Heldegondé Esmail, the 6th Ḅaì sa Rogan

by Nasser S. Sharief, PMTC Institute of Iranun Studies

The 6th Ḅaì sa Rogan settled in the raised dais after the float parade. Her sartorial attire draws inspiration from the “Magnificent Century” and has been custom-designed by Melissa Ajaddi Chin. (Nasser S. Sharief)

On May 29, 2022, the people of negêri Rogan and its environs in the Basak area in Lanao had the rare experience of witnessing a spectacle and a royal ceremony done worthy of emulation. Besides the 3-day-long festival staged by the locality, the organizers and its partners saw to it that the ceremony tiptoes the protocols of bestowals in accordance with ancient tradition. From the striking of the gong by the Sultan to open the enthronement ceremony down to the ritual “kapamurawas” — the washing of the feet with water drawn from lake Lanao poured from a kendi —  everything was executed with pinpoint flawlessness.

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Heldegondé, the newly crowned 6th Ḅaì sa Rogan is fondly called by her parents and friends as Gondé. She was born on April 12, 1987 in Cagayan de Oro. From early childhood, she was honed by her parents to develop an interest in traditional ways. This left a deep impression on the young Gondé which stayed with her until her maturing years. Now as she is ready to start community works in her hometown, her clan clamored for her clan to fill into the shoes of the Ḅaì sa Rogan — a title that has been vacant following the death of her aunt Ḅaì Tuwambai a decade or so.

Gondé at first felt a bit apprehensive even as she was excited at the prospect. She is all too aware of the responsibility that rides on the title. Contrary to what many youngsters think, assuming royal titles today is not always strewn with a bed of roses. The romantic notion of being bestowed with a royal title must be balanced with the stark realities of the 21st century. Gondé is not oblivious of the accompanying burden with her acceptance to ascend to the Ḅaì sa Rogan as she knows that the royalty is not backed by any state or government institution. Little wonder that many royal houses in fact have folded and some others have the barest minimum of courtiers, operating on a skeletal setup. Only the sheer determination and dedication of the clan and their community keep it from closing shop. Indeed, calling Gondé “a brave young lady” by the Sultan sa Taporog, Datu Bangsaan Unti, neatly captures her resolve. The Chair of the Sixteen Royal Houses of Lanao, Sultan Bangcola Adtha praised the new Ḅaì sa Rogan for the arrays of projects she will be embarking on as she revealed in her first address to the realm.

The Order of Conferment is being handed to Heldegondé by Sultan Bangcola Adtha, the Chair of the Sixteen Royal Houses. (Nasser S. Sharief)

Heldegondé graduated with a degree of BS in Accountancy in 2013 in Cagayan de Oro City. A year after graduation, Gondé was hired by Chevrolet CDO as an Accounting Staff in Cagayan de Oro City. Some six months later, she was immediately promoted as an Accounting Supervisor. Just barely two years from being promoted, her potential and continuous dedication in her work caught the eyes of the management that she was then offered a higher position by which her supervision would cover several branches in Mindanao including Butuan, Zamboanga and Davao City. This opened an avenue to solidify her career. But after weighing several factors, considering that she had to travel from time to time and the full-time effort she had to cater to the needs of her children, she had to decline the offer and decided to leave the company in good faith.

In May 2016, she started from scratch and opened her own daycare center — the Little Sushi’s Daycare in Marawi City. However, the outfit only lasted a year and was cut short by an unforeseeable event — the Marawi siege. Despite the uncertainties around her, Gonde’s love for children and her passion didn’t stop her from continuing what she had started. The setbacks did not one whit discouraged her. One year later, she re-opened the daycare in Cagayan de Oro with a catchy new name — the Little Einsteins Academy.

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A few years on, as the situation in Marawi City slowly improved, Gondé managed to open two branches around Ground Zero. Up close, among her people, she was able to observe and feel the hardship others have to endure. Since then, helping those who are in need has always been Gondé’s passion. Which is why aside from being an entrepreneur, she recently decided to work as a public servant, a Revenue Officer at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. For her, the secret to happiness is helping others. As she confesses, she “feels fulfilled upon seeing the genuine smiles of random people” that she gets to help. All these put together made her decide to accept and embrace, with an open heart, the role of Ḅaì sa Rogan without qualm.

