Different Ethnolinguistic Groups in the Philippines
History and Government
Different Ethnoliguistic Groups in the
Fernandez, RoidenFredrich M.
Reciña, Byron B.
1. Capiznons- Folk history recorded in the Maragtas by pedroMonteclaro says ten
Borneardatu landed at a site now known as San
Joaquin town in Iloilo province. They purchased
Panay from the Aeta, cultivated the land, and
renamed the island Madya-as. They divided it into
three communities: Irong-irong, Akean (which
includes the Capiz area), and Hamtik. These were loosely united under a government
called the Confederation of Madya-as.
Beliefs of Capiznons
The early Panayanon believed in many gods. Bulalakaw, a bird which looked
like a peacock and could cause illness, was said to live in the island's sacred mountain
called Madya-as. A chief goddess was believed to reside in the mountain of the
nearby island of Negros Occidental. Shw was called Laon, after whom Mt. Kanlaon is
named. Mediators to the gods, also said to be the first priests, were: Bangutbanwa,
who prayed for good harvests and an orderly universe; Mangindalon, who interceded
for sick persons and prayed for the punishment of enemies; and Soliran and Solian,
who performed marriage ceremonies. Manunubo was the good spirit of the sea.
Arts of Capiznons
The traditional weaving method of pina is called pili or sinuksuk. This is a
floating weft technique accomplished after cloth weaving. A typical design is a
cluster of five-petal flowers surrounding a butterfly. This is repeated in a series along
the borders of the cloth.
2. Cebuano- "Cebuano" comes from the root word "Cebu," the Spanish version of the
original name "Sugbo,"
which most probably comes from the verb "sugbo,"
meaning "to walk in the water." In the old days, the
shores of the Cebu port were shallow, so travellers
coming from the sea had to wade in the water to get
to dry land. The term is suffixed with "-hanon" to refer to the language, culture, and
inhabitants of Cebu; hence "Sugbuhanon" or "Sugbuanon." The Spaniards later
Sugbuhanon to "Cebuano" and the early Americans to "Cebuan." Today Cebuano
may also refer to the speaker of the language no matter where he comes from.
Beliefs of Cebuano
Many Cebuano, especially the less Westernized and the rural ones, continue to be
firm believers in the existence of spirits. Despite the fact that this belief stem from pre-
Christian animist tradition, they persist to this day, and are very blended with Catholicism.
There is strong belief in spiritual beings who are capable of assuming any form and causing
illness to those who offend them. The evil spells they cast on people can be driven away by
performing rituals, reciting prayers in Spanish or Latin, making offerings, using the crucifix
and holy water. Often times the folk healers or mediums like the babaylan, tambalan, and
mananapit are asked to perform rituals to drive away the spirits. Spirits may appear as: the
tamawo, a fairy that dwells in big trees, and occasionally falls in love with mortals, who upon
death enters the spiritual world of the tamawo; the tumao, the creature with one eye in the
middle of its face that goes out only during new moon; the cama-cama, a mountain gnome
of light brown color, whose great strength may cause
great pain on all mortals who displease it; and the aswang, an evil spirit which can be
disguised as a man or a woman at night, helped by its agents like the tictic and silic-silic
Arts of Cebuano
Rarely can a Visayan be found, "unless he is sick, who ceases to sing except when he is
asleep"- thus remarked 17th century Jesuit chronicler Francisco Alzina on the prodigious
activity of Visayans in the field of music. He noted, with much amazement, not only the fact
that Visayans seemed to be singing all the time but that they played musical instruments
with such dexterity, they could-by just playing such instruments as the kudyapi (guitar of
lute) and korlong (fiddle)- "speak and make love to one another" ((Alzina 1668, III:64, 678-
3. Bicolano- the Bicol region was known as ibalon, variously interpreted to derive from
ibalio, “to bring to the other side”, ibalon, “ people from
the other side or “ people who are hospitable and give
visitors gifts to bring home. The region was also called
“Los Camarines” after the huts found by the Spaniard inBicol Penafrancia Festival
Beliefs of Bicolano
Bicol religiosity is deeply rooted. Sometimes Christian faith is expressed through
indigenous forms, and cycle, talismans, and divination survive in the consciousness of the
contemporary Bicol, even educated.
Arts of Bicolano
Paracale, “ the golden country” in Camarines Norte, has grown to be center of
jewelry making tradition. Although the art has declined since colonial times, some antique
styles have survived the centuries like that agrimon.
