During the Ice Age, Palawan was linked to Borneo by land bridges which might explain why the flora and fauna of Palawan are similar to Borneo. Archaeological findings indicate that the late Neolithic and early Metal Age saw the influx of the early inhabitants of Palawan, mainly from Indo-China, South China, Malaya, and Thailand. The burial jars, ceramics, and the remains of the dead found in Palawan caves seem to indicate that these early settlers had well-developed belief systems and lifeways.
By the 16th century the Muslim traders from the surrounding areas had established close ties with the inhabitants of the islands, to the point that there were already Muslim villages at the shores of Palawan Island. As trade relations expanded, facets of Muslim cultural and political life were imbibed by the local inhabitants. Soon after, and due to their political superiority the Muslims of Borneo and Mindanao exercised authority over the inhabitants of Palawan. Thus, the people of Cuyo gave the tribute to the Muslims of the Borneo, a custom that persisted until 1588. During this time, the Muslims were also collecting tribute from the Calamianes and were preparing to attack the island of Busuanga.
Palawan’s first contact with Spain was when the remnants of Magellan’s expedition, including Pigafetta, arrived in 1521 at the main island which they called Pulaoan. They also explored the islands of Busuanga and Cuyo. Fr Luis de Jesus noted that the inhabitants of Cuyo Island had Chinese blood which he said explained their industriousness and shrewdness in trade. De Jesus described the islands as abundant in rice, pearls, fish, exotic fruits, forest products and wildlife.
The earliest attempt to assert Spanish authority over the islands came in 1570 when Martin de Goiti arrived at Cuyo Island and collected tribute worth 200 taels. By 1582, Cuyo with population of 800, was placed under the encomendero of Panay who was under the jurisdiction of Iloilo. Meanwhile, the Calamianes and Paragua (Spanish name for Palawan island) were placed under the jurisdiction of the alcalde mayor of Mindoro. By 1591 Cuyo and Calamianes became separate encomiendas. Spanish governance of the islands during this period was limited to the collection of tribute, a fact deplored by the Spanish friars who pointed out that the people of Calamianes also paid tribute to the government in Borneo.
At the onset of the 17th century, the Spanish missionaries began to sow Catholicism in the islands. By 1622 a group of Recollects under the leadership of Fr Juan de Santo Tomas were assigned to Cuyo to plant the seeds of Catholicism. According to the reports of the Spanish priests, the Cuyunon accepted them warmly, except for the native priests and priestesses who considered the foreign priests as threats to their privileged positions. The friars immediately implemented the policy of reduccion, gathering the inhabitants in one settlement whose nucleus was the church. After several months of assiduous evangelization, the Recollects baptized around a thousand natives. They then implemented the same policies in the island of Agutaya. In 1623 they established relations with the inhabitants of Paragua but found them resistant to Catholicism, as Muslim influence in the island was dominant. To offset this, the Spanish government sent two companies fortified with authority to guard the newly founded town and newly built fort in Paragua. So successful were the Recollects that by 1850, there were already 2,000 Catholic families in Cuyo alone.
By 1659, however, and due to lack of funds, the friars were forced to abandon the islands, with the exception of Cuyo and Agutaya. The Vacuum left by the friars was immediately exploited bye the Chinese pirate Cheng Cheng Kung, who demanded that the islands be placed under his rule. To counteract the Chinese presence, the local leaders of the islands requested the national colonial government to facilitate the return of Spanish missionaries, preferably the Recollects. By 1715 the Spanish rule was established once more, as proved bye the increase of “Christian souls” to 18,600. Aside from evangelization, the friars also undertook administrative work in the islands, particular training the natives of “indios” to become local leaders.
Meanwhile, the growing Spanish influence over the islands was challenged bye the Muslims who asserted their presence bye continuous attacks on these territories which they perceived as their own. Because Palawan was located between Christianized Luzon and Islamized Minadanao, the Palawan island group became the battleground of the struggle between the cross and the crescent.
