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Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Tribe of the Philippines: History, Culture and Arts, Customs and Traditions [North Cotabato Indigenous People | Ethnic Tribes]

Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Tribe of the Philippines: History, Culture and Arts, Customs and Traditions [North Cotabato Indigenous People | Ethnic Tribes]

The Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo group is found in the province of North Cotabato. According to the Manobo of North Cotabato, the term “Manobo” derives from the native term minovo or minobo, which means “person” or “people.” The word may also have been derived from “Banobo,” the name of a creek that flows to Pulangi River, about two kilometers south of Cotabato City. The northern Cotabato Manobo say that their ancestors settled along the Banobo and later, in the 15th century, fled up this river using vinta or sailboats to avoid forced conversion to Islam. This exodus might be the historical basis for the events recounted in the prologue to the Livunganen-Arumanen epic Ulahingan. Another theory is that the term Manobo comes from Mansuba or “river people” (Blumentritt 1901).

Asik-Asik waterfalls in Alamada, North Cotabato
Asik-Asik waterfalls in Alamada, North Cotabato (Joel Bitantes Palma Jr.)

The Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo belong to the original, proto-Philippine or proto-Austronesian people who came from south China thousands of years ago, earlier than the Ifugao and other terrace-building peoples of northern Luzon. The term “Proto-Manobo” was coined to designate this stock of aboriginal, non-Negritoid people of Mindanao. The first Manobo settlers lived in northern Mindanao: Camiguin, Cagayan, and the areas of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. There are at least 19 Manobo languages and major dialects. Other sources claim there are 21, including the Bagobo, Tboli, and Ubo groups.

The Livunganen-Arumanen are concentrated in the barrios of the Libungan municipality in the western part of North Cotabato. They share a common history and culture with another western Manobo group, the Arumanen or Erumanen (also referred to as the Ilianon or Ilianen Manobo), concentrated in the Arakan Valley, North Cotabato. The Arumanen of Arakan Valley and the Livunganen-Arumanen were originally from Aruman, now a barangay of the municipality of Carmen, North Cotabato. According to legend, famine drove the Arumanen out, and most of them eventually settled in what is now the barangay of Barongis in Libungan municipality. Barongis, the center of the Arumanen population, is bordered by Melituveg River in the east, Libungan River in the west, and the barangays Makulintang in the north and Sinapangan in the south. Some spread out to neighboring Pigcawayan and Carmen and are now called the Arumanen.

There are a number of Arumanen subgroups that claim tracts of land all over North Cotabato as their ancestral domain. On the eastern bank of the Maridagao River are the Kirinteken; along the sides of Mulita Creek are the Mulitaan; to the east of the Mulitaan community are the Direkyaan, and to the north, the Dungguangen; along the Pulangi River leading to Arakan Creek are the Lehitanen; on the eastern bank of the Pulangi River are the Ilianen; to the south of Ilianen lands toward Simone Creek are the Simoneyen; and further south are the Divevaan, next to the land of the Islamized Macataroganen. Other identified subgroups are the Livunganen, Pulangihon, Derupuwanen, Sinimburanen, Isuruken, and Ilentungen.

Across the years, due to slave raiding, intermarriages, natural disasters, clan feuds, and armed conflicts, many of the Arumanen were pushed out of their lands and dispersed into Muslim territories. Attempts to map their displacement led to the discovery of Arumanen communities in patches of separate areas from North Cotabato (Pigcawayan, Libungan, Pikit, Carmen, Arakan, President Roxas, Matalam, and Kidapawan City) toward areas of Bukidnon (Damulog, Kibawe, Kalilangan and Valencia City).

In 1977, there were a total of 240 Arumanen families or 1,200 people living in Libungan, 40% of whom were in Barongis, and the rest were scattered in the sitios and other Livungan barangays such as Pigcawayan, Midsayap, and Carmen. As of 2003 and 2004, an estimated total of 7,789 Arumanen families have been scattered throughout Alamada, Aleosan, Carmen, Libungan, Midsayap, Pigcawayan, Pikit, and President Roxas. However, some Arumanen leaders claim that the numbers are underreported.

History of the Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo People

The Arumanen were one of the many indigenous groups in Mindanao who existed in sovereign settlements before the arrival of colonizers. In the 16th century, the Spanish colonizers failed to subjugate Mindanao because of strong native resistance. In the mid-19th century, a Spanish politico-military government was established in Mindanao, resulting in the incursion of Christian conversions among the natives, the integration of the Christianized groups into the colonial order, the resettlement of non-native Filipinos into Mindanao lands, and the displacement of the indigenous peoples as many retreated into the forests and hinterlands. With the decline of the Spanish empire in the latter half of the 19th century, Mindanao in the 20th century saw the rise of a new colonial order under American control. As many Mindanao groups continued to resist foreign domination, internal colonization became America’s primary means to subjugate and secure Mindanao as part of the Philippine nation-state. Non-native Filipino migrants were encouraged to settle in Mindanao until they comprised a new majority and reduced the indigenous peoples to a slim minority. Land, wealth, and political authority were concentrated on the Filipino migrants, leaving the natives dispossessed and disempowered.

The forced integration of native and non-native groups in Mindanao kindled among many Mindanao Muslims a Moro nationalist fervor that rejected the impositions of the American colonial regime and, later, the Philippine national government. The friction was intensified when the Philippine government commenced military offensives against Moro and lumad (indigenous peoples) groups that had begun to organize revolutionary independence movements against their oppressors. Moro nationalist groups waged a secessionist war calling for the creation of a Moro nation or “Bangsamoro,” which was separate from the Christian-dominated Philippine nation-state. This was led by the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) in 1968, sustained by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1969, followed by the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO) in 1970 and the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF) in 1984. The conflicts were compounded by the continuing struggles of the lumad for their ancestral domains and right to self-determination, as well as the emergence of extremist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.

The resulting instability in the region affected the Arumanen deeply. In 2000, when the Philippine government, under President Joseph Estrada, declared an all-out war against the MILF, the once-peaceable relations of the Arumanen with their Muslim neighbors were compromised by the tensions and subsequent inflow of arms in the region. The Arumanen also became casualties in the chaotic peace negotiations between the national government and the secessionist Moro groups. Lands occupied by Arumanen and other indigenous groups were included in the 2001 implementation of Republic Act 9054 constituting the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) were not in force. With the proposal of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in 2014, many Arumanen groups sought the exclusion of their ancestral lands from the proposed autonomous Bansgamoro territory.

