MANGYAN TRIBES IN MINDORO
The term "sandugo" means "kapatid" and as generations pass it evolves into a shorter term "dugoy" or in a kanto term "'tol"


 
 

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General Overview

Mindoro 
     Capital : Mamburao 
     Area : 5,879.8 sq. km.
     Population : 282,593 

LOCATION 

Occidental Mindoro is the western part of the island of Mindoro, south of Batangas. It is bounded on the north by the Calavite Passage, on the east by Oriental Mindoro, on the west by ApoEast Pass, and on the south by the Mindoro Strait. 

THE LAND 

Occidental Mindoro consists of high rolling mountains in the east. To the west are coastal plains where the towns are situated. Numerous rivers flow from these mountain ranges: Pagbahan and  amburao-Matamayor in the north, Mompong and Amnay in the center, and Caguray and Busuanga in the south. The climate is dry from November to April and wet during the rest of the year. The province lies in the path of destructive typhoons. 

A BRIEF HISTORY 

Mindoro, formerly called Mait, was known to Chinese traders even before the coming of the Spanish. In 15 70, the Spanish began to explore the island and named it "Mina de Oro" (mineof gold) after finding some of the precious metal, though no major gold discoveries were ever made. Missionaries became  active around Ilin Island off the southern tip, Lubang Island off the northern tip,and Mamburao.  Moro  raids later forced them to abandon these places. In 1754, the Muslims established strongholds in Mamburao and Balete (near Sablayan). From there, they launched raids against nearby settlements. An expedition sent by Governor Simon de Anda put an end to these raids. 

In the early years, Mindoro was administered as part of Bonbon, now Batangas.Early in the 17th  century, the island was separated from Bonbon and orga- nized into a corregimiento. In 1902 the island of Lubang, which was formerly a part of Cavite, was annexed to Mindoro. In the same year Mindoro and Lubang were annexed to Marinduque when the latter became a regular province. Mindoro became a regular province in 1921. On June 13, 1950, under Republic Act No. 505, Mindoro was divided into two provinces, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. 

THE PEOPLE 

The plains of Occidental Mindoro are inhabited by the Tagalogs and the remote
forested interior by the  Mangyans. Extensive tribal settlements of Mangyans in the province belong to such sub-groups as the Iraya, Alangan, Tadyawan, Buhid, Hanunuo, and Bangon. The Mangyans aresimple people. They were once coastal dwellers driven into the mountains to avoid religious conversion by the Spaniards, raids by Moro pirates, and the influx of recent migrants. They now lead a semi-nomadic existence. Mangyans live in loose clusters of up to 20 bamboo huts with thatched roofs and raised floors. They sometimes are away from their families for many weeks in search of food. Men wear a loincloth of pounded bark while the women have a coil of woven nito, a sturdy black vine, and rattan around their hips. Mangyans practice animism and are superstitious. 

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY 

Occidental Mindoro is basically an agricultural province. The principal products are rice, coconut, peanut, and abaca. The inhabitants are also engaged in cattle and poultry raising, logging, and fishing. The waters on the west coast comprise one of the most important fishing grounds in the country. Hunting along the banks of the Busuanga River can yield deer, wild boars, and tamaraw. 

Mangyan Roots and History

For two decades, Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro has been the venue of one of the country’s most colorful celebrations – the Sanduguan Festival. Every November 15, the main thoroughfares in the city are closed to vehicles to give way to the dancing parade. Various groups of students from different levels re-enact the first barter trade through dance interpretations. They garb themselves in catchy costumes that are made from materials found in their hometown, such as calamansi and bananas. Tourists come in scores to join this yearly event. 

Mangyans were the first to inhabit the island of Mindoro. Comprising 10% of the whole Mindoro population, the Mangyans are composed of twelve tribes, each with its own language, culture, and way of life. There are the Iraya, Batangan, Buid, Hanuno'o, Alangan, Ratagnon, Tagaydan (or Tadyawan), Bangon, Pula, Buhid, Nauhan, and Furuan. 

For centuries, they lived peacefully along the coastal areas of Oriental Mindoro, where they fished for a living. That was until migrants from nearby islands settled on the island. To avoid disputes, the mild-mannered and peace-loving people gave up their land, moved to the mountains, and came down only for food and other necessities. 

Sadly, they have been treated as second class citizens like other indigenous people in the world -- for years often exploited, neglected, and discriminated against by lowlanders. They have experienced being misjudged as uneducated and uncivilized people. They often struggle with poverty. They survive by farming root crops and fruits, which is the only livelihood they know. 
 

