Davao’s rich heritage in arts, culture and history come from its indigenous tribes, among the predominant groups include Bagobo, Mandaya, Mansaka, Manobo, Ata and B’laan.
According to historians, the word “Davao” is a result of the phonetic blending of words from three Bagobo sub-groups, meaning “beyond the higher grounds” or “over the hills yonder”, a reference to the location of Davao River, a trading settlement. When different tribes went to the area, they would say that they were going to “davoh” (Obo group, considered the earliest tribe to settle in the area), “duhwow” (Clatta group) or “dabu” (Tagabawa group) as the place was surrounded by the hills of Buhangin, Magtuod, Maa, and Matina.
Led by Alvaro de Saavedra, the Spaniards – the first non-natives to visit Davao – arrived in the region in 1528. After the Spanish troops revolted and slayed Moro leader Datu Bago in 1847, a local hero who protected Davao from foreign invaders, Don Jose Oyanguren became the first governor of the undivided Davao province and renamed the place Guipuzcoa.
Way before World War ll, Davaoneos had amicable relations with Japanese. In 1900, a group of Japanese established extensive plantations of abaca around the gulf area and was engaged in logging, fishing and trading. The increase of Japanese residents earned Davao the title “Japan kuo” or “Little Japan.”
In March 16, 1937 Davao finally became a city when President Elpidio Quirino formally inaugurated the signing of Davao as a charter city.
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