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Title: The Manóbos of Mindanáo

Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIII, First Memoir

Author: John M. Garvan

Release Date: June 16, 2006 [eBook #18607]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


E-text prepared by Carl D. DuBois

Transcriber's note:
All Philippine peso amounts are indicated by an upper case "P" instead of a fancier graphics character.
All fractional centavo amounts have been converted to decimal equivalents.















For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. - - - - - - - - - - Price $1.00 (paper cover)






 - - - - - - 














 CHAPTER I. Classification and geographical distribution of Manóbos and other peoples in eastern Mindanáo
   Explanation of terms
     "Eastern Mindanáo"
     The term "tribe"
     Present use of the word "Manóbo"
     The derivation and original application of the word "Manóbo"
   Geographical distribution of the Manóbos in eastern Mindanáo
     In the Agúsan Valley
     On the eastern side of the Pacific Cordillera
     On the peninsula of San Agustin
     The Mamánuas, or Negritos, and Negrito-Manóbo half-breeds
     The Banuáons
     The Mañgguáñgans
     The Mansákas
     The Debabáons
     The Mandáyas
       The Tágum branch
       The Agúsan Valley branch
       The Pacific coast branch
       The gulf of Davao branch
     The Moros
     The Biláns
     The Tagakaólos
     Lóaks or Lóags
     The conquistas or recently Christianized peoples
       The Manóbo conquistas
       The Mandáya conquistas
       The Mamánua conquistas
       The Mañgguáñgan conquistas
       The Mansáka conquistas
       The Debabáon conquistas
   The Bisáyas or Christian Filipinos
 CHAPTER II. Physical characteristics and general appearance of the Manóbos of eastern Mindanáo
   Physical type
       Divergence of types
     General physical type
   Racial and tribal affinities
     Montano's Indonesian theory
     Keane's view
     The Indonesian theory as applied to Manóbos
   Physical type of contiguous peoples
     The Mañgguáñgans
     The Mandáyas
     The Debabáons
     The Mamánuas
     The Banuáons
   Physical appearance as modified by dress and ornamentation
 CHAPTER III. A survey of the material and sociological culture of the Manóbos of eastern Mindanáo
   General material culture
     Narcotic and stimulating enjoyments
     Means of subsistence
     Weapons and implements
     Industrial activities
     General sociological culture
     Domestic life
       Marital relations
       Pregnancy, birth, and childhood
       Medicine, sickness, and death
       Social and family enjoyments
     Political organization
       System of government and social control
       Methods of warfare
       Intertribal and analogous relations
     Administration of justice
       General principles and various laws
       Regulations governing domestic relations and property; customary procedure in settlement of disputes
 CHAPTER IV. Religious ideas and mental characteristics in general
   A brief survey of religion
     The basis, influence, and machinery of religion
     The hierarchy of Manóbo divinities, beneficent and malignant
     Priests, their functions, attributes, and equipment
     The main characteristics of Manóbo religion
   Mental and other attainments and characteristics
 CHAPTER V. The Manobo home
   In general
   Motives that determine the selection of the site
     Religious motives
     Material motives
   Religious ceremonies connected with the erection of a house
   Structure of the house
     The materials
     The dimensions and plan of construction
     The floor
     The roof and the thatch
     The walls
     The doorway and the ladder
     Internal arrangements
   The furniture and equipment of the house
   The underpart and the environment of the house
   Order and cleanliness of the house
   General remarks
     Delicacy in exposure of the person
     Variety in quantity and quality of clothes
     The use of bark cloth
     Dress as an indication of rank
     Dress in general
     Preferential colors in dress
   The man's dress
     Hats and headkerchiefs
     The jacket
     The lower garment
     The girdle
     The betel-nut knapsack
   The woman's dress
     The jacket
       The upper Agúsan style
       The style of the central group
     The girdle and its pendants
     The skirt
 CHAPTER VII. Personal adornment
   General remarks
   Hair and head adornment
     Care and ornamentation of the head
     Ear disks
   Neck and breast ornaments
   Arm and hand ornamentation
   Knee and ankle adornments
   Body mutilations
     General remarks
     Mutilation of the teeth
     Mutilation of the ear lobes
 CHAPTER VIII. Alimentation
   Fire and its production
     The "fire-saw"
     The steel and flint process
     Continuation of the fire
   Culinary and table equipment
   Various kinds of food
   The preparation and cooking of food
     Preparing the food
     Cooking the food
   Food restrictions and taboos
     Ordinary meals
     Festive meals
 CHAPTER IX. Narcotic and stimulating enjoyments
   Drinks used by the Manobos
     Sugar-palm wine
     Báhi toddy
     Sugarcane brew
       Extraction of the juice
     General remarks
     The sumsúm-an
     Drinking during religious and social feasts
     Evil effects from drinking
   Tobacco preparation and use
   The betel-nut masticatory
     Ingredients and effect of the quid
     Betel chewing accessories
 CHAPTER X. Means of subsistence
     General remarks
     The time and place for planting rice
     The sowing ceremony
     The clearing of the land
     The sowing of the rice and its culture
     The rice harvest
     The harvest feast
     The culture of other crops
     Hunting with dogs
     Offering to Sugúdun, the spirit of hunters
     The hunt
     Hunting taboos and beliefs
     Other methods of obtaining game
     Trapping ceremonies and taboos
     The bamboo spear trap
     Other varieties of traps
     Shooting with bow and arrow
     Fishing with hook and line
       The túba method
       The túbli method
       The lágtañg method
     Dry-season lake fishing
     Fishing with nets, traps, and torches
 CHAPTER XI. Weapons and implements
   Introductory remarks
   Offensive weapons
     The bow and arrow
     The bolo and its sheath
     A magic test for the efficiency of a bolo
     The lance
     The dagger and its sheath
   Defensive weapons
     The shield
     Traps and caltrops
   Agricultural implements
     The ax
     The bolo
     The rice header
   Fishing implements
     The fishing bow and arrow
     The fish spear
   Hunting implements
     The spear
     The bow and arrow
     The blowgun
 CHAPTER XII. Industrial activities
   Division of labor
     Male activities
     Female activities
   Male industries in detail
     Boat building
     Plaiting and other activities
   Female industries in detail
     Weaving and its accessory processes
     Tailoring and mat making
 CHAPTER XIII. Domestic life and marital relations
   Arranging the marriage
     Selection of the bride
     Courtship and antenuptial relations
     Begging for the hand of the girl
     Determination of the marriage payment
     The marriage feast and payment
     The reciprocatory payment and banquet
   Marriage and marriage contracts
     The marriage rite
     Marriage by capture
     Prenatal marriage contracts and child marriage
     Polygamy and kindred institutions
     Endogamy and consanguineous marriages
     Intertribal and other marriages
   Married life and the position of the wife
   Residence of the son-in-law and the brother-in-law system
 CHAPTER XIV. Domestic life: Pregnancy, birth, and childhood
   Desire for progeny
   Birth and pregnancy taboos
     Taboos to be observed by the husband
     Taboos to be observed by the wife
     Taboos to be observed by both husband and wife
     Taboos enjoined on visitors
     Artificial abortion
     Involuntary abortion
   The approach of parturition
     The midwife
     Prenatal magic aids
     Prenatal religious aids
   Accouchement and ensuing events
   Postnatal customs
     The birth ceremony
     The naming and care of the child
   Birth anomalies
 CHAPTER XV. Domestic life: Medicine, sickness, and death
   Medicine and disease
     Natural medicines and diseases
     Magic ailments and means of producing them
     The composition of a few "Kometán"
     Other magic means
     Bodily ailments proceeding from supernatural causes
       Sickness due to capture of the "soul" by an inimical spirit
       Epidemics attributed to the malignancy of sea demons
       Propitiation of the demons of contagious diseases
   Sickness and death
     The theory of death
     Fear of the dead and of the death spirits
     Incidents accompanying deaths
     Preparation of the corpse
     The funeral
     Certain mourning taboos are observed
     Death and burial of one killed by an enemy, of a warrior chief, and of a priest
     The after world
     The death feast
 CHAPTER XVI. Social enjoyments
   Instrumental music
     The drum
     The gong
       The paúndag flute
       The to-áli flute
       The lántui
       The sá-bai flute
       The vine-string guitar
       The bamboo-string guitar
       The takúmbo
     The violin
     The jew's-harp
     The stamper and the horn of bamboo
   Vocal music
     The language of song
     The subject matter of songs
     The music and the method of singing
     Ceremonial songs
     The ordinary social dance
     The religious dance
     Mimetic dances
       The bathing dance
       The dagger or sword dance
       The apian dance
       The depilation dance
       The sexual dance
       The war dance
 CHAPTER XVII. Political organization: System of government and social control
     Territories of the clans and number of people composing them
     Interclan relations
   The chief and his power
     The source of the chief's authority
     Equality among the people
     Respect for ability and old age
   The warrior chief
     General character
     Insignia and prowess of the warrior chief
     The warrior's title to recognition
     Various degrees of warrior chiefship
   The warrior chief in his capacity as chief
   The warrior chief as priest and medicine man
 CHAPTER XVIII. Political organization: War, its origin, inception, course, and termination
   Military affairs in general
   The origin of war
     Private seizure
     Debts and sexual infringements
   Inception of war
     Declaration of war
     Time for war
     Preparations for war
   The attack
     Time and methods of attack
   Events following the battle
     Celebration of the victory
     The capture of slaves
   The return of the warriors
   Ambushes and other methods of warfare
 CHAPTER XIX. Political organization: General principles of the administration of justice: customary, proprietary, and liability laws
   General considerations
   General principles
     The principle of material substitution
     Right to a fair hearing
     Securing the defendant's good will
     Foundations of Manóbo law
   Customary law
     Its natural basis
     Its religious basis
   Proprietary laws and obligations
     Conception of property rights
     Land and other property
   Laws of contract
   The law of debt
   Interest, loans, and pledges
     Loans and pledges
   Laws of liability
     Liability arising from natural causes
     Liability arising from religious causes
     Liability arising from magic causes
     The system of fines
 CHAPTER XX. Political organization: Customs regulating domestic relations and family property; procedure for the attainment of justice
   Family property
   Rules of inheritance
   Rules governing the relations of the sexes
     Moral offenses
     Marriage contracts and payments
     Illegitimate children
     Extent of authority of father and husband
     Residence of the husband
   Crimes and their penalties
     The private seizure
     Penalties for minor offenses
   Customary procedure
     Preliminaries to arbitration
     General features of a greater arbitration
   Determination of guilt
     By witnesses
     By oaths
     By the testimony of the accused
     By ordeals
       The hot-water ordeal
       The diving ordeal
       The candle ordeal
     By circumstantial evidence
   Enforcement of the sentence
 CHAPTER XXI. Political organization: Intertribal and other relations
   Intertribal relations
   Interclan relations
   External commercial relations
     Exploitation by Christian natives
       Exploitation by falsification
       Defraudation by usury and excessive prices
       Exploitation by the system of commutation
       Wheedling or the puának system
       Bartering transactions
     General conditions of trading
   Internal commercial relations
     Money and substitutes for it
     Prevailing Manóbo prices
     Weights and measures
   Slave trade and slaves
     Slave trade
     Classes of slaves
     Delivery and treatment of slaves
 CHAPTER XXII. General principles of Manóbo religion and nature and classification of Manobo deities
   General principles of religion
     Sincerity of belief
     Basis of religious belief
     Means of detecting supernatural evil
     Belief in an hierarchy of beneficent and malignant deities
     Other tenets of Manobo faith
     Spirit companions of man
   General character of the deities
   Classification of deities and spirits
     Benevolent deities
     Gods of gore and rage
     Malignant and dangerous spirits
     Agricultural goddesses
     Giant spirits
     Gods of lust and consanguineous love
     Spirits of celestial phenomena
     Other spirits
   Nature of the various divinities in detail,
     The primary deities
     The secondary order of deities
     The gods of gore, and kindred spirits
 CHAPTER XXIII. Maleficent spirits
   The origin and nature of malignant demons
   Methods of frustrating their evil designs
     Through priests
     By various material means
     By propitiation
   The tagbánua, or local forest spirits
     Their characteristics and method of living
     Definite localities tenanted by forest spirits
   Worship of the forest spirits
 CHAPTER XXIV. Priests, their prerogatives and functions
   The bailán or ordinary Manobo priests
     Their general character
     Their prerogatives
     Sincerity of the priests
     Their influence
     Their dress and functions
   The bagáni, or priests of war and blood
 CHAPTER XXV. Ceremonial accessories and religious rites
   General remarks
   The paraphernalia of the priest
     The religious shed and the bailán's house
     Equipment for ceremonies
     Ceremonial decorations
     Sacred images
      Ceremonial offerings
   Religious rites
     Method of performance
       The betel-nut tribute
       The offering of incense
       Prophylactic fowl waving
       Blood lustration
       Lustration by water
 CHAPTER XXVI. Sacrifices and war rites
   The sacrifice of a pig
   Rites peculiar to the war priests
     The betel-nut offering to the souls of the enemies
     Various forms of divination
       The betel-nut cast
       Divination from the báguñg vine
       Divination from báya squares,
   Invocation of the omen bird
   The tagbúsau's feast
   Human sacrifice
 CHAPTER XXVII. Divination and omens
   In general
   Miscellaneous casual omens
   Divination by dreams
   Divination by geometrical figures
     The vine omen
     The rattan omen
   Divination by suspension and other methods
     The suspension omen
     The omen from eggs
   Divination by sacrificial appearances
     The blood omen
     The neck omen
     The omen from the gall
     The omen from the liver
     The omen from a fowl's intestinal appendix
     In general
     Respect toward the omen bird
     Interpretation of the omen bird's call
     Birds of evil omen
 CHAPTER XXVIII. Mythological and kindred beliefs
   The creation of the world
   Celestial phenomena
     The rainbow
     Thunder and lightning
     Eclipse of the moon
     Origin of the stars and the explanation of sunset and sunrise
   The story of the Ikúgan, or tailed men, and of the resettlement of the Agúsan Valley
   Peculiar animal beliefs
   The petrified craft and crew of Kagbubátañg
   Angó, the petrified Manóbo
 CHAPTER XXIX. The great religious movement of 1908-1910
   The extent of the movement
   Reported origin and character of the revival
   Spread of the movement
   Its exterior character and general features
   The principal tenets of the movement
     New order of deities
     Observances prescribed by the founder
   Religious rites
   The real nature of the movement and means used to carry on the fraud
     The sacred traffic
     Religious tours
     The whistling scheme
     Pretended chastity and austerity
   The end of the movement
   Similar movements in former years
 Historical references to the Manóbos of eastern Mindanao
   Early history up to 1875
   From 1875 to 1910
   Methods adopted by the missionaries in the Christianization of the Manóbos
   The secret of missionary success
 Explanation of plates






Throughout this monograph I have used the term "eastern Mindanáo" to include that part of Mindanáo that is east of the central Cordillera as far south as the headwaters of the River Libagánon, east of the River Tágum and its influent the Libagánon, and east of the gulf of Davao.


The word "tribe" is used in the sense in which Dean C. Worcester defines and uses it in his article on The non-Christian Tribes of Northern Luzon:1

A division of a race composed of an aggregate of individuals of a kind and of a common origin, agreeing among themselves in, and distinguished from their congeners by physical characteristics, dress, and ornaments; the nature of the communities which they form; peculiarities of house architecture; methods of hunting, fishing, and carrying on agriculture; character and importance of manufacture; practices relative to war and the taking of heads of enemies; arms used in warfare; music and dancing, and marriage and burial customs; but not constituting a political unit subject to the control of any single individual nor necessarily speaking the same dialect.

1Philip. Journ. Sci., 1: 803, 1906.


The word "Manóbo" seems to be a generic name for people of greatly divergent culture, physical type, and language. Thus it is applied to the people that dwell in the mountains of the lower half of Point San Agustin as well as to those people whose habitat is on the southern part of the Sarangani Peninsula. Those, again, that occupy the hinterland of Tuna Bay2 come under the same designation. So it might seem that the word was originally used to designate the pagan as distinguished from the Mohammedanized people of Mindanáo, much as the name Harafóras or Alfúros was applied by the early writers to the pagans to distinguish them from the Moros.

2Tuna Bay is on the southern coast of Mindanáo, about halfway between Sarangani Bay and Parang Bay.

In the Agúsan Valley the term manóbo is used very frequently by Christian and by Christianized peoples, and sometimes by pagans themselves, to denote that the individual in question is still unbaptized, whether he be tribally a Mandáya, a Mañgguáñgan, or of some other group. I have been told by Mandáyas on several occasions that they were still manóbo, that is, still unbaptized.

Then, again, the word is frequently used by those who are really Manóbos as a term of contempt for their fellow tribesmen who live in remoter regions and who are not as well off in a worldly or a culture[sic] way as they are. Thus I have heard Manóbos of the upper Agúsan refer to their fellow-tribesmen of Libagánon as Manóbos, with evident contempt in the voice. I asked them what they themselves were, and in answer was informed that they were Agusánon--that is, upper Agúsan people--not Manóbos.


One of the earliest references that I find to the Manóbos of the Agúsan Valley is in the General History of the Discalced Augustinian Fathers (1661-1699) by Father Pedro de San Francisco de Assis.3 The author says that "the mountains of that territory4 are inhabited by a nation of Indians, heathens for the greater part, called Manóbos, a word signifying in that language, as if we should say here, robust or very numerous people." I have so far found no word in the Manóbo dialect that verifies the correctness of the above statement. It may be said, however, in favor of this derivation that manúsia is the word for "man" or "mankind" in the Malay, Moro (Magindanáo), and Tirurái languages. In Bagóbo, a dialect that shows very close resemblance to Manóbo, the word Manóbo means "man," and in Magindanáo Moro it means "mountain people,"5 and is applied by the Moros to all the mountain people of Mindanáo. It might be maintained, therefore, with some semblance of reason that the word Manóbo means simply "people." Some of the early historians use the words Manóbo, Mansúba, Manúbo. These three forms indicate the derivation to be from a prefix man, signifying "people" or "dweller," and súba, a river. From the form Manúbo, however, we might conclude that the word is made up of man("people"), and húbo("naked"), therefore meaning the "naked people." The former derivation, however, appears to be more consonant with the principles upon which Mindanáo tribal names, both general and local, are formed. Thus Mansáka, Mandáya, Mañgguáñgan are derived, the first part of each, from man ("people" or "dwellers"), and the remainder of the words, respectively, from sáka ("interior"), dáya ("up the river"), guáñgan ("forest"). These names then mean "people of the interior," "people that dwell on the upper reaches of the river," and "people that dwell in the forest." Other tribal designations of Mindanáo races and tribes are almost without exception derived from words that denote the relative geographic position of the tribe in question. The Banuáon and Mamánua are derived from banuá, the "country," as distinguished from settlements near the main or settled part of the river. The Bukídnon are the mountain people (bukid, mountain); Súbanun, the river people (súba, river); Tirurái, the mountain people (túduk, mountain, etéu, man);6 Tagakaólo, the people at the very source of a river (tága, inhabitant, ólo, head or source).

3Blair and Robertson, 41: 153, 1906.

4The author refers to the mountains in the vicinity of Líano, a town that stood down the river from the present Veruéla and which was abandoned when the region subsided.

5Fr. Jacinto Juanmarti's Diccionario Moro Magindanáo-Español (Manila, 1892), 125.

6My authority for this derivation is a work by Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera on The Origin of Philippine Tribal Names.

The derivation of the above tribal designations leads us to the opinion that the word Manóbo means by derivation a "river-man," and not a "naked man."

A further alternative derivation has been suggested by Dr. N. M. Saleeby,7 from the word túbo, "to grow"; the word Manóbo, according to this derivation, would mean the people that grew up on the island, that is the original settlers or autochthons. The word túbo, "to grow," is not, however, a Manóbo word, and it is found only in a few Mindanáo dialects.

7Origin of Malayan Filipinos, a paper read before the Philippine Academy, Manila, Nov. 1, 1911.

Father F. Combes, S. J.,8 says that the owners, that is, the autochthonic natives of Mindanáo, were called Manóbos and Mananápes.9 In a footnote referring to Mananápes, it is stated, and appears very reasonable and probable, that the above-mentioned term is not a tribal designation but merely an appellation of contempt used on account of the low culture possessed by the autochthons at that time.

8Historia de Mindanáo y Jolo (Madrid, 1664). Ed. Retana (Madrid, 1897).

9The word mananáp is the word for animal, beast in the Cebu Bisáya, Bagóbo, Tirurái, and Magindanáo Moro languages. Among some of the tribes of eastern Mindanáo, the word is applied to a class of evil forest spirits of apparently indeterminate character. It is noteworthy that these spirits seem to correspond to the Manubu spirits of the Súbanuns as described by Mr. Emerson B. Christie in his Súbanuns of Sindangan Bay (Pub. Bur. Sci., Div. Eth., 88, 1909).

Hence there seems to be some little ground for supposing that the word Manóbo was originally applied to all the people that formerly occupied the coast and that later fled to the interior, and settled along the rivers, yielding the seashore to the more civilized invaders.

The following extract from Dr. N. M. Saleeby10 bears out the above opinion:

10The Origin of the Malayan Filipinos, a paper read before the Philippine Academy on Nov. 1, 1911.

The traditions and legends of the primitive tribes of the Philippine Archipelago show very clearly that they believe that their forefathers arose in this land and that they have been here ever since their creation. They further say that the coast tribes and foreigners came later and fought them and took possession of the land which the latter occupy at present. When Masha' ika, the earliest recorded immigrant, reached Súlu Island, the aborigines had already developed to such a stage of culture as to have large settlements and rajas or datus.

These aborigines are often referred to in Súlu and Mindanáo as Manubus, the original inhabitants of Súlu Islands, the Budanuns, were called Manubus also. So were the forefathers of the Magindanáo Moros. The most aboriginal hill tribes of Mindanáo, who number about 60,000 souls or more, are called Manubus.

[Transcriber's note: Both of the above paragraphs comprise the quotation.]

The idea that the original owners were called Manóbos is the opinion of San Antonio also, as expressed in his Cronicas.11 Such a supposition might serve also to explain the wide distribution of the different Manóbo people in Mindanáo, for, besides occupying the regions above-mentioned, they are found on the main tributaries of the Rio Grande de Kotabáto--the Batañgan, the Biktósa, the Luan, the Narkanitan, etc., and especially on the River Pulañgi--on nearly all the influents of the last-named stream, and on the Hiñgoog River in the Province of Misamis. As we shall see later on, even in the Agúsan Valley, the Manóbos were gradually split on the west side of the river by the ingress, as of some huge wedge, of the Banuáons. Crossing the eastern Cordillera, a tremendous mass of towering pinnacles--the home of the Mamánuas--we find Manóbos occupying the upper reaches of the Rivers Hubo, Marihátag, Kagwáit, Tágo, Tándag, and Kantílan, on the Pacific coast. I questioned the Manóbos of the rivers Tágo and Hubo as to their genealogy and former habitat and found that their parents, and even some of themselves, had lived on the river Kasilaían, but that, owing to the hostility of the Banuáons, they had fled to the river Wá-Wa. At the time of the coming of the Catholic missionaries in 1875, these Manóbos made their way across the lofty eastern Cordillera in an attempt to escape from the missionary activities. These two migrations are a forcible example of what may have taken place in the rest of Mindanáo to bring about such a wide distribution of what was, perhaps, originally one people. Each migration led to the formation of a new group from which, as from a new nucleus, a new tribe may have developed in the course of time.

11Blair and Robertson, 40: 315, 1906.


12See tribal map.


The Manóbos occupy the whole Agúsan Valley as far as the town of Buai on the upper Agúsan with the following exceptions:

1. The upper parts of the rivers Lamiñga, Kandiisan, Hawilian, and Óhut, and the whole of the river Maásam, together with the mountainous region beyond the headwaters of these rivers, and probably the territory beyond in the district of Misamis, as far over as the habitat of the Bukídnon tribe.13

13The reason for the insertion of this last clause is that the people inhabiting the mountains at the headwaters of the above rivers have the same physical types, dress, and weapons as the Bukídnons, if I may judge from my slight acquaintance with the latter.

2. The towns of Butuán, Talakógon, Bunáwan, Veruéla, and Prosperidad.

3. The town of Tagusab and the headwaters of the Tutui and Binuñgñgaan Rivers.


In this region I include the upper waters of the Liañga, Hubo, Oteiza, Marihátag, Kagwáit, Tágo, Tándag, and Kantílan Rivers.


I desire to call the reader's attention to the fact that this monograph has no reference to the Manóbos of Port San Agustin nor to the Manóbos of the Libagánon River and its tributaries, nor to the Manóbos that occupy the hinterland above Nasipit as far as the Bugábus River. I had only cursory dealings with the inhabitants of the last-named region but both from my own scant observations and from the reports of others more familiar with them, I am inclined to believe that there may be differences great enough to distinguish them from the other peoples of the Agúsan Valley as a distinct tribe.

As to the Manóbos of Libagánon, it is probable that they have more or less the same cultural and linguistic characteristics as the Manóbos that form the subject matter of this paper, but, as I did not visit them nor get satisfactory information regarding them, I prefer to leave them untouched until further investigation.

Of the Manóbos of the lower half of the peninsula of San Agustin, I know absolutely nothing except that they are known as Manóbos. I noted, however, in perusing the Jesuit letters14 that there were in the year 1891 not only Manóbos but Moros, Biláns, and Tagakaólos in that region.

14Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, 9: 335, et seq., 1892.


The Mamánuas, or Negritos, and Negrito-Manóbo half-breeds of Mindanáo occupy the mountains from Anao-aon near Surigao down to the break in the eastern Cordillera, northwest of Liañga. They also inhabit a small range that extends in a northeasterly direction from the Cordillera to Point Kawit on the east coast.

I heard three trustworthy reports of the existence of Negritos in eastern Mindanáo. The first report I heard on the Umaíam River (Walo, August, 1909). It was given to me by a Manóbo chief from the River Ihawán. He assured and reassured me that on the Lañgilañg River, near the Libagánon River exists a group of what he called Manóbos but who were very small, black as an earthen pot, kinky-haired, without clothes except bark-cloth, very peaceable and harmless, but very timid. I interrogated him over and over as to the bark-cloth that he said these people wore. He said in answer that it was called agahan and that it was made out of the bark of a tree whose name I can not recall. He described the process of beating the bark and promised to bring me, 60 days from the date of our conference, a loin cloth of one of these people. I inquired as to their manner of life, and was assured that they were tau-batañg; that is, people who slept under logs or up in trees. He said that he and his people had killed many of them, but that he was still on terms of friendship with some of them.

The second report as to the existence of Negritos I heard on the Baglásan River, a tributary of the Sálug River. The chiefs whom I questioned had never visited the Negritos but had purchased from the Tugawanons15 many Negrito slaves whom they had sold to the Mandáyas of the Kati'il and Karága Rivers. This statement was probably true, for I saw one slave, a full-blooded Negrito girl, on the upper Karága during my last trip and received from her my third and most convincing report of the existence of Negritos other than the Mamánuas of the eastern Cordillera. She had been captured, she said, by the Manóbos of Libagánon and sold to the Debabáons (upper Sálug people). She could not describe the place where her people live, but she gave me the following information about them. They are all like herself, and they have no houses nor crops, because they are afraid of the Manóbos that surround them. Their food is the core16 of the green rattan and of fishtail palm,17 the flesh of wild boar, deer, and python, and such fish and grubs, etc., as they find in their wanderings. They sleep anywhere; sometimes even in trees, if they have seen strange footprints.

15The Tugawanons were described by my Sálug authorities as a people that lived at the headwaters of the River Libagánon on a tributary called Tugawan. They were described as a people of medium stature, as fair as the Mansákas, very warlike, enemies of the reported Negritos, very numerous, and speaking an Atás dialect. Perhaps the term Tugawanon is only a local name for a branch of the Atás tribe.


17Ba-hi (Caryota sp.).

Their weapons are bows and arrows, lances, daggers, and bolos. According to her description, the bolos are long and thin, straight on one side and curved on the other. The men purchase them from the Atás in exchange for beeswax. The people are numerous, but they live far apart, roaming through the forests and mountains, and meeting one another only occasionally.

The statements of this slave girl correspond in every particular with the report that I received on the upper Sálug, except that the Sálug people called these Negritos Tugmaya and said that they live beyond a mountain that is at the headwaters of the Libagánon River.

Putting together these three reports and assuming the truth of them, the habitat of these Negritos must be the slopes of Mount Panombaian, which is situated between, and is probably the source of, the Rivers Tigwa (an important tributary of the Rio Grande de Kotabáto), Sábud (the main western tributary of the Ihawán River), and Libagánon (the great western influent of the Tágum River).

Montano states that during his visit to the Philippines (1880-81) there were on the island of Samal a class of half-blood Ata' with distinctly Negroid physical characteristics. Treating of Ata' he says that it is a term applied in the south of Mindanáo by Bisáyas to Negritos "that exist (or existed not long ago) in the interior toward the northwest of the gulf of Davao."18 A careful distinction must be made between the term Atás19 and the racial designation Ata', for the former are, according to Doctor Montano, a tribe of a superior type, of advanced culture, and of great reputation as warriors. They dwell on the northwestern slope of Mount Apo, hence their name Atás, hatáas, or atáas, being a very common word in Mindanáo for "high." They are, therefore, the people that dwell on the heights. I heard of one branch of them called Tugawanons, but this is probably only a local name like Agúsanons, etc.

18Une Mission aux Philippines, 346, 1887.

19Called also Itás.

I found reports of the former existence of Negritos in the Karága River Valley at a place called Sukipin, where the river has worn its way through the Cordillera. An old man there told me that his grandfather used to hunt the Negritos. The Mandáyas both of that region and of Tagdauñg-duñg, a district situated on the Karága River, five days' march from the mouth, on the western side of the Cordillera, show here and there characteristics, physical and cultural, that they could have inherited only from Negrito ancestors. One interesting trait of this particular group is the use of blowpipes for killing small birds. In the use of the bow and arrow, too, they are quite expert. These people are called taga-butái--that is, mountain dwellers--and live in places on the slopes of high mountains difficult of access, their watering-place being frequently a little hole on the side of the mountain.


The Banuáons,20 probably an extension of the Bukídnons of the Bukídnon subprovince. They occupy the upper parts of the Rivers Lamiñga, Kandiisan, Hawilian, and Óhut, and the whole of the River Maásam, together with the mountainous region beyond the headwaters of these rivers, and probably extend over to the Bukídnons.

20Also called Higaunon or Higagaun, probably "the Hadgaguanes--a people untamed and ferocious"--to whom the Jesuits preached shortly after the year 1596. (Jesuit Mission, Blair and Robertson, 44:60, 1906.) These may be the people whom Pigaffetta, in his First Voyage Around the World (1519-1522) calls Benaian (Banuáon ?) and whom he describes as "shaggy and living at a cape near a river in the islands of Butuán and Karága--great fighters and archers--eating only raw human hearts with the juice of oranges or lemons" (Blair and Robertson, 30:243, 1906).


This tribe occupies the towns of Tagusab and Pilar on the upper Agúsan, the range between the Sálug and the Agúsan, the headwaters of the Mánat River, and the water-shed between the Mánat and the Mawab. The physical type of many of them bespeaks an admixture of Negrito blood, and their timidity and, on occasions, their utter lack of good judgment, brand them as the lowest people, after the Mamánuas, in eastern Mindanáo. One authority, a Jesuit missionary, I think, estimated their number at 30,000. An estimate, based on the reports of the people of Compostela, places their number at 10,000 just before my departure from the Agúsan Valley in 1910. The decrease, if the two estimates are correct, is probably due to intertribal and interclan wars.


The Mansákas do not seem to me to be as distinct tribally as are the Manóbos and Mandáyas. It would appear from their physical appearance and other characteristics that they should be classed as Mandáyas, or as a subtribe of Mandáyas with whom they form one dialect group. I judge them to be the result of intermarriage between the Mañgguáñgans and the Mandáyas. They occupy the Mawab River Valley and the region included between the Hijo, Mawab, and Madawan Rivers. They are probably the people whom Montano called Tagabawas, but I think that this designation was perhaps a mistaken form of Tagabaas, an appellation given to Mañgguáñgans who live in the bá-as, or prickly swamp-grass, that abounds at the headwaters of the Mánat River.


The Debabáons are probably a hybrid group forming a dialect group with the Manóbos of the Ihawán and Baóbo, and a culture group in dress and other features with the Mandáyas. They claim relationship with Manóbos, and follow Manóbo religious beliefs and practices to a great extent. For this reason I have retained the name that they apply to themselves, until their tribal identity can be clearly determined. They inhabit the upper half of the Sálug River Valley and the country that lies to the west of it as far as the Baóbo River.


These form the greatest and best tribe in eastern Mindanáo.21 One who visits the Mandáyas of the middle Kati'il can not fail to be struck with the fairness of complexion, the brownness of the hair, the diminutiveness of the hands and feet, and the large eyes with long lashes that are characteristic of many of these people. Here and there, too, one finds a distinctly Caucasian type. In psychological characteristics they stand out still more sharply from any tribe or group of people that I know in eastern Mindanáo. Shrewd and diplomatic on the one hand, they are an affectionate, good-natured and straight-forward people, with little of the timidity and cautiousness of the Manóbo. Their religious instincts are so highly developed that they are inclined to be fanatical at times.

21It is very interesting to note that the people called Taga-baloóyes and referred to by so many of the writers on Mindanáo can be none other than the Mandáyas. Thus San Antonio (Blair and Robertson, 40: 407, 1906) states that "the Taga-baloóyes take their name from some mountains which are located in the interior of the jurisdiction of Caraga. They are not very far distant from and trade with the villages of (Karága) and some, indeed, live in them who have become Christians. * * * These people, as has been stated above, are the descendants of lately arrived Japanese. This is the opinion of all the religious who have lived there and had intercourse with them and the same is a tradition among themselves, and they desired to be so considered. And it would seem that one is convinced of it on seeing them: for they are light complexioned, well-built, lusty, very reliable in their dealings, respectful, and very valiant, but not restless. So I am informed by one who has had much to do with them: and above all these are the qualities which we find in the Japanese."

In further proof, Father Pedro de San Francisco de Assis (ibid. 41: 138, et seq.) says: "The nearest nation to our village [Bislig] is that of the Taga-baloóyes who are so named from certain mountains that they call Balooy. * * * They are a corpulent race, well built, of great courage and strength, and they are at the same time of good understanding, and more than halfway industrious. Their nation is faithful in its treaties and constant in its promises, as they are descendants, so they pride themselves, of the Japanese, whom they resemble in complexion, countenance, and manners." The writer describes briefly their houses and their manner of life, and mentions in particular the device they make use of in the construction of their ladders. It is interesting to note that the same device is still made use of by the more well-to-do Mandáyas on the Karága, Manorigao, and Kati'il Rivers. In other respects their character, as described, is very similar to that of the present Mandáyas of the Kati'il River who in physical type present characteristics that mark them as being a people of a superior race.

In Medina's historia (Blair and Roberston, 24:175, 1906,) we find it related that Captain Juan Niño de Tabora mistreated the chief of the Taga-baloóyes in Karága and that as a result the captain, Father Jacinto Cor, and 12 soldiers were killed. Subsequently four more men of the religious order were killed and two others wounded and captured by the Taga-baloóyes.

Zuñiga in Estadismo (ibid. 2:71, et seq.) notes the fairness of complexion of the Taga-baloóyes, a tribe living in the mountains of Balooy in Karága.

Father Manual Buzeta in Diccionario geográfico-estadístico-histórico de las Islas Filipinas (1: 506, 1905) makes the same observation, but M. Felix Renouard de Sainte Croix in Voyage commercial et politique aux Indes Orientales (1803-1809) goes further still by drawing attention to these people as meriting distinction for superior mentality.

The Jesuit missionary Pastells in 1883 (Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, 4:212, 1884) writes that the people above Manresa (southeastern Mindanáo) are perhaps of Moro origin but bettered by a strain of noble blood, which their very appearance seems to him to indicate. In support of this view he cites the authority of Santayana, who claims Japanese descent for them and repudiates the opinion of those who attribute Hollandish descent. In a footnote, the above celebrated missionary and scholar adds that the town of Kinablangan (a town on the east coast of Mindanáo) owes its origin to a party of Europeans who were shipwrecked on Point Bagoso and took up their abode in that place, intermarrying with the natives. I was informed by a Bisáya trader, the only one that ever went among the mountain Mandáyas, that he had seen a circular, clocklike article with strange letters upon it in a settlement on the middle Kati'il. The following year I made every effort to see it, but I could not prevail upon the possessors to show it to me. They asserted that they had lost it. It is probable that this object was a ship's compass.

[Transcriber's note: The preceding six paragraphs are all part of footnote 21.]

On the whole, the impression made upon me in my long and intimate dealings with the Mandáyas of the Kati'il, Manorigao, and Karága Rivers is that they are a brave, intelligent, clean, frank people that with proper handling might be brought to a high state of civilization. They are looked up to by Manóbos, Mañgguáñgans, Mansákas, and Debabáons as being a superior and more ancient race, and considered by the Bisáyas of the Agúsan Valley as a people of much more intelligence and fair-dealing than any other tribe. The Mandáyas consist of four branches:


These occupy the country from near the mouth of the Tágum to the confluence of the Sálug and Libagánon Rivers, or perhaps a little farther up both of the last-mentioned rivers. It is probable that the Debabáons farther up are the issue of Manóbos and Tágum Mandáyas.


It is usual for the people of the upper Agúsan from Gerona to Compostela to call themselves Mandáyas, but this appears to be due to a desire to be taken for Mandáyas. They have certainly absorbed a great deal of Mandáya culture and language, but, with the exception of Pilar and Tagusab, they are of heterogeneous descent--Mandáya, Manóbo, Mañgguáñgan, Debabáon, and Mansáka.

At the headwaters of the Agúsan and in the mountains that encircle that region live the Mandáyas that are the terror of Mandáyaland. They are called by the upper Agúsan people Kau-ó, which means the same as Tagakaólo, but are Mandáyas in every feature, physical, cultural, and linguistic.


They occupy the following rivers with their tributaries: the Kati'il, the Baganga, the Mano-rigao, the Karága, the Manai, the Kasaúman, and the upper reaches of the Mati. There are several small rivers between the Kasaúman and the Mati, the upper parts of all which, I think, are occupied by Mandáyas.


These occupy the upper reaches of all the rivers on the east side of the gulf of Davao, from Sumlug to the mouth of the Hijo River whose source is near that of the Agúsan and whose Mandáyas are famous in Mandáyaland.


Moros or people with a preponderance of Moro blood and culture occupy the coast towns on the eastern and northern sides of the gulf from Sumlug to the mouth of the Tágum. Of course they have other settlements on the north and west sides of the gulf.

In Mati and its vicinity, I believe there are a comparatively large number of Moros or Mohammedanized Mandáyas.


22Called also, I think, Bi-la-an.

Biláns were found according to the testimony of the Jesuit missionaries23 in Sigaboi, Tikbakawan, and Baksal, on the peninsula of San Agustin.

23Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, 9: 331, et seq., 1889-1891.


According to the authorities just cited there were Tagakaólos in Sigaboi, Uañgen, Kabuaya, and Makambal between the years 1889 and 1891. It is probable that these people are scattered throughout the whole of the hinterland to the west of Pujada Bay, and that they are only Mandáyas who, unable to withstand the stress of war, fled from the mountains at the headwaters of the Agúsan River. I base this suggestion on the fact that the Mandáyas at the headwaters of the Agúsan are known as, and call themselves, Kau-ó24 and that they were, and are probably still at the date of this writing, the terror of Mandáyaland. If the Tagakaólos of Point San Agustin are fugitive Kau-ó, according to the prevailing custom they would have retained their former name; this name, if Kau-ó, would have been changed by Bisáyas and by Spanish missionaries to Tagakaólo.

24Kau-ó would be Ka-ólo in Bisáya, from the prefix ka, and ólo, head or source.


According to the authority of Father Llopart25 the Lóaks dwell in the mountains southwest of Pujada Bay. He says that in customs they differ from other tribes. They dress in black and hide themselves when they see anyone dressed in a light color. No stranger is permitted to enter their dwellings. The same writer goes on to state that their food is wholly vegetable, excluding tubers, roots, and everything that grows under the ground. Their chief is called posáka,26 "an elder who with his mysterious words and feigned revelations keeps his people in delusion and under subjection." It is the opinion of Father Llopart that these people are only fugitives, as he very justly concludes from the derivation of their name.27

25Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, 9: 337-338, 1891.

26Posáka means in Malay, and in nearly all known Mindanáo dialects, an "inheritance" so that in the usage attributed to these Lóaks it would appear that there may be some idea of an hereditary chieftainship. The word in Bagóbo, however, means something beloved, etc., so that the reported Lóak posáka or chief might be so called because of his being beloved by his people.

27He states that lóak is probably from lóog, "to flee," "to take to the mountains." In several dialects of eastern Mindanáo laag, lag, means, "to get lost," while lágui is a very common word for "run" or "run away."

Another writer, Father Pablo Pastells28 makes mention of these Lóak as being wild Tagakaólos who are more degraded than the Mamánuas. He designates the mountains of Hagimitan on the peninsula of San Agustin as their habitat. I am inclined to think that the authority for this statement was also a Jesuit missionary.

28Ibid., 8: 343, 1887.


The work of Christianizing the pagans of eastern Mindanáo was taken up in earnest in 1877 by the Jesuit missionaries and carried on up to the time of the revolution in 1898. During that time some 50,000 souls were led to adopt Christianity. These included Mandáyas, Manóbos, Debabáons, Mansákas, Mañgguáñgans, and Mamánuas, and members of the other tribes that live in eastern Mindanáo. For the present, however, we will refer to the conquistas of the Manóbo, Mandáya, Mamánua, Mañgguáñgan, Mansáka, and Debabáon tribes.


The inhabitants of all the settlements in the Agúsan Valley except Novela, Rosario, the towns south of Buai, the towns within the Banuáon habitat, and a few settlements of pagan Manóbos on the upper Umaíam, Argáwan, and Ihawán, Wá-wa and Maitum are Manobó conquistas.

On the eastern slope of the Pacific Cordillera in the vicinity of San Miguel (Tágo River), on the Marihátag and Oteiza Rivers there are several hundred Manóbo conquistas. The towns up the Hinatuán and Bislig Rivers are made up of both Manóbo and Mandáya conquistas.


In the Agúsan Valley the towns on the Sulibáo River and perhaps on the Adlaian River are made up of Mandáya conquistas for the most part. These Mandáyas evidently worked in from the Hinatuán River for one reason or another, perhaps to avoid missionary activity on the east coast or to escape from Moro raids.

On the Pacific coast we find Mandáya conquistas to a greater or less extent in nearly all the municipalities and barrios from Tándag to Mati, with the exception of such towns as have been formed by immigration of Bisáyas from Bohol and other places. There can be no doubt but that in former years the Mandáyas covered the whole Pacific slope from Tándag to Mati, for we still find recently Christianized Mandáyas in Kolon and Alba on the Tágo River and in Kagwáit and Bakolod on the Kagwáit River. The inhabitants of these eastern towns are not known by the designation of conquistas, but assume the name and status of Bisáyas and are not so dependent on the older Christians as are the conquistas of the Agúsan Valley who are called conquistas and treated as inferiors by the older Christians.

I think that from Liñgig to Mati all the barrios, both of the coast and in the hinterland, are made up of Mandáyas that have been Christianized since 1877.


These Mamánua conquistas live in the vicinity of Anao-aon and Malimono' on the northeast coast; in San Roque and San Pablo, also on Lake Maínit; on the River Asiga, a tributary of the River Jabonga; and somewhere up the Lanusa River on the east coast.


During my stay on the upper Agúsan, there were only two towns of Mañgguáñgan conquistas--Tagusab and Pilar--and even these were mere suggestions of towns. It may be, however, that since the appointment of a deputy governor, the great numbers of Christianized Mañgguáñgans that had fled from the wrath of their enemies into the swamp region at the headwaters of the Mánat River have returned and that Mañgguáñgan towns now exist.


In Compostela, Gandia, and Tagaunud are found a few Mansáka conquistas. The inhabitants of these towns, however, are of such a heterogeneous blend that it is difficult to assign any tribal place to them. It may be said, in general, that these towns are still passing through a formative period, the result of which will probably be their complete adoption of Mandáya culture and language, if they are left free to follow their own bent.


The Debabáon conquistas are found in the town of Moncayo and are also scattered about on the upper Sálug. The missionaries found the Debabáon people very recalcitrant; the comparatively few converts made evinced, on the one hand, all the fickleness and instability of the Manóbo and, on the other, the aggressiveness of the Mandáya.


The Bisáyas or Christian Filipinos in the Agúsan Valley occupy the towns of Butuán, Talakógon, Veruéla, Bunáwan, and Prosperidad, of which latter they formed, during my last visit to the Agúsan Valley, a majority. Outside of the Agúsan Valley, they occupy all the towns on the north coast except the towns of Tortosa, Maasao, Tamolayag, and Malimono'. On, and in the vicinity of Lake Maínit, they occupy the towns of Sison, Timamana, Maínit, Jabonga, Santiago, Santa Ana and several other small ones. On the east coast they occupy all the coast towns from Surigao to Bislig. South of Bislig only the towns, of Kati'il, Baganga, Karága, Santiago, and Mati may be said to be Bisáya, although the Christianized Mandáyas of the intervening towns call themselves Bisáyas. But even the above-mentioned towns, with the exception of Santiago, have hardly any claim to be considered Bisáya in the sense in which that word is applied to the Bisáyas of the town of Surigao. The same holds true of a great portion of the inhabitants of Tándag, Tágo, La Paz, and Kagwáit, where the Mandáya element in language and in superstitious beliefs still holds sway to a considerable extent among the lower class of the inhabitants.

In the Agúsan Valley a great part of the Bisáyas of Talakógon can not be considered as Bisáyas in the full sense of the word. Many of them called Sulibáonon are of no higher culture than the conquistas of the River Sulibáo from which they come. They are distinctly Mandáya in physical type and in manner of life except that they have abandoned the ancient Mandáya religious beliefs and adopted those of Christianity. They are probably the first group of Mandáya conquistas that were induced to leave the Sulibáo and take up their abode in Talakógon.





There seem to be differences in physical type between the Manóbos on the lower part of the Agúsan as far as the Bugábus River and those of the Ihawán and the upper Agúsan Rivers. On the upper Agúsan the variations become more noticeable as we approach the confines of the Mandáyas and the Debabáons, both of whom differ from the Manóbos in physical characteristics to such an extent that even an ordinary observer can not fail to notice it. Again, on the upper Agúsan, in the vicinity of Tagusab, we find types that remind us of the Mañgguáñgan with his manifestly Negroid characteristics. Over on the Tágo River, too, and on the far upper Wa-wa, there are groups of so-called Manóbos who are clearly descendants of Mamánuas. With these exceptions the following delineation holds good, I think, for the great mass of Manóbos with whom one comes in contact throughout eastern Mindanáo.


In general, the Manóbo man is of athletic build and of strong constitution, although he is often short of stature. His muscular development denotes activity, speed, and endurance rather than great strength. Corpulency and prominence of the abdomen are never present, so far as I have observed. His skin, as a rule, is of a reddish-brown color that turns to a somewhat dark brown after long exposure to the sun, as in the case of those who engage in fishing in the lake region.

The hair is abundant, long, black, straight, and coarse. As we approach the domains of the Mañgguáñgans and of the Mamánuas, the hair is a little less abundant and shows traces of curliness. Occasional waviness may be observed also among those Manóbos who live near the territory of the Mandáyas, Debabáons, and Mansákas.

Beard and body hair are not abundant. In this respect the Manóbo differs from the Mandáya and from the Banuáon, both of whom have a more copious growth (though I can not be definite as regards the latter people), and, in some cases, beards that are abundant enough to suggest admixture with white people.

The head appears to be well developed, being rather high and arched, as compared with that of the average Bisáya.1 There is no flattening of the occiput. This roundness of the posterior part of the cranium, due, as Montano2 states, to the prominence of the parietal bumps, becomes very apparent when comparison is made with the heads of Bisáyas of other islands. The occipital arch of the latter is invariably flattened.

1In physical comparisons between Manóbos and Bisáyas no reference is made to the Bisáyas of eastern Mindanáo, the great majority of whom are undoubtedly of Manóbo or other pagan origin.

2Une Mission aux Philippines, 349,1906.

Owing to the prominence of the jawbones and to the above-mentioned height of the cranium, the face is decidedly lozenge-shaped, a feature that distinguishes it, on the one hand, from the long face of the Mandáya and of the Banuáon and, on the other, from the short, round face of the Mamánua and of the Mañgguáñgan. Montano3 says that this peculiar shape is due to the development of the zygomatic arches or cheek bones and to the diminution of the minimum frontal line, that is, the shortest transverse measurement of the forehead.

3Loc. cit.

Prognathism is marked but variable according to the testimony of Montano, who took the anthropometrical measurements of many crania which he obtained from caves in northeastern Mindanáo.

The forehead is somewhat high and prominent, and the superciliary ridges are salient. The eyes are brown in color. The palpebral opening is elongated as compared with that of the Mandáya, whose eye is round. There is no trace of the Mongolian falciform fold, and the transverse axis is perfectly horizontal.

The nose is prominent and well-developed but short, and, as a rule, straight. Toward the confines of the Banuáons we sometimes notice a slight curve upward at the top. The nostrils are somewhat slender, but otherwise well developed. They are a little larger than those of Bisáyas. The ridge is broader than that of Bisáyas, and the root is lower down.

The lips bear resemblance to those of the Bisáyas except that the upper lip of the Manóbo is more prominent and more developed, due, it is suggested, to the universal, incessant practice of carrying a quid of tobacco partly under it and partly protruding out between it and the lower lip.

The chin is round and well developed, but is not prominent.

The above statements hold true of the women in all details except that of stature. The difference between the stature of the male and female Manóbo is much greater than that between the sexes among Bisáyas and other civilized people of the Philippines. This difference in the stature of the sexes is apparent in all the tribes of eastern Mindanáo with the exception of certain groups of Mandáyas, and may be attributed, on the one hand, to the excessive burdens carried, and the onerous labor performed by the women in the discharge of their household and other duties, and, on the other, to the unencumbered outdoor life pursued by the men in their hunting, fishing, and trading expeditions.

The other parts of the bodies of both sexes are in good proportions. The thorax is especially well developed, and the feet are, perhaps, inordinately large.

The general appearance of the men is somewhat unpleasing and, perhaps, among the Manóbos of remote regions, might be said to be coarse. This is especially noticeable among the latter, as their eyes usually bulge out and give them a somewhat wild and even vindictive air. The blackening of the teeth and lips, the quid of black tobacco between the lips, the look of alarm and suspicion, and various other characteristics all tend to heighten this expression.

The women have a more pleasing expression, but the timid furtive look, the ungainly gait, and the ungraceful contour of their abaká skirts, detract from the moderate beauty that they possess in their youth. After marriage their beauty wanes incredibly fast.

Comparing the Manóbo's physical and general appearance with that of neighboring peoples, we may say that he stands fifth, the Mandáya, Mansáka, Debabáon, and Banuáon leading, while below him stand without any question the Mañgguáñgan and the Mamánua. He has not the height, the proportions, the fairness, nor the gentility of the first three. He lacks the nobility, courage, and intelligence of the fourth,4 but he maintains his superiority over the Mañgguáñgan, whose repellent features, sparse hair, scanty clothing, and low intelligence put him only a little above the Mamánuas. These latter are only poor homeless forest dwellers like the Negritos of Luzon, and physically, mentally, and culturally stand lowest in the plane of civilization of all the people of the eastern Mindanáo.

4My acquaintance with Banuáons is so slight that I can not make any definite physical comparison.


With our present lack of knowledge concerning the great number of tribes that inhabit not only the island of Mindanáo but Borneo, Sumatra, and other islands of the Indies, it is impossible to make any definite statement as to the racial and the tribal affinities of the Manóbo people.


Montano proposed the Indonesian theory to explain the origin of the Samals, Bagóbos, Giangas, Atás, Tagakaólos, Manóbos, and Mandáyas. He asserts that these peoples are pure Indonesians whose origin can not be explained otherwise than by supposing them to be the indigenes of all the islands included under the term Indonesia. Hence he calls the above tribes Indonesians of Mindanáo.

He claims that these Indonesians are the result of a fusion of three elements: (1) the Polynesian, (2) the Malay-Bisáya, and (3) the Negrito.

The Bisáya element, he says, is considerable and becomes apparent in the increase of transverse diameter of the cranium. The Negrito element is apparent only in the waviness of the hair, the height and prominence of the forehead, and the darker color of the skin.

He further states that the anatomical characteristics of these tribes are their superior stature, their muscular development, and the prominence of the occipital region in contradistinction to the flattening noticeable in Malays in general, and especially in those of the Philippines.


Keane in his Ethnology5 notes that--

the term "Indonesian," introduced by Logan to designate the light-colored non-Malay inhabitants of the Eastern Archipelago, is now used as a convenient collective name for all the peoples of Malaysia and Polynesia who are neither Malays nor Papuans but of Caucasic type. * * * Doctor Hamy, who first gave this extension to the term Indonesian, points out that the Battaks and other pre-Malay peoples of Malaysia so closely resemble the Eastern Polynesians, that the two groups should be regarded as two branches of an original non-Malay stock. Although all speak dialects of a common Malayo-Polynesian language, the physical type is quite distinct and rather Caucasic than Mongolic, though betraying a perceptible Papuan (or Negrito) strain especially in New Zealand and Mikronesia. The true Indonesians are of tall stature (5 feet 10 inches), muscular frame, rather oval features, high, open forehead, large straight or curved nose, large full eyes always horizontal and with no trace of the third lid, light brown complexion (cinnamon or ruddy brown), long black hair, not lank but slightly curled or wavy, skull generally brachycephalous like that of the Melanochroic European.

5Ethnology, 326 et seq., 1901.

Regarding the Indonesians of the Philippine Islands, he says:6

Apart from the true Negrito aborigines Blumentritt distinguishes two separate "Malay" invasions, both prehistoric. Montano also recognizes these two elements which, however, he more correctly calls Indonesian and Malay. The Indonesians whom he affiliates to the "Polynesian family" were the first to arrive, being followed by the Malays and then, in the sixteenth century, by the Spaniards, who were themselves followed, perhaps also preceded, by Chinese and others. Thus Blumentritt's Malays of the first invasion, whom he brings from Borneo, are Montano's Indonesians, who passed through the Philippines during their eastward migrations from Borneo and other parts of Malaysia. The result of these successive movements was that the Negritoes were first driven to the recesses of the interior by the Indonesians with whom they afterwards intermingled in various degrees. Then the Indonesians were in their turn driven by the Malays from the coast lands and open plains, which are consequently now found occupied mainly by peoples of true Malay stock. Then with peaceful times fresh blends took place and to previous crossings are now added Spaniards and Chinese with Malays, there "quadroons" and "octoroons" with Indonesians, and even here and there with Negritoes. It has thus become difficult everywhere to distinguish between the true Malays and the Indonesians, who are also less known, dwelling in the more remote upland districts, often in association with the Negritoes and not always standing at a much higher grade of culture.

6Op. cit., 332.


Comparing the physical characteristics of the Manóbos with those which are predicated of the Indonesians by these and other writers, I find that, in the case of the Manóbos of the Agúsan Valley, in stature, waviness of the hair, abundance of the beard, and lightness of the skin color there appears to be a divergence from Keane's Indonesian standard. Keane requires 1.795 meters as an average for the stature of the Indonesian, whereas the average of the Manóbo, as I found it from cursory measurements, is approximately only 1.60 meters and Doctor Montano found it to be only 1.4667 meters. As to waviness of the hair, I have observed it rarely among the Manóbos to which this paper refers. Neither is the beard abundant, and as for fairness in the color of the skin, a casual glance at the great mass of Manóbos that occupy the Agúsan and its tributaries will convince one that their color is decidedly ruddy brown and not light. It is true that in the mountains children and even young women are found with fair complexions, but this is probably due to confinement in the house or to protection from the sun while out of doors.


In the first part of this chapter a broad comparison was made between the Manóbos and the contiguous tribes of eastern Mindanáo, but, in order to bring out in stronger relief the physical characteristics of the Manóbo, it is considered expedient to give a brief description of the contiguous tribes.


In stature the Mañgguáñgan is shorter than the Manóbo. His physical configuration gives one the impression that he is undersized. His cranium is elongated from the front backward along the antero-posterior curve, there being formed accordingly an enlargement on the upper part of the occiput. From this enlargement downward there is a flattening of the curve. The forehead is large, high, and very prominent, and diverges backward from the plane of the face at an observable angle. The face is narrow and flat, the narrowness being due to the prominence of the lower jaw and to a depression that is formed in the side of the face between the jaw and the cheek bone. The hair is lank, coarse, and in males, scant. The beard is very sparse except in elderly men, and even then it is far from being as abundant as that of the Manóbos and especially that of the Mandáyas. The nose is broad and conspicuously depressed, while the nasal orifices are rather large. On the whole, the prognathism is considerable but is not as variable as that of Manóbos and of Mandáyas.

There can be no doubt as to the Negritic character of the Mañgguáñgan. Owing to the peculiar circumstances that arose after my arrival on the upper Agúsan in 1909, I found it impossible to get into communication with any but the more domesticated Mañgguáñgan in the vicinity of Compostela, but my observation of their physical and mental characteristics and of their low degree of culture led me to a strong conviction of a Negrito origin not far removed.


The Mandáya, on the other hand, with the exception of groups on the upper Karága and perhaps on the upper Kasaúman Rivers, is of superior stature. Montano found the stature to be only 1.578 meters, but the number of men measured by him was so small that we can not base any conclusion on his figures. I did not make any measurements of Mandáyas, but it is my impression that the male Mandáyas of the Kati'il, Karága, and Manorigao Rivers are noticeably taller than Manóbos. In fact, one meets a great number that seem to come up to the Indonesian standard of Keane.

The Mandáya's cranial conformation differs, according to Montano, from that of the Manóbo only in one particular, namely, in the straightness of the middle part of the antero-posterior curve of the cranium. In other respects his cranium is similar to that of the Manóbo. The face is oval rather than lozenge-shaped and has a pleasant, sympathetic look, due no doubt to the greater width of the palpebral opening, the largeness of the eye, and the length, darkness, and prominence of the eyelashes.

The nose is straight and prominent, occasionally quite European, and the nostrils are not depressed nor flattened. Their lower edges, instead of being horizontal, slant slightly upward from the tip. The nasal apertures are of medium size.

The superciliary ridges are prominent, but as the hair of the eyebrows is constantly kept shaved, there is not such an impression of prominence as in the Christianized Mandáyas of the southeastern seaboard of Mindanáo.

As to the abundance of beard, it is hard to form a judgment because from youth it is constantly and conscientiously eradicated. The hair of the head is long, black, and abundant, often somewhat wavy and not as coarse, I think, as that of Manóbos.

The most striking characteristic of the Mandáya is his fair color. It is not my intention to give the impression that he is one of a "lost white tribe" or that he is entitled to be called white in the sense in which we use the term when speaking of Europeans. But for a native of the Philippine Islands he certainly may be denominated white, though his skin is not tawny white like that of the Japanese or Chinese but has a peculiar ashy tint. I have seen a few individuals that were very nearly as white as the average American, but who otherwise were not of a pronounced Caucasian type.

It is very difficult to explain the prevailing fairness of this tribe except by presupposing an admixture of some other blood. The Manóbo lives in as dark forests and on as lofty mountains as those occupied by Mandáyas. His manner of life is practically the same, and yet the average tint of his skin is far darker, so much so that the Mandáya, in speaking not only of him but of Mañgguáñgan and even of Bisáya, spurns them all as being "black."


As to the Debabáons, I have not come in touch with a sufficient number of them to enable me to make any general statements. The groups that I met in Moncayo, on the Sálug where the Baglásan River empties into it, and in the country extending some 10 kilometers to the west of it, closely resemble the Mandáyas in physical characters, and yet in language, general culture, and religious belief, and by genealogy, they belong to the Manóbo tribe. It is probable that they are the result of intermarriage of Manóbo men of Baóbo and Ihawán origin with Mandáya women of the lower Sálug and Tágum Rivers.


The Mamánuas need little comment. They are full-blooded Negritos in every respect, physical and cultural, like the Negritos of Mariveles, as Montano very explicitly states. The Manóbos of the upper Tágo River constantly intermarry with Mamánua women, as I had occasion to observe on several visits which I made to that region. It is probable that the same thing takes place on the Húbo, Marihátag, Lanusa, and Kantílan Rivers. In the vicinity of Lake Maínit, a great many Mamánuas are reported to be half-breeds.


I visited only one settlement of Banuáons, near the mouth of the Maásam River. I met members of the tribe here and there along the Agúsan between San Luis and Las Nieves, but my observations of them were casual and superficial so that I am not prepared to make any statements as to their physical characteristics. All reports, both of Manóbos and Bisáyas and the testimony of the Jesuit missionaries, state that they are a superior people. It is probable that this group of people, known as Banuáon in the Agúsan Valley, is a branch of the Bukídnons of whom the celebrated missionary Urios and others make such commendatory mention,7 the former in one place going so far as to make the statement that the Bukídnons are fit to be kings of the Manóbos.

7Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, passim.


The upper garment of both sexes among the Manóbos is a closed square-cut garment with sleeves and with a sufficient opening on top to admit the head. It fits the body either closely or fairly loosely. It is made of abaká fiber when imported cloth is not available. It is always adorned with embroidery of imported red, white, blue, and yellow cotton, on the cuffs, on the seams of the shoulders and the side, and on the neck and lower edges. The garment of the man differs from that of the woman in being all of one color, except that across the back, over the shoulders, and as far down as the breasts, are horizontal, parallel, equidistant lines of inwoven blue cotton yarn.

The body and sleeves of the woman's garment are of different colors. Thus, if the sleeves are black, the body is red and vice versa. Another distinguishing feature is the profuseness of cotton embroidery on the front of the garment.

The lower garment of the man is a pair of trousers, generally of native cotton and abaká fiber, reaching somewhat below the knees, with cotton embroidery in the above-mentioned colors on the sides and at the bottom. The ends of the draw string that holds the trousers in place hang down in front and are ornamented with tassels of the same colors.

The lower garment of the women is a doubled sacklike skirt of abaká fiber, almost invariably of a reddish color, with beautiful designs in horizontal panels or with a series of horizontal equidistant black stripes. A girdle of human hair or of plaited vegetable fiber, held in place with a shell button or with a plaited cord, retains this garment in place. The consequent gathering of the capacious opening of the skirt at the waist and the bulging out at the bottom (which is just a little below the knees), detracts not a little from the gracefulness of the Manóbo woman's figure. From the girdle hang, in varying number and quality, beads, hawk bells, redolent, medicinal, and magic seeds, sea shells, and fragrant herbs.

The hair is worn long by both sexes. It is dressed much like that of a Chinese woman except that it is twisted and tied up in a chignon on the crown of the head.

The man wears a long narrow bamboo hat which protects only the top of the head, and which is held on the head by two strings passing from end to end behind the ears. It usually has a plume of feathers standing up at right angles to the back part. The woman wears no hat as a general rule, but in lieu thereof adorns her head with a bamboo comb, at times inlaid with mother-of-pearl, at others covered with a lamina of beaten silver, but nearly always ornamented with decorative incisions. A pair of ear plugs with ornamental metal laminae are placed in the enlarged ear lobes.

I have seen men who had each ear lobe pierced in one or two places and small buttons fastened over the orifices, but I never saw a case of a Manóbo woman with any other perforation in the ears than the great aperture in each lobe for her ear disks.

Around the neck the woman wears in more or less profusion, according to her means and opportunities for purchase, necklets of beads, and necklaces of seeds, beads, shells, and crocodile teeth.

On her forearms she wears one or more sea-shell bracelets, circlets of black coral or of copper wire, and a close-fitting ringlet of plaited nito. This last adornment is also worn by men, who dispense with the use of other forms of bracelets, but who usually adorn the upper arm with a finely plaited ligature made of a dark fibrous vine. Both men and women frequently wear similar ligatures just below one or both knees. On solemn and festive occasions the woman decks her ankles with loose coils of heavy wire.

A square knapsack of hemp, frequently fringed with cotton yarn of many colors and suspended from the back by strings passing over the shoulders and under the arms, constitutes the man's receptacle for his chewing paraphernalia. It may be more or less elaborate in beadwork and embroidery, but as a rule there is no ornamentation of this kind.

Both sexes blacken the lips with soot black, and continually keep them more or less in that condition by the use of a large quid of tobacco, mixed with lime and máu-mau juice, the whole being carried between the lips. This mixture serves not only as an indispensable and pleasing narcotic, but also as the principal factor in bringing about the complete and permanent staining of the teeth.

In order that "they may not look like dogs," both sexes have the upper and lower incisors ground at an early age. They proceed at once to stain what is left with frequent applications of the above-mentioned masticatories.

As white and sharp teeth are doglike, so beard and body hair are suggestive of the monkey. Hence all straggling hairs are sedulously and constantly eradicated.

