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Case Study of an Indigenous Group

(Manobo Group)
Who are they?
Manobo, the name may came from Mansuba from man (person or people) and
suba (river), meaning river people. The first Manobo settlers lived in northern Mindanao,
at present Manobo tribes can be found at the hillsides and river valleys of the
northeastern part of Cotabato.
Where did they come from?
The Manobo are several people groups who inhabit the island of Mindanao in the
Philippines. They speak one of the languages belonging to the Manobo language
family. Their origins can be traced back to the early Malay peoples who came from the
surrounding islands of Southeast Asia. Today, their common cultural language and
Malay heritage help to keep them connected.
The Manobo cluster includes eight groups: the Cotabato Manobo, Agusan
Manobo, Dibabawon Manobo, Matig Salug Manobo, Sarangani Manobo, Manobo of
Western Bukidnon, Obo Manobo, and Tagabawa Manobo. The groups are often
connected by name with either political divisions or landforms. The Bukidnons, for
example, are located in a province of the same name. The Agusans, who live near the
Agusan River Valley, are named according to their location.
The eight Manobo groups are all very similar, differing only in dialect and in some
aspects of culture. The distinctions have resulted from their geographical separation.
The Manobo usually build their villages near small bodies of water or forest
clearings, although they also opt for hillsides, rivers, valleys, and plateaus. The
communities are small, consisting of only 4-12 houses. They practice slash-and-burn
Manobo people most families in this community depend on root crops and what
is caught in the forest for their food. However, food can sometimes be scarce so often
times dried fish and rice has to be bought in the barangay market (5km down the
mountain). Inside this research are instances of their cooking practices, on how they
prepare on their food.
The most common lifestyle of the Manobo is that of rural agriculture.
Unfortunately, their farming methods are very primitive. For example, the Bukidnon
grow maize and rice as their principal crops. Some of the farmers have incorporated
plowing techniques, while others have continued to use the "slash-and-burn" method.
The Cotabato use a farming system called kaingin. This is a procedure in which fields
are allowed to remain fallow for certain periods of time so that areas of cultivation may
be shifted from place to place. This is very inefficient since many plots of land are not
being used at one time.
The present Manobo dresses like any other rustic Cantilangnon. In the olden
times, the males only covered the lower portions of their bodies with bahag (g-strings)
which was made of pounded treebark while the females wore the tapis wrapped tightly
from the waistline down to about a palms length above the knees. The tapis that
extended to the ground was called the saja.
Their scanty attires were usually made from barks of the trees which were
pounded or beaten to softness to make these pliable for wrapping the womenfolks body
contours. It was told and recalled that these upland women did not cover their breasts,
thereby exposing their nipples. Covering the lower portions of their bodies was in accord
with their traditional practices of morality. It was then instinctive.
The old Manobos were colorfully dressed during the years when they learned to
weave cotton fabrics or when they bought these from the traders. They prepared the
fabrics with stripes of red or black or anything having a maze of colors. Women blouses
with short sleeves and striped patadiongs were wrapped from their waistlines down to
the knees.
The men wore long sleeves with pants that were tight from the waistlines down
the knees. In most cases, the womenfolk wore tight close-neck blouses without collars
but decorated with colored crystal beads with glittering sequences. The men folk wore
kerchiefs called prong. The womenfolk did not have any head gear. Their hair were
neatly combed with the inggos (knotted hair) set on the tops of the heads. The inggos
was usually decorated with combs and some colored beads called libidos. The
Manobos did not have any footwear.
These groups speak many different languages and dialects. This has made
learning to speak and write their languages very difficult for outsiders. The smaller
cultures are being pressed upon by larger groups that surround them. Because of this,
they fear losing their original languages and cultural idiosyncrasies. An effort must be
made to preserve their original culture so that these fears will be calmed.
The religious beliefs of the Manobo revolve around the concept of many unseen
spirits interfering in the lives of humans and can intrude human activities to accomplish
their desires. The spirits are also believed to have human characteristics. They are both
good and evil in nature and can be evoked to both anger and pleasure. While the
religious practices of the Manobo vary slightly, there seems to be at least one common
thread linking them together. Each culture believes in one "great spirit." This "great
spirit" is usually viewed as the creator figure.
Animism, the fear of evil spirits, is the mainspring of tribal religion. Every village
will have at least one spirit priest, usually a man. Animal sacrifices are required to
appease the offended spirit in times of illness.
The Manobo are both strong in mind and spirit, their cultural identity is firmly
rooted in the land and its nature. It is maintained through storytelling, language, family
and the passing on of traditional skills and arts. The traditional way of life has not ended
for most Manobos, like any other tribal community in Mindanao, the Manobo have faced
many cultural challenges in their past and will encounter even more in the future. They
strive to uphold their values and traditions even while living in a modern society, faced
with new realities, ready to compete in the modern economic world instead of the world
of nature.
As a student, we should treat indigenous groups as they themselves expected to
be treated. We should respect and treat them as family because they are still part of our
community even though we do have different cultures. Yes, we may only know them by
their names, not their history nor the reason why they have that kind of culture. But still,
we should respect their culture as we want our culture to be respected.
We were amazed about the culture of Manobo Group, because they were able to
preserve their culture throughout the years. They truly love and respect their own
culture, they are disciplined people. We believe that their culture is unique because of
their own traditions and laws in their society.
In partial fulfillment of the requirement in UCSP
Submitted by: Lyrah Manio
Gabriel Quito
Henrico Pascual
Raven Tongol
Lorenzo Gozum
July 27, 2017
Submitted to: Ms. Carla Jane Sitchon