October 17, 2009

Indigenous People of the philippines

Indigenous People

These are the list of our indigenous people here in the country. More than 12 million descendants of the original inhabitants of the archipelago are often marginalized and lesser known to most Filipinos, especially the young, however, taking a peek of their invaluable talents, skills and accomplishments proves they definitely are worth knowing for.

Alangan Mangyan
Batangan Mangyan

Tau't Batu

Jama Mapun
Manobo Biit

-Source: Ethno-Linguistic Group Listings

indigenous Peoples in the PhilippinesThe Philippines is a mountainous archipelago of approximately 30 million ha. It comprises 7,100 islands grouped into three regions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Indigenous peoples make up approximately 10-15 per cent of the population.

-Source: Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Minority Rights Group

The term "indigenous peoples" refers to us, the more than 12 million descendants of the original inhabitants of this archipelago who have somehow managed to resist centuries of colonization and in the process have retained their own customs, traditions and life ways. Our ancestors were once upon a time the only inhabitants on these islands, and as such even during those early times, already exhibited the attributes of independent states, namely: people, territory, government (through their customs and traditions and indigenous socio-political institutions), and sovereignty (for they were free and independent communities). Later, when they resisted Spanish colonization and refused to be subdued, they were called infidels, pagans, savages.Under American rule, our predecessors had been called non-Christian tribes. In modern times, we became known as cultural minorities, or tribal Filipinos, Only lately have we been lumped up in the generic term "indigenous cultural communities" or the more politically correct term "indigenous peoples" of the Philippines. For the more culturally sensitive, we are called by our beautiful names such as Ifugao, Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Kalinga, Isneg, Tingguian, Bugkalot, Dumagat, Aeta, Ati, Mangyan, Manobo, Tagbanua, Teduray, Subanen, T'boli, Bagobo, and Higaonon and about a hundred other tribes.But today, when one speaks of indigenous peoples, it is not so much about their beautiful story as peace-loving communities bound to Mother Nature and Father Spirit of the Universe; nor their talents and skills and accomplishments. For the term indigenous peoples has been made synonymous to oppression, exploitation, discrimination and poverty. They, whose ancestors were once the proud rulers of this land, are now the scum of the earth, the so-called poorest of the poor in the Philippines.

-Source: Speech of Atty. Evelyn S. Dunuan for the Asian Regional Consulation on Poverty Reduction delivered at the Asian Development Bank, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig on October 1, 2001

The Republic Act 8371: Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997

The IPRA was signed into law on October 29, 1997 by then President Ramos. IPRA underwent many years of legislative study and deliberation before it became a law. It is the result of various consultations, consolidated bills related to ancestral domains and lands, and international agreements on the recognition of land/domain rights of the Indigenous People. In general, Republic Act No. 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 is an act to recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples, creating National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, establishing implementing mechanisms, appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes.It is an embodiment of the rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, which are as follows:

Right to Ancestral Domain - to cover the rights of ownership and possession of the Indigenous Cultural Communities and the Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domains which are to be protected.
Right to Self-Governance - to recognize the inherent rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities and the Indigenous Peoples to self-governance and self-determination and to respect the integrity of their values, practices and institutions.
Social Justice & Human Rights - to ensure that the employment of any form of coercion against Indigenous Cultural Communities and the Indigenous Peoples shall be dealt with by law.
Cultural Integrity - to include respect, recognition and protection of the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities and the Indigenous Peoples to preserve and protect their cultures, traditions and institutions. This also means that these rights shall be needed to be taken into consideration in the formulation and application of national plans and policies.

The start of the IPRA Law has surpassed speculations and unfounded doubts that the tribal peoples and communities in the Philippines are abandoned or neglected and that they are only meant to exist outside the periphery of development, much less a part of the national life. Adversely, the Indigenous People who are randomly distributed and have established new pockets of communities from Batanes to Basilan are making a new wave of cultural revolution that is zeroed in on the four-fold areas of their rights and welfare as stated earlier.A heavy focus on empowerment and upland development by the GMA administration has made the Indigenous People as major players and partners in national building with the government and international funding institutions promising to provide basic services on a need-driven basis. Locally available indigenous resources have been tapped as the Indigenous People counterpart to facilitate the implementation of key programs and projects while the Local Government Units (LGUs) assisted by giving out corresponding resources.