In 1602 a group of Muslim ships from Borneo raided Cuyo and its neighboring islands, capturing in the process over 700 people. Within the same year, the Calamianes were also attacked. In 1603 the Maguindanao took more people captive and collected tribute from the localities. In 1632 Fr Juan de San Jose of Cuyo was captured and released only after tow years and in exchange for a P2,000 ransom. Again, in the summer of 1636, a Muslim captain named Tagal under Sultan Kudarat looted the churches in Cuyo and Calamianes. In Cuyo, on 20 Jun 1636, Tagal’s forces captured the natives who were unable to flee, burned the town, and killed three friars. More Spanish priests were killed in subsequent attacks bye different groups of Muslims. By 1646 the Muslim leaders of Jolo, Guimbahanon, and Borneo conspired to launch joint attacks against the vulnerable Spanish-dominated islands.
To protect themselves, the Recolllect missionaries and the christianized natives built fortifications and garrisons. In 1638 Fr Juan de San Severo led the building of fortresses which protected the churches in Cuyo, Agutaya, and Culion. To stop the Muslim attacks, the Spaniards applied dilatory tactics and diplomatic double dealing, negotiating with Borneo while revitalizing and building their own military capabilities. The diplomatic efforts resulted in the acquisition of the whole island of Paragua, which was given to Spain bye Borneo in 1705.
As a matter of policy, more fortresses were built in the Christian-dominated towns of the islands, a timely decision indeed as the Muslims renewed their attacks during the 1720s. The Muslims attacked Cuyo in 1722, but they failed to overrun the fortress and defeat the combative natives. Bye the 1730s the Muslims stepped up their harassment and attacks on the fortresses in Culion, Paragua, Calatan, Malampaya, Dumaran, Linapacan, Taytay, and other bastions of Spanish rule. A this time, Cuyo’s ability to protect itself became evident, as the Cuyunon foiled another Muslim attempt to invade the island bye a fierce counterattack which defeated the Muslims and gained arms for the natives. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, Palawan was microcosm of the fragmented society that was the whole archipelago. The natives of the province were divided: some, like the Molbog and Jama Mapun were under the jurisdiction of the Muslim sultanate of southern Philippines; many, like the Calamianon, Agutaynon, Cagayanon, And Cuyunon, became Christianized and fell under the Spanish government; while the rest, like the Batak, Tagbanua, and Palawan, continued their precolonial existence, practicing their ancient native religion.
In the early years of the 19th century, the resurgence of prehispanic native religion among the Cuyunon despite 200 years of Catholic indoctrination, greatly bothered Cuyo’s parish priest, Fr Pedro Gilbert de Santa Eulalia. The priest noted the still widespread worship of the souls of ancestors and the prevalence of rituals of the babaylan or babylana (native priest/priestess). This was cause for worry since the Cuyunon were considered as among the most Christianized in the islands.
Another phenomenon that upset the Spanish authorities was the fact that 2/3 of the Cuyunon still celebrated the feast honoring the Diwata ng Kagubatan/Virgen del Monte (Enchantress of the Mountain), periodically held atop Mt Caimana in Cuyo. The situation led the Spanish authorities to intensify their evangelization and governance efforts. Spain’s effort to achieve national control over the archipelago resulted in the organization of politico-military provinces in designated territories. During the 1840s Cuyo became the capital of the politico-military government of the Calamianes, which also administered Agutaya, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacan, and Coron. Meanwhile, Puerto Princesa became the capital of the politico-military government of Paragua in 1872. Soon the Muslims stopped their attacks. By 19 Nov 1886 the chieftains from Sulu and Jolo signed a treaty with Don Joaquin Ybanez of the Spanish armada, recognizing the Spanish authority over the entire Paragua.
In the 19th century, the Spanish government used Culion as a leper colony, and as penal colonies for both political and criminal offenders. As resistance against Spanish colonialism grew during the second half of the 19th century in Luzon and the Visayas, the territories of the present Palawan province became useful as dumping ground for “subversives” or oppositionists caught bye the government. During the late 1890s, 50 native soldiers of the Spanish guardia civil defied colonial authority and released some 235 deportees or political prisoners. However, the Spanish government suppressed the insurgency and eliminated its leaders.
When the Spanish authorities left after the defeat of Spanish colonial rule, the government of Emilio Aguinaldo designated Hermogenes Constantino as commissioner for Palawan. But Constantino and his men-supposedly revolutionaries from Luzon-abused their authority, exploited the people and used their positions for personal benefit. Upon the order of Baldomero Aguinaldo, Rufo Sandoval replaced the corrupt Constantino as the head of Calamianes and Paragua. Sandoval was warmly received in the islands-except in Cuyo, which became the bastion of American colonialism. The foremost pro-Americans in Cuyo were its local head Clemente Fernandez along with propertied and prominent personalities like Ricardo Fernandez, Jose Manuel Fernandez, Jose Manuel Rey, Alfonso Clemente Encarnacion and Abdon Diego. These men decided to welcome the American control over Cuyo even before the Americans arrived.