Amidst these threats, the indigenous peoples are struggling to find ways to hold their communities together. The Arumanen in Bentangan, Cotabato Province perform their traditional dances weekly to maintain a sense of peace and unity. On the other hand, some of the Ilianen Manobo who had lived in relative isolation until the last decades of the 20th century have managed to retain much of their traditional arts and culture.

Livunganen-Arumanen’s Way of Living

The Livunganen-Arumanen’s traditional means of subsistence are food gathering and swidden agriculture. The men build houses, hunt, fish, trap, and fell trees in preparation for clearing the fields. They hunt pigs, deer, chicken, and various kinds of fowl with traps, spears, bows and arrows, and hunting dogs. They catch fish with baskets, hook and line, nets, traps, and spears, and gather honey in the forest. They are expected to defend their settlement, a task which was important before World War II, when they were engaged in much intertribal fighting.

Arumanen Manobo women farmers and their traditional farming system
Arumanen Manobo women farmers and their traditional farming system (Rey Del Napoles)

The Arumanen swidden agricultural system is an agroforestry practice called pengengewiran. It is conducted in three variants, depending on the kinds of plants and animals in the chosen farming site. Kamet is conducted in a pualas or damakayu, a primary forest with a close canopy consisting of large-diameter and fruit-bearing trees, or in a lahunti, a mature secondary forest with medium-sized to large trees and gaps in the canopy. Saridsid is done in a lati, a secondary forest in the early stages. Kuhu is conducted in secondary forests that have already been harvested. It is typically small-scale and only done to supplement a kamet or saridsid.

An Arumanen Manobo leader of Damulog, Bukidnon preparing kayos, an alternative food for lumad
An Arumanen Manobo leader of Damulog, Bukidnon preparing kayos, an alternative food for lumad (Carlo C. Agamon)

Pengengewiran is conducted in several stages. Ebpanara (site selection) is conducted by a group of men called edsavakuan or by an individual called edsanga’taw. The terevasuk (farmer) watches for bad omens in choosing a field for planting, such as the presence of a tree with a split trunk, the presence of ants and termites on a stump, or the presence of a lavuntot, or a casket-shaped mound on the ground. If the site is favorable, ed’aras aras (marking) is done, and the farmer begins to slash the vegetation in a counter-clockwise direction from the centermost part of the field. If his tools break or the cry of the alimuken bird is heard, the land must not be tilled.

Egkakamet (slashing) is then conducted through elayon (cooperative effort) or sukayan (paid labor). In 2007, labor costs were at 60 pesos per day, with free meals and snacks. The practice of elayon, which is integral to the Arumanen culture of reciprocity, is employed to this day. The preferred slashing implements are the machete and the regaraw. If the field is pualas or lahunti, ebpiley (felling) is also conducted, but large trees that are spaced wide apart are spared because they do not block the sunlight from reaching the crops. Agsa and wasay (axe) are used to fell trees. A raras (scaffold) may be built for the farmer to stand on if a tree has large buttress roots. Ebpana’ta (chopping) is done only in the lati and only to pole-sized trees.

A kaskasan (fire line) is drawn before the ebinsulan (burning). A ritual may also be performed if the farmer wants to ensure a good harvest. On a winnowing pan, which is believed to increase and direct the wind, he places charcoal, a branch of red pepper, and fruit. The pan is hung on a piece of rattan and carried from the hut to the field. The farmer also takes with him cotton, red pepper, and a stick from a broom. If along the way the pan falls inside up, good harvest is assured. On the field, the farmer wraps the stick and red pepper with the cotton and ignites it with dry twigs and leaves to begin the burning. If the field is so wide that more than one person is required to burn it, a technique called edimotan (encircling) is employed. After a week, the women and children clear the fields and gather the remaining debris for a second burning. The field is then left until the coming of the rains. Traditionally, the Arumanen establish their swidden fields collectively in a zone called bonggoy-bonggoy and build temporary fences around it to ward off wild animals.

The appearance of the star called bituen ne minariha signals the beginning of the rice-planting season. The fruiting of the kapok and makabaratot trees signifies how many seeds will be sown: Abundant fruiting is thus a sign of an abundant harvest. Ebubur (sowing) begins with the coming of the rainy season. A ritual called pangani-ngani is performed to invoke the blessings of Kalayag, the rice deity. A peruvonian (platform) is placed in the middle of the field, whereupon the seeds are placed in a woven basket. Lemongrass or ginger is planted in the corners of the field as a talisman against drought. In one corner, a pole with a white cloth tied to it is placed in honor of Kalayag. The next day, the farmer performs a pangelesa (blood rite). He sets up a salengket (a set of woven bamboo) on which is placed betel nut chew, linepet (rice wrapped in banana leaves), an egg, and a container of water. A plant called dukot is burned underneath the salengket to invite the deities to the offering. A prayer is offered to Kalayag, and the chicken is killed. Planting begins around the peruvonian. The husband uses a dibble to dig holes into the ground, and the wife follows him, taking a handful of seeds from a basket, dropping these into the holes, and sweeping soil over these with her foot.

As the crops grow, weeding is done in two stages. The first stage is the ed’elamun, when weeds that grow with the rice or corn are pulled up. After several weeks, the next stage, the pedleneran, is done: Weeds that were not removed the first time are pulled up. In the traditional practice of patilangkas (chanting), a prayer for protection is recited at dawn on the day of the weeding.

Before the harvest proper, the wife goes to the field to harvest some ripe and unripe grains, enough to fill a ravan (basket for harvesting). The unripe grains are roasted into pinipi, and the ripe ones are threshed, pounded, and cooked. The cooked rice and pinipi are mixed, wrapped in banana leaves, and given to the children for the first taste of the harvest. The wife then decides when the harvesting will take place. The ad’ahani (rice harvest) is done by women. The owner of the field is the one who harvests around the peruvonian and selects the seed materials for the next season. The sharing of the harvest may either be by edteray, in which five-sixths of the rice harvest goes to the owner, and one-sixth to the harvester; or by ebpabugnos, in which four-fifths of the harvest goes to the owner, and one-fifth to the harvester. The day after harvest, the community holds an edsawit, a feast to which each household brings a cooked portion of the harvested rice, and all members gather together in the house of the owner of the harvested field.