Tattooing by both sexes is universal. It consists of the puncturing of the skin and the rubbing in of a soot made from a very common variety of resin. The figures tattooed, often artistic, are representations of stars, leaves, crocodiles, etc.

Both sexes are tattooed on the breast, arms, and fingers, but it is customary for women to have an extra design on the calves of the legs and sometimes on the whole leg.

As to the Christianized Manóbos, it is obvious that the great majority have adopted the garb of their Bisáya brethren and abandoned the use of ornaments and mutilations characteristic of their pagan compeers. The change was enjoined by Spanish missionaries for religious reasons and, in the case of clothing, was encouraged by Bisáya traders for commercial motives, but did not benefit the new Christians, as far as my observation goes, either religiously, financially, or esthetically.





For a home the Manóbo selects a site that is clearly approved by supernatural agencies, and that is especially suitable for agricultural purposes by reason of its fertility, and for defense, because of its strategic position. Hereon he builds an unpretentious, square, one-roomed building at a height of from 1.50 meters to 8 meters from the ground. The house measures ordinarily about 3 meters by 5 meters. Posts, usually light, and varying in number between 4 and 16, support the floor, roof, and intervening parts. The materials are all rattan lashed and seldom consist of anything but light materials taken from the immediate vicinity. The floor is made of slats of palm or bamboo, the roof is thatched with palm leaves, and the walls are light, horizontal, superimposed poles laid to about the height of the shoulders of a person sitting on the floor. The space between the top of the walls and the roof constitutes a continuous window. This open space above the low house wall permits the inmates during a fight to shoot their arrows at the enemy in any direction.

The one ceilingless room serves for kitchen, bedroom, and reception room. There is no decoration nor furniture. Scattered around or hung up, especially in the vicinity of the fireplace, are the simple household utensils, and the objects that constitute the property of the owner--weapons, baskets, and sleeping mats. On the floor farthest away from the door are the hearth frames, one or more, and the stones that serve as support for the cooking pots. A round log with more or less equidistant notches, leading from the ground up to the narrow doorway, admits the visitor into the house.

Under the house is the pigpen. Here the family pigs and the chickens make a living off such refuse or remnants as fall from above. The sanitary condition of this part of the establishment is in no wise praiseworthy. The only redeeming point is that the bad odors do not reach the house, being carried away by the current of air that is nearly always passing.

The house itself is far from being perfectly clean. The low, cockroach-infested thatch, the smoke-begrimed rafters, the unswept, dirt-bestrewn floor, the bug-infested slats, the smoke-laden atmosphere, the betel-nut-tinged walls and floor, these and other features of a small over-populated house make cleanliness almost impossible. The order and quietude of the home is no more satisfactory. The crying of the babies, the romping and shouting of the boys, the loud talking of the elders, the grunting of the pigs below, the whining and growling of the dogs above, and the noise of the various household occupations produce in an average house containing a few families a din that baffles description. But this does not disturb the serenity of the primitive inmates, who laugh, chew, talk, and work, and enjoy themselves all the more for the animation of which they form a great part.


In the absence of such a luxury as matches, the fire-saw or friction method of producing fire is resorted to, although the old steel and flint method is sometimes employed.

The cooking outfit consists of a few homemade earthen pots, supplemented by green bamboo joints, bamboo ladles, wooden rice paddles, and nearly always a coconut shell for receiving water from the long bamboo water tube.

The various articles of food may be divided into two classes, one of which we will call the staple part of the meal and the other the concomitant. It must be remembered that for the Manóbo, as well as for so many other peoples of the Philippine Islands, rice or camotes or some other bulky food is the essential part of the meal, whereas fish, meat, and other things are merely complements to aid in the consumption of the main food. Under the heading, then, of staples we may classify in the order of their importance or abundance the following: Camotes, rice, taro, sago, cores of wild palm trees, maize, tubers and roots (frequently poisonous). Among the concomitant or supplementary foods are the following, their order being indicative of the average esteem in which they are held: Fish (especially if salted), domestic pork, wild boar meat (even though putrefied), venison, iguana, larvae from rotted palm trees, python, monkey, domestic chicken, wild chicken, birds, frogs, crocodile, edible fungi, edible fern, and bamboo shoots. As condiments, salt, if on hand, and red pepper are always used, but it is not at all exceptional that the latter alone is available.

Sweetpotatoes, taro, tubers, and rice are cooked by steaming. Maize and the cores of palm trees are roasted over the fire.

There are only two orthodox methods of cooking fish, pork, venison, iguana and chicken: (1) In water without lard; (2) by broiling. Python, monkey, crocodile, wild chicken, and birds must be prepared by the latter method.

When the meal is prepared, it is set out on plates, banana leaves, or bark platters, with the water in glasses or in the coconut-shell dipper. On ordinary occasions the husband, wife, children and female relatives of a family eat together, the unmarried men, widowers, and visitors partaking of their meals alone, but on festive occasions, all the male members, visitors included, gather in the center of the floor.

The hands and mouth are washed both before and after the meal. All begin to eat together on the floor. The men eat with their left hands and, on occasions, when the remotest suspicion of trouble exists, keep their right hand on their ever-present weapons. It is customary not to leave one's place after the meal without giving due notice.


The most common and indispensable source of everyday enjoyment is the betel-nut quid, It would be an inexcusable breach of propriety to neglect to offer betel nut to a fellow tribesman. Not to partake of it when offered would be considered a severance of friendship. The essential ingredients of the quid are betel leaf, betel nut, and lime, but it is common to add tobacco, cinnamon, lemon rind, and several other aromatic elements. At times substitutes may be used for the betel leaf and the betel nut, if there is a lack of either.

Another important masticatory is the tobacco quid with its ingredients of lime and máu-mau juice. This is carried constantly between the lips. Occasionally, however, the men like to smoke a little mixed tobacco in small pipes or in little leaf cones.

The greatest and the most cherished enjoyment of all is drinking: Men, women, and children indulge, the last two sparingly. In Manóboland the fame of a banquet is in direct proportion to the number of those who became drunk, sobriety being considered effeminate, and a refusal to drink an affront to the host.

The main drinks are of four kinds: Cabo negro toddy, sugarcane brew, bahi toddy, and mead. The first and third are nothing but the sap of the palms that bear their respective names, the sap being gathered in the same manner as the ordinary coconut tuba. The second or sugarcane brew is a fermented drink made from the juice of the sugarcane boiled with a variety of the ginger plant. It is the choice drink of Manóbo deities. The fourth drink mentioned above is mead. It is similar to the last mentioned except that instead of sugar-cane juice, honey is used in its preparation.

One feature of the drinking is that it is seldom unaccompanied by meat or fish. Hence, on every occasion that a supply of these may be obtained, there is a drinking bout. Religious sacrifices, too, afford abundant opportunity for indulgence.

Quarrels sometimes ensue as a result of the flowing bowl, and war expeditions are proposed, but on the whole it may be said that the Manóbo is a peaceful and a merry drinker.


The Manóbo makes his living by farming, fishing, hunting, and trapping. He clears a patch of the primeval forest, and his womenfolk clean off the brush, sow broadcast a little rice, plant camotes, some taro, maize, and sugarcane. As the rice crop seldom is sufficient for the sustenance of his household, the Manóbo must rely also on the camote for his maintenance.

He obtains his supply of fish from the streams and rivers. When the water is deep and the current is not strong, he shoots the fish with a special bow and arrow. When the water is shallow and swift, he makes use of bamboo traps and at times poisons the whole stream.

To provide himself with meat, he occasionally starts off into the forest with dogs and seldom returns without a deer or a wild boar. He keeps several spring traps set somewhere in the forest but it is only during the rainy season that he may be said to be successful with these. He has a trap for monkeys, a snare for birds, a decoy for wild chickens, and uses his bow and arrow on monkeys and birds.

With the meat that he procures from the above sources, together with lizards and pythons which he sometimes catches, and fungi, larvae, and palm trees, which he finds in the forest, he manages to fill in the intervals between the ceremonial and the secular celebrations that recur so frequently during the year, and to keep himself fairly well supplied.


The bolo and, in some districts, the dagger, is the inseparable companion of the Manóbo. On the trails he always carries a lance and frequently a shield. For war he has an abaká coat of mail and a bow and arrow. In time of alarm he sets out bamboo caltrops, makes an abatis of fallen trees, and places human spring traps around his lofty house.

For work he has a bolo and a primitive adze[sic]. These, with a rice header, a small knife, a hunting spear, a special arrow for hunting, a fish spear, and perhaps a few fishhooks, serve all the purposes of his primitive life. With one or the other of these he fells the mighty trees of the primordial forest, performs all the operations of agriculture, of hunting and fishing, builds himself a house, in certain districts hews out shapely canoes, whittles out handsome bolo sheaths, and makes a variety of other necessary and often artistic articles. They are the sum total of his tools and serve him instead of all the implements of modern civilization.


The burden of toil falls on the woman. The man fells the heavy timber once a year, builds the house, hunts, fishes, traps, and fights. Practically all the rest of the daily labor is the woman's share. The man is the master, and as such he attends to all matters that may arise between his family and that of others.

Besides the occupations mentioned above, the man may engage, usually under the stress of a contract or of a debt, in canoe making, mining, and basket making.

The women weave all the clothes of the family except when imported cloth has been obtained. Most of the Manóbos' clothes, both for men and women, are made of native-woven cloth. The woman does all the sewing. A needle of brass wire in the absence of an imported needle, and a thread of abaká fiber, constitute her sewing outfit.

Almost all the material employed in weaving is abaká fiber. The dyes are vegetable, their fastness depending upon the duration of the boiling. The Manóbo woman, unlike the Mandáya women, and women of most other tribes in Mindanáo, has never developed the art of inweaving ornamental figures. The best she can do is to produce warp and weft stripes.

The making of simple earthen pots is also one of the industries of the woman. Pots are not, however, made in great quantities, the demand being, I think, a little greater than the supply.

Bed mats and rice bags are made out of various materials such as pandanus and buri in the ordinary Philippine style. The work is done principally by the woman and the supply is not equal, as a rule, to the family needs.



Marital relations.--In his choice of a wife the man is guided to a great extent by the wishes of his relatives, but the woman is given no option. There are no antenuptial relations between the pair, the marriage contract and all arrangements being made by their respective relatives. The transactions usually cover years. The woman's relatives demand for her an amount of worldly goods--slaves, pigs, bolos, and spears--that is almost impossible of payment. The man's relatives, on the other hand, strive to comply, but make use of every means to gain the friendship of the other side and thereby bring about a more considerate demand.

When, perhaps after years of effort, an agreement is reached, a great feast is prepared by the two parties. The final payment is made by the man's relatives, and the following day a reciprocal banquet is given by the girl's relatives, in the course of which one-half of the value of the payment made by the man's relatives is returned by the girl's relatives as an indication that "she has not been sold like a slave."

The marriage ceremony consists in the exchange of rice between the bride and the bridegroom. This is followed by a religious rite that consists mainly in determining by divination the fate of the couple.

Marriage is sometimes effected by capture, usually, I think, with the connivance of the woman. But the procedure involves a heavier payment to the throng of armed relatives that invariably set out in pursuit of the captors.

Prenatal marriage contracts are rare, but child marriage without cohabitation is practiced to a certain extent, especially among the more influential members of the tribe.

The age for marriage is about the age of puberty for the women and about the age of 18 for the men. Polygamy is a recognized institution, but is comparatively rare except among those who have the means to pay for the luxury of a second, third, or fourth wife. It presupposes the consent of the first wife, who always retains and maintains her position, there being no jealously, as far as my observation goes, and few domestic broils. Polyandry is considered swinish, and concubinage is unknown. Divorce is not in accord with tribal customs. The same holds true of prostitution.

There is no evidence of the practice of endogamy which is so widespread among the Oceanic peoples. As a rule, however, the Manóbo marries within his own tribe. This is due to his environment, to the hostile relations he ever holds with surrounding tribes, and to differences of religious beliefs. The only impediment to marriage is consanguinity, but even this impediment may be removed in the case of cousins by appropriate religious ceremonies. Consanguineous marriages are rare.

Upon the death of the husband, the wife is considered to belong to his relatives. Upon the presentation of a second suitor, she is remarried in the same manner as on her first marriage, but the payments demanded are not so high.

Marriages seem to result in reciprocal good understanding and happiness. The wife goes about her manifold duties day after day without a murmur, while her master keeps his weapons in good condition, fishes and hunts occasionally, goes on a trading trip at times, takes part in social gatherings, lends his voice in time of trouble, and goes off to fight if there should be occasion for it.

Faithfulness to the marriage tie is one of the most striking features of Manóboland. Adultery is extremely rare. The husband lives, at least during the first part of the married life, with his father-in-law, and displays toward his parents-in-law the same feelings that he entertains for his own parents. His wife is always under the eyes of her own parents, so that he is restrained from indulging in any marital bickerings.

Pregnancy, birth, and childhood.--The desire for children is strong. Hence voluntary abortion and infanticide are unknown. In case of involuntary abortion, which is comparatively frequent, the fetus is hung or buried under the house. When the child begins to quicken in the womb, the mother undergoes a process of massage at the beginning of every lunar month.

Parturition is effected almost invariably without any difficulty, the umbilical cord is cut usually with a bamboo sliver, the mother sits up to prevent a reflux of the afterbirth into the womb, the child is washed, and the operation is over. If the mother can not suckle her child it is nourished with rice water, sugar cane juice, and other light food, but is not given to another to be suckled. In a few days after her delivery the mother is up and back at her work. A little birth party takes place soon after the birth in which the midwife receives a slight guerdon for her services.

The child is named, without any ceremony, after some ancestor or famous Manóbo, or occasionally receives a name indicative of something which happened at the time of the birth. He is treated with the greatest tenderness and lack of restraint. As he grows up he learns the ways of the forest, and about the age of 14 he is a full-fledged little man. If the child is a girl, she helps her mother from the first moment that she is able to be of service.

Birth anomalies are rare. I have seen several albinos and several people who might be called in a loose sense hermaphrodites.

Medicine, sickness, and death.--The Manóbo attributes some twelve bodily ailments to natural causes, and for the cure of such he believes in the efficacy of about as many herbs and roots. For wounds, tobacco juice and the black residue of the smoking pipe are considered a good remedy. Betel nut and betel leaf are a very common cure for pains in the stomach. The gall of snakes has a potency of its own for the same trouble.

As a rule, all natural remedies are applied externally until such time as they prove unavailing, and the symptoms assume a more serious aspect.

Whenever an ailment is of a lingering character, especially if accompanied by increasing emaciation and not classifiable as one of the familiar maladies, it is attributed to magic causes. Certain individuals may have the reputation of being able to compound various noxious substances, the taking of which, it is believed, may superinduce lingering ailments. The pulverized bone from a corpse or the blood of a woman, dried in the sun and exposed to the light of the moon and then mixed with finely cut human hair, are example of such compounds. Other magic medicines exist such as aphrodisiacs, and bezoar stones. When it is decided that the ailment is due to any of these magic causes, neutralizing methods must be resorted to, the nature and application of which are very secret.

Epidemics are attributed to the malignancy of sea demons, and by way of propitiation, and inducement to these plague spirits to hurry off with their epidemic, offerings placed on raftlets are launched in the nearest rivers.

As soon as it is realized that the malady is beyond the power of natural or of magic resources, recourse is had to the deities or good spirits, as will be explained under the resume of religion. Upon the occurrence of a death, wild scenes frequently take place, the relatives being unable to restrain their grief. Signals, by bamboo horns, are often boomed out to neighboring settlements to warn them to be on their guard. War raids to settle old feuds are sometimes decided upon on these occasions, so all trails leading to the house are closed.

The corpse is washed and laid out on its back in its best apparel. The coffin is a hexagonal piece of wood made out of a log with a three-faced lid also hewn out of a log. The body is often wrapped in a grass mat before being laid in the coffin.

Before decomposition sets in, the coffin is borne away by men amidst great grief and loud shouts. A high piece of ground is selected in a remote part of the forest for the last resting place of the deceased. A shallow grave is dug, a roof of thatch is erected, a potful of boiled rice is placed over the grave as a last collation for the departed one, and the burial party hurry back in fear to the settlement. As soon as they can provide themselves with temporary huts they almost always abandon the settlement.

Social and Family enjoyments.--Music, instrumental and vocal, and dancing are the two great sources of domestic enjoyment. There are several kinds of instruments, which I will mention in the order of their importance and frequency of use. The drum, the gong, four varieties of flutes, four species of guitars, a violin, and a jew's-harp. With the exception of the first two, the instruments are made of bamboo and are, in every sense of the word, of the most primitive kind. The strings are of vine, bamboo, or abaká fiber.

The drum is the instrument of most frequent use. It is played during all dancing and at other times when a tribesman feels inclined. It is used as a signal to give alarm or to call an absent one. During the dance, religious or secular, it is nearly always accompanied by the gong. The use of the other instruments seems to depend upon the caprice of the individuals, though two of them appear to have a religious character.

With the exception of the gong and the Jew's-harp, all of these instruments can be made to produce varied and pleasing rhythms or music, according to the knowledge and skill of the performer. Each strain has its appropriate name, taken frequently from the name of the animal that it is supposed to imitate.

Instrumental music, in general, is of minor tonality, melancholy, weird, and suggestive in some ways of Chinese music.

Bamboo stampers are sometimes used to give more animation to a dancing celebration, and bamboo sounders are attached to looms to draw attention to the industry of the weaver.

Songs are always sung as solos. They are all extemporaneous and for the most part legendary. The language is archaic and difficult for an outsider to understand. The singing is a kind of declamation, with long slurs, frequent staccatos, and abrupt endings. Of course, there are war songs that demand loudness and rapidity, but on the whole the song music is as weird and melancholy as the instrumental. Ceremonial chants do not differ from secular songs, except that they treat of the doings of a supernatural world, and are the medium through which supplications are made to supernatural beings.

Perhaps the greatest of all social enjoyments, both for men and deities, is the dance. It is performed by one person at a time. Men, women and children take part. Dressed in a woman's skirt and decked out in all obtainable finery, the dancer keeps perfect time to the rhythm of the drum and the clang of the gong.


System of government and social control.--Manóboland is divided into districts, more or less extensive, which are the property of the different clans. Each district is under the nominal leadership of the warrior chiefs and of the more influential men. In time of peace these districts are open to everybody, but in time of war--and wars were formerly very frequent--only persons of tried friendship are permitted to enter.

A clan consists of a chief whose authority is merely nominal, and of a number of his relatives varying from 20 to perhaps 200 souls. The whole system is patriarchal, no coercion being used unless it is sanctioned by the more influential members, approved by the consensus of opinion of the people, and in accord with traditional custom.

The authority of the elder people is respected as long as they are physically and mentally able to participate in public gatherings. Those who have distinguished themselves by personal prowess always command a following, but they have a greater influence in time of trouble than in time of peace.

Perfect equality reigns among the members of the clan, except in the one respect that the recognized warriors are entitled to the use of a red headkerchief, jacket, and pantaloons, each of these articles, beginning with the first, being added as the number of people whom the warrior has killed is increased.

The chieftainship naturally falls to one who has attained the rank of bagáni--that is, to one who has killed a certain number of persons--provided he is otherwise sufficiently influential to attract a following. His duties consist in lending his influence to settle disputes and in redressing the wrongs of those who care to appeal to him. As a priest he is thought to be under the protection of a war god whose desire for blood he must satisfy.

The bagáni also acts as a medicine man, for he is reputed to have certain magic powers both for good and for evil. The natural secretiveness of the bagáni made it difficult for me to secure much information on this point, but his power of harming at a distance and of making himself invisible are matters of general belief. In his character as a priest, he performs ceremonies for the cure of diseases in which fluxes of blood occur.

Methods of warfare.--There is no military organization in Manóboland. The greater part of those who form a war party are relatives of the aggrieved one, though it is usual to induce some others of acknowledged prowess to take part. No resentment is harbored by the opposing party toward paid warriors.

Vendettas and debts are the most usual cause of war, and not, as has been reported, glory and the capture of slaves. There is never wanting on the part of those who originate the war a reasonable motive. The vendetta system is not only recognized, but vengeance is considered incumbent on the relatives of one who has been killed, and, as a reminder, a piece of green rattan is sometimes strung up in the house. The rattan suggests that until it rots the wrong will not be forgotten. If the father is unable to avenge the wrong, he bequeathes[sic] the revenge to his son as a sacred legacy. Sometimes another person is deputed to take vengeance, in which case no blame is attached to him.

The peculiar custom prevails of killing a third party who may be neutral, or of seizing his property, but I have known such an act to be resented. As a result of this custom a war party returning from an unsuccessful raid is dangerous.

There is usually no formal declaration of war. In fact, the greatest secrecy is generally observed, and in urgent cases a body of ambushers proceed at once to kill the first one of the enemy that happens to pass their lurking place. As a rule, the enemy's house and his actions are watched for weeks, perhaps for years, until a favorable opportunity for attack presents itself.

The usual times for undertaking an expedition are during the rice harvest and after a death. The preparation consists in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the enemy's house and of its environment. Everything being ready, the warriors assemble, a sacrifice is made, omens are taken, and the band starts out at such an hour as will enable them to reach the vicinity of the enemy about nightfall. From the last stopping point a few warriors make a final reconnaissance in the gloom of the night, release the enemy's traps, and return. The whole band, numbering anywhere from 10 to 100, advance and, surrounding the house, await the dawn, for it is at the first blush of the morning that sleep is supposed to be heaviest. Moreover, there is then sufficient light to enable the party to make the attack. Hence the peep of dawn is almost always the hour of attack.

If the enemy's house is within spear reach, it is usually an easy matter to put the inmates to death, but if it is a high house, and, especially, if the inmates are well prepared, a warrior climbs up silently under the house and spears one of them. This, followed by the killing of pigs and by the battle cry, usually causes consternation. A battle of arrows then takes place; there is a bandying of fierce threats, taunts, and challenges, and the attacking party endeavors to set the roof on fire with burning arrows. If they succeed the inmates flee from the flames, but only the children, as a rule, escape the bolo and the spear.

It is seldom that the attack is prolonged more than a few hours, and it is seldom that the attack is unsuccessful, for if other means fail, hunger and thirst will drive the besieged ones to flight, in which case they become the victims of the besieging warriors. If one of the latter is wounded or killed, the attack is abandoned at once, such an occurrence being considered extremely inauspicious.

Each warrior gets credit for the number of people whom he kills, and is entitled to the slaves that he may capture. The warrior chiefs open the breasts of one or more of the headmen of the slain, insert a portion of their charm collars into the openings, and consume the heart and liver in honor of their war spirits.

During the return home the successful warriors make the forest resound with the weird ululation of the battle cry, and adorn their lances with palm fronds. Upon arrival at their settlement they are welcomed with drum and song and loud acclaim. A purificatory bath is followed by a feast in which each one recounts the minutest details of the attack. After the feast some of the captives may be given to warriors who were unlucky or who desire to satisfy their vengeance. The captives are dispatched in the near-by forest.

Ambush is also a very ordinary method of warfare. Several warriors station themselves in a selected position near the trail and await their enemy.

Whenever there is open rupture between two parties, it is customary for each of them to erect a high house in a place remote and difficult of access, and to surround it with such obstacles as will make it more dangerous. In these houses, with their immediate relatives and with such warriors as desire to take their part, they bide their time in a state of constant watch and ward.

When both parties to a feud are tired, either of fighting constantly or of taking refuge in flight, a peacemaking may be brought about through the good services of friendly and influential tribesmen. On the appointed day, the parties meet, balance up their blood debts and other obligations and decide on a term within which to pay them. As an evidence of their sincere desire to preserve peace and to make mutual restitution, a piece of green rattan is cut by the leaders, and a little beeswax is burnt, both operations being symbolic of the fate that will befall the one that breaks his plighted word.

Intertribal and analogous relations.--Intertribal relations between pagan Manóbos and Christtianized[sic] Manóbos, and between the former and Bisáyas were comparatively pacific during my residence in the Agúsan Valley. Between Manóbos and other mountain tribes, excepting Mañgguáñgans, the relations were, with casual exceptions, rather friendly, due, no doubt, to the lessons learned by the Manóbos in their long struggles with Mandáyas, Banuáons, andv Debabáons up to the advent of the missionaries about 1877. The Manóbos are inferior to the tribes mentioned in tribal cohesion and in intellect. Their dealings, however, with Mañgguáñgans, who are undoubtedly their physical and intellectual inferiors, present a different aspect. With the Mandáyas and Debabáons, they have helped to reduce the once extensive Mañgguáñgan tribe to the remnant that it is to-day.

Manóbos and other mountain tribes have little to do with each other. Only particular individuals of the various tribes, who have the happy faculty of avoiding trouble, travel among other tribes. In general, Manóbos are afraid of the aggressiveness of their neighbors (excluding the Mañgguáñgans), and their neighbors f ear Manóbo instability and hot-headedness; hence both sides pursue the prudent policy of avoidance.

Interclan relations have been comparatively peaceful since the establishment of the special government in the Agúsan Valley. Occasional killings took place formerly and probably still take place in remote regions, notably on the upper Baóbo. It is probable that since my departure from the Agúsan in 1910 these murders take place much less frequently, as the special government organized in 1907 has made great headway in getting in contact with the more warlike people of the interior.

Up to the time of my departure dealings between the various clans were purely commercial and of a sporadic nature. Old enmities were not forgotten, and it was considered more prudent to have as little as possible to do with one another.

On all occasions, when there is any apprehension of danger, arms are worn. During meals, even of festive occasions, the Manóbo eats with his left hand, holding his right in readiness for an attack. The guests at a feast are seated in such a way that an attack may be easily guarded against. Various other laws of intercourse, such as those governing the passing of one person behind another and method of unsheathing a bolo, regulate the dealings of man with man and clan with clan.

Commercial relations between Bisáyas and Manóbos, both pagan and Christianized, constitute, on the part of the first-mentioned, a system of deliberate and nefarious spoliation which has been denounced from the time of the first missionaries and which, by the establishment of trading posts by the Government, eventually will be suppressed. Absolutely inadequate values both in buying and selling commodities, use of false weights and measures, defraudation in accounts, demands of unspeakably high usury, wheedling by the puának or friendship system, advancing of merchandise at exorbitant rates, especially just before the rice harvest, and the system of commutation by which an article not contracted for was accepted in payment though at a paltry price--these were the main features of the system. It may be said that the resultant and final gain amounted to between 500 and 1,000 per cent.

The bartering was carried on in a spirit of dissimulation, the Manóbo being cozened into the idea that the sale was an act of friendship and involved a comparative loss on the part of the Bisáya. A period, more or less extended, was allowed him wherein to complete the payment, with a promise of further liberal advances.

Since the Manóbo has become aware of the stupendous gain of the Bisáya, he is not so prompt in his payments and in fact often thwarts his creditor by deliberate delays. Hence the frequent bickerings, quarrels, and ill will that are ever a result of these commercial relations.

It is needless to say that throughout the valley there was most undue fluctuation of prices. Moreover, the Manóbo sold a part of his rice in harvest time at 50 centavos a sack, and in time of scarcity repurchased it at as much as 5 pesos.

The internal commerce of the Manóbos presents, on the whole, a very different spectacle. It consists in simple exchanges. There is no circulating medium. The units of exchange are slaves (valued at from 15 to 30 pesos each), pigs, and plates, but with the exception of the first, these units are not constant in value.

The measures used are the gántang, a cylindrical wooden vessel with a capacity of from 10 to 15 liters; the kabán,1 which contains 25 gántang; the yard, measured from the end of the thumb to the middle of the sternum; the span, the fathom, the finger, and the finger joint.

1Called also bákid and anéga. A kabán is measured by counting out 25 gántang.

Slavery is a recognized institution, but since the diminution of intertribal and interclan wars the number of slaves has diminished. Slaves were originally obtained by capture and then passed from hand to hand in making marriage payments. It sometimes occurs, in an exigency, that a man delivers a child, even his own, into captivity.

The slave is generally not ill-treated but has to do all the work that is assigned to him. He has no rights of any kind, possesses no property except a threadbare suit, and is usually not allowed to marry. However, he receives a sufficiency of food and seems to be contented with his lot.


General principles and various laws.--It is frequently stated by Bisáyas and others that Manóbo justice consists in the oppression of the weak by the strong, but I have not found this to be true. The Manóbo is too independent and too much a lover of revenge to brook coercion. He recognizes a set of customary rules, and any departure from them is resented by himself and by his relatives.

Nearly all violations of rights are considered as civil and not as criminal wrongs, and upon due compensation are condoned. Failure on the part of the offender to make this compensation leads the aggrieved man and his relatives to take justice into their own hands.

The guilty one in nearly every case is allowed a fair and impartial hearing in the presence of his own relatives. The matter is argued out, witnesses are called, and the offender's own relatives generally exert their influence to make him yield with good will. Hence the feast that follows nearly every case of successful arbitration.

One of the fundamental customs of the Manóbos is to regard as a duty the payment of one's debts, and this duty is performed sacredly and often at a sacrifice. Another fundamental custom is the right of revenge. Revenge is a sacred duty that is bequeathed from generation to generation, and from it result the long and terrible feuds that have devastated Manóboland.

Customary law is based on the intense conservation of the Manóbo, fostered by the priests and strengthened by a system of religious injunctions and interdictions. Anyone who violates these taboos or interdictions becomes liable for all evil consequences that may follow.

Property rights are understood and rigidly upheld, so much so that there seems to be no conception of a gift as such. Large tracts of land are considered the property of a clan, but anyone on good terms with the clan may settle on the land and may have all the rights of a clansman except those of fishing. Each individual becomes the temporary owner of the land that he selects and of the crops that he plants thereon. As soon as he abandons the land it becomes the collective property of the clan. Land disputes are unknown.

Property that is the result of one's labor or one's purchase belongs to the individual except in the case of women, children, and slaves. Loss of and damage to property belonging to another must be made good, no excuses being admitted.

The law of contracts is stringent, but a certain amount of consideration is shown in case of a failure to fulfill a contract on time, unless a definite stipulation to the contrary has been previously made. All contracts are made in the presence of witnesses, and frequently a knotted rattan slip, representing the number of items or the number of days to elapse before payment, is delivered by the one who makes the contract.

Nearly all transactions are made on a credit basis, hence frequent disputes arise out of the failure of one party or the other to fulfill the terms of the contract. The failures are sometimes due to the fact that one individual man depends on payment from another in order to satisfy his debt to a third party. Undue delay on the part of a debtor finally gives the creditor the right to seize the property of the debtor, or even the property of a third party. Such an action is not common and is always taken under the stress of exasperation after repeated efforts to collect have proved unavailing. As a rule the relatives of the debtor prefer to settle the obligation rather than to allow matters to become too serious, but it happens at times that they, too, are obstinate and allow things to take their course.

No interest is charged on loans except in the case of paddy. There are few loans made, and no leases or pledges. These last imply a distrust that is not pleasing to the Manóbo.

The law of liability is very strict. For instance, if one should ask another to accompany him on a journey and the latter should fall sick or die, the former would be liable for his death. If one should die in the house, thereby causing the abandonment of it, the relatives of the dead man would have to pay the value of the house. Similar instances are of frequent occurrence and can readily be understood. This liability law extends to evils supposed to be due to the violation of taboos and to the possession of magic powers.

There is a system of fining that serves, harsh though it may seem, to maintain proper deference to the person and the property of another. Thus, spitting on another, rudely grasping another's person, entering another's district without due permission, bathing in river without the owner's leave, are a few of the many cases that might be adduced. The fine varies according to the damage and amount of malice that may be proved in the subsequent arbitration.

Regulations governing domestic relations and property; customary procedure in settlements of disputes.--The house belongs collectively to the builders. The property in it belongs to the male inmates who have acquired it.

The elder brother takes possession of the property of his deceased brother, unless the eldest son of the deceased is of such an age as to be capable of managing the household. In case the deceased did not have a brother, a brother-in-law or a son-in-law becomes the representative of the household. The eldest son inherits his father's debts and must pay them.

There is so little property in the ordinary Manóbo home that there are no disputes as to the inheritance. After a death the house is abandoned and the grief-stricken relatives scurry off with their baskets, mats, and simple utensils to make another home in a solitary part of the forest.

The relations both prenuptial and postnuptial between the sexes are of the strictest kind. All evil conduct from adultery down to immodest gazing is punished with appropriate fines and even with death. The fines vary from the equivalent of three slaves down to the equivalent of a few pesos.

The marriage contract is very rigid. I know of few cases in which the stipulated price was not paid prior to the delivery of the fiancé. In case of the death of one of the affiancéd parties, the payments made must be refunded. In case of the refusal of the bridegroom to continue his suit even though there has been no fault on the part of the bride or of her relatives, he loses all right to recover. Should the bride's people, however, decide to discontinue the proceedings, they must return the previous payments and make, I believe, compensation for the trouble and expenses incurred during the previous transactions. No case of a discontinuance of the marriage proceedings ever passed under my observation.

The father has theoretically full power over his wife and children, but in practice his domestic jurisdiction is of the most lenient kind. Marital affection and filial devotion reign in the household.

The husband may not marry a second wife during the lifetime of the first without the latter's consent. This rule, as well as the lack of sufficient worldly possessions to purchase another helpmate, makes polygamy comparatively infrequent.

The bridegroom is supposed to live with his father-in-law or with the previous owner of his wife, very often his wife's brother, but nearly always sets up his own establishment a few years after marriage.

With the exception of adultery, fornication, rape, and wanton homicide, all crimes presuppose an appeal to arbitration. The one that is the author of another's death is the one on whom vengeance must be taken, if it is possible.

When an outraged party is unable to obtain redress by arbitration or by the direct reprisal, he avenges himself on a third party, preferably a relative of his enemy, by killing him or by seizing his property. He thus brings matters to a head. It is usual to compound with the relatives of this third party, either for the death or for the seizure, on condition that they will league themselves with the one who is seeking revenge, in opposition to the original wrongdoer or that they themselves will undertake, as his paid agents, to wreak vengeance on his enemy.

Minor offenses are punished by fines that are determined by arbitration. These fines vary in amount, but nearly always include a feast, more or less elaborate, the expenses of which are borne by the party that lost the case.

The arbitration of a question may be made immediately after it has arisen or it may not be brought about for weeks or months. When the discussion has begun it is not considered politic for either side to yield at once. Threats are bandied between the principals until, through the influence of friendly chiefs, they are brought together. Then the relatives discuss the affair, each side exaggerating its own view of the question. It is only after lengthy discussions, and the use of similitudes and allegories, loud shouts, dissimulation, and through the sagacity and influence of the chief men that the opinions of the parties are so molded that an agreement is reached.

It may be necessary to determine the offense. This is done by witnesses who give, as far as I have been able to judge, truthful testimony. Whenever the veracity of a witness is doubted he may be obliged to take a kind of oath which consists in the burning of beeswax. A little beeswax is melted by holding a firebrand over it. While this is being done, the person whose veracity it is desired to test, utters a wish that in case of falsehood his body may be melted like the wax. In the case of suspects, ordeals are employed. They consist of making the parties under suspicion either plunge their hands into boiling water, or undergo the diving test, or take the candle ordeal.

Circumstantial evidence is admissible. By means of it, the authors of hidden crimes are often brought to punishment after years of patient waiting.

It is customary for the guilty one to make at least a partial payment immediately after the arbitration, and to treat the assembly to a banquet in which it is good form for the two opponents to close the breaches of friendship by generous quaffs to each other's health.




A study of Manóbo religion is difficult because of the natural secretiveness and suspiciousness of this primitive man, because of his dependence for his religious ideas on his priests, because of the variations and apparent contradictions that arise at every step, and, finally, because of his inability to expound in a satisfactory manner the beliefs of his religious system.


The religious belief of the Manóbo is an essential part of his life. On his person he often carries religious objects. The site for his home is not selected till omens and oracles are consulted. In his method of cooking there are religious rules. He can not procure his meat from the forest nor his fish from the streams without making an appropriate offering. He sows and harvests his rice under the auspices of certain deities. His hunting dogs are under the protection of a special divinity. His bolo and his spear must answer a special magic test. He can not go forth to fight till divination and sacrifice have assured him success. All the great events of his life--his marriage, the pregnacy[sic] and parturition of his wife, death, burial, war--all are consecrated by formal, and often public, religious rites.

As far as I have been able to judge, fear of the deities of evil spirits, of the dead--of all that is unintelligible, unusual, somber--is the mainspring of the Manóbos religious observances and beliefs.

In order to detect the evils, natural and supernatural, to which he may be exposed, he has recourse to dreams, divination, auguries, and omens, and, in more serious cases he calls upon his priests to ascertain by invocation, oblation, and sacrifice, the source of the evil that has befallen him, or of the danger that he fears.


There is no supreme being in the Manóbo pantheon, though there are two principal classes of beneficent divinities. Little is known of one of these classes beyond its supposed existence. The other class is made up of humanlike deities called diwáta that retain a fondness for this world and the good things thereof. They select mortals for their favorites, and through them keep themselves provided with such earthly delicacies as they may desire, even though they may have to plague their mortal votaries in order to secure them.

There is another category of spirits, of a slightly different character, whose desire is blood. These are the war divinities that select certain individuals for their champions and urge them on to deeds of valor, with the hope of procuring blood.

In contradistinction to the above divinities are others of a malignant or dangerous character. Chief among them are the búsau, black, hideous spirits that dwell in dark, desolate places, and who are for the most part implacable enemies of man. To counteract the machinations of these spirits, the beneficent dieties[sic] are called upon by Manóbo priests and feasted with song and dance and sacrifice. Pleased with these tokens of friendship, the good spirits pursue the evil ones, and even engage in battle with them.

The tagbánua are a class of local spirits that reign over the forest tracts and mountains. They are not of an unkindly nature as long as a certain amount of respect is paid them. Hence the practice of making offerings during hunting and other forest occupations.

Among the other inimical spirits are: The rice pilferer, Dágau; Anit, the thunderbolt spirit; numerous epidemic demons; the goddess of consanguineous love and marriage; the spirit of sexual excess; the wielder of the lightning and the manipulator of the winds and storms; the cloud spirit; and various others.

Agricultural and hunting operations are all performed under the auspices of gods and goddesses. Thus Hakiádan and Taphágan take care of the rice during sowing and harvest time, respectively; Tagamáling attends to other crops; Libtákan is the god of sunshine and good weather; and Sugújun is the god of the chase.

There are other gods: Mandáit, the birth deity; Ibú, the goddess of the afterworld; Makalídung, the founder of the world; Manduyápit, the ferryman; and Yúmud, the water wraith.


The performance of nearly all the greater religious rites is left to the priests who are of two classes--bailán or ordinary priests, and bagáni or war priests. It is the prerogative of these priests to hold communication with their familiar spirits; to find out from them their desires; to learn the doings of the unfriendly spirits, and the means to be taken for a mitigation of the evil in question.

The ordinary priests are simple intermediaries, claiming no wondrous powers, making use of no deceptive nor mercenary methods, as far as my observation goes, with no particular dress and little paraphernalia, having no political influence, but possessing, in all that concerns religion, paramount authority. Their title to priesthood is derived from violent manifestations, such as trembling, perspiring, belching, semiunconsciousness, that are believed to be a result of communication with their familiars.

The war priests have blood spirits for their favorites, and accordingly perform their rites only in matters that concern war and wounds.

Ceremonial accessories consist of a few heirlooms, a small altar house, a wooden oblation tray, a one-legged stand, a sacrificial table, ceremonial decorations, sacred images, and sacrificial offerings.

The religious rites peculiar to the ordinary priests, consist of betel-nut offerings, the burning of incense, invocations, prophylactic fowl waving, omen taking, blood unction, the child ceremony, the death feast, the rice-planting ceremony, the hunting rite, and the sacrifice of pig or fowl.

The ceremonies peculiar to the warrior priests, besides the betel-nut tribute to the war spirits and invocation offered to them, are: Invocation and offerings to the spirit companions or "souls" of the living enemy, special forms of divination connected with war, a special invocation to the omen bird preparatory to the war raid, placation and propitiation of the tutelary war deities by invocation, by sacrifice, and ceremonial cannibalism; and, probably, in the remote districts, by human sacrifice.


The main features, then, of the Manóbo religious system are:

(1) A firm traditional belief in the existence of anthropomorphic beneficent deities that will help the Manóbo if he supplies them with the offerings they desire, but, if not, that will allow and even cause evil to befall him.

(2) A belief in the existence of forest spirits and sky spirits, who on occasions may become hostile and must be propitiated.

(3) An absolute reliance on priests, who are the favorites of one or more of the friendly divinities, and through whose mediation he secures their good will and assistance.

(4) The fear of the dead who are thought to harbor an envious feeling toward the living.

(5) The frequent consultation or interpretation of omens, auguries, and oracles for ascertaining future events.

(6) A rigid adherence to a numerous set of taboos, some based on religious ideas, some founded on sympathetic magic.

(7) A frequent application of the principle of sympathetic magic by which one act is believed to be productive of a correlated result.

(8) A conscientious avoidance of everything disrespectful in word and act toward one of the brute creation.

(9) A belief in two spirit companions that accompany each mortal from birth till death.

(10) A belief in the possibility of capture of one of these spirit companions by malignant spirits.

(11) A universal and constant faith in the existence of an afterworld and of the eternal survival of at least one spirit companion therein.

(12) A belief in dreams as being often indicative of future evil.

(13) A belief in secret methods that may be productive of harm to others.

(14) The recourse to oaths and ordeals for the enforcement of promises and for the determination of truth.

(15) The unmistakable apotheosis of bravery as illustrated by the warlike character of one class of deities.

Such are the main characteristics of this form of primitive religion. The peculiar fear, entertained by its lowly votary, of lonely mountains, odd-shaped rocks, gloomy caves and holes, hot springs and similar formations of nature; his belief that planted things have "souls" and his peculiar respect for animals and insects--these and minor manifestations may point perhaps to a former nature and animal worship, but at present there is no indication of such. The Manóbo's conduct in the presence of such objects and phenomena is one of fear toward, and placation of, the agencies which he believes produce the phenomena or of the spirit owners of the objects that come across his path. It is to them alone that he pays his respect, and not to the material object or manifestation that has become the object of his perception.

Though one of the characteristics of Manóbo religion is the apotheosis of bravery, as is apparent from the warlike character of the divinities, and from the general desire to die the death of the slain, yet I find little trace of ancestor worship. The dead are feared, their burial place is shunned, their character is deemed perfidious, and relations with them are terminated by a farewell mortuary feast, after which it is expected that they will depart, to vex the living no more.


The Manóbo's intellectual attainments are very limited. He counts on his fingers and on his toes, or by means of material objects such as grains of maize. He has never had any system of writing and does not know how to read. His "letters" and his "contracts" are material objects in the shape of bolos and other things, sent from one person to another with a verbal message, or strips of rattan with knots. His method of counting is decimal, and comprehends all numbers up to a hundred, though I am inclined to think that this last number represents to him infinity.

The reckoning of time is equally simple. The day is divided into day and night, the hour being indicated by stretching out the arm and open hand in the direction of that part of the sky where the sun or the moon would be at the time it is desired to indicate.

The month is not divided into weeks but the lunar month itself is carefully followed, each phase of the moon having its distinct name, though it is only in the case of the extreme of each phase that they agree on its name.

Years are reckoned by the recurrence of the rice-harvesting season, which varies according to the climate and geographical position of different regions. It is seldom that one can count backwards more than four or five years unless he can help his memory by some event such as an earthquake, and extra heavy flood, the arrival of the Spanish missionaries, the Philippine insurrection, or the growth of trees, but as a rule no attempt is made to determine the number of years that have elapsed since any event. I have seldom met a Manóbo who had any idea as to his age, or any ability to judge approximately of the age of another.

Historical knowledge is confined almost entirely to events that have occured[sic] within one's lifetime. There are few traditions that have any historical value, and even in these there is an element of the wonderful that makes them unreliable as guides.

It is obvious that the pagan Manóbo has made no advance along academic lines, clue to the fact that he never has had an opportunity afforded him, but judging of his intellectual ability by that of the Christianized Manóbos, it is not inferior to that of the Bisáya. I had experience in organizing and conducting schools among the conquistas, and it has been my experience that ceteris paribus, they advance as rapidly as Bisáyas. If the conquistas have not progressed as far intellectually, it is due to lack of facilities and not to any inherent inability to learn.

Knowledge of astronomy is limited among the Manóbos to the names of a few of the principal stars and constellations. The nature of the stars, moon, sun, eclipses, and kindred phenomena are all explained in mythological tales, from a belief in which no amount of reasoning can move them. The old story that the comet is the harbinger or bearer of disease is in vogue.

Esthetic arts, such as painting and architecture, are unknown, though Manóbos can carve rude and often fantastic wooden images, and can make crude tracings and incisions on lime tubes and baskets.

Notwithstanding their lack of scientific and esthetic knowledge, their observation of nature is marvelous. This is obviously due to long familiarity with the forest, the stream, and the mountains. From his boyhood years the Manóbo has lived the life of the forest. He has scanned the trees for birds and monkeys, the streams for fish. Living, as he generally has, within a definite district, and roaming over it in search of game and other things to eat, at the same time keeping a close watch for any variation that might indicate the presence of an outsider, he has come to possess those marvelous powers of sight and of observation that would astonish the average white man. Within his own district the position of every tree is known. Every stream and every part of it, every mountain, every part of the forest is known and has its appropriate name. The position of a place is explained in a few words to a fellow tribesman, and is understood by the latter.

Trees and plants are recognized, and their adaptation in a great many cases for certain economic uses is known, though I think that, in his knowledge of the latter, the Manóbo is inferior to both the Bisáya and the Mandáya, as he is undoubtedly of a more conservative and less enterprising disposition.

The Manóbo character has been so maligned by missionaries, and by all the Bisáyas who have dealings with them, that it deserves a clearance from the aspersions that have been cast upon it. In dealing with the Manóbo, as with all primitive peoples, the personal equation brings out more than anything else the good qualities that underlie his character. Several of the missionaries seem not to have distinguished between the pagan and the man. To them the pagan was the incarnation of all that is vile, a creature whose every act was dictated by the devil. The Bisáya regarded him somewhat in the same light, but went further. He looked upon him as his enemy because of the many acts of retribution, even though retribution was merited, that had been committed by the Manóbo or by his ancestors. He entertained a feeling of chagrin and disappointment that this primitive man was unwilling to become an absolute tool in his hands for thorough exploitation. Hence no name, however vile, was too bad for the poor forest dweller who refused to settle near his plantation and toil--man, woman, and child--for an utterly inadequate wage. His feeling toward the conquistas is little, if at all, better.

Upon first acquaintance the Manóbo is timid and suspicious. This is due to the extreme cautiousness that teaches him to guard a life that among his own people has only a nominal value. When in the presence of strangers for the first time, he remembers that reprisals have been bandied from time immemorial between his people on the one hand, and Bisáyas, on the other, and he realizes that without proper care, reprisals might be made on him. Again, if the visitor has penetrated into his district, his suspicion may be aroused to its full force by calumnious reports or rumors that may have preceded the visitor's arrival. My own visits were frequently preceded by rumors to the effect that I had magic power to poison or to do other things equally wonderful, that I was a solider in disguise, or by other similar reports. But in these cases and in all others one may allay the timorousness and suspiciousness of these primitive people to a great extent by previous announcement of one's visit and intentions, and upon arrival in their settlement, by refraining from any act or word that might betray one's curiosity. Surprise must not be expressed at anything that takes place. The mere question as to what, for instance, is beyond such and such a mountain, or where is the headwaters of such and such a stream, may start up the full flame of suspicion. Hence prudence, a kind, quiet, but alert manner, a good reputation from the last visited locality and a distribution of trifling gifts, is always efficacious in removing that feeling of distrust that these primitive people feel toward a stranger.

Another charge is that they are revengeful. They certainly believe in "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Revenge for an unatoned wrong is a stern, fundamental, eternal law, sanctioned by Manóbo institutions, social, political, and religious; one that is consecrated by the breath of the dying, and passed on from generation to generation to be fulfilled; but it has one saving clause, arbitration. Hence a stranger must inform himself of such past happenings as might jeopardize him. The Manóbo has a very limited conception of the extent of the outside world and of the number of its inhabitants, and he is inclined to believe that one American, for instance, knows every other one and may be related by blood to any other. Hence any imprudent action on the part of one may draw down revenge on the head of another1, relative or not, for even innocent third parties may, by Manóbo custom, be sacrificed to the unsatisfied spirit of revenge. The danger, however, in which a stranger might find himself from this cause, is easily eliminated by questioning the people as to who had wronged them on previous occasions; and should he learn that he is considered a party to the wrong through identity of blood or of race with the guilty one, he must gently suggest a plan for arbitration at some later date, and in other pacific ways avert the revenge from himself.

1It is not improbable that the death of Mr. H. M. Ickis, geologist of the Bureau of Science, Manila, was partly due to the capture and exile of one Gubat of the upper Umaíam some 15 or 20 years ago.

It is, moreover, affirmed that Manóbos are treacherous. If by treachery is meant a violation of faith and confidence, they can not be said to be treacherous. They kill when they feel that they are wronged. I know of few cases where they did not openly avow their feelings and demand reparation. Refusal to make the reparation demanded is equivalent to a declaration of war, and in war all is fair. It is every man's duty to safeguard himself as best he can. The Manóbo, Mandáya, Mañgguáñgan, and Debabáon houses erected in strategic positions throughout the interior of eastern Mindanáo, bear witness to the fact that these people recognize the principle that all is fair in war. The fact that they frequently carry their spears and shields when on the trail, and in time of trouble accompany their womenfolk to the farms and guard them there, is sufficient evidence of the fact that every means must be taken to safeguard one's self and interests from an enemy. But let a case be once arbitrated, and beeswax burned or other solemn manifestation of agreement be made, and it is my opinion that the pledge will not, as a rule, be broken.

Cowardice is a trait attributed to Manóbos and other people of Mindanáo. It is true that they do not take inordinate risks. The favorite hour for attack on an enemy's house is dawn. They prefer to thrust a spear through the floor rather than to call the enemy out to fight a hand-to-hand battle. In other cases they prefer to ambush him on the trail, 5 or 10 men against 1. Again, it may be more convenient to pick off a lone woman in a camote patch. Such are recognized methods of warfare. Once aroused, however, the Manóbo will fight, and fight to a finish. Throughout the Jesuit letters we find mentioned various instances of really brave deeds on the part of Manóbos. In some cases the husband killed his family and then himself rather than fall into the hands of the Spanish troops. I have been informed of hundreds of instances in which the male members of the attacked party threw themselves against superior numbers in order that their wives might escape. Hand-to-hand encounters are not uncommon, if I may believe the endless stories that have been narrated to me by warriors throughout eastern Mindanáo.

Laziness and dilatoriness can certainly be predicated of Manóbo men, but such qualities are to be attributed to lack of incentive to work and to hurry. All the household duties fall, by custom, upon the shoulders of the women, so that there is little left for the man except to fish, hunt, trap, trade, and fight. When, however, the men set themselves to clearing the forest or to other manual tasks, it is surprising with what agility, skill, and perseverance they work, though such spells of labor are short lived.

No one has ever uttered or written a word against the Manóbo's sexual morality. It is true that sexual matters are discussed with the greatest freedom, but the most venial breaches of morality are punished. The greatest modesty is observed in regard to the exposure of the private parts. Gazing at an undressed woman, for instance, at the bathing place results in a fine. Unseemly insinuations to a woman are visited with a similar punishment, but should such overtures go further, even death may be the penalty.

As to temperance and sobriety, the rule is to eat and drink all one can, hence the amount of food and drink consumed depends upon the supply. Sobriety is not a virtue. To lose one's equilibrium and senses is to do honor to the host and justice to his generosity.

Honesty is certainly a trait of the Manóbo character. I do not mean to maintain that there are not occasional pilferings, especially in small things that are considered to be more or less communal in their nature, such as palm wine while still flowing from the tree, but other kinds of property are perfectly safe. The rare violations of the rule of honesty are punished more or less severely according to the amount of the property stolen and according to other considerations.

Though respect for another's property is decidedly the rule, yet it is surprising to note with what care everything is counted, tied up, or put away, and how marks of ownership are set up on all occasions. I think, however, that these precautions are due not so much to a fear of pilferers as to a feeling of the instability of conditions in a country that has always been subject to turmoil.

Honesty in the payment of debts is one of the most striking characteristics of these people. I have advanced merchandise on credit to people whom I had never met before and the whereabouts of whose houses I did not know except from their own information, and yet, six months or a year later, when I entered their region I had no difficulty in locating them nor in collecting from them. So high is their feeling of obligation to pay a debt that even children are sometimes parted with in settlement, but this occurs in extreme cases only. Though debts are satisfied conscientiously, yet a certain amount of consideration is expected as to the time and other details of payment, except in some very urgent cases.

Honesty in other matters, as in the performance of formal agreements, is equally noticeable though I must say that the performance may not be as prompt in point of time as we would expect. But it must be remembered, in connection with this last point, that in making an agreement one is presumed to make allowance for a great many impediments, such as evil omens, that do not figure in our system of contracts. Another difference, which applies also to the matter of debts, is that the man who owes a debt must be reminded of his obligation and urged in a gentle way to the performance of it. It occurs in some rare instances that a debtor is under a definite contract as to the exact time for meeting his obligation. In these cases the creditor may be more insistent upon payment. It is to the credit of the Manóbo that he never disowns a debt nor runs away to avoid the payment thereof.

It has been said that the Manóbo is ungrateful, but I do not think that his gratitude is so rare nor so transitory a virtue as is claimed by those who pretend to know him. It is true that he has no word to express thanks, but he expects the giver to make known his desires and ask for what he wants. This is the reason why he himself is such an inveterate beggar. He receives you into his house, feeds you, considers you his friend, and proceeds to make you reciprocate by asking for everything he sees. If he is under any obligation to you, he expects you to ask in a similar manner. If you do not do it, he considers you either apathetic or rich, and hence no reciprocation is forthcoming. Among Manóbos no presents are made except of such trifles as have no value.

The Manóbo feels that he is at perfect liberty to conceal his real thoughts and to give utterance to such distortions of truth as may not compromise him with others. The penalty for slander is so great that this is a fault that is seldom committed. Hence to get the truth from a Manóbo, it is useless, as a rule, to question him singly or even in the presence of his friends alone. He must be brought face to face with those who hold an adverse opinion or belong to an opposite faction. If this can be done, in a more formal way, as for example, by having a number of principal men attend, it will be so much the easier to obtain the desired information.

Queries as to trails or the dwelling places of neighboring Manóbos are hardly ever answered truthfully and do more harm than good, because they tend to arouse suspicions as to the questioner's motives. Such information is obtained more readily by cultivating the friendship of boys than by consulting the older folks. This tendency to disguise or to distort the truth, though it has its natural basis in a desire for self-protection, gives the Manóbos a reputation for lack of that straightforwardness and frankness that is so noticeable among the Mandáyas, even after very short acquaintance. This lack of frankness, coupled with a certain amount of natural shrewdness, makes the truth difficult to discover, unless the suggestion made before be carried out, or unless one is willing to wait till the truth leaks out in private conversation among the Manóbos themselves.

One trait of the Manóbo that seems hard to understand is his love for long discussions. No matter how trifling the matter may be, it always becomes the subject of an inordinately long conference even though there are no dissenting parties. Even in such trifles as getting a guide to take me, by well-known trails, to settlements of people with whom I was well acquainted, the inevitable discussion would always take place. A great number of people would assemble. The matter would be discussed at length by every one present without a single interruption, except such exclamations of assent as are continuously uttered whether the speaker's views are acceptable or not. It seems that these and more solemn discussions afford the speakers an opportunity to make themselves conspicuous or to display their judgment. I can divine no other reason for these conferences because, in many cases that I have known, the result of the discussion was a foregone conclusion from the beginning. Perhaps such discussions are for the purpose of "making no concessions" or if they must be made, of making them begrudgingly.

These conferences are as a rule rather noisy, for though one speaker at a time "has the floor," there are always a number of collateral discussions, that, joined to the invariable household sounds, produce somewhat of a din. Noise, in fact, is a general characteristic of Manóbo life, so much so that at times one is inclined to be alarmed at the loud yelling and other demonstrations of apparent excitement, even though the occasion for it all may be nothing more than the arrival in the settlement of a visitor with a dead monkey.

Harmony and domestic happiness are characteristic of the Manóbo family. The Manóbo is devoted to his wife, fond of his children, and attached to his relatives, more so than the Mañgguáñgan, but much less so than the Bisáya or the Mandáya. He is dearly fond of social gatherings for, besides the earthly comforts that he gets out of them, they afford him an opportunity to display such wealth, rank, and possessions as he may possess. His invitations to neighbors serve to keep him high in their estimation and thereby gather around him a number of friends who will be of service in the hour of trouble. Of the Manóbo, as of the other people of Mindanáo, too much can not be said of his hospitality. If he has once overcome his suspicions as to a stranger's motives, he takes him into his house and puts himself to infinite pains to feast him as best he knows how. In Manóboland one who travels carries no provisions. He drops into the first house and when the meal hour arrives he sits down upon the floor and helps himself without any invitation. It is practically his own house, because for the time being he becomes one of the family. If there happens to be a feast, he partakes without any special invitation, and when he is ready to go, he proceeds upon his journey, only to repeat the operation in the next house, for it is customary always to pay at least a short visit to every friendly house on or near the trail.

One of the mental traits that has perhaps done more than anything else to retard the Manóbo in his progress towards a higher plane of civilization is his firm adherence to traditional customs. All things must be done as his forefathers did them. Innovations of any kind may displease the deities, may disturb the present course of events, may produce future disturbances. "Let the river flow as it ever flowed--to the sea," is a refrain that I heard quoted on this subject by Manóbos. "Fish that live in the sea do not live in the mountains," is another, and there are many others, all illustrating that conservatism that tends to keep the Manóbo a Manóbo and nothing else. He is Christianized but, after going through the Christian ritual, he will probably invoke his pagan divinities. He takes on something new but does not relinquish the old. Hence the difficulty of inducing the Manóbo to leave the district of his forefathers, and take up his abode in a new place amid unfamiliar spirits.

This feature of their character explains the inconstancy and fickleness exhibited by the Christianized Manóbos at the beginning of their conversion. These were due to the call of the forest hailing them back to their old haunts. These characteristics will explain also a host of anomalies that are noticeable throughout the Manóbo's life.

The first visit of a stranger to a primitive settlement may produce upon him a very unfavorable impression. He may find that the women and children have fled, so that he finds himself surrounded by men, all armed. This should not discourage him, as it happens in many cases that the men were unable to keep the women from flight. The wearing of arms is as much a custom with Manóbos as the wearing of a watch is with us. The bolo is his life and his livelihood. Were he not to wear it he would be branded as insane, and he looks upon a defenseless person, stranger or otherwise, much in the same light, unless he attributes the absence of a weapon to the possession of secret powers of protection, in which case he is inclined to follow the example of the fugitive women and betake himself beyond the reach of harm.

Upon first acquaintance the Manóbo will ask a host of questions that will tax the patience of the visitor if he ventures to answer them personally. These questions spring from a desire to learn the motives of the visit. People from the neighboring houses drop in at intervals just as soon as word reaches them of the new arrival, and may continue to do so until the time of the visitor's departure, thereby keeping the house crowded. The assembling of these people arises from a desire to see the visitor and to find out the object of his visit. Hence the newcomers will proceed to ask him every imaginable question that may suggest itself and if any answer conveys information that has anything of the wonderful in it for them, it gives rise to a thousand and one other questions, the responses to which often tax a visitor's patience.

Another part of the visit is the frank demand on the part of the primitive people for any object of the visitor which they may take a fancy to. They always understand, however, a quiet refusal, if it is accompanied by an appropriate reason.

It happens sometimes that the chief of the settlement will claim a fee for transgression upon his territory, but he will usually accept a small present in lieu thereof, or will forego any gift, if the matter is argued, quietly and diplomatically. The Manóbo resents harsh words, especially when used toward him in the presence of those who are his nominal subjects. Personalities or threats in such a case often prove fatal.

It is not good etiquette to ask a Manóbo his name, especially if he is a chief, until one has acquired somewhat of an acquaintance with him. The information must be secured from a third party and in a quiet way. Moreover, it is customary to address chiefs and other persons of distinction by the names of their corresponding titles. Thus a warrior chief is addressed bagáni, and not by his proper name.

It is needless to say that no familiarity should be taken with the person of another until acquaintance has been cultivated far enough to permit it. Thus touching another on the arm to call his attention to something may be resented and may result in an attempt to collect a fine.

The handling of arms requires a word. The lance must be stuck in the ground, head up, at the foot of the house ladder; or, if it must be brought into the house, as at night, the owner must take care that it points at no one while being handled. If one desires to draw a bolo from its sheath, he must draw it slowly, and if it is to be presented to another, the blade must be kept facing the owner's body and the handle presented to the other man. The same rule holds for the dagger.

It will be noticed that as a general rule the men in a Manóbo settlement go armed and keep their hands on their weapons, especially during mealtime, at which time it is customary to eat with the left hand, the right hand being reserved for the use of the weapon in an emergency.

There are a number of other rules of intercourse that serve to safeguard life and to maintain proper respect on the part of each individual for the person of his neighbor. These will be found scattered throughout this paper.





The Manóbo, as a rule builds a house of no great pretensions, because he always remembers that an evil combination of omens or a death in the house or an attack by his enemies, may deprive him in the near future of his home. His best structure is better than the low wall-less Mañgguáñgan home but can not compare with the comparatively solid structure of the Mandáyas of Kati'il and the Debabáons of the Sálug country.

He has no tribal halls, no assembly houses. In fact, with the exception of a rude shack1 on his farm, built to shelter those who are guarding the crops against marauders (monkeys and birds), he builds only one house, where he and usually several of his relatives dwell until such time (usually after a year) as he finds it convenient or necessary to abandon it.



The motives that determine the selection of the site are twofold.


It is obvious that in such an important undertaking the Manóbo must be guided by the omens and oracles that manifest to him the will of the supernal powers. Hence, as he sallies forth to seek the site, he keeps his ear alert for the turtledove's2 prophetic cry. If this is unfavorable, he returns home and resumes his search the following day. It frequently happens that this omen may be unfavorable for two or three successive days, but, however urgent the case may be, this bird's sacred warning must on no account be disregarded, for it would mean failure, disaster, or death, as the Manóbo can prove to you by a host of instances that happened within his memory, or that of his relatives. Once satisfied, however, with this first omen, he proceeds upon his journey and selects, from material motives that will be mentioned later on, a site for the new house, and returns to his people to inform them of the outcome of his journey.


Now, the selection of the site is of such serious import to the Manóbo that he must assure himself, by every means in his power, that it is approved by the unseen powers, and for this purpose he has recourse to the egg omen and the suspension oracle. The former I witnessed on several occasions and in every case it proved auspicious. The bu-dá-kan or vine omen is sometimes consulted in selecting a house site, and the significance of the various configurations is the same as that described under "Divination or Omens." I was told that this latter omen is also taken in the forest before the final decision as to the selection of the site is made.

The occurrence of ominous dreams at this juncture, as also the passing of a snake across the trail, are considered of evil import, but the evil is neutralized by the fowl-waving ceremony that will be described later.


When no further objection is shown by the "powers above" to the selection of the home site, the Manóbo is guided by such motives as fertility of soil, proximity of water, and fishing facilities, and, if he is in a state of vigilance against his enemies, as in remote regions he nearly always is, by desirability of the site for defense. In this latter case he selects a high place difficult of access, frequently a lofty mountain, and chooses the most strategic point upon it.


An invocation to the special deities of the family is made by a priest, usually a relative. After an offering of a betel nut has been made to the local deities of this particular part of the forest, the head of the family, assisted by such of his numerous relatives as are able to help him, proceeds to clear the ground for the new building. When a more influential Manóbo begins to erect a capacious house, usually everyone in the vicinity--men, women, and children--attracted by the prospective conviviality that is sure to accompany the work, throng to lend a helping hand, so that in a few days the clearing is made, cleaned and planted, and the frame of the house with the roof completed.

People belonging to the less influential class may take months to complete the house, depending on the number of relatives who help them and on the leisure that they have. It is of importance to note here that the house must not be completed at once.3

3It is believed that the thatch must be allowed to turn yellow before the house is completed.

When the first post is put into the ground, a sacrifice is frequently made and a part of the victim's blood is poured upon the base of the post. As soon as the roof and floor have been constructed, a formal sacrifice of a chicken is made to the special divinities under whose protection the family is thought to be. The chicken must be of the color that is pleasing to these deities. An interesting feature of this ceremony is that the center of the floor, the place intended for the doorway, and one or more of the posts, are lustrated with the blood of the victim.



The materials for the house are taken from the surrounding forest and are generally of a light character. It is only in the erection of a house4 for defense that more substantial materials are employed.