The new Ḅaì sa Rogan is being crowned by Ḅaì Hadjah Khadidja Laut, representing the late Towambai, the 5th Ḅaì sa Rogan, assisted by Ḅaì Ominsalam Laut-Domado, the incumbent Ḅaì a Labi sa Rogan. (Nasser S. Sharief)

Lineage and a bit of history

The new Ḅaì sa Rogan’s ancestry makes her every bit a true descendant of Ŭmbāör sa Bansayan [c. 1710] the First of His Name. Ŭmbāör’s lineage harks back to Buṯuanên Kaliṅan (Caliṅan) [c. 1296-] during the heyday of Maliganday Bembaran, the ancient capital of Northeast Mindanao. Umbaor established himself as the Datu of negeri Bansayan shortly after marrying Andongā Ḅaì sa Magindanao, a granddaughter of  Kahāruddīn Kuda (Qudāh Maulano) {Sultan sa Maguindanao} [1699-1702] and Sīnal sa Bwaȳan Tambingag.

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Putrí  Arībŏ, a daughter of Ŭmbāör was married to Amini, the Datu sa Pŭṭṭád of Poönā Maçiu. Out of this union was brought Ŭmbāör II, the Second of His Name. Ŭmbāör II married Paramata Adiora (Adiol), a daughter of Asolay sa Onayan. The couple were blessed with four children: Aromponi sa Maluso Basilan; Pandi sa Rogan; Tambor sa Rogan; Ḅaì Giyang (Inaī Gadong).

Tambor, the third son of Ŭmbāör II, married Ḅaì Dōyan (Dayawan), a daughter of Palawan sa Bansayan. Since Palawan was a grandson of Ŭmbāör I, this makes the couple second cousins. From union issued six children: Dyalālodīn; Parti; Ḅaì Bonang; Gendo; and Limbo. 

Dyalālodīn was the famous sufi Muhammad Jalāl al-Dīn Amīr al-Qādī al-Bansayāni. His devotion to the Shaṭṭāriyyah Order and his constant absence from home in search of knowledge, (i.e. Ache of Sumatra and Al-Haramayin in Mecca and Madinah) prompted his younger brother Parti to ascend to the Sultanate. The younger sister Ḅaì Bonang was married off to Tantao sa Kalahui {Mĕrhoum Hidayat III} [c. 1785].

An edict was made that from the issue Ḅaì Bonang would be taken the Ḅaì sa Rogan. Her first daughter Putrí Paira became the first Ḅaì sa Rogan. The younger daughter Gayad was betrothed to  Sayīk Aulia sa Malŭngŭn. After settling in her husband’s place, Gayad was made Ḅaì sa Malŭngŭn.

All the succeeding Ḅaì sa Rogan flowed from the line of  Putrí Paira. Putrí Paira had three daughters besides the male children. The first daughter Ḅaì Simpan succeeded as Ḅaì sa Rogan ika-2. The younger two became Ḅaì sa Būbong and Ḅaì sa Būbong respectively.

Ḅaì Simpan gave birth to Kadidiatul Kubra who became the Ḅaì sa Rogan ika-3. Kubra begot Rŭnding who succeeded as Ḅaì sa Rogan ika-4. Rŭnding was married to Mamantar {Cabugatan sa Têbuk}, a son of Sarīp sa Rogan Maupāt Parti [c. 1847], and Ḅaì ā Mala, daughter of Bŭnol {Sultan Badarul Alam} {Sultan sa Taporog} {Mailindon sa Têbuk). The couple begot Komakasar {Syarīf Olama sa Rōgan} who married Pangcatan Magáög, granddaughter of Ameril {Sultan sa Rogan}. Pangcatan was bestowed as Ḅaì sa Rogan ika-5.

Komakasar and Pangcatan brought Tuwamḅaì, one of a sibling of six. Tuwamḅaì was bestowed Ḅaì sa Rogan ika-6. Her sister, Ḅaì Diacat was married to Cansing (Hadji Esmail) Kalandapon. The couple begot Amanoding Esmail, the current Revenue District Officer of the City of Iligan. Amanoding had been successively married three times. With his first marriage to Mona Acmad, he has two daughters: Fetria Ḅaìmona and Ḅaìconso Aylenn. With Sarah Pario Barodi, ha has: Heldegondé; Ab-Alkhail; and, Jarica.

Amanoding is now currently married to Soraida Hadjah Salma Angad. His step-children with Ḅaì Soraida are: Mohamad Khalid A. Polangi; Janisah Salma A. Po;angi-Macagaan; Shalima A. Polangi-Macabalang; Anisah Shaliha A. Polangi-Guinal; and, Shamara A. Polangi. 

As the new Ḅaì sa Rogan reveals, Heldegondé is putting up a Trust Foundation for the purpose of improving the lot of the people of Rogan and Poona Bayabao in general, and embarking on a cultural renaissance and a research of the history of the region. (Nasser S. Sharief)

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