The Subanun or people of the upstream (Subanen, Subanon) may be found on the western flank of Mindanao, in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte (204,056 NM 1994) and Zamboanga del Sur (193,305 NM 1994). The population is estimated at 407,495 (NM 1994) with core areas in Katipunan (10,255) and Lapuyan (10,510) municipalities (NSO 1980). The known subgroups are due to linguistic variations: (1) Misamis, (2) Lapuyan, (3) Sindangan, (4) Tuboy, and (5) Salug.
The cultural adaptation is upland and swidden cultivation. The traditional settlement pattern is highly dispersed with a few residential structures on top of ridges near potable water sources, which are placed adjacent to cultivated fields. Locations near springs rather than streams are preferred. Rice is the preferred food but fields are also planted to corn, sweet potato, and cassava. Land problems and degraded environment have forced some of the people to wet rice agriculture. Metal craft and weaving are practiced. They have maintained trade with coastal peoples through centuries. Present-day Subanon are nonaggressive, although there are indications that in the past the people were required to provide a “soul companion” for an important deceased relative.
Unique among the ethnic groups of the country is the Subanon set of rituals, buklog, that utilizes a huge dancing platform to which a log is attached that hits a hollowed sounding board on the ground.
A subgroup, the Subanen, is related to the Subanon but concentrated in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte with a total population of 52,600 (NSO 1980).