To secure the revolutionary government, Sandoval assigned Fabian B de Leon and Pedro Concepcion as representatives of the newly installed republic in Cuyo. Meanwhile, Sandoval had to track down the stubborn americanistas of the island. To control the island, travel to Panay was likewise restricted. However, de Leon and Concepcion were eventually outmanuevered by the local elite who scorned being ruled by the Tagalog leaders. The two were finally banished from Cuyo and failed to regain control of the Cuyunon.
On May 1901 Lt Day of the Department of Mindanao and Jolo sent an American ship to Cuyo. The Americans occupied and asserted their authority over Puerto Princesa on 29 May 1901. During the period of the Philippine-American War, the Cuyunon acquired the reputation of being the “most pronounced Americanistas in the archipelago.” Cuyo was inaugurated as a local government under the new colonial government, which, under the leadership of a pro-American army, reported that the Filipino revolutionaries were effectively neutralized. The Cuyunon gladly accepted the education offered by the new colonizers. According to official US reports, even the elderly Cuyunon scholars spoke and sang songs in English.
Depressed economic conditions in Cuyo bye the end of the 19th century necessitated immigration to the other islands, like Panay, to trade fish and harvest rice, Mindoro to cut sugercane, and Manila to engage in commerce. Palawan drew swidden farmers in the 1910s and 1920s and larger scale homesteaders in the 1930s and 1940s. Overpopulation and the encouraging accounts of out-migrants who returned to Cuyo in wartime induced an upsurge of out-migration in the immediate postwar years.
The Cuyonon are believed to be of Malay origin. They are of medium build with brown complexion, and with straight or curly hair. The Cuyonon speak the Cuyono dialect.
Cuyo is a tiny island municipality which lies in the southern part of Mindoro and between the northeastern part of the mainland and Palawan and Panay. It has a total land area of 4,309.62 hectares; 2,504.83 hectares cover the mainland and 1,804.79 hectares represent the island barangays.
In terms of political boundaries, the municipality is divided into 17 barangays with an area ranging from 36.19 to 738 hectares. Seven (7) or 11.20% of these are in the poblacion mainland, four (4) or 46.93% in the rural mainland and six (6) or 41.87% are island barangays.
Through a small place, the municipality has a total population of 15,294 with 7,624 or 49.85% registered female and 7,606 or 49.73% male (ratio of 100:100). The population growth rate of the island is low at 0.36% annually specially where travel is limited to water and air transport. The island has the highest concentration of population at 360 persons per square kilometer compared to the provincial density of 35 person per square kilometer. Both young and adult populations predominate the area with an average of 37.4% for 0-14 and 25-64 age level. More than half (55%) of the population belongs to the productive or working age group.
According to legends, Cuyo was first occupied by chief Matu-od, a brave Malay who landed at Tabunan, Suba on big bancas called sakayan.
Cuyo is the oldest town in Palawan with a culture of its own which has been preserved all these 350 years; and a dialect spoken by 43% of the estimated 300,000 Palaweños. Around its islets are rich fishing grounds. It is estimated that of about P200,000.00 worth of fish caught annually in Palawan, 50% comes from the waters around Cuyo Islands.
