Today, we commemorate and celebrate our 71st anniversary since the creation of Tacurong as a municipality. Several changes had happened. We look around and we can barely see the traces of old Tacurong. We have progressed by leaps and bounds. Where we are now is the product of blood, sweat, and tears of our forebears.
Mga pinalangga ko nga Tacurongnon --- on this special day, let us not talk about ourselves. Let us talk about the people who came before us... the people who laid the foundation of this great city. Today, I would like to ask you to look back and remember our past, because remembering our history is a simple act to honor our ancestors and the pioneers who set foot to this place many years ago.
Our place that is currently home to more than 109 thousand people was once a part of Buluan municipality under the former empire province of Cotabato. That’s a fact and I know that you are already aware of that.
This exact place where we are gathering right now was a vast savanna or wide areas of grassland more than 80 years ago. But do you know that in 1938, there were only four houses or huts standing on that vast vacant land? We are grateful for a team of people from the Bureau of Public Lands, known to be the Survey Team 19-C, who set up a camp in this area and planned the present layout of Barangay Poblacion. It was them who designed where to put the residential area, the plaza, the hospital, the market, and the school sites. The team was part of the Reconnaissance Survey prior to the enactment of the National Land Settlement Act in 1939. We are grateful to the team led by Luis del Corro together with Rodolfo Eliescas, Platon Balagtas, Bernabe Recinto, Andres Aviles, Teofilo Apilado, Manuel Somcio, Josue Alcasid, and Dalmacio Cruz.
The enactment of the National Land Settlement Act in 1939 paved way for the migration to Mindanao of people from Luzon and Visayas. Even before World War 2 broke out, Ilocanos and Tagalogs from Luzon and Ilonggos from Visayas were coming to Tacurong. In Iloilo, more than 40 percent of the land was being farmed by tenants and having heard of “The Land of Promise” where thay can own land, they came here. The same was the case of the Ilonggos in Negros Occidental. This is the reason why more than 75 percent of Tacurongnon are of Ilonggo descent.
In 1950, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate established the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, the first private school in Tacurong. Meanwhile, the first public school, the Tacurong Central Elementary School, presently the Tacurong Pilot Elementary School, was also established in 1950. That was also the reason why many of the pioneering migrants who arrived in Tacurong were teachers.
It was on August 3, 1951 when Tacurong left its barangay status behind and became a municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 462 signed by President Elpidio Quirino. Our history tells that three persons were instrumental in lobbying for the creation of Tacurong as municipality. They were Ricardo Soriano, Serafin Bernardo, and Ildefonso Melecio. Their efforts surely helped them politically as Ricardo Soriano became the first mayor of Tacurong by virtue of appointment.
When Tacurong was created into a municipality, it was composed of fourteen political subdivisions or barangays. Tacurong underwent a few recomposition and eventually, the present twenty barangays were created. I hope all of you already know that originally, Tantangan and President Quirino were both part of Tacurong.
Tacurong’s conversion into a municipality in 1951 also paved for faster development. More people were coming to Tacurong. While agriculture was the primary source of livelihood during the time, a portion of the town’s income also came from business establishments, many of which were Chinese-owned or Chinese-operated. Of course, it is worth noting that the first Chinese to arrive in Tacurong even before 1951 was Swana. He came to Cotabato in 1941 and made his way to Tacurong via Rio Grande, Liguasan Marsh, and Buluan. It was quite a travel. When he arrived in Tacurong, he started a sari-sari store. And the rest is history.
Meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, the presence of majority of Ilonggo people in Tacurong had been a factor in shaping the political landscape of Tacurong. Of the twelve mayors who assumed the position before me, ten of them were of Ilonggo descent and two were Ilocano.
Today, let us honor our previous mayors: Ricardo Soriano, Serafin Limbungan, Quirino Mercado, Jose Escribano, Jose Barroquillo, Fernando Bayquin, Benjamin Eliseo, Teodoro Subido, Angelo Montilla, our first City Mayor Geronimo Arzagon, Lino Montilla, and Lina Montilla. We are grateful because of their immense contributions in propelling our place to progress. We are also grateful to the other leaders who came before us --- the vice mayors, the councilors, and the barangay officials who served before us.
We are equally grateful to the ordinary people of Tacurong, the ones who risked their lives to come here, lived here, started a family here, and stayed here. I know that several members of our respective families opted to work in other places, many are in fact worked overseas; but the good thing about being a Tacurongnon is we always find a way to go back to our roots. We always find ways to go back to Tacurong. For I know, that no matter where fate and destiny bring us, Tacurong will always be our home. This is the place where our childhood was nurtured. This is the place where our hearts belong.
Sa mga pinalangga ko nga Tacurongnon, sa pagselebrar naton sang aton ika-71 nga anibersaryo sa pagkabun-ag sang Munsipyo sang Tacurong, dumdumon naton ang aton kahapon. Balikdon naton ang mga kasimanwa naton nga nagpatulo sang ila balhas, dugo kag luha para mahatag sa aton ang katawhayan kag progreso.
And as we all move forward as leaders and citizens of this great city, let us renew our commitment to be responsible and accountable leaders and citizens. As your new leader of our beloved city, I pledge to be of service to our kasimanwas. I took an oath to serve the people of Tacurong, and I will always remember that oath. I will not fail you. But I will be needing your support and cooperation. We can attain our vision if you are with me. We will continue to move forward. Aabante tayo! By moving forward, we will make sure that more developments will come our way. Aasenso ang Tacurong. That is a promise and commitment that I will keep.
Madamo nga salamat sa inyo tanan. Malipayon nga selebrasyon sang ika-71 nga anibersaryo sang aton dutang natawhan! Abante Tayo! Asenso Tacurong!