The samayaan (rice harvest festival) is central to the life of the Arumanen community. It is conducted to express their gratitude to Kalayag. At dawn, a platform is prepared with two poles: one bearing a white flag symbolizing peace, and another with a yellow flag symbolizing farming. Upon the platform is placed the betel nut chew called apar, which is a mixture of betel nut, lime, buyo, and tobacco, as well as popped rice and grain dyed with turmeric, as an offering to the deities. A dukot is burned beneath it to invite Kalayag. A salengket is also prepared, bearing apar, linepet, and water. The ritual is headed by the walian (shaman), who offers up the salengket in a prayer. The ritual participants then form two groups: the edtehoy, chanters composed of men and women who are dressed in white, and manugredtan, the followers. The group is led by the walian, the baley te kukuman (religious leader) carrying a white cock, and the timuay (chieftain) carrying a red cock. Ritual chanting occurs until the walian is possessed by a spirit. Afterward, the two cocks are released for a fight, whereupon two raw eggs, as well as popped corn and yellow rice, are thrown over the fighting cocks. If the eggs do not break, it is a sign that the tribe will never be divided. If the white cock wins, peace will reign throughout the year. If the white cock dies, there will be deaths during the year. If victorious, the white cock is killed and its blood placed in the pambabas, where people wash their hands to drive away bad fortune. Neighbors exchange savakan, a set of four linepet, and a whole roasted chicken. Afterward, there is much feasting and merrymaking.

In the 1980s, the Arumanen began to adopt deduwanan (plow agriculture) in their economic system. The deduwanan signaled a shift from a subsistence orientation to a cash-crop economy, as deduwanan focuses on the development of a single crop, typically corn. In the 1990s, besakan, a rain-fed farming system, was also introduced. It caused a shift in the cropping patterns of the Arumanen, as they were then able to do two rice croppings: one in the uplands and another in the valley.

Livunganen-Arumanen Tribal System

The head of the whole Livunganen-Arumanen tribe is the timuay or datu who calls the people to meetings; thus, “timuay” can also refer to the meeting place. In earlier times, the timuay was obliged to acknowledge the authority of the ruling Maguindanaon sultan, to whom he had to pay tributes of rice and forest products once or twice a year. In return, he received Maguindanaon manufactured goods such as bolo, axes, salt, and clothing.

Livunganen-Arumanen Datu Roldan Babelon and Timuay Santos Unsad of the Teduray
Livunganen-Arumanen Datu Roldan Babelon and Timuay Santos Unsad of the Teduray (Germelina Lacorte/Inquirer)

The position of timuay is not inherited because he is chosen for certain qualities that he possesses. A prospective leader should know the traditional laws and customs of the tribe. He should be able to lead his people in war but must also be kind and hardworking. He is preferably married; if single, his family is expected to do all the household work that a Livunganen timuay’s wife normally does, especially preparing and serving the batuung (special food) for festive or religious occasions. He is arbiter and judge in matters of dispute between tribal members. In the past, there was a saliling (alternate timuay), who took over when the timuay was unable to fulfill his duties for reasons such as illness. During the American colonial period, the last traditional timuay was replaced by an appointed official, first designated as the head, then as barrio lieutenant, and finally as barangay captain. In 1974, however, the Mindanao Highlanders Association held an assembly at Barong is and restored the position of timuay. The timuay is now expected to possess the traditional qualities and the characteristics required of a modern political leader, that is, he must be highly educated, respected by government institutions and officials, and open to ideas for the social and economic development of his tribe. Tribal members go to him for advice or to seek representation in government. He is expected to work with the pekilukesen, the council of elders that advises him.

The pekilukesen recommends decisions to the timuay, who approves them. It also decides when to hold the bulangan (annual harvest festival). It functions within a smaller sphere, for there is a pekilukesen in every barangay. Aside from advising the timuay, it also intercedes for village members, passes on the tribal laws and customs, arranges marriages, and chooses the timuay.

The Arumanen word for law or legal code is kukuman. There are four kinds of codes covering Arumanen life. The kukuman te mehinged (civil code) preserves harmony among community members. For example, it forbids anyone from chopping down trees that are at least 1.7 meters tall and outside a person’s property. To do otherwise is to show malice against the community and the occupants of the house near the tree. A fine of three articles, such as a bolo, chicken, and clothing, is imposed on the culprit.

The kukuman te suriman (code of ethics) maintains proper behavior among the people. For example, a man meeting a woman of whatever civil status must step to the left and allow the woman to pass to his right. To do otherwise indicates malice toward the woman, and he must pay a maximum of 15 household articles. Another ethical code stipulates that it is not proper for a man to enter the house of a woman when her husband is out. Otherwise, the husband can demand retribution of brass and cloth.

The kukuman te bunu (criminal code) states that under no circumstances is killing justified. The penalty is one carabao plus articles to be paid to the aggrieved family. The kukuman te esei (marriage code) forbids elopement and imposes punishment on the offending man, even if the elopement is instigated by the woman. If a younger sister is engaged ahead of her older sister, her fiancé must pay her parents one carabao.

Livunganen-Arumanen Culture, Customs and Traditions

The traditional social structure consisted of five classes: the ruling class, the walianor shaman, the warrior, the commoner, and the slave. In earlier times, the Maguindanaon sultan conferred the ranks of nobility. The walian, who can be either male or female, were village priests and healers. They interpreted dreams and omens, foretold the future, and healed the sick with herbal medicine and elaborate mystic rites. During these rites, they were invariably possessed by the diwata (spirits). Their powers were either inherited or conferred upon them by the spirits. In the past, Arumanen warriors defended the community and engaged in battle. The commoners were farmers. The slaves seized in raids belonged to the ruler. The warrior and slave classes no longer exist. The talaulahingan, the singer of the Ulahingan, enjoys a special status conferred upon him by one diwata—the muse of epic poetry.

Children of Alamada, North Cotabato
Children of Alamada, North Cotabato (Joel Bitantes Palma Jr.)

Certain rites and customs attend the significant stages in the Arumanen’s life, such as childbirth, courtship, marriage, and death. After childbirth, the placenta is placed in a basket, which is hung at arm’s reach from a tree. The walian, with the consent of the grandparents, names the infant three days later. If the child is sickly, its name is changed. When the child is three months old, the parents and grandparents sprinkle chicken blood on its forehead and palms to ward off evil spirits. A baby boy is given a spear or bolo. The onset of puberty used to be marked by the girl wearing the malung (tubular skirt) for the first time and the boy, his first pair of trousers.

