Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Sustainable Development in Sulawesi Island

I was invited to give a talk on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility at Unaaha, Sulawesi, Indonesia on May 19, 2009.  Without hesitation, I said yes because I teach sustainable development at the Philippine Women’s University and CSR at the De La Salle University graduate school of business.

I was more than eager to go to Sulawesi because my family tree research showed that my paternal ancestry had a Sulawesi connection. Our history tells us that the Sri Visayan Empire originating from India spread to southeast Asia reaching Indonesia.  From Sulawesi island of Indonesia, Indian culture entered the Philippines in the 13th century through Palawan and eventually Leyte, Samar and Panay.

My father had a gold tooth (bansil) and tattoo on his arm, long before the LA Ink became popular.  According Fr. Alcinas, these two decorative practices were considered Indonesia fashion markers. My grandfather who was a member of Papa Isyo revolutionary Bisayan group escaped persecution in Oton, Iloilo and settled as nipa gatherer in Hinigaran, Negros.  This summer on our way to Unaaha [Manila-Jakarta flight 3 and one half hours, Jakarta to Makasar International Airport.  Makasar, according to 17th century Philippine historian Alcinas, “Those on the islands of Cebu, Bohol and the coasts of Sirapay Island, usually called Negros Island (because there are many in the hills as black as the people of Angoloa and who have kinky hair just like them) most probable come either from the Makasar Islands or from Borneo; these are much closer to them and not far from Moluccas.”

Interestingly, in 2009 a Filipino taxi driver from Samar informed me that the island of Capul is inhabited by Judtohans, Odtohan, Hudtohans and Udtohans.  According to Alcinas, “Between the Islands of Manila and Ibabao and Samar is found the Islet of Capul, lying almost in the middle of the strait between these islands.  They call it embocadero and it is no doubt about four leagues in width.

 This Islet of Capul or abak, for it is known by these two names, and although its population is now Bisayan and who deal and live with the rest of this ethnic group an speak the Bisayan language, also speak another language very different which they use themselves. It is so different that no Bisayan from another region can understand a word of it, for it is so different in structure and pronunciation. 

They understand the Kamukun (a barbarous nation, a wretched and most despicable people).  It is probable that the people of Capul may trace their origin to them.  The reason is due to the similarity of language, color, physiognomy and because they are smaller in stature than the rest of the Bisayans.”

My paternal origin is traced from my grandfather, Lolo Leoncio Hudtohan, who was originally from Oton, Iloilo.  He was a member of a rebel group led by Papa Isyu [Pope Isio, most likely Dionisio who was a bakero, carabao herd man].  To escape persecution, he escaped to Negros Island and settled down at Hinigaran, south of Negros.

According to Alcinas, “In the town of Oton, which is on the southern part of the Island of Panay, some of the chieftains there told me that they descend from a great settlement which existed in ancient times on the Island of Leyte and from that town they went to inhabit the coastlands of the said island. It may be concluded…that some have migrated here out of necessity or pressure of war or storms; others due to their proximity, and still others because of trade have migrated to these islands of the Pintados and began to mingle with one another.  Today all of them communicate with each other in the Bisayan language.”

According to Francisco de San Antonio, Cronicas de la Provincia de San Gregorio Magno, “It is argued that the Bisayans and Pintados (who are found in Camarines, Leyte, Samar, Panay, Cebu and other territories nearby) came from the large and very powerful and populous island of Makasar which has its emperor – whom the call Sumbanko – and many chiefs…in Makasar, it is said, there are indios who adorn and paint their bodies in the same manner as the Bisayans, this being why they are called Pintados…t is therefore evident that there are painted Indios like those we call here the Painted Bisayans, who remain unconquered…”

The practice of tattooing came to an end with the preaching of the Gospel.  Alcina recounts, “Today (17the Century Philippines) no one tattoos himself any longer nor is it permitted anymore by the father ministers of the Gospel, who washed away with the Baptismal waters such ugly stains – a custom so useless and so horror provoking!”

My father sported a ‘bansil’ on his front teeth. It was made of gold with a star cut-out as decorative design.  Our Indonesian connection and heritage was confirmed by Dr. Munir Muinir, my host and my former student doctor of philosophy in social development at the Philippine Women’s University in Manila.  He said that ethnic Indonesian practiced the are of teed decoration by means of  bansil.
Alcinas observed that 17th century Bisayan women decorate their teeth as an alternative to sporting pitch-black teeth or reddish teeth rubbed with ;buyo by means of bansil, “a golden peg in triangular  form and fitted on the gums from the lower portion of the toot by drrlling throught the heart of then; each peg has a little nail in the center.”

Cantius Kobak and Lucio Gutierez’ commentary on the historical work of Alcinas said that “tooth-decorating’ [bansil] was a general practice throughout the Philippine islands and practiced by some cultural minorities even today.  The Calatagan excavations led Robert Fox in 1959 to conclude that “The teeth were not filled until the late teens and the practiced included males and females.” Historian Mateo Sanchez observed  that in 1615 bansil was also known as pansil or halup, meaning decorating the teeth with gold.

My trip to Unaaha municipality, Konawe Province of Sulawesi, Indonesia was not a mere academic  exercise to tell the story of Philippine corporate social responsibility.  It was a journey to my own historical past that geographically connected my ancestral roots to the Indonesian culture as evidence by the tattoo and bansil of my father, Federico Suangki Hudtohan.

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