Cultural Heritage –
In 1773, the unofficial population of Cuyo was 2,846 out of a total of 10,760 in the entire province of Paragua. Despite its age, Cuyo has held back the hands of time and preserved its cultural heritage i.e., ati-ati, comedia, sinulog, sayaw, inocentes, erekay, birso, banda y tipano, chetas, tambura, birguere pondo-pondo, curatsa and others. Ati-ati is an all male ensemble of drummers and tipano (flutes) which includes a clown. They paint their faces and wear headdresses woven from chicken feathers. It is also the occasion, falling on the latter part of August, when the image of St. Agustin is paraded around the island. The ati-ati (they number several groups because each barrio has its own participation) would dance in front of the saint in a suggestive and war-like instance as if to fight and challenge him as they represent themselves as barbarians and savages coming down from the boondocks. As the image enters the church at the end of the procession they form two rows and there they lay prostrate in humble surrender and to ask forgiveness for their deeds. The comedia is larger than the ati-ati and is more refined and sophisticated. The participants are dressed in colorful costumes. It is a musical and verse parody, and usually the scenario is the never ending conflict between the Christians and Muslims. The lines are said in a sing-song manner, but when the occasion demands it, they raise their voices loud and clear to the accompaniment of the drums and tipanos. The fighting sequences are long and noisy, and only the entrance of the “princess” can hush them. The show lasts for over an hour and only the rich can afford to have this performed in front of their houses because the fee is high for a group of fifty. The comedia is also celebrated during the month of August.Every December, the tamburas (carolers) serenade each house for a fee with native songs on the nativity. When the host permits, these tamburas, composed mostly of girls, accompanied by a complete string orchestra of guitars, violins, banjos, etc, and dances for five centavos a dance. This is popularly known as cinco-cinco (five-five) but due to inflation the rate has soared to twenty ( viente-viente). Both the male “oligarchs” and the “mass,” especially the older ones, enjoy this aspect of the cultural heritage of Cuyo. The sinulog is similar to the ati-ati in that it features half-naked males who play the role of Indians with painted faces and fancy headdresses. They dance and recite verses as they go along in a sing-song style. Their execute fast warlike dances. The inocentes is a group of 10 dancers who sing in the vernacular. They wear masks made of coconut fibers with leaves of grass strewn all over their costumes. Their orchestra consists of a drum, a flute, a guitar and other supporting instruments. As is the tradition, a clown is always present. The sayaw as the name suggests, is a marked contrast to the sinulog, in that its movements are more graceful and the music touching and exotic. They dance the pondo-pondo, the curates and other native dances in their repertoire to the accompaniment of a guitar, a drum and a tipano. They also sing and recite bersos. The women wear patadiong while the men dress like Indians with coconut leaves and headdress. A Cuyono holds a personal view of the universe. The universe is directly controlled by personal beings other than and different from himself. A major goal for all family members is an integrated and prosperous Cuyono family. Every member strives for economic efficiency for himself and his family. Membership in a family connotes personal involvement, cooperation and responsibility. Social control emanates from the family whose primary concern is the welfare of the extended group. In the same manner, offense against a family member is viewed as an insult and threat to the whole family.
Cuyo is politically subdivided into 17 barangays.Balading, Bangcal, Cabigsing, Caburian, Caponayan, Catadman, Funda, Lagaorio, Lubid, Manamoc, Maringian, Lungsod, Pawa, San Carlos,Suba, Tenga-tenga, Tucadan.
RATAGNON (DATAGNON, LATAGNUN, LATAN, LACTAN, ARADIGI) [BTN] Very few speakers. Southern tip of western Mindoro. Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Western Malayo-Polynesian, Meso Philippine, Central Philippine, Bisayan, West, Kuyan. Dialects: RATAGNON, SANTA TERESA. Rapidly assimilating to Tagalog. Close to Cuyonon. Survey needed.
Agriculture is the island’s main occupation. Traditional swidden farming produces rice, corn, sweet potatoes, manioc, and yams. Planting takes place in lat April or early May. Cuyo’s swidden yields have tended to be unsubstantial. Fishing in Palawan’s seas, the secondary occupation, renders enough marine foods to be marketed in Manila. Offshore fishing requires nets, traps, and hooks and lines; various onshore techniques are employed to gather crab, shrimp, octopus, shell, sea urchin, sea cucumber, seaweed, and jellyfish. Cuyo’s marginal share in the prewar market economy accounted for the relative lack of social differentiation and generally egalitarian outlook due to scarce land, markets, and investment opportunities during the period. Carpentry, basketry, mat weaving, and coconut wine collecting have generated small income. Copra has been lucrative only for a few big landowners. The outmigration of natives, mainly of average social standing, has significantly changed Cuyo’s socioeconomic patterns. The island has minor docks and small airstrip for light aircraft.