In height from the ground to the floor the house may vary from 1.50 to 8 meters, though a structure of the latter height is infrequent. In size it may be between 2 by 3 meters and 5 by 8 meters, but as a rule it is nearer to the former than to the latter figures. Rectangular in form, it is built upon light posts varying in number from 4 to 16, the 4 corner ones being larger and extending up to support the roof. Four horizontal pieces attached to these corner posts and, supported by several of the small posts, form, together with a few joints, the support for the floor. In order to give more rigidity to the building and to render the floor stronger, the joints are supported by several posts, these last being propped by braces set at an angle of about 45°. In the case of a house built for defense, the number of supports and crosspieces is such that the enemy would find it impossible to hack it down.

Houses built on trees were rare at the time of my stay among the Manóbos of the Agúsan Valley. In the few cases which I saw, the tree was cut off at a point about 2 meters above the divergence of the main branches from the trunk. Then the house was built in the ordinary way by erecting long auxiliary posts, the trunk of the tree and its main branches forming the principal support. In Baglásan, upper Sálug River, I saw a Debabáon house, belonging to Bagáni pinamailan Lantayúna, built on a tree but without any auxiliary posts.

No nails, and pegs only very occasionally are employed in fastening together the various parts of the structure. Either rattan strips or pieces of a peculiar vine5 are used in lashing the beams and crosspieces to the posts, whereas for the other fastenings, rattan strips are universally employed.

5Hag-nái-a (Stenochlena spp.).


The floor consists of laths of bamboo, or of a variety of palm6 laid parallel and running along the length of the house with more or less regular interstices. Almost universally one or both sides of the floor, for a width of 50 centimeters to 1.5 meters, are raised to a height varying from 10 to 50 centimeters above the main floor. This raised portion serves for a sleeping place, but in the poorer classes of houses the height of this platform is so slight that I think that there exists or has existed some superstitious belief connected with it, though I have been unable to elicit any positive information on the point. In houses of the better class one occasionally finds roughhewn boards used for the floor of these platforms, as also for the walls.

6A-ná-nau. Palma brava. (Livistonia sp.).


The roof is of the gable style, but is four-sided, with two smoke vents, as may be seen in Plates 4b and 6a. The four beams that form the main support for the rafters are lashed to the posts of the house at a height varying from 1.5 meters to 2 meters above the floor. Four substantial rafters, resting upon the four beams just mentioned, run up at an angle of 45° from the corner posts. Upon these rafters rests the ridgepole. Numerous light rafters of wood or of bamboo extend from the ridgepole in parallel rows at intervals of 30 to 40 centimeters. They project about 50 centimeters beyond the side beams upon which they rest and serve to support the roofing material.

The thatch consists almost invariably of fronds of rattan gathered in the adjoining forest. This thatch is made by bending back on the midrib every alternate spike till all the spikes lie parallel. Another way is to cut the midrib in the center at the small end and tear the frond into two pieces. These half-fronds are neither so durable nor so serviceable as if the midrib is left entire. Two, three, or four of these fronds, or double that number of half-fronds, are then superimposed, and fastened to the rafters with rattan in shingle fashion.

In localities where sago palm is available an excellent thatch is made in the ordinary Philippine fashion by sewing the spikes of the frond to a slat of bamboo. It is claimed that this thatch will not last much more than a year, as it is a breeding place for a multitude of small cockroaches that seem to thrive upon it.

In the mountainous districts, where up to a few years ago feuds were rife, it was not uncommon to find houses roofed with big strips of bark, or with shingles of flattened bamboo. This style of roofing was employed as a precaution against the burning arrows used by the enemy during an attack.

There is always an extra layer of leaves over the ridgepole as a protection against the rain. Occasionally a long strip or two of bark is placed as a hood on the ridgepole to help prevent the entrance of the rain during the northwest monsoon, when it comes down in indescribable torrents.

A glance at the illustrations will show better than words can describe the peculiar smoke outlets invariably found in Manóbo houses. They not only afford an exit for the smoke, and admit light, but also permit, during storms, the entrance of an amount of rain that does not conduce to comfort.


The walls are nearly always in the case of better class houses, light poles of wood or of bamboo, laid horizontally one above the other and tied to upright pieces placed at intervals for their support. In poorer houses palm fronds are tied loosely to a few upright pieces. The eaves project down almost as far as the top of the walls. The latter never extend to the roof, but are usually of such a height that a person sitting on the floor can see between the walls and the eaves the space surrounding the house. It is rare to find boards used for the walls, but, if used, they are roughhewn, and are laid horizontally and edgewise, one above the other. They are held in place with rattan strips.

The space, then, between the top of the walls and the roof is open all around the house and serves as one continuous window that affords more ventilation than light. The purpose of this peculiar arrangement seems to be for defense, for no one can approach the house from any side without being seen, and, in time of attack, it affords the inmates of the house an admirable vantage ground from which to ply their arrows.


There is no door in a Manóbo house. In the middle of one end of the house a small opening is left scarcely wide enough for two persons to enter at one time. A notched pole leads up to this opening. If the house is high, a certain amount of maneuvering on the part of one not accustomed to it, may be required in climbing the pole, for there is seldon[sic] any rail to aid one and the notches are not of the deepest. This is another of the Manóbo's devices against enemies, for on occasions of attack the inmates of a house can dislodge by a slight movement of this cylindrical ladder any foolhardy enemy who might attempt, under protection of his shield, to make an ascent during a fight.

In the house of a chief or well-to-do Manóbo, one frequently finds a crude ladder for the convenience of the family dogs.


The internal arrangements of the house are very simple. The one ceilingless square area between the roof and the floor constitutes the house. There is no dining room, no kitchen, no bedroom, no toilet. Even the little stalls erected by Mandáyas for the married couples are very seldom to be found. The owner of the house occupies the part farthest from the door, and nearest the fire, while visitors are relegated to the part near the door.


No paint is applied to the house and, with the exception of a rude carving of the ridgepole into the suggestion of a human head with a rudimentary body, there is no decoration in the interior. On the outside, one frequently sees at the ends of the ridgepole, and set upright at right angles to each other, two narrow, thin pieces of wood about 1 meter long. Along the sides of these are cuttings which are intended to represent the crested head of a fowl, as the name given to them indicates.7

7Min-an-úk from mán-uk, a fowl.


The Manóbo house fittings are of the scantiest and most necessary kind. The tenure of the house may be brief, depending, as it does, upon a suspicion of danger or even on a dream. So the Manóbo does not indulge in the luxury of chairs, tables, or similar articles. The upraised portion of the floor, or the floor itself, serves him as a chair and a bench. For a table he uses a small board such as is so universally used throughout Mindanáo by the poorer classes. Yet many are the houses that can not boast of even this simple equipment. He has no bedsteads, for the bamboo floor with a grass mat thrown over it affords him a cool and comfortable resting place. He has a fair abundance of mats, but they are ordinarily short, being made according to the length of the grass he happens to find. By day these mats are rolled up and laid aside on the floor or upon the beams of the house. If left on the floor, they afford the family dogs, who ensconce themselves therein, a convenient refuge from flies.

He dispenses with the use of pillows, unless the handiest piece of wood or of bamboo can be called a pillow. Lacking that, he lays his head upon the mat and enjoys as good a sleep, perhaps, as his more civilized fellowmen.

It is seldom, indeed, that he uses a mosquito bar, though wild abaká is abundant and his wife is a weaver. The mosquito bars which are in use are made out of abaká fiber. As the cloth for them, made on the ordinary loom, is less than a meter wide, and as much as 24 meters long, it must be cut up into strips nearly 2 meters long and sewn together to form the mosquito bar. It must be made of an odd number of pieces of cloth, for an even number is unlucky. A net made of 11 or 13 pieces is considered especially lucky. The use of the mosquito bar is very common among the conquistas of the Lake region.

Pictures and like ornaments are unknown, but in lieu of them may be seen trophies of the chase, such as wild-boar jawbones, deer antlers, and hornbill skulls and beaks. It is not infrequent to see the tail of some large fish fastened to one of the larger beams, under the roof. There is a special significance in the preservation of this trophy.

There is one article, however, which the Manóbo prizes as a mark of wealth and as a venerable relic. It is the sacred jar.8 I have been unable to obtain any information as to the origin of these jars except that they were usually obtained as marriage fees and that they were bought from the Banuáons. Be that as it may, they are a matter of pride in Manóboland, and on every occasion, festive and religious, they are set out, brimful of brew. Not every Manóbo is the proud possessor of one of these, but he who has one is loath to part with it. A glance at Plate 14 k, l, will give an idea of what these jars look like. They are decorated, as a rule, in alto relievo with figures of birds, snakes, etc., and to judge from their appearance are of Chinese workmanship. When given as marriage payments or for other purposes they are valued at about 4 pesos if they have no ears, but when they have ears they are worth as many pesos minus 1 as they have ears.


Next to jars the Manóbo values plates and bowls, even those of the cheapest kind, and it is with a gleam of satisfaction on his face that the host sets out an array of old-fashioned plates for his guests. The Manóbo of the middle Agúsan, unlike his Mandáya neighbor, is particularly poor in plateware. I found houses that could not boast of a single plate, but as a rule each house has about four plates, a bowl, and a glass.

Depending from the roof are to be seen baskets of various shapes intended for a variety of uses, fish baskets, rice baskets of several kinds, storage baskets, betel-nut baskets, pack baskets, some of wickerwork and some of plaited rattan. Also, hanging from the rafters are to be seen fish traps, wild chicken traps, religious objects such as oblation trays, a guitar, or a bamboo harp, and if it is a priest's house, a drum and gong.

One sees almost invariably a nest or two up in a corner under the roof. They are for the domestic hens and are ungainly things, made ordinarily out of a piece of old matting. In these the hens lay their eggs, after meandering around the rafters and disturbing the inmates of the house with their cackling. After the eggs are laid, it is frequently necessary to drive the hens from the house.

The fireplace is another very important item in the house. It is usually located on the side of the house away from the door and near the wall. It consists of four roughhewn pieces of wood approximately 1 meter long and about 10 centimeters high, set together on the floor and lashed in the form of a rectangle. A piece of bark is placed on the floor within this rectangle, and the inclosed space is filled with earth. A half dozen stones form supports for the earthen jars. Above the fireplace is a rough frame for firewood, of which there is usually a plentiful supply. Here the wood is dried thoroughly before it is used.

In close proximity to the hearth and scattered around without any regard for tidiness may be seen the rice winnow, the bamboo water tube, the coconut-shell watercup, the rice paddles and ladles, leaves of banana and other plants, and the whetstone, while on the fireplace are seen a variety of earthen pots with their covers, and frequently an imported iron pan for cooking.

Tied up under the roof, but within reach, may be seen bows and arrows, probably a fish spear, or it may be, a fish rod. Spears and other weapons of defense which, when not in use, are unsheathed and put into a rude wooden rack made for the purpose, while the sheaths are hung up close by.

It is not exceptional to find a cage with a turtledove9 or a variety of parrakeet[sic]10 in it. The cage is usually hung from the roof under the eaves outside the wall. The turtledove is kept for religious purposes, whereas the parrakeet[sic] is kept as other people keep a pet bird, though it is occasionally employed by the young folks as a lure to attract its wild fellows to the bird line.

9Li-mó-kon. (Phabitreron brevirostris Tweedale). Generally called fruit dove.



The space under the fireplace is usually not occupied because of the water and refuse that fall from the kitchen, but to one side of it is the inevitable pigpen, containing a pig or two. It is only the wealthier Manóbos who can boast of more than a few, for the maintenance of many would be a heavy drain on their limited food supply. These few pigs subsist on such scraps and parings as may be thrown or allowed to fall down to them.

To one side of the pigpen, if there is room, is placed the rice mortar, an article of indispensable necessity in every household. In it is hulled with wooden pestles, and frequently in measured time, the daily supply of rice.

At the time when the house is constructed, the forest adjoining is cleared, and camotes,11 a little sugarcane, and a few other things are planted. The house usually overlooks this clearing at least on one side. On the other sides there is usually the grim, silent forest. When the house is built with a view to defense, trees are felled all around in such a way as to make a regular abatis. Ordinarily there are at least two trails, one, a main trail, so tortuous and difficult, in the generality of cases, that it would lead one to imagine that the owner of the house had deliberately selected it for its difficulties, the other, a trail leading to the watering place. In approaching the house the visitor is obliged to climb over fallen logs, the passing of which requires no little maneuvering on the part of a novice. Without a guide it would be often difficult, if not impossible, to locate the houses, even if one had been shown their location from a distance.

11Ipomoea batatas.


As from one to four families may live in a single house, it is needless to say that there is generally a decided appearance of disorder, as well as a tumult that baffles description. In the only room of the house are congregated the married couples, generally a few extra relatives, their children, and their dogs. The Manóbos are naturally very loud talkers, their children, especially the infants, are as noisy as children the world over, and their dogs, which may number from 3 to 15, are so constituted that, when they are not fighting with one another, they may at any moment, without apparent motive or provocation, begin one grand dismal howl which, united to the crying of the babies and to the loud tones of their elders, produces a pandemonium. It is at meal times that the pandemonium waxes loudest, for at that time the half-starved dogs, in their efforts to get a morsel to eat, provoke the inmates to loud yells of "Sida, sida,"12 and to other more forcible actions.

12An exclamation to drive away a dog.

In a large house, with such a conglomeration of human beings, it is obvious that an impression of confusion is made upon the visitor. The performance of the various culinary operations by the women, the various employments in which the men are engaged, making arrows, fish traps, etc., the romping of the children, all these tend to heighten the impression. But the Manóbo goes on with his work, tranquil in the midst of it all, savoring his conversation with incessant quids of betel nut or tobacco.

The Manóbo has not yet come to a knowledge of the various microbes and parasites that are liable to undermine the foundations of health, so that the sanitary condition of his house is not such as would pass a modern inspection. Both men and women are inveterate chewers of betel nut and tobacco, and, instead of using a spittoon, they expectorate the saliva through the interstices of the floor or anywhere that they may find convenient, thereby tinging the floor and walls a bright red. As the Manóbo broom is a most crude affair made out of a few twigs, it does not remove all the remains of the meals as they lie spread over the floor. The peelings of sugarcane, the skin of bananas and of other fruits, the remains of rattan, and such other refuse as may be the result of the various occupations that take place in the house are all strewn around the floor and frequently are not removed for a considerable length of time.

In the preparation and cooking of food a considerable amount of water fails necessairly[sic] under the house which, together with the excreta of the inmates and the other refuse, animal and vegetable, produces a somewhat unfavorable appearance and sometimes an unpleasant odor.

There is no drainage, artificial or natural and no means are provided for the removal of the ordure, unless it be the services of the scavenger pigs, who busy themselves as soon as they become aware of the presence of refuse. The effluvium, however, usually does not reach the inmates unless the house is very low.

As the smoke outlets are comparatively remote from the fireplace, it is obvious that the smoke does not make a rapid exit, but wreathes up among the beams and rafters thereby blackening them out of all semblance to wood. The underside of the thatch, especially those portions above the fire, receives a goodly coating of soot which, mixed with the greasy emanations from the pots, assumes a lustrous black.

Another matter that tends to give the house an air and feeling of uncleanliness is the host of small insects, presumably a species of cockroach, that infest the thatch, and, notwithstanding the volume of smoke that at times almost suffocates the inmates, swarm down into the baskets used for provisions and for other things. These multitudinous insects seem to flourish on the rattan vine especially, and no means are known whereby to exterminate them. Ants, especially the white ant, pay frequent visits to the house, but the worst scourge of all is the ravenous bedbug. This unpleasant insect is found under the joists just beneath the floor laths, but in greatest numbers under those parts of the floor that are continually used as sleeping places, and in the hammocks. Occasionally an effort is made to scrape them out, but they are so cunning in concealing themselves and breed with such rapidity that efforts to get rid of them are unavailing.

The presence of vermin on the bodies of the Manóbos is due to the lack of soap and of washing facilities. But, if questioned, these primitive people will inform you, that the vermin are natural growths or excretions proceeding from the inside.13 It is for this reason that no shame is exhibited in removing publicly the pests from the clothes or from the hair. Owing to the custom of the people of huddling together during the night these insects are propagated from one individual to another, so that it is seldom that the Manóbo is free from them.

13I found this belief to be almost universal in eastern Mindanáo.





Like all tribes of eastern Mindanáo, Manóbos, both men and women, wear sufficient clothes to cover the private parts of the body. Children up to the age of 5 or 6 years may go without clothes, but female children commonly wear a triangular pubic shield1 of coconut shell, suspended by a waist string. Men, though they may denude themselves completely when bathing, always conceal their pudenda from one another's gaze.


Married and elderly women may occasionally expose the upper part of their persons, but unmarried girls seldom do so. No delicacy is felt in exposing the breasts during the suckling of a babe.


The quantity and quality of clothes worn varies slightly in different localities. The farther away from settlements the people live, the poorer and less elaborate is the dress, due to their inability to obtain the imported cloth and cotton yarn, for which they entertain a high preference. On the upper Agúsan, where the Manóbos have adopted a certain amount of Mandáya culture, their apparel partakes of the more gorgeous character of that of the Mandáya. In places where they are of Mañgguáñgan descent, as is often the case on the upper Agúsan, on the Mánat, on the upper Ihawán and tributaries, and on the upper Sálug, their clothes resemble those of their poor progenitors. In the middle Agúsan (including the Wá-wa, Kasilaían, lower Argáwan, lower Umaíam, lower Ihawán, Híbung, and Simúlau Rivers) the dress may be called characteristically Manóbo.


The use of bark cloth2 in a region situated somewhere between the headwaters of the Libagánon and the Sábud, a western tributary of the Ihawán, was reported to me. My informants, both on the Sálug River and on the Umaíam River, spoke of the people of that locality as true Manóbos, very dark in color, and wearing bark clothes. If this report is correct, and I am inclined to give credence to it, it is probably the only case at the present time of the use of bark cloth in Mindanáo, excepting perhaps among the Manánuas[sic].



There are no characteristic dresses by which the rank or profession of the wearer is indicated except that of the warrior chief. Female priests very frequently may be distinguished by a prodigality of charms, talismans, and girdle pendants, as also by a profuseness of embroidery on the jacket, but such lavishness is not necessarily an infallible sign of their rank as priestesses but rather of their wealth. Neither is it a mark of their unmarried condition, for in Manóboland, as in other parts of the world, the maiden loves to display her person to good advantage and for that reason decks herself with all the finery of which she may be the possessor.

Slaves may be recognized by the wretchedness of their clothes.


The man's dress invariably consists of long loose trousers or of close-fitting breeches, and of a moderately tight-fitting, buttonless jacket. These two articles of dress are supplemented by a bamboo hat, a betel-nut knapsack, and by such adornments in the shape of beads, and other things, as the man may have been able to acquire.

The woman's dress consists almost invariably of a close-fitting, buttonless jacket with red body and black sleeves. Her skirt is a double sacklike garment made out of abaká fiber. A girdle of braided human hair or of braided vegetable fiber holds this coarse dress in place. A selection of beads, shells, and herbs hang from this girdle at the right side. A comb in the hair, a pair of ear disks in the ears, a few necklets, and frequently leglets, complete the apparel. The children's clothing is a duplicate of that of their respective parents on a smaller and less elaborate scale.


In the matter of color a decided preference is shown for red, yellow, white, and dark blue. This is not so exacting in the case of beads, which are purchased indiscriminately, but even in these I am of the opinion that if there were a choice in the supply, the above-mentioned colors would be preferred.

The Manóbo, then, is not encumbered with all the weight and variety of modern modes and fashions. Shoes, slippers, and hose are not a part of his apparel. Blankets and other articles for protection against cold are not to be found in his wardrobe. In the house and out of the house, by night and by day, in peace and in war, his dress is the same, one suit for every day usage and one for festal occasions and for visits.



The hat worn on the Ihawán, upper Agúsan, and upper Simúlau resembles that worn by Mandáyas. It is made out of two pieces of bamboo,3 dried over the fire into the desired shape, and is held together by two slender strips of rattan running around and stitched to the edges of the headpiece proper. These pieces project backward and overlap to form the tail of the hat. The upper surface of the whole hat is then painted with beeswax. The sustaining pieces of rattan around the rim and the under surface of the back part receive a heavy coating of this same material mixed with pot black. Odd tracings and dottings of beeswax and soot or of the juice of a certain tree4 serve to decorate the whole upper surface; small seed beads, usually white, are often sewed around the rim in a single row and at slight intervals, or are sewed on the top, especially around the conical peak. Little tufts of cotton are sometimes dotted over the top, and occasionally one finds the emerald green wings of a beetle5 placed in the seams on top. All of these devices serve to enhance the beauty of the headpiece.

3Caña bojo.


5Called dú-yau.

A notable feature of the hat is five or six tail plumes of a domestic rooster. These are set upright in small holes in the back part of the hat and are held in place by lumps of beeswax placed at the ends of the quills, which protrude through the bamboo. It is needless to say that the most gaudy plumes are selected for this purpose. They enhance in no small degree the elegant appearance of the hat. These plumes curve very gracefully indeed, and nod in unison with every movement of the wearer.

The hat is held on the head by two strings made either of braided imported cotton of the typical colors, of abaká fiber of the same colors, of vegetable fiber, or of slender slips of rattan. These two strings, often strung with beads, are attached at both ends of the hat and are sufficiently loose to permit the head of the wearer to be inserted between them. A further adornment may consist of two or more beaded pendants that may be tipped with tassels of imported cotton of the preferential colors.

The hat, on the whole, is serviceable, economical, and cool, and serves to set off its wearer to good advantage and to protect his hair from the rain. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the decorative tracings and appanages on the hat have no other significance than that of personal adornment.

A second form of head covering, in use in the parts of the Agúsan River Valley not mentioned above, as also among the Manóbos of the Pacific coast,6 is circular. It is made of the sago palm or of bamboo. It varies in diameter between 25 and 35 centimeters and has the shape of a low broad cone. The edges, like those of the hat already described, are reinforced with rattan painted with a mixture of beeswax and pot black for preserving the rattan against atmospheric influences. No paint is applied to the sago sheath, but the beeswax is applied to the bamboo as a preservative against cracking. Neither are any decorative incisions or tracings used in this form of hat, it being primarily and essentially for protection against sun and rain. Two parallel strips of rattan fastened at the ends of a diagonal serve to hold the hat in position on the head.

6The Manóbos of the Pacific coast inhabit the upper waters of the Kantílan, Tándag, Tágo, Marihátag, Húbo, Bislig, and Liñgig Rivers.

A noteworthy feature of this hat is that within the area mentioned above, it is frequently worn by women. I know of no other headdress that is employed by the female members of the Manóbo, Mandáya, and Debabáon tribes.7

7The Manóbos of the lower Agúsan, inhabiting the towns of San Vicente, Amparo, San Mateo, Las Nieves, and surrounding regions are not referred to here. The Debabáons are looked upon as forming a separate tribe till further investigation.

Besides the headkerchief,8 worn universally by warrior chiefs9 and recognized warriors10 throughout all tribes in eastern Mindanáo, a kerchief11 bound round the head is very often worn by Manóbos of the Argáwan and Umaíam Rivers.






In general the jacket is close-fitting, square-cut, and closed. It has long sleeves and a tongue-shaped opening for the head extending from the neck downward in front. Ordinarily the jacket is scarcely long enough to reach the top of the trousers. It is not rare to find a narrow strip of cloth of a color different from the rest of the jacket inserted between the sleeves and body of the garment or running down the waist between the two pieces that form the body. This sidepiece in the jacket of men and women serves to give the desired width to the garment and the variation in color secured by it is regarded as an addition to the general ornamental effect. The jacket is embroidered more or less elaborately according to the skill of the embroiderer and the amount of imported cotton yarn available. This embroidery is done on the back from shoulder to shoulder in a band from 4 to 6 centimeters broad, and in continuous narrow lines around the neck opening, along the seams between the sleeves and body of the garment, on the lower parts of the sleeves, around the waist at the bottom of the garment, and down the arm at the joining of the sleeves; in a word, over all seams.

In the central portion of the Agúsan Valley and on the Pacific coast, the most common form of jacket is made of unstained abaká fiber cut like the one just described. It has, however, inwoven in the cloth, horizontal parallel lines of dark-blue yarn on the back and the upper part of the front. These dark-blue bands are set at intervals from each other and usually amount to from six to nine lines in number. Tufts of cotton in a continuous recurrence of red, yellow, and dark blue, without any interstices, cover all the seams. If there is any embroidery, it is upon the lower part of the sleeves, on that part of the jacket that covers the back of the neck, and along the seams between the sleeves and the body of the jacket. The distribution of this style of garment is very wide. I have seen it on the Tágo River (Pacific coast), on the upper Umaíam, Argáwan, Kasilaían, and Simúlau Rivers.

On the upper Agúsan, including the upper Bahaí-an, Ihawán, and Baóbo Rivers, a style that resembles the Mandáya is most frequently to be seen. The jacket is made of a gauze-like abaká cloth dyed black, or preferably of black or blue imported cloth. One frequently finds, for ornamental purposes, just above the wrists or between the sleeves and the body of the jacket, or down the waist between the main pieces of the garment, thin strips of white cloth inserted. Usually there is no embroidery as such, the previously described alternating tufts of cotton yarn covering all, or nearly all, the seams. When, however, it is desired and it is feasible to adorn the garment with embroidery, the back-of the jacket from shoulder to shoulder, the space along the shoulder seams and the back and front of the sleeves are selected for this prupose[sic]. Bands 5 to 7 centimeters in breadth of more or less intricate pattern are embroidered in these places, with much patient labor and no little skill. It is needless to say that the ordinary colors, with a predominance of red, are used.


The lower garment is of two kinds, one being a short, close-fitting garment made out of either undyed abaká fiber with a woof of native cotton or of imported blue cloth. This garment resembles closely the ordinary bathing tights. It is the working breeches of the Manóbo and makes no pretense of being ornamental. The white or undyed form is the more common.

The other kind of lower garment worn by the men may be called trousers, though they reach only about halfway between the knees and the ankles. They are square-legged and baggy, made of undyed abaká fiber or of abaká fiber with a woof of cotton, both undyed. Whenever it is obtainable, imported blue cloth is used. The two legs of the trousers are each about 65 centimeters long by 24 centimeters broad and are joined together by a triangular piece of cloth. These trousers are worn on festive and other occasions that require a display of personal dignity.

The decoration of the trousers consists usually of fringes of imported cotton attached to all the seams except those around the waist. When it is considered desirable to make a more showy garment, embroidery of cotton yarn is added to the ends of the legs and to the part that covers the sides of the calves. The designs used depend on whether the wearer is of the central or of the upper Agúsan group.


Around the waist of the garment is a hem through which passes a drawstring or girdle usually of braided abaká fiber dyed in the usual colors, with dependent extremities and tassels of imported cotton, also in the preferential colors. On the upper Agúsan one finds at times beads and even small bells added to the tassels. These are allowed to hang down in front.

The method of fastening the girdle is by the ordinary method of tieing[sic], or by another simple method, which consists in attaching near one end of the drawstring the operculum of a shell said to be found in the forests. At the other end of the girdle is a loop large enough to admit the operculum, which on being slipped into this loop retains the garment in position.



The knapsack is such an omnipresent, indispensable object that it may be considered a part of Manóbo raiment. It is a rectangular bag, on an average approximately 30 by 25 centimeters, with a drawstring for closing it. This string is nearly always of multicolored braided abaká fiber, and is a continuation of the strings by which the knapsack is suspended on the back from the shoulders, so that when it is carried in that position the mouth of it is always closed. The cloth of which it is made is the usual undyed abaká cloth, though among the upper Agúsan group one finds in use blue imported cloth or, perhaps more frequently, Mandáya cloth,13 imported especially for knapsacks.

13Called gú-au.

The decoration consists of embroidery, more or less extensive, of the type that is characteristic of the wearer's group and which corresponds to that of his dress, if the dress is decorated. Tassels of imported cotton at the extremities of the drawstrings, and perhaps pendants of small seeds, or beads, usually white, together with cotton fringes in proper colors, enhance the beauty of the knapsack. As a rule, however, among the Manóbos of regions remote from Christian settlements, one finds little attempt at decoration, either of the dress or of the knapsack. A few fringes of cotton yarn and a little ornamental stitchwork are about the only display attempted. This lack of decoration is due not only to the fact that they have little cotton yarn, but also to lack of ability on the part of the women. The latter fact might lead the observer to conclude that the art of embroidery and cloth decoration originated outside the tribe.



The great distinguishing mark of a woman's dress is the difference in color between the body of the upper garment, which is almost invariably red, and the sleeves, which must always be of a different color. Should the body be made of black cloth, then the sleeves are always of red. And if the sleeves are of black, blue, or white, then the body must be of red.

Another differentiating feature of the woman's jacket is that the cuffs, if they may be so called, are generally of the color of the body of the garment, and that the pieces often inserted between the main parts of the body and extending vertically down the sides from the armpits are of the same color, and, if possible, of the same material as the upper parts of the sleeves. These two points, together with the more extensive and elaborate embroidery, serve to distinguish the woman's upper garment from the man's.

In the regions which I visited the styles of jackets may be reduced to two, the more elaborate types of which are as follows:

The upper Agúsan style.--On the upper Agúsan, on the Ihawán (excepting on its western tributaries), and on the Bahaían, the woman's jacket partakes of the style and characteristics of that of the Mandáya. In shape it is not different from that of the man, but is more close-fitting, especially the sleeves, which may be compared to a long cylinder. Lines of cotton yarn in alternating colors cover and adorn the seams and the oval-shaped opening for the neck, but are not found on the bottom of the jacket. Embroidery of skillful and intricate design, in bands about 5 or 6 centimeters wide, adorns the garment on the back from shoulder to shoulder and around the seam at which the sleeves are joined to the body of the jacket.

This garment is made out of either gauzelike abaká cloth of native weaving, dyed either red or black, or it is of imported European cloth obtained by barter. Sometimes it is a combination of the two, when enough imported cloth has not been obtained.

The style of the central group.--The main differences between this style and that just described are that the latter is more loosely cut in the body and sleeves, is more profusely embroidered, and has a longitudinal cut in the cuffs for the admission of the hands. One finds, too, but only very occasionally, a type of jacket in which the sleeves are white and the body black.

The embroidery may be so profuse that it covers not only the lower halves of the sleeves and the back of the neck, but the whole front of the garment.


The girdle may be a mere braided cord of abaká fiber often mixed with strands of cotton yarn, but more commonly it is a series of braided cords of nito,14 or of human hair. The girdle is made by braiding the nito or the hair into circular cords, each about 45 centimeters in length and about 2 millimeters in width. Anywhere from 10 to 20 of these braids are fastened together by involving the ends in small pieces of cloth wrapped with cotton yarn of the preferential colors.

14Lygodium circinnatum sp.

To one end of this girdle is attached a numerous array of beads, shells, and charms. To the other is attached a braided abaká cord, also variegated with the proper colors, which enables the wearer to fasten and tighten the girdle. One frequently sees white seed beads in greater or less quantity strung on each cord of this form of belt.

The pendants are a very noticeable feature of the girdle. Hung from the right side they present to the eye anything but a pleasing effect. Bundles of white scented grass, about 5 centimeters long by 1 centimeter in diameter, that have dried to a semblance of hay, detract most from the appearance of the wearer. The whole mass of pendants is a tangle of divers objects, the quantity of which depends upon the good fortune of the wearer. The following are the objects that may be found among these pendants: Large hawk bells, seldom exceeding six in number and ordinarily not more than three; bunches of odorous grass, amounting sometimes to as much as eight in number; the red seed of the ma-gu-hai tree; small shells, especially cowry shells, picked up, it is said, in the forest; the pods of the ta-bí-gi tree, one or more, used for carrying incense15 for religious purposes; odoriferous seeds and roots16 cut up small and strung on abaká filaments with such beads as the wearer may not desire to use, because of their color or shape, for the ornamentation of other parts of his body.

15Called pa-lí-na. It is obtained by tapping the ma-gu-baí tree.

16The following are the native names of the roots and plants seen by the writer: ta-bó, the seed of a plant which looks like a sweet potato; sá-i, a helmet-shaped seed of a tree of the same name; kú-su, the root of a leguminous plant; ma-gu-baí, the bright red seed of a tree of the same name. It is interesting to note that this same seed is used for the eyes of sacred images. Ka-bis-da' and ko-múd-la are also made use of.

The purpose of these various objects is, to all appearances, to ornament the person and to impart a fragrance to the wearer. In this last respect the redolent herbs and seeds admirably fulfill their purpose. But many of these objects serve other ends, medicinal and religious. I took no little pains in investigating this point, but the replies to my inquiries were at times so indeterminate, at others so varied, and so contradictory that I can not make any definite statement; but I am strongly inclined to believe, for sundry reasons, that both medicinal and magic powers are attributed to many of the innocent-looking objects that go to make up the girdle pendants.


The Manóbo woman is not encumbered with all the wearing apparel of more cultured tribes. She vests herself with the simple sacklike skirt of good strong abaká cloth, durable, and admirably suited to her manner of life.

As the cloth comes from the loom it is in one long rectangular piece (3.6 meters by 90 centimeters more or less). It is cut in two and the ends of each of the two pieces are sewed together, so that two bottomless sacks are made. These two sacks are then joined together, thus forming one long rectangular garment, which by night serves for blanket, sheet, and frequently mosquito bar, and by day for a skirt. When used as a skirt, it is folded over in such a way that it resembles two sacks, one inside the other. As it is considerably larger than the person of the wearer it must be drawn to one side, always the left, and tucked in. The lower part of the garment on the left side bulges out so far that it makes the woman's figure ungraceful in appearance.

From the dimensions given above it follows that the dress does not reach much below the knees, a salutary arrangement, indeed, for one whose occupations lead her through the slush of forest trails and the grime of farming life.

There are two types of skirt in common use; first, the type that is of purely Manóbo manufacture, and, second, the type that is imported from the Mandáyas of southeastern Mindanáo.

The purely Manóbo type is distinguished by its simplicity and absence of elaborate design. Alternating bands of red and black, with dividing lines of white, all running longitudinally along the warp, and inwoven, are the only effort at beauty of design.

The second form of skirt is that imported from the Mandáyas or purchased, whenever obtainable, from Bisáya traders or, on the upper Agúsan, from trafficking intermediaries. It is striking with what appreciation the Manóbo regards this article. A Manóbo from the Argáwan and Umaíam will travel over to Hinatuán, a journey of three or four days, to procure a piece of Mandáya skirt cloth. He values it above the costliest pieces of European fabric that he has seen. The Manóbo woman upon seeing a fine specimen dances with joy, and is long and loud in her praise of it. No value is too high for such a specimen and no sacrifice too great to purchase it.

The explanation of this high regard in which Mandáya cloth is held is simple. The cloth is made, I was habitually assured by Manóbos, by enchantment, under the direction of the priestesses in the lofty mountain fastnesses of Mandáyaland.17 No other explanation will satisfy the credulous Manóbo. He can not possibly understand how the fanciful and elegant designs on Mandáya cloth can be produced by other than supernatural means.

17I have covered nearly the whole of the Mandáya country and can testify to the numerous religious practices and restrictions connected with the fabrication of the cloth.

The cloth as it comes from the loom is of practically the same size as Manóbo cloth and it is made into the form of a skirt in identically the same way. The only difference is that the Mandáya fabric is heavier and has a beautiful inwoven pattern.

A minute description of the patterns would be needlessly lengthy and necessarily deficient. In general, it may be said that the designs are executed in longitudinal panels, of which there are several lateral and one central, all of which run parallel and warpwise. The main figures are four, two grotesquely suggestive of a crocodile but more nearly portraying a turtle, and two that delineate the fanciful figure of a woman. The intermediate parts of the panels consist of reticulations whose general design depends upon the skill and whim of the weaver.18

18The cloth is classified (1) according to the color of the woof threads (pu-gáu-a) into kan-aí-yum (black) and lin-í-ba (red); (2) according to the design on the central panel--ím-pis no laí-ag if it is 25 centimeters wide, bin-a-ga-kís if the central panel is no wider than the lateral ones; (3) according to the use of narrow (sin-ák-lit) or of broad (pin-al-áw-an) white stripes; (4) according to the locality in which the cloth is manufactured, the most famous and most prized cloth being called ban-a-háw-an, which proceeds from the Banaháwan district in the Kasaúman River Valley in the southeastern part of Mindanáo. The Mañg-á-gan type is highly esteemed for being very similar in design and dye effects to the Banaháwan. It is made by the Tagabuztai group of Mandáyas in the Karága River Valley.




The adornment of the person is confined almost exclusively to women so that the following observations apply principally to them. In the discussion of bodily mutilations reference will be made to such permanent adornment as tattooing, perforation and elongation of the ear lobes, superciliary and axillary depilation, grinding of the teeth, and the blackening of the teeth and lips--all of which, with the exception of the elongation of the ear lobes, are common to both men and women.

The finger nails of both sexes are sedulously clipped, not even thumb-nails being allowed to grow long. This may be due to the fact that these latter are not required for playing the guitar, nor for gambling with cards, in which occupations they prove a valuable aid to the Bisáya of the Agúsan Valley.



With the exception of the Manóbos of the far upper reaches of the Argáwan, Umaíam, and Sábud Rivers, whom I did not visit, and of Manóbos who live in settlements and may have adopted the hairdressing methods of Bisáyas, one mode of dressing the hair is almost invariably in use by both men and women. The hair is parted in a straight line over the cranium from ear to ear. The front division is then combed forward over the forehead where it is banged square from ear to ear in the plane of and parallel to the superciliary ridges. The back division is combed back, and after being twisted into a compact mass, is tied in a chignon upon the crown of the head. The knot is a single bow, which from our standpoint is not very prepossessing.

In men the chignon is usually lower, being about half way between the crown and the nape of the neck.

One occasionally sees two locks of hair left hanging down in front of the ears to the level of the jaws. This fashion is not very prevalent even on the upper Agúsan, and is probably adopted from the Mandáyas.

No fillets, flowers, garlands nor any other ornamentation are ever used on the hair. Coconut oil, if obtainable, is used, but the meat of the coconut, rasped or chopped into small particles, is preferred, whenever it can be obtained. As a wash for the hair, wild lemons, the seed of an uncommon tree whose name has escaped my memory, and the bark of a tree, are used sporadically. I can not laud the condition of the hair. Notwithstanding the fact that a crude bamboo comb with close-set teeth is made use of, the vermin are never eliminated.

On occasions the hair of children is cut for the purpose of promoting its growth, and the hair of female slaves is often cut as a punishment. With these exceptions, the hair is never cut, being left with all the profusion which nature gives it.


An ornamental comb is always worn by women. It consists of a segment of bamboo, 7 or 8 centimeters long and 5 centimeters high, curved while still green and made to retain its shape by a slip of bamboo fastened into two holes on the concave side. The teeth are whittled out and the upper part and sides are cut into the characteristic shape seen in Plate 9. On the front or convex side of the comb are ornamental incisions the style and variety of which depend upon the caprice and adeptness of the fashioner. Skeat and Blagden1 quote an authority who asserts that the tribes of the Malay Peninsula attribute magic properties to the decorative incisions on their combs. Following out this idea, the writer made numerous inquiries in the Agúsan Valley as to the existence of a similar or of an analogous attribution but found none. According to all reports these patterns are purely esthetic in their character, with no magic or other attributes. The fact that among the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan in the vicinity of Veruéla, one finds combs without incised work and among the Manóbos of Argáwan, Umaíam, and Kasilaían one occasionally sees combs with circular, square, and triangular pieces of mother-of-pearl inlaid, is an indication of the absence of the aforesaid belief. In fact, combs of the last-mentioned type seem to be more highly prized than the plain incised bamboo ones, a fact due probably to the scarcity of mother-of-pearl. Another point that goes to bear out the above statement is the fact that no reluctance is displayed in parting with a comb, no matter how intricate or unusual may be its incisions.

1Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula.

On the upper Agúsan it is not rare to find combs that have a band of beaten silver with a fretwork pattern laid across the convex part above the teeth. These combs, however, are imported from the Debabáons of Moncáyo or from the composite group living farther up the river. The writer knows of no Manóbo silversmith.

No hairpins nor other means of fastening the hair are made use of, neither are any dyes nor other materials used to alter its color.


Another ornament found on the Manóbo woman's head is the ear disk. This is a disk of wood2 about 3 centimeters in diameter, and 6 millimeters wide, with a small groove around the edge in which rests the edge of the ear perforation. When the wearer has been lucky enough to get a thin lamina of silver or of gold3 it is fastened on the outside of the wooden disk by means of a few strands of imported cotton yarn nearly always red. The yarn passes through a hole in the lamina and in the disk, a little tuft being left over the hole. These metal plates have usually stellate edges and are often decorated with a simple chiseled pattern. They are rare except on the upper Agúsan where there are Debabáon and Mandáya smiths. In lieu of gold and silver, a lamina made out of beaten brass wire answers the purpose.

2Usually of ku-li-pá-pa.

3Gold laminae are very rare and are seldom parted with. They are highly valued heirlooms. The silver lamina is beaten out of a piece of silver money.

On the upper Agúsan both men and women suspend four strings of beads from each ear, when the dignity of the occasion requires it. These strings are about 30 centimeters long and have colored cotton tassels at the ends. Both these tassels and the strings of beads are of the preferred colors, red, white, black, and yellow. I am inclined to think that this custom is also of Mandáya origin. Occasionally one or two buttons4 are worn in the ear lobes of men on the upper Agúsan. This practice seems to have been adopted from the Mandáyas.

4Ordinary undershirt buttons.


The number of necklets and necklaces worn depends on the wealth of the wearer or on her good fortune in having been able to secure a supply of beads. The components of the necklace are principally beads with alternating odoriferous seeds or pieces of seeds. Here and there a small shell may be added, or a larger bead, or a crocodile tooth. The writer has seen worn coils of beads with small shells, seeds, and crocodile teeth, that must have weighed at least 2 kilograms. Such an array as this is not worn every day but is reserved for occasions of religious or secular festivity and for times when the possessor feels bound to make an unusual display. The seeds worn are the same as those that form part of the girdle--pendants, above described.

It may not be out of place here to note the fondness displayed by the feminine portion of the tribe for perfumes. This is characteristic of all the peoples of eastern Mindanáo with whom I have been in contact. Though medicinal and magic virtues are attributed, perhaps, to these odorous seeds, yet their fragrance is also undoubtedly a determining factor in the choice of them.

In the color of the beads used the Manóbo is restricted by the character of the supply, but it may be said that where he has his choice he selects red, yellow, black, and white. He prefers the small seed bead, but likes to have a few large beads to place at recurring intervals.

Necklets are occasionally worn. They consist of bands of beads, arranged symmetrically according to color in geometrical figures--a triangle of yellow beads, a rectangle of black ones, or other patterns. This necklet is usually about 2 centimeters broad and long enough to fit the neck tightly. It is fastened at the back by a button and usually has a single string of beads depending from it and lying upon the back. Men may wear this necklet, but its use by them is very infrequent. They, however, occasionally wear a necklace from which to suspend the hair eradicator. I observed this only on the upper Agúsan, and, as it is an ordinary Mandáya practice I suppose that the custom is borrowed--another indication of the influence of Mandáya culture on the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan. The eradicator is a small pair of tweezers made, ordinarily, out of a piece of beaten brass wire bent double and having inturned edges.

The only breast ornament, besides tattooing on the skin and embroidery on the jacket, is the silver plaque or disk worn nearly always by unmarried women and frequently by others. The wearing of these disks is a custom practiced only on the upper Agúsan, Ihawán, and Simúlau Rivers, and is without doubt of Mandáya origin. The plaque is a large thin sheet of beaten silver varying from 7 to 10 centimeters in diameter. It is of Debabáon or of Mandáya workmanship. It has a pattern of concentric circles and other symmetrical figures traced upon it, together with a fretwork of small triangular holes. The more elaborate ones display an amount of artistic skill that gives the Mandáya5 the high reputation that he has in eastern Mindanáo as a man of superior attainments.

5Mandáyaland produces nearly all the lances, spears, bolos, daggers, and artistic cloth used by the Manóbos throughout eastern Mindanáo. Outside of a few silversmiths among the Debabáons, and a few among the hybrid group occupying the upper Agúsan from Gerona to Tagaúnud, the Mandáya smiths are the only ones that are skilled in silverwork.


Men wear on one or both upper arms black bands of braided nito. These are about 1.5 centimeters in breadth and are braided into one continuous piece of such a size as to fit the arm tightly. The writer has seen many that fitted so closely that they caused sores. They are, besides being distinctly ornamental, designed to serve another purpose, for they are supposed to impart strength to the muscles.

Men often wear, on one or both wrists, one or more vegetable ligatures plaited in one continuous piece. These are of a jet black glossy color when made of the ág-sam6 vine. They are rectangular in cross section, being about 6 millimeters by 6 millimeters. They must be moistened to make the filaments expand so that the wearer can pass them over his hands on the wrist. On drying they contract to the size of the wrist, Women often wear a few of these with their forearm ornaments.

6Both pug-nút and ág-sam are species of nito (Lygodium sp.).

Crude rings, round or flat, more commonly beaten out of brass wire or of copper money, but occasionally made of silver money and still less occasionally of carabao horn, adorn in greater or less number the fingers of both men and women.

The forearm adornments of women are more numerous and elaborate than those of men. Besides the vegetable circlets described above, segments of the black coral plant,7 cut into palm lengths and bent into rings by heating, are worn on either or both arms, though, in case of an insufficient supply, the left arm is adorned in preference to the right. These marine ringlets are not solely for purposes of ornamentation, for a magic influence is attributed to them, at least by the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan. They are thought to contract and grip, as it were, the wearer's arm on the approach and in the presence of danger. Hence they are greatly prized but are comparatively rare. This is due to the difficulty of obtaining the plant as it grows in deep water where the danger from sharks deters the native divers.

7Called sag-ai-ság-ai in Manóbo and baná-ug in Bisáya (Antipatharia sp.).

The whorl of a sea shell,8 ground and polished into white heavy rings, whose cross section is an isosceles triangle, form a very common forearm adornment for women on the upper Agúsan. Sometimes as many as five of these are worn, ordinarily on the left arm. The weight of a full equipment of shell bracelets may amount to at least a kilo. The use of such cumbrous adornments is confined to festal occasions except in the case of unmarried maidens, who nearly always wear them. These shell bracelets with the black alternating rings of sea coral are very becoming indeed, as they tend, by the contrast of jet black and marble white, to set off the color of the skin to advantage.

8Tak-lo-bo (Tridacna gigas).

It is noticeable that as one approaches the Mandáya country, the similarity in dress and personal adornment to that of the Mandáyas becomes more apparent. This is true on the upper Simúlau, Agúsan, and Ihawán, another indication of the influence of Mandáya culture on the Manóbo. Hence in those regions one finds forms of bracelets that are typical of Mandáya adornment. Thus bands of beaten brass wire, 1 centimeter broad approximately, are seen occasionally. Also flat braided bands of jungle fiber covered with white beads are sometimes used. On one occasion the writer saw a hollow circular brass bangle into which a piece of lead had been inserted, and which with every movement of the arm produced a tinkling sound.

In the central Agúsan region and among the Manóbos of the Pacific coast, one finds the use of a small whorl of a sea shell9 as a Bracelet but its use is uncommon, especially on the Pacific side. This is due to the fact that only an occasional shell has made its way into the country. In these regions the Manóbo is particularly poor in arm adornments.

9Called lá-gang.


Men, especially unmarried ones, often wear on one or both legs just below the knee a ligature similar in every respect to that worn on the upper arms. Its purpose, too, is twofold, to strengthen, and, at the same time, to adorn the legs. On the upper Agúsan one sees beads sewn on these bands.

Women have similar ligatures on one or both legs just above the ankles. They are worn for decorative purposes, but it is said by some that they are a sign of virginity and that upon marriage it costs the husband the value of one slave to remove them. But the fact that married women occasionally wear them seems to contradict this statement.

Women wear at festal periods and especially during dances a few rings10 of stout brass wire some 6 millimeters in diameter. The rings are large enough to allow the foot to be passed through them, hence they hang loosely at the ankles. In number they rarely exceed two to each leg. During a dance they tintillate to the jingling of the hawk bells that depend from the girdle and are considered highly ornamental.




The purpose of most body mutilations among the Manóbos is ornamentation. The one exception is circumcision which will be discussed later.

Scarification is nowhere practiced in eastern Mindanáo except among the Mamánuas. In 1905 I came in contact with several Mamánuas of the upper Tágo River (within the jurisdiction of Tándag, Province of Surigáo) and noticed that they had cicatrices on the breast and arms. I concluded that the scars were due to the practice of scarification. Inquiries since that time made among both Manóbos and Bisáyas have confirmed these conclusions. Head deformation is not practiced in eastern Mindanáo.

No painting of the body is resorted to other than the blackening of the lips with soot. To effect this a pot is taken from the fireplace and the bottom of it is dexterously passed across the lips, leaving a black coating that, with the fluid from the chewing quid made up of tobacco, lime, and máu-mau frequently becomes permanent till moistened by drinking. It is a strange sight to see a handsome Manóbo belle, decked out with beads and bells, or a dapper Manóbo dandy, take the olla, and darken the lips.

No religious or magic significance is attributed to any of the following mutilations, nor are any religious or other celebrations performed in connection with them.



As the age of puberty approaches, both boys and girls have their teeth ground. The process is very simple but extremely painful, so much so that the operation can not be completed at one sitting. I think, however, that the painfulness of the process depends on the quality of the stone used, for the Mandáyas of the upper Karága River claim that there is a species of stone that does not cause much pain.

A piece of wood is inserted between the teeth to keep them apart. The operator, usually the father, then inserts a small flat piece of sandstone, such as is used for sharpening bolos, into the mouth and with a moderate motion grinds the upper and lower incisors to the gums. It is only the difficulty of reaching the molars that saves them, as the writer was informed. In all, 10 front teeth disappear, and a portion of 4 others. After filing, the teeth of the upper jaw appear convex and those of the lower, concave.

I estimate the minimum time necessary to grind the teeth to be from 3 to 6 hours, spread over a period varying from 3 to 10 days.

The patient displays more or less evidence of pain, according to his powers of endurance but is continually exhorted to be patient so that his mouth will not look like a dog's. This is the reason universally asserted for their objection to white, sharp teeth: "They look like a dog's."

After each grinding, the subject experiences sensitiveness in the gums and can not masticate hard food. When this sensitiveness is no longer felt, usually the following day, the grinding is resumed.

Blackening of the teeth is effected principally by the use of a plant called máu-mau which, besides being used as a narcotic, has the property of giving the teeth a rather black appearance. After being chewed, it is rubbed across the teeth. The juice of the skin is expressed into a quid of tobacco mixed with lime and pot black, the whole forming the inseparable companion of the Manóbo man, woman, and even child. It is a compound about the size of a small marble and is carried, until it loses its strength and flavor, between the upper lip and the upper gum, but projecting forward between the lips.

It is to be noted here that the primary object in the use of this combination is not the discoloration of the teeth. The compound is used mainly for the stimulating effects it produces, the pot-black being added as an ingredient in order to blacken the lips and so improve the personal appearance of the user of it. The quid is frequently carried behind the ear when circumstances require the use of the mouth for other purposes.

Another means that helps to stain the teeth is the constant use of betel nut and betel leaf mixed with lime, and, in certain localities, with tobacco.


The practice of mutilating the ear lobes12 is universal and is not confined to either sex. It consists in piercing the ear lobes in one, two, or three places. This is done usually at an early age, with a needle. A thread of abaká fiber is then inserted and prevented from coining out by putting a tiny pellet of beeswax at each end. As soon as the wound heals, the perforation is enlarged in the case of a woman in the following manner: Small pieces of the rib of the rattan leaf are inserted at intervals of a couple of days until the hole is opened enough to receive larger pieces. When it has expanded sufficiently, a small spiral of grass, usually of pandanus13 is inserted. This, by its natural tendency to expand, increases the size of the aperture until a larger spiral can be inserted.


13Bá-ui (Bisáya, ba-ló-oi).

The opening is considered of sufficient size and beauty when it is about 2.5 centimeters in diameter. In addition to this large aperture, which is located on the lower part of the lobulus, there may be two other small perforations about 1.5 centimeters further up. These latter serve both in men and women for the attachment of small buttons, while the former is confined exclusively to women and serves for the insertion of ornamental ear disks.


A beardless face is considered a thing of beauty, so that a systematic and constant eradication of the face hair is carried on by the Manóbo from the first moment that hair begins to appear upon his face. For this purpose he often has a pair of tweezers,14 ordinarily made out of beaten brass wire, with which he systematically plucks out such straggling hairs as he may find upon his upper lip and on the chin, as well as the axillary hair. The pubic hair is not always eradicated. A small knife15 is frequently employed as a razor, not only on the chin and upper lip but also for shaving the eyebrows. The removal of the last mentioned is a universal practice, for hair on the eyebrows is considered very ungraceful. Hence both sexes shave the eyebrows, leaving only a pencil line, or, in some districts, not even a trace of hair.


15Called ba-di' or kám-pit.

The hair on other parts of the body is not abundant and it is not customary to remove it.



After making an infinity of inquiries, I learned that tattooing is merely for the purpose of ornamentation. By a few I was given to understand that under the Spanish regime, when killing and capturing was rife, the tattooing was for the purpose of the identification of a captive. It was customary to change the name of a captive, and as he was sold and resold, the only way to identify him was by his tattoo marks.

Be that as it may, the practice seems to have at present no further significance than that of ornamentation. No therapeutic nor magical nor ceremonial effects are associated with it. Neither is it symbolic of prowess, nor distinctive of family, place, nor person, for two persons from different localities and groups may have the same designs.

No particular age is required for the inception of the process, but from my observation, corroborated by general testimony, I believe it is performed usually from the age of puberty onwards.

The operator is nearly always a woman, or a so-called hermaphrodite,17 who has acquired a certain amount of skill in embroidering. These professionals are not numerous, due, possibly, to the natural aversion felt by women for the sight of blood, as also to the fact that no remuneration is made for their services, though this last reason alone would not explain the paucity.

17One meets occasionally among the peoples of eastern Mindanáo certain individuals who are known by a special name and who are reputed to be incapable of sexual intercourse. The individuals whom I saw were most feminine in their ways, preferring to keep the company of women and to indulge in womanly work rather than to associate with men.

The process is very simple. A pigment is prepared by holding a plate or an olla, over a burning torch18 made of resin until enough soot has collected. Then without any previous drawing, the operator punctures, to a depth of approximately 2 millimeters, the part of the body that is to be tattooed. The blood that flows from these punctures is wiped off, usually with a bunch of leaves, and a portion of the soot from the resin is rubbed vigorously into the wounds with the hand of the operator.

18Saí-yung (Canarium villosum).

The process occupies a variable length of time, depending on the skill of the operator and on the endurance and patience of the subject. It is painful, but no such manifestations of pain are made as in teeth grinding. The portion tattooed is sensitive for about 24 hours, but no other evil consequences, such as festering, etc., follow as far as my observations go.

Without the aid of diagrams or pictures it is difficult to describe in an intelligible and comprehensive manner the numerous designs that are used in tattooing. Each locality may have its own distinct fashion, differing from the fashion prevalent in another region. And as the designs seem to be the result of individual whim and fancy it would be an almost endless task to describe all of them in detail. Suffice it to say in general that they follow in both nomenclature and in general appearance the figures embroidered on jackets, with the important addition of figures of a crocodile, and of stars and leaves, as is indicated by the names.19

19Bin-u-á-ja, (from bu-wá-ja, crocodile), gin-í-bang (from gí-bang, iguana) and bin-úyo (from bú-jo', the betel leaf).

The figures are neither intricate nor grotesque, but simple and plain, displaying a certain amount of artistic merit for so primitive and so remote a people. On close inspection they show up in good clear lines, but at a distance they appear as nothing but dim blue spots or blotches. For durability they can not be surpassed. No means are known whereby to eradicate them. I compared tattoo marks on old men with those on young men and I could not discern any difference in the brightness nor in the preservation of the design.

In men the portions of the body tattooed are the whole chest, the upper arms, the forearms, and the fingers. Women on the other hand, in addition to tattooings on those parts, receive an elaborate design on the calves, and sometimes on the whole leg.



Unlike the four mutilations already described, circumcision is not for ornamental purposes. According to the Manóbo's way of thinking it serves a more utilitarian purpose, for it is supposed to be essential to the procreation of children. How such a belief first originated I have been unable to learn, but nevertheless the belief is universal, strong, and abiding. To be called uncircumcised is one of the greatest reproaches that can be thrown at a Manóbo, and it is said that he would stand no chance for marriage unless the operation had been performed; the womenfolk would laugh and jeer at him. So it may be said that the custom is obligatory.

The operation is performed a year or two before puberty. No ceremonies or feasts are held in connection with it. The father, or a male relative of the child, takes the small knife (ba-dí) and placing it lengthwise over the lower part of the prepuce, makes a slit by hitting the back of the knife with a piece of wood or any convenient object at hand. It thus appears that it is not circumcision in the full meaning of the word but rather an incision. This operation is confined to males and is the only sexual mutilation practiced.




The Manóbo is unable to explain the nature of fire, but he has two very primitive but effective ways of producing it, namely, the fire-saw, and the flint and steel. Owing to the sale of Manila and Japanese matches to such of the Manóbos as come in contact with traders or with trading posts, the ancient methods of making fire are falling into disuse.



This might be more properly called the friction method, for the fire is obtained by rubbing edgewise one piece of bamboo at right angles to, and over the back of, another.

The "saw," as it is usually called, or upper piece, must be long enough, say 30 centimeters, to enable one to hold it firmly with both hands. The breadth is immaterial, provided it be broad enough to resist the pressure. One edge must be cut sharp.

The "horse," or lower piece, ought to be at least 10 centimeters broad and of any length. It is essential that the under surface be sufficiently convex to admit the free passage of air when the bamboo is placed upon a solid resting place. In the center of this bamboo is made a hole at least 1 millimeter in diameter. All is now ready for the operation.

The "horse" is set down upon some clean solid piece of wood or stone with its inner or concave side downwards, in such a way that it can not move. The "saw" is placed transversely across the "horse," the sharp edge being right over the hole. Holding it firmly with a hand at each end, it is worked steadily, rapidly and with great pressure across the "horse," precisely as if it were desired to saw it in two. After some 15 strokes, there appears a little smoke, and the operator increases the rapidity of his movement, until he thinks that there is sufficient fire underneath the bamboo. Then he blows down through the hole in order to separate any such bamboo dust as may still remain in or around it. He removes the "horse" applying at once a little lint or other tinder to the glowing particles of bamboo. He then transfers his fire to a piece of good dry wood, preferably to an old firebrand, and in a few seconds has a permanent fire.

For the process it is essential that the bamboo selected be dry and well seasoned, for otherwise the dust produced by the rubbing will not ignite. There are a few varieties of wood that answer the same purpose, but I am unable to give the names though I have seen them used.



The Manóbo method of making fire with flint and steel differs in no wise from that used by our own forbears. The tinder used is a fluff obtained from the sugar palm.3 It is found around the frond bases and after being thoroughly dried, is kept with the flint and steel in a special bamboo or rattan receptacle.

3Arenga saccharifera. It is called hi-juíp or hi-diúp in Manóbo.


Once lighted, the fire in the house is kept up, ordinarily not for any ceremonial reason, as far as I have been able to ascertain, but because it is the custom. It is commonly used to furnish light and is kept burning during the night for that purpose. In the mountainous districts, where there is always the possibility of an attack, the fire is sedulously maintained both for light and heat. On occasions fraught with danger from malignant spirits, fire is kept burning for ceremonial reasons as a safeguard against the stealthy approach of the spirits.

Should the fire become extinguished, a fire brand is borrowed from another house, if there is one in the vicinity, but, if there are no neighbors recourse is had to one of the above-described methods.


Fire is ordinarily the principal, and not infrequently the only source of light. It is only in districts in close proximity to the settlements of Christianized Manóbos that the luxury of coal oil is enjoyed.

The only source of light in the house, other than that from the fire, is a species of resin which is collected from a tree that is found in great abundance in eastern Mindanáo.4 The method of obtaining the resin is to make a good cut in the tree about 1 millimeter above the ground and to catch the resin in a bark or leaf receptacle. This is usually done overnight. Broken pieces of the resin are then placed in a conical receptacle, made of green leaves, usually of the rattan, bound with rattan strips or other vegetable fastening. When needed, the larger end of this bundle of resin is lighted at the fire and the torch is set upon the floor supported in a tilted position by the most convenient object at hand, frequently the whetstone.

4Called sai'-gung or saung. (Oanarium villosum).

This torch is a good and economical illuminant. It has, however, two defects: First, the ugly habit of spitting out occasional sparks, which cause a somewhat painful sore if they happen to hit the flesh; and, second, a tendency to extinguish itself at intervals on account of the burnt residue that gradually covers the resin. The ash may be easily removed with a stick and then the light blazes out at once, casting a bright glare on the brown and naked figures of the inmates.

When a light is needed for outdoor purposes, a piece of seasoned bamboo, split at one end, or a firebrand of wood, is carried in lieu of the resin. It is an invariable custom to carry a firebrand, while outdoors at night, not only for the purpose of lighting the way but for daunting the evil spirits that are thought to roam about in the gloom of night.


The Manóbo is particularly poor in cooking utensils. With the exception of a very occasional iron pot, and a much less frequent pan, he has none of the kitchen apparatus of more civilized peoples.

The earthen pot of his own manufacture is his mainstay. It resembles the ollas or earthen pots used so universally throughout the Philippines. In addition to this there is used, though very rarely among the remote Manóbos, an imported cast-iron pan.5 It is from 5 centimeters to 10 centimeters in depth and from 25 centimeters to 40 centimeters in diameter, concave, and of the poorest material. It is used for general cooking, for dyeing, and for making a sugar-cane beverage. As it is not provided with a cover, the leaves of the bamboo are used to keep the soot and dirt out and to keep the heat in, especially in steaming camotes and taro.

5Called ki-ú-ja.

When there are not enough pots for the cooking, as on some exceptional occasion, green bamboo internodes with one end open are brought into requisition. Bamboo of the variety known as bo or bóho, is preferred, for it gives an extra delicate savor to the contents, as I can testify. Even upon ordinary occasions, fish or meat is sometimes cooked in bamboo for the same reason. The pieces of bamboo are put into the fire in a slanting position, the open end being stopped with leaves. They are turned around occasionally till they are burnt nearly through. The contents are removed by splitting the charred joint into strips. These strips are usually given to the expectant children who scrape and lick them clean.

I once saw the bark of a tree used for cooking rice, but without success. I was assured that for cooking meat or fish it would answer admirably.

A ladle, with a handle of wood or bamboo and a head of coconut shell, is about the only article that the Manóbo ordinarily has to serve the purpose of spoons and forks. In the absence of the coconut ladle, he employs the bottom of a bamboo internode to which has been left attached a strip that serves as a handle. For stirring the rice he uses a little paddle made out of a flat piece of wood, or if he has no paddle he uses the handle of his coconut. A coconut shell is used for a water cup, though, if he has an imported glass, he will offer it to visitors.

No rags are employed in the cleaning of plates and other dishes. At times a few leaves are required to clean out the iron pan, but for plates and bowls and other utensils a little cold water and a little rubbing with the hand are sufficient.

The Manóbo uses no tablecloth nor has he any of the appurtenances that equip a modern table, except plates, bowls, and, perhaps, a glass.

Of plates he frequently has too few for his family. Bowls are still scarcer. Many and many are the houses which I have visited that could not boast of a single bowl; the same may be said of glasses. This is due to the exorbitant prices charged for them.

As a substitute for plates, the Manóbo uses platters of bark from the sago6 and other palm trees. It may happen on the occasion of some big festivity that he still finds himself short of plates and platters, so he utilizes his low panlike weaving baskets by lining them with banana or other leaves and putting them on the table loaded with rice. Should all these not be sufficient for the number of his guests, he spreads out a few banana leaves in the center of the table, or on the floor, and lays the rice upon them.


A piece of bamboo serves for cup and glass as auxiliary to, or a substitute for, the coconut-shell cup mentioned above.


The great staple of Manóboland is the camote.7 During harvest time and for several weeks ensuing rice may constitute the bulk of his daily food, but after that he reserves for feasts, for friends, and for the sick what he does not sell, or part with in payment of debts. Should his camote crop fail he falls back upon the sago8 that abounds in the central Agúsan; or, when sago is not available, he seeks the wild fishtail palm,9 that affords him as pleasant and nutritious a food as any sago palm that ever grew. In the upper Agúsan the Manóbo plants a fair quantity of taro, and in the middle Agúsan, a small amount of maize in season, or even some beans,10 so that it is seldom he has to have recourse to the forest for his maintenance. But the mountain Manóbo is occasionally compelled to draw his sustenance from the various palm trees and vines that are found in such luxuriance throughout his forest domain. I have seen poisonous tubers gathered in time of famine by the Manóbos of the upper Wá-wa region and eaten, after they had been scraped on a prickly rattan branch, and the poison had been removed by a series of washings and dryings.

7Ipomoea batatas Poir.


9Bá-hi' (Caryota sp.)

10Called bá-tung.

He nearly always has a little sugar cane on the farm but, when it is not intended for making an inebriating drink, it is planted only in sufficient quantity to furnish occasionally a few pieces to the members of the household.