4. Palawan- They live in the southern part, starting from the breach in the mountain
range between Quezon and Abo-Abo. The tagbanua live in
the central part, concentrated in the Aborlan area, but are
also present in northern Cuyo archipelago. They lives in the
forest farther north, between Puerto Princesa and Roxas
Beliefs of Palawan
In Palawan cosmogony Ampu, the Master, wove the world and created several kinds
of humanity, hence he is called Nagsalad, the Weaver. He is the supreme deity in a system of
religious thought that can be qualified as “theist” and animist”. He is protective watching
presence, always invisible to tawbanan or the real people. This is diwata, a mediator
between humans and Ampu.
Arts of Palawan
For daily uses the Palawan make functional objects which are delicate and simple.
The works, made of rattan, wood, bamboo and leaves, emanate form nature and integrate
into it. There is no violent contrast of colors, but a variation of greens and yellows.
5. Subanon- History has better words to speak for Misamis Occidental. Its principal city
was originally populated by the Subanon, a cultural
group that once roamed the seas in great number, the
province was an easy prey to the marauding sea
pirates of Lanao whose habit was to stage lightning
forays along the coastal areas in search of slaves. As the Subanon retreated deeper
and deeper into the interior, the coastal areas became home to inhabitants from
Bukidnon who were steadily followed by settlers from nearby Cebu and Bohol. The
name Subanon, "which is derived from the word suba, "river," means a river people.
Beliefs of Subanon
In sharp contrast to the surrounding peoples who have adopted Christianity or Islam,
the Subanon cling to their ancient polytheistic religion. They believe that man shares the
universe with a variety of gods, spirits, demons, and ghosts. These supernatural forces are
said to have the ability to harm humans. However, humans supposedly have the power to
harm them as well. At various times of the year, the Subanon give offerings of rice, meat,
and wine to the gods and ancestral spirits. Witch doctors, or shamans, play a large role in
Subanon religion. The people depend on the shamans to hear and understand the wishes of
the gods and ancestral spirits.
Arts of Subanon
The dances and rituals now found among Filipinos in the hinterlands suggest that
indigenous drama had begun to evolve from attempts to control the environment.
1. Yakan- refers to the majority Muslim group in Basilan, an island just south
of Zamboanga province in Mindanao. The Spaniards
called them Sameacas and considered them an aloof
and sometimes hostile hill people (Wulff 1978:149;
Beliefs of Yakan
A combination of Islamic principles and traditional beliefs -- best describes the Yakan
belief system. The belief in saytan, the various spirits in heaven and in the natural
environment, indicates the lingering influence of pre-Islamic religious beliefs. Yakan pre-
Islamic practices are also combined with Islamic rituals, for example, in the planting rituals,
death rituals, spirit worship, and ancestral offerings. As Muslims, theYakan believe in the
five pillars of Islam: the sahada, which says that there is no other God but Allah and that
Muhammad is his prophet; the salat or prayer; puasse or fasting during the month of
Ramadan; pitla or charity to the poor; zacat or tithes to Muslim religious leaders; and the
maghadji or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
Arts of Yakan
The Yakan have a rich musical tradition, which may be broadly divided into instrumental and
vocal. Yakan musical instruments are made of bamboo, wood, and metal. Their musical
instruments also demonstrate the influence of the traditional cycle of rice production in
2. Tausugs- “Tausug" derives from tau meaning "man" and sug meaning "current," and
translates into "people of the current." It refers
to the majority Islamized group in the Sulu
archipelago, their language, and culture. The
Tausug, numbering around 502,918 (NCCP--
PACT) in 1988 are predominant in the northern
part of Sulu province, i.e., Jolo Island and the neighboring islands of Pata,
Marunggas, Tapul, and Lugus, and to a lesser extent in Siasi and Pangutaran (Arce
1963:3). The province of Sulu derives its name from "sulug" or "sug" which in Tausug
means "ocean current," while Sulu's capital Jolo is the Spanish corruption of Sulu.
Beliefs of Tausug
The Tausugfollow standard Islamic beliefs and practices. The Quran is considered by
all Muslims as the words of Allah (God), revealed to the prophet Muhammad through
archangel Gabriel, and as the source of all Islamic Law, principles and values. Aside from the
Quran and the Sunnah and Haddith (literally, "a way, rule, or manner of acting"), other
Islamic sources of law include Ijtihad (independent judgment) and Qiyas (analogy).
Arts of Tausug
Tausug visual arts are represented by carvings, metalworks, woodworks, tapestry
and embroidery, mat making and basketry, textile and fashion, pottery, and other minor arts
(Szanton 1963). In general, Tausug visual arts follow the Islamic prohibition of representing
human or animal forms.
