THE DALAKIT TREE – ORIGIN OF THE NAME DALAGUETE
“The natives look upon the tree not for its gigantic size, nor for its fruit which is of no use, but rather for the religious observance of the natives” (Alcina 1668: 473-485). They highly consider this tree for their belief that it harbors spirits or diwatas who could impose sickness if maltreated or hand in fortunes and gifts if placated. When fully grown, the intertwining roots are exposed from the earth and from huge caverns that could house several people.
The dalaket (Ficus benjamina linn) tree is the foundation of the origin and name of Dalaguete. In ancient times, before the coming of the Spaniards, these trees have been used by people as major landmarks. People gathered under its encompassing shades and conduct social and economic activities such us festivities, contest, trading meetings and other community gatherings. They establish market places under the shades of the dalaket where they sell their products and conduct trade with local roving traders bringing in Chinese and Asiatic goods from the port of Cebu.
The place where the church or the poblacion were laid have been the site of a communal gathering area for the natives. It was also the abode of a huge dalakit tree which provide shade and shelter while people conduct their activeities. “Adto ta mag-abot sa dalakit.” “Adto ta magtigom-tigom sa dalakit” [Let us meet at the dalakit]. These and other popular phrases have the common practice of our ancestors when coming up with an agreement to meet or conduct an activity specifically at the site where the dalakit is situated. For several generations in pre-hispanic Dalaguete, the area have always been unofficially called as dalakit. Its accessibility and its reputation as a communal area for community gathering have prompted the leaders Spanish authorities to construct the church and eventually establish the area as part of an encomienda. From this common ground, and from this tree, begun the conception of a larger town which later come to be known as Dalaguete.
Language experts know that in Spanish, the letter “G” is often pronounce “K” so that the word dalakit is in fact spelled out by them as dalaguet. There is no “K” in the Spanish language. The nearest other spelling would have been “Dalaquet”, with a “q” instead of a “g” which, when written by hand in those early days, would also have been interchanged. Whatever the case, thus was born christened the town of Dalaguete.