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SONIA D. MANGUNE

       The Bagobo constitute one of the largest groups among the indigenous peoples of southern Mindanao.  They are composed of three (3) sub-groups, namely  the TAGABAWA, the CLATA or GUIANGAN and the UBO.  Although they belong to one socio-linguistic group, BAGOBO, they also differ in some ways, such as the dialects, dance steps, costumes and their color preferences to mention a few.

       They are referred to as ethnic because they are the people whose distinctive identity is rooted in history.   From the beginning and up to the present, the Bagobo are the predominant inhabitants of the vast areas extending from the west coast of Davao Gulf to the high reaches of Davao’s famous and significant mountain ranges of Mt. Apo or Apo Sandawa to the tribal people.

       Apo Sandawa happens to be the sacred grounds of the Bagobo since time immemorial, valued as one among the group’s richest cultural heritage.  It is the homeland of the world-known Philippine eagle as well.

       Today, changes can be easily observed  and it is due to the influences of foreign cultures such as those of the Spaniards, Japanese, Americans and other neighboring countries.  Lately, the existence and encounters between the CPP-NPA, the military forces and other armed groups in their ancestral domain/lands forced them to adapt and accept realities surrounding them in their struggle for survival.

       These encounters also ended or drastically diminished some of the traditions, beliefs and practices and even the culture itself.

       Its political structure was composed of the Chieftains called “Matanum,” the Council of Elders, the Magani’s, the Babaylans and the slaves called “Al-lang” in the native dialect.   The Datu can have as many wives as he can but upon the recommendation and approval of the first wife.  In marriage, age is not an issue for as long as arrangements and settlements are reached, agreed upon and complied with by both parties.  All conflicts and problems are finally addressed and resolved by the Chieftain with the Council of Elders.

       Food is abundant enough to be able to supply the community for the next harvest season.  the weavers are able to supply the needs for clothing.  In fact, a Bagobo weaver, Salinta Monon, won this years’  Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) for her handloom weaving, a proof of the Bagobo artistry and craftsmanship.  Environmental preservations and utilization of natural resources are properly dealt with by the people according to their tradition, practices and culture.

       Todays’ Bagobo have gone a long way.  Though mostly are still in the hinterlands.  There are also others who had become professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, lawyers, government employees and officials.

About the Author:
Sonia D. Mangune is a member of the District Federation of Tribal Councils and is president of IPS Council for Children. She works as Records Officer at the Mayor’s Office, Davao City.