Besides the above-mentioned plants, he has probably only a few banana plants, a few ginger plants, some semiwild tomatoes, a little mint11 and, perchance, a few other plants intended for seasoning. He is not accustomed to plant more than will supply the bare necessities of life.

11Called labwéna probably from the Spanish yerba buena.

As a concomitant of his rice or camotes, he must have his is-da12 which he procures from the forest13 or from the river.14

12This word in its present usage corresponds to the Spanish vianda, to the Bisáya súdan, and the Tagalog úlam. Note that the generic word for is-da, "fish," has received a still more general application among the Manóbos and Bisáyas of the middle Agúsan. Originally, no doubt, it meant simply "fish," but as the háu-an is almost the only fish in the middle Agúsan that is caught with frequency and in numbers, the generic term for fish was narrowed down to this one particular fish. Thence the application of the word expanded and it now corresponds to the Tagalog úlam and the Cebu-Bisáya sú-dan.

13See under "Hunting."

14See under "Fishing."

It is not essential that the meat or fish should be fresh. I have seen pig meat eaten after three days' decomposition. Neither is the rawness an impediment, for it is customary in certain localities to eat pork absolutely raw, for ceremonial reasons. Besides pork, venison, and fish, an occasional wild chicken or other bird snared in the forest, or a hornbill killed with an arrow, helps to keep his larder supplied.

When no fish or meat has been procured, and this is more often the rule than the exception, he may have found on his rambles some mushroomlike fungi,15 or even mushrooms,16 or he may have taken a notion to cut down some palm tree, and get a fine palm 17 or rattan core 18 or even young bamboo shoots.19 While straying along the river bank he may pick some fern tops of an edible variety.20 Any of these things affords as fair supplement to his rice, as butter does to bread. The palm-tree cores are full of big luscious larvae.21 He may have a chance to kill an iguana22 or monarch lizard.23 The killing of a monkey with his bow and arrow, or in his traps, affords him a choice piece of meat. And when he has the good fortune to kill a python, he has enough ís-da for himself, his relatives, and his neighbors for at least one meal. Occasionally, during the proper season, he locates a bees' nest and therefrom procures an amount of honey, larvae, and beebread that proves an uncommon treat for himself and his family. Again, on the river at certain periods he has nothing else to do except to scoop into his dugout (if he has one) the exhausted "water-skimmers,"24 or while passing near some sand bank to spy the spot where the water lizard buried her delicious eggs. In the little side streams he may catch a few frogs and go on his way rejoicing.

15Ta-líng-a bá-tang.

16Líg-bus, sa-gíng-sá-ging.




20Pá-ko' (Asplenium esculentum)




24These are a variety of insect called dá-li, of a whitish color about 2 centimeters long, and having two threadlike appendages extending from the posterior part. They are eaten raw, usually with vinegar and salt. This insect is said to be, probably, one of the Neuroptera or Pseudoneuroptera.

With these random finds, with wild boar and deer that come from an occasional chase, with such salted and dried fish, including jerked crocodile, as he may purchase directly or indirectly from Bisáya traders or from Christianized Manóbos, and with a casual pig or fowl killed on ceremonial or festival occasions, he manages to keep his family fairly well supplied with an accompaniment for the mess of rice or other staple food.

Salt, the native red pepper,25 and at times ginger constitute a very important part of the meal, if they are obtainable. The first mentioned article is far from being abundant, especially in certain localities, such as the Baóbo River and the upper parts of the Ihawán, Umaíam, and Bahaían Rivers. In such places as these the writer found such an intense craving for it that it was eaten ravenously and declared to be "sweet."

There is such an inordinate desire for salt, especially the rock salt made out of salt water and ash lye, that the Manóbo will submit sometimes to tyranny and to the most exorbitant rates in order to obtain it. This craving for salt will explain the general preference that is felt for salted food as against fresh meat. The small salted fish, peddled in such quantities by Bisáya traders, are prized above the choicest pieces of venison and jerked crocodile, presumably for the salt that they contain. It may be wondered why the Manóbo does not salt his own meat and fish, but this is explained by the fact that such an operation is strictly tabooed.

Red pepper is a sine qua non. It is eaten much as we eat salt, and is said to impart courage. In the regions near the Mandáyas it is put up in a special form,26 this being nothing more than the dried pepper pounded, mixed with salt, and preserved in bamboo joints in a dry place, usually in the smoke above the hearth. In this condition it acquires an extraordinary strength that makes the plain red pepper taste mild. This is explained, perhaps, by the fact that in the pounding the seeds of the pepper are triturated.

25Ka-tum-bä (Capsicum sp.).




The remote preparation consists in getting a supply of sweet potatoes or rice from the farm. This may be a mile or more from the house, so that once a day at least the women, with baskets on their heads and paddles in their hands, if they live on navigable water, leave for the farm. In localities where an ambush is a possible contingency, a few men with lance and shield, and hunting dogs accompany the women as a guard, for the camote field is a favorite spot for the enemy to wreak his vengeance, according to the recognized laws of Manóboland. The women and girls dig up the camotes with a bolo or with a small pointed stick, and get a little rice from the granary.27 After performing any necessary work such as weeding and planting, they return and prepare the meal, the men taking no part except to clean and quarter the game or other meat that may have been selected for it.


The preparation of pigs and fowls is such a frequent occurrence in Manóboland, as also among Bisáyas, Mañgguáñgans, Debabáons, and Mandáyas of the Agúsan Valley, that it merits a detailed description.

In preparing a pig, wild boar, or deer, a rough support, consisting of four vertical pieces of wood and a few horizontal parallel pieces, is erected outside the house, if the weather permits. A fire is built beneath the frame and the whole animal, minus the entrails, is laid upon it. Two men or more then set to work with pieces of wood, sharpened lengthwise, and scrape off the hair as fast as it becomes well singed. The operation lasts only about 15 minutes in the case of a large animal. When the hair has been removed the carcass is given a washing more or less thorough, according to the amount of water conveniently available, and the quartering begins.

The game is laid upon leaves; the four legs are removed in order; the head is chopped off; the ribs and remaining parts are hacked crossbone. During this operation the family dogs usually cause an infinite amount of trouble by their incessant attempts to secure a piece of the meat.

If the meat is for distribution, as it always is, except on occasions of festivity or of sacrifice, it is scrupulously divided at this moment. If it is for a feast, it is hacked up into small pieces and loaded into earthen pots, iron pans, and bamboo joints. The dogs are then allowed to lick the blood-stained leaves and to clean the floor.

The preparation of a domestic fowl is also left to the men and deserves a few words. When the fowl is not killed sacrificially, it is burnt to death. Catching the chicken firmly by the feet and wings with one hand and by the head and neck with the other, the owner singes it over the fire till it shows no more signs of life. It may be thought that this is a cruel way of killing an animal, for it kicks and twists and flutters unless firmly held, but the Manóbo is not allowed by his tribal institutions to kill the fowl as other peoples do. To cut off the head is strictly tabooed, a cruel and unbecoming procedure, for there is no one "to revenge the deed," he will tell you. So he chokes and burns it to death. All signs of life being extinct, he pulls out a few of the tail and wing feathers. I can give no reason for this procedure, but as the custom is so universal, I think it has a peculiar significance of its own.

As the singeing proceeds, the feather ends are plucked out and a. cursory washing given the fowl. The entrails, even the intestines with the exception of the gall bladder, are removed and utilized. Finally the head, the ends of the wings, and the lower parts of the legs are cut off, and ordinarily are given to the children who have been anxiously awaiting such delicacies.

The pounding and winnowing of the rice is such a common and important operation in the whole of eastern Mindanáo that it deserves special mention.

As the rice used by the mountain Manóbos is exclusively of their own harvesting, it must be hulled, a process that is performed just before every meal wherein it is used. The implements are a wooden mortar and a few heavy wooden pestles. The mortar is a piece of wood of varying dimensions, in the center of which is hollowed out, by burning and cutting, a conical hole, whose depth averages 24 centimeters in height and whose diameter is about 20 centimeters. One sees from time to time a mortar with two holes, or one on which there is evidence of an attempt at artistic effect by means of primitive carving, but, in the main, the mortar is a rough-hewn log with a conical hole in it and with the upper surface so cut that the paddy or rice will have a tendency to fall back into the hole.

The pestle is a pole, preferably and usually of heavy hardwood, about 1.5 meters long and 20 centimeters in circumference. It is a marked exception to find pestles decorated in any way. On the Umaíam River I saw one the end of which had been carved in open fretwork with a round loose piece of wood within the fretwork, a device that was as useful as it was ornamental, for the wooden ball by its rattling within the fretwork cage served to animate the holder and her companions to vigorous and constant strokes.

The following is the process of hulling: The mortar is more than half filled with unhulled rice. One or more women or girls grasp the pestles in the middle with one hand. One begins by driving down her pestle with force upon the paddy. Then another, and still another, if there be three. It stands to reason that, since the hole in the mortar is small, the most exact time must be kept, otherwise the pestles would interfere with one another. The sound made by the falling pestles often resembles that general but strange beat so prevalent in Manóbo drum rhythm. A visitor who has once seen three Manóbo women dressed in gala attire, with coils of beads and necklets, ply their pestles in response to the animated tattoo on the drum will never forget the scene. The pestles are tossed from one hand to the other to afford an instant's rest. They bob up and down with indescribable rapidity and in perfect rhythm as if they were being plied on some imaginary drum.

In a few minutes, from 5 to 15, the hull is shattered from the rice and one of the women bends down and with her hands removes the contents of the mortar to the winnowing tray. After winnowing, they repeat the process till all the husk has been separated from the grain. They then pound a new supply until there is enough rice for the purpose in view. The husk has been shattered from the grain as perfectly, though not as quickly, as if it had been done by a machine.

The winnowing tray is a round shallow tray, 40 centimeters in diameter and usually of plaited rattan strips with a rim of thicker rattan. It is held in both hands and by a series of shuffling motions, which are better seen than described, accompained[sic] by a peculiar movement of the thumb of the left hand, the chaff and the little broken fragments of rice are thrown off into another receptacle for the family pigs.


Rice is not usually washed before cooking. It is put into a homemade earthen pot,28 which is often lined with sugarcane leaves, not only to prevent the rice from burning, but to impart to it a finer flavor. It is covered with water, the rice being about 5 centimeters below the surface of the water. The pot is set on a hot fire until the water evaporates to the level of the surface of the rice, whereupon the greater part of the fire is removed and the rice is allowed to steam dry. These remarks also apply to the cooking of a variety of millet,29 which is sown sparingly with the rice.



Another method of cooking rice, especially when on the trail, is in green bamboo. Joints of green bamboo are filled with rice and water, or rice is wrapped in rattan leaves and then packages are put into the water. Rice cooked in this latter way will keep for three days.

There are two orthodox methods of cooking fish and meat and no other is admissible, under penalty of infringing a very important taboo. One method consists of boiling them in water, with a little seasoning of red pepper, ginger, and possibly lemon grass and one or two other ingredients. The second method consists of broiling the pieces of meat and fish in or over the fire. Meat and fish already cooked are thrown into the fire in order to heat them. The fact that they may be burnt and covered with ashes does not detract from the flavor. The most usual method of broiling, however, is to put the meat on skewers of wood or bamboo a few inches above the fire.

When large game has been secured at such a distance from the house that it must be cooked in the forest, it is cut into quarters, and broiled over a heaping fire. This is the invariable method of cooking the heads even of domestic pigs. Chicken heads, legs, and wing ends are invariably broiled, while the intestines are wrapped up in leaves and cooked better than might be supposed, though the flavor, to my taste, is not the most delicate. They seem, however, to be a choice morsel to the majority of my Manóbo friends. Monkeys, frogs, and the forest carrion lizard are always broiled.

Camotes and taro are usually cooked unpeeled in the common earthen pot. About a half a liter of water is used in an ordinary pot, so that the process is practically one of steaming. If the pot has no cover, or if the imported pan be used, leaves are employed to confine the heat.

A favorite dish of the Manóbo and an indispensable one of the Mandáya is the famous á-pai.30 This consists of taro tops (stem and leaves) cut up fine and cooked with water, red pepper, mint, semiwild tomatoes, and any other vegetable seasoning which may be on hand. This makes a very palatable and wholesome dish.

30Mandáya, ug-bús.


Certain birds such as the hornbill, wild chicken, varieties of wild pigeons, and a few others, must not be divided and given to anyone else before eating. They must be cooked by the broiling method 31 and not in water. After cooking, these birds can not be partaken of by anyone who is not a relative or a member of the household. Neither should a part of a bird belonging to a stranger be accepted or partaken of. The whole bird or nothing must be offered. An infringement of these restrictions would lead, it is believed, to serious results,32 such as ill luck to the hunting dogs, tangling of the snares, and other misfortunes.33



33In the upper Agúsan the partition of such small birds would lead, I was told, to a dismemberment of the family.

An unmarried man who has ever made indecent suggestions to a woman is prohibited from eating wild-boar meat. The guilty one must free himself from this restriction by making a small present to a priestess. A violation of this taboo would be prejudicial to the success of the hunting dogs.

The use of lard in cooking is interdicted, but it may be eaten raw, even when its smell is not the most wholesome.

On a few occasions, I noticed that some individuals abstained from rice or from chicken. I was unable to elicit any other reason for the abstinence than the good pleasure of the persons concerned. As they admitted that they had been accustomed to use these foods and would use them again after certain periods, I suspect religious motives for the abstinence.



Though it may be said that three meals a day are not the rule among the Manóbos, yet they eat the equivalent of three or more, for between pieces of sugarcane and munchings of wild fruit,34 they keep replenishing the inner man pretty constantly. They eat breakfast at about 9 o'clock in the morning, dinner about 1 p. m., and supper at any hour between 6 and 9 p. m.

34There are many wild fruits in the Agúsan Valley, the most common of which are: The famous durian (Durio zibethinus), the jackfruit, lanka (Artocarpus integrifolia l. f.), lanzones (Lansium domesticum Jack.), makópa (Eugenia javanica Lam.), mámbug, támbis, kandíis, kátom (Dillenia sp.), and the fruit of the rattan (kápi). Most of these are of a sour acid nature but for this reason seem to be relished all the more.

All being ready for the meal, the inmates of the house squat down upon the floor, the husband with his wife and children apart, male visitors and the unmarried portion of the house eating together. Slaves eat when all have finished, and get what is left in the pots.

Just before beginning to eat, the host and, in fact, everybody except the women, tenders to visitors and others who have come in an invitation to join in the meal and nobody will begin to eat till everybody else has squatted down and is ready. Once the meal is begun, no one leaves, nor is it good etiquette to call anyone from his meal.

The hands are washed by pouring a little water upon them from a bowl, tumbler, coconut shell, or piece of bamboo; the mouth is rinsed, the water being ejected, frequently with force, through the interstices of the floor. Then all begin to eat. It is the invariable rule for men to eat with the left hand, and where others than relatives are present, to wear a weapon of defense, the right hand resting upon it in anticipation of a possible attack.

The various articles of food have already been set on the floor in the various receptacles heretofore described. Each one falls to with an appetite that can hardly be described. One or more of the womenfolk keep the wants of the diners supplied. The method of eating rice among the mountain Manóbos differs from that prevalent among the Christian tribes. A good-sized mass of rice is pressed together between the five fingers of the left hand and pushed up into the palm where it is made into a ball. Thence it is conveyed to the mouth. At intervals the rice (or camote) is flavored with a little accompaniment of meat or fish, and all is washed down with the soup of the meat or fish.

The custom of sipping, with a sucking sound, the scalding soup from a plate or bowl and of then passing it on to one's neighbor is almost universal. Great predilection is shown for this soup, even though it be, as happens in a great many instances, practically nothing but hot water. In the upper Agúsan, the taro-top soup previously mentioned is the ordinary soup and substitute for meat and fish.

Another peculiar feature in eating is the method of cutting meat from the bone. The carver, who is in a squatting position with his feet close to the body, holds the bolo with the handle between the big first toe in a vertical position, the back of it being toward him. He draws the meat over the edge, thereby doing the carving in a quicker, more convenient, and more effective manner than do a great many more civilized men.

No one may retire from the meal without giving notice to his neighbors. A violation of this custom constitutes a gross breach of Manóbo etiquette. The reason for this custom is that the chances for a sudden attack are thereby lessened.

It is not polite to remain seated in the same place after a meal. If the place can not be changed, it is necessary to rise and then sit down again. I can give no explanation for the practice, unless it be a precaution against treachery.


Festive meals are indulged in more especially on the occurrence of the great religious and social celebrations that recur with such frequency in the Manóbo world. The arrival of a visitor, or even an unusual catch of fish, is also an occasion for such enjoyments. I have had ample opportunities of witnessing them, because during a trading expedition I was frequently honored with invitations, the reason for which was, of course, to secure from me good bargains, or credit.

Before the meal the house is a scene of indescribable animation. The guests, together with the members of the household, rarely number less than 20 and may reach 100 or more. The pig is cooked in bamboo joints, earthern[sic] pots and iron pans, both in the host's house and, if necessary, in neighboring houses. The same may be said of the rice and camotes. If the host has enough drink, and if there is a little meat or fish to serve as a lunch, he has the food brought out and orders a part of the drink to be distributed to the guests according to their importance. Joyous laughter and loud conversation, together with chewing of tobacco and betel nut, fill up the interval before the meal.

When all is ready, the available number of plates, bowls, glasses, bark platters, and leaves are set out and the boiled meat is apportioned in small pieces, with great exactitude as to size and quality, to the several plates. The same thing is done for the broiled meat after it has been hacked into suitable sizes. No one is forgotten, not even the children of the guests, nor the slaves. The rice is then brought along in bamboo joints, in pots, and even in baskets lined with leaves, and to each person is assigned a heaping portion. When all has been impartially and equally distributed, the guests are bidden to take their places on the floor, each one at his appointed plate, for where visitors other than relatives are present, no precaution is omitted to safeguard the guests against trouble. Experience has proved that the festive board may be tinged with blood before the end. This even distribution of the food and the collocation of the guests often occupies the better part of an hour. If these duties are not properly performed envious feelings and a quarrel might ensue before the end of the meal. The guest of honor is always given preference and the host may also especially favor others whom he may have reason to honor but he always makes public the reason for his partiality.

All being seated the meal begins with a goodly quaff of homemade brew. Then all begin to eat. As the feasters warm under the kindling influence of the drink, they express their good will by giving material tokens, each one to his friend or to one whose friendship he desires to gain. These tokens consist of handfuls of meat--lean, fat, bone, gristle, or anything--smeared with salt and pepper, and bestowed by one friend into the mouth of another without any consideration of the proportion existing between the size of the mouth and the size of the gift. It is not good etiquette to refuse this gift or to remove it from the mouth. This offering is followed probably by a bamboo jointful of beverage which must be received in the same friendly spirit and is gulped down with a mumbled expression corresponding to our "Here goes." The recipient of these favors returns the courtesy in kind, and so the meal goes on in mutual goodfellowship[sic] and congeniality till the food has completely disappeared, for it is against the conventionalities of Manóbodom to leave a scrap on the plate. Indeed the Manóbo loves a good eater and drinker. It is an honor to gorge and a glory to get drunk. Now it happens at times at a Manóbo banquet, as it does in all drinking bouts the world over, that a quarrel ensues and recourse is had to the ever present bolo to settle an argument that wild shouts and frantic gestures can not decide. For this reason the Manóbo eats with his left hand and rolls his eyes from side to side in constant vigilance.

These remarks do not apply to the women and children, who sit apart in little groups of their own, and, while feasting one another in their own gentle way, attend to the shouts for more food when they are heard above the din of the revellers.

During the course of a feast of this kind an observer is struck with the hearty appetite exhibited by these primitive people. Man vies with man in holding out. Friend honors friend with plenteous bestowals of food and drink and the host strives to induce his guests to eat to their utmost capacity. Rarely does one see a Manóbo troubled with nausea but, if he is, he returns later to the feast, to finish his appointed portion. I have seen this happen on occasions.




Intoxicating drinks are of four kinds: Sugar-palm wine,1 bá-hi toddy,2 sugarcane brew,3 and mead.4

1Tuba or sai-yan or san, the sap of the hi-di-up (Arenga saccharifera) commonly known in the Philippines as cabo negro.

2The fishtail palm (Caryota sp.). The extracted sap is called túng-gang.


4Bá-is or bi-aí-lis.


Sugar-palm wine is obtained by tapping the fruit stem of the cabo negro palm. The process is very simple. At the time of efflorescence the spadix is cut off and the pithy stem is tapped. This operation lasts from 15 to 30 minutes each day and is continued for from 7 to 14 days. After the tapping the stem must be bent into a downward position. This is effected by inclining it downward every day, a piece of rattan or vine being used to retain it in position. The gentlest of force must be used in this operation, as a forcible strain will prevent the sap from flowing. Once the sap begins to flow from the stem, it is caught in a bamboo receptacle, the mouth of which must be carefully covered to prevent the entrance of the myriads of insects that are attracted by the odor and sweetness of the liquid. Day after day the end of the stem must be pared as otherwise the sap would cease to exude. A tree will produce daily anywhere from 10 to 30 liters according to the fertility of the soil and the humidity of the atmosphere. The humidity determines the duration of time that the tree produces toddy. This time varies from one to three months.

The sap has the color and transparency of water to which a little milk has been added. When fresh, it is a sweet, refreshing laxative, but the fermentation is so rapid that after a few hours it acquires the inebriating qualities of ordinary coconut toddy. In order to promote fermentation and to eliminate the laxative quality of the sap, the bark5 of a tree is added. On the third day acetification begins to take place, unless a handful of the ordinary native red pepper is thrown into the beverage, in which case the further fermentation is withheld for a period of about four more days.

5Called la-gúd.

The palm from which this sap is obtained is found in great abundance on the eastern6 side of the lower and middle Agúsan Valley and is universally tapped in this region. On the western side, however, it is not found with such frequency. The Manóbo is therefore obliged to seek other means of satisfying the craving which he, like a good many of his fellowmen the world over, feels for a stimulant.

6In the vicinity of Tudela, Simúlau River, there are groves of sugar-palm. I estimated that they contained 5,000 trees.


Túng-gang is the sap of the báhi palm. The method of extraction is identical with that of the sugar-palm wine. It is neither as pleasant nor as strong as the previously described drink, but it is not by any manner of means unwholesome. It is employed as a beverage only when no other is obtainable. I have been reliably informed that sometimes the tree is cut down as a preliminary to the extraction of the sap. Incisions are made in the trunk for the purpose of permitting the flow of the sap.


In-tus is a beverage made out of the juice of the sugarcane. It is the most common and the most popular drink, so much so that it is deemed worthy of being presented to the spirits on sacrificial and other occasions.

Extraction of the juice.--The sugarcane is first peeled and then crushed, stalk by stalk, or piece by piece, under the li-gi-san. This is a very primitive mill, consisting of a round, smooth, heavy log usually of palma brava7 or of the fishtail palm, set horizontally about 1 meter above the ground on two crude frames. It is provided with a vertical handle, by means of which it can be rolled from side to side over a fiat piece of wood. The cane is introduced gradually between this latter piece and the log, which is kept in constant motion. As soon as the whole or a part of a piece of cane has been crushed, it is doubled up into a mass about 30 centimeters long and is again crushed. By this method about 20 liters of juice are obtained in a day.

7An-a-hau (Livistona sp.).

Boiling.--The iron cooking pan described in a previous chapter is preferred for preparing the drink, unless an empty kerosene can has been secured. In the absence of both, the ordinary pot answers the purpose. In the center of the cooking utensil is placed a small cylinder made of slats of bamboo to serve for gaging the amount of evaporation. The boiling vessel is filled with small slices of the root of a gingerlike plant8 and sugarcane juice is added to fill the interstices.

8Lan-kwas (Cordeline terminalis Willd.).

The amount of boiling determines the quality of the resulting liquor. If the sap is boiled down only one-fourth, the drink produced is of a sweetish taste and of a whitish appearance and, in my estimation, is not palatable. The more the sap is evaporated, the more it mellows and browns. The Manóbos of the upper Agúsan make a better drink than those of the lake region for the reason that they evaporate the juice one-half, while those of the latter-mentioned district only give it a cursory boiling. It is usual to employ a little gaging rod of bamboo for measuring the amount of evaporation, this being done by inserting it into the bamboo cylinder in the center of the pot, but an old hand at brewing can gage by the smell.

Fermentation.--After cooking, the decoction is unfit for immediate use. It must be left to undergo fermentation for at least three whole days. Five days are sufficient to render it fairly drinkable. The longer the period of fermentation, the liner the quality of the resulting liquor, ceteris paribus. When well-cooked brew has been kept for a few months, it assumes a translucid amber color, smells and tastes strongly of rum, and is highly intoxicating. The liquor during fermentation must be kept in closed jars or earthen pots in a cool moist place. If kept in bamboo joints, it will spoil.

In general, the drink is more intoxicating than coconut toddy, but it is wholesome, and its use is not attended by the after effects that are the result of overindulgence in certain other alcoholic drinks like vino. In this connection it may be well to remark that I have never observed a case of delirium tremens nor of any of the other serious consequences that in other parts of the world frequently afflict the habitual drinker. The only ill effects I have seen are the proverbial headache and thirst, but even these are very rare and usually occur only after periods of long and uninterrupted indulgence. As a rule such effects are at once dispelled by taking hot taro-top soup or by munching sugarcane.


This is probably the finest beverage produced in Manóboland, but as the honey season is short and as the honey is consumed, both in the forest after taking the nest and in the house by the members of the family, the drink is scarce.

The preparation of the drink is identical with that of sugarcane brew. The same ferment is used, the same method of cooking is employed, and in general the same remarks apply, with the exception that in place of the sugarcane juice, honey and water are used. The honey is mixed with water in varying proportions. It is the proportion of water to honey that determines the strength, quality, and flavor of the final drink, A mixture of half and half is said to yield the best beverage. If fermentation is allowed to continue for a few months, the resulting liquor is of a clear crystalline color, and will compare both in flavor and strength with those more up to date.



Though the Manóbos invariably drink during religious feasts, yet neither during the feast itself, nor in the preparation of the toddy, have I ever observed any religious ceremony nor were any magic or other preternatural means employed. It is true that when the crushing appliance9 is set up, the fowl-waving ceremony, followed by the blood unction, is performed. I witnessed this ceremony myself in several parts of the Agúsan River Valley. But such ceremonies are customary on the erection of houses, smithies, and so forth, and bear no relation to the actual production of the drink.


During religious ceremonies a bowlful of the brew is set out with the usual viands, such as meat and rice, for the di-u-a-ia, tag-la-nu-a (lords of the hills and the valleys), and for other spirits, for they, too, like to be regaled with the good things of this world.

Drink is taken on the occurrence of all the great religious and social feasts and upon the arrival of a distinguished friend or visitor--also when it is desired to make a good bargain or to secure any other end by convivial means. The acquisition of an unusual amount of fish or of meat is a common occasion for the making of the brew and gives rise to the following practice:


The sumsúm-an, i. e., the eating of meat or fish with an accompaniment of drink, a universal practice throughout the Agúsan Valley, the Salúg Valley, and the whole Mandáya country, is a thing that appeals especially to the true Mandáya, Manóbo, and Mañgguáñgan. When a man of one of these tribes has secured a good catch of fish, or has trapped a wild boar, he procures a supply of beverage and meets his guests at the appointed place, usually his little farmhouse. As soon as all are assembled, the fish or the meat is broiled on sticks of wood over the fire. When it is cooked, the women lay it out and it is slashed into pieces, usually by the host, and apportioned with great precision as to weight, quality, amount of bone, and quantity of inept. During this operation, a few bamboo jointfuls of brew are brought from some hiding place and a relative of the householder sits down with one under his arm. Before him are set such articles as glasses and bowls, if obtainable, or in lieu thereof, small pieces of bamboo joints, each holding about a tumblerful, and not very different in shape from handleless German steins. These bamboo cups admirably fulfill the purpose. The distributor of the liquor slices a little strip from under the mouth of his bamboo deposit to prevent loss of the liquor during pouring, then he inserts two fingers into the mouth of the bamboo and makes an opening through the leaves for the drink, but not so large as to give free exit to such insects as may have found their way into the liquid. He then fills up the vessels at hand, taking care to give to each an equal amount.

It is to be noted that it is an inviolable custom that the host drinks first. This is because of the widespread belief in secret poisons. After drinking the host passes the cup to those whom he wishes to honor, unless they are already provided, and using some expression corresponding to our English "Here goes," the guest or guests quaff the brew. The bowls or other vessels are returned to the distributor, and the process is repeated until all have had a drink.


During religious and social feasts the drinking customs are as above described, except that the beverage is set out in sacred jars, when on hand, and with such an array of bowls as the host may possess. One of these feasts, notably the marriage feast, may be attended by as many as 200 persons and last from 3 to 7 days and nights, so that to hear of 20 jars or 100 bamboo10 jointfuls of sugarcane brew being consumed on the occasion of a great festival is not strange.


The amount of drink used, both individually and collectively during one of the feasts, gives one an idea of the great capacity which these primitive peoples enjoy. The average white man in my opinion would be deliriously drunk before the Mandáya or Manóbo would be feeling merry. It is not according to tribal customs to refuse food and drink as long as the host has them to set before his guest. On a few occasions I have seen a tribesman rise, quietly empty the stomach, and calmly return to the feast to finish his appointed portion and wash his hands and his plate as an evidence of that fact.

With regard to women and children, it may be said that they drink little, not from any religious or moral principles, but simply because they do not care to. The men, however, are inveterate drinkers. No disgrace is attached to drunkenness. On the contrary to take the allotted portion is considered a duty and a virtue.


It goes without saying that quarrels sometimes result from these drinking bouts, though not oftener, I venture to say, than among more highly cultured peoples in other parts of the world. The custom of carrying weapons on all occasions where others than relatives are present has a deterrent effect on quarreling, yet there are occasions when daggers or bolos terminate an argument that wild shouts and frantic gestures can not settle.

With regard to the amount of drink consumed, I could as well venture an approximation as to the number of stars in the firmament. This will be readily understood when one is told, that according to the social institutions of the Manóbos, it is considered no breach of manners to ask a neighbor for any thing of his to which one may take a fancy. A refusal on his part, unless couched in the most diplomatic terms, might give rise to unneighborly feelings and prompt a reprisal in kind on some other occasion. Hence drink is almost invariably kept deposited in the grass outside of the settlement. When it is needed it is brought to the appointed place secretly or at night, for were others than the invited ones aware of the existence of drink in one's possession they, too, would flock to the scene. In view of the secrecy maintained about the possession of drink it is impossible to give an estimate of the amount of liquor consumed in Manóboland. Suffice it to say that the Manóbo drinks on every possible occasion and will travel many a mile to secure a little of the flowing bowl.


When the tobacco is ripe, it is gathered, cut fine with a sliver of bamboo, and dried in the sun for a day or two. It is then frequently pounded into bamboo internodes and laid away in a cool, dry place, often in the rice granary, for fermentation. Before using the tobacco it is customary to set it out in the grass for a night or two. This causes a sweating and makes the tobacco fit for chewing.

This is the only form in which tobacco is prepared among the mountain Manóbos. The quantity of tobacco raised is insignificant, being a little more than is sufficient for their personal use. As they dispose of a great deal of it during harvest time, it not infrequently comes to pass that there is a dearth long before the next crop.

No harmful effects are attributed to the use of tobacco, though from childhood to the grave it is made use of by men, women, and children.

Only men and boys smoke. The pipe employed for this purpose is commonly a little cone made out of a piece of imported tin or of a piece of steel. The stem is a piece of small bamboo. One occasionally finds wooden pipes, but they have probably been acquired from Christianized Manóbos or from Bisáyas.

The first-mentioned pipe holds about one thimbleful of tobacco. It is usually lighted with a firebrand, unless it is used when the people are on the trail; at such a time the flint, steel, and tinder are called into requisition.

There are two forms of tobacco chewing: First, the bal-ut method. In this a mixture is made of minced tobacco, lime, the juice of a vine,11 and pot black. This combination, which in bulk may be the size of a large marble, is carried between the upper lip and the upper gums but resting upon the lower lip and projecting out of the mouth, thereby keeping the lips apart. It is made use of principally for its narcotic qualities, but at the same time it serves as an ornament and tends to blacken the teeth. It is carried in the mouth until its strength is exhausted. During meals it is placed behind the ear. When tobacco is scarce, the same quid receives several additions of lime, pot black, and vine juice, so that it may be used for a whole day. The women are more accustomed than the men to the use of this bal-ut, for the reason that the former do not smoke, and also because they usually have hidden away a less limited supply of tobacco than the men. The second method of using tobacco is known as the la-gút. This consists of chewing a little pinch of tobacco in combination with betel nut. Tobacco is seldom chewed alone.




The betel-nut quid is to the Manóbo more than the cigarette, cigar, or pipe is to his more civilized fellow man. With him the use of it is a universal, eternal habit. By day and by night, in the house and on the trail, in health and in sickness, he turns for stimulation to the quid of betel nut, betel leaf, and lime. A visitor comes to his house and the first act of hospitality is the offering of the betel-nut quid. He meets an acquaintance upon the trail, and he sits down and offers the soothing chew. He is anxious that his omen be good and he lays a tribute of betel nut upon the trail for the forest deity, and goes on, confident that his desires will be fulfilled. And when he calls upon his gods, the first and most essential offering must be the quid of betel nut, for the fragrance of the nut and the redolence of the blossom are said to be the chief delicacy of the spirits.

The betel nut12 is obtained from the palms found in the forest. These palms were planted either by the Manóbos themselves or by their ancestors. The nuts are found in scarcely sufficient quantity to supply the demand. When they can not be obtained, other plants 13 are used, but they are an inferior substitute. In taste the betel nut is exceedingly astringent and can not be used except in combination with the betel leaf and lime. As a rule the green and tender nut is preferred by the mountain Manóbos, but the ripe nut seems to be the choice of those who have come in contact with Christianized Manóbos or with Bisáyas.

12Areca betel.

13Kan-ín-yag, cinnamon, is one of the substitutes. Also called kanéla.

The betel leaf14 is from a species of pepper, of which there are innumerable species both domestic and wild. A domestic variety is preferred but, since the supply is not always equal to the demand, as in the case of the betel nut, the wild species afford a tolerable substitute. The tender leaves are preferred as being less pungent. For the same reason domestic species are used in preference to the wild ones, these latter possessing a highly acrid taste.

14Betel sp.

The lime is made from the shells of shellfish found in the rivers, streams, and lakes. The shells are burnt in a very hot fire, usually of bamboo strips, the fire being fanned continually. The shells are then slaked with a sprinkling of water and the lime is ready for use.

To prepare the quid, the betel nut, frequently stripped of its fibrous rind, is cut into small slices. One slice is laid upon a piece of betel leaf, and a little lime is shaken upon it from the lime tube. The leaf is then wrapped around the nut and the lime, and the pellet is ready for use. The amount of lime must be such that the saliva will turn red, and depends upon the size of the betel nut and the betel leaf. An excess of lime burns the integuments of the mouth and tongue, but this is avoided by increasing immediately the amount of leaf. A little pinch of tobacco, the stronger the better, completes the ordinary quid.

There are sometimes added to this masticatory certain other aromatic ingredients, such as cinnamon, lemon rind, and other things.

The first and immediate effect of chewing this combination is to promote salivation. Following this is the reddening of the saliva by the chemical action of the lime upon the betel nut and the leaf. However, the most important effect produced by the quid is the soothing sensation that follows its use. In this respect it far exceeds tobacco chewing, both in the Manóbos' opinion and in my own. The sensations which I experienced on my first trials were a feeling of inflation of the head and a transient sensation of weakness, accompanied by a cold sweat upon the forehead. This was followed by a feeling of exhilaration and quickened vitality. It may be said in general that betel-nut chewing acts as an efficacious restorative, especially during a journey, and as a harmless narcotic which it would be hard to replace. The addition of tobacco intensifies this narcotic effect considerably, other additions such as cinnamon serving only to soften the astringency and the piquancy of the leaf and to impart an aroma to the quid.


The Manóbo man carries on his back, in a little bag 15 of abaká or other cloth, all the requisites for betel-nut chewing. The woman deposits them in an open basket unless she is on a journey, in which case she carries them in a little closed basket.


The betel nut and the betel leaf are put into the bottom of the sack for the purpose of concealment, for there is a continual clamor for one or the other, and should it be known that a certain individual has a supply, the Manóbos' social regulations would oblige him to part with it upon request. Hence he keeps it out of view, and is always ready to excuse himself, when asked for one or the other, on the ground that he has no more.

He keeps a few nuts and leaves for immediate use in a Moro brass box,16 if he is so fortunate as to possess one. Otherwise he puts them in a cylindrical receptacle 17 usually made out of a small bamboo internode, or in a little round receptacle 18 of plaited rattan coated with the pulp of the seed of a tree.19 His tobacco for immediate use he keeps in another similar receptacle, the main supply being hidden away in the bottom of the knapsack.

19Ta-bon-tábon (Parinarium mindanaense Perkins).

The lime is invariably kept in a small internode 20 of bamboo. This is open at one end and has a spherical plug of plaited rattan inserted into the mouth for the purpose of preventing an excess of lime from issuing. This spherical network resembles in miniature the football seen so commonly throughout the Philippines. When it is desired to add lime to the quid, the tube is taken in one hand and held in a downward position with the thumb and little finger underneath it and the other fingers above it. The first finger is then made to slide with force from the middle finger down to the tube, thereby tapping out the lime. This tapping motion is similar to that performed when winnowing rice.


The men use their bolos to cut up the betel nut, but the women have a small knife 21 which also answers the purpose of a general utility implement corresponding to our scissors.

21Ba-di' or kam-pit.

When the chewer's teeth have deteriorated from age, the quid is mashed in a small mortar made of hardwood, a piece of steel serving as a pestle. In this way the betel nut and leaf are rendered sufficiently soft for mastication.

In conclusion, it may be said that though the habit seems a dirty one, owing to the discoloration of the mouth and lips of the chewer and to the ruby expectorations that tinge his surroundings, yet on the whole it is a necessary and beneficial practice. From my observation and experience, I believe that the habit eliminates toothache and other disorders of the teeth. Christianized Manóbos and Bisáyas who have relinquished the habit suffer from dental troubles, whereas the inveterate chewer of the mountains is free from them. The Manóbo can not endure the long and frequent hikes, nor carry the heavy loads that he does, without this mild but efficacious restorative.





Agriculture is in a very primitive condition. It is true that most of the Christianized Manóbos living in the river settlements have a few hundred abaká plants each, yet the care of them is left practically to nature, their productivity depending upon the soil. But the true mountaineer plants nothing except the bare necessities of life--rice and camotes, some taro,1 a little sugarcane in season, a little patch of maize, and sometimes ginger and other spices.

1In districts close to the Mandáya country the use of taro is more common, but even in the upper Agúsan it is not a permanent crop. The Mandáyas subsist to a great extent on it whenever the soil is adapted to its growth. Taro is the Colocasia antiquorum.

His system of agriculture is in perfect adaptation to his social and political institutions. Living as he does in a state of eternal vigilance, and knowing that the first death in the house or an unlucky combination of omens or the menaces of his enemies may drive him from his home and from his farm, he is content with a small clearing. He builds no embankments, no irrigation ditches, no terraces. He has no plows, nor draft animals. He selects a patch of the virgin forest every year, and with the bolo and rude axe, clears and cultivates the land. For a permanent crop he keeps his camote patch, on which he may plant a few bananas and also invariably a sprinkling of sugarcane. Scattered around this small farm may be found some native tomatoes, more often planted by the birds than by the hand of man, a few ginger and other plants that serve to season the food. A betel-nut palm is planted occasionally, and some betel leaf, but with these exceptions no trees, not even those whose fruit is dearly relished, are planted.


The time for planting is at hand when the voice of the bird kuaháu first breaks from the forest and the leaves of lanípau tree begin to fall.2 Then the farmer hies to the woods to select the site for the rice field, calling upon the omen bird to direct him in his choice. Of course he is governed in his selection by reasons of proximity to water, safety from floods, distance from the settlement, etc., but the omen bird's cry must be favorable. Having decided on the location he makes an offering of betel nut to the tagbánua and to such other spirits as may dwell in the neighborhood. This act of homage is performed in order to make friends with these forest lords so that they may not be displeased on account of the usurpation of a part of their domain. Then he selects a spot for the house and clears it, if he has time, but if not, he cuts down a few small trees as a public notice of his proprietorship. Special attention is here called to the fact that the spot selected must be one of virgin forest. The Manóbo never plants his rice in the same place during two successive years, because it would not yield a plentiful harvest.

2Certain trees, such as the ná-to' and the ba-ró-bo', begin to fruit at this season, and are also signs of the approach of the rice-planting season.

The following day, or when all is ready, he and his household begin the work by erecting a small shack sufficiently large to accommodate them. In the middle of the farm3 is erected a small platform for the seed and, near the house, the usual offering house4 and other sacrificial perquisites. Then he is ready to perform the rice-planting sacrifice.




5The täp-hag sacrifice.

Täphágan is a female diuata under whose special superintendence are placed the rice crop and all that pertains to it. She is thought to guard the crop against man and beast, even revealing, it is said, to her chosen ones the names of all trespassers. In return for this she must be frequently feasted from the beginning of the rice season up to the harvest, for at that time her duties cease, and she yields the field to Hakiádan.

The officiant in the rice-planting ceremonies is either one or more family priests. The victim is either a pig or a fowl, sacrificed in a special manner. The invocations consist of the same interminable supplications, promises, and repetitions that are characteristic of all Manóbo prayers. One variation is observed during this ceremony. The fowl, on being killed, is thrown on the ground and left to flutter around, thereby, it is thought, removing from the soil with its blood such evils as might harm the rice or lessen its production. If a pig, however, has been killed the blood lustration is performed in the ordinary way by smearing a near-by log, the priest bidding the evil6 of the earth begone. I have often been told that a special ceremony is necessary at the time of rice planting. This ceremony is called hú-gad to sá-ya or hú-gad to sä which means "to cleanse the sin." I am inclined to think that this rite is a purificatory one, as the name of it indicates. I suppose that it is a secret expiation of such transgressions as might be punished by a failure of the future crop.


As in all undertakings of import, the entrails of the victim are carefully observed. Other forms of divination, especially the egg omen, are employed to determine whether the supernal powers approve the site or not.

Among the offerings to Täphágan is a handful of unhulled rice taken from the last harvesting and now set out in the religious shed. It is customary during this feast to give a little rice to such animals and insects as are liable to harm the crop later on. Among these may be mentioned rats, ricebirds, crows, parrakeets[sic],7 and ants. A little rice is set out on a log for them and they are bidden welcome, and requested not to commit any future depredations. Nor are the omen birds, prophets of plentiful crops, and the kuaháu, harbinger and companion of the rice crop, forgotten.


During the growth of the rice the above practices are observed from time to time. No special rule is observed, but it may be said, in general, that the occurrence of ill omens, or the suspicion of danger, urge the owner of the crop to feast Täphágan and thereby obtain immunity from evil. The priest is the best judge as to the necessity of such things.


The omens being favorable, the farmer, assisted by his relatives and friends, begins the clearing without delay. It is essential that at least a little work be done in order to clinch the bargain with the powers above, for should a delay occur the omens might go awry and necessitate a repetition of the ceremonies and even an abandonment of the farm. I heard of several cases where prospective farms were abandoned under these circumstances.

The clearing, like all other agricultural operations, is done on the mutual-help system,8 that is, the farmer's relatives and friends unite to help him clear the land, which favor he and his family is expected to return in kind.


The average clearing does not comprise more than a few acres, and is completed ordinarily in from two to five days. The first step 9 in the clearing process consists in cutting down the underbrush and small trees. In this the men are assisted by the women and children who gather these into heaps for burning. This may take only a few days, if no inauspicious omens occur, but, according to my observation, it is seldom that some omen or other does not interfere with the work. Thus a dead animal, such as a wild boar, or snake, found on the farm makes blood lustrations necessary. The rumbling of thunder means a temporary discontinuance of the work, and often a purificatory ceremony, of which I can give no details, becomes necessary and delays the work.

9Called gás or gái-as.

The next operation consists in the felling of trees.10 For this purpose, scaffolds, usually of bamboo, are erected around the tree at a height several feet above the buttresses of the tree or at such a point as is considered expedient. Trees are cut down high above the base because the wood at the bottom of the tree is usually exceedingly tough. Standing on his perch at a distance of about 8 feet from the ground, the feller plies his native axe11 until the tree yields and crashes down in its fall such of its fellows as may stand in its way. It may be observed here that the Manóbo as a rule is an expert at tree felling and takes great pleasure in it. Practically all the felling and clearing of Bisáya land in the Agúsan Valley is done by Manóbos of Christian or of pagan persuasion and at a merely nominal cost.



After the trees have been cut down, all branches and parts of the tree that would be too much of an obstruction in the farm are cut12 and mounted into heaps for future burning.13 This burning, of course, can not take place till after the hot weather,14 which comes at this period and lasts about a month. Unless the clearing was exceptionally free from heavy timber, the ground remains encumbered with the larger trunks and branches, even after the burning, but this is no impediment, for the rice and camotes can be planted between the stumps.





It is essential that the sowing take place between the time of the burning and the next full moon. But the exact date varies according to the locality. Thus, in Umaíam district, the time for sowing is said to be the ninth day after the first waning moon that follows that spell of hot weather, known as guyábang, whereas in the upper Agúsan 12 nights are counted from the first new moon after the guyábang and the sowing takes place the following day. It is thought that this procedure will insure a plentiful crop.

The method of sowing is simple. The owner of the farm takes a handful of rice from the woven-grass15 bag in the center of the clearing and scatters it broadcast. Then the members of the family complete the sowing. There seems to be a knack in so scattering the seed that it may not cover the ground too closely. Once cast upon the surface, the seed is covered16 immediately so as to get it under the ground and away from the ravages of vermin. This is done by breaking the ground slightly with bolos.


16The process of covering the seed is called hi-la-bón.

As a protection against weeds, camotes, sugarcane, and even maize are planted in places where the rice is not so close, and especially where the weeds have sprung up. These latter must be removed from time to time until the crop is sufficiently tall to shade the ground. This and all subsequent work connected with the farm, except the making of wild-boar traps and the caring for them, falls upon the women and children.

The growth of the rice is carefully observed, and the owner of the farm must be ever ready to counteract evil indications and to feast Täphágan upon their appearance. Thus finding a dead animal, such as a large bird, lizard, or monkey, is considered of ill import and lustration of blood must be resorted to. Again the appearance of certain birds in the vicinity of the farm is looked upon as of evil omen, and it becomes necessary to drive away the impending evil by proper ceremonial means.

Drought, though an uncommon occurrence, is especially feared. I once witnessed a peculiar method of rain making. It was performed under the auspices of Täphágan and in the following manner: The rain makers17 each secured a frond of some palm tree and went to the bank of the stream near by. Here they beat their fronds upon the surface of the water until the leaves were torn. Then each one stuck his frond upon the bank in a vertical position and went his way, certain that rain would follow.


There are, on the other hand, divers good omens and indications of a plenteous harvest. The swarming of bees on the farm is one of these. So is the continuous cry of kuaháu. There are many other omens both good and evil that render the growing season one of constant question and answer between nature and primitive man. As the time for the harvest approaches, means must be taken to protect the crop against its enemies. Traps and light fences are the principal defense against wild boar. Scarecrows, consisting of pieces of palm frond, tin cans, and other things, are suspended from long rattan cords that diverge in all directions from the watch house 18 in the center of the field. The waving of these rattan strips, when manipulated by the young person on watch, accompanied by loud yells, serve to frighten away the ricebirds,19 parrakeets[sic], and monkeys. A little offering of rice is frequently made by way of gaining the good will and speedy departure of the latter.



A final feast, similar to that described in the preceding pages, is given to Täphágan by way of thanksgiving, when the crop is nearly ripe for the harvest, and she then passes out of the Manóbo's memory for another year.


The harvest time is the merriest of all the year. It ends, in most cases, the long period of abstinence from rice, and many times terminates a period of actual hunger. It is the season for the celebration of marriages, with their attendant festivals; for hunting and for fishing, especially with poison. And yet it is fraught with religious fear and safeguarded by severe taboos and other restrictions that make it to some extent a season of mystery. In many places it is a time of vigilance against the attacks of the enemy.

The first thing that must be done when the rice is ripe enough to harvest is to close all trails leading to the house and farm. No one may now, under penalty of a fine, enter the precincts, nor may any one but an inmate of the household be present, for otherwise the crop might never come to maturity.20 Should any one trespass upon the farm, it is imperative that work be discontinued until the following day. This gives a good opportunity to collect the fine imposed on the trespasser. I did not care to violate this taboo, and for this reason can offer only second-hand information as to what takes place from the time of the closing of the trails till the harvest feast.

20Makadúya is the term used to express the evil that might befall the crop.

The owner makes solemn invocation to the omen bird and, if the omens are satisfactory, proceeds to cut some of the ripe heads of rice in the center of the farm. These are then put into a grass bag prepared especially for this purpose. This bag is said to have bezoar stones21 placed in it in order that the rice may not only not diminish but may even increase in quantity. For the six following days the women and children reap a little every day and deposit the rice in the above receptacle.

21Mút-ja or mút-da.

The rice thus harvested is carefully preserved as seed for the following year, though a little of it may be employed for ceremonial purposes during the sowing and harvesting celebrations. The new rice must on no account be eaten before the harvest feast is ready, and it must not be given away, for that would certainly result in a mysterious decrease.22 In fine, it has such a sacred character that it must be pounded at night and never in the presence of anyone who is not a member of the household, for should anyone visit the house at this time the rice would be found to have much chaff23 in it.

22Ka-gu-yú-dun, i. e., literally, that it would be pulled away.



The harvest feast must take place before the real work of harvesting begins. It usually occurs on the seventh day after the closing of the trails, if everything is in readiness. The importance of this feast is such that he who can not kill a pig for the occasion has no title to aristocracy in the tribe. All being ready, the trails are opened and the drum and gong boom out to announce to relatives and friends that they are welcome to the feast of Hakiádan, the goddess of grain.

The ceremony differs but little from that to Täphágan, as described on previous pages. The invocation to Hakiádan is most elaborate, lasting for several hours in the few instances which I witnessed. It is taken up by one priest after another and every inducement is offered to Hakiádan to prevent the rice from being stolen, or destroyed by their enemies, carried away by floods, wet by rain, raided by rats and ants, or stolen by Dágau, that fickle mischievous spirit whose pleasure seems to be to bring hunger 24 to humankind. The dead, whose final feast25 has not yet been celebrated, are given a betel-nut offering and requested most devoutly not to tamper with the rice. Even the greedy parrakeets[sic], the gregarious ricebirds, and other enemies of the rice have portions of the first fruits set out for them in little leaf packages. Hakiádan is asked to instruct these creatures to behave themselves during this delicate season.



The pig is killed in the ordinary way, and the feast ends with the usual revels. When the farmer is unable to procure a pig, a chicken is substituted, specious excuses being made for the failure to provide a larger victim.

After the celebration the women and children of the household, assisted by such of their friends and relatives, women and children, as have agreed to harvest the rice, begin the work in real earnest. Each one starts out with her basket hanging upon her back, supported by the string which passes over her head. In her hand she carries the harvesting knife, which is a clamshell set at right angles in a palm's length of rattan, or in lieu of the shell a similarly shaped piece of tin. With this she snips off a ripe ear with a few inches of the stalk and throws it into her basket, which now hangs from her shoulder. When her basket is full she returns to the place where a larger basket26 has been set and deposits her load in it. Thus the process goes on for the few days (three to five) necessary to harvest the crop.


The men in the meantime make the granary 27 somewhere in the clearing, usually in the center. It is ordinarily a crude structure consisting of four small posts, upon which rests a roof of rattan leaf thatch. Intermediate between the roof and the ground is a floor either of bamboo slats or of bark, upon which are set the cylindrical bark or grass receptacles for the rice. Sometimes wooden disks or inverted cones of bamboo slatwork are attached to the posts of the rice granary to prevent the entrance of rats and mice.


The rice in the larger baskets is brought to the granary and in the course of a few days is put on coarse mats of grass and threshed with hands and feet. It is then spread out thinly on these same mats and dried in the sun for one day. After it is dried it is cleaned of chaff by being tossed into the air from the winnowing tray. It is then ready for permanent deposit in the granary, to be disposed of later either by sale or by home consumption.

A field 1 hectare in area will yield, at a low estimate, 25 sacks, but where the soil is particularly well adapted for rice culture, as it is on the upper parts of nearly every river in the Agúsan Valley, 50 sacks are not considered an extraordinary yield.


The rice straw that stands upon the field is burnt down, and sweet potatoes, some maize, a score or more of sugarcane plants, a patch of taro, and sometimes a few banana plants are put in at intervals after the harvest entertainments. The time selected for the planting of sugarcane and bananas is around noon. It is thought that, if planted then, they will grow taller and bigger than if planted at any other hour. Taro and corn, on the contrary, must be planted during the morning hours, probably for some reason analogous to the above. If the rumbling of thunder is heard during the planting of these crops, it is an intimation that the planting should be discontinued till the following day, or, in case of urgency, till proper omens be taken to ascertain the attitude of the powers above.

Fruit trees of divers kinds are found scattered throughout the broad expanse of forest that covers eastern Mindanáo, but they are not of man's sowing nor does the Manóbo ever lay claim to them. He takes the fruit, frequently branch and all, eats it, throws the seed away and goes his way rejoicing.


The Manóbos are excellent hunters, keen, clever, determined, and enduring, but by no means incessant. In fact, it is only under the stress of hunger or when a few of them rally together that they start off with hunting spears and dogs. Occasionally one meets a professional who takes pride in the business, as may be observed by the trophies of wild-boar tusks and jaws hung in his house.


The dogs used are of the usual type seen throughout the Philippines, except that only the better and pluckier or luckier ones are chosen for hunting. These are recognized by the size and relative position of the nipples on the breast. It is said that from these and other marks the fate of the dog can be foreseen. I was frequently instructed in these signs, but found it impossible to master them for the simple reason that no two experts seemed to agree. Thus in one case, where I consulted those versed in this matter, they respectively informed me that a certain dog would be mangled 28 by a wild boar, swallowed by an alligator,29 and devoured by a cobra, and advised me not to purchase it. Good hunting dogs are often valued as highly as a human life (30 pesos) and sometimes more so. I have seen dogs that seldom returned without having run down a deer or wild boar.


29Si-bad-ón-on to bu-a-ja (budáa).

The ordinary Manóbo house has at least a few dogs, and these are allowed the liberty of the house. They share the family mats, and sometimes have a special ladder provided for their ascent and descent. Their food at the best is somewhat scanty. They have names such as "Diguim,"30 "Sápas,"31 and are addressed by their masters with the greatest familiarity. A dog, however, that howls in its sleep, is thought to forebode the death of its master or of some inmate of the house. It must be sold, else the owner or one of his family might die. Dogs are supposed to be messengers of the blood spirits 32 and to be under the protection of the god of hunting,33 for whom the following ceremony must be made by the hunter if he desires continued success in the chase and the safety of his dogs from the perils thereof.






A triangular tray of bayug or of ilang-ilang wood decorated with palm fronds is made and suspended from the rafters of the house. The owner of the dogs then calls upon Sugúdun, offers him a quid of betel nut, and promises to kill a fowl if only he will be so kind as to assist in getting a wild boar or a deer the following day. The fowl must be a male and of a red color. This invocation occupies the better part of an hour, and, when the hunter is satisfied that he has convinced Sugúdun of the necessity and expediency of being propitious, he slays the red fowl in his honor. The blood is caught in a sacred saucer 34 and placed upon the oblation tray35 for the special entertainment of the hunting deity. In one case I saw the blood anointment36 made on the principal dog in order to remove from him some evil influence that he was thought to possess. After the fowl is cooked, a piece of the meat, a little cooked rice, and a few eggs are put upon the sacrificial tray and left there.





On one of the ensuing days, provided he has observed no ill omen, the hunter starts off, usually with one or more companions, for the selected hunting grounds. As the forests of the Agúsan Valley teem with wild boar and deer, the hunters usually do not have to travel far before the dogs get on the scent. This they announce by their continuous yelping. The hunt then begins. The game strives to elude its pursuers by constantly doubling on its path, so that the hunters do not have such a long run as might be imagined. They never cease to encourage their dogs with a peculiar monotonous cry that resembles a long-drawn u sound. The dogs keep on the heels of their prey and worry and harass it with repeated snaps and bites till it finally comes to bay with its back to a tree. The hunters at once become aware of this by the change in the cry of the dogs, and, accordingly, hasten their steps. Upon arriving at the scene, they cautiously steal up behind the game and put it to death with their spears.

Accidents are uncommon during the hunt, but I have seen several in which both men and dogs were mangled by some fierce wild boar that on being wounded had proved a dangerous enemy.

Where several hunters have participated in the hunt, the game is divided in the forest according to the number of dogs engaged. If the hunters are relatives of the same household, as generally happens, the distribution is made after they reach home. The game is carried back by one of the party, and, if there are other relatives in the settlement, they, too, receive a share. Thus a wild boar or a deer is sufficient for just about one meal.


The following taboos in connection with hunting are of interest:

(1) The mention of such things as are displeasing to the local forest deities must be positively avoided, such as the mention of salt, of fish that are not found in the region, and of the name of the quarry.

(2) The meat must not be cooked with lard, garlic, or in any other way except in the orthodox Manóbo manner of broiling it, or cooking it in water.

(3) The meat must not be salted and dried.

(4) The game must not be skinned, but singed, for the former act would be one of rashness that would incur divine displeasure and result in lack of success on the part of the dogs during all ensuing hunts.

(5) The bones of the game must not be rapped on the floor to remove the marrow. They must be broken with a bolo.

(6) During the process of boiling the water in which the meat has been placed must be allowed to run over.

(7) The bones of the game must not be thrown into water. Such an act would, it is thought, bring sickness on the transgressor or on a member of his family.

(8) An unmarried man, who has had clandestine relations with a woman, may not partake of the meat before he has made an expiatory offering to the owner of the dogs. This offering need not be of any great value and is usually given in an informal way. The infringement of this taboo is said to be attended with the same baneful effects on the hunting dogs as that mentioned above.

(9) For the same reason a married man must make a compensatory offering of some little thing to his wife in case he has been unfaithful to her. However, the majority of those whom I questioned knew of no such counteracting practice.

A consideration of the above restrictions will explain the reluctance that the Manóbo feels in dividing his game with those who are not of his persuasion. He is afraid that the meat may be cooked in lard or that some other regulation may be broken, thereby bringing down upon himself the displeasure of the spirit owner of the game and upon his dogs ill luck or total lack of success in future hunts.

There are various traditional accounts of people who have been charmed 37 by deer and never heard of again. It seems that, at first, they were approached by a circling herd of deer, which they did not fear and allowed to come close. But among the deer was a transformed búsau or demon that advanced and devoured the solitary hunter. It is said that a dog will not follow a deer of this description.38


38Called ma-paí-yag.


The ordinary bow is used but the arrow frequently varies from the regular fighting arrow in being heavier, thicker, and not provided with feathering. An arrow with a forked point is occasionally used for small birds, while for hornbills sharp spikes of palma brava are used at times to perforate their tough skins. Dart arrows are favorite for monkeys. The blowpipe (sum-pí-tan)39 is not used. Little game is obtained by the bow and arrow, except when the hunter builds a shelter in a fruit tree and picks off, unseen, such birds as come to feast themselves.

39I found a long slender blowpipe all over Mandáyaland used for shooting birds, but it is not a very successful weapon, nor is it used in fighting.

"Birdlime," made out of the viscid sap of certain trees, is occasionally used to capture small birds.



As on all occasions, the invocation to the turtledove, the consultation of its cry, and the betel-nut offering to the forest deities of the locality are performed at the outset by the prospective trapper. The omission of the last ceremony might expose him to the danger of being speared by his own trap.

I observed in several districts the use of an ordinary toy magnet,40 as a charm 41 to insure success in trapping, but I suspect that belief in the efficacy of the magnet was inspired by some inventive trader who wanted to dispose of his magnets with more dispatch and at a bigger gain. The use, however, of magic herbs 42 is said to have been learned from the Mamánuas and is resorted to in the eastern parts of the middle and lower Agúsan. I was afforded no information either as to the names or the nature of the herbs used. They are carried around the neck carefully concealed.

40Bá-to báni.



The male priests and the warrior priests invoke their respective tutelaries before a trapping expedition and the manikiad43 calls upon the emissary44 of the war deities. The trapper sets a sign 45near his house upon his departure. This consists of a bunch of grass or twigs ti'ed to a stick, and is an intimation to passers-by of his absence and of the reason for it. He then sets out for his trapping grounds, but if on the route he meets anyone he must return to the house at least temporarily,46 for otherwise he would catch nothing in the traps.

43A title conferred upon a man who has one or two deaths to his credit. The number depends upon the locality.

44This class of spirits is called pan-aí-yang.


46Manóbos claim that the violation of this taboo would bring about a condition that is expressed by the word ma-ka-dú-ya; I can not state definitely what this condition is. I never have had a satisfactory explanation.

In his absence the following are a few of the taboos that must be observed:

(1) The trapper's wife must neither do work nor leave the house until his return, or, in case of protracted absence, until sunset.

(2) No one, not even a dog, may enter the trapper's home unless the visitor leaves, or unless there is left for him 011 his departure, an object of personal use, such as his bolo. This is intended as a deposit and will be returned. The dog must be tied till sunset or a similar deposit made for it.

(3) The mention of the words pig and deer must be sedulously avoided, and no one must refer to the purpose of the hunter unless it be in a periphrastic way.

I observed on several trapping expeditions in which I took part, that the trapper built a little offering house 47 near his shelter house, and at first was very regular in his offerings and prayers to the spirit lord of the forest. His religious fervor, however, decreased in direct proportion to the bountifulness with which heaven rewarded his prayers. When he found game becoming scarce, he decided that probably the local forest spirit was displeased, and tried his luck in other parts.

47Baí-yui-baí-yui, literally, a little house.



A common method of trapping among the Manóbos, more especially practiced during the rainy season, is by the use of the bamboo spear trap that is in very common use throughout the Philippine Islands. Without entering into details, it may be described as a trap in which a spring of bent wood, upon being released, drives a bamboo spear that has been attached to it into the side of a passing pig or deer. The whole apparatus is laid horizontally about 1 foot above the ground, and is carefully concealed. It is a simple contrivance, speedily and cheaply made, and in the rainy season very successful. Accidents to human beings from these traps are rare, due to the keen sight and forest instinct with which the Manóbo is endowed. As the pig or deer passes along the trail, it releases the spring and is speared in the side. It is seldom that a wild boar dies on the spot or in the vicinity. It usually has to be tracked for hours and sometimes is never found.


Bamboo caltrops are sharp bamboo slats49 between 2 and 3 feet long set in the ground, usually at an angle of about 45° in places where the wild boar have to make a descent. It is not a very successful contrivance, as these animals are endowed with such extraordinary sight and scent.


The pa-yu-pa-yu trap consists of a set of bamboo slats as described above, set on each side of a pig trail, and of a good-sized log held in a slanting position by a trigger. When released by the boar, the log falls down behind him, and, by the sudden noise, frightens him and causes him to jump into the bamboo spikes.

The pitfall50 is little used. It consists of a hole large enough for a wild boar or deer, carefully covered so as to deceive the animal. The bottom bristles with sharp bamboo stakes.


The monkey spring trap51 is on the style of the bamboo spear trap described above but is much smaller, being set on the branch of a tree without any attempt at concealment. The poor, simple-minded monkey, on catching sight of the bait, walks up innocently, seizes it, and is wounded by the spear. He does not travel far after that, for monkeys succumb quickly to a wound.


An ordinary noose trap 52 consists of a string with a piece of wood bent back and held in position by a trigger. When the trigger is released, the bent piece of wood draws up the noose tight on the bird's leg. It is used for catching wild pigeons, jungle fowl, and other birds.


The circle of nooses 53 is a series of rattan nooses placed around a decoy cock. This bird, by his lusty crowing, challenges his wild fellows to fight. When the fight begins the champion of the woods soon finds his feet enmeshed in the nooses, and within a short time his whole body safely lodged in the trapper's carrying basket.



The Manóbo fishes more than he hunts, yet he can by no manner of means be said to be an incessant fisherman. The following are the methods commonly employed for catching fish.


In shooting fish an arrow54 that has a detachable head is used. The fisherman conceals himself in a tree or on the bank of a stream or lake, and upon spying the fish lets fly a two-pronged arrow which has a steel or iron point.


This method is in universal use in the lake region of the Agúsan Valley and in rivers which are too deep for other methods, especially during floods, when the fish roam around over the inundated land. It is ordinarily not attended with great success, three or four fish being an average day's catch. The common catfish, called dalág in Manila, is the ordinary victim, other species being rare victims to the arrow.


