dela ysla flanked from all sides for defense by the visayan and mexican soldiers as armed escorts walking the lands of mabunga while the rest followed on “balsang kawayan” or sleds of bamboo poles and bancas by the rivers.
In one of their earlier journeys, they reached the foot of “amang bundok” and remembered their visitation as the feast day of their own saind with full celebration similar to those being done by the natives themselves in honor of their own anitos.
The intruders also witnessed the “payatas” or promise of wealth to the natives who showed thanksgivings by various tagalog clans and tribes as in “pasasalamat, sabuyan ng tubig” and other indigenous festivities.
They realized that the ancient acts of the luzon natives were worth emulating so they also started their own parades such as “prusisyon o parada” also with the abundance of many varieties of plants and trees along their way, such as niyog, bunga, mangga, santol, kamagong, kalumpang and many others others, with they own cross and saints at the helm.
They even made use of the same edifices for worship of the natives who called then as “sambahan” as their church. The westerners were allowed by the tagalog natives to practice their own religion and beliefs.
Names of local trees and fruits were the basis for remembering the specific places in Mabunga, and the festivities which was later on termed as “pistahan” for thanksgiving or “pasasalamat” for their tagalog ancestors every time of the equinox or “magkasing”.
The invaders gradually transformed these inherent acts of parading the anitos by replicating their own saints during the festivities, at the same time introduced the collection of offerings of the natives to the own church under the name of their own gods, instead of distribution of the produce to the natives as customary tradition in our own “sambahan”.
The indigenous natives were astounded by the intrusion but showed no harm to the strangers, their first act of hospitality to the world.
Chapels or “visitas” were established in the areas by destroying our own “sambahan”, land ownerships began to change, one of the many was later ceded by the augustinians to the jesuits, through their self appointed authority.
Among the specific numerous known cases was the acquisition of thirty hectares of land from the native rulers of the places for endowment for the college of san ignacio, an arrangement that actually benefited the roman catholic church, in connivance with the newly formed spanish government and their mestizo citizens that included the chinese, mexicans and visayans who made a complete adherence to their religious faith.
Ownership and possession of our lands gradually changed through hospicios, obras pias, or hermanidad like monte de piedad, thus the true stories of the so called “lupang pare” and “lupang payatas” are still remembered and cannot be erased in the records of history even today.
All lands, including those of the nobles, particularly the lands of the pinga clan, were required to be registered by the new government, and non compliance would render the lands as untitled, which then would be resold to moneyed families, mostly mestizos, for legal or legitimate ownership.
In the 17th century, an augustinian chronicler reported that MAYBUNGA was one of the visitas of the town of pasig, along with san nicolas, pinagbuhatan, pulo, palatiw, sagad, anguno, bambang, malinaw, tipas, mandaluyong and buting, with the visita of bai having the status of a parish since 1584 that later ceded under an ecclesiastical jurisdiction of pasig parish.
By 18th century, the ancient MABUNGA figured prominently during the british excursion in manila on november 8,1762 in view of the “seven year war” between France and England wherein the spaniards sided with the french in their domestic conflict very much away from our lands.
Spanish simon de anda sought to dislodge the british force of supply from the city of manila by starving them so that all the fallen soldiers from both sides of the conflict along with the the hindu sepoys who were sick and wounded sought refuge within the protection of a matriarch of a noble clan, a certain magdalena pinga, in the lands of Mabunga.
The main source of supply was the traffic of boats from bai towns through pasig river right on the river basins of the twin rivers mariquina and pasig, where the british and spanish forces tried to kill each other in the ground called by the natives as “bagong ilog”.
The river was still new for the simple reason that water was starting to overflow due to climate change that gradually melted the mountains of snow in the north and south poles of the earth.
Chronicled the reported the encounter as “battle of mabunga” with fierce skirmishes that ensued even in the hinterlands of “amang bundok”, ironically named Sierra Madre by the spaniards, transforming the mountains from male to female to be raped.