Social contact is close and frequent in Cuyo Island. The Cuyunon work in groups when farming, fishing, and even when accomplishing small chores like cleaning house. However, as livelihood activities demand less time than effort, leisure is a main occupation particularly during the postharvest months from October to December. The folk habitually visit with their neighbors, and the men often have casual drinking sessions after work. There are more formal and organized socials like dances where friendships and courtships are pursued as well as baptism, birthdays, and weddings. Chuchgoing is central to traditional life, and the Lenten rituals become primary social events. In gratitude for requests granted by the saints, notably Santa Cecilia, cilia festivities are held and highlighted bye the roasting of pig. During the yearly village fiesta, the komedya is performed for the more affluent in their private residences and for the public in the plaza. Its production expenses are defrayed bye minimal admission fees, which may earn a little profit for drinks. Morning mass, cockfights, and games complete the celebrations. Although the fiestas are well attended, the meals prepared are comparatively simple. Cuyunon socials are generally more time consuming than expensive, but are considered obligations that promote self-esteem and group harmony.
Palawan, which is the country’s largest province, has three historical forts. Fort Culion built in 1740, Fort Cuyo in 1680, and Fort Labo in 1719, were all constructed by the Augustinians to ward off Muslim Raiders.
Cuyo island and its neighboring islets are divided into two municipalities, Cuyo and Magsaysay. The municipality of Cuyo, which is the area’s commercial and cultural capital, encompasses 1,742.5ha and a population of 11,283 (Prudente 1977). It includes the barrios of Maringiam, Suba, Pawa, San Carlos, Capenayan, Lubid, Manamoc, and Balading and Funds in Bisucay. The municipality of Magsaysay encompasses 1,800 ha and a population of 7,070 (Prudented 1977). It includes the barrios of Igabas, Emilod, Lacaren, Balaguen, Los Angeles, Rizal, Lucbuan, Canipo, and Cocoro.
From the sea, Cuyo Island’s first visible landmark is a lighthouse bye the pier. Many of the streets leading to the within the town have already been cemented. The town has preserved the hispanic plaza-iglesia structures. Dominating the town center is Cuyo’s 1860 church, convent, and fort. Nearby stands a schoolhouse, and a monument of Dr Jose Rizal. The original complex of stone and mortar was a square with four bastions. The present complex, which occupies 1 ha, is a solid rectangular edifice with walls 10 m high and 2 m thick. It has a tall belfry and watchtowers; its canons which face the sea are now fired only during town celebrations. Houses are more dispersed in the barrios outside the town. These are several variations of the traditional bahay kubo of nipa and bamboo. Most are raised above the ground with the living quarters on the second floor, a silong for storage underneath, and a kamalig for additional storage in the backyard. The newer and larger houses now use contemporary materials, mainly concrete, wood, and galvanized iron – sometimes with lighter native materials
“CUYONON”, also “CUYUNIN”, “CUYUNO” and “TAGA-CUYO”, refers to the people and culture of the occupants of Busuanga Island, Agutaya, and Cuyo, the main Island in a group of some thirty five islets in the middle of sulu sea, east of Palawan southwest of Panay, comprimising Busuanga are the towns of Busuanga in the west and Coron in the east. Cuyo mainland includes Magsaysay and Cuyo town, it is located 281.2 km northeast of Puerto Princesa city. The term is derived from Cuyo the etymology of which is undetermined. In 1990, a population of 15,175 (1990 Census Population by NSO) was spread over the 50-sqkm Cuyo Island, which is defined by a rocky terrain with numerous hills, three of these hills are Aguado in Igabas Kayamamis in Lucbuan and Bonbon in Rizal. The Cuyunon language is accentuated by the peppet sound (the stress combined with the terminal glottal stop) and contains monosyllabic word forms like. KUT “Touch something”, SUT “go into”, BUT “Suffocate” EL “get” BUK “Hair”, BAG “Loincloth.” There is neither a Cuyunon grammar nor dictionary, altough a few prayer books have been written in a vernacular.“Cuyonen or Cuyonon are mostly found in Cuyo Island, Palawan. They are engaged in swidden farming and fishing. The conversion of the people in Cuyo Island to Christianity has led to the merger of the animistic beliefs of the Cuyonen with the Christian elements to produce a folk Christianity which is the prevailing belief of the Cuyonon.
Cuyonon or (Cuyonen, Cuyono, Cuyunon, Cuyo, Kuyunon, Kuyonon) is the dialect and people, believed to be of Malay origin, of Cuyo Island, Palawan in the Philippines. The Cuyonon dialect is also spoken along the Palawan coast and it is similar to Ratagnon.
