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LUMAD is a Bisayan term meaning “native” or “indigenous”. It is adopted by a group of 15 from a more than 18 Mindanao ethnic groups in their Cotabato Congress in June 1986 to distinguish them from the other Mindanaons, Moro or Christian. Its usage was accepted during the Cory Administration when R.A. 6734, the word Lumad was used in Art. XIII sec. 8(2) to distinguish these ethnic communities from the Bangsa Moro.

       At present, Mindanao Lumads account for 2.1 million out of the total 6.5 million indigenous people nationally. (1993 Census) these fifteen Lumads in the Cotabato Congress were the following:

Subanen, B’laan, Mandaya, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig, Ubo, Manobo, T’boli, Tiruray, Bagobo,Tagakaolo, Dibabawon, Manguangan, and Mansaka.

       They are found in the following towns and cities:

Cotabato, Tandag, Dipolog, Kidapawan, Marbel, Tagum, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Malaybalay,Pagadian, Butuan, Surigao, OzamisIpil, Digos, Mati and Dipolog.


       About the 11th century, called the “emergent period” by the anthropologist, F. Landa Jocano, the dynamic interactions between the indigenous cultural elements and that of the migrants brought about the eventual narrowing down into distinct ethnic groups. Pigafetta, Magellan’s chronicler in 1521, mentioned four Mindanao groups as: Caragan, Mandanaos, Lutaos, Subanus and Dapitans. Apparently, the Caragans were found in the Misamis Oriental, Agusan, Bukidnon area. The Mandanaos in Central Mindanao; Lutaos in Zamboanga del Sur and Basilan; Subanus and Dapitans in Zamboanga del Sur and del Norte; and the Dapitans in Zamboanga del Norte provinces as these are called today.

       Called ” infieles” during the Spanish regime, the subjugation of the Lumads was equally important as that of the Muslims. Thus, Jesuit missions were established near infieles territories. They were found among the Tiruray in Cotabato; among the Subanons in Dapitan; among the Manuvus and Caragans in Misamis and Surigao; and among the Bilaans in Davao.

       Economically, Lumads practiced swidden agriculture depending on the land’s productivity. Communal sharing of resources based on the belief of the sacredness of land and nature as divine endowments define their relationship with their environment. Their socio-political arrangements were varied. The Mandaya were led by their bagani or warrior while the Bagobos, Manuvu as well as most of the Lumads by their datu. The Datu’s subjects were his sacops. The Lumad remained isolated and withdrawn from the hills and forest that were difficult to penetrate. The Spanish colonial strategy was to begin colonization along the coast towards the plains for purposes of trade and political consolidation. During the Revolution of 1896, Lumads joined a band ofdeportados and boluntarios who started a mutiny in Marawi City against their Spanish superiors. They roamed the Misamis Oriental area, harrassing and wrecking havoc on Chinese and Spanish-owned business establishments. They were fully armed and looked “healthy”. They were led by an armed Lumad named Suba who had his own trumpeteers announce their coming. They were later known to have joined a group of rebels on the Agusan area who left to join the Katipuneros of Luzon.

       The Lumads in Mindanao resisted against American colonization. In 1906, Gov. Bolton of Davao was murdered by the Bagobos in the area. Between 1906-1908 the Tungud Movement of the Lumads in Davao spread through Agusan and Bukidnon. A Subanon uprising against the Americans occurred between 1926-27. The coming of the Japanese in Davao was resisted by the Bagobos between 1918 to 1935 as the latter threatened to displace them from their homelands for business purposes.

       When American rule was consolidated, a systematic policy to integrate Mindanao and Sulu began. Lumads and the Muslims were grouped under a tribal system. In Davao there were 6 (Ata, Guiangga, Mandaya, Manobos, Tagakaolo); 18 in Cotabato, 13 in Lanao; 9 in Sulu; 5 in Zamboanga; 56 in subdistricts. The District Governor who headed the wards had a deputy in the person of the Lumad datu.

       Moreover, American rule and later during the Commonwealth, the Lumad landscape changed. For instance in the plains of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato, Blaan Lumads gave way to the Dole pineapple plantations; Higaonons and Talaandigs who thrived by the plains of Bukidnon were neighbors to the Del Monte plantations. By the 1960’s bulldozers, cranes and giant trucks were ubiquitous in the area of the Banwaons. Foreign agribusiness covered a thousand to 3,000 ha. of Lumad lands in Bukidnon-Davao area.

       Thus, concern for the Lumads in Mindanao during the contemporary times focused on the development projects that threaten to displace the Lumads from their homeland. An example of this is the hydroelectric project of the PNOC based in Mt. Apo which is being resisted by the Bagobo in Davao. Legislations for the protection of ancestral lands by the cultural communities had been passed by Congress. Senate Bill 1728, sponsored by Juan Flavier entitled, Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 seeks to “recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities and to appropriate funds for the purpose.


       Most recently, new heroes among the Lumads were put to the fore in commemoration with the Centennial Celebration of the Philippine Revolution. A Manobo Protestant pastor, Mars Daul, researched on the history of the Lumad warriors through interviews with his forebears. These heroes are Datu Balingan, who defended the Mansaka and Mandaya ethnic groups in Davao Oriental from the hands of the Spanish official, Capt. Uyanguren; also Datu Bago of the Bagobo ethnic group fought Uyanguren in Davao City and Putaw Tumanggong, a Manobo chieftain who is Daul’s grandfather. Tumanggong led his men in fighting the Spaniards and the Americans at the turn of the century. In Sarangani, the group B’laan leader Sigalu joined forces with Datu Lumanda, who made the Spanish fleet retreat to its base in Cebu . However, according to Daul, some Lumads refrained from fighting the Spaniards such as the Tirurays because the Spaniards built them schools and chapels. The historicity of Mars Daul’s research however still has to be verified.

About the Author:
Faina Ulindang is a professor at the Department of History, Mindanao State University, Marawi City and Lecturer at its Graduate School.