A typical Mangyan house


According to hearsay, during the Spanish times, a Spanish ship sank in the oceans near Mindoro. Its passengers mostly Spanish soldiers and some of their families, rowed onto nearby shores and settled.  They discovered that it was inhabited by people the "mangyans."  Some of the soldiers sleep with female native and bore sons and daughters. Thus, their offsprings grew up handsome and beautiful. 

In some areas of Mindoro, there are Mangyan community whose people lives a better life in concrete houses, dresses like civilized people in lowlands, owned rice and corn plantation and even have vehicles.
 
 

A mangyan mother with her kids
 

The Mangyans were the only inhabitants of Mindoro before they were driven from the coasts into the mountainous areas by invading Tagalogs. They are a mixture of Austronesians, proto-Malays, Indian settlers and Malays. They once populated the whole island including the coasts. Since 150 years they have by and by been driven to the mountainous areas of the island by invading Tagalog settlers. Today their settlements can be found mainly in central cordillera and in secluded areas of Oriental Mindoro. There are now about 50,000 Mangyans living in Oriental Mindoro. The term Mangyan is a generic name for the diverse groups inhabiting the mountains and foothills. Individually, the groups identify themselves by other names. 

"Mangyan" is a collective name of uncertain origin for several tribes of which the main groups are: 
ALANGAN  6,000 to 7,000 (1991 SIL). North central Mindoro, around Mt. Halcon 
IRAYA 10,000 (1991 OMF). Northern Mindoro from Baco to Mamburao 
BUHID (BUKIL, BANGON, BATANGAN) 8,000 . Southern Mindoro 
TADYAWAN (PULA, TADIANAN, BALABAN) 2,000 . East central Mindoro 
HANUNOO (HANONOO) 10,000 to 12,000. Southern Oriental Mindoro 

Some Mangyans in remote areas have conserved their traditional lifestyle - hunting with bows and arrows and gathering food. The majority though practices small-scale and self-supporting agriculture and exchange of products. Tagalog planters employ them for "dirty work" such as cleaning the plantations from unwanted plants or even converting forests into plantations - which contributes to further reduction of their habitats. 

The Hanunoo tribe seems to be less affected by influences of the Tagalog speaking population - maybe also because their settlements in  the mountains are located in an area dominated by the New People's Army guerilla.

Their way of living
Most of them rely on planting rice, corn, vegetables and hunting wild animals to support their every day living. A male at age 16 can become a family man if he can build his own house. A house made up of coconut leaves, bamboo, tree for its pillar,  and other materials. 

During Christmas season, they go down to lowlands with some of their handicrafts to sell of exchange for anything such as clothes, foods and others. 

A mangyan is very much willing and happy to give their live chicken in exchange for a can of sardines. For them, sardines is a very special food. 
 


 

Few years ago, the government passed a law declaring some mountains of Mindoro a National Park and Prohibits the hunting of the Tamaraws.... 
 

... the Mangyans became angry because they felt ignored and instead (animals) Tamaraws were given more importance. They  said "Buti pa ang hayop, may batas para sila ay pangalagaan samantalang kami ay balewala"
 

 

HANUNUO 

Hanuno Mangyans can be found within the territorical jurisdiction of the towns of Mansalay and San Pedro (Bulalacao) along the periphery of Southeastern Mindoro. Their population is approximately 66,132. 

Hanuno means "true," "real" or "genuine." According to Conklin, when he asked the what kind of Mangyans they were, the Mangyans' answers to his queries were nothing else but their claim to be true, real and genuine Mangyans. True enough because among the Mangyans they have remained faithful to the traditions of their ancestors. 
 


A traditional Mangyan 'milling machine' 


 The Hanunuos are fairly tall in structure, and their bodies are slim and well proportioned. They have oblique eyes, flat nose, prominent cheekbone, flat forehead, and olive skin. Men have their custom of sporting a long braided hair in the upper part of their head with the rest of their hair cut short, if not shaved. Women hang up their hair behind their heads, sometimes held in place by a beaded band, which serves as ornament.They have a small, even set of teeth caused by their common practice of filing their teeth while young. 
 


A mangyan woman weaving cloth in 
a 'weaving machine'

Being more stationary than the other Mangyans, their houses are more permanent structures made out of light materials, elevated up to four or five feet from the ground, supported by bamboo posts or sturdy forest lumber and roofed with nipa materials or cogon grass. The whole house is one big room used for sleeping, eating, workroom, etc. 