-Source: 2001 Accomplishment Report



"Aeta," "Ayta," "Agta," "Atta (Ata)," "Ati," and "Ita"- these probably derive from the root word "it," which in various Philippine languages means "black" as inferred from the Tagalog term itim and the Visayan term itom. "Negrito" or "little black one" is a Spanish term coined from the word "negro." The Aeta are a mountain people who are dark skinned, short, small of frame, kinky haired, snub nosed, and with big black eyes. The Aeta have different names which may refer to their history, their geographical situation, or their relationship with their neighbors. Various Aeta groups have been differentiated in curious ways. An Aeta group may resent a name designated by non-Aeta groups or neighbors, especially when they consider the given names deprecating. Because the majority of Filipinos look down on their dark color, some groups resent being called "Ita."


The history of the Aeta continues to confound anthropologists and archaeologists. One theory suggests that the Aeta are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines who arrived through land bridges that linked the country with the Asian mainland some 30,000 years ago. These migrations may have occurred when the Malay Peninsula was still connected with Sumatra and other Sunda Islands. At that time, the islands of what is now the Philippines may have been connected, making probable the dispersal of the Aeta throughout what is now an archipelago. Artifacts found in areas where the Aeta live provide archaeological evidence that in prehistoric times, the Aeta lived in the lowlands but gradually retreated into the hills and mountains when subsequent immigrants and conquerors, like the Spaniards, pushed them into the forests. The Aeta have shown resistance to change. The attempts of the Spaniards to settle them in reservations all throughout Spanish rule failed. During the early American colonization of the Philippines , the political structure of the Aeta was not disturbed, except when neighboring lowlanders organized artificial government structures headed by a captain, consejal or policia. While resisting change from the outside for hundreds of years, the Aeta have adjusted to social, economic, cultural, and political pressures with remarkable resilience; they have created systems and structures within their culture to cushion the sudden impact of change. Since the latter half of the 20th century, however, the Aeta have been declining in number. Their very existence has been threatened by problems brought about by other people and by nature. Poverty-stricken lowlanders, seeking food, have encroached on forest lands, displacing the Aeta. The flora and fauna needed for Aeta survival are no longer available due to forest depletion. Disasters like the Pinatubo eruption destroyed and buried Aeta ancestral lands in tons of ashfall and lahar. All these, aggravated by government negligence and public apathy, have marginalized the Aeta, some towards possible extinction.
Expulsion, relocation, serfdom, and mendicancy have plagued their lives. For example, in Negros , the Ati have become agricultural laborers on tenants working in ancestral lands that were formerly their own. Lowlanders hire their services to plow fields, gather coconuts, or cut bamboo for fishtraps. Women are hired to weed fields or serve as maids in Christian families. In Iloilo , a few go begging in the streets.
It is not surprising then that some Aeta, notably among the Dumagat, turn to drink. Alcoholism, previously unknown in Dumagat culture, was probably introduced by lowlanders and reinforced by unscrupulous merchants, who supply alcoholic beverages, often as payment for Aeta labor (Noval-Morales and Monan 1979).



All Aeta communities have adopted the language of their Austronesian neighbors, which have sometimes diverged over time to become different languages. These include, in order of number of speakers, Mag-indi, Mag-antsi, Abellen, Ambala, and Mariveleño.

Religious Beliefs and Practices

There are divergent views on the dominant character of the Aeta religion. Those who believe they are monotheistic argue that various Aeta tribes believe in a supreme being who rule over lesser spirits or deities. The Mamanua believe in the supreme Magbabaya while the Pinatubo Aeta worship Apo Namalyari. According to anthropologist E. Arsenio Manuel, the Agta believe in a supreme being named Gutugutumakkan. Manuel notes other lesser deities of the Agta; Kedes, the god of hunting; Pawi, the god of the forest; and Sedsed, the god of the sea. There are four manifestations of the "great creator" who rules the world: Tigbalog is the source of life and action; Lueve takes care of production and growth; Amas moves people to pity, love, unity, and peace of heart; while Binangewan is responsible for change, sickness, and death. These spirits inhabit the balete tree.