The hook55 is a stout one and is made out of the iron handle of the ordinary kerosene can or out of a piece of brass wire of similar size. It is attached to a substantial abaká cord,56 45 meters long, more or less. A piece of lead or a stone for sinker and a suitable bait complete the outfit. The fish caught with this apparatus are the swordfish57 and the sawfish. The fisherman seats himself in his boat or on a sand bank, and with the line tied to his foot or to his arm awaits a bite. He immediately pulls in his victim, never giving him a chance to tire himself out as our fishermen do; Of course the fish is always pulled upstream.






Poisoning is a common and successful method of fishing, practiced more frequently on the upper reaches of a river. There are four methods, all of which I have witnessed frequently throughout Manóboland.

The túba59 method.--A quantity of túba varying from one-half to two sacksful is put into a dugout and brought to the spot selected. Everybody comes provided with a fish spear, fishing bow, bolo, boat or raft, and conical traps60 made for the occasion. The túba is then pounded as it lies in the boat, a little water being added. This process occupies the greater part of an hour, and is a very animated one, everybody being in high hopes of a grand feast. Where there are no boats, the túba is pounded in the rice mortars and brought in bamboo joints to the selected spot.

59Túba is the Croton Tiglium or croton-oil tree.


At a point possibly a mile or more down the stream from the place in which it is decided to cast the poison, the women and girls, aided by a few men, fix their conical traps across the stream so that no large fish may escape. When all is ready the túba is thrown into the river, and everyone dashes downstream with loud exclamations, some in boats, some on rafts, or; where the water is shallow, wading or jumping from rock to rock.

It is some 15 minutes before the poison begins to take effect and then the women and children at the traps may have a busy time removing the fish in order to keep their traps free for the entrance of more. During this time the men and boys scurry around jabbing, hitting, missing, and rushing from side to side with mad shouts of joy and exultation, sometimes two or three after some fine big dazed fish of extra size. Thus they may continue for a few hours if the river is a good sized one and the fish plentiful, for at the beginning a great number of fish probably dart up side creeks, thus escaping from the effects of the poison, and when all the fish in the main stream have fallen a prey, these lurkers must be sought out.

Túba has a deleterious effect on man, producing colic and diarrhea, if taken in fairly strong solution. Yet the fish that die from the effects of it are perfectly harmless in that respect. The famous ís-da of the Agúsan Valley is the only fish that does not succumb to the effects of this poison.

The túbli method.--The root of the túbli plant is used for poisoning. It is a quicker-acting poison and more universal than the preceding, in the sense that nothing, not even shellfish, escapes its baneful effects. As the plant has to be cultivated, it is obvious that it is not obtainable in large quantities, and for this reason is not used as a rule on the main streams, the quantity available not being sufficient to have an effect. It is used in the same manner as túba.

The lágtañg method.--The lágtañg is the seed of a tree that is not found in the middle and upper Agúsan Valley. I never witnessed the use of this poison on a large scale, due undoubtedly to the absence of it in the middle and upper Agúsan. The following was the procedure followed in using it as witnessed by me.

A few handfuls of the seeds are toasted in a frying pan and then pounded in a rice mortar. Then ordinary earthworms, or even the intestines of a bird, are cut into small bits and mixed with the poison. A deep quiet pool in a river or a likely place in a lake is selected and the mixture of worms and lágtañg dropped into the water at the edge of the pool. In less than five minutes the minnows and small fish rise to the surface, and begin to circle around giddily. These are followed by the larger ones but it is not an easy undertaking to catch them till they have exhausted themselves in their giddy circles or die in the tall runo grass that grows along the banks.

This poison affects only such fish as eat the worms. People who eat fish caught in this way seem to suffer no ill effects.

There are other vegetable poisons used in killing fish, but I remember only the name of the tree called tigaú.



The mass of lakes and channels in the central Agúsan dries up into mere pools once a year, or once in a few years, and affords an admirable opportunity for fishing on a large scale. Thousands of people from as far south as Lankiláan, and from as far north as Guadalupe, from Los Arcos on the east and from Walo on the west, troop to the lake region in their boats. They bring with them their entire families, a supply of salt, a little rice, if they have it, or the usual substitute (sago and bananas), their earthen pots and pans, and their bolos. Upon arriving at a suitable place, they erect a rude shack and start to work. Wading into the mud and water now half-boiling under a torrid sun, they slash at every fish that by his hurried dash makes known his presence. After the fish have been chased in this manner for some time, some of them bury themselves in the mud, whence they are easily removed with the hand. In this manner a few men may secure hundreds of fish in a few hours, but these are only of two species.62 Other varieties of fish do not remain in places that dry up to mere ponds. The haú-an are known to leave the torrid water by wriggling up on land and making their way to other water. The fish after being caught are taken to the temporary shack and placed in water63 until such time as the owners are ready for the cleaning and salting operations.

62The ís-da or haú-an and pu-yo'-pu-yo.

63It is believed that the flesh of fish will harden if they are left in water after being caught.

The heads, except such few as are used for the family meals, are discarded, but the roe and the intestines are carefully preserved as a delicacy. The body is so cut that it can be spread out into one thin piece and then salted, usually in a rather stingy way, about 3.5 liters of salt being used for as many as 90 fish. The fish are then set up on an elevated bamboo frame and left to dry for a whole day or more, according to the strength of the sun.

Though the fishing season is one of the merriest of the year, yet it is a time of work and of stench. It is no unusual thing for the whole family to work till the late hours of the night in order to prevent the fish from putrefying. The odor that prevails where thousands of fish heads--that have not been consumed by the crocodiles that infest the main channels--are rotting under a blazing sun is left to the reader's imagination. The season may last as much as one month and one family may have thousands of dried fish.64 Ordinarily the lack of salt makes it impossible for any of the Manóbos, except those of the better class, to remain long, unless they choose to work for the Bisáyas.



Fishing with nets is not practiced except by a few Manóbos on the seacoast or by the Christianized Manóbos who have learned the practice from Bisáyas, though I have seen cast nets used on the upper Tágo, upper Simúlao, and upper Agúsan.

The búbo is a cigar-shaped trap made of slats of rattan, from 0.5 to 1 meter in length. The swifter the current, the smaller the trap used. The large end has a cone with its apex pointing inward. It is made of bamboo slats which are left unfastened at the apex of the cone so that the fish may enter but not get out. This trap is set with its mouth facing either up or down stream.

Another form of this trap65 is cylindrical and not conical like the búbo. It is set in swamps with an evil-smelling bait and quickly becomes filled with a very savory mudfish.66



The hí-pon, u-yáp, and u-yáp tá-na are varieties of small fish that at fixed intervals make their way up the Agúsan to a distance of from 20 to 30 miles in innumerable quantities. It is said that they arrive at the expected date and hour. They are scooped into dugouts with scoop nets in immense quantities and salted for sale. This method of fishing is confined practically to Bisáyas, but a goodly number of Christianized Manóbos who live in the vicinity of Butuán take part in it.

A fairly common method of fishing among the Christianized Manóbos, as also among the pagan Manóbos who do not live in too warlike a country, is by the use of a spear and torch. Going along the banks of the stream, the fisherman lures the fish with the light and secures them with a jab of his three-pronged spear. In this way he may secure enough for a meal or two. Where the water is deep enough, this method of fishing is attended with great danger from crocodiles, especially in the lake region where they abound in numbers beyond conception.




There is no knowledge of a former use of stone implements in Manóboland. During my peregrinations throughout eastern Mindanáo I saw no stone implements except the ordinary whetstone, so universally used for sharpening steel weapons and knives, the cooking stones upon which the pots are placed, and the flint used in the production of fire. It is true that there is a common rumor as to the existence of stone missiles hurled in wrath by Anítan1 at irreverent mortals, but I have never seen these tokens of divine anger.

1One of the powerful spirits of the sky world.

Weapons and implements will be subdivided, the former into offensive and defensive weapons, and the latter into agricultural, hunting, and fishing implements.



As the use of the bow and arrow in the Philippines is generally considered by ethnologists to indicate Negrito influence, the subject requires more than passing notice, especially as the geographical distribution of this primitive weapon extends to not only every non-Christian tribe and group east of the central Cordillera of Mindanáo, except perhaps the Banuáons,2 but, according to various rumors, to the Manóbos occupying the central portion of Mindanáo in the subprovince of Bukídnon.

2I am very much inclined to think that it exists among them as well.

The bow is a piece of palma brava,3 or less frequently of bamboo4 varying in length between 1.2 and 2 meters and in thickness between 7 and 12 millimeters. In the center it is about 30 millimeters broad and gradually tapers to a breadth of about 12 millimeters at each end. Except on the upper Agúsan5 no means are taken to strengthen this stock by winding rattan around it, unless the bamboo or wood shows indications of splitting, in which case a girdle of plaited rattan obviates the danger. No attempt at ornamentation is made except the smoothing and polishing of the wood. In the case of bamboo stocks, the projecting pieces of the joints are not removed on the proximal side of the bow. At about 2 or 3 centimeters from the extremities, two notches are made to hold the string. At the extremity, which we will call the upper one, from its being held up during use, one often sees a few concentric incised circles in one of which is set a little ring of steel, iron, or brass wire. The object of this is to increase the twang of the bow upon the release of the arrow.


4Of the species called pa-túng.

5Mandáya and Mañgguáñgan bows are smaller and neater than Manóbo bows. They are made commonly of a piece of betel-nut palm and have graceful lashings of rattan strips on the stock for the purpose of imparting strength thereto.

The bowstring is nearly always a strip of rattan about 3 millimeters broad. This is attached to the lower end of the stock by a simple series of loops. To the upper extremity it is attached by a loop that slips along the stock into the upper notch when the bow is strung for shooting. It is needless to remark that the bowstring is about 2 or 3 centimeters shorter than the stock, which in the moment of stringing must be bent to enable the upper extremity of the string to reach the upper notch and thereby acquire a sufficient tension to propel the arrow.

Arrows are of several kinds according to the purpose for which they are used, such as hunting, fishing, and fighting. Those intended for hunting and fishing will be described in their proper places. The following description applies exclusively to the offensive arrow used in fighting.

The shaft of this arrow consists of a reed of bamboo6 about 8 millimeters in diameter and somewhat over a meter long, with a bamboo head. The head is a sliver of bamboo7 varying in length from 20 to 36 centimeters. On the upper Agúsan, where the Manóbos seem to have assimilated much from the Mandáyas, both the head and the shaft of the arrow are much shorter, much neater, and, in general, much handier. The arrowhead is broadest at about two-thirds of its distance from the point. From this broad part, or shoulder, as we might call it, the head tapers to a sharp point at one end and to such a size at the other that it can be inserted into the natural socket of the shaft. In this socket it is retained by a lashing of fine rattan, which serves at once to retain it in place and to prevent the frail bamboo shaft from splitting. A coating of tabon-tábon8 seed pulp over the lashing prevents it from loosening or slipping and at the same time preserves it from atmospheric action. Occasionally one sees arrowheads with square shoulders that act as barbs. I have never seen steel arrowheads in use among Manóbos, though it is certain that they are used by Mañgguáñgans between the Agúsan and the Sálug.9 It is not unlikely, moreover, that they are used by the people of the Ihawán and Baóbo Rivers.

6Of the species known as la-hí'.

7Da-mu-án species.

8Parinarium mindanaense (Rosaceae).

9I purchased for the Bureau of Science Museum a unique specimen which, besides having a steel head, is provided with an ugly spur. The owner claimed that it was one of the arrows that had been shot at him and the party that accompanied him by the people of a Mañgguáñgan settlement. I was one of his party.

A very important feature from an ethnological standpoint is the feathering of the arrow. The object of this is to steady the arrow in its flight and thereby prevent windage. The method of feathering is as follows: The quills of the wing feathers of a hornbill, or sometimes of a fish eagle, are parted down the middle. Then three, or sometimes only two, of these parted quills with their adhering vanes are placed longitudinally at equal distances along the arrow shaft so that their extremities are about 6 centimeters from the butt of the shaft and their webs stand straight out from the surface of the reed, forming equal obtuse angles to one another. These vanes are retained in this position by windings of very light, flexible rattan at their extremities. As a security against slipping or change of relative position, a coating of the above-mentioned fruit pulp, often mixed with pot black, is applied. The final preparation of the arrow consists in chopping off with a bolo or small knife the outer edges of the vanes. This is done in a slightly slanting direction within about 1 centimeter of the butt end of the vanes, at which point they are cut in a direction transverse to the length of the arrow shaft.

The feathering of the arrow is always done with precision, as the accuracy of its flight, the uniformity of its rotation, the length of its trajectory, and the consequent penetrative power are known to depend upon proper care in this respect.

Unlike other bowmen, the Manóbo makes a notch in the butt end of his arrow, but as far as my observations go, there are never any decorative incisions and tracings on Manóbo arrows.10

10Among the Mandáyas arrow shafts frequently have ornamental wavy lines and concentric circles incised along the length of the shaft, but this decoration has been observed among no other tribe that I know of in eastern Mindanáo.

There seem to be no special arrow makers. Nearly every adult Manóbo, who has not relinquished the use of the bow and arrow, with no other tool than his bolo and perhaps a small knife, can complete a bow and a bunch of arrows in a relatively short time.

In stringing the bow it is grasped by the center of the stock with the left hand and the top, where the loose loop of the bowstring is placed, is held with the right hand. The bottom of the bow rests upon the ground and is supported by the right foot. The right hand then, by a movement toward the person, bends the stock sufficiently to allow the loop of the bowstring to reach and slip into its notch, the left hand and foot retaining the bow in a bent position. The bowman then grasps the central part of the stock between the thumb and the four fingers of the left hand and seizing the feathered part of the arrow between the first and middle fingers of the right, he places the end of it at right angles to, and in contact with, the center, or thereabouts, of the string. The part of the arrow in front of the feathering rests upon the thumb and middle finger and under the index finger of the left hand. Raising up the bow and holding it inclined at an angle of about 20° from the vertical, the top being toward the right, the string, with the arrow butt always pressed against it, is drawn back sufficiently (about 30 centimeters) to give the requisite tension. The string is then allowed to fly back, while at the same time the bowman releases his hold upon the arrow butt, and thus the arrow speeds on its way. When ready to be released the end of the arrow points to the bowman's right shoulder.

The greatest range of a good arrow is about 75 meters. Its effective range, however, is only about one-third of that.

I can not laud the expertness of the Manóbo as a bowman. Here and there one meets a really good shot, but the average man can not score 50 per cent at close range.

No quivers worthy of the name are used. When a war raid is undertaken, the arrows are placed in a bamboo internode, which is carried in a horizontal position at the bowman's side. Arrows are never poisoned. The bamboo of which the spearhead is made seems to have a somewhat poisonous effect as a wound caused by it is very painful and hard to cure.


The next important offensive weapon used by the Manóbo is the bolo. It is his inseparable companion by day and, in regions where the influence of civil or military authority is not strongly felt, also by night.

As there are but two Manóbo blacksmiths that I know of, all bolos used are imported, either from the Mandáyas or from the Banuáons, though one sees from time to time a weapon that has made its way from the Bagóbos. The prevailing bolo is of Mandáya workmanship and merits a more detailed description.

It is a substantial steel blade varying in length from 30 to 45 centimeters. At its juncture with the handle it is about as broad as the handle but narrows gradually on top, and less so on the lower edge, to a breadth of 25 millimeters11 at a point one-sixth of the length of the blade from the handle. At this point the back of the bolo changes its direction, running off at an angle to its previous direction of 15°. The lower part or edge of the weapon gradually bellies out until the blade, at a point one-fourth of its entire length from the tip attains its maximum breadth (7 to 10 centimeters) whence it curves like the segment of a circle to the point of the weapon.

11Figures given are approximate only. They vary in different bolos.

The type of bolo that is considered more pretentious, and that is more common on the upper Agúsan, has a thin straight back12 up to within 6 or 7 centimeters from the handle, at which point the direction of the back is slightly changed. In other respects this bolo is similar to the one described above.

12Hence it is called li-kúd-li-kud.

At the narrowest part of the bolo and on the underside there is occasionally a serrated decoration in the steel, the significance of which I do not know.

The handle is occasionally of ebony, but more commonly of some other wood. The grasp for the hand is cylindrical. The handle is often bound with a braid of rattan, or a band or two of steel or of brass, to prevent splitting, or less commonly with silver bands for ornament's sake. Curving downward beyond the grasp is a carved ornamentation that suggests remotely the head of a bird with an upturned curving bill. This is one continuous piece with the grasp. It is rare to find brass ferrules and hand guards at the juncture of the blade with the handle.

The sheath, which is of Manóbo production, consists of two pieces of thin light wood a little broader than the bolo. It is almost rectangular in form for a distance equal to the length of the blade, and then the edges become gradually narrower up to a point that is about 3 centimeters from the end; at this point they expand into a small square with incurving sides.

The two pieces are held together closely by bands of rattan coiled around them at equal intervals. A coating of beeswax serves to preserve the wood and at the same time to impart a finished appearance to the sheath. Frequently pot black is mixed with the beeswax, and on the upper and central parts, and on the ends and edges, symmetrical bands of this black paint are applied according to the fancy of the wearer. Other decorations of beads, cotton tassels, and strips of a yellow parasitic plant, are not at all infrequent.

The girdle, which is nearly always of braided abaká fiber, frequently multicolored, and which holds the weapon to the left side of the wearer, passes through a hole on the outer side of the sheath. This hole is made through the central embossed part of the outer piece of the sheath.

A noteworthy feature of the sheath is that it is so made that by pushing the handle to the lower side of the aperture of the sheath, the weapon remains locked and can not fall out or be withdrawn until the handle is pushed back to the upper side of the aperture.


It is very interesting to observe the method pursued in determining the value of the bolo. A piece of rattan the length of the weapon is cut into small pieces, each one, excepting perhaps the last, exactly as long as the maximum width of the bolo. These pieces are then placed in the following positions and in the order indicated by the number. (See fig. 1.) It is obvious that, as a rule, there is one piece of rattan that is not as long as the others. This piece is always set down last, and its position is the determining factor of the test.


In Figure 1 a all the pieces of rattan happen to be equal, there being no short piece. Moreover, there are enough pieces to complete the figure. This combination is not inauspicious in so far as it does not augur evil, but it is thought to be a sure indication of a failure to kill.13

13This combination is called lí-mut.

In Figure 1 b all the pieces are of equal length, but there are not enough to complete the figure as in figure 1 a. This is a doubtful con-figuration. On the one hand the weapon may or may not kill, on the other it will prove efficient to the owner in matters not connected with fighting.

In Figure 1 c we have only four pieces of rattan, three of which are equal to the maximum width of the bolo and one of which is short. This is a good combination. It indicates that in a fight the enemy will suffer loss.14

14This formation is called sá-kab.

In Figure 1 d we have the best conformation possible. The fact that the short section falls, as it were, inside, indicates that a short fight and speedy death may be expected. The owner of a weapon that passes this test is reluctant to part with it unless very advantageous offers are made to him.

A form of divination in which a suspended bolo, especially a consecrated one, takes the part of the deus ex machina is described in the chapter on divination.


The lance, like the bolo, is imported. It is of two kinds: (1) The Mandáya lance, which is found everywhere except on the lower Agúsan and on the upper reaches of the Umaíam, Argáwan, and Kasilaían, and in the eastern Cordillera; (2) a lance, probably of Moro production, which is said to come from the Pulángi River, and which is used in the regions just mentioned where the Mandáya lance is not considered lucky or effective. In general, lances consist of a steel head and a long shaft, usually of palma brava, but rarely of some other species.15 The head is firmly attached to the shaft with a viscous substance.

15Wood of the tree ku-li-pá-pa is used occasionally.

The lance is the inseparable companion of the Manóbo in his travels through dangerous places, of which there are not a few in remote regions. When he arrives at a house he sticks the lance in the ground, head up, near the ladder. In traveling he carries it upon his right shoulder, head forward, in a horizontal position and is ever ready to throw it if he fears an ambush. I have frequently startled my Manóbo friends while they were engaged in some occupation, such as fishing, just to study their demeanor. The result was always the same--a quick turn and an attitude of offense, with lance poised and defiant eye.

The lance is held during the poise in the upturned right hand under the thumb and over the first and second fingers. The arm is extended in a slight curve just in front of the line of the shoulders. In making a thrust, the lance is darted parallel to the line of the shoulders and on a level with them, the left side of the person being presented to the adversary. The lance is not thrown, but is nearly always retained in the hand.

The Mandáya lance merits most attention, as it is more generally used, and is usually of better mechanical and ornamental workmanship. The shaft is a piece of either palma brava or of kulipápa palm, varying from 1.8 to 2.4 meters in length. It has a uniform diameter of about 16 millimeters for a distance equal to one-half of its length from, the head; the other half tapers very gradually to about one-half of its original thickness, ending in a fairly sharp point, which may be capped with a conical piece of tin or of steel to protect the wood against injury from stones.

The head is a long, slender, pointed blade. From the shoulders, which are from 4 to 7 centimeters apart, it may taper uniformly to a point; much more commonly, however, it tapers gradually to within about 25 millimeters of the extremity. Here its width is about 25 millimeters. At this point the edges converge at an angle of 45° to the axis, until they meet, forming the point of the lance. From the shoulders of the blade the edges likewise slant inward to the neck at an angle of 45°. The neck is a solid cylindrical piece, about 3 centimeters in length, nearly always ornamented with embossed work, and ends in a rod or in a conical socket about 7 centimeters long. It is very common to see ornamental chisel work along the axis near the neck. The general outline of the engraving is that of the spearhead in miniature, within which there are often little leaflike puncturings.

When the lance head has a socket it is attached to the shaft with a resinous substance similar to that used for bolos. When the lance head ends in a solid cylindrical piece and must be inserted in the hollow shaft, the end of the shaft is reinforced with a Moro brass ferrule, if the possessor of the lance has been so lucky as to have acquired one, or with coils of abaká fiber over which has been wound abaká cloth stuck with the above mentioned resin.

Lances of the better style have ornamental rings of beaten silver, sometimes amounting to as many as 15, placed at equal distances along the shaft for a distance of as much as 30 centimeters from the juncture of the head and the shaft.

A lance of another style is common among the highland Manóbos of the central Cordillera, and is not infrequently found among the Manóbos of Kantílan and Tágo. Though not so striking in dimensions and in general appearance, it is preferred by the Manóbo, because it is said to cause a more severe wound and because it is less liable to have the head detached when driven through the floor or wall of a house. Its head is much narrower at its broadest part than the one just described, is not so long, and nearly always tapers to a point. It is without any shoulders. It never has the conical steel socket that the Mandáya lance sometimes has, is always straight edged, and is set into the shaft in identically the same manner as the socketless Mandáya weapon. Another point of distinction is the decorative scallop that runs parallel to the edges of the head on each side. There is very seldom any decorative work within the periphery of these scallops.


A weapon, whose distribution among Manóbos is limited almost exclusively to Manóbos south of the 8° of latitude, is the Mandáya dagger, of Mandáya workmanship, and indicative of Mandáya influence.16

16It is the Mandáya tribal weapon that never leaves its wearer's side by night or by day, on the trail or in the house, whenever there is apprehension of danger.

Its component parts are a thin laminated piece of steel from 15 to 25 centimeters long with a thin, tapering rod somewhat shorter, projecting in the line of the axis, and a hilt of banáti through which the projection of the blade passes. It is carried in a sheath which is held at the wearer's right side by a girdle.

The blade is two-edged, widening from a sharp point to two shoulders from 3 to 4 centimeters apart, whence the edges incurve gradually and finally end in two projecting spurs 3 or 4 centimeters apart. The rod for the reception of the hilt extends from this point along the line of the axis for a distance of from 6 to 8 centimeters.

From time to time one finds a blade that is inlaid with tiny pieces of brass or silver, but there is never any other kind of ornamentation.

The handle is of a type that is unique, as far as I know, in the Philippine Islands. In using the dagger the body of the hilt is seized in the right hand, the index finger is inserted between one horn of the crescent and the central steel tang, and the thumb between the latter and the other point of the crescent, while the other three fingers hold the weapon within the palm. This method seems clumsy, but nevertheless it is the orthodox way of holding it. Fastened to the right side of the wearer in a more or less horizontal position and with the handle projecting forward, it is always at the owner's disposal for prompt and deadly action, especially so as only a mere thread or two of abaká fiber running from the handle to the under part of the sheath retains the weapon in its sheath.

The handle is usually strengthened at the neck with plaited rings of nito fiber and may have ornamental silver work, both at that point and on the horns, or even at times on the whole outer surface of it.

The sheath consists of two pieces of wood of an elongated rectangular shape, spreading out at the extremity. Strips of rattan wound at intervals hold the two pieces together and a paint of blended beeswax and pot black is ordinarily employed to give a finish to it. But occasionally one sees bands of beaten silver at the head of the sheath, and, less frequently, a profusion of beautiful, artistic silverwork set over the whole sheath.17

17The steelwork and silverwork are nearly always the production of Mandáya smiths living in and beyond the southeastern Cordillera, though on the Agúsan there are a few silversmiths.

Manóbos in general, with the exception of those who live on the upper Agúsan, take but little care of their weapons, except to sharpen them. In this respect they are very unlike the Mandáyas and the Debabáons, who are most conscientious and incessant in the care of their bolos, lances, and daggers. They keep these weapons burnished by rubbing them on a board that has been covered with the dust from a pulverized plate, or if they have rusted, by filing them with an imported file. A final touch is given to them by rubbing them with the leaves of what we might call the sandpaper plant.18 Once burnished they are protected from rust by applications of hog fat, a little piece of which is suspended from the roof whenever a pig is killed. Another point of difference between the Manóbos, not including those of the upper Agúsan, and the above-mentioned peoples is the infrequency with which the former make use of racks for their fighting weapons. The Mandáyas and the Debabáons very commonly have ornamental racks in which they keep their weapons.

18Ficus fiskei and Ficus fiskei adorata (moracae).



Two varieties of shield are in use, the Mandáya and the Manóbo. The diffusion of the former is limited to the district south of the 8° latitude, not including the Ihawán and Baóbo River district; the latter, to the rest of the Agúsan Valley with the exception of the portion where Banuáon influence is prevalent,19 such as the upper Agúsan and rivers to the north of it, which are the western tributaries of the Agúsan. In general, shields are made of kalántas20 wood, varying from 90 to 100 centimeters in length. In the center is a projecting knob resembling a low truncated cone about 4 centimeters high and varying in width at the base from 8 to 15 centimeters, and at the truncation from 7 to 8.5 centimeters. The inside of this knob is hollowed out in such a way that a longitudinal piece is left on the inside of it for holding the shield. The upper end has a transverse piece of the same material as the rest of the shield dovetailed into the main body, the object being to prevent the body of the shield, whose grain runs longitudinally, from splitting as a result of a blow.

19The Banuáon types of shield seen by the writer were circular in form, concave on the proximal side, and made of plaited rattan painted with tabon-tábon pulp.


As a further protection against splitting, two strips of palma brava or of bamboo in upper Agúsan types, and in other types three strips as wide as the shield itself are set horizontally on each side, facing each other, and are held in position by sewings of rattan slips passing through perforations in the wood.

The ornamentation of all shields consists of a coating of beeswax, and of thin scallops painted with beeswax and pot black, passing in a single series around the shield and near its edge, and in a double series longitudinally down the center.

The operculum,21 of a seashell, or very occasionally some bright object, may set off the knob. Not infrequently tufts of human hair secured in some war raid are stuck into holes at distances of about 3 centimeters on both sides of the shield, and are considered highly ornamental and indicative of the valor of the owner of the shield. One might be inclined to think that the employment of human hair is a relic of head-hunting, but I was unable to find a single tradition of its practice in eastern Mindanáo and I doubt if such ever existed.

21Called pas-lí-tan.

The typical Manóbo shield has a straight top about 35 centimeters broad. From the corners the sides gradually curve inward for a distance (measured upon the central longitudinal line of the shield) of about 25 centimeters, at which point they curve out to the original width at a distance of about 10 centimeters farther on, where the strengthening strips are fastened on both the inner and outer surfaces. Thence the sides curve in to form the second segment, in the center of which is situated the knob, and at the end of which are placed two more sustaining crosspieces. Beyond this section, the sides gently curve to the bottom of the shield, which is about 25 centimeters broad and practically straight.

The Mandáya type, as adopted from the Mandáyas by the Agusánon Manóbos22 differs from the Manóbo shield in being generally narrower--about 17 centimeters at the top and about 22 centimeters in the central section. From the top, where the transverse protective piece is placed the sides slope out gently to the first sustaining crosspiece placed at a distance from the end of about one-fourth of the entire length of the shield; thence they run parallel for a distance equal to one-half of the shield length, forming to the eye an elongated rectangle, in the center of which is the knob. The remaining quarter of the shield is hyperbolic in form with a small lozenge-shaped protrusion at the focus. The upper edge of the shield is not quite straight, an ornamental effect being produced by slight curves. In the center of the upper edge is a very small projection or sometimes a round incision, that might serve as an eyehole.

22Also by the Mañgguáñgans and by the Debabáon and Mansáka groups. The Manóbos and other peoples of the upper Agúsan call themselves Agusánon.

Another difference in this type of shield is the addition of ornamental toothlike tracings. These serrations are done with beeswax and pot black, and are ordinarily set in groups of four at right angles to and along the central and the lateral scallops.

The last distinction is the more noticeable longitudinal bend which the Mandáya type has as compared with the Manóbo style, the top and the bottom being inflected uniformly inward at an angle of about 15° to the vertical.

Among the Mandáyas it is interesting to note that a broad shield is looked down upon as indicative of cowardice, and that a narrow shield is considered evidence of valor in its owner.

In using the shield it is held in the left hand by the grasp that is located in the inner part of the hollow knob in the center. It is always held in an upright position, the transverse piece being on top, at the left side of the warrior, who never presents the front of his person to the enemy. To protect the feet and legs he must crouch down.

I was a constant witness of mimic encounters, and occasionally of what appeared to be the preliminaries to more serious affairs, and can bear witness to the skill displayed in the manipulation of the shield. The rapidity with which the warrior can move about, now advancing, now retreating, now thrusting, now parrying, and all the time concealing the whole of his person except a part of the head and one eye, is a marvel.


Another article used for defensive purposes is the abaká armor.23 Whenever the warrior has been able to procure a piece of Mandáya skirt fabric, he sews it into an ordinary coat with sleeves and, in lieu of imported buttons, uses little slivers of bamboo or wood to keep it closed. When, however, the Mandáya cloth is not to be had, his female relatives braid for him a number of multicolored cords of abaká fiber, 6 millimeters broad, which are sewn together in the form of an American or European coat and answer the purpose perhaps better than the Mandáya cloth.

23Lim botung.

This armor is intended to resist arrows, and is said to be efficient when the wearer is at long range. At short range, however, it helps only to lessen the penetration, as I had occasion to observe after an attack on the upper Agúsan, in which one of my warrior friends was wounded on the shoulder by an arrow. A band of Debabáons went to make a demonstration at the house of one of their enemies on the River Nábuk. The particular warrior chief referred to, desiring to initiate his young son into the art of warfare, carried him on his back to the scene of the demonstration. After surrounding the house, the attacking party broke out into the war cry and challenged their foes to a hand-to-hand combat. The surrounded party replied with a shower of arrows, one of which struck the chief on the shoulder. As he explained to me, he was so solicitous about guarding his child that he exposed his person and received the arrow in his shoulder. The point, he said penetrated to a depth of about 3 centimeters.

I once saw another form of protective clothing on the River Argáwan. It was a very long strip of cotton cloth which, it was said, was used for wrapping around and around the body before an attack. This article, as I later ascertained, was of Banuáon manufacture and use.24

24As a further protection in war there is used, it is said, a conical piece of wood on which the hair is bound up. I never saw this device in use and doubt if it is employed commonly by Manóbos. It was reported to me as also being of Banuáon origin and make.


The dwellings of Manóbos who live in actual fear of attack are always surrounded by traps and by bamboo caltrops of one or two varieties. These form an efficient and common means of defense.

The trap is of the type described in the chapter on hunting. When this trap is used as a means of defense, the spear is set at such a height that it will wound a human being between the shoulders and the thigh. The traps are set in varying numbers in the immediate vicinity of the house, though if an attack is considered imminent they are set on the trails leading to the house and some distance away. They may be so set that they will not strike the one who releases them but the first or second person following him. It is always prudent for a white man in a hostile country to so safeguard himself and his men that no one will be injured by these traps.

The bamboo caltrops referred to are slivers of sharpened bamboo, about 60 centimeters long, set in the ground at an angle of 45°, and at some point where the enemy has to descend to a lower level. A favorite spot is behind a log or at the descent to a stream. They are carefully concealed and, to a white man not aware of the use of such traps, a dangerous device.

Another form of caltrops very common indeed, and very treacherous in its character, consists of small spikes made of slivers of bamboo, about 18 centimeters long, or of pointed pieces of hardwood. These are set in goodly numbers in the trails that lead from the adjoining forest to the house. The peculiar danger of these is that they protrude only about 2 or 3 centimeters above the ground, the soil being loosened around them so that the pressure of the wayfarer's foot presses down the loose soil, thereby giving the treacherous spike an opportunity to pierce the foot to a considerable depth.


Implements of husbandry are few and far between. As there are no draft animals in Manóboland, no plows, harrows, or other implements which require animals are made use of.


For felling the larger trees a simple steel ax is used. It is set in a hole in a hardwood handle, usually of guava wood, and is retained in place by a couple of plaits of rattan. The edge of the ax is only 6 or 7 centimeters long and yet it is surprising what the average Manóbo man can accomplish with this insignificant-looking implement. Mounted upon his frail scaffold he attacks the mighty trees of his forest home and with unerring blow brings them down in a surprisingly short time.


For cutting off the branches, the bolo, which may be at the same time his weapon for attack or defense, is used. The work bolo is in no wise distinguished from the fighting weapon except that the former has a broad straight back. It is more usual to find a bolo of Bisáya manufacture in use by Manóbos of the lower Agúsan. These bolos come from Bohol or from Cebu and, being comparatively cheap and answering the purpose equally well, are readily purchased.


During the harvest time the rice heads are cut with a header made of a small piece of rattan or wood about 1.5 centimeters in diameter and between 4 and 6 centimeters long. In the center of this and at right angles to it is lashed a piece of tin or one of the valves of a common shellfish.25




The bow and arrow are used for fishing, wherever the Agúsan peoples, Christian and non-Christian, have access to the lakes and pools that abound in the central Agúsan.

The bow used in fishing and its accessories in nowise differs from the more serious article intended for warfare, except that, due to its more frequent use, it may be more dilapidated in appearance.

Fishing arrows, however, are different from those used in fighting. The shaft of the former is a piece of bamboo,26 varying in length from 1.2 to 1.5 meters and in maximum diameter from 7 to 12.5 millimeters.

26Of the variety called lá-hi or da-ga-sá'.

The head is a 2-pronged piece of iron or steel about 17 centimeters long, with barbs on the inner side of each prong, equidistant from the extremity and facing each other. These two prongs unite to form a solid neck that runs into the natural hole in the shaft, a ferrule of brass, or more frequently a winding of rattan coated with tabon-tábon seed pulp, serving to prevent the splitting of the frail bamboo tube. The head is attached to the shaft by a substantial string of abaká fiber, about 1.5 meters long, which is wound about the shaft, but which is unwound by the fish in its frantic efforts to escape, leaving him with the arrowhead in his body, and with the shaft breaking the water and indicating to the fisherman the whereabouts of his victim. On the far upper Agúsan the arrowhead is not of the 2-pronged type but is a thin, laminated steel point that expands gradually to form the two lateral barbs. It is of Mandáya manufacture and origin.


The fish spear,27 except on the far upper Agúsan, consists of a long bamboo shaft from 1.5 to 2.25 meters in length with a heavy 3-pronged barbed head set into a node at its larger end and with strengthening girdles of rattan strips serving to reinforce it. The iron head is of Bisáya or of Christian Manóbo workmanship. On the upper Agúsan the head is 2-pronged and the shaft is frequently somewhat longer than that of the spear used on the lower river. In other respects it is identical.



Large hooks are much more commonly used than small ones. Both are made out of either brass wire or of iron, the latter often from the handle of a kerosene can, and in general they resemble ordinary fishhooks such as are made in civilized countries. The method of using the hook has been described already under "Fishing."

For crocodiles a peculiar hook is used. It consists of a piece of palma brava, sharpened at one end, and provided with a spur projecting backward at an angle of about 30°. To this piece of wood is attached a stout rope of abaká fiber, which in its turn is tied to a piece of stout bamboo about 1.8 meters long. The bamboo is then set firmly in the ground, and the bait is allowed to hang within about 60 centimeters of the water. The hungry crocodile, lured by the odor, springs at the bait, and gets the hook between his jaws. It is seldom that by dint of frantic pulling and wriggling he does not free the bamboo and rush off to one of his favorite haunts, where, by the presence of the bamboo float above him, he is discovered and dispatched.



The chief weapon used in the chase is the spear. It consists of a stout, wooden shaft between 2.1 and 2.4 meters long, which is set into the hollow conical socket of a spearhead. The blade in general appearance resembles the more serious weapon of war, but it is only about 10 or 12 centimeters long and makes no pretense to beauty, being fashioned solely for utilitarian purposes. As a necessary accessory to the spear the inseparable bolo is carried.


In the chapter on hunting reference has been made already to the hunting bow and arrow. It is an ordinary bow, but the arrow differs in not being feathered and finished like the arrow intended for human game.

A very effective and easily made arrow consists of a piece of bamboo about 85 centimeters long and 3 to 4 millimeters in diameter, with a sharp tapering point. In lieu of feathering, four or five tufts near one extremity, set at a distance of about 2.5 centimeters from each other, are made by scraping the surface so as to form little tufts of shavings. This style of dart arrow is used principally for monkeys, but a supply is always on hand for warlike purposes, when the more finished and efficient arrows become exhausted.

Another difference in the hunting arrow is the 2-pronged bamboo head formed either by splitting a regular bamboo arrow or, more commonly, by lashing together two arrows. I saw on a few occasions palma brava spike heads used by the Manóbos of the far upper Agúsan. These latter forms are used exclusively for hornbills whose tough hide and abundant plumage require something stronger than the ordinary arrow.


The blowgun28 is used sporadically and perfunctorily on the far upper Agúsan, but I have never seen it anywhere else among Manóbos.29 It is used for shooting small birds, chickens, and mice. It is made of an internode of a variety of bamboo30 about 1.2 meters long and 12.5 millimeters in diameter, to which is joined another internode about 20 centimeters long and of slightly larger diameter. This forms the mouthpiece. I have never seen any 'decorative work on a blowpipe. The dart is a thin tapering piece of bamboo about 35 centimeters long and 1.5 millimeters in diameter at the butt. Enough cotton to fill the bore of the gun is fastened at the butt end of the dart. It is discharged by the breath. The point is never poisoned, nor is there any tradition as to the former use of poison on these darts.


29Its use by the Mandáyas of the Kati'il, Manorígau, and Karága Rivers is very common, but so far as I know it is neither a defensive nor an offensive weapon.


The blowgun, when in use, is held to the mouth with the right hand. The maximum range is about 20 meters. I have seen very small birds killed at a distance of about 8 meters.




It is to be expected that among a people whose women have been obtained practically by purchase the burden of work will fall on the woman. The Manóbo man, however, at times performs an amount of heavy, hard work that makes the division somewhat equitable.


House building, hunting, fishing, and trapping fall to the lot of the man. When the rice-planting season is at hand, he fells the trees and does the heavier work of clearing. An occasional war raid or an occasional visit to some distant settlement for trading purposes may impose upon him a few days of hard travel. Outside of these occupations his work is comparatively light. He attends to his weapons, makes such objects of wood or of bamboo as may be needed, and decorates them after his style. He splits the rattan and does nearly all the plait work in basket making. All the necessary implements for fishing, hunting, and trapping are made by him, with the exception of steel weapons. He strips the abaká for the family clothes and procures the dye plants. In certain districts he is the miner and in others he is the boat builder, and in all districts he conducts trading transactions.


The Manóbo woman certainly has her share of work. She does all the dyeing, weaving, and tailoring, besides attending to the various household duties of providing fuel, food, and water. These latter occupations impose upon her at least one trip daily to the camote field, and several to the watering place, which in the mountainous districts is ordinarily at a considerable distance down steep and rugged trails. She attends to the children and cares for the sick, and day after day dries, pounds, winnows and cooks the rice. When her helpmate has felled the trees for the new farm, she does the looping, lighter clearing, burning, sowing, weeding, tilling, and harvesting. In her spare moments she makes mats, rice bags, and earthen vessels, braids an occasional armlet, does the beadwork, and a thousand and one little things according to the exigency of the moment or the requirements of her spouse.


The various operations of fishing, hunting, trapping, house building, agriculture, and trading have been already described so that there remain to be considered only boat building, mining, and plait work.


The art of boat building is known only to Manóbos who have been in contact with Banuáons, so that one would be led to think that the art is of Banuáon origin. It is confined practically to the Kasilaían, Líbang, Maásam, Óhut, and Wá-wa Rivers, though one finds a boat builder here and there on the Híbung River and on the Simúlau River, but only an occasional one, if any, on the Argáwan, Umaíam, Ihawán, and upper Agúsan.

The boat is a dugout usually made of magasinó', kalántas, or some light durable wood. The tree is selected, hewed down with the simple ax, and by dint of hard chopping hollowed out and shaped. In this way are made nearly all the skiffs, canoes, and boats that ply up the network of rivers in the Agúsan Valley. It is not uncommon to see a banca, or large boat, 10 meters long by 1 meter beam.


Mining is confined to the Híbung River and its tributaries, to the Wá-wa River, and to the Taligamán district, a few hours' walk to the southeast of Butuán. It is a desultory occupation followed more at the request of Bisáya traders, or in fulfillment of a contract, than out of any desire for gold.

The time selected is usually after a flood. The gold is washed out with a circular, hollow, wooden pan.1 The operation has an established religious procedure which, must be followed if one wishes to be successful in the acquisition of the gold. The theory is as follows: The gold is the property of a gold spirit, whose place in the Manóbo pantheon I can not state. To enter upon his domains and to remove the ore which is his without feasting him and making him a present of a living victim for a future repast would provoke his wrath and result in failure to obtain the object of the search. Hence the leader of the miners upon arrival at the mining ground turns loose a white fowl and kills a white pig in honor of the gold spirit. He also presents to the spirit leaf packages of boiled native rice. The mining operations then begin, but the peculiar feature of the whole procedure is that the rice packages are purchased from the leader at the rate of 1 ku-len-tás-on2 for two packages. Noise and merriment are interdicted during the mining operations as being displeasing to the gold spirit, but if, upon infringement of this taboo, further oblations of rice are made to him he resumes his good humor and permits the gold to be found.


2Ku-len-tás-on are said to weigh one-half of the gold piece that was in circulation in the Philippine Islands, in pre-American days, and which was valued at 12.5 cents United States currency.

I found these beliefs to be held as far over as the upper Tágo River, on the eastern side of the Pacific Cordillera.


The plaiting and braiding of such objects as arm and leg ligatures out of nito or other vegetable fiber nearly always falls to the lot of the women. The plaiting of baskets out of rattan, as well as the making of fish traps and pack baskets, is generally a male occupation.

The process of basket making is fairly simple. A more or less cylindrical, solid piece of wood with flat bottom and top forms the mold upon which the strips of rattan are interlaced. A circular band of bamboo strengthens the upper rim, a coating of the pulp of the seed of the tabon-tábon fills up the crevices and makes the basket almost perfectly water-tight.

Pack baskets that are used for carrying game and for general utility on long voyages are of the open wickerwork description.

I know of only two Manóbo blacksmiths in the whole of Manóboland. They learned the trade from Bisáyas and produce bolos much like the Bisáya or Bohol type seen in the Agúsan Valley. Here and there one meets a Manóbo who understands how to beat out a fish spear or a fishhook, or to make a crude pipe, but, with these exceptions, the Manóbo knows nothing of steel or iron work.

As to the decoration, it is manifest from what has been said that he can do simple but creditable work. The ornaments on bamboo tubes, combs, baskets, and certain other things are evidences of his skill. So are the tattoo and embroidery designs described in a previous chapter.



Abaká fiber is stripped by men and delivered to the womenfolk. The women pound it for a long time in a wooden mortar to soften it, then patiently tie strand to strand, placing it carefully in small hollow baskets, where it is free from danger of entangling. Sand is often sprinkled on it as a further means of preventing tangling.

Cotton yarn is prepared from the native plant by means of a very primitive spindle, which consists of a small rod of wood at the end of which is a top-shaped piece of the same material which serves to sustain the necessary rotation. A tuft of cotton is attached to the end of this bar, and, as the top rotates the thread is twisted. When the thread is sufficiently long it is wound around the handle and the operation is. repeated. By this slow and tedious process a sufficient amount of yarn is spun for the requirements of the spinner.

The dyeing process consists in boiling the abaká yarn with finely chopped pieces of various woods.3 In order to produce a permanent dye, the process of boiling must be repeated more than once with new dyeing material. As the boiling apparatus consists nearly always of small earthen pots and the boiling is continually interrupted by culinary operations, it is obvious that the process is an inordinately slow and unsatisfactory one. I am of the opinion that to produce a fast red dye on sufficient yarn for about seven skirts, the boiling occupies the better part of two wrecks.

3Si-ká-lig root for red effects, pieces of kanai-yum tree for black and pieces of du-au for yellow effects.

Cotton yarn is never dyed. Whenever colors are desired, imported cotton must be obtained through Christian or Christianized intermediaries.

The weaving is performed on a simple, portable loom, consisting of two internodes of bamboo, one at the back part and one at the front part. The warp threads pass serially around these two pieces of bamboo and between the slits of a primitive comb situated within arm reach of the posterior bamboo internode. The comb consists of an oblong rectangle about 80 by 5 centimeters, having a series of little reeds set parallel at a distance of 1.5 millimeters from each other. Through these interstices pass the warp threads. Just beyond this comb and farther away from the weaver is a hardwood rood[sic], as wide as the weft, around which are single loops of abaká or other fiber. Through these loops pass alternately the warp threads in such a way that when the batten is inserted the upper and lower alternate warp threads are reversed, thereby holding the weft threads in the position to which they have been driven by the batten.

The weft thread is wound upon a bobbin made out of a slender piece of rattan which has two slits at each end, through which the weft thread passes. The bobbin is driven through by the hand from side to side and between the upper and the lower warp threads. The heavy, hardwood, flat, polished batten is then worked by the hand, driving the weft thread into juxtaposition with the part of the fabric finished already. The weaver then inserts the batten between the warp threads at the point where they alternately pass up and down through the previously mentioned loops on the distal side of the comb, and between it and the rod that holds the loops. By pulling the comb back to the finished part of the fabric, the warp threads are reversed and the last weft thread is securely held in place. Thus the process is repeated over and over again until the fabric is finished.

The setting up of a piece of skirt cloth would occupy some two whole days of uninterrupted work and the weaving some three days, but as multitudinous household duties call the woman away constantly, she spends the better part of at least two weeks on one piece, this period not including the preparation of the yarn by tying and dyeing.

In weaving the woman sits upon the floor and keeps the warp threads stretched by a rope that passes round her back from each extremity of the yarn beam. When not in use, the web and the finished fabric are folded up around the beam.

The products of the Manóbo loom are not as numerous and artistic as those of the Mandáyas. The cloth produced is of four kinds: (1) The ordinary skirt or mosquito-bar cloth made out of abaká fiber and having white and black longitudinal warp stripes, alternating with the stripes of the red background; (2) a closely woven but thin cloth of abaká having sometimes, as in the case of men's jackets, straight weft stripes of imported blue cotton; (3) a cloth of the same material, but so thin as to be diaphanous, and not adorned with any stripes; (4) a cloth for trousers made out of an abaká warp and a native cotton woof.

In the chapter on dress reference has been made to the elaborate and beautiful effects produced by the Mandáyas on abaká cloth. The Manóbo woman has no knowledge of the process by which such effects are obtained.

It is interesting to note that the two yarn beams are cut in such a manner as to emit a booming sound at each stroke of the batten. I have seen an additional internode attached to the end yarn beam in a vertical position, with a view to increasing the resonance. The object of these sounders is to call attention to the industry and assiduity of the weaver.


The whole pottery industry consists in the making of rude earthen pots out of clay. It is confined to places near which the proper clay is found. A piece of clay is kneaded and mixed with fine sand till it attains the proper consistency. A piece is then laid over a round stone and beaten gently till it becomes sufficiently dry and rigid to serve for a bottom to which clay is added strip by strip, at first thick but gradually thinned with the fingers, until the pot is completed. It is in the union of these strips that defects are liable to occur. Hence the best workers patiently sit for hours beating their pots with a little wooden mallet. The pots are then put into a hot fire and burnt several times till they become sufficiently brittle to resist the fire, but the manufacturers seem to lack a proper test, because the cracking of a new pot is an ordinary occurrence.

The pot is spherical in shape with a wide mouth and a neck which, by its incurving, makes it possible to hang it up by means of a piece of rattan when it is not in use. There may be a few indentations running around the neck for the purpose of decoration. It is customary to provide the pot with a crude cover, also made of sand and clay.


Tailoring is such a simple affair in Manóboland that it hardly deserves mention. Whenever an imported needle of European or American make is not to be had, a piece of brass wire is filed down and an eye made in it. With the simple utensil and with a thread of abaká fiber, the garment is sewn with a kind of a transverse cross-stitch. When imported cotton is on hand, nearly all seams are covered with either a continuous fringe of cotton in alternate colors or with neat wavy stitches, all of which serve both to conceal the seams and to embellish the garment.

In making a garment the piece of cloth is folded into a rectangle which forms the body of the garment. A piece large enough to make the sleeves remains. No piece is thrown away, there being no superfluous clippings. All cutting is done with a bolo.4

4In the chapter on dress reference has been made to the method of embroidery and to the various designs in common use.

Mats and bags are made out of pandanus. The same methods so commonly used throughout the Philippine Islands are employed by the Manóbos.





Manóbo marriages, in general, may be said to be unions of convenience sought with a view to extending the circle of relatives in such directions as may result in an increase of power, prestige, protection, and sundry other material advantages. An instance passed under my notice in 1909 in which the daughter of a Mañgguáñgan warrior chief was captured in marriage for the purpose of securing his aid against the captor's enemies. The captor was a Manóbo-Mañgguáñgan of the upper Agúsan.


In the selection of his future wife, the Manóbo consults his own tastes as far as he can, but he is influenced to a great extent by the opinion of his parents and near relatives, all of whom ordinarily look to the advantages to be derived from connection with powerful members of the tribe. Hence rank and birth are nearly always a determining factor, and where the wishes of the man's elders are in opposition to his own natural choice, he yields and is contented to take the helpmate chosen for him.


Sometimes the young man is bidden to take up his residence in the girl's house, observe her general character and especially her diligence, find out if she has been bespoken, gain the good will of her father and relatives, and report to his people.

No communication of any kind takes place between him and his prospective wife. When the subject is broached to the girl, she simply bids him see her relatives. I have known of cases among the upper Agúsan Manóbos where improper suggestions to the girl were at once reported by her to her parents, and the author of them was at once brought to order with a fine, the equivalent of P15 or P30. One white man is reported to have met his death at the hand of a Manóbo for a mistake of this kind many years ago. In deepest Manóboland, when the offense passes, however slightly, the boundaries of suggestion, it becomes the source of many a deadly feud. Happily, however, such cases are extremely rare.


Three, four, or five of the nearest male relatives of the man, after procuring a little beverage, repair early some evening to the house of the nearest relative of the girl. After they have partaken of the inevitable betel-nut quid, and have offered a drink of sugarcane brew or other beverage to the household, and have discussed a few topics of daily life--it may be about the last wild boar killed, or the capture of a polecat in the snares1--the prologue begins. This lasts from one to two days, including often the better part of the nights. Each of the visitors comes in his turn and rattles off, with many a significant haw and cough, in good Manóbo style a series of periphrastic platitudes and examples that apparently give no clue to the object of their visit. The owner of the house and father, let us say, of the girl quickly understands the situation and then assumes a most indifferent air. The visitor who has taken up the discourse continues, with never a care for the various household sounds, such as the chopping of wood, or the yelping of dogs; and not even the announcement of supper, and the partaking thereof, can stay his eloquence. The householder at times emits a sleepy grunt of approval, relapses apparently into a drowse, and after several hours, rolls into his mat and feigns sleep. At this juncture one of the visitors hastens down the notched pole and gets the silver-ferruled lance or silver-sheathed knife that has been left concealed near the house. The spokesman of the visitors then offers it to the father of the hoped-for bride on condition that he rise and listen, for they have come with an object in view--to beg for the hand of his daughter. It is then his turn to begin a painfully drawn-out discourse, to which the visitors assent periodically with many an humble and submissive "ho" and "ha," "bai da man" (yes, indeed), and so forth. He strains and racks his brains to think of every imaginable reason against the marriage, and finally, after he has exhausted every resource, he bids his visitors go home and come back on such a day, because he has to consult his relatives; but he can not get them to stir until he gives them a counterpresent, which he claims is of much more value than their present to him.


On the appointed day the young man's relatives again proceed to the same house, but in this case reinforced by all the relatives within reach, each one carrying his present.

Upon the arrival the same performance is repeated and the same tactics pursued as before, except that this time the visitors kill their fatted pig and set it out, inviting the householder and all his relatives to partake, but, lo and behold! no one will eat. No amount of persuasion will induce them--they have eaten already--they are all sick--they do not like to be invited to eat by their visitors, it being against all the rules of hospitality, etc. To all of these objections the visitors by turn answer, offsetting one reason by another and all the while trying to put the other people into good humor and soften their hearts. But no, the owner of the house and his party refuse, and all this while the fatted pig lies in big black chunks on the floor, surrounded by rice in platters, baskets, and leaves. At this point a few of the visitors again hasten down the notched pole, and gather up out of the grass or underbrush in the adjacent jungle the concealed presents. The arrival of the presents is a grand moment for the father and relatives of the young man. Even the future bride, who up to this time has coyly hidden away in a corner, can not help stealing a few peeps at the display of spears, bolos, daggers, plates, and jars.

Picking them up one by one the owner descants on their beauty, their value (naming an outrageous sum), and his relatives express their sorrow at parting with them. "But," he goes on to say, "it matters not, provided that you see our good will and will join us in this banquet." Whereupon he distributes among his guests according to the order of their standing the array of presents, after which all squat down and begin to eat, the visitors giving an extra dose of wassail to their friends in order that under its warming influence they may soften and yield.

During the course of the meal, the discussion is continued and every appeal made to motives of friendship and self-interest, but in vain--the other side shows no signs of yielding; they say that they can not yet make a fixed contract, that the girl is too young, or that she does not want the suitor; and so the hosts are bade to have patience and to go their way. But now that they have spent an amount varying from P30 to P50 they are not minded to lose it, but will persist in their suit for years. I have heard of marriage transactions that covered 10 years and have personal knowledge of numerous cases that have extended over 6.

The case of a Manóbo in Pilar, upper Agúsan, will illustrate the point. His father, during the interregnum of 1898, first made the proposal for the hand of the girl. It was refused until toward the end of 1904 the parents finally yielded, but on condition that 10 slaves be paid. A few months subsequently, after a course of hard haggling and cunning bargaining, the contract was modified to four slaves plus the equivalent of the value of six. Three slaves were delivered after a raid on a Mañgguáñgan settlement on the middle Sálug (about April, 1905). The 6 "thirties,"2 or P180, were paid in lances, knives, and other things before the demise of the father toward the latter part of 1905, so that one slave still remained to be delivered. On my last visit to Pilar (February, 1910) the poor fiancé was still doing chores around his mother-in-law's house, and the slave was still unpaid. If he can not procure that slave it will probably cost him, in other effects, several times the value of the slave.

2Kat-lo-án, meaning 30, is a monetary unit, representing the value of a good slave.

Proceedings of the kind described before are repeated at frequent intervals for a number of years, but with this exception, that on the ensuing visits presents of no great value are bestowed on the father of the expected bride--a bunch of bananas, a piece of venison, or a few chickens, or some such offering are made, with a reiteration of the petition. A capacious porker with a bounteous supply of sugar-cane brew in big bamboo internodes is brought along occasionally to break down the obdurateness of the householder's heart, until one fine day, under the benign influence of "the cup that cheers," he yields, but intimating that his petitioners can never afford the marriage payments.3 He will then probably recount the purchase price of this own wife, always with exaggerations; descant on the qualities of his daughter, her strength, her beauty, her diligence, her probable fecundity; and deplore the grievous loss to be sustained by her departure from her parents' side. Whereupon the visitors respond that they are willing to substitute a number of slaves to make up for the loss of the daughter, but that in any case she will not leave the paternal home and that the bridegroom will take up his residence there and help his father-in-law in all things; and so the matter is discussed and the payment of a certain number of slaves is determined in the following manner:


Determination of the marriage payment is the very soul of the whole marriage proceeding. Years and years of service on the part of the would-be husband, presents innumerable on the part of his relatives, and feigned indifference or opposition on the other side have led up to this moment. For the sake of clearness, let us call the father or nearest male relative of the future bride A and the father or nearest male relative of the bridegroom, B.

A, aided by all the cunning of his relatives, lays down as a condition, let us say, seven slaves and one female relative of B, who is to be a substitute for his daughter. To this B rejoins that it is a high price and impossible of fulfillment, that he is not a warrior chief, nor a datu, nor such a wealthy person as A, and that he can never satisfy such a demand, giving a thousand and one reasons, such as sickness or debt. A responds and belittles him for being so deficient in resources, asks if B wants to get a wife for his son gratuitously, and tells him to go home and buy a slave girl for him. He yells indignation at the top of his voice, probably with his hand on his bolo, in a very menacing way.

B and his party, seeing that it is unavailing, go home, consult over the matter, and during the course of a year or two take every possible means to procure the necessary slaves. They may be successful in securing one or more, let us say two, and at the same time may manage to get together, say, 5 lances, 6 bolos, 2 jars, 30 plates, and 5 pigs; and so one fine day they start off to A's for another trial.

B proceeds to make A feel merry before he reports his failure to comply with the demand. This report is usually a tissue of the most atrocious "oriental diplomacies" that the human mind can concoct. A listens to this prologue, interlarded as it always is with ejaculations of corroboration from B's party. Then A begins: It is an outrage, he will have none of the pigs; the idea of selling his daughter for a bunch of pigs! He gets up and says he will first kill the pigs and then the owner, but his relatives make a pretense at restraining him. After a few hours of this simulation, by which he has induced B to make many gifts, he softens, but as the demand was not complied with to the letter, the payment must be increased, he says, by 4 more pigs, a piece of Chinese cloth, 8 Mandáya skirts, and 2 jars. At this point his relatives interfere. His sister wants three pigs and four skirts. She was midwife at the birth of the girl in question and, due to her contact with the unclean blood, was approached by a foul spirit and fell sick. Surely she deserves a big payment--1 female slave, 2 pigs, 2 shell bracelets, and a piece of turkey red cloth. And the third cousin claims that she nursed the child, the future bride, two months during the illness of its mother, and demands two Mandáya skirts. And so the haggling is continued, A and his party doling out the marriage effects as sparingly as possible, taking care to make presents to the more vehement and unyielding parties on the other side.


This operation always lasts a few days, during which B keeps his prospective relatives in high glee with pork and potations, until A consents.


The marriage feast almost invariably takes place during the harvest, for the simple reason that food is more abundant and also because the harvest days are the gladdest of all the year. When the time for the marriage is close at hand the father-in-law makes an announcement to friends and neighbors, sending out messengers and leaving at each house a rattan strip4 to indicate the number of days to elapse before the marriage. If his own house is not sufficiently large for the expected attendance, he changes to another and awaits the eventful day.


The whole country flocks to the house at the appointed time, the relatives of the bridegroom being loaded down with the marriage presents, which are all carefully concealed in baskets, leaf wraps, etc., and are deposited secretly in the woods adjoining the house. Of course the omen bird must be consulted. On this occasion above all others it is essential that the omens be favorable, as there are no means, so I have been informed, to counteract an inauspicious marriage omen. While preparations are being made for the banquet by the bridegroom's party, the interminable parley5 is continued. The bride's father and relatives make their last efforts for securing all they can in worldly effects. They almost repent of the bargain--it was too cheap--think of the price paid for the bride's mother--the expenses incurred during a long illness of the bride in her infancy--and compare the modicum demanded for her marriage; it is outrageous! no, the marriage can not go on, the girl is not in good health, and the ordeal might increase her ailment. Every sort of trick is resorted to in order that the other side may be more generous in the bestowal of gifts. The discussion is thus one big tissue of simulation, and is carried on in succession by the elders on each side. The bridegroom's father keeps offering betel nut and brew to his new "cofather-in-law"6 and selects a favorable moment to make him a big present, possibly of an old heirloom, a jar, or a venerable old spear, the value of which he estimates at P50, although it may be worth only P8.



The meal is finally spread out on the floor. The roasted part of the pig has been hacked into small chunks and is piled up on plates, leaves, bark platters, and shallow baskets. The boiled portion remains in charred bamboo internodes placed close at hand. The rice is loaded on plates, or placed in large baskets lined with leaves, and the beverage is put in the ancient family jars, or is left in long bamboos: The host, in this case the bridegroom's father or nearest male relative, assisted by a few others, distributes the meat, carefully selecting the pieces according to weight, size, and quality, so that no one can complain of not having had as good a share as his neighbor. Such toothsome parts as the brains, heart, and liver are divided among the relatives who enjoy greater prestige, the tougher and more gizzly[sic] pieces falling to the lot of the people of lesser importance. This operation takes up the better part of an hour. It is needless to say that a hubbub of voices helps to give animation to the occasion. The Manóbo speaks in no angelic whisper on ordinary occasions, but at a solemn time like this his vocal chords twang with all the intensity of which they are capable.

Finally all squat down on the floor, armed with the inseparable bolo if suspicious visitors are present. Hands are washed by pouring a little water out of a bowl, tumbler, or bamboo joint; the mouth is rinsed, and the meal is begun. With their right hands on their bolos, if they have not ungirded[sic] them, they lay their left hands over their portions of rice, knead handfuls of it into a compact mass, and raising their hands to their mouths ram it in with the palms.

The two "cofathers-in-law" pay special attention to each other, each trying to get the other intoxicated, and each feeding the other with chunks of fat and other things. This custom is called daiyápan and is universal among the non-Christian tribes of the Agúsan Valley. It is a mark of esteem and the highest token of hospitality. A few pieces of fat and bone are scooped up, dipped in a mixture of red pepper, salt, and water and thrust, nolens volens, into the mouth of the good fellow whom it is desired to honor. And it is not good etiquette to remove it. It must be gorged at once and the fortunate man must proceed to reciprocate in the same way. The brew is distributed in tumblerfuls or in bamboo joints holding about a tumblerful each. To refuse the allotted portion would degrade one in the eyes of everyone, for here it is a sin to be sober and a virtue to get drunk. Gluttony finds no place in a Manóbo dictionary--one is merely full,7 but always ready to go on; friend divides his rice with friend, when he sees that the latter's supply is getting low, and his own is immediately replenished by one of the womenfolk, or slaves that attend to the culinary work. Nor must one finish before anybody else. It is not polite. Nothing must be left on the plate, a fact that each one makes clear by washing the plate clean with water.


The pandemonium increases in direct proportion as the brew diminishes. One's neighbor may be yelling to somebody else at the other end of the house while the latter is trying at the top of his voice to reach the fellow that sits far away from him. Goodnatured, though rather inelegant, jokes and jests are howled at the bride, who coyly conceals herself behind a neighbor, and at the bridegroom, who does not seem at all abashed. The women, who eat all together near the hearth, carry on the same operations but in their own more gentle way, never falling under the influence of the liquor. The meal is usually finished in about three hours, when the pig and rice are exhausted.

After a chew of betel nut, comes the supreme moment for payment,8 ushered in by many a "ho" and "ha" with another discussion. The tenor of this is that the father of the bridegroom is not as well provided with goods9 as he had desired to be, owing, let us say, to a failure to obtain certain effects he had ordered from so-and-so, together with numerous other pretexts and excuses that on the face of them are untrue. Pointing out his slaves, he descants on them; and goes on to explain how much trouble he had to get them; he could not value them for less than P80 apiece. Or, if they are captives, he describes the fatigues of his march and the imminent danger to which he was exposed during the attack, together with such other reasons, mostly fictitious, as would tend to enhance their value and thereby avoid subsequent haggling. He then delivers the other goods demanded.10 Where two slaves had been asked he gives two kinds of goods,11 say a lance and a bolo, whereupon there is invariably a howl of dissatisfaction, according to custom. But things are settled nicely either by granting a few plates or some such thing for a solace, or by playing on the good will or simplicity of the person who objected. The distribution is not completed in one day. Usually about one-third of the entire amount of goods is held over with a view to observing if there is anyone who is not quite pleased with his portion, and also for the purpose of keeping up their hopes.



10By his cofather-in-law and relatives.

11Da-dú-a no baíyo no máng-gad.


