Camperspoint Philippines

Ethnic Minority Groups In The South

Friday 9 July 2004, by catseye

In the South, minority groups can be found in Mindoro, Palawan and in Mindanao. The Mangyan group, which is counted 55,000 inhabiting the island of Mindoro, is subdivided into several groups- Iraya, Alangan, Hanunoo, Batanga, Tagaydan, Ratagnon and Buid. Their main livelihood is from the sea but due to inevitable migration of local and foreign settlers most of them moved to the inner districts of Mindoro. They are all are talented weavers, making bags, belts, and baskets out of forest plants such as nito, bamboo and buri.

The Hanunoo, a mangyan group, has an interesting musical instrument called git-git, which they use for composing and playing ancestral music. It looks like violin with strings made of human hair. They also practice ancient literature in their carvings. Ancient poems called Ambahan are etched on bamboo tubes in an indict script language that differs from what they use normally.

The Pala’wan is the minority group strewn widely in the inlands of southern Palawan. Their religion is based on Islamism and Hinduism. They have dancing; singing and drinking rituals to basically please their God, Ampo, and as well to attract good fortune.

The Tagbanuas are brown-skinned slim straight-haired ethnic group. Women wear bright body ornament and brighty colored clothes. They believe in a fairy called "Diwata", which they account for they lives. Marriages are arranged from the age of 12 and polyandry is common. Women with several husbands are considered to be in demand, thus, worthy of high dowries. Both the Tagbanuas and the Bataks developed their own written language like the Mangyans of Mindoros that are inscribed mostly on bamboo tubes.

The Tau’t batu are the cave dwellers found in the Signapan Basin. Because of their unique and extreme difference from ordinary beings, the government declared their area off limits to strangers to prevent them from unreasonable exploitation. These tribe subsist on hunting, gathering fruits and planting crops and rice near the forest.

The Mandaya and Masaka tribe are groups gathered together along the coastal areas of Davao Bay. The Mandaya who were basically from the highlands of northeastern Mindanao, practice their animism and are famous for their silver belongings.

The T’boli tribe, who are the inhabitants of the Tiruray highlands, southwest of Mindanao, are known for their colorful body ornaments consisting of earrings, lush necklaces, and handcrafted bracelets. They wear a unique outfit called t’nalak, made from woven abaca, which turned out a beautiful mixture of red, brown and beige designs- an extra ordinary work of art that attracted people from all over the world. They are one of those many tribes that have maintained and evolved an artistically rich cultural practices evidently shown in their musical performances. Bamboo tubes, wooden guitar-like instruments, mouth harps, bronze gongs, drums and many more are some of their wide array of musical intruments made out of their own wood products. They are remarkable balladeers singing about their lives and legends, and dance is an essential part of their festivities.

The Tasaday tribe is cave and forest dwellers from South Cotabato. They were kept unidentified for 50,000 years until their discovery in 1960. Because of some confusion concerning their authenticity as an ethnic group, they had to be rediscovered several times and thus, leading to a final confirmation of their authentic roots.

The Maranaw, commonly known as people living in the lake, are first inhabitants of the shores of Lanao del Sur, north of Mindanao. They are Muslims who are able to preserve their traditional practices until now. They survive mainly from wood sculpting, weaving fabrics and metal and brass making. Their products are known for its good quality and artistic designs.

The Subanon, were among the earliest settlers around the long peninsula of Zamboanga centuries ago and now sparingly scattered throughout the Zamboanga province to Misamis Occidental. They live in small group of farming community. The term Subanon means "upstream" referring to the areas they have inhabited.

The Tausug is the largest tribe inhabiting the area of southwestern Mindanao. Due to their expertise in clothing and jewelry trading, they are considered wealthier than other minority groups. They are commonly seen in the island of Jolo, Sulu.

The Yakan is a tribe found in Basilan Island, while others have moved to Zamboanga. They are exceptionally skilled in weaving as well as great farmers and cattle raisers.

The Badjaos are gypsies whose main livelihood is the richness of the sea. They live in houseboats by the shore.

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