The Aeta are also animists. For example, the Pinatubo Aeta believe in environmental spirits such as anito and kamana. They believe that good and evil spirits inhabit the environment, such as the spirits of the river, the sea, the sky, the mountain, the hill, the valley, and other places. The Ati of Negros island call their environmental spirits taglugar or tagapuyo, which literally means "from/inhabiting a place." They also believe in spirits of disease and comfort. No special occasion is needed for the Aeta to pray, although there is a clear link between prayer and economic activities. The Aeta dance before and after a pig hunt. The night before Aeta women gather shellfish, they perform a dance which is half an apology to the fish and half a charm to ensure the catch. Similarly, the men hold a bee dance before and after the expeditions for honey.

Visual Arts and Crafts

The most common form of Aeta visual art is the etching found in their daily tools and implements. This is done on the outer surfaces of various household containers/utensils and ornaments. Bamboo combs are decorated with incised angular patterns. Geometric designs are etched on arrow shafts. They are also skillful in weaving and plaiting. For example, the Mamanua, like other Aeta groups, produce excellent nego or winnowing baskets, duyan or rattan hammocks, and other household containers.

Women exclusively weave winnows and mats. Only men make armlets. They also produce raincoats made of palm leaves whose bases surround the neck of the wearer, and whose topmost part spreads like a fan all around the body, except in front, at the height of the waistline. The traditional clothing of the Negrito is very simple. Cloth wraparound skirts are worn by the women when young. Elder women wear bark cloth, and the elder men loincloths. The old women of the Agta wear a bark cloth strip which passes between the legs, and is attached to a string around the waist. Today most Aeta who have been in contact with lowlanders have adopted the T-shirts, pants and rubber sandals commonly used by the latter.

A traditional form of visual art is body scarification. The Aeta cause wounds on the skin of the back, arms, breast, legs, hands, calves and abdomen, and then irritate the wounds with fire, lime and other means to form scars, which are arranged symmetrically. Other "decorative disfigurements" include the chipping of the teeth. With the use of a file, the Dumagat mutilate their teeth during late puberty; the purpose is to saw and flatten to the gums the top six incisors and canines. The teeth are dyed black for a few years afterwards.

The Aeta generally use ornaments typical of peoples living in subsistence economies. Flowers and leaves are used as earplugs, usually for certain occasions and discarded when the need lapses. Girdles, necklaces, and neckbands of braided rattan are worn frequently, often incorporated with wild pig bristles. Aeta ornamentation is best exemplified by the comb, which is made from a section of bamboo. At one end, the teeth of the comb are meticulously carved. The outer convex surface is profusely etched with varied geometric designs or decorated with curvilinear incisions. The end opposite the teeth has attachments like plumes of long tail feathers of mountain cocks and other birds, or other attachments like fibers and strings


Their traditional clothing is very simple. The young women wear wrap around skirts. Elder women wear bark cloth, while elder men wear loin cloths. The old women of the Agta wear a bark cloth strip which passes between the legs, and is attached to a string around the waist. Today most Aeta who have been in contact with lowlanders have adopted the T-shirts, pants and rubber sandals commonly used by the latter.


Aeta women are known around the country as purveyors of herbal medicines.

Performing Arts

Some of the musical instruments found among the Aeta are the flute, jew's harp made of a silver of slit bamboo, a traded bronze gong, and the bamboo violin. Instruments were documented in 1931 by Norberto Romualdez (1973) among the Aeta groups. The kullibaw of the Aeta is a jew's harp made of bamboo. The bansik of the Aeta of Zambales is a four-hole flute made of mountain cane. The kabungbung of the Aeta of Bataan is a guitar made of one closed node of bamboo, from which two cords are slit loose from the outer skin of the bamboo and given tension by brides. A hole is cut into the bamboo under the two cords for resonance. The gurimbaw of the Aeta of Tayabas has a bow called gaka made from fibers of the lukmong vine, and a coconut resonator called kuhitan. The aydluing of the Mamanua is a long guitar with several strings, similar to the kudyapi of other Mindanao groups.

-Source: CCP Encyclopedia


The Aeta / Aytas are the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines . The Aeta indigenous group is one of the 110 tribes scattered around the Philippines . Its members number about 140,591 individuals. Those found in Central Luzon dwell in the pockets of mountains in the provinces of Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan , and Nueva Ecija. They are tribal in character, thus they confine themselves to a very limited world of their own. These Aetas are nomadic and build only temporary lean-to shelters made of two folded sticks driven to the ground and covered with palm of banana leaves. The more prosperous and modernized Aetas have learned to live in villages on tablelands and mountain clearings. They live in houses made of bamboo and cogon grass. The Aetas senses are highly developed. Their senses of direction and smell are extraordinary. They can tract down a snake by its smell and can identify different kinds of plants and its flowering patterns.Shown from the Information of National Commission on Indigenous People, 932 counted people is located in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), 170 people in Ilocos Region (Region 1) , 1829 people in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) and 87657 people in Central Luzon (Region 3).