Courtship involves much circumlocutory language, especially when the man declares his intentions, and during negotiations for the bride-price. The man sends his spokesperson, called ad-ugpu, to notify the woman’s parents of his wish to call on them. During the visit, the ad-ugpu of both parties conduct the negotiations for the dowry, which may consist of carabaos, brass gongs, heirloom articles, and several cavans of rice. The dowry size depends upon the woman’s position in the family, the eldest and the youngest commanding the highest price.

A man may also conduct his own courtship by offering the woman’s parents food products, betel chew, firewood, and a period of service. An opportunity to publicly declare his affections is a big gathering like a festival, wedding, or funeral wake. The man sings of or declaims on the beauty and virtue of the woman and hints at her identity by poetically alluding to her place of residence, since he is forbidden to mention her name. The woman cannot reply to the man, but an older female relative replies with a challenge for the man to prove his love with acts of gallantry and wisdom, such as gathering honey from the tallest tree, clearing a seven-hectare field, and reciting the tribal laws. A more daring man might bury a love potion at the foot of the ladder of the woman’s house on a Friday afternoon. If she steps on it as she comes down the steps, she will fall under his spell when he visits her sleeping room two nights later. In a betrothal ceremony, the boy’s parents offer a spear to the girl’s parents. The marriage arrangements, however, are done when the children come of age. When the husband dies, his family can choose a new spouse for his widow, who cannot refuse the match. A widower, however, is free to choose his next wife. The father or, in his absence, the eldest son, is the head of the family. The extended family includes the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and in-laws.

In Arumanen society, the women make earthen pots, weave, sew, and embroider. They do all the household work, including heavy chores such as drawing water, often from sources far from the house. They take care of the children and serve guests.

When a person dies, all the clothes in the house are hung on a clothesline strung over the body. The spirit of the deceased takes them into the afterworld. The coffin is a log cut lengthwise in half, with the upper half serving as cover. The man is buried facing the east so he can work on his farm at sunrise. The woman is buried facing the west so she can gather food before sunset.

Mourners returning home from the funeral spit on the fire near the entrance of the house. They try to put out the fire so that the spirit of the dead will not see them in the dark. On the third day, they place a meal on the stairs for the soul. Footprints left on the ashes spread over the steps of the ladder are evidence that the soul has come and gone. During the mourning period, there is much music and dancing, although the sound of the agung (brass gong) is prohibited.

Livunganen-Arumanen Religious Beliefs and Practices

The Livunganen believe in one supreme diwata called Kerenen, whom they address in prayer in several ways. He is Midlimbag, the creator of the world; Megbeveya, its ruler; Memintaran, the people’s guiding light; and Misuara, the “voice and giver of different languages and ways of speaking.” When he is referred to in the third person, he is Alataala (sacred or holy). He lives in the seventh heaven, far enough not to smell human odor, which offends him.

Spiritual leaders performing the ritual called radtan during the Samayaan Festival, Bentangan, Carmen, Cotabato
Spiritual leaders performing the ritual called radtan during the Samayaan Festival, Bentangan, Carmen, Cotabato, 2013 (Provincial Government of Cotabato)

On the second plane of the cosmological hierarchy are six male diwata called katulusan: the Diwata te Idsila or Tsilaan, god of the east, who controls sunrise; Diwata te Lambungan, god of the west, who controls sunset; Diwata te Belengkayen, god of the north, and Diwata te Belevahan, god of the south, who hold the world steady between them to prevent floods and control the direction of typhoons and rains; the Diwata te Udtuwan (god of the zenith), who holds up the heavens; and the Diwata te Insanal (god of the base of the world), who is tinier than “the pupil of one’s eye” but “holds the golden pillar of the world in the palm of his right hand.” An earthquake occurs when he cleans the pillar.

On the third plane are four sets of lower diwata. The first set consists of the diwata of agriculture and food: Ivebasuk, god of the kaingin and farm tools; Kelayag, god of plants; Pemarey, god of grains; Pemanlew, god of palm trees; Kalamkalam, god of root crops; and Mehumenay, god of wildlife. The second set of diwata consists of Lelawag or Pengalap, god of animals; Yakan, god of wild pigs; Peneyangan, god of the bees; and Alimugkat, goddess of fish and the waters, who is the only female diwata in this set. She is half-woman, half-fish, has long golden hair, and lives in a golden palace under the sea.

On the fourth plane are the diwata which control the course of human life: Undi or Yayawag, goddess of fate; Kahrang, goddess of love; Penewamuk or Penennemuk, god of good fortune and wealth; and Kakum, god of justice and law. On the fifth plane are the diwata of trouble: Mengilala, god of war; Tuhawa, god of death; and Inanit, goddess of evil. The lowest class of diwata, called inggaib, consists of evil or mischievous spirits, called the busaw, and the helpful but naughty spirits who live in trees, springs, cliffs, houses, rivers, brooks, and the like.

The walian uses two important items in rituals: betel chew and the blood of a white chicken. The betel chew is offered to the spirits, and the blood is sprinkled on the object that the shaman is blessing. To ensure a good harvest, for instance, chicken blood is sprinkled on the seeds. An important thanksgiving ritual practiced by all North Cotabato Manobo is the Bulangan Festival. A pig is sacrificed in the panuvaran ritual to ask forgiveness from ancestors for disrespecting Mount Apo.

Panuvaran, a sacred ritual for seeking forgiveness from the ancestors for disrespecting Mount Apo
Panuvaran, a sacred ritual for seeking forgiveness from the ancestors for disrespecting Mount Apo (Editha Caduaya)

Illness occurs when the person is being punished by ancestral spirits or by a diwata, or when the person’s soul temporarily leaves the body. The walian, believed to have been chosen by the diwata to be a healer, diagnoses the illness by consulting with the abyan (guardian spirits), which instruct through possession. The walian is then able to treat the sick with oracion (prayers), rituals, and herbal medicine. Other illnesses that the walian can cure include physical injuries such as natamped ne bekeg (fracture), lisa (sprain), and pali (wounds), as well as physiological ills such as titi te langesa (blood urination), roog (muscle pain), ed-pangendes (diarrhea), pangkat (chicken pox), and na-ilo (poisoning).

