malacañan ba talaga?
geography, even history, wherever it is, is especially rich and evocative with such names as – ‘meycauayan’, there is bamboo, a town in bulakan province, ‘calumpang’ in marikina, or ‘daang-hari’ that means king’s road everywhere in katagalugan …
or places in pasig such as ‘santolan’ – plantation of santol fruit trees, ‘manggahan’ – mango plantation, ‘pinagbuhatan’ – place of origin, ‘caniogan’ – abundance of coconut tree, or ‘maybunga’ for beetle nut or fruits …
how much more the all forgotten ancient provinces of kumintang, talim-asin, iloko, kalilaya, kabikulan or the kingdom mabunga of katipunan’s magdiwang?
maynilad “there are nilad plants’ and pulanglupa “red earth” in las piñas or even munting lupa which means ‘small island or land’ of the past, and the now defunct malapad-na-bato – ‘big broad rock or stone’ in guadalupe in makati, or bilibid, the entanglement of abaka ropes, should exude a deeper meaning for the minds of the present generation.
further examples abound, like kuweba ni donya geronima – dona geronima’s cave’ and the libis ‘downside road’, or bambang, kalawaan, tagagiik, daang-bakal, hulo, and many more from the old, old town of pasig.
yet, people tend to forget the meanings and etymology just when they miss payatas as the older tagalog word for pangako or the promise made by the tagalog nobility to the distribute the ownership of lands to the citizens for free.
If the so-called scholars are to be believed, “malacañan” – a small area by the pasig river – is also just a name with a less obvious origin that prompted researchers to come up with different etymological explanations since the 19th century since the illustrados of the spanish times were more concerned about the origin of their own bloodlines.
there are few possibilities, all evoking something different, like in 1930s that says the name comes from the tagalog phrase “may lakán diyán”, meaning ‘there is a nobleman there’.
but the story attributed it wrongly as the home of a wealthy spanish aristocrat merchant by the river, by omitting the fact that “lakan” is a very old tagalog word leaders and the place was where the great elders of our stayed in temporary shelters made of young bamboo and nipa materials which catching fish, or paying homage to their anitos.
meanwhile, some people claimed the term “mámalakaya” referred to the fishermen as the real source, who once laid out their catch on the river sides.
a more absurd claim is that the palace actually got it from the old name of street along which it was located, calzada de malacañán, oh my god!
the rocha family holds that the term “malacañáng” is directly attributed to its own ancestors who would hush their sikh watchman to shoo away native intruders or any noisy passers-by by saying “malakí iyán” (he is big man) whilst gesturing towards the house.
In current political and common parlance, “malacañang” and “the palace” has become metonyms for the presidency, the executive branch and the national government as a whole.
while in 1972, the word mamalakáya, or fisherman was conceived by one historian who said that the name originally meant something like mamalakáya-han – with the addition of the tagalog suffix for “place of,” and must have been later simplified and hispanized as “malacañan”.
however, other spanish-scholars insisted that the name came from “mala cana” or poor/bad bamboo, which is how they pictured all the houses in the entire island of luzon to my own dismay.
indeed, the first castillans saw the improvised temporary shelters made up of young bamboos and shades of nipa palms along the river bank for temporary dwelling, and so they wrote about them perpetually in the records as “bahay-kubo”..
what foreigners saw were actually not the more permanent or sturdier construction of native homes of the native inhabitants located in the kabayanan or center town, and not even the ordinary houses of the masses made up of strong woods, matured bamboos and well-crafted nipa palms for the roofings.
the castillans and the spanish and roman catholic priests never mentioned the fact that in Katagalugan, the were edifices or buildings made of stones where the tagalog inhabitants congregated regularly once a week to honor and venerate the spirit of their ancestors or anitos.
rocha together with a chinese worker named yapchangco and hindu bodyguards settled in that already existing structure, and improved the same in time, that was later on called as malacanan in their own pronunciation.
the intruders did not even remember that the place of malacañan was originally a site of worship for tagalog fishermen aside from being a safe haven for a long night of fishing.
in the 1930s, the tagalog “ma lakán iyán or may lakan diyan” meaning “a place of many great ones” became the spanish mala caña, or “evil bamboo” or “evil cane” from unknown sources who would prefer the fakest of fake history.
other dwelling places would have been along the streams of ilog wawa for which the foreigners used instead the name san mateo or marquina for the pasig plantation, and the abundant kalumpang trees in old pasig.
also, the old churches that we see now were have been there even before the castillans and catholic priests came over to our lands, the ancient churches facing the direction where the sun rises.
the “great ones” who lived in the malakanyang vicinity were certainly the spirits of the tagalog ancestors or “anito”, whereas now, the presidents are the ones who are great,
therefore, “malacañan” by this version truly evokes a central element of a very early civilization: the often delicate relationship between people and the environment around them, populated as it was with forces that could undo a man’s labors and fortune.
the appeasement of such “great ones” was an important part of the religiosity of the tagalog natives, and the evangelizing missionaries were very much concerned with stamping out these “pagan” practices in favor of christianity.
while ma lakán iyán, or a similar oft-proposed variant may lakán diyán, meaning “there are great ones there” in its acknowledgement of powerful spirits among the dense plants of bamboo, nipa ang palms, prompt and elicit a kind of respect and then perhaps fear among the crusaders from europe.
the other possibility is that mala caña may reasonably have been coined by proselytizing friars as part of their efforts to have parishioners look more to the gospels of their faith rather than to such a “malacañang lugar” or “place of evil bamboo.”
a glance at a map can also suggest another possibility, where malacañan is on the right bank of the pasig river, so that the tagalog word could refer to “of the right,” which is mala-kánan, which can also mean “wrong right”, heheheh!.
but so what? the river is somewhat long and meandering, with a correspondingly lengthy right bank, and yet, there is no conclusive evidence that points one way or another to the true origin of the name.
Malacanan area was swampy, marshy, insalubrious, and hence uninhabited except for the fishermen, and could be a bamboo-teeming riverbank, a good fishing spot that was an abode for our tagalog ancestors.
malacañan as a landmark for affluent life, while intuitively appealing, is not only pure speculation but the truth about the intruders in our lands, that became the home of past/present/future presidents of the republic at the dismaying expense of the native tagalog.
the place has been flooded in the very beginning but the improved structures refurnished by the rocha family became the home of the supposed leaders of the nation.
until now, the protection of the area of malacanan from the floodings of the rivers out of the sierra madre mountains, must be stopped at all cost in order to preserve the so-called palatial home of the esteemed leaders of the land, from the time of the magdalo presidents through the long years of marcos and aquino/cojuangco regimes.
this is mainly the reason why and how flood controls started to be financed by loans from the world banks, like the manggahan flood control project, together with all the dams all over luzon, that have put the whole nation in debt forever.