-Source: Regional Population Breakdown. National Commission On Indigenous People (NCIP)



They are the most numerous of the various cultural-linguistic group inhabiting the mountains of Central Panay, Tapaz, Capiz, Lambunao, lloilo, Valderama, Antique provinces are the Sulods who are relatively unassimilated. The Sulods occupy the rugged finger-like slopes along the banks of the river in the interior and higher mountain. It is because of this sandwich like location of their territory that the inhabitants are called by their neighbors Sulod which literally means closet or room. They speak the Sulod dialect with the combination of Kiniray-a and Ililigaynon. The Sulods live in small discrete settlements, called puro. They look upon themselves as a social unit, being conscious of common interests and loyalties and having a perfectly clear idea as to which families belong to the unit and which do not. Normally, a puro is located on top of a high ridge, although a settlement is occasionally found at the foot of a fingerlike slope, beside a river or stream, since such places serve as "watch towers," where the inhabitants can guard their kaingin from wild animals.

The stream or riverside preference is due to the fact that streams are an important source of water and riverine foods. The house is a poorly constructed, four-walled, one-room dwelling, raised about three meters on bamboo or timber posts and supported on all sides by props. The roof is of cogon thatch and the walls of flattened bamboo or the bark of trees. Bamboo slats are prefered material for flooring. In front of the house is a small, low, pyramid-likestructure covered with long cogon grass rofing which touches the ground. This hut is called and urub and is used for emergency purposes, such as the sudden occurrence of storms.


“Sulod” are mountain people, inhabiting the banks of the Panay River between Mt. Saya and Mt. Baloy in central Panay Island. Generally called montesses by lowlanders, meaning literally "mountain dwellers." The Sulod acquired their name because of the sandwich-like location of their territory, the term "sulod" meaning "interior" or "closed place". To distinguish them from the Ati who live in the foothills, the Christian lowlanders have given these hill tribesmen distinct names. Those in the mountains of Capiz and Aklan are called "mundos" while those in Iloilo and Antique are called "buki", short for "bukidnon" or "mountain folk" which has become a derogatory term. The dialects of these upland peoples are genetically related and very similar to the lowland Kiniray-a. The mountain dialects, however, are characterized by many archaic expressions, thus accounting for the difficulty which Kiniray-a-speaking lowlanders meet when talking to these upland dwellers. Most of the mountain people are monolingual. CULTURE AND CONTRIBUTIONS


Subsistence is chiefly by shifting cultivation of upland rice, maize, sweet potatoes, and other edible tubers, supplemented by hunting, fishing, and gathering. The Sulod do not stay in one place for more than two years, due primarily to their pattern of land use. Tough grasses and secondary growth that usually follow the harvest render the swidden difficult to recultivate, particularly as the Sulod do not have work animals or plowing implements. Hence they move to another place where trees are growing abundantly and where the soil is free of grass. The abandoned site is called lati and may be used again after five or more years, when the second growth has become established.


The standard house of the Sulods is a four-walled, one-room dwelling raised about three or four meters above the ground on bamboo or timber posts and supported on all sides by several props called sulay. The roof is made of cogon thatch and the walls with flattened bamboo or bark of trees. Bamboo slats are the materials for flooring. They are shifting cultivators and do not stay in one place for more than two years. Hunting is another source of subsistence. They also catch fish with the use of hook and line and fish traps. Aside from hunting and fishing, gathering vegetable products and edible fungi is a way of securing supplementary food.
The ordinary attire of the Sulods is like that of the lowland Bisayans. The women wear jacket with long narrow sleeves, usually made of silk and cotton with harmonious color. A band of red cloth is worn by women to hold up the barrel skin. On special occasions, the women wear a head dress of a narrow strip of cloth with silver coins seen on it with necklaces made of colored glass beads and silver coins strung together. The young men wear trousers and a shirt but some elder prefer to wear the traditional G-string. Their headwear is an ordinary burl hat during dry season and during rainy days.
The spear is the Sulods most indespensable weapon which he carries in work and in travel. They have very few household utensils. Coconut shells are used for drinking cups. They do not have tables or chairs; they sit or squat on the floor to eat.