The following day, or whenever the payment has been completed, begins the reciprocatory payment12 in which the bride's relatives return to those of the bridegroom a certain amount of goods varying in value, but approximately one-half of what has been paid as the marriage portion. As a soother, they also kill a pig and right earnestly set about putting their new circle of relatives in good humor. It may be noted that the duration of these feasts depends on the rapidity with which the pig is dispatched. I have known a marriage feast to cover a period of seven days, though it may be said that it is generally terminated the second day, at least in the case of less well-to-do Manóbos.


The reciprocatory payment being successfully carried through, it now remains for the bridegroom's relatives to give the farewell feast and carry off the bride. But it often happens that the girl's relatives have ascertained that there are still a number of goods in the possession of their new relatives and it is considered proper to secure them.

A few hours before departure the bride is decked out with all available ornaments. Bead necklaces, with pendants of crocodile teeth and strips of mother-of-pearl; bracelets of seashell,13 large, white and heavy; bracelets of vegetable fiber and of sea wood; a comb inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and adorned with beads and tassels of cotton; leglets of plaited jungle fiber--all these constitute her finery. During the process of dressing, the bride's female relatives usually weep, while the more distant ones set up a howl, often, I think, of ficticious[sic] grief, in which the children, babies, and dogs may join. At this juncture the female relatives of the bridegroom intercede and endeavor to assuage their grief. It is only after numerous presents have been given them that they become resigned, but at the last moment, when the bride is about to be led away, they surround her and hold her and perhaps repeat the wail till they receive more material consolation. This necessitates another supply of presents. Then the children have to be appeased. Finally the girl is led down the pole, but as her father may have espied, let us say, a fine dagger, or a lance that struck his fancy, nothing will satisfy him except to order them all back and tell his cofather-in-law that he must needs have the lance or dagger, giving some sly reason, as, for instance, that his wife had an ominous dream last night. In one marriage feast that I witnessed, after all the bridegroom's people had left the house, the bride's father told his son to beat the dog. Whereupon he ordered the party back and told his cofather-in-law that it was passing strange that the dog should have howled just as they left the house and that he should leave his lance and bolo as an offering to one of the family deities. It was done accordingly and in all good nature. Then they started off again, but were recalled because the old fox happened to remember that his cofather-in-law had on several occasions during the early marriage proceedings displeased him, and so it became necessary to atone for the sin14 by another gift. Finally they got a start, filched of all they had. It happens frequently that the marriage suitors are deprived even of their personal weapons and of part of their clothes. It may be remarked that the bestowal of a person's upper garment is considered an act of deep friendship, and is of fairly frequent occurrence.

13Tak-ló-bo (Tridacna gigas).

14Húgad to saí-ya. This is another instance of that peculiar belief in an atonement rite of which I can give no details.

The above is a description of the upper class marriage feast, but that of the poorer class is carried on in much the same style, except that the proceedings are much briefer. The bride's father and people on the one hand strive by might and main to get the highest payment obtainable, while the bridegroom's folk exert themselves to hold the price down. Whatever is given in payment is overvalued--it is a keepsake, an heirloom, would never be given away under any other circumstances--in fact, may result in evil to the giver. On the other hand everything that is received is depreciated--it is old, or of no use to the receiver. An old trick is to return it, whereupon a little additional gift is made for a consolation. But even then it is never admitted that the gift is received for its intrinsic value, but rather out of good will.



We will now follow the bride to her father-in-law's house and witness the religious ceremony by which the hymeneal tie is indissolubly knitted. It is essential that the omen bird should be favorable on the trip to the bridegroom's house, otherwise the party must return. Usually the parting injunction of the bride's father to his cofather-in-law warns him to watch for the omen bird.

A pig is killed as soon as possible and set out in the usual style at the house of the bridegroom. The bride and bridegroom sit side by side on an ordinary grass mat. No special decorations have been made; no bridal chamber has been prepared, except sometimes a rude stall of slatted bamboo or of bark.

When the meal is ready, the bridegroom takes a handful of rice from his plate and offers it to the bride while she also gives a similar portion to him. Then he passes his rice from hand to hand behind his back seven times, after which he says in a loud voice: "We are now married; let our fame ascend."15 The bride imitates him. Whereupon loud howls of assent proclaim the consummation of the marriage contract.

15Kanámi no miño nakalíbto ang bántug námi.

The meal goes on in the same riotous style as described before. I seldom witnessed a marriage during which the bridegroom did not become rather hilarious toward the end of the meal, but never displayed anything but feelings of delicacy and respect toward the bride. Instructions of a kind that would be considered highly indecent, according to our standards of morality, are howled out in the most candid way, so that this ordeal proves embarrassing for the bride. She eats hastily and retires to her female friends in the cooking portion of the house. I have seen several cases where the girl, being a mere child, continued to weep during the whole proceeding.

The feast being concluded a female priest takes the betel-nut omen. Seven quids of betel nuts are placed by one of the family priestesses upon a sacred dish.16 She then sets it upon the head of the bridegroom and falls into an ecstatic condition, steadying the plate with her hand. Should one of the betel-nut slices become separated from its betel leaf, the omen is considered unpropitious and is followed immediately by the prophylactic rite--the fowl-waving ceremony.


The matter of overcoming the delicacy of the newly married maiden is not infrequently attended with considerable difficulty. It is accomplished, however, by means of an elderly relative of the girl, who occupies night after night the mat between the newly married couple, until such time as she thinks that her ward has become well enough acquainted with her husband so that she will not run away. The go-between returns the following day and claims her guerdon. Several cases passed under my observation, in which the husband was unable to use his marital rights for weeks owing to the timorousness and bashfulness of his youthful spouse. In no case was anything but patience and gentleness displayed by the husband.


The custom of wife capture is fairly frequent, especially in the upper Agúsan where the Manóbo is within the Mandáya culture area. During my last visit to the upper Agúsan (September, 1909, to February, 1910) three cases occurred, and I had the pleasure of taking part in the settlement of one of them.

The capture is effected by a band of some four to eight friends of the party interested. They repair to the vicinity of the camote patch, which is almost invariably situated at some distance from the house of its owner. Here a watch is kept until the intended captive, in company probably with a few of her own tribe, appears upon the scene. Probably it has been already ascertained that the male relatives have gone on a hunting or fishing expedition, but to make assurance doubly sure one or two of the party advance toward the women unarmed and make inquiries hi an offhand way. If the absence of the male relatives is confirmed, they thereupon seize the girl, and their companions rush out in full panoply from their hiding places and carry off the fair prize. By the time the girl's relatives become aware of the occurrence, the captors have eluded all chance of discovery and the captive has probably resigned herself to her fate, if she had not already consented by connivance.

With regard to wife capture it may be remarked that it is generally resorted to under the advice and protection of some more powerful and affluent personage. If undertaken on one's own initiative it might be risky, and certainly always is a highly expensive affair. Even when carried out with the connivance of a datu or a warrior chief, it has on occasions proved fatal, so I was assured.

The case referred to was that of the son of an influential Manóbo of the Nábuk River, in the upper Agúsan Valley. His son had a few months before my arrival lost his first wife in a raid made by a neighboring settlement. He determined to avoid the prolixities and delay of the ordinary matrimonial course, and, accordingly, captured the daughter of a Mañgguáñgan warrior chief who lived near Pilar. I was in Compostela at the time and on hearing that an expedition17 to recapture the girl or to collect the marriage payment would take place, I asked that I might be allowed to accompany the party.

17Duk-i-ús. (Mandáya, dúk-lus).

We arrived at the house of the datu and found everything and everybody prepared for war. This datu informed me that he anticipated trouble, as the Mañgguáñgan was of a different breed, being at times altogether unamenable to reason. During the rest of that day nothing occurred, but no one ventured out of the clearing without a strong guard, and during the night the strictest watch was maintained. The datu said that among Manóbos and Mandáyas a wife capture was easy of arrangement and was never attended with any trouble, provided they had the wherewithal to pay the marriage price, but that the Mañgguáñgan was an unruly character and in a fit of rage or drunkenness was liable to commit acts of atrocity even against his nearest relatives. He cited the case of a Mañgguáñgan from Sálug who discovered the whereabouts of his son-in-law and of the captured bride and killed them without further ado.

About 2 a. m. we were disturbed from our slumbers by one of the watchers who had heard a distinct crackling in the adjoining forest. This report brought everybody to his feet and provoked a chorus of yells of intimidation, that never ceased till sunrise.

About 6 a. m. we espied forms in the forest, approaching from all sides. When they, some 60 altogether, had taken up their positions on the edge of the clearing wherein stood the house, they sounded their weird and wild war whoop,18 and four warriors, headed by the warrior chief referred to, and armed with all the accouterments of war, rushed forward toward the house, yelling, prancing around, defying, challenging, and cursing. The warrior chief speared one of the two large pigs under the house and proceeded, aided by his three companions to cut down the house posts, never ceasing to yell in the most stentorian voice I ever heard. At this juncture the datu let down with a long strip of rattan a silver-banded lance, a silver-sheathed war knife, and a silver-sheathed Mandáya dagger. As everybody was howling, it was difficult to follow the tenor of conversation, but I observed that the warrior chief accepted the gift though he did not apparently relax his fury. He jumped around, menacing, and animating his companions to fire the house. The datu kept letting down presents of lances, Mandáya cloth, pigs, and other things until everyone of the assailants had received a token of his good will. Their fury very visibly diminished, and the datu was finally able to hold a colloquy with his new cofather-in-law, in which he persuaded him to come up into the house and hold a conference19 over the matter. The latter, after numerous reiterations that he would never enter the house except to chop heads off, finally ascended the notched pole, followed by his braves. We of the house retired to the further half, all armed, while the newcomers squatted in that portion of the house near the ladder. Then began the conference which lasted till breakfast was ready. It resembled in all respects the usual marriage haggling, except that the warrior chief asseverated persistently that the act of the datu's son was deception and robbery, and that only blood would atone for it. His companions howled assent and clutching their bolos, half rose as if to begin a massacre. They were invited to sit down and regale themselves, but that only made them howl all the more. Finally the datu ordered out a stack of weapons and other presents, and made another allotment to the visitors, in due proportion to relationship. This had a soothing effect and induced them to drink copious draughts of sugarcane brew, which kept on soothing them more and more as the end of the meal approached. During all this time special attention was paid to the warrior chief, so that before long he was feeling so happy that he ordered his followers to remove all weapons from their persons, and began to feed huge chunks of half-raw hog meat into the mouth of the datu according to the immemorial custom.



After the feast I returned to the Agúsan but learned later that everything had been settled amicably, the datu having provided a superabundance of wordly[sic] effects, in payment for the captured woman. Among them were two slaves valued at P30 apiece.


Prenatal marriage contracts have been made in the upper Agúsan, especially when it was desired to secure the friendship of some more powerful chieftain. I was informed by a bagáni of the upper Sálug that it is not an uncommon thing for two warrior chiefs or other powerful men to make such contracts in order to cement the friendship between themselves and between their respective clans. He cited several instances, in some of which the sex of the child proved an impediment to the carrying out of the prenatal marriage contract. Child marriages, however, are not uncommon. I know of two cases in Compostela, in one of which the boy husband was minor, the girl having already attained the age of puberty at the time of the marriage. In the other case both were mere children. It is needless to say that cohabitation was not permitted in the latter case. The marriage payment had been made in the usual way and the bride delivered over to her father-in-law.

According to my observation, the young man is married somewhere between the ages of 17 and 20, and the woman from 13 to 16. The effect of these early marriages is very apparent in the physical appearance of the wife after a few years of married life. On account of the onerous duties that fall to the lot of the woman, only a staunch constitution can maintain unblemished the bloom of youthful beauty. I am of the opinion that the average woman reaches her prime at about 25 years of age.


It may be said that the Manóbo is in practice a monogamist, but polygamy is permitted with the consent of the first wife and, in cases that I have known, by her direction and even according to her selection. She finds her work too burdensome and directs her husband to get another helpmate. As a rule, however, it is only a warrior chief who has more than one wife, as he is in a better position to procure the wherewithal to pay the purchase price, namely, slaves. I am acquainted with a number of warrior chiefs, both Manóbo and Mandáya, who have as many as four wives, all dwelling in the same house, each having her little stall20 and living in perfect peace and happiness with her sister wives. There appear to be no jealousy and no family broils, the wish of the first wife being paramount in all things.


I found the abhorrence to polyandry so great and so universal that all tribes that I came in contact with throughout eastern Mindanáo branded the practice as swinish.

Concubinage is unknown. In a country where a woman is worth a small fortune to her relatives, and where she can not offer her love according to her own choice, but must follow her relatives' desires,21 it is not likely that she would be delivered over temporarily to even a warrior chief, nor is she likely to be repudiated except for strong reasons. Hence divorce is never allowed, as far as my observation and knowledge go, being considered an infringement of tribal customs that would provoke divine wrath and bring disaster on the settlement.

21I heard of a case in Guadalupe in which the girl, not being allowed to marry the man of her choice, took tuble poison and ended her life.

Among the non-Christianized Manóbos I never heard of a case of prostitution. The mere suggestion of it would probably result in a fine. Fornication, however, probably takes place, but only very rarely and under very abnormal circumstances, as when the sexual temperament of the girl and a very favorable opportunity encourage the transgression. I know of cases where Manóbo maidens actually recounted to their relatives improper suggestions on the part of Bisáyas, and in every case these relatives, with wild yells, and with menacing movements of bolo and spear, collected a sufficient compensation to atone for the imprudence. In one instance I paid the fine imposed upon a half-blind paddler of mine for a very innocent joke that was not appreciated by the relatives of a certain woman.

When, however, the Manóbo is removed from the stern influences of his pagan institutions he goes the way of all flesh, as may be observed by a study of conditions in conquista towns.

I heard of a few cases of adultery among Christianized Manóbos but, though the guilty wife was reported to have received a heavy punishment in the form of a good beating, she was not divorced.


I found no vestige of endogamy nor of the totem system that is such a remarkable and widespread feature of Polynesian, Melanesian, and cognate peoples in Oceania. Neither is there any theoretical endogamic institution which obliges a Manóbo to marry within his tribe, but, in practice, such is his custom.

The only impediment to marriage is consanguinity. Consanguineous marriages are everywhere regarded as baneful. It is a universal belief that unless such marriages are consummated under the special auspices of the goddesses Ináyao and Tagabáyao, they result in physical evil to both the parents and the children.

The following are the persons between whom marriage is forbidden:

(1) All carnal relatives closer than first cousin.

(2) First, second, and third cousins, unless the proper ceremonies to Tagabáyao and Ináyao have been performed, various omens very carefully taken, and, after marriage, the yearly offering of a pig or chicken made in order to avoid the ill effects that might follow the marriage.

(3) Stepmothers and stepfathers.

(4) Mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law.

(5) Daughters-in-law and sons-in-law.

(6) Captives and their captors. This marriage is believed to bar the way to warriorship and to otherwise result in evil.22 Captives may, however, be married by others than those who captured them.


(7) Slaves; marriages among them are not tabooed absolutely, but they are regarded as something unbecoming, and the person who marries a slave girl is spoken of as áyo-áyo (no good).

Marriage with a sister-in-law is fairly common, and may take place during the wife's lifetime, usually at her instigation, but never without her consent.


It may be remarked that in the case of marriages between cousins within the forbidden degrees, the actual marriage payment is much less, as the matter is considered a family affair, but on the whole such a marriage is a most expensive affair. In the first place, before the marriage, the priest instructs the prospective husband to dedicate a number of objects to Tagabáyao, the goddess of consanguineous love. This presupposes a sacrificial ceremony in which, as in one case which I witnessed, a white pig was killed, and a lance valued at P15, a bolo valued at P10, a dagger valued at P10, and sundry other objects were formally consecrated to Tagabáyao. The consecration was followed by a sacrifice to Tagabáyao, after which the marriage payment was made. Then came a similar series of offerings to Ináyao, goddess of the thunderbolt, that she might not harm the newly married. I was told that year after year the newly married cousins had to repeat this ceremony, and thereby keep in Ináyao's good graces.

Intermarriage with a member of another tribe occurs occasionally but is not looked upon with favor owing to the differences of religious belief as also to the fact that it might not be possible for the husband to take away his wife. In the cases that have come under my notice of marriages between Manóbos and Mañgguáñgans, Mañgguáñgans and Mandáyas, and Mandáyas and Manóbos, the man almost invariably married a girl belonging to what was considered a higher tribe; for instance, Manóbo man to a Mandáya girl, or a Mañgguáñgan man to a Mandáya girl. The reason assigned was in nearly every case the assurance that the girl would not be taken from the paternal roof, and that a bigger marriage price would be forthcoming.

Gratuitous marriages occur rarely. In the few cases that passed under my observation, all the expenses of the wedding feast were borne by the bride's relatives, and the bridegroom took up his residence with his father-in-law, and virtually entered a state of slavery. His children also become the property of the father-in-law.

It is not intended to give the impression that the recipient of a gratuitous wife has to perform the duties of an ordinary slave. On the contrary, he is treated as one of his wife's family and is expected, in view of the favor that he has received and the debt that he has incurred, to help his father-in-law when called upon. If he should happen on a definite occasion to prove recalcitrant, he is gently reminded of his debt and of the sacredness with which a good Manóbo pays it, and so he goes off on his errand and the matter is concluded.

Remarriage takes place frequently, owing to the fact that a widow does not command so high a price as a maiden and that she has something to say in the selection of her new husband. She can not, however, be married if a funeral feast23 for a near relative of the family is still unfulfilled.


There is absolutely no trace of a levirate system by which the nearest male kinsman must marry his deceased brother's widow. On the contrary, a marriage with any relative's widow is absolutely tabooed, and this taboo, as far as my observations warrant the assertion, is never violated.


Married life appears to be one of mutual good understanding and kindliness. The husband addresses his wife as búdyag (wife) and leaves to her the management of the establishment in everything except such little business transactions as may have to be carried on. The wife gets the wood and water every day, toiling up and down the steep mountain sides. She goes off to the farm once or twice a day and returns with her basket of camotes. In the meantime the husband whittles out his bolo sheath or his lance shaft, or occasionally goes off on a fishing expedition or a hunt, if the omens are good. Every once in awhile, especially during the winter months, he sets up his wild boar traps, and they may keep him busy about two days a week. Then comes the news of a wedding feast, two days' journey hence, and off he goes for perhaps a week, or there may be a big question to settle in another part of the country and he must attend the discussion because there is a relative of his involved; anyhow, it will end up with a big pig and plenty of brew. So he goes away and has a roaring time, and comes back after a week with a nice piece of pork and some betel nuts for his wife and tells her all about the doings. She bears it all, makes her comments on it, and then goes to get the camotes for dinner, with never a complaint as to her hard work. It is the custom of the tribe, and the institution of the great men of bygone days, that the woman should toil and slave.

I have known of very few domestic broils and have never known of a case of ill treatment, except when in a drunken fit the husband wreaked his wrath on his wife.

Faithfulness to the marriage tie is a remarkable trait in Manóboland, due to the stringent code of morals upheld by the spear and the bolo. The few cases of adultery related to me among the non-Christian Manóbos were mere memories. I heard of one case of fornication just before leaving the upper Agúsan. It was narrated to me by a warrior chief of the upper Kati'il. His fourth wife, a relative of the datu who figured in the case of wife capture described in this chapter, had in the days of her maidenhood secretly fallen from grace, which fact she revealed to her warrior husband, together with the name of the offender. The warrior chief thereupon made a two-day march to Compostela and located the house of his enemy, publicly vowing speedy vengeance. I visited the latter's house a few days after and found it in a state of defense, a large clearing having been made, with a mass of felled trees, underbrush, and bamboo pegs all around. This man was a Manóbo of the Debabáon group who had spent many years under the tuition of the older Christians of the Agúsan Valley.

Rape, incest, and other such abominations are practically unheard of.

From what has been stated frequently throughout this monograph, it may be seen that the position of the woman is merely that of a chattel. In moments of anger, which are not frequent, the husband or the father-in-law addresses the object of his wrath as binótuñg, that is, purchased one, chattel. A woman, the Manóbo will tell you, has no tribunal, or tilibuná;24 she was born to be the bearer of children and the planter of camotes. She can not carry a shield nor thrust a spear.

24The meaning is that she has not enough brains to take part in the discussions held in the town halls, called in Spanish "tribunal," and erected by the Spaniards in the various Christianized settlements for the arbitration of judicial and administrative matters pertaining to the settlement.

Following out these views to their legitimate conclusions, and both experience and observation verify them, it is obvious that there is no evidence of the matriarchate system in Manóbo-land. The husband is the lord of his household, of his wife, and of his children, and I do not hesitate to say, probably would abandon or kill either, if the urgency of a definite occasion required it.25

25Maliñgáan of the upper Simúlau, to prevent his wife and children from falling into the hands of the Spanish forces, slew them and himself in full view of the soldiery. I found this incident related in one of the Jesuit letters, to which reference has been made already.


After a few months, dependent on the term determined upon in the marriage contract, the young husband returns to his father-in-law's house, to whose family he is now considered to belong, and takes up his permanent residence there. His respect for both his father-in-law and mother-in-law is such that he will not mention them by name. He always addresses them as father-in-law and mother-in-law, respectively. He aids his father-in-law in everything as a son. Every year for 12 years during the harvest time he is expected to kill a pig for him. Of course, occasions arise on which he is called upon by his own relatives and has to leave his father-in-law. Sometimes it happens that he does not return, but in such cases he is expected to act in a diplomatic way, and leave something, say a big pig, as a substitute for his person.

Brothers-in-law, and their name is legion, for the term includes all who have married any relative however distant, are expected to aid the relatives of their wives, especially in warfare. And it is my observation that at least such of them as are married to nearer relatives of a given individual, do effectively help him when he really needs either financial or other assistance.

The brothers-in-law of a warrior chief nearly always live with him or in his immediate vicinity. This custom is maintained, no doubt, both for the protection and for the prestige thereby acquired.




The desire to fulfill the end of marriage is so strong that it may be said that there is almost rivalry and envy between the young men. Many a time I have heard the remark made that so and so is a-yo-á-yo--a sorry specimen of humanity--because he had no children. If you ask a Manóbo how many children he has he will seldom forget to tell you not only the number that died, but also the number of times that his wife suffered miscarriage, owing to a faulty selection of food, or to the noxious influence of some evil spirits, or to the violation of certain taboos, or to some other cause.

And thus it is that when the first evidences of motherhood manifest themselves, the husband procures a white or black chicken and after inviting a few friends, holds an informal party in honor of the occasion. I know of one case in which the ritual waving ceremony1 took place on pregnancy, but it was performed, so the husband told me, because of a conjunction of ill omens, and not because such a ceremony was customary.

1Kú-yab to má-nuk.


The precautions taken by both husband and wife during pregnancy, as also on the approach of parturition, are evidence of the sacredness with which they guard the dearest hope of their married lives.

The following pregnancy and birth taboos, verified by the writer, hold with little variation in every part of the Agúsan Valley, and several of them are still adhered to by the Bisáyas of that region.2

2I find that some of these taboos are observed by the uneducated Tagalogs of Manila and by the peasants of Tayábas Province.

The general idea prevailing in the observation of these taboos is one of sympathy by which a certain action, productive of a certain physical effect in one subject may produce by some sympathetic correlation an analogous effect in another. An instance will make this clear. To wear a necklace is an action in itself perfectly innocuous and even beneficial, in so far as it enhances the person of the wearer, but for the Manóbo man and wife such a proceeding at this particular time would produce, by some species of mystic correlation, a binding effect on the child in the hour of parturition, and must accordingly be eschewed.

These taboos are in force from the time when the young wife announces her condition until the end of that trying period that follows conception.


1. He must avoid all untoward acts, such as quarreling and haggling.

2. His demeanor must be quiet; he must avoid noisy and impetuous actions, such as taking part in the capture of a domestic pig.

3. He must avoid all heavy work, such as the felling of trees, making of canoes, or erection of house posts.

4. He must not engage in any work connected with rattan, such as tying or splicing.

5. He must in no case use resin3 for the purpose of sticking handles or shafts on weapons.

3Sái-yung or saung.


1. She must not do any heavy work nor carry anything on her head.

2. She must not sit on a corner of the hearth frame.

3. While in a sitting posture she must leave one knee uncovered.

4. She must be careful in the selection of her food for a period that seems to depend, according to my observation, on individual whim.

Hence after the inception of pregnancy a woman becomes almost fastidious in the choice of her food. Her every whim must be catered to. No general rule can be given, but her general preference is for vegetable food, especially the core of the various wild palm trees,4 plantains, and when obtainable, young coconuts. Acid fruits, such as the various species of lemons or the fruits of rattan vines, seem to be her special predilection.



1. They must not thrust their hands through the floor nor through an opening in the walls of the house.

2. Anything taken by them from the fire must not be returned by them, but by a third party.

3. They must not return after having once started to descend the house ladder until they have reached the ground.

4. They must not sit at the entrance to the house in such a way as to impede free en trance or exit.

5. They must be careful that the firewood is not unusually speckled or dirty, as the child that is to come might be lacking in due comeliness. I have seen many a husband assiduously peeling off the bark from the more-ugly-looking firewood.


Visitors also are cautioned and expected to observe the third and fourth taboos mentioned under the last section.5

5The taboo that forbids a visitor to sit at the door of the house is observed by the lower classes of Manila. Also the taboo that forbids quarreling.


Infanticide is never practiced; on the contrary, every means, natural, magic, and religious, are taken to safeguard the life of the babe. Abortion, however, occurs.


Artifical[sic] abortion is unknown among the pagan Manóbos, but the Christianized members of the tribe who have come under the influence of culture of a different stamp, have acquired a knowledge of its practice for the purpose of concealing their condition and of thereby avoiding subsequent shame and trouble. For this purpose various vegetable products are used, such as the sap of the red dyewood,6 the core of a wild palm,7 the sap of black dyewood,8 and the juice of mint.9 I was told that these are very effective and, as a rule, not attended with evil consequences to the health of the woman.


7Called báñg-a.




Involuntary abortion, however, is a matter of frequent, occurrence. It would be hard to form an approximate estimate, but, from the opinions expressed by several warrior chiefs and headmen, I believe that it occurs not infrequently. No explanation as to its cause was obtained. The fetus is usually buried without any ceremony under the house. In the upper Agúsan, the Manóbo follows a Mandáya custom by erecting over the grave, which is always under the house, an inverted cone of bamboo slatwork, about 30 centimeters high and 60 centimeters in diameter. The usual feelings of fright are not displayed on these occasions as on the death of one that has died an ordinary death, for the child has not yet been consociated with its two soul companions. Neither is the house abandoned, as would ordinarily be done on the death of an older person.




About the seventh month when the expectant mother feels the quickening impulse of life within her, she selects a midwife and undergoes almost daily at her hands a massage, without which it is thought she would be in danger of a painful delivery. As far as I could learn, the method followed is such as to keep the creature in a vertical position within the womb, with the head downward. The massage is said to take place at the beginning of a lunar month. The midwife is eminently the most important personage in all that concerns birth. She is not necessarily a priestess, but is usually a relative of the prospective mother. She is always a woman of advanced age who has had abundant experience, and "has never lost a case." She is reputed to be versed in many secret medicines and devices necessary for the cure of any ailment proceeding from natural causes and connected with childbirth. I always found the midwife very reluctant to disclose the secrets of her profession.

When the woman announces the maternal pains, the midwife goes at once to the house, taking with her various herbs and other things, all carefully concealed on her person. She is not alone on such occasions, but is usually accompanied, if not preceded, by the greater portion of the female population in the community. Few of the male portion, and none of the bachelors, attend, but they keep themselves informed of the progress of the patient by frequent yells of inquiry from the neighboring houses.

The midwife bids the patient lie upon her back and, aided by a few relatives of the parturient, proceeds to administer one of the most ferocious massages imaginable. I witnessed one case in which the mother was tightly bound with swathing clothes and the husband called upon to exert his strength in an endeavor to force delivery.

As soon as it becomes apparent that the patient is in great pain, the midwife, and perhaps others expert in such matters, resort to means which are designed to produce an easy and speedy delivery.



During several childbirths which I attended in various parts of the valley, I observed the use of the following aids to delivery:

1. A piece of rattan12 is taken by one of the women present and, after being slightly burnt, is extinguished by the midwife and held close to the person13 of the parturient. With her hands the midwife then wafts the smoke over the patient, muttering at the same time a formula.

The explanation of this procedure, as given to me in all cases, was the following: The rattan is symbolic of the various fleshy bonds with which the child is confined within the mother and as the rattan, wound round and round the various portions of the house, is an impediment to the removal of the piece which it retains, a piece of it is burnt in order that by some mystic power the puerperal bonds may be undone. During the burning the child is exhorted not to resemble the tardy rattan but to come forth free and untrammeled from its mortal tenement.

This charm, it was explained to me, counteracts the violations of the taboos whereby husband or wife, or both, are enjoined not to wear necklaces or bodily bindings, and not to work in rattan and resin, or to carry anything on the head. Should the burning of a piece of rattan be omitted, it is believed that the umbilical cord14 would be found to have actually become tangled around the neck or body of the child during the act of delivery, thereby increasing the difficulty and the danger.

2. The burning of a small piece of the house ladder15 and the subsequent fumigation of the person of the parturient are practiced in identically the same manner as the above, and are thought to neutralize the evil effects that might result from the transgressions, even involuntary, of those taboos which forbid that anyone should sit at the door of a pregnant woman's house, or return to the house after having begun his descent down the house pole or ladder.

3. A third magic means, helpful in birth, is the consuming of a portion of the hearth frame followed, as described above, by a fumigation of a part of the patient's person. The particular effect of this charm is to counteract the evil influences which might otherwise result to the child from the nonobservance of the various other taboos mentioned previously.

4. Finally, various herbs, of which I did not learn the names because of secretiveness on the part of the women, are put on a plate or on anything that is convenient, and burned. On one occasion I observed that the leaves16 used to cover sweetpotatoes and other vegetables during the process of steaming were employed, and on another I procured a piece of grass that had fallen from the plate and later on I ascertained it to be the leaf of a variety of bamboo. I was unable to learn the purpose of this charm, the replies being contradictory or variable in different localities.

The midwife applies numerous other medicinal herbs and has various other secret expedients of which I have been utterly unable to learn the nature. In one case a midwife claimed to have a bezoar stone17 found in the body of an eel. This could not be seen, for it was wrapped in cloth. When the patient gave signs of suffering, she would dip this stone in water and rub it over the woman's abdomen.








It is very rarely, indeed, that any serious difficulty is encountered in childbirth, but I have been informed that difficulties are occasionally met with. In such cases, when all human resources fail, the matter is said to be left in the hands of the family priestesses and the usual religious invocation and rites are performed. In every case one or more priestesses are present, and take the usual precautions, such as the placing of lemon and sasá reed under the house, against the approach of evil spirits.


The midwife and her companions continue to assist the patient until the moment of delivery, which takes place ordinarily within from four to six hours after the first pangs of childbirth have been felt. The umbilical cord is immediately cut with a sliver18 of bamboo, and the mother is made to sit up at once in order to prevent a reflux of the afterbirth into the womb. At least such is the reason assigned for this last practice.


The child is immediately washed with water and some medicine sprinkled over its navel.19 It is then returned to its mother. Should the birth have occurred during the period between new and full moon, it is said that the child will have good luck20 during life.

19I was informed on one occasion that the medicine used was pulverized coconut shell, but this point needs further inquiry.


I desire to call special attention here to the fact that should the mother be in such a condition that she is unable to nourish her babe, it is not given to another woman for nurture, but is sustained temporarily on soup, rice water, and sugarcane juice. I have heard of several cases in which the child succumbed for want of natural nourishment. One case that occurred in San Luis on the middle Agúsan, I verified beyond a doubt. Father Pastells, S. J.,21 states that if the child can not be suckled, it is buried alive, its mouth being sometimes filled with ashes. I, however, have never heard of such a practice.

21Cartas de los PP. de la Compañia de Jesus, 8, 1879.

The reason for allowing no woman other than the mother to nourish the child is that, if the child were nourished by another woman, it would die. In this connection it may be well to state that infant mortality is high. I do not hesitate to say that it is not less than 25 per cent and may be 33.5 per cent.

The afterbirth, together with the umbilical cord, is nearly always buried under the house. I was told that it is sometimes wrapped up and hung from the beams that are just under the hearth. No reason is given for the selection of this particular place, except that "no one passes there."


As a rule parturition is not attended with much weakness nor with any danger. In fact, the mother usually can move around the house on the day following the birth or even on the same day. After two or three days she purifies herself by an informal bath, which is taken more for sanitary than for ceremonial reasons, as far as I have been able to ascertain.


For a period of a week, more or less, the mother must refrain from the use of all food except the following: The core of the wild palm tree, native rice, fresh fish, and chicken. The chicken must be of a certain color; in the lake region of the Agúsan Valley it must be either black or white, and the leg must be dark in color.

Bathing is interdicted for two or three days according to the custom of the locality.

After bathing, the new mother and her husband leave the house in order that the little one may have good luck, and also that they themselves may be removed from the malign influence of the malevolent spirits that are inevitably present on the occasion of a birth.

The birth festivity is not a very solemn nor magnificent affair. The midwife and a few friends, perhaps a dozen in all, are invited. It is at the end of this repast that some little remuneration is made to the midwife and to the priestess for their services. Among the pagan Manóbos there seems to be no fixed rule as to the amount to be given to the midwife, but among the conquistas or Christianized tribes, there prevails the customary price of P1.50 for the first birth, P1.00 for the second, and P0.50 for the third and all successive ones.


22Tag-un-ún to bá-ta.

When the child is born it is supposed not yet to have received the two spirit companions23 that are to accompany it during its earthly pilgrimage. Whence proceed these spirit-companions, or what is their nature, I have not been able to learn to my satisfaction. Mandáit, the tutelary god of the little ones, after being invoked and appeased with offerings, is supposed to select two spirit companions out of the multitudinous beings that hover over human haunts. These spirits then become guardians, as it were, of the child, and do not separate themselves from him till one of them becomes the prey of some foul demon.

23Um-a-gád, from á-gad, to accompany.

These spirit companions are said to be invisible, and in physical appearance like their corporal companion,24 whose every action they are supposed to imitate. As was explained to me, when we sit down, our spirit companions also sit down, and when we dress, they also prepare themselves, and when we go forth they accompany us. When the mother leaves the house with her babe, she adjures the spirits to follow and to guard their ward. Of the effect and purpose of this consociation no very definite explanation has so far been given to me.

24In stature they are described as being somewhat smaller.

The rites of the birth ceremony are observed usually within a month after the birth. There seems to be no stated time, but according to my observation and information they take place on the first symptoms of sickness, or of unusual restlessness on the part of the child. It is firmly believed and openly avowed that these symptoms are due to the machinations of Mandáit, who is desirous of being regaled with a fowl, for he, like all his fellow spirits, is an epicure and likes the good things of this world.

The ceremony begins with an invocation to Mandáit. A tiny canoe, more or less perfect in design and equipment, according to the caprice and skill of the fashioner, is made, and is hung up in the house after sunset. The nearer relatives assemble and a priest, preferably a relative, takes the chicken that has already been dedicated25 to Mandáit, and waves it over the babe and around the house, in order to ward off all such bad influences and harmful spirits as might be flitting around, for in the Manóbo's mind, there are not a few of these demons waiting to devour the expected spirit companions.


The chicken is killed and the head, legs, and wings offered to Mandáit. To these delicacies are added little leaf packages of cooked maize26 or native rice.27 The priest, on these occasions invariably a woman, goes through her invocations while the offerings are being placed on the ceremonial boat. She burns incense28 whose fragrance is said to be especially acceptable to Mandáit. By the direction of the smoke, she ascertains the position of Mandáit and of her own guardian or familiar spirit, and turning to him, welcomes him. She falls into the usual state of tremor during which Mandáit is supposed to partake spiritually of the repast set out for him.



28Pa-lí-na, the gum of the ma-gu-bái tree.

This ceremony being concluded, the fowl is partaken of, and a little sugarcane beverage29 is drunk, if it can be obtained. After the meal, the priestess recounts in the old archaic language of song the chronicles of bygone days. This is taken up by such other makers of Manóbo monody as may be present. If the child proves to be restless, it is lulled to sleep with the weird staccato of the bamboo guitar.30 During the course of the night the two souls are supposed to enter into mystic consociation with the babe, and thenceforth to be its companions.



The following morning the priestess removes the little leaf packages and, placing them on a rice winnow, tosses them into the air. The children present at once grab for the packages. The ceremonial canoe, however, with the offering of fowl, must be left suspended indefinitely.

In the lower half of the Agúsan Valley from San Luis to the mouth of the Agúsan, a tray of bamboo trelliswork is used for the offering to Mandáit instead of the sacrificial canoe described above. Otherwise the ritual is identical.


The child receives, without any ceremony or formality, a name that seems to depend on the caprice of the parents. It is usually that of some famed ancestor, or of some well-known Manóbo but at other times it may depend on some happening at the birth. Thus the writer knows of Manóbos who bore the names Bágio (Typhoon), Línug (earthquake), Bádau (dagger), Bíhag (captive), Áñglañg (slave), Ká-ug (maggot).

The child is treated by the parents and by the other relatives with the greatest tenderness. He is petted and pampered from his very youngest days, and punishment of any kind is seldom administered. A hammock made out of a hemp skirt or a little bamboo frame, suspended by a string from a bamboo pole in the fishing-rod style, is often provided for his resting place. He is tenderly set in one of these by day, and the usual little maternal devices are used to keep him from crying and to put him to sleep.

When the little fellow is somewhat bigger and stronger, he is carried about with his legs straddled across his mother's hip, or allowed to crawl around the floor. If the mother has to absent herself and there is no one to watch him, he is simply tied to the floor and left to his own thoughts. He is not weaned till the advent of another child, or till he of his own accord relinquishes the breast. His dress is of the simplest in most cases.

As soon as the male child reaches the age of 7 to 8 years, and is able to run around, he not infrequently accompanies his father or any other male relative on a fishing or on a hunting expedition, often carrying the betel-nut bag or some other object at times almost too heavy for his tender years. While at home he is often in an emergency sent out to do little chores. He is bidden to run out and get some betel leaf or some firewood from the surrounding forest, or again is sent for a little water. Such errands, however, are the exception. He has most of his time to himself, and passes it in merry rompings with his little brothers and cousins. If he lives near the river he spends a few hours a day in the water, bathing, splashing his playmates, and catching frogs and other edibles. A favorite pastime of his is to make a diminutive bow and ply his arrows at some old stump or some unlucky lizard or other living thing that he may have espied. If monkeys, crows, or other bold marauders are overnumerous, he probably has to sit out in the rude watch-house in the little clearing and keep the scarecrows moving, or by shouts and other means drive off the uninvited pests.

He soon learns to smoke tobacco, to chew betel nut, and even to take a drink of the brew that is being passed around, and thus he grows up to be, at the age of 14 or 15, a little full-fledged man with his teeth blackened, his lips stained, and his bolo at his side.

He enters youth without any special ceremony. It is true that as the boy grows to puberty his teeth are ground and blackened and he is tatooed[sic] and circumcised. Such operations might be considered as an initiation into manhood or at least as a survival of a custom that is so much in vogue in certain parts of Oceania. In other words, the youth begins to tattoo and to assume other ornamentation in order that he may attract the attention of the female portion of the tribe.

It is needless to say that he receives no schooling. In fact, the average Manóbo who has not come in contact with civilization would not know what to think of a pencil. On one occasion I accidentally allowed some Manóbos to see my pencil. The sight of it aroused an animated discussion as to the nature of the tree that yielded such peculiar wood. All the schooling which the Manóbo boy gets is from the forest and the streams. From them he learns to trap the timid deer and to catch the wily fish. In them he acquires a quick step, a sharp eye, and a keen ear. In the ways of nature he is a scholar, because the first moment that he can clamber down the notched pole he betakes himself to the surrounding forest and schools himself in all her ways and moods.

As soon as the boy reaches the age at which he feels that he is a man, he ceases to be under paternal restraint, which even up to that age has been more or less lax. At this period he assumes as much independence as his father, but will obey any behest without understanding the propriety or the necessity of complying. As a general rule, filial relations are most cordial, and great respect is entertained for both parents, but it may be said that male children respect and love the father, while girls love their mother.



Monstrosities are extremely rare. I met only one case, that of a child with an abnormally large head.31 Idiocy also is very uncommon, only one case having come under my observation.

31Bása, Simúlao River, middle Agúsan.


Albinism also is very infrequent. An albino is considered to be the child of an evil spirit in so far as one of those relentless demons is supposed to have exercised a malign influence on the mother. It is believed that an albino can pay nightly visits to the haunt of its demon sire. Among the Mandáyas on the upper Kati'il River, I saw some 12 cases of albinism in a settlement of about 500 Mandáyas. No explanation was obtained as I did not think it prudent at the time to ask for one.


Hermaphrodites,32 in a secondary sense, are found occasionally. I am personally acquainted with five. In every case they were womanly in their ways, showing a preference for sewing, and other occupations of women, and frequenting the company of women more than that of men.

32Bán-tut (Mandáya bi-dó).

In one case at San Isidro, Simúlao River, an hermaphrodite, a fine specimen of manhood to all appearances, was dressed as a woman. In another case a Mandáya hermaphrodite of the Báklug River, a few miles south of Compostela, was married. I was informed on all hands that the marriage was for the purpose of securing the alliance of the hermaphrodite's relatives against certain hereditary enemies and that probably there would be no issue. I hope to get further information on this point at a future date.

On the Lamíñga River, a tributary of the Kasilaían River, there lived a woman who presented all the outward characteristics of a man. Her voice was deep and resonant, her countenance of a male type. She constantly carried a bolo, by day and by night, and in manual labor, such as building houses, was the equal of any man in the settlement. She had never married and had always rejected overtures toward marriage.




The subject of Manóbo medicine may be divided into three parts, according to the causes that are supposed to produce the malady or according to the means that are used to cure it. These classes will be described as natural, magic, and religious.


Natural remedies in the form of roots and herbs are used for the ordinary bodily ailments that afflict the Manóbo. The following are the more common forms of sickness: Fever,1 tuberculosis,2 pain in the diaphragm,3 pains in the stomach and abdomen,4 pains in the chest,5 pain in the head,6 colds,7 chronic cough (probably bronchitis),8 pernicious malaria,9 ordinary malaria or chills and fever,10 cutaneous diseases,11 intestinal worms,12 and some few others.



3Ka-bú-hi, or gi-húb, probably a reversal of the diaphragm.

4Pús-on and go-túk.









The natural remedies used in the cure of the above-mentioned diseases are not very numerous, but they are applied as a rule externally. In each settlement there are always a few who have gained a reputation above others for their knowledge of these medicines, but their proficiency is not high as may be judged by the degree of their success and by the opinion of many of their fellow tribesmen.

For wounds, tobacco juice and the black residue found in a tobacco pipe are considered an effective ointment. Saliva mixed with betel nut is used for the same purpose, and also for pains in the stomach. For other pains the leaves of various trees, according to the knowledge or faith of each individual, are applied. For pains in the stomach the gall of a certain snake13 is said to be efficacious. It is mixed with a little water and applied externally, or it may be taken internally, provided it be mixed with a little powder from a piece of pulverized plate.14

13Ba-ku-sán. The gall of this snake is reported as being a panacea used by the Mamánuas.

14Píñg-gan, an imported plate of very inferior make.

The perfume of certain resins and especially that of the manumbá tree are considered medicinal in some cases.

The root of a tree called lú-na when left to steep in water, is said to be a very potent remedy for pains in the stomach. The seed of the sá-i grass is also used for the same purpose, and is said to be a prophylactic against stomach troubles.

No amount of persuasion will overcome the Manóbos' suspicions of European medicine till the administrator of it follows the old saying of "Physician, heal thyself," and takes the first dose. In any case it is not prudent to offer it except after long acquaintance, for should any change for the worse occur in the patient's condition after taking the foreign medicine he might imitate people of greater intellectual caliber, and say, as he probably would, "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc," and the ensuing events might be sudden and unexpected.

On one occasion I administered a small dose of quinine to a child that was suffering from fever. It died the following day. The father, who had requested me to give the child some medicine, through the medium of a Mañgguáñgan, sent me a few days later a present of a chicken and about two glassfuls of sugarcane brew, and would not accept a reciprocatory gift of beads and jingle bells that I sent him. The chicken and the beverage were partaken of in due time, each of my servants drinking about half a glass of the liquor. The following morning at about 4 o'clock I awoke with a sense of impending death. The servants were called and they, too, complained of an uneasy feeling and one of them suggested that we might have been poisoned. A dose of ipecacuanha saved our lives, and at about 9 o'clock I proceeded to look for the bearer of the gift, but was unable to locate him, as he had gone to his forest home. A diplomatic investigation revealed the fact that he was an expert in poisons and that the poison administered to me in the liquor was probably the root of the túbli vine that is also used for poisoning fish.

Fragrant flowers and redolent seeds and herbs are thought to be very efficacious for the relief of headaches, fainting spells, and for the peculiar diaphragm trouble referred to before. The resin of the magubái tree, which also is used as incense in ceremonial rites, is considered very potent. I have frequently seen patients held over the smoke till I thought that death by suffocation would result.

In fine, it may be said that the Manóbos' knowledge of medicinal plants is very limited, and his application of them equally so, for as soon as he thinks that the condition of the patient has changed for the worse the malady is at once attributed to preternatural causes, and corresponding remedies are resorted to.

On casual observation it might appear that the sick are neglected, but this is not the case. The relatives, especially the womenfolk, display the tenderest solicitude toward them and keep them provided with an abundance of food. The lack of blankets leaves the patient exposed to the inequalities of temperature and explains, no doubt, the frequent occurrence of colds, of rheumatism, and sometimes of tuberculosis. This also may account for the high death rate among children.


It is a common thing to hear that a kometán was the cause of a person's death. This may be defined as a secret method by which death is superinduced in a certain person by means either supposedly magic in character or so secret in administration that they may be looked upon as magic. Thus (to give an example of a purely magical sickness), it is thought that by making a wooden mannikin to represent the victim and by mistreating it the person whom it represents will immediately fall sick and die unless countervailing methods are employed to neutralize the effects of the charm. I heard of a case in the lower Agúsan near Esperanza where a wooden figure was made to represent the person of a thief. The figure was cruelly tortured by sticking a bolo into its head, and when sufficient punishment had been administered to cause its death, had it been a thing of life, it was buried amid much wailing. I was assured that the party whom it represented was taken with a lingering disease shortly afterwards and finally died.

The belief in the kometán or secret means of superinducing sickness is widespread, but it is difficult to obtain reliable data on the subject because, for obvious reasons, no one will admit that he is acquainted with the secret nor will he affirm that anyone else is unless it be a person so far away that there is no danger of future complications by reason of the imputation.


1. The fine flossy spiculæ of a species of bamboo15 placed in the food or in the drink is supposed to cause a slow, lingering sickness that ends in death.

15Caña bojo, or bamboo of the genus Schizostachyum.

2. A piece of a dead man's bone pulverized and put into the food, even into the betel-nut quid, is said to have the same effect but in a more expeditious way, as it superinduces death within a few months.

3. Another reported kometán consists of the blood of a woman dried in the sun and exposed to the light of the moon. This is mixed with human hair cut very fine. Administered in the food, it produces a slow lingering disease that leads to the grave. It is said that after death the hair reappears resting upon the lips and nostrils.

4. Human hair mixed with bits of fingernails and powdered glass is said to be especially virulent. The secret of compounding it is known only to a few. I was informed that the knowledge of this secret composition was acquired from Bisáyas.16

16It is called pa-ágai.

It is generally believed that the war chiefs are provided with antidotes17 against the kometán. In fact, several assured me that they possessed them, but they were unwilling to enter into any details. I once saw a little bottleful of strange-looking herbs and water sold for P2.50. It was said to be an antidote against the particular species of kometán, which, on being placed in the path, would affect the one for whom it was intended when he passed the spot.


A piece of lodestone,18 or even an ordinary toy magnet, is thought, in certain localities, to act as a safeguard against divers kinds of evil charms.

18Bá-to bá-ni.


I found a prevalent belief in the existence of an aphrodisiac19 which is said to consist of wax made by a small insect called kí-ut, and of the ashes of various trees. The secret of compounding it is known to very few. There is a persistent rumor that this was first learned from the Mamánuas,20 who are supposed to be very proficient in the making and use of it even to this day. If a little of the composition is put on the dress of a woman, or, better still, if a little packet of it is attached to her girdle charms she will become attached to the man who placed it there and will aid him, as far as it can be done, in his suit for her hand.

19Called hu-pai.

20It is strange that the more advanced tribes in eastern Mindanáo attribute a knowledge of magic methods to inferior ones. I have been informed that both Mamánuas and Mañgguáñgans are more expert in the manufacture and administration of charms than other tribes.

There is also a charm which is said to produce an aversion or dislike between those who had formerly been friends.

Bezoar stones are hard substances, of a dark color, and vary in size from a pea to a chestnut. They are said to be found in various trees and plants,21 and animals and fishes such as the monkey and eel.

21Such as the a-nís-lag, the tú-ba, the túb-li.

Their properties are both medicinal and magic. Thus the bezoar stones from three different plants are supposed to be efficacious in the hour of birth, but, at the same time, in all the doings of life they give the fortunate possessor success over his rival. Hence they are called pandáug, that is, they will enable one to get ahead of or beat another. There is a bezoar stone from the banti tree that gets its owner to a place more quickly than his rival.


Sickness due to capture of the soul by an inimical spirit.--When a malady is of such a nature that it can not be diagnosed, or of so serious a character that fear is entertained for the recovery of the patient, it is ascribed to the maleficence of evil spirits, and supernatural means are resorted to in order to save the captured soul from their spirit clutches. For this purpose the priest intercedes with his divine tutelars, and prevails upon them, by offerings and promises, to rescue the captive. If the ailment is attributed to the war divinities, then the warrior chief becomes the officiant and, after appeasing the angry spirit with a blood offering, secures the release of the unfortunate soul.

Epidemics attributed to the malignancy of sea demons.--Epidemics of cholera and smallpox are thought to be due directly to evil spirits who bring the diseases from their faraway sea haunts.

It is said that friendly deities and war spirits of the settlement announce from the lofty mountain heights the approach of these pestiferous demons. Thus, I was assured by many in the Kasilaían River district, that Mount Tatamba on a tributary of the Lamiñga River gave out a loud booming noise before the epidemic of 1903-4. The same is said of Mount Mag-diuáta by the Súlibao people. Be that as it may, those who live along the main rivers scurry away on the approach of contagion into the depths of the forest or upon the heights of the mountains, and do not return until they feel assured that all danger is past. I was a personal witness of this among the upper Agúsan Manóbos, where I found a settlement, more than one year after the appearance of a contagious disease, still ensconced in the heart of the forest a few miles away from all water.22

22The inhabitants lived on the water that exuded from a tree known as ba-sí-kung.

The reason given for avoiding the larger watercourses during epidemics is that streams are thought to be the high roads for the sea demons when they come upon their work of destruction. There were never wanting some in each settlement who had seen these demons under some monstrous form or other.

Propitiation of the demons of contagious diseases.--Besides such offerings as may be made to them during the regular ritual, there is a special method of propitiating these plague bearers and thereby of inducing them to betake themselves whither they hailed.

A raftlet23 is made of bamboo, with a platform of the same material raised several inches above the surface of the craft. This is adorned with palm fronds arched over it. Upon it is firmly lashed a young pig or a large fowl, of a white color, and by its side are placed various other offerings of betel nut, rice, or eggs, according to the bounty and good will of the priest and of the settlement. When all is ready, it is taken to the water's edge about sunset, for that is the hour when the mightiest of the demons begin their destructive march. Here the priest makes an address to the demon of the epidemic, descanting on the value of the offerings, the scarcity of victims at that particular time, the reasons for mutual friendship between him (the demon) and the settlement. The demon is then requested to accept these tokens of good will and to go his seaward way. The disease itself, though never mentioned by name, is requested in the same manner to take passage upon the raft and to accompany its master downstream. The raft is then launched into the water and allowed to follow the will of the current. No one may even touch it or approach it on its downward course, for it has become foul by contact with its pestilential owners.24


24Bisáyas have no scruples in appropriating the fat fowls and pigs thus found floating to doom.



Except in the case of a warrior chief, or a priest, or one who has met his end at the hands of an enemy, death is ordinarily attributed to the maleficence of the inimical spirits. The latter are believed to be relentless, insatiable demons "seeking whom they may devour." In some mysterious manner they are said to waylay a poor defenseless soul, and ruthlessly hold it in captivity till such time as it suits their whims, when they actually devour it. Notwithstanding the numerous explanations given to me throughout the Agúsan Valley, I have never been able to satisfy myself as to the various circumstances of time, place, and manner in which the capture and consumption of the soul takes place. Suffice it to say, however, that in its essential points this is the universal belief: One of the soul companions is seized, and the owner falls sick. Every available means is tried to effect a cure. When everything fails the priest declares that the ailment is due, not to any natural infirmity, but to the capture or wounding of one of the souls of the patient by inimical spirits. Sacrifices are ordered, during which usually a large number (from four to eight) of priests of both sexes invoke their various divinities and beseech them to rescue the spirit companion of the patient. During these ceremonies the priests describe minutely how the capture was effected. In lengthy chants they set forth the efforts of their deities to find the missing soul; they describe how they travel to the ends of the sky, seeking the cruel captors and vowing vengence[sic] upon their heads. They are said to make use of an espiho25 to discover the whereabouts of the enemy and of the captive. The recapture of the soul and frequently the mighty encounter between the good and bad spirits is chanted out at length by the priests. I was told that in some cases the rescued soul is taken to the home of the deities and there consoled with feast and dance and song before its return to its earthly companion.

25This es-pi-ho (from Spanish espejo, a looking-glass) is some kind of a wonderful telescope by which objects can be described at the farther extremities of the firmament. No lurking place is so remote or so secret as to be hidden from its marvelous power.


The utter fear, not only of the malignant spirits but also of the person of the dead and of his soul, is one of the most peculiar features of Manóbo culture. In the death chamber and hovering around the resting place of the dead there is a certain noxious influence26 by the infection of which one is liable to become an object of attraction to the dark-visaged, hungry, soul ghouls that, lured by the odor, stalk to the death house and await an opportunity to secure a victim.


Then, again, the envious spirits of the dead are feared, for they, in their eagerness to participate in the farewell and final death feast, avail themselves of every occasion to injure the living in some mysterious but material way. Sickness, especially one in which the only symptoms are emaciation and debility, are attributed to their noxious influence. Failure of the crops, bodily accidents, want of success in important undertakings--these and a thousand and one other things--are attributed to a lack of proper attention to the envious dead. "You have been affected by an umagad,"27 is a common saying to express the peculiar effect that the departed may cause on the living. To avert this unkindly feeling and thereby prevent the evil consequences of it, it is not an infrequent thing to see propitiatory offerings made to the departed in the shape of betel nut, chickens, and other things. In one instance the father of a child that had died, presumptively from eating new rice, imposed upon himself an abstinence from that article for a period of several months.

27In-um-a-gád ka.

As another evidence of fear of the departed souls may be cited the unwillingness of the Manóbo to use anything that belonged to the dead, such as clothes. An exception, however, is made in the case of weapons and other heirlooms,28 all of which have been consecrated and are supposed not to retain the odor or evil influence of death.


Offerings made to the dead to appease their ill will are not partaken of by the living. They are supposed to produce baneful effects.29 Hence they are carefully removed to the outside of the house after the departed visitor is supposed to have regaled himself. This applies to betel-nut offerings, and to such offerings as chickens and pigs that in cases of unusual pestering on the part of the dead may be set out with a view to propitiating them.


One or more priests are present invariably in the death chamber. The female priests take up their position near the corpse, and by the use of lemons, pieces of the sa-sá reed, and other things, said to be feared by the demons, protect themselves and those present. Hence, during the average "wake" the womenfolk huddle around the priestesses with many a startled glance. On one occasion I saw a male priest take up his stand at the door, lance poised, ready to dispatch such spirits as might dare to intrude into the death chamber. Drums and gongs are beaten throughout the night, not merely as a distraction for their grief but as a menace to the ever-present demons.

An acquaintance of mine in San Luis, middle Agúsan, is reported to have wounded seven evil spirits in one evening on the occasion of a death. I was assured by many in the town that they had seen the gory lance after each encounter.

Several other precautions besides those mentioned above are taken to secure immunity from the stealthy attacks of the demons. A fire is kept burning under the house, and the usual magic impediments, such as sa-sá reed, lemons, and a piece of iron, are placed underneath the floor as menace to these insatiate spirits. Moreover, the food while still in the process of cooking is never left unguarded, lest some malicious spirit should slyly insert therein poison wherewith to kill his intended victim or to spirit away an unwary soul.

For several days both before and after the death, supper is almost invariably partaken of before sunset, as this is the hour when the most mighty of the demons are supposed to go forth on their career of devastation. If, however, it should be necessary to take supper after sunset, it is the invariable custom to put a mat on the floor and thereby foil the stealthy spirits in their endeavors to slip some baneful influence30 into the plates from below.

30This custom is prevalent among many of the Bisáyas of eastern Mindanáo and may perhaps explain the origin of the peculiar low table used by them.

After the burial it is almost an invariable rule for the inmates of a house to abandon it. This remark, however, does not hold good in the case of the decease of priests, warrior chiefs, and children, nor in the case of those who have been slain in war. Should a stranger, or one who is not a relative of the inmates, die in the house, it is an established custom to collect the value of the house from the relatives of the deceased. Father Pastells in one of the "Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús" cites an incident that happened to him in the house of Selúñgan on the upper Sálug in the year 1878. It seems that one of Pastells' followers died and that Selúñgan desired to collect the value of the house. I know of one case where the fine was actually collected. I was asked by a warrior chief on the upper Tágo, who would pay for the house in the case of my death.


When death ensues, the relatives burst forth into loud wails of grief. In one death scene that I witnessed the wife of the deceased fell down on the floor, and in the wildness of her grief kept striking her head against the palma brava slats until she rendered herself unconscious. Upon returning to herself, she violently embraced the corpse of her deceased husband, bidding him return. Then she broke out into loud imprecations against her tutelary deities upbraiding them for their ingratitude in not having saved her husband's soul from the clutches of its enemies. She bade them be off, would have no more to do with them, and finally ended up by bidding them go on the war trail and destroy the foul spirits that deprived her of her husband.

In nearly every death scene that I witnessed this last procedure was the ordinary one, and I may say that it is quite characteristic of the Manóbo.

On several occasions I witnessed some fierce displays of fury, to which the mourners were driven by their poignant grief for some beloved relative. In one instance the father of the deceased, drawing his bolo, started to hack down one of the house posts, and in another the son, after a frantic outburst of grief, seizing his shield and lance, declared that he would ease his sorrow in the joy of victory over his enemies and actually had to be detained by his relatives.

The grief and fury felt on these occasions will readily explain the frequency of war raids after the occurrence of a death. This was explained to me by Líno of the upper Sálug, probably the greatest warrior of eastern Mindanáo, in the following manner: "After the decease of a near relative, our enemies will rejoice and may, as is done with frequency, proclaim their joy. We do not feel in good humor anyhow, so, if it can be arranged speedily, we start off to assuage the sorrow of our friends and our relatives with the palms of triumph."

This statement of Líno may explain the origin of the taboo that is observed throughout the Agúsan Valley. The taboo referred to prohibits anyone except a near relative from visiting the house of the deceased for seven days after the death. It is suggested that this custom was instituted to prevent the enemy from learning whether an expedition was being set afoot. To enforce compliance with this custom, the trails leading to the house are closed by putting a few branches across them at a short distance from the house. It is not infrequent to find a broken jar suspended (or placed) at these points, symbolic, probably, of the cruel fate that may overtake the transgressor. Infringements of this taboo are punished with a fine that varies from P5 to P15.


After the first paroxysm of grief has subsided, the body of the deceased is washed, the greatest delicacy in exposing the person being shown, and it is then attired in the finest garments obtainable. No personal ornaments, such as necklaces and bracelets, are removed. Charms and talismans, however, are removed, being considered heirlooms. The corpse is then laid on its back, with the hands lying at the side, in the rude coffin.

There is a tradition that, in the olden days, the bolo of the deceased used to be buried with him but I never saw this done. The bolo, however, was placed by his side in a few cases that I witnessed. Among the mountain Manóbos there exists the custom of winding strands of colored cotton on the fingers and feet of young girls and maidens after death. I witnessed this in the upper Agúsan, and, in answer to my inquiry, was informed that such was the custom of the Agusánon people.

The coffin is a hexagonal receptacle hewn out of a log,31 and provided with a truncated prism lid of the same wood. It frequently has a few ornamental tracings of soot or other pigment, and where European cloth is procurable a few pieces may be employed as a wrapping. The corpse is wrapped in a mat and laid in the coffin, the head being placed upon a rude pillow of wood. The coffin is then firmly lashed with rattan and is not removed till the hour for interment. Frequently lemons, sá-i grass, and various other redolent herbs are placed on or near it with a view, I was told, to repressing the odor of the dead. It is probable, however, that they are thought to have magic or other virtues. They certainly are objects of fear to the death demons.

31A-yu-yao, said to be very durable, being found in perfect preservation after two years; kibidid or ilang-ilang are also used.

The wailing, weird and wild, of the women was violent in nearly every case I witnessed, especially when the corpse was taken out of the house on its way to the burial place. The grief displayed by the male relatives is not so intense but I noticed frequently that even they broke into tears. I may add here that I was often informed that the absence of the outward signs of grief is an infallible evidence of a speedy death, and that it is considered unlucky to allow one's tears to fall on the corpse.

Before describing the burial, I desire to mention a peculiar proceeding which I observed on one occasion.32 Before the corpse had been placed in the coffin, one of those present, seizing a dog, placed it transversely on the breast of the deceased for a few seconds. I was told that the object of the action was to remove the dog's bad luck33 by putting him in the above-mentioned position, as he had for some time been rather unlucky in the chase. This proceeding was verified by subsequent inquiries in other settlements, and the custom and its explanation were found to be identical with the above mentioned.

32San Luis, 1906.



As a rule the burial takes place the morning after the death, unless the death occurred during the night, in which case it takes place the following afternoon. Decomposition is never allowed to set in.

When all is ready, a last tribute and farewell are paid to the deceased. The family priest sets an offering of betel nut near the coffin, beseeching the dead one to depart in peace and bear no ill will to the living. He promises at the same time that the mortuary feast34 will be prepared with all possible speed. The deceased is addressed, usually by several relatives and friends who wish him well in his new home and repeat the invitation to come to the death feast and bring grandfather and grandmother and all other relatives that had preceded him to the land of Ibú.


Then, amid great wailing, the coffin is borne away hastily. Only men assist at the burial, and as a rule a male priest, sometimes several, accompany the funeral party in order to assist them against the evil ones that throng to the grave. The priests take up their positions, as I witnessed on several occasions, at strategic points behind trees, with balanced lance and not infrequently with shield. I have seen others provided with sa-sá reed in anticipation of wounding some over-bold spirits.

I observed a very peculiar custom on several occasions. On the way to the grave the men indulged in wild shouts. No other explanation was offered except that such was the custom. It was suggested, however, that it is a means of driving off the demons who may have got the scent of death, or, again, it may be to warn travelers that there is a funeral, thus enabling them to avoid meeting it, as this is said to be most unlucky.

I have heard of the dead being buried under the house. However, the practice is infrequent and is usually followed at the request of the dying one. It is needless to add that the house and neighboring crops are abandoned. When possible a high piece of ground is selected in the very heart of the forest and a small clearing is made. The work at the grave is apportioned without much parleying, some of the men devoting themselves to making the customary roof35 to be placed over the grave, while others do the excavating. Sometimes a fence is erected around the burying ground. The work always proceeds in absolute silence, and a fire is always kept burning as a menace to the evil spirits. When all is ready, the coffin is laid in its resting place and covered in all haste. Here it may be remarked with regard to the orientation of the corpse, that men are buried with their feet toward the east and women with their feet toward the west. Then the little roof is set upon four supports about 45 centimeters above the grave. One of those present, sometimes a priest, lays a plate with seven offerings of betel nut upon the grave. Then an earthen pot36 with its collation of boiled rice37 and with a hole broken in the bottom of it is hung up under the roof.



37Imported rice can not be used.

As explained to me, rice is intended as a last refection for the departed one before he sets out on his journey to the land of Ibú. The hole that is invariably made in the bottom is intended, so I was told by many, to facilitate the consumption of the rice. The family heirlooms are occasionally brought to the grave but are not left there.

There is a common tradition to the effect that the ancient mode of sepulture was a more pompous and solemn affair than the present one. I was told that the deceased was buried with all his personal arms, except his lance and shield, which were laid over his grave. Sacred jars38 were also left. I never have been able to get sufficient information as to the exact whereabouts of the old burial grounds. The cave of Tinágo near Taganáan, about 12 miles south of Surigáo, is easily accessible. The Bisáyas of the town state that it was a burial place for the ancient Bisáyas, but Montano, who procured some skulls from this cave, pronounced it to be a Manóbo cemetery. The fact is, however, that up to this day the townspeople repair to the cave on occasions and invoke their ancestors. I was told of one gambler who used to go there and burn a candle in order to increase his luck.