3. Maguindanawon- TheMaguindanao, literally, “people of the flood plains”, ocuppy
the basin of Pulangi river. The southern fork of the river
towards to Illana Bay. In the past Maguindanawons
settled along the banks and in the valley of regions in the
Beliefs of Maguindanawons
Most Maguindanawons follow standard Islamic
Beliefs and Practices. The Quran is considered by all Muslims as the words of Allah( God),
revealed to Prophet Muhammad through Archangel Gabriel, and as the source of all Islamic
Arts of Maguindanawons
As Muslims lowlanders, the Maguindanawons possess a strong weaving and carving
tradition. As with all other Muslim groups, the Maguindanawons are prohibited from
representing animal or human forms in art.
4. Maranao- The people (mostly muslims), who live in the provinces of Lano del Norte
and Lanao del Sur on the island of Mindanao
are usually referred to us “Maranaws” or
“Maranaos”. The term means “people of the
lake area,” and they are given this name
because their greatest concentration is
around Lake Lanao
Beliefs of Maranaos
The Islamic religion is well entrenched in Mindanao society and this may be gleaned
from the presence of mosque every village. This is also readily seen in their customs. Every
Maranaw whether he be a boy, a girl, a woman, or a man--- wears a white headgear has
undertaken a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Arts of Maranaos
Maranao art is very distinctive. Mats and cloth from Lanao are decked in flamboyant
colors. Intricate traditional designs grace the people’s gleaming brassware and handicraft.
The Maranao’s weave not only cloth and mats but also bags, centerpieces, placemats, and
5. Mansaka- The term "Mansaka" derives from "man" meaning "first" and "saka"
meaning "to ascend," and means "the first
people to ascend the mountains or go
upstream." The term most likely describes the
origin of these people who are found today in
Davao del Norte, specifically in the Batoto
River, the Manat Valley, the Marasugan Valley,
the Hijo River Valley, and the seacoasts of Kingking, Maco, Kwambog, Hijo, Tagum,
Libuganon, Tuganay, Ising, and Panabo (Fuentes and De La Cruz 1980:2). The
Mansaka are generally fair with bridged noses, brown hair, and oval faces.
Beliefs of Mansaka
Mansakamanaog or domestic gods are represented by wooden statues standing on a
parangka (pedestal). Manaog have sexes which can be discerned on the sculpture and
ornaments on the statues. Offerings are given to the manaog after rice planting, harvest,
and before death. The rituals can be either indoor or outdoor. If indoor, the balian places
humay, wine, manok, lime, tobacco, and betel nut on a siklat (a square bamboo platform
suspended from the ceiling). If outdoor, the balian constructs a siklat with the use of four 1
m wooden poles arranged like an Indian teepee skeleton.
Arts of Mansaka
The Mansaka possess a wide array of musical instruments, giving life to their songs
and dances. Examples of Mansaka musical instruments include the agong or round brass
percussion instrument; a larger version of the agong is the tarabon, which was used to give
1. Bukidnon- is a province on a rich tableland in Central Mindanao which
rises abruptly to a height of 900 ft above sea
level. It is composed of seven
plateaus of varying heights separated by seven
deep canyons and three
valleys. It encompasses a total area of 8,293.78
km2 or 955,455 hectares of
land. The climate of Bukidnon is cool and invigorating with an annual mean
temperature of 74? F or 23.85? C. The provincial capital is the little town of
Malaybalay which is 800 km by air from Manila.
Beliefs of Bukidnon
The Bukidnon people believe in one god, Magbabaya (the Ruler of All)
who has minor gods and goddesses beneath him to do specific jobs and take
care of certain things. Thus, the Bukidnon farmers pray to Ibabasok who
watches over their crops and their growth in a simple ceremony at the
center of the rice field. But they worship the deity Dagingon in an
elaborated celebration complete with songs and dances which will last for
nine nights during planting and after harvest seasons. The spirit called
Bulalakaw watches the rivers and takes care of the fishermen's
catch while TumpaaNanapiyaw or Intumbangol watches the base of the
earth night and day lest it crumbles.
Persons of both sexes may become baylan, religious specialists who
divine the cause of illnesses, recover lost souls, and officiate at major
events where the spirits are summoned. One becomes baylan by personal
choice and subsequent apprenticeship to an established practitioner. Belief
in multiple "souls", gimokod, some of which can leave the body temporarily,
causing illness. At death, the body is wrapped in a mat and carried on a bier
to the place of burial, where it is interred in a bamboo-lined grave. The spirit
of the deceased is fed for a few days after burial, after which it goes to live
on Mount Balatocan. The mourning period for a widow may last for a year
Arts of Bukidnon
The Bukidnon people have their own musical instruments, the dayuray or
dayuday, the kutyapi or kudyapi, the pulala (the bamboo flute) and the small
gong called salambing.
They make geometric designs on their bags, mats and baskets. They call
these designs lugo. Among the many kinds of lugo are: the binabangon, the
kinabuka and the binituon. They embroider on clothing too, and this process
they call panulaw. The embroidered cloth is called pinanulawan.