Musical Instrument

The musical instruments include the drum, gong, bamboo violin, bamboo flute, bamboo percussion, and bamboo Jews harp. There are at least two famous dances, the binanugdnd kuratsa.

Religion is an intimate part of Sulod life. Every activity is in conformity to the wishes of the spirits and deities, and the Sulod does everything within his power to please these divinities, even to the extent of going into debt in order to celebrate a proper ceremony for the chief spirit known as diwata. There are 16 annual ceremonies and a number of minor ones, most of which are conducted by the religious leader known as baylan.

Leadership is assumed by the oldest man in each settlement. The leader, called parangkuton or "counselor," (literally, "one to be asked") directs activities such as hunting, house building, and moving to a new kaingin site. He also settles disputes and heads annual social and religious activities. He is assisted by a young man called timbang (literally "helper" or "assistant"). When the parangkuton dies, the next oldest man in the settlement assumes leadership.

The group, which regulates the political, social and economic affairs of the Sulod community, is the Kahimataan. He participates in marriage arrangements, in the performances of the community rituals and, in the settlement of the family feuds, in the payment of wergild and in many other cooperative organization of the Sulod social, economic and ritual life which is beyond the capacity of the nuclear family to handle. The Baylan are either men or women whose function is to communicate with major spirits during the important seances, to interpret dreams and omens relative to the general welfare of the communities, and to handle special magico-religious performances during ceremonies. The Mirku is called upon to administer herb medicine to the sick.

Death and Burial
When a Sulod dies, everyone in the community condoles the bereaved family by contributing material things needed for the balasan, "wake of the dead." If the deceased is an important man, a baylan or parangkuton for example, he is not buried in the ground. A coffin is prepared for him by chopping down a large tree, cutting it to a convenient length, shaping it like a boat and hollowing it out. Carvings are made on the cover and on the sides. The corpse is encoffined and the slits glued with a gumlike sap. Then the coffin is placed underneath a special shed made of cogon grass, called the kantang, which has been built on top of a solitary hill. Finally, a hole is bored in the bottom of one end of the coffin and a small bamboo tube called pasuk inserted to facilitate the flow of the tagas or decomposing body fluids. After two or three months, the bones are removed, washed, wraped in a black cloth, and suspended under the eaves of the house. If the deceased is an ordinary man, he is simply buried in the ground, to one side of a kantang.

-Sources: Article on Sulod people posted on Rational Insanity, column by Bryan Mari Argos

Ntional Comission on Indigenous People

Philippine People


From some of the written files, Their estimated population is 13,814. But as of 2005, the estimated population of the sulod’s are 23,113 in Western Visayas (Region 6).

-Source: Regional Population Breakdown. National Commission On Indigenous People


The Tboli, also known as T'boli, Tiboli, and Tagabili, are an old indigenous people living in South Cotabato, where the southwest coast range and the Cotabato Cordillera merge to form the Tiruray highlands, in an area circumscribed by a triangle formed by the town of Suralla, Polomolok, and Kiamba. Located within these boundaries are three major lakes which are important to the Tboli: Sebu, the largest and the most culturally significant; Siluton, the deepest; and Lahit, the smallest.ORIGIN The Tboli, according to their myths, are descendants of La Bebe and La Lomi, and Tamfeles and La Kagef, two couples that survived a big flood after being warned by the deity Dwata to take precautions. Taking a huge bamboo that could accommodate countless people, they filled the vessel with food. When Mt Hulon was inundated, the four got into the bamboo while the rest of the population drowned in the swollen waters. When the floods subsided and the days grew warm, the fortunate couples split the bamboo open and emerged into the sunlight.La Kagef and Tamfeles begot 12 sons and daughters: Sudot Henok and Nayong who begot the tau sequil (lowlanders); Dodom and Eva who begot the tau mohin, the sea-dwellers from Kiamba; Bou and Umen who begot the tau sebu, the uplanders of Lake Sebu and Sinulon; La Bila and Moong who begot the Bilaan of Tupi; Dugo and Sewen who begot the Ubu (Manobo); and Kmanay and Sodi who begot the people who became Muslims. From the loins of La Bebe and La