It is believed that when a person is on the brink of death, the soul, which has wandered away from the body, comes upon a big baliti tree, the trunk of which the soul taps. If a leaf falls while the sap is flowing, the person will die soon; if not, the person will recover. The afterworld is divided into suruga (heaven) and nereka (hell). It is believed that the soul initially goes to kelenganen, where its final destination—suruga or nereka—is decided.

Langkat, literally “offshoot,” generally refers to the followers or converts of a particular baylan. In 1920, a Langkat sect was founded by the Arumanen Manobo baylan, Datu Agolan Mampurok, in the mountain village of Bentangan, North Cotabato. Thousands of Muslims, Manobo, Tiruray, and Bukidnon abandoned their farms to follow Mampurok. Some of the Langkat members interpreted it as a resistance movement against American rule and thus instigated an attack on Fort Pikit, Cotabato, which the Americans had taken over from the Spaniards. After attempts at negotiations failed, the governor, on 23 March 1926, sent soldiers to attack Bentangan, which was the Langkat center. The Langkat members, believing themselves rendered invulnerable by amulets given them by Mampurok, were massacred. Fifty people and Mampurok himself were killed. However, the Langkat still survive in Bentangan, with regular Saturday rituals held in the bintana, their place of worship. The bintana has an altar at one end; the worshippers, segregated by gender, sit on a bench at either side of the room. Possession begins with the baylan and continues on to all the members one after the other. Every year, on the 23rd of March, the Bentangan residents visit Mampurok’s grave to celebrate their village’s founding anniversary.

Since the 1970s, when the tri-people’s war was at its height, the Arumanen Manobo of Bentangan have attempted to keep their pangani-ngani (faith in Magbabaya), which is based on a principle of peace and unity. This is because the spirits, through their Langkat leader, Datu Sampal Mamporok, enjoined them not to take up arms and to welcome Muslims and Christians into their community. Hence, the Arumanen Langkat shared their farmlands with these two other cultural groups, with whom they lived in Bentangan as neighbors. However, by 1998, the year of their Langkat leader’s death, the war had escalated and Bentangan village was surrounded by mercenaries, cattle rustlers, members of the Mindanao Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. To counter the government soldiers’ accusation that they were MILF sympathizers, the Bentangan timuay, tigulang (elders), and barangay council unanimously decided to allow their men to take up arms as members of the government’s paramilitary groups, Civilian Volunteers’ Organization (CVO) and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU). In April 2000, Bentangan became the site of a fierce battle subjecting the village to gunfire and mortar shelling. The Bentangan men fought in this battle. Hostility and suspicion replaced the friendliness between the Arumanen and Muslim members of the village, until the Muslims finally moved out, abandoning their farms and houses.

On 22 June 2001, the national government and MILF signed a peace agreement, the first of a series of futile attempts to put an end to the Mindanao war. Soon after, former Muslim and Arumanen neighbors of Bentangan quietly initiated their own moves toward reconciliation. Kamid Ladialan, a Muslim, secretly gave a Bentangan resident two boars, which were then distributed to all the villagers. Attempts by the village leaders to restore peace in their area include peace talks that Barangay Chairman Dahel Mamporok and Kagawad Modesto Egsolin have held with armed groups. The Langkat faithful continue to hold their Saturday Guana ceremony and sayaw. Because the founding of Bentangan village is tied to the founding of their religion, a preoccupation of the Langkat leaders is the making of a genealogy and village history, which are the prerequisites for a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT). A Langkat sacred text called ladlawan contains an elaborate illustration of the history of the tri-people’s war as interpreted by Balyan/Walian Franklin Salilin.

Today, most Livunganen have retained their traditional beliefs and practices, although a significant number have become Langkat. Some are Evangelical Christians.

Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Tribe Traditional Costume

The traditional clothing of the Livunganen is a fine example of Manobo embroidery art. Blue, white, yellow, and black geometric shapes and conventional designs based on objects in their environment, are embroidered against a bright or dark red background. Abaca fiber, dyed by the ikat process, was the main clothing material until it was replaced by cotton. The women wear the malung, which is folded in front and the upper corner is tucked securely at the waist. Linear or checkered designs in multicolored threads are inwoven. If cotton trade cloth is bought, big floral designs are preferred. The blouse is V-necked, tight fitting, and long-sleeved. The embroidery runs along the neckline and the edges of the sleeves. Geometric designs consist of horizontal lines, zigzags, and shapes such as circles, triangles, and trapezoids. They wear anklets with about 15 tiny slit bells, several layers of bead necklaces draped from the upper chest to the upper neck, disks hanging from slits in their earlobes, and toe and finger rings.

Livunganen-Arumanen woman of Salumping, Sultan Kudarat in traditional attire
Livunganen-Arumanen woman of Salumping, Sultan Kudarat in traditional attire, circa 1990 (Office of Southern Cultural Communities Collection, photo courtesy of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples)

The men wear loose trousers reaching to just below the knee. A drawstring at the waist holds them up. The lower part of the trousers is thickly embroidered with designs similar to those of the women’s clothing. The jacket, which has tight, long sleeves and is closed in front, reaches down to the waist. The embroidery work is similar to that on the women’s blouses. Strands of nito vine are braided to make tight-fitting leglets called tikes (bands of manhood).

Both men and women used to wear tattoos on their wrists, arms, chest, and legs. Women’s calves, and sometimes their whole legs, used to be elaborately tattooed. Except for the addition of conventional designs like crocodiles, stars, and leaves, tattoo designs were of the same type as those used in embroidery. Nowadays, the practice of tattooing has largely disappeared. Some still file their teeth with sharp stones and blacken them with the sap of the bunggay tree.

Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Literary Arts

No samples of folk speech such as proverbs and riddles, particular to the Livunganen have been recorded, although there are examples of proverbs and maxims identified as Cotabato Manobo.

Ka tanris ne pakadazaat te putso izing te limo

Napakaamin do’t pusong.

(Nothing destroys iron like its own rust.)

Limo te kurata ne dalid te langon ne sala.

(Love of money is the root of all evil.)

Ke talad ne otang ne kenano palilipati.

(A promise is a debt; do not forget it.)

Ka manisan ne maritan ne bulawan,

Ka mapia ne maritan ne Iambus.

(A beautiful woman is a jewel,

A good woman is a treasure.)