The mourners carefully efface the footprints that have been made by them on the loose clay around the grave and, scurrying away sadly and silently, leave the dead one in the company of the spirits of darkness. Henceforth this, the resting place of one who was beloved in life, possibly of a loving wife, or of a darling child, will be eschewed as a place of terror where stalk with silent footfall and dark-visaged face the foul and insatiate soul ghouls.

On arriving at the house whence they started, the funeral party invariably find a vessel, usually a coconut-shell cup, containing a mixture of water and herbs,39 placed at the door of the house. Each one in turn wets his hands and purifies himself by rubbing the water on some portion of his body. I never saw this process omitted. The explanation afforded me was that the water had a purificatory40 effect in removing the evil influence to which they had become susceptible by contact with the dead. After the burial, a little repast is set out by way of compensation for those who assisted at the burial, and then begins the time of mourning which ends only with the mortuary feast.

39I was told that u-li-ú-li grass is always used as an ingredient.



(1) Black must be worn by the nearest relatives.

(2) For seven days the wife and nearest relatives must remain confined to the house.

(3) The house must be abandoned or the inmates must change their sleeping quarters to another part of the house.

(4) No marriage can be celebrated by any of the carnal relatives until the death feast has been celebrated.

(5) The deceased must not be mentioned by name, but spoken of as "my father" or "my cousin" or other relative. This taboo holds indefinitely.

(6) No work must be undertaken nor business of any importance transacted, by the nearer relatives, for seven days.

(7) No one other than a near relative may visit the house for seven days after the decease.


As one killed by an enemy is thought to have suffered no ill through the machinations of the evil ones, his death is considered a glorious one, and he is buried fearlessly. It sometimes happens that, due to the distance between the place where he was killed and his home, it is found impossible to convey his body to the settlement. He is, accordingly, buried in some convenient spot in the forest without further ceremony. No mortuary feast is held for him because he is supposed to enter the abode of his chief's war deity and there to await the coming of his chief.

I never witnessed the death of a warrior chief, but I made numerous inquiries from which I gleaned the following particulars: The death and burial of a warrior chief seems not to differ from that of an ordinary person except in the greater pomp displayed and in the absence of fear. The tutelary war deities, either one or several, of the warrior chief are present and the evil spirits are said to maintain a respectful distance. The war chief's spirit companions or souls, which it is maintained are susceptible to injury at the hands of demons, are present and accompany him to the home of his tutelar deities, as do also Mandaláñgan or Mandayáñgan, the great ancestral hero of Manóboland.

The war chief has no special burial ground, nor any special mode of sepulture, though I heard on the upper part of the Tágo River, in the eastern part on Mindanáo, that a certain Ónkui, an acquaintance of mine, had been buried in a dugout placed on the summit of a mountain. This report appears from further investigation to be true. I have heard of a similar practice at the headwaters of the Ihawán River.

There is no material difference between the mortuary customs at the death of a priest and those practiced at that of a warrior chief. The tutelar deities of the priest are all present, together with all their relatives and friends of the unseen world. His seven spirit companions or souls are also present, so that little or no fear of the uncanny demons is exhibited by the mourners.


The land of Ibú is described as being somewhere down below the pillars of the earth. It is said to resemble, in all particulars, this world of ours. Lofty mountains, lakes, rivers, and plains, such as are seen in the Agúsan Valley, exist there. About halfway between this world and the big country of Ibú, mistress of the lower world, is a large river described to me as being as big as the Agúsan, but with red water. Here lives Manduyápit, the ferryman. From Manduyápit's to Ibú's is said to be a journey of seven days along a good broad trail. Americans, Spaniards, and peoples of other nations do not pass on the Manóbo's trail because each is said to have its own, and the country of Ibú is said to be divided into districts, one for each nation.

Hence, when the soul or spirit companion of the deceased finds that it is all alone, its fellow spirit having been ruthlessly seized and devoured, it begins its long journey to Ibú's. One week's travel brings it to the great red river. Here it is ferried across gratuitously by Manduyápit, and begins the second half of its journey. On arriving at Ibú's it naturally seeks the spirits of its relatives, preferably its nearest relative, and takes up its abode with them. If Manduyápit, for one reason or another, should refuse to ferry it across, it returns to its starting place and plagues its former friends for aid. The priest is made aware of this and interprets to the relatives of the returning one the reason for its failure to pass the great red river.

If the souls of the deceased should desire to pay a visit to their living relatives, they invoke the family deities and are borne back to the world on the wings of the wind, without having to undergo the fatigues of the 14 days' journey.

Ibú's great settlement is no gloomy Hades, nor, on the other hand, is it a paradise of celestial joy. It is simply a continuation of the present life, except that all care and worry and trouble are ended. The spirits of deceased earthly relatives take up their abode in one house and pass a quiet existence under the mild sway of Ibú. There they eat, work, and even marry. Occasionally, with the aid of the family deities with whom they can commune, they pay a brief visit to the home of their living relatives and then return to the tranquil realms of Ibú as fleetly as they came.


41Ka-ta-pú-san, meaning end, termination.

The death feast is the most important of all Manóbo feasts, for it marks the ending of all relations between the living and their departed relatives. Until its celebration the immediate relatives of the deceased are said to fare poorly. In some mysterious way the departed are said to harm them until they have received this final fete. Hence, the nearest relative sets himself to work with all dispatch to provide the necessary pigs, beverage, and rice for the feast. It is a common belief that unless this celebration is as sumptuous as possible, ill luck may still pursue them. This will explain the long delay so frequently observed before the celebration of this festivity. I know of several such feasts which were not held until nearly a year after the decease, the delay being due to inability to secure sufficient edibles for the death revels. The importance and magnitude of this feast will be readily understood when one bears in mind the fact that, when given by a well-to-do Manóbo, it is attended by everybody in the vicinity, and lasts frequently for a period of seven days. It happens occasionally that, in the interim between the death of one member of a family and the death feast, another member of the same family goes his mortal way. In such a case only one feast is held for the two departed ones.

The religious character of the feast deserves special mention. The dinner being prepared, an ordinary winnow is set out in the middle of the floor and on it are placed cooked rice and, when obtainable, bananas. Around the winnowing tray are set all the requisites for a plenteous meal. Then the relatives sit around on the floor in a circle and each one lays on the tray his offering of betel nut to the deceased. The family priests act as interpreters and intermediaries. The deceased are then addressed, care being taken never to mention their names. They are called, father, brother, etc., by relatives, and by those who are not relatives, father of so-and-so, or sister of so-and-so, mentioning the name of the corresponding living relative. The near relatives then give salutary advice to the dead one as to the future dealings between the latter and the living. They are begged to have a little patience, are reminded that only a few years hence all will be united in the land of Ibú, and are requested to accept this final feast as a farewell until that time. "You shall go your way and molest us not. Let this feast be a token of good will and a final farewell till we meet you in the realms of Ibú." Such, in brief, is the strain of discourse consisting of exhortations, advice, supplication, and valediction[sic], that lasts several hours.

Finally a handful of rice is formed by the oldest relative into an image suggestive of a human figure and the deceased are invited to approach and to partake of the viands. The relatives pass the rice mannikin around, each one taking a bite or two out of it. While this is being done, the dead are invited to eat heartily, the living relatives exhorting the dead ones; one urging them to take more soup, another to increase their meat, another to take more bananas, and all reminding the deceased diners of the great expense incurred in connection with this banquet. The priests describe the actions of the mystic diners and the hearty appetite with which they partake of the fragrance of the viands, after their long journey from Ibúland.

During the mystic meal no one dares to approach the rice winnow, but when the meal is finished, those who carried the deceased to his last resting place approach the winnow and, raising it up in their hands, with an upward movement conjointly toss the victuals into the air, retreating instantly to avoid the food in its fall, for should a particle of it touch their persons it is considered a prognostication of speedy death. The origin and significance of this peculiar custom, which I witnessed on many occasions, have never been explained to me. Inquiry elicited no further information than that it was the custom.

Such is the repast of the dead and the ending of all relations between them and the living. Henceforth they are not feasted, as they have no more claim on the hospitality of the living. In all the greater religious celebrations, however, they are present and receive an offering of betel nut, which is placed at the doorway for them but they are not invited to the feast.

The secular and social part of the feast in no wise differ from any other celebration, except that those who buried the deceased have marked attention paid them. There are the same motley group of primitive men and women, the same impartial distribution of the food, the same wild shouts of merriment, the same rivalry to finish each one his allotted portion, the same generous reciprocation of food and drink, and, finally, the same condition of inebriation that on many such occasions has abruptly terminated the feast by a fatal quarrel.42

42An instance of a killing had taken place a short time before my visit in 1909 to the Manóbos of the Binuñgñgaan River, upper Agúsan.

The rest of the day, and probably a goodly portion of the night, are spent in dancing to the tattooing of the drum and the clanging of the gong, interrupted at times by long tribal chants of the priests and others versed in chronicles of Manóboland.

If the death revels continue more than one day, the second day is a repetition of the first with the exception that only the betel-nut offering is made to the dead. As the celebration of this mortuary feast is the termination of the anxious period of mourning, and the release from the subtle secret importunateness of the dead, everybody with his wife and children flocks to the scene. No relative of the departed one may be absent for that would leave him still exposed to the strange waywardness of the envious dead.





The drum is the instrument of universal use in Manóboland. Wherever one travels, by day or by night, its measured booming may be heard. It is made out of a piece of a palm tree, by removing the core and bark. It is ordinarily about 25 centimeters high by 20 centimeters in diameter. The top and bottom consist, in nearly every case, of a piece of deerskin,1 from which the fur has been scraped, a little fringe of it, however, being left around the edges to prevent the hide from slipping when stretched. The stretching is effected by means of rattan rings or girdles, very often covered with cloth, and just large enough to fit the cylindrical body of the drum. A few blows with a piece of wood forces these girdles down the sides of the drum, thereby stretching the heads perfectly tight so as to give the drum the proper tone. After a certain amount of heating over the fire the drum is ready for use. No attempts at ornamentation are made, the heavy ends of the hide being left protruding in an ungainly way.

1Monkey and lizard skins are made use of in rare instances, and I have heard it said that the skin of a dog makes a very fine drumhead.

The drum is played at either end, and in certain tunes at both ends. The left hand serves to bring out the notes corresponding to our bass. The drum is tapped, with more or less force and rapidity, on an upturned head with the left hand, while the right hand with a piece of wood, preferably a little slat of bamboo, raps out the after beat. Manóbo men, women, and children can play the drum and mention the names of from 20 to 50 rhythms, each one of which is to their trained ears so different that it can be recognized at once. The rhythms are varied by the number of beats of the right hand to one of the left, and by the different degrees of speed with which the tune is played. The general beat may be compared to the dactyl of ancient Greek and Roman versification. The left hand plays the long syllable, if we may so speak, while the right plays the two short ones. The combinations, however, are as intricate as the versification just referred to.

As the nomenclature2 used in speaking of the tunes indicates, the various forms of drum music are based on imitations of animals and birds, or are adapted to certain occasions, such as the war roll signaling for help.

2The following are some of the names of drum-tunes: Sin-ak-aí-sá-kai (significant of the movement of a raft or canoe); kum-bá-kum-bá to u-sá (imitative of the sporting of a deer); kin-am-pi-lán (indicative of the flourishing of the Moro weapon called kampilan); Min-an-dá-ya, an adaptation from the Mandáyas; bo-túñg-bó-tuñg, ka-ta-hud-án, ya-mút-yá-mut, pa-di-dít, pin-án-dan, pa-tug-da-dúk tí-bañg, min-añg-gu-áñg-an, tin-úm-pi, ma-sañg-aú-it, to-mán-do, in-ág-kui, pa-dú-au, bin-ág-bad, pai-úm-bug, pa-dúg-kug, tum-bá-lig, mañg-úd.

To one who hears Manóbo drum music for the first time, it sounds dull and monotonous, but as the ear grows accustomed to the roll the compass can be detected and the skill of the drummer becomes apparent. Now loud and then soft, now fast and then slow, the tune is rattled off in perfect measure and with inspiring verve. As one travels through the crocodile-infested lake region in the middle Agúsan on a calm night, the Manóbo drums may be heard tattooing from distant settlements. They produce a solemn but weird impression on the listener.


The gong3 is of the small imported type and is purchased from Bisáya traders. As these gongs, when new, have several ornamental triangular figures on the front, the Manóbo is taught to value them at as many pesos minus one as the gong has figures. This gives a gong that cost originally about 2 pesos a value of 4 or 5 pesos.


As a musical instrument it is played in combination with the drum. Suspended from something or held up in the hand, it is beaten on the knob with a piece of wood. The general time kept is the same as that kept by the left hand of the drummer. Its constant clanging serves to heighten the animation of the dance.

Both the drum and gong have a certain religious character. They are used in all greater religious celebrations and seem to be a part of the paraphernalia of the priest, for they are nearly always kept in his house.


The flute, unlike the drum and gong, has no religious idea whatsoever associated with it. It is played at the caprice of the tribesman, to while away a weary hour, to amuse the baby, or to entertain a visitor.

The melody produced by it is soft and low, plaintive and melancholy, resembling in general features Chinese music, with its ever recurring and prolonged trill, its sudden rises and falls, and its abrupt endings.

Flutes are not used by women, and not all men have attained a knowledge of them. Here and there one meets a man who is an expert and who is glad to display his skill.

The tunes are said to be suggestive of birds' and animals' cries4 and seem to be the product of each.

4The more common pieces are: Sin-a-gáu to bu-á-da (the roaring of the crocodile), bu-a-bú-a to á-mo (the monkey scare), and the din-a-go-yu-án.

Flutes are made from the internodes of a variety of bamboo and are of four kinds, depending on the number and position of the fingerholes.

The paúndag flute.5--The paúndag is the commonest form. The joints of the bamboo are cut off and the circumference of the resulting internode is measured accurately with a piece of abaká or other fiber. With this for a measure, 16 marks or rings are cut on the segment and at each end beyond the first and last mark, a distance equal to one-half the circumference is marked off, the remainder of the segment being then cut off square at each end. At the eighth mark a hole about 8 millimeters in diameter is cut or burned in the bamboo. The same is done, but on the opposite side, at the ninth, eleventh, twelfth, and fourteenth marks, respectively. The ends are then cut in much the same shape as an ordinary whistle, and the flute, a segment of bamboo about 1 meter long, is ready for use.

5Called also pan-dag.

While being played, it is held in a vertical position, the side with the one fingerhole being toward the body of the player. The end with the first mark, that which is farther away from the fingerholes, is placed just under the upper lip. The thumb and middle finger of the right hand control the openings at the eighth and ninth marks, while those at the eleventh and twelfth are covered by the first and middle fingers of the left hand, respectively, the hole at the fourteenth mark being uncovered.

The blowing is performed without effort in the gentlest way possible, as a very slight increase in the force of the breath raises the tone about two octaves.

The to-áli flute.--The to-áli is an abbreviated form of the flute just described and is made in a similar way, except that only 10 divisions are made, and that on one side two holes are made at the fifth and seventh marks, and on the other at the fourth and sixth openings, respectively. There is no fifth fingerhole. This form of flute is played like the paúndag flute, except that the thumb and middle fingers of the right hand cover the fifth and sixth openings, respectively, while the thumb and fourth finger of the left hand control the seventh and eighth openings.

In pitch this form of flute is considerably higher than the previous one but in other respects the music is similar.

The lántui flute,6--A flute known as lántui is in existence, but I am not acquainted with the details of it.

6Called also yántui.

The sá-bai flute.--The sá-bai flute differs from the three already mentioned in being a direct flute. The joint at one end of the bamboo is cut off. Seven circumference lengths are then marked off, beginning at the remaining joint, and holes are made at the first (that is, the point), fifth, sixth, and seventh divisions, one or more holes being added in the center between the sixth and seventh divisions. For a mouthpiece, a segment of bamboo about 2 centimeters long is placed over the jointed end of the flute at the first division but in such a way as not to cover completely the opening at that point.

The sound is produced by the breath passing through the opening last mentioned and striking the edge of the aperture that it partially covers.

When played, this form of flute is held in a horizontal position. The point is inserted into the mouth and the three consecutive holes at divisions Nos. 5, 5.5, and 6 are covered by the first, second, and third fingers, respectively, of the right hand.

In pitch this instrument is lower than the other three but in the quality of the music it in no wise differs from them.


The vine-string guitar.--There are two kinds of vine-string guitars, differing only in size and name, as far as I know, so that a description of the smaller one7 will answer for the larger.8



It varies in length from 1.5 meters to 2 meters.9 The combined neck and finger board and the hollow boat-shaped sounding box are of one piece. The other part of the guitar is a thin strip of wood with a lozenge-shaped hole in the center, that fits with great accuracy on the bottom of the sounding box. The head is always a scroll, rudely carved into a remote suggestion of a rooster's head, as the name indicates,10 and two holes are pierced in it for the insertion of the tuning pegs. Along the neck are from 9 to 12 little wooden frets, fastened to the finger board with beeswax. I can give no information as to the rule by which the interfret distances are determined.

9Ordinarily the bán-ti or the sa-gu-bád-bad wood is used.

10Min-an-úk, from manuk, a fowl.

The strings are two in number and extend from the tuning pegs through two holes in the neck and over the finger board and the sounding box to an elevated piece left on the sounding piece. An interesting feature of these strings is that they are the central part or core of a small vine11 and give out rather sweet tones, though not so loud as catgut.


Projecting from the end of the sounding box, and forming one continuous piece with it, is an ornamental piece carved into a semblance of the favorite fowl head.

The guitar is held like guitars the world over, and the playing is performed by twanging the strings with a little plectrum of bamboo or wood.12

12As to the tuning and modulating of the instrument I can give no information. The matter requires further study.

The quality of the music is soft and melancholy, wholly in minor keys and of no great range, probably not exceeding one octave. As far as I can judge it bears a resemblance to Chinese music. Various tunes are played on both forms of guitar according to the caprice and skill of the performer.13

13The following are the names of some of the melodies: Di-u-wá-ta ko (Oh, my familiar spirit), a-yáu-u-yáu-á (don't, oh, don't), to-láñg-it (the sky), i-ka-nuñg-úd, ta-ta-lí-buñg, pan-in-ó-ug, mi-a-pí tin-ig-bás-ai, du-yúg-dú-yug, ta-ga-lín-dug, tiñg-ga-sau, ma-sú-gud, pa-má-bá to ba-ku-ta, da-gí-tan.

There are no special occasions for playing this guitar. It is not played by women nor is it used as an accompaniment for singing. The performer takes up the instrument as the whim prompts him and in the semidarkness plays his rude, melancholy tune.

The bamboo string guitar.14--The bamboo guitar is made of an internode of one of the larger varieties of bamboo.15 Five small cylindrical strips are cut along the surface and small wedges of wood are inserted under them at the ends to stretch them and retain them in an elevated position. These strips extend from joint to joint. There are usually two bass strings on one side and three treble strings on the other. Between these treble bass strings is a longitudinal slit in the bamboo joint intended to increase the resonance of the instrument. The strings are at intervals of about 3 centimeters. Two holes are made in the joint walls, the purpose of which is to increase the volume of sound.


15Pa-túñg, da-nu-án, kai-yaú-an.

The tuning is regulated by the size of the little wedges which impart greater or lesser tension as desired. I understand neither the theory nor the practice of tuning this guitar.

While being played the guitar is held in both hands. The first finger and thumb of the right hand manipulate the bass strings, while the three treble strings are controlled by the other hand.

The weird staccato music produced by this instrument is indescribable. One must hear it and hear it repeatedly in order to appreciate its fantastic melodies.

Both men and women make use of it for secular and, I am inclined to think, for religious motives. During the famous túñgud16 movement (1908-1910) it was used universally in the religious houses, but I was unable to obtain definite information as to its sacred character. In the postnatal ceremony that has been described under "Birth" I observed the use of the instrument on several occasions, but could obtain no further information except that the strains of this primitive guitar are pleasing to Mandáit, the tutelary spirit of infants. This point merits further investigation.17

16A religious movement that sprang up in 1908 and spread itself all over the southeastern quarter of Mindanáo. (See Chapter XXIX.)

17The following are the names of some of the tunes played on the above guitar: ma-sú-gud, tám-bid, gam-aú-gá-mau, pa-ma-yá-bui, tig-ba-bau.

The takúmbo.--Though classed here as guitar, the takúmbo hardly deserves the name. It is a bamboo joint which has one joint wall opened. At the other end beyond the second joint it is so cut as to resemble a miter. Two strings, uplifted from the surface about 4 centimeters apart, and held in an elevated position and at their requisite tension by little wooden wedges placed underneath, form the strings. A lozenge-shaped hole in the center between the strings increases the resonance. The instrument is played by beating the strings with little sticks preferably of bamboo. Two persons may play at one time.

The time observed is the drum rhythm. The sound produced is very faint and unimpressive, and the instrument is of very sporadic occurrence.

The fact that one end is carved in the form of a miter tends to confirm my supposition that this is a purely religious instrument. The carving is supposed to represent the mouth of a crocodile.18

18This figure is called bin-u-á-da, or bin-u-wá-ya from bu-á-ya, crocodile.

I was given to understand that this instrument is used in the immolation to the blood-deities in case of hemorrhage and such other illnesses as are accompanied by fluxes of blood. It is said that the instrument is set in a vertical position, the miterlike cutting being upward, and that a part of the victim's blood is placed upon the node as if it were a little saucer. The instrument is then played. I never witnessed the ceremony, nor heard the instrument played, and am not prepared to give credence to the above story till further investigation corroborates it.



I neither saw nor heard this instrument, but my inquiries substantiate the existence of it. The body is said to be of coconut shell with the husk removed. The bow is made of bamboo bent into the form of a defensive bow, to the ends of which are attached several threads of abaká fiber that serve as the bowstring. The strings of the violin are two in number and are made of abaká fiber.

The violin is said to be played as our violins are by drawing the bow across the strings. It is not played by women, according to reports, nor are there any stated times and reasons, religious or otherwise, for its use.20

20The names of some of the tunes played are: Pan-un-gá-kit, lin-íg-tui ka-bú-ka, ba-yú-bas, pan-ig-á-bon to ka-bí.



Another instrument which is found occasionally in Manóboland, is a species of jew's-harp, made out of bamboo. It is a frail instrument made more for a toy than for its musical qualities. It is ordinarily about 26 centimeters long, and consists of a slender piece of bamboo from the central part of which a small tongue about 6 centimeters long is cut. The tongue remains attached at one end, the tip of it being toward the middle of the instrument. On the the reverse side there is a small cavity in the body of the instrument intended to allow sufficient room for the tongue of the harp to move while being played.

The instrument is played by putting the mouth to the above-mentioned cavity and by blowing as we do in an ordinary jew's-harp. The tongue is made to vibrate by tapping with the finger a needlelike spur that is left at the end of the instrument. This vibration, in conjunction with variations of the mouth cavity of the performer, produces tones which are not unlike those of an ordinary jew's-harp but which are not so loud nor so harmonious.



On the upper Agúsan I witnessed the use of bamboo stampers. They consist of large bamboo joints with one partition wall removed. They are stamped on the floor in rhythm with the drum and gong during a dance, the open end being held up. The use of these stampers by Manóbos is rare, the custom being confined almost exclusively to Mañgguáñgans of the upper Agúsan and upper Sálug Valleys.

Another instrument, but one which can hardly be called musical, is the bamboo horn used for signaling and calling purposes. It consists of an internode of bamboo with one partition wall removed. An opening large enough for the mouth is made on the side of the bamboo near the other node. In using it the mouth is applied to this aperture and a good pair of lungs can produce a loud booming blast. After the occurrence of a death, especially if the deceased has been slain, it is customary to use this instrument as a means of announcing the death to near-by settlements, thereby putting them on their guard against any of the slain one's relatives who might be impelled to take immediate vengeance on the first human being he met.


A method of signaling, much in use among the mixed Manóbo-Mañgguáñgans of the upper Agúsan, consists in beating on the butresses[sic]23 of trees. It is surprising how far the resultant sound travels in the silence and solitude of the forest.


In connection with musical instruments it may not be out of place to mention the bamboo sounders24 attached to looms. They are internodes of bamboo with apertures in the joint wall and a longitudinal slit extending almost from node to node. One of these always constitutes the yarn beam of the loom.


These internodes, besides serving to support the fabric during the process of weaving, denote by their resonance that the weaver is busy at work. The movement of the batten in driving home the weft produces a sound that, owing to the resonance of the bamboo yarn beam may be heard for several hundred meters.

When the Manóbo maiden is especially desirous of calling attention 'to her assiduity and perseverance, she has an extra internode placed in an upright position against the yarn beam just described. This doubles the volume of sound and serves to intimate to visiting young men that she would be an industrious wife.


Singing is as common among the Manóbos as among their countrymen of the Christian tribes. The fond mother croons her babe to sleep with a lullaby. In festive hours the song is the vehicle of praise, of joke, of taunt, and of challenge, and in religious celebrations it is the medium through which the priests address their deities.


The language used in singing is so different from the common vernacular that Bisáyas and Christianized Manóbos who speak and understand perfectly the ordinary dialect of conversation find the language of song unintelligible. I have had several songs dictated to me and found the song words to be plainly archaic. This observation applies also to the song-dialect of Mañgguáñgans, Debabáons and Mandáyas.

As interpreted to me on many occasions, songs are improvisations spun out with endless repetitions of the same ideas in different words. To give an instance, a mountain might be described in the song as a "beauteous hill," a "fair mount," a "lovely eminence," a "beautiful elevation," all depending on the facility with which the maker25 can use the language. This feature of the song serves to explain its inordinate length, for a song may occupy the greater part of a night, apparently without tiring the audience by its verbose periphrases and its exuberant figures.

25Pán-dui, a smith or maker.


The subjects of songs are as varied as those of other nations, but legendary songs, in which the valiant deeds of departed warriors are recounted, seem to be the favorite. As far as I know, the songs are always extemporaneous and not composed of any set form of words and verses.


One must hear the song in order to get an idea of it. In general it is a declamatory solo. The staccatolike way in which the words are sung, the abrupt endings, and the long slurs covering as much as an octave remind one somewhat of Chinese singing. The singer's voice frequently ascends to its highest natural tone and, after dwelling there for from three to six seconds, suddenly slurs down an octave, where it remains playing around three or four consecutive semitones.

There is no choral singing and no accompaniment. No time is observed, the song having wholly the character of a recitation. Neither are there any attempts at rhyming nor at versification. Recurring intervals are the rule.

The music is, in general, of minor tonality and, unless the subject of the song is fighting or doing some other thing that demands loudness, rapidity, and animation, it is of a weird, melancholy character. When, however, the subject of the song requires anything of the spiritoso or veloce, the strain is sung with verve and even furore. It seems to be good etiquette to cover the mouth with the hand when the singer, desiring to add special vigor to the strain, rises to his highest natural pitch and dwells there with an almost deafening prolonged yell.



Sacred songs, as distinguished from secular songs for festive and other occasions, are sung only by the priests and by warrior chiefs. They are supposed to be taught by a special divinity.27 The remarks that apply to music and singing in general apply to these religious songs. The only difference is that sacred singing is the medium by which the spirits are invoked, supplicated, and propitiated, and by which the doings of the supernatural world are communicated to Manóbodom. These ceremonial chants are performed not only during religious celebrations but more commonly at night. The greater part of the night is often worn away with a protracted diffuse narration in which is described, with grandiloquent circumlocution and copious imagery, the doings of the unseen world.

27Tu-tu-dú-mon no diu-wá-ta.


The Manóbo dance is somewhat on the style of an Irish jig or a Scotch hornpipe. It is indulged in on nearly all occasions of social and ceremonial celebrations. Though it may be performed at any time of the day if there is a call for it, yet it usually takes place in the evening or at night, and especially after a drinking bout, when the feasters are feeling extra cheerful in their cups. There are no special dance houses in Manóboland, the ordinary dwelling place of the host serving the purpose. Whenever the floor is in poor condition (and that is often the case) a mat or two may be spread upon it for the safety of the dancer. This may be done out of respect also.

Though dances are held the year round during all great rejoicings and during the greater sacrificial celebrations, it is during the harvesting season that they are given with greatest frequency.


By the social dance is meant the dance which takes place on an occasion of rejoicing and which is indulged in by men, women, and children, one at a time. It is exceptional that two or more persons dance simultaneously. A striking peculiarity in dancing is the wearing of a woman's skirt by males during the dance. No reason is assigned for the practice except the force of custom. It is customary, also, to array the dancer in all the available wealth of Manóboland--waist jacket, hat, necklaces, girdle, hawk bells, and, in case of a female, with brass anklets. Two kerchiefs, held by the corner, one in each hand, complete the array. No flowers nor leaves are used in the decoration of the person during dancing.

The drum, and when it is available, the gong are the only musical accompaniments to the dancing. When these are lacking an old tin can, if such a thing by some good luck has made its way into the house, answers the purpose of a musical instrument. Even the floor is sometimes beaten to produce an accompaniment for the dance. On the upper Agúsan bamboo stampers are occasionally used, in imitation of Mañgguáñgan custom, to impart more animation to the dance.

The dance is never accompanied by vocal music unless the constant scream of approbation and encouragement from the spectators be included under that term.

The time to which the dancing is performed is the same as that described under "the drum" at the beginning of this chapter. It corresponds somewhat to that of our waltz when played presto, although the movements of the feet do not correspond to those of that dance.

The dancer names the rhythm he desires and it is the rule, rather than the exception, that several starts are made, and several drummers tried before a good dancer feels satisfied with the method of playing. This is an indication of the excellent ear which the Manóbo has developed for this apparently rude and primitive form of music.

The women in dancing are more gentle in their manner than the men; they make fewer bending motions and do not posture so much. In other respects the dancing of the men and women is identical.

The step may be called dactyllic28 in that a long or accented beat is struck with one foot and, in immediate succession, two quick short steps are taken with the other. This is varied at recurring intervals by omitting the two short steps, especially in mimetic or dramatic dances when the dancer desires to return to the center or to execute some extra evolution.

28A term borrowed from Latin and Greek versification.

To give a satisfactory description of the attitude and movements of the dancer is impossible, as the skill and grace of the dance consists essentially in postures and gestures, and each individual has his own variations and combination. In fact no two men dance alike, though the women are much alike in their style of dancing, due to the fact that they bend the body and gesticulate comparatively little and that they display less force and exertion. Suffice it to say that the dancer moves his feet in perfect time to the rhythm of the drum and gong, at the same time keeping the arms, hands, fingers, head, and shoulders in constant movement. Now one hand is laid upon the hip while the other is extended upward and at an oblique angle from the shoulder. Again both hands are placed upon the hips and the dancer trips around a few times when suddenly turning, he retires hastily, but in perfect time, with both arms extended upwards and at an angle from the shoulders, the two kerchiefs waving all the time to the movements of the body. During all his movements the arms, hands, and fingers are twisted and turned with graceful and varied, but measured, modulation. Now he raises one shoulder and then another. Now he gazes up with a look of defiance upon his countenance, as if at some imaginary foe, and then down, as if in quest of something. At one time he stops and gently moves his feet to the rhythm of the music for several seconds, at another he circles around with uplifted arms and flying kerchiefs, and scurries to the other end of the dancing space, as if pursued by some foeman. At this point he may circle around again and, the music of the drum and gong surging loud, stamp defiance as if at an imaginary enemy, in measured beat and with quick, wild movements of the legs and the whole body.

And thus the dance goes on, now slow, now fast, now stately, now grotesque, the feet pounding the floor in regular and exact time to the music, and every part of the body moving, according to the whim of the dancer, with graceful and expressive modulation.

The whole dance requires great exertion, as is evidenced by the perspiration that appears upon the dancer's body after a few minutes. For this reason, a dancer rarely continues for more than ten minutes. He names his successor by dancing up to him, and putting the kerchiefs on his shoulders. The appointee nearly always excuses himself on the plea that he does not know how to dance, that his foot is sore, or with some other excuse, but finally yields to the screams of request and exhortation from the encircling spectators.

One who has witnessed a Manóbo dance at night by the flare of fire and torch will not forget the scene. Squatted around in the semidarkness are the russet figures of the merry, primitive spectators, lit up by the flickering glare of the unsteady light, the children usually naked, and the men having frequently bared the upper parts of their bodies. In the center circles the dancer with his wealth of ornaments, advancing, retreating, and posturing. The drum booms, the gong clangs, and the dancer pounds the floor in rhythm. The jingle bells and the wire anklets of the dancer tinkle. The spectators scream in exultation, encouragement, and approval. The dogs add to the pandemonium by an occasional canine chorus of their own, which coupled with the crying of the babies and several other incidental sounds, serves to enhance the rejoicing and to add eclat to the celebration.


Unlike the secular dance just described, the sacred dance is performed exclusively by the male and female priests and by the warrior chiefs of the tribes. It may be performed either in the house or out on the ground, according to the place selected for the sacrifice. In the case of the sacrifice of a pig, the dance and its accompanying rites are always performed out of doors near the house of one of the priests.

The dress of the priests is always as elaborate as possible, as in ordinary festive dancing. Their various portable charms and talismans are always worn around the neck and, instead of kerchiefs being held in the hands, palm fronds29 are used, one in each hand.


The music is similar to that described for the ordinary dance, and the step and movements are identical except that the dance is more moderate, there being no attempt at grotesque or fantastic movements. As it is usually performed before an altar, a mat is spread upon the floor, so that the dancing range is limited. In general, the sacred dance presents, in its simplicity and its lack of violent contortions, rapid motions, and gestures, an element of respect and religious quietude that is not observed in secular dancing. The encircling spectators do not indulge in such unseemly acclamations, though it may be remarked that they assume no posture indicative of religious worship, for they continue to talk among themselves and to indulge in the ordinary occupation of betel-nut chewing, leaving the performance of the dance and the attendant ceremonies to the priests, whose profession it is to attend to such matters.

The dance is performed either consecutively or simultaneously by the priests but is interrupted occasionally by other rites proper to the ceremony.30

30See Chapter XXVI.


Mimetic dances in no wise differ from the ordinary festal dancing except that they are a pantomimic representation, by gestures, by postures, and by mimicry of some feature of Manóbo life. So far as I know these dances are never performed by women.

Mimetic dances are very popular in Manóboland, and visitors whom it is desired to honor, are often treated, without solicitation on their part, to a series of these performances. They often contain an element of what we would call lasciviousness, but to the Manóbo they merely represent ordinary natural acts. The following are some of the mimetic dances which I have witnessed.

The bathing dance.--The dancer gyrates and pirouettes in the ordinary style for several minutes when, by a bending movement, he intimates the picking up of some heavy object. He simulates placing this on his shoulder and then imitates a woman's walk, indicating thereby that he is a woman and that he is going either to get water or take a bath. All this, as well as subsequent representations, are performed in perfect time to the music. By a slow movement and with many a backward glance to see whether he is being watched, he reaches the end of the dancing place which evidently represents the stream for he goes through a pantomimic drinking. He then cautiously and after repeated backward glances, divests himself of all his clothes, and begins the bathing operations. He is frequently interrupted, and upon the supposed appearance of a person presumably a male, he indicates that he has to resume his skirt. The operation of washing the hair and other parts of the body are portrayed with appropriate gestures and movements, as are also the resuming of his dress and the return to the house with a bamboo tubeful of water.

The dagger or sword dance.--This dance is performed only by men, two of whom may take part in it at the same time. It consists in portraying a quarrel between them, the weapon used being either the Mandáya dagger, as on the upper Agúsan, or the ordinary war bolo, as in the central and lower Agúsan. Appropriate flourishes, parries, lunges, foils, advances, and retreats, all extremely graceful and skillful, are depicted just as if a real encounter were taking place.

The apian dance.--This is a dramatic representation of the robbing of a bee's nest. The gathering of the materials and the formation of them into a firebrand, the lighting of it, and the ascent of the tree, are all danced out to perfection. A striking part of the pantomine is the apparently fierce stinging the robber undergoes, especially on certain parts of his body.31

31The pubic region is referred to.

This part of the performance always draws screams of laughter from the spectators. The whole ends with a vivid but very comic representation of the avid consumption of the honey and beebread.

The depilation dance.--This is an illustration, by dancing movements, of the eradication of hair especially in the pubic region. The dancer, indicating by continual glances that he is afraid of being seen, simulates the depilation of the pubic hair. The pain thereby inflicted he manifests by the most comic contortions of his face.32

32Though depilation of the pubic region is represented in dancing, I do not know positively that it takes place in reality.

The sexual dance.--This is a dramatic representation of sexual intercourse on the part of one who apparently has made no overtures or any previous arrangements with the object of his desire. He is supposed to enter the house and approach the recumbent object of his love (in this case represented by a piece of wood or of bamboo) in a timorous, stealthy way. A hand to the ear intimates that he thinks he hears some one approaching. He therefore retires a little distance, and after reassuring himself that all is well, proceeds to attain his object. It is only after protracted circling, approaching, and retiring, that he simulates the attainment of his desire. No indications of bashfulness nor delicacy are exhibited, by the female spectators.33

33I have been informed that sexual relations between a hen and a rooster form the main feature of another mimetic dance.

The war dance.--The war dance is performed outside of the house on the ground by one man alone or by two men simultaneously. The dancer is attired in full festive array with hat and red turban, and is armed with lance, war bolo, and shield.

The accompaniment to the dance is the drum, but both the rhythm executed on it and the step performed by the dancer baffled description. Suffice it to say that the music is a continuous roll tattooed by two expert players, one at each end of the drum. The dancer keeps his feet moving with the greatest conceivable velocity in perfect unison to the rhythm which gives one the general impression of a rapid two-step. The movement of the feet reminds one of the movements made by a rooster or a turkey cock at times. The nodding of the head of the dancer is also similar to that of a game-cock before a fight.

As the dance is supposed to represent an encounter and harid-to-hand fight, all the movements of advancing and retreating, thrusting and parrying are displayed. The combatants move around in circles, now approaching, now receding, always under the protection of the shield. They gaze savagely at each other, now over the shield, now at the side, constantly sticking out their tongues at each other much as a snake does. At times they place a heel in the ground with upraised foot, and with the knee placed against the shield, and lance poised horizontally above the shoulder, make rapid darts at each other. Every once in a while they kneel down on one leg behind their shields and with rapid movements of the head and spear look defiance at each other. During all the movements of the dance the spear is held horizontally and is thrust forward rapidly. The shoulders are constantly moved up and down, and the shield follows this movement, all being in perfect time to the rapid roll of the drum.

The dance ordinarily does not last more than five minutes as the extreme exertion and rapidity of movement soon tire the dancer. It is a magnificent display of warlike skill and of physical agility and endurance.





Manóboland, with the exception of such settlements as have been formed by non-Christian Manóbos in the vicinity of Christian settlements and usually situated at the head of navigation on the tributaries of the Agúsan, is divided into districts, well defined, and, in case of hostility, jealously and vigilantly guarded. These territorial divisions vary in extent from a few square miles to immense tracts of forest and are usually bounded by rivers and streams or by mountains and other natural landmarks. Each of these districts is occupied by a clan that consists of a nominal superior with his family, sons-in-law, and such other of his relatives as may have decided to live within the district. They may number only 20 souls and again they may reach a few hundred.


In the main it may be said that in time of peace the members of the various clans live on good terms, visiting one another and claiming relationship with one another, but peace in Manóboland was formerly very transitory. A drunken brawl might stir up bad blood and every clan and every individual would make ready for a fight.

The Agúsan Valley was styled by Montano, the French traveler, "Le pais de terreur," and from the accounts given to me it must have deserved the name. A perusal of the "Cartas de los PP. de la Compañia de Jesus," which set forth the religious conquest of the Agúsan Valley, begun about 1875, will give an idea of the continuous raids and ambuscades that interfered to no inconsiderable extent with the work of Christian conquest undertaken by the missionaries. Upon my arrival in the Agúsan in 1905 such rivers as the Ihawán, the Baóbo, the upper Umaíam, the upper Argáwan, and all tributaries of the upper Agúsan, were seldom visited by any but members of the clan to whose territorial jurisdiction these rivers and the adjoining districts belonged. The establishment of a special form of government on the lower and middle Agúsan, now known as the subprovince of Butuán, did wonders toward repressing the interclan raids, but on the upper Agúsan they continued at least until my departure in 1910, though not to such an extent as in previous years.

For example, in February, 1910, the settlements of Dugmánon and Moncáyo were in open hostility. I traveled both by land and water with members of the two unfriendly clans. In traveling by water it was necessary to proceed in midstream with shields protecting the occupants of the canoe against the arrows of their enemies. On the trail it was imperative to travel in bodies with a warrior on each side of the trail to guard against ambush.

This feud arose out of a mere bagatelle, followed by the seizure of a pig, and up to the time I left the region had given rise to four deaths. I made every effort to adjudicate the case, but as each clan seemed unwilling to yield, failed to bring the parties together.



It may be said in general that the chief is a man who, by his fluency of speech and by his penetration and sagacity in unraveling the intricate points of a dispute, by his personal prowess, combined with sagacity and fair dealing, has won influence. Personal prowess appeals to the Manóbo, so that in time of hostility the warrior chief is looked up to more than any man who in time of peace might have enjoyed more influence and prestige.

It must be borne in mind that the whole political organization of Manóboland, including the system of government, social control, and administration of justice, is essentially patriarchal, so that the chieftainship is really only a nominal one. The very entity of a clan springs from the kinship of its individual members, and, as in a family, the stronger or abler brother might be selected on a given occasion to represent, defend, or otherwise uphold the family, so in a Manóbo clan or sect the stronger or the wiser member is recognized as chief. However, he can not lay claim to any legal authority nor use any coercion unless it is sanctioned by the more influential members of the clan, is approved by public opinion, and is in conformity with customary law and tribal practices, for there is no people that I know of that is so tenacious and so jealous of ancient usages as the Manóbos of eastern Mindanáo.


Besides the titles applied to warrior chiefs and to priests, there is no title that is in common use to express the influence and authority wielded by any individual. It is not infrequent to hear of so-and-so being spoken of as a datu by the Bisáyas of the Agúsan Valley, but the title is not used by Manóbos, but only by the Banuáon group inhabiting the northwestern part of the valley or by Bisáyas when they desire to cajole their Manóbo friends. The term kuláno is sometimes used by the Bisáyas, but as far as my knowledge goes is not used by Manóbos. It is in all probability a form of the word kuláno that is applied, I think, to Bukídnon chiefs in the subprovince of Bukídnon. The fact that no titles appear to exist for influential men except that of warrior chief and of priest is an indication of the inferiority of the Manóbo to the Mandáya in tribal organization.1

1In Mandáya a very influential chief is styled á-ri-á-ri, a kind of petty king, and the elder of a settlement or even of an individual house has a special name, significative of influence and of respect, to wit, ma-tá-duñg.

There is no hereditary chieftainship, though a warrior chief makes earnest endeavors to instill the spirit of valor into his first born male child from the time he attains the use of reason. No insignia are worn except by the warrior chief and the recognized warrior2 to denote the influence that they exert in the tribe or in the clan. Perfect equality is conspicuous in nearly all things. The chief or the warrior chief sallies forth, often in company with his slaves, and takes part in fishing and in hunting expeditions. On the trail he may carry his own share of the burden if he has been unable to induce others to take it. I have had warrior chiefs, priests, and other influential people many a time act as my carriers, but, of course, out of courtesy and respect, had to allow them more in the way of recompense than was given to those of lesser importance. The chief has no subordinate officers, no heralds, and no assembly house. He lives in his own house and when any trouble arises he settles it, in company with other influential men, either at his own house or at any other house to which it may have been deemed expedient to repair. Hence we may say that little or no formal demonstration of respect is shown a chief. He is a Manóbo of more than usual ability, of strong character, quick to discover the intricacies of an involved question, facile of tongue, loved for his hospitality and generous nature, more frequently better provided with worldly goods than his fellow clansmen, and as a rule with a reputation for fair dealing. Such are, in general, the sources of the respect that gives him a moral weight in the arbitration of clan troubles or even of tribal concerns when no hostility reigns.


I have never heard among the Manóbos of any special celebration in which a chief, other than a warrior chief, is formally recognized. He seems to grow gradually into recognition, just as one brother of a family may, after years of demonstrated ability, be looked up to by the rest of the family.


Although the chiefs almost invariably look upon other men of the tribe as their equals and show no affectation because of their position, yet by those who come in contact with them a certain amount of respect is shown. This is especially true in the great social and religious gatherings and on the visit of a chief to another house. Here he gets an extra supply of pork and of brew and of everything that is being distributed.

From what has been said in a previous part of this monograph it is obvious that women play no part in the control of public affairs. There are no female chiefs. Women are domestic chattels relegated to the house and to the farm. There is a common saying that women have no tribunal--that is, are not fitted to take part in public discussions--the reference being to the town hall of the Spanish regime. Yet I know of one woman, Sinápi by name, who travels around like a chief and through her influence arbitrates questions that the more influential men of the region are unable to settle. She lives on the Simúlao River, just above the settlement of San Isidro, and is without doubt the individual of most influence on the upper Simúlao and Bahaían. In the Jesuit letters mention is made of one Pínkai who had great weight among her fellow tribesmen of the Argáwan River.

Ceteris peribus, the word and authority of the old are respected more than those of others, probably because the former have more numerous relatives, including often their great-grandsons and great-granddaughters, as well as the indefinite number of relatives by marriage that have joined the family since their first sons or their first daughters married. When, however, they reach the age at which they can no longer travel around and take part in the numerous imbroglios and disputes that arise their influence is much less. This, it seems, is one of the great differences between the social system of the Mandáyas and that of the Manóbos and will explain the greater constancy and stability of the Mandáya character as compared with that of the Manóbo.


3Ba-gá-ni from ba-rá-ni (Malay), valiant.

The sword in Manóboland, as in all other parts of the world, is the final arbiter when conciliation fails. Hence the prominent part played by the warrior chief in time of war and frequently in time of peace. For this reason it becomes necessary to discuss at more length the powers, prerogatives, and character of the warrior chief.


The general character of the warrior chief is, among all the tribes of the Agúsan Valley, that of a warrior who has to his credit an average of five deaths. As such deaths are attributed primarily to the special protection of divinities, called Tagbúsau, who delight in the shedding of blood, the chief is regarded in the light of a priest in all that concerns war in somewhat the same way as the bailán or ordinary priest, under the protection of his familiars of tutelary spirits, is expected to officiate in all ordinary religious matters. To the priestly office of the warrior chief is added that of magician to the extent that he can safeguard himself and his friends with magic means against the evil designs of his enemies. Finally, in a country where there is no supremely constituted authority with sufficient force to remedy grievances, but only personal valor and the lance and the bolo to appeal to, it may be expected that in the majority of cases the warrior will assume a fourth prerogative, namely, that of chief. Thus the warrior chief will be considered heir in his warlike character of warrior, in his magic character as medicine man, and finally in his political character as chief.

The Christian conquest of the Agúsan Valley, begun in 1877, and the establishment of a special form of government therein in 1907, have contributed in no small measure to diminish the number of feuds and bloody reprisals that had given the Agúsan Valley its reputation as "the country of terror," and as a consequence leave little opportunity for the recognition of new warriors. Thus it is that at the present day the ancient system is fast fading away, and it is only a matter of years before the warrior chief will be a thing of the past.


As a person of recognized prowess, the warrior chief is naturally the leader in all warlike expeditions, and in time of peace he is looked up to as the future defender of the settlement in which he resides.

Red is the distinguishing mark of the war chief's dress, which ordinarily consists of a red headkerchief with embroidery of white, blue, and yellow cotton at the corners, of a red jacket with similar embroidery on the shoulders and around the back, and of long trousers, sometimes red. His bolo is usually larger and more costly than those carried by ordinary men and is generally of Mandáya origin. His spear, too, is apt to be an expensive one, while his shield not infrequently is tufted with human hair. When leading his band of braves to the attack or during a sacrifice to his protector, the Tagbúsau, he wears his charm-collar4 with its magic herbs.5 On the warpath he binds his hair knot securely and envelops it with a rough hewn hemisphere of wood. His influence in arranging all the details of the plan of attack is strong, but during the attack itself he has little control over his followers.6 This might be expected from the spirit of independence which the Manóbo displays even in the ordinary affairs of life when not influenced by religious or other motives.


5These collars are often as thick as a man's arm in the center, tapering down to the ends. They are about 75 centimeters long, made out of cloth, and contain in sections charms made of trees, plants, herbs, and bezoar and other magic stones, all thought to have divers mystic powers.

6So I have been assured by many great warriors.

In personal valor the warrior chief invariably surpasses his fellows. There are many who will fight face to face, especially in the upper Sálug, Baóbo, Ihawán, and Agúsan regions. Líno and his brother, the late Gúnlas, both of the upper Sálug, are two of the numerous examples that might be adduced. It is true that they take no inordinate risks before an attack, and especially where firearms are opposed to them, yet during an attack they become desperate and will take any risk.

The warrior has often been branded as a traitor, a coward, and butcher, but such an opinion, I unhesitatingly assert, is based on ignorance and prejudice.


When one of the braves who accompany an expedition has killed one or two men in fair fight he acquires the title of manikiád and is entitled to wear a headkerchief striped with red and yellow. His prowess is acknowledged, and he is considered to be so favored by the powers above that he is looked upon as a prospective bagáni or warrior chief. If during ensuing expeditions, or by ambushes, he increases to five7 the number of people whom he has killed, his position as a full-fledged warrior is recognized, but he does not become a warrior chief until such time as the spirits of the gods of war become manifested in him. He is then said to be possessed,8 as it were, and it requires only a banquet to the neighboring datus and warrior chiefs to confirm his title. These peculiar operations of divine influence consist of manifestations of indescribable violence during the attack, of eating the heart and liver of a slain enemy, and of various other exhibitions.

7The number of killings required for promotion to the rank of bagáni, or recognized warrior, varies according to the locality.



The rank of a warrior chief depends on the number of deaths which he may have to his credit. There is apparently no fixed rule in this matter, the custom of one region demanding five deaths for a certain rank while that of another locality may require eight or only two deaths for a similar one. From all reports made to me in nearly every district in the middle and upper Agúsan it appears that the number of deaths requisite in the olden days for the various degrees of warrior chiefship was much higher than it is at present, due no doubt to the greater frequency with which people were killed in those times. For this reason the more recent warrior chiefs are spoken of by the older warriors as worthless.9


The following are the titles recognized by the Manóbos of the Agúsan valley: (1) hanágan; (2) tinabudán;10 (3) kinaboan; (4) lúto or linambúsan; (5) lunúgum; (6) lípus.

10Tinabudán, i. e., wrapped, the full expression being "tinabudán to tabañg," i. e., wrapped with a red handkerchief.

The first title, hanágan, is given to one who has killed five or more people but has not yet been admitted to the full favor of a tagbúsau or blood spirit. The second title, tinabudán, is given to a warrior who has made it evident that he has divine favor and protection, made manifest in the consumption of the heart and the liver, and who falls into a condition similar to that of the priest while in an ecstasy. The insignia of this degree consists of a red kerchief worn wrapped around the hair knot at the back of the head.

The third degree, kinaboan, as the word itself indicates,11 entitles the bearer to add to his apparel a red jacket. Accounts are so various that the exact time when this title is conferred can not be definitely stated. Thus in Umaíam I was given to understand that 25 deaths were a sine qua non, whereas on the Kasilaían River 6, and on the Sálug 7 deaths were reported as sufficient.

11From ká-bo, a jacket.

The fourth title, lúto, by its derivation means "cooked," "done," "finished," so that on attaining this degree a warrior is complete, at least as far as his raiment is concerned, for he adds a pair of red trousers. Though the number of deaths requisite for the attainment of this degree is variously stated as being from 50 to 100, yet I suggest 15 as being, on the average, nearer the truth. The next degree, lunúgum, as the word indicates, entitles the bearer to dress himself all in black. It is a title acquired fortuitously, being given to one who during an attack happened to lance unknowingly a dead man in the house of the enemy. I can offer no further information on the point, except that the recipient of this title must have been already a recognized warrior. It seems probable that when a man commits such an act on a dead man he is believed to be especially favored by the war gods.

The warrior chief who acquires the last title, lípus, is supposed to have innumerable deaths to his credit, but I venture to put 50 as a safe standard of eligibility to this title. Fifty deaths extending over a period of many years, and recounted with such additions as a little vanity and a wine-flushed head might suggest, might easily be converted into infinity. I know of no living warrior chief who bears the title of lípus. Twenty-five deaths is the largest number reached by any warrior with whom I am acquainted. The famous Líno of Sálug and his brother the defunct Gúnlas, reached this rank.


It may be said that in nearly every case the warrior chief is the chief of the clan or settlement. As a man of proved prowess, of sufficient age, and with a good family following he is nearly always recognized as the only one competent to deal with all cases that may come up between his retainers and those of some other chief. Thus it may be said that the Manóbo political system is a patriarchal one in which an elder member of a family, through the respect due to his personal prowess, age, and following, and not through any legal or hereditary sanction adjudges such matters of dispute as inevitably arise between his followers and those of some one else. The system is based on custom and is carried out in a spirit of great fairness and equality.

The territory over which the warrior chief extends his sway is recognized as being the collective ancestral property of the settlement. In time of war no one except a relative is permitted to enter it under the penalty of death, but in time of peace it lies open to all friendly fellow tribesmen. Such matters, however, as fish poisoning12 and hunting by aliens are always interdicted.


Over this territory, usually occupying miles and miles of virgin forest, lofty mountain, and fair valley, are scattered the dependents and relatives of the warrior. It is only in times of trouble or of expected attack that they build high houses for purposes of defense in closer proximity to the chief. These settlements number between 20 and 200 souls, the former number being nearer the average than the latter.

The attitude of the followers toward their chief is in time of peace one of kinship feeling or one of indifference. He has practically no authority until called upon in time of trouble to lend the weight of his influence and the fame of his prowess. He collects no tribute and receives no services. In every respect he does as his lowest retainer does, hunts, fishes, etc., except that he travels more to visit friendly neighboring chiefs, who always receive him as a guest of honor and feast him when they have the wherewithal.

Various grades of chiefs are occasionally reported, such as kuyáno,13 masikámpo,14 and dátu but such grades do not exist. These names have probably been conferred by mercenary Bisáyas for commercial reasons and are not assumed by Manóbos even for purposes of ostentation.

13Kuláno, a title applied, I think, to Moros of the Rio Grande of Mindanáo, and used, I have heard, by the Banuáons.

14Maestre de Campo--i. e., field marshal--was a title given by the Spaniards to faithful Bukídnon chiefs.

The warrior chief is in almost every case the person of greatest influence and authority, both by reason of his position in the family and because of the prestige of his valor. In a country where the bolo and lance are final arbiters when all else has failed the warrior must of necessity be chief or be a person of very marked influence. If he is not recognized as such, he generally removes himself with as many as will or must follow to another locality, and there he becomes chief.

Nothing said here is intended to apply to the political organization of the Christianized Manóbos, or conquistas into settlements under the special government of the Agúsan Province. My remarks are confined exclusively to the pagan people.


The reader is referred to the second part of Chapter XXIV, Part IV, for a detailed account of the functions and prerogatives of the warrior chief in his capacity as priest. For the present we will pass on to consider him in his role of medicine man, summarizing briefly his magic methods for the cure of various ailments ascribed to supernatural agency.

As to the warrior's knowledge and powers in both capacities, I have always found the many warrior chiefs with whom I have come in contact very reticent and have accordingly been unable to secure detailed information on this subject. It is beyond a doubt, however, that great powers are attributed to them both in causing and curing certain ailments.

It may be said that any disease attributed to the displeasure of the blood spirits falls within their jurisdiction as priests and may be cured by a sacrifice or by other ceremonial methods. As a general rule they are supposed to have a knowledge of various magic and medicinal herbs. They are always the possessors of necklaces,15 to which are attributed such powers as those of imparting invisibility and invulnerability. These peculiar charms, as well as numerous herbs, roots, and other things possessing magic power for good and for evil, are often bound up in the charm collars and can not be seen. Nothing will prevail upon the owner to declare even their names. After opening the breast of the slain enemies they dip these mystic collars in the blood and thereby, through the instrumentality of their blood spirits, impart to the collars greater potency.


Hemorrhages and all wounds or other troubles in which a flux of blood appears are thought to emanate from the desire of the familiars of the warrior priests for blood. Hence he is called upon to make intercession and to propitiate16 these bloodthirsty spirits with the sacrifice of a pig or fowl. After the pig has been killed, a little of the blood is caught in a split bamboo receptacle,17 which is then hung up in the house with the blood left in it for the regalement of these insatiate spirits.

16Dá-yo to tag-búsau.


Besides curative means the warrior medicine man is said to have secret means of causing bodily harm to those against whom he feels a grievance. These means are called kometán and have been described in Chapter XV. It is true that others are reputed to have these secret magic means, but none except the warrior priest will make open confession of their reputed powers.




There exists no military organization in Manóboland, no standing army, no reviews, no conscription. The whole male circle of relatives and such others as desire to take part, either for friendship's sake or for the glory and spoil, form the war party. There is no punishment for failure to join an expedition but as blood is thicker than water, the nearer male relatives always take part and there are never wanting others who either bear a grudge against the author of the grievance or go for the emolument that they may receive or even for the sport and the spoil of it. It is customary to bring along such male slaves as may be depended upon to render faithful and efficient work. It is only fear of incurring enmity that holds back the majority of those who do not take part. I here desire, to impress upon my readers one important point in the Manóbo's idea of war, and it is this: That no blame is laid upon nor resentment harbored toward anyone who joins an expedition as a paid warrior.1 I have ascertained beyond reasonable doubt, after continual questioning on my part and open unsolicited avowals on the part of others, that warrior chiefs are frequently paid to redress a wrong in which they have no personal concern.


In the case of ordinary tribesmen, I know that where personal feelings and the hope of material advantages are not an inducement to partake in the expedition, they are frequently tempted with an offer of some such thing as a fine bolo or a lance, to lend their services to the leader of the war party. It is needless to say that only close ties of friendship or relationship to the enemy prevent the offer from being accepted, especially as the acceptance of it relieves the Manóbo from all responsibility for such deaths as may accrue to his credit during the prospective encounter. When, however, previous feuds, or other unfriendly antecedents existed between the warrior and his opponent, the acceptance of a remuneration for his participation in the fray would not shield him from the dire vengeance that would, sooner or later, surely follow.

For a description of the weapons used and of the manner of using them, the reader is referred to Chapter XI.

In the description of the Manóbo house (Chapter V), reference was made to the high houses erected for defense when an unusual attack is expected. Tree houses, at the time I left the valley, were very few and far between, even in the eastern Cordillera and at the headwaters of the Tágo River.

Besides building high houses and resorting to devices referred to in Chapter V, the Manóbos occasionally slash down the surrounding forest in such a way as to form a veritable abatis of timber.

In one place I saw a very unique and effective form of defense. A fence surrounded the house. To gain access to the latter it was necessary to ascend a notched pole about 2 meters high and then to pass along two horizontal bamboo poles about 10 meters long. Numerous deadly bamboo caltrops bristled out of the ground underneath the precarious bamboo bridge that led to a platform whence the house could be reached only by climbing the usual notched pole. Whosoever ventured to cross this perilous bridge, would certainly meet death from one source or another, either from the hurtling shower of arrows from above or from the bristling caltrops below.


Fighting arises from one or more of the following causes: Vendettas, sexual infringements, debts, and sometimes from a system of private seizure, by which the property or life of an innocent third party is taken. The Manóbo expresses the same thing in a simpler way by saying that war has its origin in two things, namely "debt (blood debt included) and deceit." It has been said that glory and the capture of slaves are the springs of war in Manóboland, but this, in my opinion, is not true. Nor will I concede that war is undertaken for merely religious reasons. It is my belief, verified by numerous observations made during several years of intimate dealing with Manóbos throughout eastern Mindanáo, that fighting or killing takes place in order to redress a wrong or to collect a debt, whether it be of blood or of anything else. It is true that many who have no grievance, take part merely for the sport, the spoil, and the glory of it, but in no case that I know of was there wanting on the part of those who inaugurated the war a real and reasonable motive. I have heard of cases of unjust warfare but my informants were enemies of the parties against whom they complained and most probably were calumniating them.


Vendettas, which exist in many more enlightened countries of the world, are the most common cause of war, or it would be better to say, of the continuance of war.

There is no doubt, in my mind, but that the whole eastern quarter of Mindanáo would flame out into interclan warfare, were it not for the efficient form of government now established there. I can bear witness to this fact, as I was cognizant of various raids that took place from 1905 to 1907 and of the fact that they were much less frequent from the close of 1907 till my departure from the Agúsan Valley in 1910.

As in other countries, so in Manóboland, not only is the vendetta regarded as legitimate but it is considered the duty of every relative of the slain to seek revenge for his death. Living in a state of absolute independence from the restraints of outside government, as they had been up to the beginning of the Christian conquest in 1877, the Manóbos, according to their own accounts, passed a very unquiet existence. On account of blood feuds, most of them lived in tree houses built in lofty inaccessible places, as I have been repeatedly told by old men. I have been assured that if ever the Americans leave the valley, old blood scores will be settled, even should it be necessary "to do without salt."2

2The enjoyment of salt seems to be, in the Manóbo's estimation, one of the greatest blessings, if not the greatest, that he has derived from civilization. Yet he would be willing to forego the use of it, if it were possible for him to take revenge upon the slayers of his relatives.

The vendetta system was so prevalent during my first travels in eastern Mindanáo that on one occasion a Manóbo of the Tágo River inquired of me whether there were any living relatives of a certain Manóbo of the upper Argáwan who had killed his grandfather. Upon learning that there were, he forthwith besought me to accompany him in a raid against the relatives of his grandfather's murderers.

Another instance will show the persistency with which the idea of revenge is entertained. I noticed in a house on the Wá-wa River a strong rattan vine strung taut from a rafter to one of the floor joists. My host, the owner of the house, waxed over-merry in his cups and was descanting on his valiant feats in the pre-American days. He suddenly jumped up and twanged the rattan, intimating that he might yet be able to take revenge on a certain enemy of his but that if he were unable to do it, his son after him would strive to fulfill his teaching and that in any case vengeance would be had before the vine rotted. Anyone familiar with the rattan knows its durability, when protected from the influences of the sun and rain.

This practice of stretching a green rattan in some part of the house and of vowing vengeance "till it rot" is not uncommon, and is an indication of the deep, eternal desire for vengeance so characteristic of the Manóbos.

Another practice, also indicative of the vendetta system, is the bequeathing from father to son3 of the duty of seeking revenge. I have never been present at the ceremony but have heard over and over again that so-and-so received the inheritance and must endeavor to carry out the dying behest of his father or other relative. One man, who had received this "teaching," on being questioned as to whether he would like to make peace with his enemy, seemed shocked and vehemently protested, saying, "It can't be done, it can't be done, it is tabooed;" he then went on to upbraid me soundly for the suggestion.

3It is called ka-tud-li-án.

In some cases, the task of revenge is turned over to a third party, who has no personal interest in the feud. As explained to me, such a person is in a better position to attack the enemy than one whose duty it is. In case he succeeds in getting revenge, no blame, I was assured, is attached to him, as he is regarded in the light of a paid warrior or mercenary. Such an institution as this of the vendetta together with the system of private seizure render life in Manóboland very hazardous, and serve to explain the extreme caution and forbearance exhibited by one Manóbo toward another in the most trivial concerns of life.



The practice of private seizure is a very peculiar one, according to our way of thinking, yet it is universal among the tribes of eastern Mindanáo. As long as it is confined to material things, it is not ordinarily a cause for war, but when practiced on a human being, it frequently results in retaliation in kind.

The practice consists in seizing the property of a third, frequently a neutral, party, as a "call" on the debtor. For example, A owes B a slave and for one reason or another has been unable or unwilling to pay his debt. B has exhibited a sufficient amount of patience, while at the same time he has used every means to bring pressure to bear upon A. Finally, despairing of collecting in an amicable way, and, most probably, suspecting that his debtor is playing with him, he seizes a relative or a slave or a pig of C as a "call" to A. C thus pays A's debt and then takes measures to collect from him, the understanding being that B is to take all responsibility for the consequences.

This system seldom gives rise to a blood feud except when blood has been shed. Thus in the above instance, had B killed C, as a summons to A, a feud would almost infallibly have followed. Yet C's relatives might have been willing to accept a money compensation from B, and might have come to an agreement whereby they would jointly operate against A in order to avenge the death of C.

I witnessed a case in which the seizure of a pig was the origin of a bloody feud that had not ended at the time of my departure from the upper Agúsan. As the individuals involved in the case are still living their names will be represented by letters.