Lomi sprang the Ilongo and other Visayan groups, the Ilocano, and the Tagalog.Anthropologists say that the Tboli could be of Austronesian stock. It is believed that they were already, to some degree, agricultural and used to range the coasts up to the mountains. With the arrival of later groups, however, these people were gradually pushed to the uplands.There is reasonable speculation, however, that the Tboli, along with the other upland groups, used to inhabit parts of the Cotabato Valley until the advent of Islam in the region, starting in the 14th century. The Tboli and their Ubu (Manobo) and Bilaan neighbors resisted the aggressive proselytizing of a succession of Muslim warrior-priests, the greatest of whom was Sharif Muhammad Kabungsuan from Johore in present-day Malaysia , who subsequently established the sultanate of Maguindanao during the late 15th and early 19th centuries. Muslim oral accounts called tarsila claim that those who accepted the new faith remained in the Cotabato Valley , while the others retreated to the relative safety and isolation of the mountains.
Conflict between the Muslims and the non-Islamized tribes continued with constant slaving raids by the former upon the later. It is no wonder then that in Tboli folk literature, the Muslims figure as perennial villains. Nevertheless, a regular volume of trade emerged despite the strained relations. The fierce resistance of the Muslims against Spanish incursions served to insulate the Tboli from contact with Christianity and Spanish colonization. Only when the Americans were able to bring the Muslims under their sway, through a combination of military prowess and civil and religious accommodation, did Christian elements penetrate Cotabato and subsequently the hinterlands. Instrumental in this development was the collaboration of Datu Piang of the Maguindanao, whose family was to exercise considerable political power over the region during the American regime.
In 1913, 13,000 ha of the Cotabato Valley were opened up for settlement and the first waves of Christians arrived. The trickle of immigrants gradually increased into major streams of Christians, especially from the Ilocano, Tagalog, and Visayan regions, when the Philippine government, in an effort to alleviate land pressures and arrest the concomitant rise of revolutionary movements in Luzon and the Visayas, opened up 50,000 ha in Koronadal Valley for homesteading in 1938. From February 1939 to October 1950, 8,300 families were resettled by the National Land Settlement Agency. These migrations adversely affected the Tboli. In the wake of homesteaders came commercial ranching, mining, and logging interests. Armed with land grants and timber licenses, these entities increasingly encroached upon the Tboli homelands and disenfrachised those who had resided on the land since time immemorial, but who, not having access to the instruments of ownership recognized by the Philippine government, did not obtain legal protection from the latter.CULTURE AND CONTRIBUTIONSAgriculture

The T'boli practice "slash and burn" agriculture to grow rice, cassava and yams. They clear a part of the forest by cutting the big trees and burning the lower and smaller trees and bushes, after which they use the cleared plots as arable land for some years without any fertilization. They may also go hunting or fishing for additional food.

Religion and Beliefs

The T’boli believe in a pantheon of deities, supreme among which are Kadaw La Sambad, the sun god, and Bulon La Mogoaw, the moon goddess, who reside in the seventh heaven. They have seven sons and seven daughters who end up marrying each other and who become the lesser deities. They consider a bird called muhen the god of fate, whose song is believed to cause misfortune. Aside from these deities, the T’boli believe that everything has a spirit which must be propitiated for favorable fortune. Busao, or malevolent spirits, can wreak havoc on humans, causing misfortune or illness.

Performance Arts

The T’boli have a rich musical culture with a variety of musical instruments ranging from percussion (tnonggong (a deerskin drum); agong (large gongs) and klintang (set of gongs)) to woodwind (sloli (bamboo flute); kubing (bamboo jew’s harp) and few (small horn)) to string (sludoy (bamboo zither) and hagalong (two-string guitar)). They have a wide repertoire of songs and dances for all occasions.
Among the T'boli dances are:
the courtship dance
kadal herayon or wedding dance
flaggey libon or flaggey bird dance
kadal onuk or onuk bird dance
s'laong k'nebang or head gear dance
tao soyow or mock combat dance
kadal temulong lobo or victory dance
kadal hegelung or broken heart dance
kadal be hegelung or harvest dance
kadal iwas or monkey dance
kadal blelah or bird dance
kadal tabaw
kadal slung be tonok
kadal tahu
madal t'boli or T'boli festival dance
These dances involve shuffling steps and swooping movements of the arms and hands, usually incorporating a malong or kerchief.