This is an all male outfit with a clown and an band of drums and tipanos (Flutes). They paint their faces and wear head-dresses of various designs and kinds made mosty from chicken feathers. When St. Agustine, the patron saint, is marched out of the church for the annual procession in late August, the ati-ati (they number several groups because each barrio has its own participation) would dance in front of the saint in a suggestive and war-like stance as if to fight and chalenge him as they represent themselves as barbarians and savages come down from the mountains. As the patron saint enters the church at the end of the procession they form two rows and there they lay prostrate in humble surrender and to ask forgiveness for their deeds. After the religious rites they go out of the church to perform for a free. they form themselves in two rows and each row sends one of each ati to the front to recite their war-like berso as thay quarrel and dance to the tune of the drum and the tipano. When all have said their berso (verse) they will fight it out as a group with their kampilans (sticks). When the fighting gets hot the clown enters with his dancing antics to the delight of the crowd. As a climax, the clown (alakayu) will chase women and buzz them.
Social and Culture life during the Spanish regime…
It was a slow, idyllic life, devoted more to religion than life as we know it today. sundays were strictly devoted to prayers, devotions and rests. Those caught engaging in other activities were arrested by the guardia civil and snt to prison. Education was a joint undertaking of the church and the state, with the state helping helping in the financial aspect and the church actually implementing the education of the people. The teachers were the priests and pupils who have shown exceptional ability in Cartilla, Misterio, Doctrina Christiana, Katon, Multiplican, Restar, Plutarion, and Sumar, which were the basic subjects taught in schools located nside the church or convent, were promoted. Pupils who have shown mastery of these subjects could teach or become Sacristans and to ba such, at that time, was a badge of distinction and a trademark of honor in the community. For paper, the pupils used banana leaves and for pencils, they used the feathers of Forals. Promotion from grade to grade was unknown. Instead it was promotion from subject to subject and those who have completed several subjects were given certificates which could entitle them to be teachers or appointed as town officials. The priests exercised political powers as they were responsible for the appointment of local officials, teachers and other officials in the government service. Cockfighting was the only means of recreation and the people enjoyed it on sundays. In fact it was in Palawan that the Spaniards first saw cockfighting. Science Was unknown and the people used quack doctors and practiced Voodoo or black magic. Agriculture was on a piece-meal basis while commerce and industry were practically nil due to the hard means of transportation and communication.
Known originally as Dapulo in 1200 AD, Cuyo is a group of 45 scattered islands and islets, the biggest of which is Cuyo main island with an area of 22 square miles. long before the Spanish occupation of the archipelago in 1568, Cuyo was already stronghold of the Ati, Chinese and the Vishayan Malay who bartered dried fish, trepang,seashells edible birds’ nests for porcelains, clothing and etc.
The Cuyono – Vishayan dialect mixed with Spanish resembles the Maranao in delivery. The Cuyono dialect is called cuyono because the people who speak it is from the island of Cuyo, but actually it is first used as a dialect of Miag-ao, Iloilo province and brought into the island by the group of Datu Magbanua in 1250. This dialect is being used also in some parts of Antique, Aklan, Mindoro, and the entire province of Palawan that officially adopted it as the official provincial dialect.
In the Filipino genes shall be the future common denominator of the world race, now the common denominator of most Palawan people is the Cuyonon Tribe. Like the Filipinos, the Cuyonons are considered as the people who are formed by foods out of volcanic ashes. Cuyo is a volcanic island. And Cuyonons are the children of the volcano.
In Cuyo, the Spanish and Chinese mestizos are the common dominant political and economic leaders. it was the Chinese who taught the aborigine known as Ati how to trade and barter their goods. They introduced smithing, pottery, gold mining, and other handicrafts when they discovered gold in Mt. Aguado. The Spaniards are the rosponsible of Cuyonon Catholic faith including the Spanish names, family names and culture. The second settlers in Cuyo after the negroid Ati were headed by Chief Matuod, brave Malay from Madias (Panay) who landed with his group at Tabunan in Suba on sail boat called “Balanghay”. Then Datu Magbanua followed with his group from Iloilo.
This group landed in a cove at Tarebeng in Pawa in 1250 AD. he is the descendant of Datu Paiborong, the founding datu of Iloilo in 1212. Their origin is coming from Sri Visayan Empire based in Udtujan now known as Banjarmaasin in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Their ancestors believed that they originated from the famous Alexander The Great about 333 BC in India, Persia and Greece. Then Datu Magbanua expanded his settlement by sending his deputies to the neighboring islands: Datu Macanas to Calamian (Culion), Datu Cabailo to agutaya and Datu Cabangon to Taytay.