A diwata pouring holy oil on a Manobo family to cure their illnesses and turn them into minor deities
A diwata pouring holy oil on a Manobo family to cure their illnesses and turn them into minor deities (Illustration by Luis Chua)

Several Manobo tribes inhabiting the contiguous area along Cotabato, Bukidnon, and Davao in Central Mindanao have an epic hero named Agyu. The Manobo tribe Kulamenen, also Kuamanon, has an epic hero called Tulalang, the cousin of Agyu. He is also the epic hero of the Bagobo, who call him Tuwaang. The Livunganen, as well as all those who speak Arumanen and inhabit the Libungan River area, have nine versions of an epic called the Ulahingan, which is about Agyu and his people.

Ulahing means “to chant in a particular style of poetry, language and music” (Maquiso 1977, 34). The bendingan (epic) is chanted in the language of the diwata, which is also the language used by the god Kerenen when he communicates with the people.

The Ulahingan has two parts: the kepuunpuun, which is the prologue that also contains the synopsis, and the numerous sengedurug (episodes). The longest version found so far has 1,355 sengedurug or an average of 30 sengedurug for each major epic character: Agyu, his brothers, sisters, wife, cousins, and his children. The Livunganen believe Agyu and his people to be the origin of the human race. He is “the supreme ruler and judge of all,” although he was originally human.

An episode in the Ulahingan explains how this epic came to be. Heaven has several territories to which are assigned various people. Nelendangan is the heavenly territory assigned to Agyu and his people; Agyu’s son Bayvayan, however, is assigned his own place. Bayvayan’s grandfather orders him to circle the earth seven times in a grander variation of the saut (war dance), and convert people of various races and religions to follow him. One day, during a famine, Bayvayan chants a prayer for food. This is the first ulahing. When Bayvayan finally ascends to heaven, the Supreme Being tells him that he can best serve Agyu by inspiring people to chant the ulahing, thereby preserving the ideals of the Arumanen as represented by Agyu. Bayvayan inspires the talaulahingan to chant the story of Agyu in the bendingan language.

The kepuunpuun of the epic summarizes the origins of the various Manobo groups. In Banobo lived two brothers: Tabunaway, who was the timuay, and Mamalu. In the 15th century, two strangers, Sarip Kabungsuwan and Rajah Baginda, came with a wealth of goods: “gold, plates, Chinese jars, brass ornaments, clothing, brass pots and ladles, spears of iron, daggers of different shapes, etc.” (Maquiso 1977, 60). Kabungsuwan then went about converting the people to Islam. Tabunaway refused conversion but advised his younger brother to “accept the new religion.” The two brothers had their last meal together, in which Mamalu ate pork for the last time.

After Mamalu’s baptism, Tabunaway and his followers went to the mountains. They stopped at a certain spot where Tabunaway defiantly danced the saut. His movements were so powerful that the kulungkulung (bell) hanging on his spear flew off into the sea. The place is now called Kulungkulung. They then went up the Pulangi River and, at another stop, decided to part ways. Tabunaway and his group, who went to Libungan, became the Livunganen. The others became the Kirinteken, Mulitaan, Kulamanen, and Tenenenen. The Kulamanen split into the Pulangiyan and Metidsalug or Matigsalug. Branches of the Tenenenen are the Keretanen, Lundugbatneg, and Rangiranen. A group stayed along the river in Lanuan and built an iliyan (fort) and became the Ilianon. Those who went to the divava (downriver) became the Divavaanen, some of whom branched into the Kidapawanen. From Mamalu’s son Mangigin sprang the first Maguindanao sultanate.

The Ilianen Manobo perceive Tulalang as their immortal ancestor. He is believed to have been born along the Kulaman River in Arakan Valley. During a time of crisis, when the Manobo were the frequent targets of Maguinadanao slave raids, the diwata took pity on Tulalang and his family and thus poured over their heads a holy oil that cured their illnesses and turned them into meresen ne etew (minor deities). They were then commanded to go to Aruman to celebrate by feasting and chewing betel nut together. Eventually, they ascended to heaven in a golden vessel called serimbar. However, not all of Tulalang’s companions were able to board the serimbar. A command of silence was issued when the group reached the ladder leading up to the serimbar. Subsequently, various stories revolving around how this command was broken developed. In one story, a man who had left behind his bangkew (spear) kept muttering about his loss in frustration until he was turned into the bangkakew bird. In another story, a Manobo named Puhak ate so much of the food placed on the rungs of the ladder that, when he felt the urge to defecate, he forgot the command of silence and asked to be excused.

In one Ilianen tale about Tulalang, he defeats a gigantic banug (hawk or eagle) that has been preying upon the people. Its wings are so large that they are able to cover the sun. After being overcome by Tulalang, the banug decides to serve him for life. Later, Tulalang encounters a band of bandits against whom he and his brother Menelisim put up a terrific fight, but the bandits’ endurance is remarkable and they are forced to leave and rest. With the help of a spirit, Tulalang finds out that the bandits’ strength comes from their life’s breath, which is kept in a bottle safeguarded by a fearsome serpent. Tulalang travels to the serpent’s lair and slays it to obtain the bottle of life’s breath located at the center of its heart. He returns to the bandits who immediately surrender to him upon recognizing his strength and bravery. Tulalang then breaks the bottle, and this results in the death of all the bandits.

The kepuunpuun may also be historical accounts of the indigenous communities. One kepuunpuun recorded in Libungan tells of the migration of the Manobo from Aruman to Hulihuli near Cagayan de Oro. Along the way, they meet foreigners who join them in their travels and offer to educate their children. The chief, Pamulew, agrees but retracts his permission when he finds out that the children are being beaten by a rod. In retaliation, the foreigners imprison them. After escaping, they try to return to their place of origin, but the Maguindanaon datu had taken over their lands. The Manobo agree to a barter system with the Maguindanaon, supplying forest products for textiles and food, but when they try to negotiate for a fairer system through their representative named Kuyasu, Kuyasu loses his temper with the Maguindanaon datu and impales him with a spear. Agyu instructs the people to be ready to retreat and then goes to retrieve the spear. At the datu’s dwelling, he offers to heal the ailing datu on condition that they be left alone. Agyu then drives the spear further into the datu’s body before pulling it out, thereby dragging some of the datu’s intestines with it. He returns home with the spear, his people move out, and they resume their wandering.