Literature and Language

The epic “Tud Bulol” is the core of T’boli folk literature. It is sung in its entirety only on important occasions. Singing of the epic may take up to 16 hours depending on the version sung, and is usually done through the night. The T’boli also have folk beliefs and sayings, as well as folk tales and legends about their deities and heroes.
Unlike many other Filipino ethnic groups, diphthongs and the use of the letter "f" predominate in the T'boli language. This is unusual considering that the letter "f" is not included in the original Tagalog alphabet, the basis for the Filipino language, and is considered an import from Spanish colonizers.

T'boli Phrases

Hyu Hlafus - Good morning
Tey Bong Nawa hu Kuy - Thank you

Arts and Crafts

T’boli are known for their penchant for personal adornment and colorful crafts. According to them, the gods made men and women to look attractive so that they will be drawn to each other and procreate.

Personal Adornment

T'boli men and women view white teeth as ugly and fit only for animals. As a result, they practise tamblang, which is the filing of teeth into nihik or regular shapes and blackening them with the sap of a wild tree bark such as silob or olit. Adopting a practice from the Muslims, prominent T'boli, such as a datu or his wife, adorn their teeth with gold to indicate their wealth.
Tboli have themselves tattooed, not just for vanity but because they believe tattoos glow after death and light the way into the next world. Men have their forearms and chests tattooed with bakong (stylized animal) and hakang (human) designs, or blata (fern) and ligo bed (zigzag) patterns. Women also have their calves, forearms, and breasts tattooed in this manner.
Another form of body décor is scarification achieved by applying live coals onto the skin. The more scars a man has, the braver he is considered to be.


T’boli women learn to adorn themselves from early childhood. They apply cosmetics and arrange their hair, adorning it with traditional combs which have dangling strings of colored beads. For them, “more is better” when it comes to accessories; they do not wear just one of each type of accessory, but put on all that they can accomodate.
Some of the T’boli women’s accessories are:

Decorative Combs
Suwat Blakang – made of bamboo.
Suwat Tembuku – decorated with a mirror.
Suwat Lmimot – decorated with colored glass beads.
Suwat Hanafak – made of brass.
Kawat – simple brass rings.
Bketot – round mirror surrounded by colored beads.
Nomong – chandelier type earrings made of brass links and beads.
Bkoku – made of triangular shells.
Kowol or Beklaw – combination of earring and necklace.
Hekef – choker of red, white, yellow and black beads.
Lmimot – multi-stranded necklace with red, white and black beads in graduated sizes.
Lieg – brass with beads and hawkbells.

Female Clothing

For working in the fields
Kgal taha soung – plain black or navy blue blouse with long sleeves and no collar. It is tight fitting and waist length.
Luwek – ankle length tube skirt, like the malong worn by the Muslim tribes.
Slaong kinibang - round salakot (wide-brimmed hat) 50 cm in diameter woven with bamboo strips and entirely covered by a geometric patchwork or red, white, and black cloth, each hat always unique and original. Underneath, it is lined with red cloth that hangs down along the sides and back when worn, to protect the wearer from the sun's glare.
For everyday wear
Kgal bengkas - long-sleeved blouse open at the front, with 3-cm wide red bands sewn crosswise onto the back and around the cuffs and upper sleeves.
Kgal nisif - a more elaborately decorated blouse, embroidered with cross-stitched animal or human designs, and geometric patterns rendered in red, white, and yellow, with bands of zigzag and other designs.
Fan de - a skirt of red or black cloth, nowadays bought from the lowlanders.
Formal occasions
Kgal binsiwit, an embroidered blouse with 1-cm triangular shell spangles, usually worn during weddings.
Tredyung - a black pinstripe linen skirt worn with the kgal binsiwit.
Bangat slaong – version of slaong kinibang decorated with two long bands of fancy beadwork with horsehair tassels at the ends, worn on special occasions.

Male Clothing

T’boli men ordinarily wear shirts and trousers like many rural Filipinos. They wear their traditional costumes only on special occasions.
Kgal saro- a long-sleeved, tight-fitting collarless jacket made of abaca.
Sawal taho - a knee or ankle-length pair of pants the waist-section of which extends up to the shoulders, secured with an abaca band along the waist and made to fall, like a small skirt, covering the hips and upper thighs.
Olew – simple turban.
Slaong naf - conical but very flat hat decorated with simple geometric designs in black and white, done on woven bamboo strips and topped by a fundu or decorative glass or brass knob. The inside lining is woven rattan.
Slaong fenundo - less flat than the slaong naf, with a cross section resembling a squat tudor arch; it is made of straw-colored, even thread-thick, nito-like material sewn down in black, minute, even stitches.
Hilot - belt from which the T’boli male’s kafilan (sword) is suspended.
Angkul - sash of thick cloth worn by a datu as a mark of authority.