So great and well known was his settlement that the Datu of Irong-irong (Iloilo) paid a courtesy call on him. When this chieftain returned home to Panay, Datu Magbanua gave him a sack of red rice popularly known as cotchiam. Upon the Christianization of the Philippines, the datus (prince/duke) of the pre-Hispanic kingdoms retain their right to govern their territory under the Spanish Empire.
King Phillip ll of Spain, in a law signed on June 11, 1594, commanded that these nobles be given the same respect, and privileges that they had before their conversion. They later formed part of the exclusive, and elite ruling class, called the Principalia (Nobility), in municipalities of the Philippines. Cuyo settled by native cuyunons who were then mixed Chinese and Vishayan Malay become the center of Palawan Barter trade starting in 1300’s.
They (being Malayan adn Chinese) become very good ship builders, seaman and traders. Innate into their being, they are very good sailors. This is because Cuyo is a tiny island being surrounded by big islands of Mindoro, Panay, Negros and Palawan within the Famous Sulo Sea. The Cuyunons have nowhere to go but yo the sea by fishing and sailing. the island of Cuyo is very popular place among Chinese.
Arab and Indian sailors and traders at that period of time. It is a Volcanic island where almost everything is in abundance . cuyo is comparable to the tiny islands of Tidore and Ternate in Moluccas,Indonesia famous for their spices. While Cuyo is abundant for its red rice, goat, fruits, marine products, birds’ nest and most especially its buscay shells that were use as money (medium of exchange or for barter) among the Malay World of Madagascar in Africa, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and most of the islands in the pacific.
Cuyo had 3000 settlers before the arrival of Spaniards in 1568. The island has its solar salt factory that is another important item for sailors. This volcanic island is truly a magical island like a paradise with abundance of food supply. Seaweeds like “lato” are plenty here. Then the Chinese centralized the birds’ nest collection here coming from the caves of Quiminatin, Taytay, El Nido, Linapacan and Coron. Although it was not Islamized, but Cuyo has a strong connection also to the Muslim world through its Malay connections. In fact, during the first uprising by the Muslim leaders of Tondo in Manila, their leaders were caught in Cuyo Island on their was to Brunei to recruit 2,000 Cuyonon mercenaries in 1588.
His Excellency Sr. Don Pedro de Arce, the Bishop of Cebu,signed a decree assigning the Augustinian Recollect Fathers for the Evangilation of Calamianes (Palawan) province including the Cuyo group of islands. The five Spanish Recollect Missionaries from Cebu, with Fray Juan de Santo Tomas acting as their director and superior, first reached Cuyo in 1622. With the establishment of Christian centers in the Calamianes province, the muslims, not only form Sulo and Mindanao but also from Brunei, started their attacks. Sultan Kudarat of Mindanao commanded his brother Tagal, who attacked Cuyo on June 20, 1636. Invasion were repeated so that the Spanish government decided to built fortresses.
The people, under the supervision of Father Juan de San Severo, constructed and finished it in 1680. The rectangular solid structure of massive walls 10 meters high and meters thick has turrets at each angle including a towering belfry housing big and old bells. The side facing the sea is well fortified with ornamental cannons which are used to fire salvos during fiestas. In 1762, one of the British ships that invaded Manila fired at this fort but it was not damaged at all.
The silver altar in its church was a donation by the Duke of Arcos. Other fortresses were built in some parts of Palawan in Agutaya, Taytay, Dumaran, Labog, Punta Separacion, Balabac, Canipaan, Cagayancillo, Culion, Linapacan, and Sibaltan in El nido. Because of this, peace was obtained and progress gradually emerged.
There are centennial houses at the poblacion near the Cuyo Fort which are Cuyo’s attractions. Actually long time ago, the whole of the town plaza was under water. The Capusan beach near the beach of the seaport is a vast stretch of white, sandy beaches, a rich fishing ground and an equally ideal swimming area.
Despite progress and changes, Cuyo has preserved its rich cultural heritage. The ati-ati, comedia, verso, pinundo-pondo, sayaw and sinulog are stagged during the town fiesta. Cuyo was the second capital of Palawan next to Taytay. The first Spanish Governor in Cuyo Leopoldo Santos Cruz (1873) and the last was Luis Rodriguez (1899).