Ilianen folktales are loosely divided into tudtul (news items), guhud (historical accounts), and teterema (formal stories), although a story may be treated as any or all of the three, with the teterema having the minor distinction of employing igundey ne lalag (decorative language). Storytellers are highly regarded as conduits of cultural heritage. Some Manobo even travel from distant places just to watch and listen to particular storytellers perform. Even as the stories transmit traditional cultural values, the storytelling itself is dynamic, adapting and integrating the various influences that affect and shape their community. Storytellers use their performances of oral literature to shed light on cultural issues underlying disputes in the community.

A favorite story is “Si Meraat Bawa wey si Mepiya Bawa,” which follows two sisters each representing good and bad traits in Ilianen society. Mepiya Bawa is industrious, courteous, generous, and respectful to animals; thus, she is blessed with bountiful harvests of camote and banana, and a good catch of fish and venison. Meraat Bawa is lazy, rude, envious, and greedy; thus, she always ends up empty-handed.

Pilanduk is the Ilianen Manobo’s trickster hero. In “Pilanduk and the Crocodile Chief,” he decides to take the datu’s wife for his own. The sea lies between him and his goal, and so he offers to give the chief of the crocodiles the datu’s wife if it will give him a ride across the sea. At the datu’s yard, he disguises himself as a singing bird on the mango tree. The datu’s wife is lured to the tree, so Pilanduk grabs her and runs back to the sea with the datu’s men in hot pursuit. Pilanduk reneges on his promise to the crocodile chief that he will give it the datu’s wife. The crocodile vows to pursue Pilanduk from then on. Several times, Pilanduk succeeds in outwitting the crocodile chief and its followers. Finally, he turns to smaller animals for help, and they succeed in killing all the crocodiles but one. The lone survivor is a pregnant female.

In “Pilanduk and the Giant,” the mischievous trickster saves the world from a devouring giant that is fast depleting the world’s population. “Lizard and Deer” is known to have been used by Manobo datus to guide them in the settling of real-life cases in which the original blame is traced back to the complainants themselves. Lizard’s attempt to hunt for food triggers a chain of startled reactions that end with her own baby lizards suffering the consequences. The grieving Lizard takes her case to the datu’s court, and the datu traces the original culprit back to herself. The tale concludes: “Whenever someone catches a lizard, he bends its tail around to its mouth in order to hang it over his carrying pole, so that what is used to carry it by is its own tail” (Ampalid 2004, 129). Thus, the image evokes the beautifully geometric textile-and-woodcarving designs of the indigenous peoples of the Philippine south.

Butterfly and Flower Drawing
“Butterfly and Flower” (Illustration by Luis Chua)

Similarly, “Butterfly and Flower” provides a real-life illustration of the methods employed by Manobo datus to settle grievances brought before them. However, besides the story’s utilitarian value, its startling imagery makes for a literary masterpiece: When Flower and Butterfly meet, “it was like tree-sap had suddenly glued their eyes together as they looked at each other.” Even the princess is smitten by Butterfly, because his “waistline is as slender as a stripped young shoot of golden bamboo.” And when they exchange greetings, it is “like the sound of bamboo exploding” (Ampalid 2004, 145).

Music, Dance and Rituals

Of all musical instruments, the agung is used most, except in times of mourning. It does, however, announce the death of a tribal member with a series of rapid then slow beats that indicate the age of the deceased. Other bamboo percussion instruments include the salurey, which accompanies dancing, and the talamba. Bamboo flutes differing in length are the pulandag, bansi, and pulala. The kubing is a bamboo mouth harp; its sound is produced by a strip that is partially cut from the middle of a thin and narrow piece of bamboo. One end is held in the mouth with one hand while the other hand strikes the strip to make it vibrate. The kutyapi is the native guitar. The dayorey, also called dayuray or dayuday, is a one-stringed fiddle also found among the Manobo.

Arumanen-Manobo playing dayuray
Arumanen-Manobo playing dayuray (Office of Southern Cultural Communities Collection, photo courtesy of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples)

The Ulahingan has four musical forms. The andal is an ordinary tune used to call the people to gather around to listen to the talaulahingan. It is not yet part of the bendingan. The undayag is a musical phrase improvised by the chanter when trying to recall the next line. The beginning of the phrase, which is set at a high pitch, is sustained and determines the pitch of the rest of the chant. The penehensan is the characteristic musical form of the bendingan, consisting of one note stressed on each syllable. To break the monotony of this one-note chant, the likuen, which consists of melodic lines, is inserted.

The Ulahingan is chanted in at least seven likuen (styles), which vary depending on the content of the stanzas. Every performance begins with a pemara, an invocation tothe guardian spirits to grant the chanter and his or her audience protection, or to the busaw not to mistake the gathering for a wake. The pemara is followed by a formulaic apology to those whose names the chanter may mention and for the shortcomings the chanter may have in rendering the story. In the story proper, the chanter skillfully employs expressions in the language of the neighboring Muslim communities, in the adapted Cebuano, in archaic Manobo, and even in borrowed Spanish.

Susunan is the generic term for any kind of song, religious or secular, “long or short, light or serious” (Maquiso 1977, 24). The term may apply even to the ulahing. The iringa is a more melodious folk song in contemporary language. The mandata are love songs. The delinday are occupation or work songs, including war songs, lullabies, planting, and harvest songs. The minudar and mauley are funeral songs, which tell the story of “a hunter who journeyed to his favorite hunting ground from where he never returned because he was killed by a giant boar” (Maquiso 1977, 31).

The Livunganen have three types of dance: the saut, the dance of the spirits, and the courtship dance. The last is performed by girls who put on a shy demeanor. With downcast eyes and raised arms, they sway their hands sideways to the beat of the agung.

Acts of worship center on one or more walian who go into a trance and are possessed by the spirit of their diwata. The opening rite of the Bulangan Festival is the kebpemaya, which originated among the Kirinteken Manobo tribe. It is said that an old Kirintek woman was transformed by the diwata into a python, which now resides in the Meridegew River. The people pray to her for enlightenment. Two walian chant a prayer to the old woman’s spirit, asking for her blessing. The people respond in a chorus. After the seventh cycle of prayers, the old woman’s spirit enters one of the walian, who begins to tremble and then engages the crowd in a chanting dialogue. Through the possessed walian, the old woman asks the crowd why they are praying. Someone may consult her about the cause of a loved one’s illness or courteously ask whether she is pleased with the festival. The old woman replies through the walian.