Defeated along with their loyal mexican, muslims, hindu, chinese and visayans soldiers, the spanish soldiers retreated to the vastness of the ancient land called Mabunga that was specifically mentioned by few historians as the vicinity where the defeated spaniards and native mestizo supporters took refuge to the farther lands of pinga of the ancient “lalawigan”.
The events started from the area along river wawa, now Marikina river, going to the mountains of sierra madre that was truly the amang bundok.
Some of them managed to escape to far north in lalawigang iloko and southeast to kumintang and kalilaya by the ocean side, safe from the rampage of a more superior british force backed up by “sepoys”, their mercenaries from india which was the home of another ancient empire that was called madyapahit.
The british knew beforehand the ferocity of our “mandirigma” and were worried that our own tagalog warriors or kawal with their full knowledge of the art of self defense and offense known as”kali”, would side with their enemies.
The escaping foreign forces came to the hidden barangays bearing the very name of MABUNGA in the vicinities of gapan and makalelong, mulanay, rosadyo, taysan, lubo and laiya in the provinces Quezon and Batangas, that are extant until today.
These homelands of the noble clan of pinga was the sanctuary for the sick and wounded men and women native inhabitants who suffered from the greed and selfish interests of two foreign intruders.
It is embarrassing to note that after those times of difficulties and havoc, the books of history even made popular the names of the saints and foreign intruders, including the settler-squatters in manila bay and tundo, sans recognition or prominence to the real tagalog natives or “katutubo” who were the the original inhabitants of the lands in the first place and as indigenous as the ita, dumagat, mangyan and other tagalog tribes.
Readers and researchers, however, are starting to take cognizance of the names of the “dayang and gat”, but they are still in the habit of omitting the identities of the unsung heroes of the kingdom of the free like Diwa, Sakay, Geronimo, and certain names like Dibuka and Monica of Magdiwang, and Maginoo Wanay, who all belonged to the true tagalog nobility.
During the spanish regime, after the first municipal council of the early years when the town of pasig was founded, names of mabunga natives Ignacio Santiago and Victor Sanchez who descended from the pinga clan were also mentioned as part of the composition.
The evolution of the political framework of the town of Pasig was also enhanced by the prominence of maginoo pinga brothers, Gregorio and Maximo; and Victoriano Jose of Mabunga, who were the ancestors of Gabriel (before 1764), Mathias (1779), Fermin (1824), Modesto (1839) and Grabiel (1850), and many others, but nevertheless, descended from the noble clan of forgotten rulers.
Mabunga that was the birthplace of the “magdiwang” which was the core basis of the revolution of bonifacio’s katipunan in 1896, where valentin cruz, emilio jacinto, ladislaw diwa, andres bonifacio and other katipuneros met and initiated their plan to attack against the spanish garrison in pasig.
The fateful “nagsabado” and “balintawak” ignited the history of the tagalog revolution that was armed only with scythes, bolos, bamboo spears, on foot or riding bancas and bamboo sleds pulled by horses and carabaos.
The native patriots traversed the mabunga lands and rivers to meet with other true warriors, coming to and from “bitukang manok” of ancient mabunga and encircled the heart of pasig pueblo and inflamed the war waged by the katipunan in the more famous “cry of balintawak”.
Unfortunately, never in any writings of popular historians did they ever consider giving due importance to the principles of “republika ng katagalugan” of the magdiwang group of true patriots.
Among the true katipuneros who fought for the said principle against the foreign domination was don gregorio pinga who in his old age and weak physical condition never got tired in ventilating the injustices of the foreigners in our native lands over the native principles of the “magdiwang”.
Ka Gorio was captured and imprisoned in bilibid viejo on November 5, 1896, left unattended solitary in a cell in pitiful condition, hopefully destined to perish in oblivion with of his type of heroism.