In the year 2000, there are more than 168,000 Cuyonons who lived in the province which comprise more than the 20% of total population of Palawan people, another 40,000 Cuyonons who lived in the Philippines scattered in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and including abroad. In the year of 1948, there are 17,599 people who lived in Cuyo when Magsaysay was not created into a separate municipality yet. Then there are 18,257 residents of Cuyo in the year 2000 when Magsaysay already separated.
The municipality has a total land area of 5,730 hectares which represents 0.38% of total area of the province. The friendly Cuyonon people speak the Cuyonon dialect which is the official provincial dialect of Palawan. Many institutional leaders of Palawan are Cuyonon by blood be it in politics, religion, commerce and education whose ancestors lived in Cuyo for 700 years already.
And according to Cuyo family history and verified reports, Cuyo since 1750 to 1850 was the exile place for the Spanish royal blood family members of the Bourbon and Austria dynasty. Then the family names of Austria of Spanish Hapsburg, Ponce de Leon of the Dukes of Arcos, Fernandez, Alvarez of the Dukes of Alba and most of other family names in Cuyo are not subjected by the Philippine Spanish Governor General Narciso Claveria to the order of changing the family names of Filipinos on Nov. 21, 1849 because they are royal blood and used to be descendants of the kings of European kingdoms.
PARISH OF ST. AUGUSTINE: Long time ago in Cuyo Island, the inhabitants worshiped their ancestors and the moon. They adored a deity who resembled Ceres to whom they commenced their fields. they also worshiped another deity resembled Mars from whom they asked protection in their battles. Obsequies for the dead were celebrated during the full moon. The natives were also animist wherein their belief was sprinkled with superstitions.
His excellency Senior don Pedro de Arce, Bishop of Cebu, in a decree dated August 27, 1622, requested the Augustinian recollect fathers to take care of the evangilization of Palawan. This parish of st. Augustine of Cuyo is founded by the Spanish recollect Brother Francisco de la Madre de dios in 1622 who after serving 16 years in Palawan died as martyr in el Nido during the 1638 attack by the Muslim commander Datu Acheh.
At those were difficult times, the tropical diseases were prevalent and the means of transportation hazardous. The most pressing problem of the place was peace and order. Muslim Malays known as ,moros from maguindanao, Jalo and Borneo intermittently came to Palawan to plunder during the harvest season. They usually brought back with them the Cuyonons, Agutaynons and Cagayanons as prisoners to be sold as slaves. sultan Kudarat of Maguindanao commander his brother tagal to attack Cuyo on june 20,1636.
Meanwhile, the Recollect Fathers were rewarded with the convertion into Christianity of almost all inhabitants. They built the first church made of wood, bamboo and nipa.
Two factors that contributed to the sudden embrace by the natives of the Christian faith are the mild character of the people and the animosity that the natives had against the Muslims.
As invasions were repeated, so the Recollect Fathers made representations with the Central Government of Manila so that forts and garrisons would be established to protect the people of Palawan from the marauders.
There was fear before of an invasion in Manila coming from Taiwan by a Chinese pirate named Koxinga. Manila had to be defended. The Recollect Fathers interceded with Governor Manrique de Lara not to abandon Palawan. The governor pointed out that the decision was made for their safety, and it would be better for them to return to Manila.
The Recollect Fathers in Palawan refused. They all remained in their stations relying on Divine Providence and on this account that the dictum existed in the Recollect order, “De Palawan al Cielo” (from Palawan to Heaven).
During the time of the Bonaparte in Spain, some royal families were exiled to Cuyo in 1808, thus the beginning royal blood mestizo Cuyonon like the Austria and Ponce de Leon.
The revolution in 1898 was not uprising against the Spaniards. The revolution in Cuyo was a battle between the rich and the poor with the church as headquarter for the rich while the municipal building was for the poor. The poor people from Suba were headed by Antonio Arguelles, Jose Arguelles, and Evangelista Manlavi, while the rich from the district of Amianan led by the Ponce de Leon and the Fernandez families.
The result of the battle near the bridge that separated the church and the town hall was a victory for the town people of Suba. Although the arms used by the rich people of Amianan were much superior than the bolos of the people from Suba. A result of the revolution from Cuyo was the establishment of the Govierno de Revolutionario Dictaturial at Lucbuan(now at Municipality of Magsaysay) in Cuyo by Don Casiano Padon.