2. Aeta- "Aeta," "Ayta," "Agta," "Atta (Ata)," "Ati," and "Ita"- these probably derive
from the root word "it," which in various Philippine languages means "black" as
inferred from the Tagalog term itim and the
Visayan term itom. "Negrito" or "little black
one" is a Spanish term coined from the word
"negro." The Aeta are a mountain people who
are dark skinned, short, small of frame, kinky
haired, snub nosed, and with big black eyes.
Beliefs of Aeta
There are divergent views on the dominant character of the Aeta religion. Those who
believe they are monotheistic argue that various Aeta tribes believe in a supreme being who
rule over lesser spirits or deities. The Mamanua believe in the supreme Magbabaya while the
Pinatubo Aetaworship Apo Namalyari. According to anthropologist E. Arsenio Manuel, the
Agta believe in a supreme being named Gutugutumakkan. Manuel notes other lesser
deities of the Agta; Kedes, the god of hunting; Pawi, the god of the forest; and Sedsed, the
god of the sea.
Arts of Aeta
The most common form of Aeta visual art is the etching found in their daily tools and
implements. This is done on the outer surfaces of various household containers/utensils and
ornaments. Bamboo combs are decorated with incised angular patterns. Geometric designs
are etched on arrow shafts (Noval-Morales and Monan 1979:115).
3. Ifugao- The origin of the Ifugaos is derived from the term Ipugo which means “from
the hill”. According to Ifugao mythology, however, the name “Ifugao” is derived
from Ipugo which refers to the rice grain given to them
by their god Matungulan. Until the present day, this
kind of rice grain is cultivated by the Ifugaos. The
generic name Ygolote, Igolot, or Igorrote was used by
the Spanish conquistadores and missionaries in their
writing about all the various mountain people. Later in the 1900’s, the American
writers popularized the name Igorot. According to the eminent Filipino scholar
Trinidad H Pardo de Tavera, the word Ygolote is derived from the Tagalog term golot
meaning “mountain” and the prefix “I,” meaning “people of.”
Beliefs of Ifugao
Ifugao religious beliefs are expressed in the numerous rites and prayers (baki) that
comprise the main body of Ifugao myths. The myths and folktales tell of their gods and
goddesses, related supernatural beings, their ancestors and the forces of nature. The
Ifugaos, aside from being deity worshipers, are nature worshipers and ancestor worshipers.
Arts of Ifugao
Weaving is the exclusive task of Ifugao women. Traditionally, weaving is done for the
family’s needs, but it is only done for commercial purposes. Girls learn to weave by helping
their mother or elder sister, and by actual practice under elder women. Weaving instruments
such as the loom sticks, the spindle, the apparatus for fluffing, skeining, and winding are
made by the menfolk.
4. Talaandig- The Talaandig are one of the indigenous groups in the province of
Bukidnon, Mindanao Philippines who
has continued to preserve and promote
its indigenous customs, beliefs and
practices despite the strong influx of
modernization and change. The
Talaandig population is roughly estimated to be at about 100,000 people or more.
The members of the group are found in barangays and municipalities surrounding the
mountain of Kitanglad, the historic domain of the Talaandig people
Beliefs of Talaandig
The belief on the existence of the highest God called Magbabaya and the spirits who
guard and protect nature is manifested in the social, economic and political aspects of the
life of the Talaandig. Thus, when the Talaandig establishes a farm, he performs the
Talabugta and Ibabasuk rituals, after harvest, he performs the Pamamuhandi for the
thanksgiving, for the recognition of the superior leadership, he performs the
Panagulambung, when he goes hunting, the Punaliket and palayag, and for a higher form of
socio-economic and political activity, the Talaandig performs the Kaliga ceremony.
Arts of Talaandig
The Talaandig learning system is embodied in various forms of oral tradition. These
tradition includes the narratives called Nanangen, epic called Ulaging, poetic songs called
sala and songs called IdangdangLimbay are particular songs about animals.
5. Higaonon- TheHigaonon is one of the least known ethnolinguistic groups that inhabit
North-Central Mindanao. They occupy the
mountainous regions of Misamis Oriental,
Bukidnon plateau, the mountain borders of the
provinces of Agusan and Lanao in the east and
Beliefs of Higaonon
The indigenous religion of the Hiagonon no longer exists. Vestiges of this still remain
with the older generation. Even when already Christianized, no one is against the recounting
of stories concerning their traditional religion. Marriages, baptisms and other sacraments
are done in churches administered by the Catholic priest or Protestant minister, respectively.
Arts of Higaonon
The Higaonon have their own system of writing. Their myths and legend speak of a
great ancestor named "Suwat" who kept a list of the people who were living and dead
during the great flood that took place long ago.