The Mamanwa (variously called Conking, Mamaw, Amamanusa, Manmanua, Mamaua, Mamanwa) are one of the three groups that occupy a very distinct position in Philippine populations. Heretofore, the Mamanwa has been classified as a Negrito subgroup, but physical anthropological data indicate otherwise. The Mamanwa form a distinct branch from the rest of the Philippine populations which include the various groups of the Negrito, and the Austronesian-speaking peoples which now comprise the modern populations. The Mamanwa appear to be an older branch of population appearances in the Philippines affecting to some extent the Negrito of northeastern Luzon. Like all the Negrito groups in the country, the Mamanwa speak a language that is basically that of the dominant group about them.

       The national population is about 1,922 (NSO 1990) with concentrations in Agusan del Norte (725) principally in Kitcharao (300) and Santiago (430) (NSO 1980). The people, however, are very mobile, continually relocating themselves in search of subsistence. Lately, they have moved into Southern Leyte.

       The lifeway of the Mamanwa is founded on slash-and-burn cultivation on small patches and minimal wet rice agriculture. Food gathering is heavily relied upon. The bow and arrow which was once important in hunting is no longer in use. Patron-client relationships with members of the surrounding group operate to some extent to provide them with subsistence needs. Settlements are generally small, numbering from three to twenty households in high ridges or valleys. The houses are usually arranged in a circle. Traditionally, dwellings are without walls.

       A community is usually composed of kindred. Leadership resides in the oldest and most respected male. The role is not inherited but must be earned.

Distribution of Ethnic Groups by Provinces
(Arrangement: Population count)
Total National Population 1,922
Agusan del N. 961
Basilan 21
Bataan 10
Bohol 20
Camiguin 10
Cebu 11
Davao Or. 10
Davao S. 10
Ilocos N. 31
Iloilo 10
La Union 31
Laguna 22
Negros Occ. 22
Negros Or. 11
Pampanga 49
Pangasinan 10
Quezon 19
Rizal 20
Sorsogon 11
S. Cotabato 10
Surigao del N. 489
Surigao del S. 71 (NM 1990:50)
Zamboanga S. 10
Kalookan 10
Manila 11
Quezon City 32