The indigenous people of Mindanao
There are more than 40 different
ethnic groups in the Philippines.
Each group has a distinct culture and
language. Several of these ethnic groups can be distinguished as
"tribal groups". They are 'indigenous groups' who still live in a rather traditional
way. Each group lives in a specific region on one of the islands. You
can meat them in parts of Luzon, on some of the Visayas islands and on Mindanao.
T'boli and B'laan, two indigenous groups
Mindanao live 18 tribal Filipino groups. The most well known are the T'boli
and the B'laan (or "Bla-an"). The other groups are the Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, Bukidnon, Dibabawon,
Mamanwa, Mandaya, Mangguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Subanen, Tagakaolo, Teduray and the
of these 'indigenous groups' is that they live in a traditional way, comparable with
how the ancestors lived centuries ago.
Lumad, the collective name
On Mindanao there are in total 18
indigenous groups. The collective name for the 18
indigenous groups on Mindanao is "Lumad". It is just another
word for 'indigenous' .These ethnic groups distinguish themselves
by their language and culture.
and new elements in their life
The cultural heritage is visible in
their clothes and ornaments they wear. Housing,
cultural habits and often
religion are all very traditional. Some groups learned to know tourism as a good alternative to earn
extra money. In general however, the indigenous groups still live like
in the past
T'boli and their subsistence activities
The T'boli (pronounce
"Tiboli") people live in the southern part of the province
the environment around lake Sebu, west of the city General Santos. It is estimated that are between
100000 and 150000 T'boli. In the past the T'boli practiced the primitive way of agriculture
"slash and burn". "Slash and burn" means that
the people will 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. Rice, cassava and yams
were the most important agricultural products. Next to that, the people
hunting or fishing for additional food.
For years slash and burn is
no longer possible. The forests are gone by intensive economic
activities as foresting. At present The T'boli live in the mountains.
Agriculture is the only source of income. Some foreigners, in cooperation
with the aid organization Cord Aid, succeeded in developing some
hectares of arable land in the last few years. Nevertheless, the T'boli
live in poor circumstances; a struggle for live.
© Jens Peters
T'boli distinguish their selves, like all other "tribal
Filipinos", by their colorful clothes and specific ornaments like
rings, bracelets and earrings.
a few T'boli are Christian or Islamite. More than 95 percent of The
T'boli people still has their animistic religion. They were hardly influenced
by the spread of the Islam on the island. The Spaniards too, didn't
succeed to Christianize the T'boli during the
Spanish colonial period. Main
reason was that the T'boli withdrew to the hinterlands in the
T'boli and members of other indigenous tribes like the
still believe in spirits who live on several places in the
Indigenous tribes and Animism
a strong belief in the power of the spirits of ancestors and in
the influence of more than one god. More
to their way of living
decades there are threats of land problems. The steady population growth
of their own people and especially the pressure on the lands by lowland farmers and foreign and local
companies. The lowland farmers (often landless) are
seeking for arable land. The companies are most of the time
interested in the natural resources in these areas. Mining, new
plantations and logging, are the threats to the
T'boli and their homelands.