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Is it Butuanon or Butuanese?

By R Juan de Abril

New and not so new generations of Butuanons gamely and fondly call themselves Butuanese with pride and a smile.

To some and many others who heard it the first time, it sounds awkward and funny but never harmful. Although may be not historically correct, “it sounds cute and accepting,” says a young visual artist who grow up here and creates homegrown creative expressions.

Older folks from 50’s to 60’s either make surprising frown on their faces, nods with their eyes express wonder.

“I get to ponder it when I have time and find it okay, so why not?”a 62 year old retiring accountant verdict said.

“I like it!” exclaims a yuppie (young professional). “It sounds like we’re a totally different, unique race, like Japanese, Burmese, Taiwanese.”

For him, it totally distinguish us from the others because after all, as the cliché goes, “while there was no Philippines, there was already Butuan.”

“Hmm, sounds sensible, doesn’t it?”responds another. “Butuan, as known to us as ancient kingdom or a recognized tribe with a political system and capability to roam Southeast Asian waters deserve a distinct calling.”

For a few, Butuanese sounds friendlier and light than Butuanon, like, again to one yuppie, sounds rough and harsh.

“I picture a Butuanese like an elegant tribal maiden walking along the riverside, so feminine but endowed with mystic strength,” imagines the artist.

To him, a Butuanon is more of a local migrant, always attempting to be accepted as real but has alien attitude.

But what is a name? “What matters is what’s in the heart and head,” explains the yuppie.

“I am a proud Butuanese, coming from Butuan where my ancestors and previous generations call themselves Butuanons and that is part of our evolution as a dynamic people. Today our city has improve a lot, has become urbanized and vibrant.”

Welcome to Butuan, the cherished city of Butuanons–and Butuanese- if you will.

Photo courtesy of Kaya ng Pinoy, Inc./Lester Pencilhands

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