Another occasion in which the walian may call for a religious gathering is when they receive a message from a spirit about an impending danger or sickness. They relay this to the timuay, who then calls for an assembly that includes all the other walian of the tribe. The ritual, which lasts about two to three hours, begins when the women offer the diwata baskets of food and betel chew that they lay on a rattan mat in the middle of the assembly. The sap extracted from a tree is burned to drive away human odor, which offends the spirits. The head walian takes a piece of food from each basket and offers it to the spirits. There is a break for supper, after which all the walian, now dressed in white ritual dress, sit around the betel chew offering. The spouses of the walian stand behind them, each rhythmically beating a sacred porcelain plate. The walian show signs of possession when they yawn, tremble, and stand up for about 10 to 15 minutes or more; their movements become more and more frenzied as they march around and dance to the rhythm being beaten on the floor by the spectators.

The Langkat sect has its own variation of this ritual, which is held every Friday in a one-room house called a bintana. The men and women are segregated on either side of the room. At one end of the room is an altar with a white mantelpiece. The ubiquitous betel chew is placed in each corner as an offering. Possession begins when the leader starts to chant in a low voice, which increases in pitch, volume, and intensity as the leader, swaying rhythmically, is gripped in a trance. Everyone then takes turns chanting as the spirits communicate with them. The leader conveys the people’s needs, problems, and wishes to the spirits.

Storytelling among the Ilianen is an art form requiring skills that entail years of practice to acquire. In a common gathering, storytellers register their desire to narrate a story by rising repeatedly from their position on the floor or adjusting themselves until they are noticed and invited by the host to perform. If deemed incompetent, they are simply ignored. Once acknowledged, the storytellers request the host to extinguish the lights, or they sit with their back to the audience, and they pull up their malung over their head. A dim environment is perceived ideal for better reception and greater depth of the audience’s imagination.

Every story is introduced with hane (take note). The audience responds with undug te etew (audience responses) to urge the storyteller to continue. Narrators are expected to egkepeneheewit ke menge etew ne ebpemineg riya te edteteremen, meaning “to cause those who are listening to be brought along to where the story is taking place.” Thus, they stimulate audience interaction by using narrative devices that evoke imagery and heighten vividness. This is accomplished through the use of strategic pronoun shifts, dramatic tenses, depictive paragraphs, shifts in points of view, and rhetorical devices like parallelism, paraphrasing, rhetorical questioning, dramatic dialogues, and changes in pacing or other temporal experimentations. Audience interaction is important because it indicates if the embedded values in the narratives have been communicated. By cheering on a good character, they affirm certain moral and cultural values; by admonishing or mocking a bad character, they reinforce standards of conduct in the community. The audience members are also integral to the way that the narrative unfolds, as their reactions and remarks convey signals to the narrator as to when to pause or continue. The whole performance shows that many Manobo are “passive bearers” of oral tradition even as the storytellers remain its active source and conduit (Wrigglesworth 1993).

A good storyteller can sustain one story for an entire night until dawn. The end of a story is marked by the use of words like taman (limit or end), amin (to use up or consume), or ipus (to finish or complete something). The traditional opportunities for large gatherings where storytelling may take place have decreased in recent decades, but gatherings of a more modern nature, such as town festivals and tourist shows, now provide new reasons for the Arumanen to perform and record their oral traditions.

Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Tribe in Media

There are only two FM radio stations in North Cotabato, particularly in the Midsayap Municipality. DXDN-FM Kiss FM is operated by DXRA-RMC Broadcasting Corporation while DXMA-FM Wow Radio by Polytechnic Foundation of Cotabato and Asia. Most other radio stations, twelve FM and Cotabato’s lone AM station DXAZ-AM Radyo Ukay operated by the University of Mindanao, are based in Kidapawan City. The rest of Cotabato’s FM radio stations are based in the Kabacan (DXAG-FM and DXVL-FM Kool FM), Tulunan (GNN-FM), M’lang (DXFM-FM X FM), and Matalam (DXMP-FM) municipalities ( 2021).

There are many television stations in Soccsksargen or Region XII; most are based in cities like General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal, and Kidapawan. Those operating from Kidapawan City are Polytechnic Foundation of Cotabato and Asia Inc.’s Channel 10, Interactive Broadcast Media Inc.’s Channel 35, Swara Sug Media Corp.’s Channel 31, Nation Broadcasting Corp’s Channel 21, and before its operation was halted, ABS-CBN Corp.’s Channel 21. Polytechnic Foundation of Cotabato and Asia Inc also operates channels 37 and 39 with bases of operations in Midsayap and Kabacan, respectively ( 2016).

While most movie houses in the region are in shopping malls in Marbel, General Santos, and regional center Koronadal in South Cotabato ( 2021), there is a small theater house along Quezon Boulevard in Kidapawan City called Imus Cinema ( 2021).

In early 1960s, Elena G. Maquiso, Divinity School professor at the Silliman University, recorded the Livunganen-Arumanen epic Ulahingan into 343 audio cassette tapes. She was able to publish these recordings and the tapes were preserved with the help of funding from several institutions including Silliman, Toyota Foundation, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Institute for Religion and Culture of the Philippines, and Vereinigti Evangelische Mission of Germany. While most of these recordings have already been transcribed, calls to digitize the audio files took time to be answered (Godinez-Ortega 2013). Finally digitized in 2016, the recordings are now better preserved and more accessible to researchers at the Silliman University Library (Cabristante 2016).

Video: The Manobo of North Cotabato

“The Manobo of North Cotabato,” 2016, is a short YouTube video clip on “the Manobo tribe” in Bentangan in the municipality of Carmen. Produced by The Blockhouse Digital as part of their effort to promote less-visited remote areas in the country, the video shows sneak peeks of the life and culture of the Manobo village folk. Its content however caters to the tourist traveler more than anything else. The beginning of the clip informs its viewer that the 45-minute jeepney ride to the village from town costs one dollar and ends with a video of “a brave Manobo elder” hanging high above the tree line to tend to a hanging pipeline that is the village’s only water source (The Blockhouse Digital 2016).


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This article is from the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition.

Title: Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo

Author/s: Rosario Cruz-Lucero (1994) / Updated by Louise Jashil R. Sonido (2018) and Gonzalo A. Campoamor II (2021)


Publication Date: November 18, 2020

Access Date: September 12, 2022


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