The Mandaya are a complex group (Mangwanga, Mangrangan, Managosan, Magosan, Pagsupan, Divavaonon, Dibabaon, Mansaka) and can be found in Davao Oriental province where there is a population of some 22,000 (NSO 1980). The national population is about 172,506 (NM 1994). They are concentrated in the municipalities of Caraga (6,860), Manay (2,770), Cateel (2,665), Lupon (3,055), and Tarragona (2,935). The known subgroupings are: (1) Mansaka, (2) Pagsupan, (3) Mangwanga (Mangrangan, Compostela), (4) Managosan (Magosan), and (5) Divavaon (Dibabaon, Mixed ManoboMandaya), (6) Karaga, (7) Mansaka (NSO 1980).

       They occupy the upstream areas, practicing slash-and-burn cultivation in highly dispersed settlements. Apart from the wide range of cropping that they do for domestic consumption, abaca is cultivated as a cash crop. Rice, various tubers, and bananas form the bulk of the diet. Communities are dispersed usually near swiddens. Houses are usually occupied by two or three family units, and these are usually within sight even if dispersed. Proximity of these houses constitutes a neighborhood which is loosely organized into a larger discrete domain with all the households related through several crosscutting kin relationships. Families are either nuclear or polygynous.

       Traditionally, each domain has a headman, bagani, whose word is considered law and who wears distinctive clothing. His rule is tempered by an advisory council, angtutukay, usually composed of elders in the community. With the disappearance of the bagani structure at present the civil structures of the barangay prevails.

       The Mandaya/Mansaka are famous for their distinctive dress and ornamentation. The tie-dye weaving and embroidery by the women is linked up with a sophisticated symbolic art system that evolved design motifs that are provided with names. The beadwork and silver craft on body ornaments marks this group as one of the most noteworthy of Philippine indigenous peoples in terms of art.


Distribution of Ethnic Groups by Provinces
(Arrangement: Population count)
Total National Population 33,847
+ 138,659
Agusan del S. 58
Cebu 41
Davao 15,496 (NM 1991:54,065)
Davao Or. 17,457 (NM 1991:116,650)
Davao del S. 603 (NM 1991:1,500)
Maguindanao 10
N. Cotabato 49
Rizal 10
S. Cotabato 104
Surigao del S. 19