Sudeng – swords.
Lanti – sword whose brass hilt is ornamented with geometric designs and 5-cm lengths of chain with tnoyong or hawkbells attached to their ends.
Tedeng – plain sword with no decoration.
Kafilan - bolo-like sword.
Tok – richly decorated ritual sword; it has a 60 to 70 centimeter single-edged blade decorated with geometric designs, and a richly ornamented hilt with 5 cm lengths of chain attached to its edge, with hawkbells at their ends. Its wooden scabbard, held together by three to four metal bands, has a geometric design etched on the black surface, which is highlighted by the wood's natural light color.
Kabaho - knives, as richly decorated as the tok, coming in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Tboli figurines – made using the cire perdue or lost wax method, these 7.5 to 10 centimeter statuettes portray Tboli men and women in their characteristic attires, and engaged in typical chores.
Brass bracelets and chains used by the T'boli women.
Tnoyong or hawkbells which are attached to almost all other T'boli craftworks.


T’nalak or tinalak – the best known T’boli craft, the T’boli sacred cloth made from abaca. T’boli tradition and legend states that t’nalak weaving was taught to their ancestors by their goddess Fu Dalu in a dream, and that women learn their cloth patterns through their dreams. As a result,t'nalak is often referred to by non-T'boli as "dreamweave" and the T'boli women have been dubbed "dreamweavers". T’nalak products have also become the signature product of the province of South Cotabato. Lang Dulay, a T’boli weaver, has received the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Award by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in recognition of her role as a traditional artist in preserving and developing the indigenous artistic heritage.


Population estimates of the Tboli range from a low of 100,000 to a high of 227,000. The 1980 census gives a figure of 7,783 Tboli-speaking households, comprising an estimated total of 38,915 Tboli. The National Museum census, as of November 1991 in South Cotabato , records 68, 282 Tboli. As of NCIP, the population is 347212 in Davao Region (Region 11)

-Source: Philippine people
NCIP Population Breakdown

1. Municipal Council of Elders of Laac, San Vicente, Davao del Norte
2. Provincial Council of Elders for the Province of Davao Compostela Valley
3. Municipal Council of Elders of Moncayo
4. Tagbaros Council of Elders
5. Municipal Council of Elders of Asuncion
6. Mabini Council of Elders
7. Villar Indigenous People’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc.
8. Pangkalahatang Lakas ng mga Tribo sa Palawan, Inc.
9. Northern Davao Tribes Association, Inc.
10. Tribal Development Foundation of the Philippines, Inc.
11. Higa-onon Tribal Development, Inc.
12. Bugkalot Association of Casecnan (BAC), Inc.
13. Santiago Tribal Council
14. Sibol aetas Development Association
15. Talaingod, Langilan and Kaylawan Ata-Manobo Tribal Leaders Association
16. Supreme Datu Salumay Foundation, Inc.
17. Kabilogan ng mga Mangyan
18. Bugkalot Ancestral Land/Domain Association of Alfonso Castaneda (BALDAAC)
19. Institute of Cultural Research and Resource Development, INC.
20. Manila-Bukidnon Multi-Agricultural Communities Foundation, Inc.
21. Isabela Indigenous Cultural Communities Foundation, Inc.
22. Bayangan-Towao Association
23. Maporac Aetas Organization, Inc.
24. Tribal Chieftains of Palanan
25. Bucao Tribal Council, Inc.
26. Tubay Municipal Tribal Council
27. Southern Tribal Foundation, Inc.
28. United Mansaka-Mandaya TribalAssociation, Inc.
29. Indigenous Peoples Farmers Assoc.
30. Panlalawigang Kapisanan ng mga Katutubo ng Rizal Tungo sa Kaunlaran
31. Higa-onon tribal Council of Datus (GIPOLON) of Mindanao Inc. (HITRICODA)
32. Samahang Pangkaunlaran at Kasirinlan ng mga Katutubong Dumagat sa Umiray, Inc.
33. Strategic Advantage, Inc.
34. Banga Mun. Tribal Councils of Elders

-Source: National Comission on Indigenous People

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