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       Teduray (Tirurai) is one of the major Indigenous Peoples of  Southern Philippines. This indigenous group is composed of two distinct ethnic groups — the Teduray and the Lambangian.  The word Teduray comes from the word Tew meaning man and Duray referring to a small bamboo with a hook and a line fishing instrument. The Tedurays are known for their distinct and unique culture, beliefs, customs and traditions. These people exhibits strong family ties but are too dependent on other members who are more influential and affluent in the community. The Teduray are honest, soft-spoken, shy, sensitive and soft-hearted people. They are also hospitable and peace-loving. A klakafan or a traveler who is still on the road by night fall,  in a fenuwo where he does not know anybody, can knock at the nearest Teduray dwelling where he will be readily accepted and given the respect and hospitality extended to strangers and guests alike.

       Teduray are scattered in different provinces in Mindanao like Agusan, Bukidnon, Davao, Lanao and in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga and Manila, Cotabato Province is the main place of origin of the Teduray and Lambangian peoples with the estimated population 350, 925. In Central Mindanao-Region XII, Teduray used to have the highest number of population among the 21 ethnolinguistic groups with total population of 239,475, but due to the devolvement of Maguindanao Province to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) the population was reduced to 67,745. The Teduray in Central Mindanao-Region XII are found in Cotabato City, Municipalities of Columbio, Isulan, Tacurong, Bagumbayan, Esperanza, Kalamansig and Lebak, Sultan Kudarat Province; Alamada, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, Antipas, Arakan, Kidapawan City, President Roxas and Tulunan, Cotabato Province. In the later part of 1889, Teduray are scattered all over the undivided Cotabato and concentrated in the Southwestern mountain of the province. Some Teduray leaders have classified and further named themselves after the place where they come from — the Tew Dage, Tew Dawa, Tew Dogot, and Tew Tudok. Although the Teduray belong to one ethnic group, they differ in some ways like their dialect intonation, rituals, dress and color identities.

       The economy of the Teduray is basically agriculture. Their primary means of livelihood is farming. Their other sources of income are fishing, hunting and mini handicraft production. Majority of the farmers still practice slash-and-burn methods of farming. Thus, most of the farmers get marginal production which is very insufficient to serve the needs of their families. Teduray still observe and practice the following traditional ways of life:

       1. The planting star is observed during the months of December to January — the period for upland farming. Farmers will only start to farm if the planting star is visible. To a fenuwo where the first rice field to be planted, the spiritual leader performs the ritual planting prayers  assisted by four Fintailans at the bagong/tudaor center of the farm. After the rituals, the palay seeds are distributed to the women planters with a spokesman giving the signal to start planting.

       2. In the courtship and marriage among the Teduray, the parental wish is obeyed. The mother of the man leads the search for the kenogon. Even the maternal grandparents help in this endeavor by calling on relatives to find a suitable wife. With a careful study of the woman’s background, the man’s party then sends out a spokesman to meet with the former’s parents and relatives and duly offers the tising, a contract for marriage. If the woman’s parents accepts the tising, within a week, they will then send their own spokesman with thebantingan over to the future groom’s house. The go-between will then state the amount of flasa for the marriage of the woman.

       3. Tudon/sumbaken — (baptismal) — this is officiated by the community Chieftain as assisted by two pairs of kefeduwans and Fintailans spokesmen for both grandparents. If the child is a boy, the maternal grandparents prepare the food. The paternal grandparents give a pair of dilek, sundang, and P100.00 pesos with other assorted valuables tamok items to the officiating chieftain through the spokesman for the child to sit on. If the child is a girl, the paternal grandparents give a pair of kemagi, gold necklace, dress, sutra muot, P100.00 place on a sinuratan and sukob ulew plates. The maternal grandparents give the food to the assisting fintailans to be eaten by the child first, and  later, to be shared by everyone. After the rituals, the officiating chieftain turns over all the items to the maternal grandparents through the spokesman. This tamok is called ensaran which serve as the point of reference to the amount of flasa or bantingan being asked for the marriage of the child.

       4. Burial — (Temlogon) — The Tedurays observe the seven days of prayers and offering before and until the internment. On the burial day before the cadaver is finally brought to the cemetery, the wife/husband and children pay the last respect to the dead by going around the coffin seven times. Then the wife/husband sits on one end of the coffin with the children gathered around it. The chieftain spokesman gives the fituwa andTogodon as part of the final parting ceremony for the dead.

       The political system among the Teduray is still the old type with the family as the basic unit of government and the father as the head. In the Fenuwo, composed of 10 to 30 families, the Kefeduwan is the leader of the council of elders and spokesman of the village. A kefeduwan is the person who is well-versed in Teduray customs and traditional laws. The kefeduwan is the model person in the community — honest, brave, and has the ability to influence the people witth the force of his personality and logic. Timuay is the highest rank and honor given to the leader or the Chieftain. Today, it is, observed that the future and promising strong and powerful leader of the Teduray are the educated and spiritual leaders. The mobile lifestyle, poverty, and poor education limited the socio-economic and political stability of the Teduray people. Although the Tedurays have long recognized the Philippine government, such beliefs remain with them.

       Generally, Tedurays are honest people, they respect the right of ownership, of occupancy, and abide by the first claim rule. If a person puts up a mark on a forest patch for a prospective kaingin farm and to signify an intent to claim the area, no one would dare encroach and trespass the boundaries in keeping with the Teduray laws.

Teduray Common Terms

Teduray – an organized and developed association of families preserving  their common culture, beliefs, customs, and traditions, way of life
Bagong/tuda – the enclosed area at the center of the field mark with rangga
Bantingan – the sum total of the major flasa required and to be given prior to the wedding of a couple
Chieftain – the highest rank and honor given to the kefeduwan through election and endorsement by the members of the council of elder in respective villages
Dilek – the set of spears
Duray – a small length of bamboo pole with a hook and line used for fishing
Ensaran Tamok – the sum total of flasa given to a married couple
Flasa – the total amount of dowries given as exchange price with respect to women in marriage
Fenuwo – a village occupied by a group of people composed of 10 to 30 families under a kefeduwan or chieftain leader
Fituwa – the final parting word of advise to the family and relatives of the departed loved one
Fintailan – the honor and rank given to women leaders like the wife, daughter of   kefeduwans, Chieftain and Timuay
Kefeduwan – the leader who is well-versed in the Teduray customary and traditional laws; spokesman of the peoples in the fenuwo
Kemagi – the gold necklaces for women
Kenogon – a young virgin lady
Klakafan – a traveler who is still on the road by night fall
Mobile life style – people who come and go from one place to another
Rangga – a bamboo mark with a crown-like nest where offerings are placed
Sundang – the double-edged kris
Subok ulew – a big soup bowl
Sinuratan – the big rice bowl
Sutra muot – the costly  muslim blanket with printed color decoration
Tew – people or man
Tew Dage – the people from the upper stream
Tew Dawa – the people from the lower stream
Tew Dogot – the people from the coastal area
Tew Tudok – the people from the mountain
Tegodon – the final parting words to the good work and soul of the departed loved one, asking him not to interfere with the work and life of the family and relatives
Tising – the token gift given to the parents as exchange price in the courtship contract for the marriage of the son and daughter
Timuay – the highest honor/rank given to the leader or Chieftain