Fellow prisoners started to call him “tata” to show respect, the original tata of the bilibid who became, after incarceration, one of the earlier “governadorcillos” of old Pasig as shown in the extant records.
On July 29, 1901, the first civil municipal council of the town was constituted, drawing from among the most educated and prominent persons from Mabunga, like Don Agapito Pozon, Don Paterno Sanchez, and Don Victor Sanchez all coming from the grand noble clan of Don Gregorio Pinga.
These native noblemen were all members of the federal party that proposed the union of then district of Morong and the province of Manila, to compose the new province of Rizal.
Proposal was later passed into law by the taft commission in the early 1900’s, with the town of pasig as capital and for a short while, Marikina was chosen as the capital of the same province for some geographical reason and political consideration.
Another prominent resident of Maybunga was Ambrosio Flores, the first governor of Rizal during the early years of the american regime, a Melendres and Lope Ka Santos at one time or another.
The old forgotten Mabunga was the home of at least 5,000 inhabitants before the year 1500 according to one researcher. New or different names and places under new formed cities and political territories are now in existence.
A place with a land area of about 190 hectares and a population of at least 16,000 is being claimed as a flourishing barangay named as Maybunga, located at the mid section of the eastern side of pasig city, sharing boundaries with barangay caniogan in the south, barangay rosario in the north, barangay san miguel and towns of cainta and taytay in the east where the man-made manggahan flood way is located.
Along the west bank of the flood way are thriving communities, generations of which are no longer aware that there was a street named Juan Luna, now called dr. sixto antonio avenue, that thanksgiving or “pasasalamat” to the anito or spirit of pinga ancestors of the ancient times was being held along the roads. And that was once upon a time.
There were no concrete bridges then, only river boats or “balsa” that crossed the rivers to and from hinterlands of the forgotten Mabunga.
Now, residents can find the sandoval bridge and a few aged “tawiran ng bangka” that links Ugong, and another modern bridge named Legazpi that cuts through man-made manggahan floodway which was part of the original “buli”.
A visita or chapel of the past, became a dedication of the spaniards to their patron saint antonio abad in the ancestral lands of Dona Magdalena Pinga, was already demolished and erased in the minds of everyone.
Such demolition gave way to a road they call stella maris that is located right in the middle of ancient estate described as “looban ni Aling Magdalena”.
The unregistered tract of land was bordered by two “kantarilyas” or canals of flood waters and landmarked by a “daang kalabaw” in the middle where at the center of the barangay, where a small church or visita became the ownership of the catholic church and later on, claimed by the government and transformed into an avenue or public road without remembering the name of its true owner that was Magdalena Pinga.
That era was the helm of transferring of ownership of our unregistered tagalog lands to the government by the priests and mestizos that established the dominance and control over our native people who were called “naturales” by the “mestizos”.
Maybunga now is a parish under the catholic church with an edifice to compliment its so-called foundation in 1986. It must still have its two war-torn church bells with gunshot holes as relics of the past. But the name Aling Magdalena is no longer remembered by the church, even by the state, much less the name of her noble pinga clan.
Only a few or none at all had known that these bells, during the japanese occupation, were used by the american soldiers as sounding alarm in time of air raids and attacks on their camps.
The chimes of the misplaced and stolen bells were heard by two siblings, Simeon and Avelina, who told their cousins Sabel and Sioning Juanillo to report the incident to maestrang Miren Geronimo, and claimed the relic from the americans.
No one bothered to know that these personalities all belonged to the forgotten Pinga clan of Mabunga.
We can dream of a future Mabunga, in its ecologically well preserved state, where one could take advantage of its clean water and air, to live in peace and harmony with the true memories of our tagalog ancestors.
The politicians whose only wish is to build walled boulevards changing the face of the earth along the rivers will be unmindful of the wealth of water, trees, plants, and human compassion.
They will never find the keys to unlock the prolific life of the common “tao”, the “timawa” of our present generation just to know the meaning of payatas.