Datu Pungtod: Holoyaw’s Acclaimed Founder

Ronda had her own share of datus through the centuries. Its most popular leader was known only by two words: Tu Pungtod, who is considered to be the founder of the town. This practice of using only one name was quite typical among pre-Spanish settlers. The word "tu" actually is a contraction of "datu", as most of the Cebuanos even up to the present are given to shorten words or names. For instance, instead of saying "walo" (eight), they would say "waw". Or, instead of saying "sulod" (come in), they would say "sud". Thus, the name "Tu Pungtod" would actually read in full: Datu Pungtod. It was the custom during his time not to use family names nor middle names.

Little is known about him except that he had a wife named Ta Bugtai. Again, the word "ta" is a contraction of the longer word "data" (or wife of the leader), the female counterpart of "datu" which literally means chieftain. Both husband and wife lived in Ronda's most famous hill, Liboo. As mentioned earlier, the two had an argument as to what name should be given to their barrio. Tu Pungtod had suggested that it should be called "Jolo", to which Ta Bugtai disagreed, until finally both of them agreed that it would be called "Joloyaw." He had an adviser by the name of Agustin Francisco, who migrated to Joloyaw from Bohol sometime in the first decade of the 18th century.52 So, Tu Pungtod must be actually bom in the middle of the 1700's. One account that would prove his bravery was when he faced the Spaniards who had come to Joloyaw asking about the place, while everyone else ran away fearing that the soldiers might be after them.

            How Tu Pungtod was elevated to the throne of being a datu is purely conjecture. There is just no evident proof of any rule as regards the manner of selection and assumption into office of a ruler. This can be gleaned from the following lines:

            The nature of the pre-Hispanic Cebuano political system may have provided other opportunities for upward social mobility. We still know little about how a datu was selected, but in general, sons appear to have succeeded their fathers. When Pigafetta asked one of the Cebuanos who would succeed Humabon after his death, he was told that, because Humabon had no sons, his daughter's husband would become the new leader, a statement that implies that succession usually passed from father to son. Conjectures concerning pre-Hispanic kinship throw additional light on the nature of the political system. Based on ethnographic studies, the anthropologist A.L. Kroeber attempted to reconstruct the ancient Philippine kinship system. He concluded that pre-Hispanic Philippine kinship was bilateral. Both Loarca and Pigafetta report that polygamy was practiced by high-ranking Cebuanos, and if the kinship system was in fact bilateral, it would give rise to a situation where a number of descendants, each supported by their affinal relations, could contend for the position of datu.

 In such a situation, individual characteristics, such as the ability to maintain the loyalty of one's freemen, would be important in determining political succession. The necessity of maintaining the loyalty of the freemen also served to mitigate the power wielded by the datu. An overbearing datu ran the risk of losing his manpower base, for a freeman who was dissatisfied with the treatment he was receiving could flee to a neighboring village and attach himself to another datu, who would certainly welcome the additional manpower.

With reference to the chief’s physical appearance, one can only surmise based on the vogue that was prevalent among male settlers during the time, especially among those whom they considered leaders of the tribe. Since tattoomaking was practiced by the early Visayan inhabitants, especially the brave ones who normally wore them all over their bodies, it is not a far-fetched notion that Ronda's founder also had the same custom or traditional ornament. It is, therefore, safe to assume that Tu Pungtod, being a datu and given his credentials as a brave warrior, was probably one tattooed leader of the barangay.

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