Majority of the Hanuno men still cling to the age-old custom of using the G-string, but those who have intermarried with the lowlanders substituted G-string with short pants. The women cover themselves with a rectangular pieces of the cloth with both and sewn them together which serve as skirt. They both wear an upper garment, a long sleeved, tight-fitting shirt called the balukas for men and lambong for women. For everyday use, they have a short sleeved one that they call subon for both sexes. They us a woven belt called nito and wear beaded band around their necks and arms. 

Hanunuo possess a system of writing which is a descendant of the ancientSnaskrit alphabet. In the Mangyans syllabary, there are eighteen characters, three of which are vowels and the other fifteen characters are written combine those vowels. For writing materials, they use the siyaw or a bolo-shaped kinife for inscribing and the bamboo, either split or whole, for paper. 
During merrymaking, the musical joust is the participated in both sexes. Gitgit, Kudyapi, Kinaban, all string instruments are usually played by men while those played by women are the lantuy (a bamboo flute), taghup or tanghup (a whistle made out of bamboo). Like the music, the ambahan (a poem of lines of seven syllables) has found its place as a tool for courting women. 

Social life among the Hanunuos revolves around the family. Mangyan girls marry at an early age. During courtship, a young man convinces the girl of his intention through the use of ambahan. In between the recitations, he plays his subing, a three-star guitar. Marriage plans are done by both parents including the dowry. The actual wedding is short, the greater part consists of admonitions, and advises dispensed by a magdadniw a kind of minister. 

Relation of the individual to the community is one dominated by the spirit of cooperation and togetherness. They have no written laws. Their elders verbally in the form of counsel or advice have handed down whatever they have in the form of laws to them. In some cases, when troubles arise, the disputants settle their differences in the presence of an elder, the judge who decides the matter. Justice is then meted out to the offended parties. Different offenses are given different punishment. 

Hanunuos have two burial occasions. The first takes place soon after death. The second after a year or two years when the bones have to be exhumed. They believe in a Supreme Being called Maha na Makaako who watches over them and love them. They also believe that their Supreme Being has a son called Presidents who executes his father's command. They also believe in evil spirits and in immortality. 

IRAYA 
The term iraya is said to mean "man" or "human being." The Iraya are the Mangyans of Mindoro who occupy the northwestern part of Mindoro Island. The estimated population of the Iraya-Mangyan is 10, 689 distributed around 141 settlements in the Municipalities of Abra de Ilog, Mamburao and Paluan.

According to the Iraya customs and traditions, the family is considered as the basic unit of production and consumption. Their kindred system is traced to both the father and mother's links which their system refer to us guruan. The nuclear family is referred to us talnakan wherein their already exists a social order. The eldest takes the place of the parents during their absence and is one considered the second parent. He/She is likewise considered the intermediar between the parents and the younger siblings. 
 

A Mangyan wearing a G-string and a t-shirt.

Among the Iraya, leadership is provided by the puon-balayan, in the local group referred to as sanguraan composed of closely related families. Moral and legal problems are referred to the puon-balayan for decision. Any criminal act or offense done is corrected with the use of either the pangaw or tige. Pangaw is the Iraya's version of the detention cell. Tige on the other hand is a punishment wherein the suspects of a particular offense are called and are ordered to immerse their right hand in a pot of boiling water to pick up the white stone at the bottom of the pot. Anyone of the susupects whose right hand gets burned is considered to be the guilty party. It is believed that the innocent parties will not get burned in this particular test because Apo Iraya will protect them from harm. 

RATAGNON 
The Ratagnon who are sometimes called the Latagnon or Datagnon occupy the southernmost tip of the Mindoro Island facing the Sulu Sea. The Ratagnon of the Occidental Mindoro has an estimated population of 17, 562 scattered in around 200 Ratagnon settlements

Like all the other Mangyan communities, the Ratagnon are engaged in swidden agriculture. Their villages are not formally developed and settlements of four to five houses per settlements are located apart from each other. A typical Ratagnon house is made of indigenous materials - mostly of wood, bamboo, and nipa. 

Some of the male members of the Ratagnon community still wear their traditional dress which consists of a loincloth as a lower garment. The women wear woven cotton used as wrap-around matched with an upper garment made of handwoven nito just enough to cover the breasts.