A had been fined P15 because his wife had made the statement that B had knowledge of a secret or magic5 poison. C who was a relative of A and already owed B to the amount of P15, with the consent of all parties concerned, assumed the responsibility of paying A's debt, thereby putting himself in debt to B to the amount of one slave (at P30). Now some of C's relatives had certain little claims against some of B's relatives and thought it a good opportunity to collect their own dues and to diminish their kinsman's debt by presenting their claims for payment. B refused to pay on the ground that his kinsfolk and not himself were responsible for the settlement of said claims, whereupon C refused to deliver his slave till the payment to his relatives was forthcoming.


The matter thus lingered for several months until B, who owed a slave to another party, and was pressed for payment thought it time to force matters, and, in company with three relatives, seized A's sow as a "call" on C.

The result of this was that after a few weeks B's wife and another woman were speared to death in a camote patch, and in revenge B took the lives of two of C's party. I made every possible effort to have the matter adjudicated in an informal way but neither party seemed to be anxious to come to terms.

Owing to this system of private seizure, a party of warriors returning from an unsuccessful raid are considered dangerous, and settlements on their trail put themselves in a state of watchfulness,6 for when returning without having secured a victim the party might be incited to make a seizure in order to avoid thereby the derision of their enemies.



Long-continued failure to pay a debt is very frequently the remote cause of war. This is easy to understand if we consider the sacredness with which debts are regarded in Manóboland. An excessive delay in meeting obligations gives rise to hot and hasty words on the part of the creditor; the debtor takes umbrage and retorts, a quarrel with bolos ensues, thereby giving rise to a feud that, under favorable conditions, may continue for generations with its fierce mutual reprisals. A feature that serves to increase the number of these financial bickerings is the fact that questions of indebtedness are almost invariably discussed while drinking is going on and as a result, according to an immemorial rule the world over, the creditor frequently indulges in personalities.

Sexual infringements are a cause of war. Only one case passed under my personal notice but instances of olden days were related to me. There is no doubt in my mind as to the result of a serious sexual misdemeanor; it is death by the lance or the bolo for the offender without much parleying, if one may give credence to the universal outspoken Manóbo opinion on the subject.



No heralds go forth to announce to the enemy the coming conflict. On the contrary, the greatest secrecy is maintained. If the grievance is a sudden and serious one, such as the death of a clansman, a set of ambushers may be dispatched at the earliest moment that the omens are found favorable. Or it may be decided to attack the settlement of the enemy in full force. If the latter decision is reached, a party is sent out to reconnoiter the place of attack. All information possible is obtained from neighbors of the enemy, and, if the reconnaissance shows conditions favorable for an attack, the march is begun in due form. Should the reconnoitering party, however, report unfavorably, the attack is put off until, after weeks, months, or years of patient, but close, vigilance and inquiry, a favorable opportunity presents itself.

Sometimes a bolder warrior chief who has a personal grievance may send a war message in the shape of a fighting-bolo,7 or of a lance with an abusive challenge, but this is rare, as far as I have been able to ascertain. It is common, however, for the more famed war chiefs to keep their personal enemies on the qui-vive, by periodic threats. "I will begin my march 10 nights from now," "I will reap his rice," "I will eat his heart and liver," "He won't be able to sow rice for four years," "I need his wife to plant my camotes"--are samples of the messages that reach a clansman and keep him and his family on some mountain pinnacle for many a long year till such time as the threat is carried out and the posts of his house, all wreathed with secondary growth, tell the grim tale of revenge. I have seen such posts scattered over the face of eastern Mindanáo--a memory of the dead.



The usual time for war is either on the occasion of death in the family or at the time of the harvest season. The former is selected both to soften, by the joy of victory, the sorrow felt for the loss of a dear relative, and to check the jubilation that the enemy would naturally feel and frequently express on such an occasion. The latter is chosen for the purpose of destroying the enemy's rice crop or at least of making it difficult for him to harvest it.

War is undertaken at other times also. Thus a sudden and grievous provocation would cause an expedition to start just as soon as the necessary number of warriors could be assembled, and a favorable combination of omens obtained.

It often happens, I have been told over and over again, that when an attack proves unsuccessful, those who repelled the attack set out at once to surprise their enemies by a shower of arrows while the latter are returning to their homes, or, if possible, reach the settlement before them and massacre the defenseless women and children.


The remote preparations for war consist in locating the house of the enemy and in getting all information, even the minutest, as to the trails, position of traps and bamboo spears. All this must be done through a third party, preferably someone who has a grievance to satisfy, and may require months or even years, for the Manóbo is a cautious fighter and will take no unnecessary risks. During all this time the aggrieved party is enlisting, in a quiet, diplomatic way, the good will of as many as he can trust. If he has no recognized warrior chief on his side he must by all means secure the services of at least one, even though it should be necessary to offer him a material compensation and in divers other ways gain his good will and cooperation.

The immediate preparations consist in sending out a few of the nearest male relatives several days or even a week before the intended attack to reconnoiter the settlement of the enemy. On the return of this party word is sent to those who have agreed to join the expedition and a day and place are appointed for meeting. A pig and a supply of rice are procured and on the appointed day the relatives and friends of the leader assemble at the trysting place, which was, in nearly every instance that I witnessed or heard of, a house somewhat remote from the settlement.

With a warrior chief for officiant certain religious rites8 are performed. The pig is partaken of in the usual style and, if the omens are favorable, all is ready. But should the omens portend evil, the expedition is put off to a more auspicious occasion. In one instance that passed under my personal observation the departure of the warriors was postponed for several days by reason of inauspicious omens. I have heard of some cases in which the war party returned after several days' march in order to await more reassuring signs of success.

8See Pt. IV, Ch. XXVI.

No particular demonstrations of sorrow are manifested by the women when the war party sets out. Revenge is of more importance than love. Moreover, it is seldom that the casualties on the side of the aggressors amount to more than one, so that no fear is entertained and all are sanguine as to the outcome, for have not the omens been consulted and have they not portended so many deaths and so many captives?

The band glides off silently and stealthily into the forest. A war chief, if one has been willing to join the expedition, usually leads, accompanied, it is believed, by his invisible war deities. A little ahead, just the distance of a whisper, the Manóbos say, strides Mandayáñgan, the giant and the hero of the old, old days. All ears are alert for the turtledove's cry, and when its prophetic voice is heard, every arm is up and points with closed fist in the direction of it. But it is only its direction with regard to the leader that is considered. If this is unfavorable, the march is discontinued till the next day, but, if favorable, the party proceeds, selecting, as much as possible, tortuous and seldom trodden trails.

The following are some of the taboos that must be observed by the party while en route.

(1) They may speak to no one met on the trail.

(2) Nothing once taken in the hand may be thrown away until night or until arriving at the enemies' settlement. Thus a piece of a branch caught in the hand and broken off accidentally must be retained.

(3) They may eat nothing that is found on the trail. Thus killing game is prohibited. I heard of one man who had been wounded in an ambush arranged by the enemy on the trail. He assured me that his ill luck was due to his having taken a fish dropped by a fish eagle.9


(4) The food taken on the trail must be placed upon one shield, preferably that of the leader, and thence distributed to the members of the party.

(5) The wives of the warriors are forbidden to indulge in unnecessary shouting and noise, and to remain within the house as far as possible till the return of their husbands.

(6) No cooking may be done on the trail till the settlement of the enemy is reached. This does not mean that food may not be cooked in a house along the trail. On the contrary, I was assured that on a long trip it is customary to call at the house of some friendly person and to make a sacrifice, at the same time taking further observations from the intestines of the victim. I was an eyewitness of this proceeding on one occasion and did not fail to observe also with what relish the war party replenished the inner man.

Besides taboos, there are a number of evil omens that must be guarded against. Thus, if a snake were to cross the path, or any insect such as a bee or a scorpion were to bite or sting one of the party, the return of the whole number would be necessary unless they were too far advanced already. In the latter case other omens must be consulted, and, when it is felt that these new omens have neutralized the effect of the previous ones, the march may be continued. Owing to the observance and reobservance of omens it is obvious that great delays are occasioned and at times the expedition is stopped. On the one that I accompanied in 1907, the turtledove gave a cry, the direction of which was considered to portend neither good nor evil, and the leader expressed his opinion at the time that the object of the expedition would not be attained. He was overruled, however, by the consensus of opinion of his companions, and the march was resumed. Notwithstanding the fact that ensuing signs all proved favorable, yet as I observed very clearly, the first omen had depressed the spirits of the party. When my efforts to settle the dispute without a fight failed, and an open attack was decided upon, there seemed to be no morale in the party, and the attack was abandoned without any special reason. This instance will serve to show the uncompromising faith of the Manóbo in omens, especially in that of the turtledove.

There is one omen of a peculiar nature that is of singular importance while on the warpath. On such a journey red pepper and ginger are consumed in considerable quantities for the purpose, it is said, of increasing one's courage. Naturally, no matter how accustomed one may have become to these spices, he always feels their piquancy to a certain extent, so that the warrior who fails to become aware of a sharp biting taste, regards this as an ill omen and, though he accompanies his fellows to the scene of combat, takes no part in the attack.

It is usual, as was said before, to stop over at a friendly house nearest to that of the enemy and to send forward a few of the band to make another reconnaissance but, if no house is available, a stop is made anywhere. A reason for this is that they may arrive near the settlement at nightfall or during the night.

When the party arrives within a few miles of the actual ascent to the mountain where the enemy's house is situated, a halt is again made in a concealed position and a few of the more experienced warriors advance at dusk on the trail to the house. If the enemy has been in a state of constant vigilance, this undertaking is one of extreme difficulty. The house is on the top of a lofty hill and frequently access can not be had to it except by passing through a series of swamps. In addition one must climb up precipitous ascents, and break through a network of felled trees and such other obstacles as the reader can readily imagine for himself. There is, moreover, the danger from spring traps set both for man and animal, and from sharp bamboo slivers placed all around the house and on the trails. Thus a fair idea can be obtained of the difficulties that are encountered by those who, in the silence and darkness of the night, inform themselves of all that is necessary for a successful attack. After going around the house and unspringing traps and removing sufficient of the bamboo slivers to afford a safe passage, the scouts return to the camp and a whispered consultation takes place. Positions are assigned to each man and a general plan of attack is made. Then, groping along in the gloom of the night, with never a sound but that of their own stumbling steps, they put themselves in position around the settlement and await with bated[sic] breath the break of day.



The break of day is selected as the hour for the attack because sleep is then thought to be soundest and the drowsiness and sluggishness following the awakening to be greater. Moreover, at that time there is sufficient light to enable the attacking party to see their opponents whether they fight or flee.

The number of combatants depends entirely on the strength and position of the enemy. As a rule as many as possible are enlisted for an expedition where the enemy has numerical strength and a strong position. In the expedition which I accompanied in 1907, the party numbered some 60. I have heard of war parties that numbered 150.

When the house or houses of the enemy are low, the aggressors steal up noiselessly and, breaking out into the dismal war cry,10 drive their lances through the floor or through the sides of the house, if it is low enough. They then retire and by listening and questioning ascertain whether any of the inmates still survive. If any remain alive they are to surrender.


When, however, the settlement is a large one, consisting of one or more high houses, the matter is a more difficult one. The aggressors advance to the house and if the floor is out of reach of their lances one or more of the bolder ones may quietly climb up the posts and after dispatching one or more of the inmates with a few thrusts hurriedly slide down to the ground. Then the war cry is called out to increase the consternation that has begun to reign in the house. If the enemy is known to have a large stock of arrows the aggressors retire and allow them to expend part of their supply.

No unnecessary risks are taken in fighting. When the male portion of the enemy are considered capable of making a stand, the house is not approached but a battle of arrows takes place, the aggressors advancing to entice the enemy to shoot, while their bowmen, usually only a few in number, reply. During all this time there is a bandying of hot words, threats, and imprecations on both sides. "I'll have your hair," "I'll eat your liver," "I'll sacrifice your son," "Your wife will get my water," are a few of the expressions that are used. The drum and gong in the house may be beaten all this time as a signal of distress to call such relatives or friends as may live within hearing distance. The priestesses of the attacked party may go through a regular sacrifice if there is a chicken or a pig in the house, beseeching their deities to protect them in this the hour of danger.

When the arrows of the enemy are thought to be expended, the attacking party try by means of a burning arrow to fire the roof. Should this succeed, the inmates are doomed, for when they escape from the house the enemy close in upon them, and kill with lances or bolos, men and women, whether married or single. As a rule, only the children are spared.

Should the roof, however, fail to catch fire another means of attack is employed. Putting their shields upon their heads in a formation much like the old Roman testudo, they advance to the house in bodies of four or six and begin to hack down the posts. But here again they may be foiled, for it has happened that the inmates of the house were provided with a supply of big stones, or had a little boiling water on hand, and made their opponents retire out of fear of the arrows that would be sure to follow when the stones had broken the arrangement of their shields. Moreover, the ordinary Manóbo, who has lived in expectation of an attack sooner or later, has his house set on a number of posts varying from 12 to 20. No little time would be required to cut these and the aggressors would be in danger of receiving wounds and thereby bringing the attack to an end, for it is the invariable practice for the party to retire after one of its members has been wounded or slain. The reason for this custom I am unable to state. There occurred on the Argáwan in 1907 an instance which I verified, and in the various accounts of Manóbo fighting that I received all over the Agúsan Valley, there were numerous instances of the observance of this custom.

In besieging the house, which may not be captured for several days, either firewood, food, or water may give out quickly, and the besieged succumb to hunger, or to thirst. In their last extremity they make a dash for liberty, especially during the night, and, though many of them fall victims, not a few frequently save themselves.

Sometimes, I was told, the besieged rush forward and meet death fighting. Again the men are said to kill their wives and children with their own hands, and then to go forth to meet the enemy. Father Urios, S. J., makes mention of a case of this kind.

As to the number of slain, and of captives, it depends on the size of the settlement. In an instance which I verified on the Húlip River, upper Agúsan, some 190 souls perished in one attack. Though this number seems large, yet it goes to show that on occasions raids are made on a somewhat larger scale than might be expected.

As each one of the attacking party strikes down the victim that falls in his way he notifies his companions of the fact by a fierce yell, calling out at the same time the name of his victim. This is to avoid disputes later and to secure the credit for the killing. Though the killing of a woman does not entitle the warrior to any special title, yet it adds one to his glory list and is supposed to make him more apt to fall into the favor of a war deity. It is said that in the confusion of the flight many women meet their end but that a good many remain in the houses and yield themselves to the mercy of their captors. Some of these, especially the younger ones, are bound with rattan, if they offer resistance and dragged to the settlement of their captors.

As soon as it is ascertained that there is no one left to offer resistance the warriors adorn their lances with leaves of palma brava or such other palm fronds as may be found in the vicinity.

Many warrior chiefs, especially of the Debabáon11 group, have described the fight to me and all agree that it is generally of short duration. This might be expected from the number of precautions taken to insure success. According to all reports a strongly entrenched enemy is seldom attacked, unless it is ascertained that a goodly portion of the male members are absent.

11Babáo is the district between the Sálug and Libagánon Rivers.

As a resume of the method of attack, based on what I learned during my sojourn among the Manóbos, I may say that there are no general nor partial encounters. The house or the settlement is surrounded stealthily just before day, the warriors being spread out at intervals in bands of three or four around the settlement and protected if possible by trees. The leader, who is nearly always a warrior chief, takes up his position with some trusty warriors at the place of closest approach to the house, or at some other strategic point. The arrowmen, who number only a few, are stationed near him. They work at a disadvantage for they have to shoot upward while their opponents in the houses can discharge their arrows downward.

From these positions the attacking party make every effort to cause a panic among the inmates of the house either by chopping down the posts which support the house or by firing the roof. If either purpose is accomplished the besieged rush forth only to meet the point of the lance or the edge of the bolo.

There are no preconcerted movements, no combinations with centers, wings, and reserves. The chief has little or no influence with his followers during the fight, though on account of his personal prowess he is looked up to as a pillar of strength and would, no doubt, if given the opportunity, or if the abuse and banter were extreme, engage in a hand-to-hand encounter. Numerous cases of this kind are on record.

No women nor priests take part in the attack. There are no orators to inspire the warriors to deeds of valor. In lieu of oratory, the warriors on each side engage in the most ferocious abuse imaginable. Challenge after challenge is yelled out defiantly by the besiegers. In the expedition which I joined in 1907, the attacking party incessantly defied their enemies to come down, while the latter in return challenged the besiegers to approach. Neither party seemed willing to take the risk so the arrowmen plied their arrows, the priestesses in the houses continued their invocations, and everybody howled challenges and imprecations at everybody else.



After the fight is over the warrior chiefs perform a ceremony of which I have been able to learn but few details. They are said to become possessed by their tutelary war spirits. They dance and jump around the lifeless body of their chief enemy.12 After performing their dance they open the breast of the enemy and remove the heart and liver, and place their charm collars13 in the opening. When the heart and liver have been cooked, they consume them. But as several war chiefs have assured me, it is not they that partake of the flesh, but their protecting deities. Be that as it may, lemon14 whenever obtainable, is mixed with the gory viands. Some warriors informed me that their deities preferred the heart and liver raw.

12Their tongues are said to loll out of their mouths "one palm-length." This may seem somewhat exaggerated but I can throw no further light on the matter.


14Sú-ái. It is interesting to note the frequency of the use of lemons or limes in religious proceedings.

It is perfectly legitimate to despoil the enemy's house and to bear away such few valuables as may be found. The house, or houses, are then burnt, and the victors, leaving the slain where they fell, hasten back with their captives to cheer the fond ones at home.15

15I have heard it said that the bodies of the slain are doubled up and put into holes in the ground in an upright position. As far as I know this is an exceptional proceeding.

It is said that, as a rule, the aggressors are victorious, for rarely do they attack an enemy that is too strongly entrenched. They prefer to wait, even for years, till an occasion favorable in time, place, and circumstances, presents itself. It is only under special provocation, such as continual attacks by their enemy, that they attack him while he is in a strong position and then more with a view to destroying his crops than with the hope of securing a victim.


The capture of slaves is one of the important features of the expedition. A slave becomes the property of the captor, although a certain number are very frequently given in payment to the warrior chief or chiefs who were engaged to help the raiding party. This number depends on a previous agreement. The age of the captive decides whether he or she will be taken into captivity or slain on the spot. As a rule, all but children under the age of puberty are despatched[sic] there and then as they are liable to escape sooner or later if taken captive. However, I was assured by several warrior chiefs that the better looking unmarried girls are not killed, but are kept to be married, or to be retailed in marriage, thereby bringing a handsome remuneration to the owner. It must not be supposed by the reader that this implies anything inconsistent with sexual morality, for these female slaves are treated with as much delicacy as if they were the captor's daughters. To the numerous inquiries that I made on this point, there was only one reply--that sexual intercourse with them was foul and would make the offender ga-bá-an.16 A warrior who would be guilty of violating this taboo would never, it is thought, attain the rank of warrior chief. Should anyone of the warriors desire to marry his captive he must go through a purificatory17 process, the details of which I am unable to furnish.

16I have never yet been able to grasp the significance of this word. It is used by Bisáyas in the form hi-ga-bá'-an, which has apparently a very similar meaning.


The above taboo goes even further. Not only is the person of the living female captives to be respected but also that of the dead, in so far as it-is considered improper to remove from their persons any object such as bracelets or hair. Men's bodies, however, are rifled of everything, even their hair, and are then unmercifully hacked and hewn.


If the war party is unsuccessful, they return hastily and cautiously. It frequently happens that the enemy take a short cut, being better acquainted with the geography of the region, and lay an ambush at a suitable point. For this reason a close watch is kept on the return home; a few warriors take the lead, and where a beaten trail is followed, a few keep guard on each side at a distance of several yards, to avoid falling into an ambush. When the party arrive at their settlement each repairs to his own house. A thousand and one reasons are assigned for failure, but never is it attributed to a falseness of the omens--anything but that. Should the band, however, have been victorious, or have brought about the death of the chief enemy at least, no words can describe their joy and jubilation. The woods reecho with their wild screams and the weird ululations of the battle cry. Each one provides himself with a bamboo trumpet and makes the forest resound with its deep boom. The captives that offer any resistance, are dragged along, or even killed, if they become too troublesome. Upon nearing a friendly settlement the din is redoubled and the whole settlement turns out to welcome the victors. But when their home settlement is reached the scene is indescribable. I witnessed an occasion of this kind. Before the party came into sight the bamboo trumpets could be heard, first faintly and then increasing in strength. As soon as the expectant women and the few men who had remained in the village had satisfied themselves that their relatives and friends were returning, drums and gongs were beaten in answer. The young men and boys rushed out and crossing the river on their rafts or in their boats dashed into the forest to meet the conquerors. Even the women became hilarious and gave vent to loud cries. For a few minutes before the appearance of the party the war cry could be heard and when they came into view on the other side of the river the din was indescribable. The gong and drum were brought down to the bank and the war tattoo was beaten. The clanging of the gong, the rolling of the drum, the booming of the trumpets, the ululation of the war cry, and the lusty yells and shrieks of joy, welcome, and inquiry produced a pandemonium that baffles description. Before the victors crossed the river they all took a bath,18 not for sanitary but for ceremonial reasons. The bath is thought to have a purificatory effect in that it removes the evil influence19 of death.

18This is an invariable custom, I was told.

19Bá-ho, literally foul smell.

When the victors had crossed the river they removed the palm fronds20 with which they had adorned their lances and put them on the necks and heads of their wives and friends. Later on a banquet was prepared and the reader is left to conceive for himself the revels that followed. It is said that not infrequently at this time some of the captives are given to the unsuccessful warriors for immediate slaughter. That this has occurred I have absolutely no reason to doubt, and every reason to believe. I have heard many describe among themselves how it was done, and what joy it gave them to be able to take revenge upon one of their hereditary enemies.

20Called Ma-yún-hau. It is said that these are frequently stained with the blood of the slain.


Ambush21 is a legitimate method of warfare, according to Manóbo customs. It consists in locating one's self with one or more companions at a place which the enemy is expected to pass. A favorite place for the ambush is on the trail between the enemy's house and his rice or camote field, but a spot on a river bank or at any suitable point may be selected. Great precautions are taken by putting up screens of leaves to prevent the enemy from discovering the ambush. This is always made on the right hand22 and very frequently there is a supply of sticks and stones in readiness. The position on the right hand is chosen because it gives those in wait an opportunity to deal a blow on the weaker side of the enemy, all of whom carry the shield in the left hand.


22Right hand refers to the right hand of the party to be attacked.

It is customary to take an ear or the right forearm of one slain in ambush as a proof of his death if the conditions of the ambush require such a proof. An instance occurred during my first visit to the upper Agúsan in 1907. Three Mañgguáñgans were ambushed by a mixed group of Manóbos and Debabáons, and the above-mentioned parts of their bodies were taken by the victors to their clans as a proof of the killing.

After a rupture between two parties, one or both of them go into a state which is expressed by the word láma. This signifies that one or both of them abandons his homestead and transfers himself and the members of his household (usually a few brothers-in-law with their families) to some place difficult of access. If the house can be built on a bluff, or a hill that is approachable from only one or two sides, so much the better. On such a site a house23 is built varying from 5 meters to 8 meters in height, sometimes, though rarely nowadays, being built upon a tree trunk. The felled timber at the edge of the forest is left unburned. Bamboo or palma brava caltrops are placed in the encircling forest. In addition to these, spring traps24 for human beings may be set out if it is suspected that an attack is imminent. In certain localities I have seen a stockade25 erected around the house. Sometimes a wall of old bamboo may be built from the ground up to the floor, inclined inward at the bottom at an angle of about 70° to the ground. The ladder is invariably a log with a number of notches in it. Strips of bark or even bamboo shingles may form the roof but as a rule the Manóbo takes his chances with a roof of rattan leaf.




On approaching the house of one who is in state of vigilance, it is not unusual to find certain signs on the trail. Thus a broken earthen pot is frequently hung up, or if the trail leads to the house of a warrior chief, there will be probably the parted bamboo called binúka, and a number of saplings slashed down at a certain point on the trail, both of which signs are symbolic of the evil fate that will befall such as dare to enter the guarded region.

No one but a near relative may live within a certain definite distance of a house which is in a state of defense, nor may anyone visit it except by special request. If the inmate has to meet anyone he appoints a trysting place at some spot in the woods and there the visitor, by beating on the butress[sic] of a tree or by any other preconcerted signal, announces his presence. The former may be suspicious and may first circle around to examine the footprints before he ventures to approach.



When the opposing parties have evened up their blood accounts and are wearied of ambushes, surprises, loss of relatives, destruction of crops, and continual fight and flight, they agree to make peace either through a friendly chief, or by a formal peacemaking. The desire to make peace is made known by sending to the enemy a work bolo. If it is accepted, it is a sign that the desire is mutual but if it is returned, arbitration must be brought about through a third party, usually a warrior chief or a datu. For this purpose a clear open space, such as a big sandbar, is appointed and a day fixed.

On the appointed day the parties arrive in separate bands and take up their positions facing one another, a line being drawn or a long piece of rattan being placed on the ground beyond which no member of either party may pass. Matters are then discussed in the presence of such datus or persons of influence as may have been selected for that purpose and after balancing up blood and other debts, the leaders agree to make the payments at an appointed time and thereby put an end to the feud. As an evidence of their sincerity, they part between them a piece of green rattan.27 Then beeswax28 is burned. This is a kind of oath which serves to bind them to their contracts.29

27I have been informed of a very interesting custom said to be observed by the Banuáon group in settling their troubles. It was said that peace is made by hand-to-hand fights in which single pairs of opponents fight until the datus who act as umpires award the victory to one or the other. This is called din-a-tú-an.


29I never witnessed a peacemaking and I never had a chance to assist at one of the referred combats of the Banuáon people, mentioned above.




Bisáyas and other people who have had more or less familiar dealings with Manóbos almost invariably make the statement that Manóbo justice is the oppression of the weak by the strong; that there is no customary law that governs in social dealings except that one which is founded on the caprice and villainy of the warrior chiefs and of those who have most influence and following. Now I utterly repudiate such statements and rumors as being due either to lack of familiarity; to a too ready tendency to believe malicious reports; or to undisguised ill will toward, and contempt of, Manóbos. I have lived on familiar terms with these primitive people for a considerable period and have found no evidence of oppression and tyranny. Disputes and misunderstandings arise at times, people sometimes fly into a rage, killings take place on occasions, but such things happen among other peoples. It is truly surprising, considering the lack of tribal and interclan cohesion in Manóboland, that such occurrences are not more frequent or even continual. The statement that the warriors and other influential men rule by caprice and oppression is unfounded. There is no coercion in Manóboland, except such as arises from the influence of relatives, and from gentle persuasion and general consent. A warrior chief, or any other man who would try to use a despotic hand or even to be insolent, exacting, or unrelenting in his manner, would not only lose his friends and his influence, but would arouse hostility and place himself and his relatives in jeopardy.

It must be understood from the outset that in Manóboland there is no constituted judicial authority nor any definite system of laws. There are no courts, and no punishments such as imprisonment, torturing, and whipping. All social dealings by which one contracts an obligation to another are regulated by the principle that one and all must act according to established custom. This principle governs the procedure even of chiefs and influential men when they endeavor to bring about a settlement through the weight of their influence.

Voluntary and involuntary departures from the beaten track cause disputes when these deviations affect another's rights. Thus to refuse one the hospitality of the house, or to overlook him intentionally in the distribution of betel nut would give rise to a dispute, because these courtesies are customary and are therefore obligatory.

Punishment for a violation of customary obligation then becomes a matter of private justice. The injured one either singly, or by means of his relatives and of such friends as he may interest in his cause, seeks reparation from the offender. If he can not secure it through an appeal to customary law supported by the consensus of opinion of the relatives on each side, he takes justice into his own hands and kills his opponent or orders him to be killed.



The Manóbo system of law is still in its indefinite primitive stage. Its fundamental principles are involved in the retention, preservation, and devolution of property. Unlike the highly developed legal systems of the world, it tends, in general, to consider violations as civil, and not as criminal, wrongs. Hence upon due restitution, offered with good will, the great majority of transgressions upon another's rights are quickly condoned. In this it is far more humane than other systems that seek not only justice for the injured party but the corporal punishment of the wrongdoer.


As far as my observation goes justice is administered on a patriarchal plan in a spirit of fairness and equality. Except in the case of flagrant public wrongs the transgressor is given a fair and impartial hearing, aided by the presence of his relatives and of others whom he may select or who may choose to attend the arbitration of the case. The presence of the relatives contributes in nearly every case an element of good will, and prevents the use of intimidation. It helps greatly to promote, and not to prevent, justice. It is the paramount factor in determining the defendant to yield, even when bad feeling has been aroused on each side, and when their desire for revenge and spirit of independence would naturally prompt them to have recourse to violent methods. Though the female relatives do not take formal part in the arbitration, yet in their own gentle way they exert a certain amount of influence for good.


Because of the desire for revenge which the Manóbo inherits and the universal recognition of the revenge system in Manóboland, an appeal to good will in the settlement of matters is very important, and is a feature of every case of arbitration. I have attended many and many a Manóbo arbitration at which the wrongdoer, after being condemned by the consensus of opinion, was asked over and over whether he recognized his fault and whether he received the sentence with good will. In nearly every instance he replied that he did, and, as an evidence of his sincerity, procured, as soon as convenient, a pig and invited the assembly to a feast. On one occasion I acted as the judge in a case of rape committed by a Manóbo who had had frequent dealings with Christian Manóbos. At my urgent request his life was spared and a fine of 100 pesos was imposed upon him. After he had expressed his conformity with the sentence and his lack of ill feeling toward his accusers, I notified the chief of the other party of my intention to leave the settlement, whereupon he told me secretly that I had better wait as the defendant in the case would undoubtedly entertain the company with pork and potations. And so it happened, for the defendant procured a pig that must have been worth 15 pesos, and a supply of sugarcane wine that must have cost him a few more, expenditures that would not be deducted from the amount of his fine.


Owing to the utter lack of interclan and tribal organization there is no set of statute laws in Manóboland, but, in lieu of them, there are a number of traditional laws, simple and definite, that, in conjunction with religious interdictions, serve in the main to uphold justice, the foundation of all law. There is no word for law in the whole Manóbo dialect, but the word for custom1 is used invariably to express the regulations that govern dealings between man and man.


One fundamental law is the obligation to pay a debt, whether it be a blood debt or a material one. A very common axiom says that "there is no debt that will not be paid"--if not to-day, to-morrow; if not during one lifetime, during another--for the collection of it will be bequeathed as a sacred inheritance from father to son, and from son to grandson. Montano2 notes with surprise the sacredness in which debts are held, not only by Manóbos of the Agúsan Valley but by all the numerous tribes with which he came in contact in his travels around the gulf of Davao. I noted the same throughout eastern Mindanáo. The Manóbo, when called to account, will never deny his true indebtedness, and when no further time is given him, he will satisfy his obligations, even if he has to part with his personal effects at a nominal value or put himself deeply in debt to others. He is never considered insolvent. It is true that the Christianized part of Manóboland is not so punctilious in the settlement of financial obligations to outsiders (Bisáyas), but this is explained by the bad feeling that has arisen toward the latter on account of-the wholesale, fraudulent exploitation carried on in commercial dealings between them and the Christian Manóbos.

2Une mission aux Isles Philippines.

So many references have already been made in previous chapters to the practice of revenge that it is not necessary to dilate upon it here. Suffice it to say that it is not only the right but the duty, often bequeathed by father to son, to obey this stern law. One who would allow a deliberate breach of his rights to pass without obtaining sufficient compensation would be looked down upon as a sorry specimen of manhood. The feeling is so deeply rooted in the heart that the wife may urge her husband, and the fiancé, her lover, to carry out the law, and the father may instill into the hearts of his little ones the desire to wreak vengeance upon their common enemies.



The intense conservatism of the Manóbo, fostered by the priestly order, is the basis of the customary law that determines and regulates social and individual dealings in Manóboland. So strong is this conservatism, based on a religious principle, that it is believed that any act not consistent with established customs arouses the resentment of the spirit world. This feeling exerts so powerful an influence that in many cases a definite custom is carried out even when a departure from it would be manifestly to the material advantage of the individual. As has been set forth before in this monograph, the ridiculously low prices at which rice is sold in harvest time is a case in point.

The extreme cautiousness and suspiciousness that is such a dominant feature of Manóbo character tends also to maintain the customary law. The Manóbo prefers to jog along in the same old way rather than to do anything unusual, thereby laying himself open to the displeasure of his fellowmen and to that of the gods.


The legion of taboos, religious and magic, limits the Manóbo's actions, in no inconsiderable manner, within fixed and definite rules, the nonobservance of which would render him responsible for such evil consequences as might follow. To cite an instance: When I first went into a region near Talakógon that was considered to belong to a local deity, my guide cautioned me to avoid certain actions which, he said, were displeasing to the reigning deity. I asked him what would be the consequence if harm were to befall him as a result of my failure to comply with his instructions. He quietly informed me that I would be responsible to his relatives for any harm which might come to him.

Again if one enters a rice field during harvest time the displeasure of the goddess of grain is aroused, and the rice is likely to be diminished in quantity. The transgressor may do all in his power to appease the offended goddess, but if she refuses to be appeased and permits a decrease of the supply, not otherwise explainable, he will be held responsible, and in the due course of events will have to make good the shortage according to the tenets of customary law.

Another example will show the rigid regulations that custom imposes in the matter of omens. I started out with a Manóbo of the upper Agúsan for a point up the Nábok River. At the beginning of our trip the turtle bird's cry came from a direction directly in front of us--an indication of impending evil either during the trip or at its termination. My guide and companion begged me not to proceed, but I managed to convince him that there was nothing to be feared, so he consented to continue the trip with me. Now it happened that he had a quantity of loose beads in his betel-nut knapsack and that a hole was worn in the sack before the end of the trip, the result being that he lost his beads. He held a consultation with the chief of the settlement at which we had arrived, explaining the omen bird's evil cry and the efforts he had made to persuade me to desist from the trip. It was decided that because of my failure to follow the directions indicated by the omen bird, I was responsible for the loss of the beads. On further discussion of the point it became apparent that I would have had to answer for the life of my companion, if he had lost it on the trail, for it was intimated to me that the omen bird's voice had clearly warned us of danger and I was requested to explain my failure to heed the warning.

The observance of customs for religious reasons suggests an explanation of many acts that to an outsider seem inexplicable, not to say unreasonable. The selection of farm sites at considerable distances from the dwelling, the reluctance to leave the region of one's birth, the unwillingness to visit remote mountains and similar places, the fear of doing anything unusual in places thought to be the domain of a deity--these and numerous other ideas--are to be attributed to the observance of customary law.

In this connection it may be well to remark that a stranger visiting remote Manóbo settlements without an introduction or without previous warning should be very careful, if he desires to deal with these primitive people in a spirit of friendship, not to break openly and flagrantly any such regulations, principally religious ones, as may be pointed out to him. In fact it would be well to ascertain as soon as possible what is expected of him. I have always made it a point to announce that I would not be responsible for any evil consequences attending my violation of customs that I was ignorant of and I have requested my new friends to acquaint me with such customs and beliefs as might differ from those of other Manóbo settlements.



Property rights in the full sense of the word are not only very clearly understood but very sternly maintained. The Manóbo conception of them is so high that, with the exception of such things as camotes and other vegetable products, even gifts must be paid for. And even for such trifling things as camotes, an equivalent in kind is expected at the option of the donor. During my wanderings I was always in the habit of making presents as compensation for the food furnished me, and was frequently asked why I had done so, and why I did not make the recipients of these presents pay me. No explanation could change the strong belief that all property of any value, whether given under contract or not, should be paid for. This principle is further evidenced by the fact that there is no word in the Manóbo dialect for gift nor is there any word for thanks. In some places, however, they have a conception of "alms."3 On many occasions one of the first requests made to me by a new acquaintance of some standing was a request for alms. I am of opinion that this idea was acquired by them from the universal reports concerning the liberality of the missionaries who from the middle of the seventeenth century labored in the Agúsan Valley. A request for alms or for a present of any value is seldom made by one Manóbo of another, but when it is made it is met by a simple answer, "I do not owe you anything." That settles the question at once.

3Lí-mos, probably from the Spanish limosna, alms.

My practice of distributing gifts frequently aroused some ill feeling. For example, on many occasions I was asked by individuals why I had made presents to so-and-so and not to them. It was necessary in these cases to explain that I owed a debt of good will to the individuals referred to and that I would most assuredly give like gifts to others whenever I should become indebted to them in a similar manner.


Customary law regarding public land is very simple. Each clan and, in some cases, one or more individual family chiefs, have districts which are the collective property of the clan or family. Theoretically this ownership gives hunting, fishing, agricultural, and other rights to that clan or family, to the exclusion of others. In practice, however, anyone who is on good terms with the chief who represents the family or the clan in question, may occupy a portion of the land without any other formality than that of mentioning the matter to the proper chief. The occupation presumes that the occupant is on terms of good will with the chief, and it never implies that the new occupant is required to pay anything for the use of the land. With regard to fishing rights, especially when the fish-poisoning method is employed, it is very often stipulated that a share of the catch shall be given to the owner. When the two parties concerned are on good terms, the territory of one may be used by the other for hunting, apparently without any question.

When the rice-sowing season is at hand, the Manóbo goes over the clan district and selects any piece of vacant land that, because of its fertility and closeness to water, may have recommended itself to him after a due consultation of the omens. Having made the selection, he formally takes possession of the land by slashing down a few small trees in a conspicuous place and by parting the top of a small tree stem and inserting into it at right angles a piece of wood. He then returns to his settlement and announces his selection. He has become now the owner of the land. Anyone who might attempt to claim the land would become cleft, so it is believed, like the parted stem that was left as a proof of the occupation of the land. In a few cases I saw a broken earthen pot left on an upright stick. It was explained to me that this, too, was a symbol of what would befall the one who would dare to dispute the right to the property. This is another evidence of the widespread belief in sympathetic magic.

In my travels throughout eastern Mindanáo I never heard of a single instance of a land dispute among the non-Christian peoples. There is no reason for dispute because the whole of the interior is an immense and very sparsely populated forest that could support millions instead of the scant population which is now scattered through it. Moreover, the religious element in the selection, the consultation of omens, and the approval by the unseen world seem to prevent disputes.

From the moment of occupation, then, till the abandonment of the site the occupant is the sole lawful owner of the land and has full rights to proprietorship of all that it produces. When he abandons the land he still retains the ownership of such crops or plants as may be growing on it. Hence betel-nut palms, betel plants, bananas, and other plants, belong, to him and to his descendants after him. Even such fugitive crops as camotes are his until they die off or are destroyed by wild boars.

Fruit trees, such as durian, jack-fruit, and others growing in the forest, are, in theory, the collective property of a clan or of a family, but in practice anyone may help himself. However, the finder becomes sole and exclusive owner of a bee's nest as soon as he sets up an indication of his ownership in the form of a split stick with a small crosspiece, and announces his possessive rights on his return to the settlement. The parted trunk has a form and significance similar to that which it has in connection with the selection of a new site. As far as I know a bee's nest once located by one individual is seldom appropriated by another, but the theft of palm wine is common enough, especially if the palm tree be at a considerable distance from the owner's settlement.

All other property that is the result of one's own labor, or that has been acquired by purchase or in any other customary way, belongs to the individual, unless he is a slave. Even slaves, captured during war raids, become the property of their captors, unless stipulation to the contrary has been made before the raid. In one expedition that took place in 1907 a certain warrior chief was delegated to punish a Mañgguáñgan. As an advance payment he received a few bolos and lances, but it was expressly agreed that after the attack he and his party were to receive all the slaves captured.

With regard to the loss of, or damage to, property belonging to another, the customary law is rigid; the damage or the loss must be made good, no matter how unfortunate may have been the circumstances of the loss. This will explain the great care that carriers exercise in transporting the property of others through the mountains, for if by any mischance the things were to get lost or wet or broken, or damaged in any other way, they would be required to make good the loss. This custom, as applied in some cases, may seem somewhat harsh, but it must be remembered that Manóboland is a land where the law of vengeance prevails, and that no opportunity to wreak vengeance must be given. Such opportunities would occur if anyone were permitted to attribute a loss or other accident to involuntary causes.

This rigid law will explain also the peculiar liability under which one is sometimes placed for an absolutely unintentional and unforeseen act. Thus, on a certain occasion, one of my carriers died a few days after my arrival in a settlement. Shortly after the occurrence of the death I was confronted by a band of the relatives of the deceased in full panoply and requested to pay the commercial equivalent of a slave.

On another occasion I ran after a child in play. The child out of fright rushed into the forest and hid. The same afternoon it was taken with a violent fever to which it succumbed a few days later. I was not in the settlement at the time of the death, and was not sorry, for it was reported to me that the father of the deceased child had said that he would have killed me. On my return to his settlement a few days later I visited the father for the purpose of having the case arbitrated. He broached the subject and demanded three slaves, or their equivalent, in payment for the death of his child, which was due, he firmly believed and asseverated, to the scare that I had given it.

Many instances might be adduced to illustrate the peculiar liability which one undergoes in dealing with these primitive men who follow out in practice the old fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc.


The conception of contract is as universal as the conception of property rights, but a certain amount of leniency seems to be expected in such details as fulfilling the terms of the contract on the specified date, unless it has been expressly and formally agreed that no leniency is to be looked for. In case of a failure to fulfill the contract at the stated time it is customary to offer either what is called an "excuse,"4 in the form of extra hospitality or a free gift of some article, not so valuable as to constitute a debt, or to make many explanations, very frequently fictitious. These remarks apply only to cases in which the creditor has undergone the hardship of a reasonably long trip or of other necessary expenditures. Thus, to illustrate the point, A owes B a pig deliverable, according to agreement, after the lapse of so many days, there being no express provisions for any penalty in case of nonfulfillment of the agreement. B goes to A's house and is treated to a special meal with an accompaniment of drink when obtainable. Toward the termination of the meal, he is informed by A of the latter's inability to pay, for numerous real, or more numerous fictitious, reasons. B accepts this excuse but before leaving asks for some little thing that he may take a fancy to. It is always given as an "excuse." Another day for the payment is agreed upon. This leniency may be displayed on one or more occasions till the delay in paying exasperates B or renders him liable to loss. Ill feeling arises all the more readily if B feels that A has not been as assiduous as he should have been. Then a stringent contract is entered upon, the nonperformance of which will render A liable to interest or to a fine, as may be stipulated.


In cases where serious consequences might result from a failure to fulfill a contract, it is customary for the contractor and often for the other party to make a number of knots on a strip of rattan, each knot signifying a day of the time to elapse before payment, or representing one article of the goods to be paid for, or one item of the goods to be delivered.

All more important contracts are made in the presence of witnesses, and the time and the number of articles to be delivered are counted out on the floor with grains of corn or with little pieces of wood, or are indicated by counting a corresponding number of the slats of the floor.


The law of debt in Manóboland is so rigid that failure to comply with it has given rise to many a bloody feud. All commercial transactions are conducted on a credit basis. An individual whom we will call A needs a pig, for instance, and starts out on a quest to secure one. He visits one of his acquaintances and informally brings up the subject, remarking, for example, that he would like to buy a certain pig that is in the settlement. He may not be able to make the purchase until he has tried several settlements, for it may happen that the owner of each pig may want in exchange objects that A does not have and is unable to get. Thus B, the owner of a pig in the first settlement, wants in payment a Mandáya lance of a certain length, breadth, and make. Now A knows of no one from whom he can procure such a lance, so he has to go on to the settlement of C who in exchange for his pig wants five pieces of Mandáya cloth. A is afraid to take the pig on such terms because the Ihawán Manóbos are in arms on account of a recent killing, and as the trade route for Mandáya cloth passes through the territory of the Ihawán Manóbos he sees no possibility of fulfilling a contract to deliver the cloth. So off he goes to the settlement of D where he finds a pig for which the owner demands four yards of blue cloth, two of red, and two of black, together with a specified quantity of salt. A thinks that it will be easy for him to run over to some Christian settlement and get those articles in time to pay D, so he clinches the bargain by putting a series of knots in a strip of rattan to represent the number of days to expire before the date of payment. This he delivers to D and the contract is sealed. He then returns to his settlement with his pig, and turns it over to some one else perhaps, to whom he owes a pig, or, if it was intended for a sacrifice, to the family priest or priestess. In due time it is disposed of with much satisfaction to the gods and to the inner man. As the day for payment approaches, A must take measures to get the salt and the cloth for D, so he hastens to the settlement of E, if sickness in the family, or heavy rains, or some other obstacle does not prevent him, but finds that E requires a Mandáya bolo for the articles needed and as A has no such object and sees no immediate prospect of obtaining it, he goes on to F's. F demands a certain amount of beeswax and a Mandáya dagger in exchange for the cloth and the salt and as A feels that he can procure these articles, he closes the bargain, promising to deliver the goods within so many days or weeks.

A now owes D cloth and salt, payable within 14 days, let us suppose. He is also under contract to F to furnish him a dagger and a specified amount of beeswax, also on a specified date. Upon the approach of the time agreed upon A runs over to F's only to find that F had been unable to get the cloth and the salt, either because no Bisáya trader has been up to the Christianized settlement on the river; or because of heavy rains or for some other reason. The result is that A returns to his settlement without the cloth and the salt. Upon his arrival at D's or upon D's arrival at his settlement, as the case may be, he excuses himself to D, setting forth in detail the reason for his failure. He treats D as best he can, and fixes another date for the delivery of the salt and the cloth, the same to be delivered at D's settlement. D returns to his home without the salt and the cloth and awaits the delivery.

Now it may happen that, through the fault of A or through the fault of F or through unforeseen circumstances, A is unable to keep his agreement. D has made many useless trips to collect from A. It is true that D has been feasted by A upon every visit but the long delay, and possibly his debt of salt to someone else, is gradually provoking him. So one day he speaks somewhat strongly to A, setting a definite term for the payment. If A is unable to meet his obligations after this ultimatum, or if D suspects or has proof that A is playing a game, matters become strained and D has recourse to one of three methods: (1) Collection by armed intimidation; (2) the tawágan or seizure; (3) war raid.

The last two methods have been sufficiently explained in Chapter XVIII but the first needs a little explanation.

After all attempts to collect by peaceable means have failed, the creditor assembles his male relatives and friends and proceeds to the house of the debtor with all the accoutrements of war. It is customary to bring along a neutral chief or two from other clans. Upon arriving at the debtor's house no hostile demonstrations are made. The creditor and his party enter as if their object were an ordinary visit. Should, however, the debtor have abandoned his house, this part of the affair would be at an end, for the creditor would be justified in adopting the second method (i. e., the seizing of any object, human of other that he might see), or the third method.

Should his debtor, however, be present, the creditor and his companions are regaled with betel nut and food and the meeting is perfectly goodnatured. But gradually the subject of the debt is introduced and then begins the pandemonium. If the chiefs who have accompanied the creditor's party have enough moral influence to bring about an agreement, the matter is settled, but if not, the visiting party may depart suddenly with yells of menace and defiance, and very frequently may have recourse to the seizure method, taking on their way home any object that they may encounter such as a pig, or even a human being. Hence as soon as it becomes known that no settlement has been made bamboo joints5 are blown--the invariable signal in Manóboland of danger--and everybody goes into armed vigilance. Children and women are not allowed to leave the house, and pigs are frequently taken from below and put up in the house until the enraged creditor and his party have gone.


I was in one place where such a state of things existed. My merchandise was taken by my host from under the house and carefully hidden upstairs. I wished to go to meet the collecting party but no one would volunteer to accompany me.

If an agreement to pay has been brought about, the debtor has to make the settlement before the departure of his creditor, even though it may require several days to complete the payment. In this latter case the sustenance of the visiting party and all their needs fall, by custom, upon the poor debtor.

Such is the customary method of collecting debts when all peaceable efforts have been unavailing. To understand the principle involved in it, as also the circumstances that bring it about, it is necessary to bear in mind that once the creditor becomes disgusted with the delay of his debtor in settling the account, he announces his intention to add to the indebtedness a financial equivalent of all fatigues6 and expenses to be subsequently incurred in the collection of the debt. These fatigues not only include the actual trips made both by himself and such messengers as he may send to collect the debt, but such incidental losses, sicknesses, or accidents as may be the outcome of such trips.


Another principle recognized in this matter is the liability into which the debtor may fall for such losses as the creditor may undergo through his failure to fulfill his obligations to a third person. Thus A owes B a pig, and B owes C, who in his turn must pay a lance to D at a certain time. On account of C's failure to deliver the lance in due time to D, he is, according to a previous contract, mulcted to the equivalent of 15 pesos. Had C been able to purchase a lance with the pig that B owed him he would, by customary law, be justified in putting the fine of 15 pesos to B's account. B attributes his failure to A's delay and on the same grounds, adds 15 pesos to the latter's indebtedness.

It is clear that the principle of liability involved in this system gives rise to an infinity of disputes that may lead to bloodshed whenever the matter can not be arbitrated by the more influential men and chiefs in a public assembly. The debt after a certain time increases beyond reasonable proportions until it finally becomes so great as to be beyond the debtor's means. Notwithstanding the sacredness with which the average Manóbo regards his debts, it happens occasionally that a little bad feeling springs up which, in the course of time may lead to serious consequences. It will be readily understood how easy it is for one party to take umbrage at the words or actions of another and to become obstinate. Happily, however, this does not happen frequently, on account of the salutary fear inspired by the lance and the bolo, and the urgent endeavors of the chiefs and the more influential men to settle matters amicably. I am surprised that disputes and bloodshed arising from, the great credit system do not occur more frequently among such primitive people.

Though in practice the relatives of a debtor assist him to settle his obligations, especially when he is hard pressed by his creditor, yet in theory there is no joint obligation to pay the debt. Neither do they, as a rule, assume a collective responsibility for it.

Between relatives, as between others, the law regarding the payment of a debt is strenuously maintained, though I know of no case between near relatives in which it led to more than family bickerings. A very careful account of the indebtedness of one relative to another is sedulously kept.



No interest is charged unless an express contract is made to that effect. In the case of a loan of paddy, however, even if no formal contract has been made, twice as much must be returned as was borrowed. Express contracts that call for interest are rather rare, as far as my observation goes, and when such contracts are made they are usually of a usurious nature, due, as I have noticed on several occasions, not so much to the desire for material gain, as to that of satisfying an old grudge against the borrower. In settlements that have had experience with the usurious methods of Christian natives, one finds here and there an individual who tries to follow the example set him by people that he looks up to. This practice is universally discountenanced, and, though it is submitted to under necessity in commercial dealings with Bisáyas, it gives rise to no inconsiderable ill feeling, a fact that explains, to my mind, the difficulties that Bisáyas experience in collecting from Christianized Manóbos, as also the killing of many a Bisáya in pre-American days. During my trading tour of 1908 there was universal complaint made to me by Manóbos of the upper Agúsan, upper Umaíam, and upper Argáwan Rivers against the system of usury employed by Bisáya traders, and many a time I heard this remark made concerning certain individuals: "We would kill him if we were not afraid of the Americans."


With the exception of articles borrowed on condition that they are to be returned, loans are very rare in Manóboland. The most usual loan is that of paddy. Articles borrowed must be returned in as good a condition as that in which they were received.

I know of no leases among non-Christian Manóbos. Land is too plentiful to lease; other property is either sold or borrowed.

I have never known a material pledge to be given, but the custom of going bond seems to be very generally understood though not much practiced, as such a custom insinuates a distrust that does not seem to be pleasing to the Manóbo. A notable feature of the practice is the principle that the bondsman becomes the payer. I am inclined to think that this principle was taught to their mountain compeers by Bisáya and Christianized Manóbos who found in it a convenient expedient whereby to make the collection of debts easier and sure. On the strength of it, a chief or a more well-to-do member of the tribe becomes responsible for the debt of one whose surety he became.



The liability here referred to is the general responsibility that a person acquires for consequences that are imputed to an act of his, whether voluntary or involuntary. Instances of this strange law arise on many occasions in Manóboland. The reader is referred to the case of the loss of the beads, the attempt to collect from me for the natural death of one of my carriers, for the death of a child that I had frightened, and other instances mentioned previously, all of which show the idea of responsibility for consequences following an act. A few more instances will make the principle involved clearer. On the upper Agúsan, a Manóbo of Nábuk River went over to Moncáyo to collect a debt. According to custom he carried his shield and spear. Now it happened that there were two women walking along the river bank, one of whom was the wife of an enemy of this Nábuk warrior. Upon seeing him she became frightened, fell into the river, and was drowned. The result of this was that the Nábuk man was condemned to pay a slave or its equivalent. As a near relative of his enemy owed him "thirty" (P30) he transferred the fine to him but the transference was not accepted on the ground that the Nábuk man ought to pay his fine first. A few days' discussion of the matter resulted in the departure of the Nábuk man, who upon his arrival in a near settlement killed, in his rage, one of his slaves. The outcome of the whole affair was a feud between Moncáyo and Nábuk.


The violation of the numerous taboos is believed to bring about evil consequences that are chargeable to the account of the infringer. For example, a man in Búai was charged 30 pesos for the breaking of a certain birth taboo, a violation which was supposed to have been responsible for the stillbirth of a child. I was warned on many occasions to desist from making disrespectful remarks about animals, such as monkeys or frogs, because, if Anítan were to hurl her thunderbolts at one of my companions and harm were to befall him I would be fined or killed. I would undergo a similar punishment, I was told on other occasions, for using such tabooed words as crocodile and salt; it was believed that a storm would be the result of the use of these words. On one occasion I thought it prudent to give a carrier of mine a piece of rubber cloth wherewith to cover his salt, for he had threatened to collect from me if it became wet from the storm that was impending, and which all my companions imputed to my deliberate use of the names of certain fish not native to their mountain water.


Another pregnant source of fines and of sanguinary feuds is the belief in the possession, by certain individuals, of magic power to do harm. No one that I know of or have heard of, except a few fearless warrior chiefs, has made open avowal of the possession of such power and yet on many occasions I have heard of the supposed possession of it by various individuals. To give an instance, a Manóbo on the upper Agúsan had the reputation of having secret poisons. One day another Manóbo and his wife visited him. With the exception of a trifling altercation about a debt, everything went well. On her return home the woman was suddenly taken sick and died. Her death was ascribed to the magic power of the person recently visited and the outcome was that the party with the bad reputation had to build a tree house, one of the few that I have seen, and surround his settlement with an abatis of brush and of sharp spikes, all in anticipation of an attack by the deceased woman's husband.

It was the rule rather than the exception that I, myself, had the same reputation applied to me. Upon arrival in heretofore unvisited regions I was fequently[sic] informed that they had heard of my wonderful power of killing. On many occasions it was only by assuming a bold front and by vowing vengeance on my traducers that I freed myself from the imputation. In such cases I always asked for the name of the slanderer, and, upon learning it, announced my intention of seeking him without delay, for the purpose of clearing myself from the imputation and of demanding satisfaction from him.


It is not intended here to consider the system of fines as penalties for voluntary wrongdoings but only as punishments for certain little acts of forgetfulness or of omission that might be construed as conscious acts of disrespect. The system is a very strange one and, to our way of thinking, very harsh, productive sometimes of bad feeling and even of more serious results.

Instances that have passed under my personal observation will illustrate the system. Thus, on one occasion an acquaintance of mine left the house without making his intention known to those present. While he was under the house, one of the guests happened to spit through the floor upon the clothes of the man underneath. Upon his return he identified the guilty one both by his position in the house, and by the quality of the chewing material he was using. The case was discussed at length and it was decided that for carelessness the guilty one should make material reparation in the form of a chicken and some drink.

Again, the dog of a certain individual on the upper Agúsan was guilty of soiling the clothes of a person that happened to be working under the house. As the owner of the sick dog (it had been mangled by a wild boar) had been previously warned of the possibility of something untoward happening, he was fined and was condemned to make further reparation in the form of a convivial meeting in order to remove the ill feeling.

Instances of fines that were imposed on me will illustrate the principle involved. Upon my arrival in new regions I was almost invariably called upon to pay a certain amount, on the ground that I had had no permission to enter the settlement, or that the local deities had been displeased at my visit, or that I was a spy, or for some other reason. The refusal to pay was always accepted after lengthy explanations and after the distribution of a few trifling gifts to the more vehement members of the settlement, but in one case arms were drawn and I had to take my stand with, back to the wall and await developments.

Other instances in which unintentional disrespect toward the person or property of anyone was displayed might be adduced to profusion. It will suffice to say, however, that such acts as the following, even when unintentional, lay the agent under a liability, the commercial value of which must be determined by the circumstances and very frequently by formal arbitration: Spitting upon, or otherwise soiling another; rudely seizing the person of another; unbecoming treatment of another's property, especially of his clothes, as when, for instance, one steps upon another's shirt; opening another's betel-nut knapsack or other concealed property; borrowing things without formal announcement and due permission; going into certain places interdicted by the owner, as bathing, for instance, in that part of a river which the owner has forbidden the use of,7 or visiting his rice granary; and using disrespectful language, even in joke, about another, as, for instance, speaking of one as an insect, a Mañgguáñgan.8

7Due, presumably, to the fact that the place, usually a deep pool, is the abode of a water wraith.

8This is a term of reproach when applied to a Manóbo.

These interdictions are necessary among the Manóbos in order that in their social dealings with one another proper deference may be shown toward their person and property. For were a mere "pardon me" a sufficient reparation for an act, however unintentional, advantage might be taken of it to inflict a thousand and one little incivilities that would serve to arouse the relentless spirit of revenge that centuries of feuds have instilled into the Manóbo character.




The property of a Manóbo family is so scanty that the rules governing it have never developed beyond a primitive stage. The house belongs collectively to the father and to such of his sons-in-law and brothers-in-law as may have constructed it. The structure represents little value to the owner except that of the rough-hewn boards which may be transported to another place. The reason that such cheap houses are built is that they may be abandoned without much loss at any moment that a death, or even a suspicion of danger, arising from religious or from natural reasons, may dictate.

The movable property in the house belongs to the individuals who have made, purchased, or in any other lawful way acquired it. In this respect it is to be noted that each married couple provides itself with household utensils and such other things as may be necessary. These things do not become the property of the head of the family, but remain the individual property of the person who brings them.

It must be noted, too, that women, children, and slaves have theoretically no right to ownership. It is true that women are allowed to dispose of the products of their labor like rice and cloth, but usually, if not always, the consent of their husbands or of their husbands' nearest male relatives is first secured if the article is of much value. Frequently a consultation is held with the head of the whole household.


When a man dies and leaves no near relatives that are of sufficient age to manage the inheritance, the elder brother-in-law inherits the property. The deceased brother's wife is a part of this property. When the father dies, the son is the heir, and, if of sufficient age and capabilities, takes the place of his father. But should he be deemed incompetent by his near male relatives, his paternal uncle, or, if he has none, a brother-in-law, becomes the manager of the household. Any property which may be of value is thus retained within the line of male descent. This is in accordance with the principles of the patriarchate system which prevails in Manóboland.

The eldest son inherits his father's debts, but the administrator (if in such unpretentious matters we may use so pretentious a word) pays the debts collecting in turn from the son unless he be a near kinsman of the deceased father. About matters of inheritance I have never even heard of a dispute. The valuable property may consist of only a lance and a bolo, or a dagger, and a few jars. The best suit of clothes together with personal adornments, such as necklaces, are carried with the deceased to his last resting place so that there is little left to quarrel over. With the exception of the few heirlooms, if there be any, consisting of a jar and some few other things, the greatest fear is entertained of articles that belonged to the departed one. This fear is due to the peculiar belief in the subtle, wayward feeling of the departed toward the living.



In the chapter on marriage the general principles governing the relations of the sexes is set forth. The relations both antenuptial and postnuptial are of the most stringent character.

As a Manóbo once told me, sexual morality is bound up with religion and the greater violations of it are sometimes punished by the divinities.

Such lighter offenses, as gazing at the person of a woman while she is bathing, or on any other occasion when her person is exposed, are punished with appropriate fines. Improper suggestions and unseemly jokes undergo the same fate. It is a very common report among Bisáyas that to touch a Manóbo woman's heel is an exceptionally serious offense against Manóbo law. I never heard of any such regulation among Manóbos, although it may exist. To touch any other part of her person, however, is an offense punishable by a good-sized fine.

Death is the consequence of adultery, fornication, and seduction, except in very exceptional cases where the influence of the guilty one's relatives may save him. But it is certain that in these cases the fine is very heavy. I believe that it is never less than the equivalent of three slaves.

All reports, both Bisáya and Manóbo, state that when fornication has been attempted or accomplished the woman herself may make known the offense to her parents and relatives.

The law is even more rigid in the matter of adultery. While I was on the upper Agúsan River a case of adultery committed by a Christianized man and woman was discovered. The death of the man had been decided upon, and that of the woman was being mooted. I succeeded in having the death sentence commuted to a heavy fine of three slaves.

It is the common report in Manóboland that, when a woman makes known the act of her lover, the latter does not deny it. Not only under such circumstances, but in nearly all other instances when brought face to face with the truth a Manóbo will confess, sometimes even though there be no witness against him. Such is my observation of dealings between Manóbo and Manóbo. In his relations with outsiders, however, the Manóbo is not so veracious; on the contrary, he displays no little art in suppressing or in twisting the truth.


In the chapter on marital relations it was made manifest that marriage is practically a sale in which a certain amount of the marriage price is returned to the bridegroom. This rule is very stringent. Should the marriage negotiations discontinue without any fault of the man or of his relatives all payments previously made have to be returned, item for item. In this respect it is to be noted that marriage contracts are almost relentlessly rigid, a fact that suggests an explanation of the length of the period that is usually required to terminate the negotiations. For it is only by many acts of attention and even of subservience that the suitor's relatives break down the obdurateness of the fiancé's relatives and make them relax the severity of their original demands. Very minute and strict accounts of the various payments, including such small donations as a few liters of rice, are recorded on a knotted rattan strip in anticipation of a final disagreement.

When it is decided that the marriage is not to take place by reason of the death of one of the affianced parties, the father and relatives of the fiancé must return all the purchase payments which may have been made. Custom provides that these payments shall be returned gradually, the idea being, presumably, to allow the fiancé's relatives an opportunity to profit by the donations of a new suitor, if one should present himself within a stipulated period. It will be readily understood that the nature of the debts incurred by an obligation to return marriage payments determines the character of the payments that will be exacted from a new suitor. Thus, if A's relatives, for good reasons, decide not to continue their suit for the hand of B's daughter, B would be granted a specified time in which to await the presentation of a new suitor for his daughter's hand. This new suitor would be required to bring a lance, for example, and other objects that would serve as first and more urgent payments to A.

In the case of fornication committed by a man with his fiancé, death may be the penalty if the girl's father desires to have the marriage broken off, but I was given to understand that such a heavy penalty is rarely inflicted, the girl's father contenting himself with imposing a heavy fine.


In all my wandering among the Manóbos, I never knew nor heard of an illegitimate child, so can not say what regulations govern, if such births occur. In Mandáyaland the father of an illegitimate child is obliged to marry the girl and to enter his father-in-law's family in a state of semiservitude. The marriage takes place before the birth of the child.

I was told by Mandáyas that illegitimate children belong to the nearest male relative of the mother, that in case of her marriage they still belong to her relative, and that they are treated in all other respects as legitimate children.


The laws governing family relations are very simple. The father has theoretically absolute power of life and death over his wife, children, and slaves. In practice, however, this power is seldom used to its full extent. An arbitrary exercise of domestic authority over his wife and children would arouse the antagonism of her relatives and lead to a rupture of friendly relations. Hence, in family dealings there are displayed on one side paternal affection and leniency and on the other filial devotion and a sense of duty, so much so that the members of the family live in peace and happiness with seldom a domestic grievance.

The wife, of course, is the absolute property of her husband, but is rarely, if ever, sold. I know of only one wife who was sold and she was a Bisáya woman married to a recently Christianized Manóbo.

It is not in accord with Manóbo custom for a man to have two or more wives unless the first wife consents to the later marriages, and, if she does consent, she must always be considered the man's favorite and must be allowed to have a kind of motherly jurisdiction over the other wives. In all cases that have come under my observation, this rule was followed among Manóbos but not among Mandáyas. The latter frequently seem more attached to their second, third, or fourth wives, but do not separate the first wife either from bed or board. As a result of the necessity of the first wife's consent to a second marriage, bigamy is comparatively rare.


The man is always expected to take up his residence in his wife's family and he nearly always does so. In fact, such is the implied and frequently the explicit contract made between his relatives and those of the girl. But after a few years, if not sooner, he usually takes his wife back to his own clan, leaving his father-in-law or other male relative of his wife some gift in the shape of a pig or other payment. In such a case it seems to be the custom for the father-in-law to acquiesce.



It must be laid down as a general principle that in Manóboland it is considered proper and obligatory to seek redress for all wrongs (except a few serious ones) by an appeal to the relatives of the wrongdoer, either directly by a formal meeting or indirectly through the mediation of a third party. The first exceptions to this rule are cases of adultery, fornication, rape, and homicide when the murderer, wantonly, and without an attempt to arbitrate, kills a fellow man. The great law of vengeance presupposes in nearly every case a recourse to arbitration, and not a hasty, unannounced, deliberate killing.

The one who orders the death of another or in any other way deliberately causes it is the one on whom vengeance must be taken. Thus, if A pays a neutral warrior chief to kill his opponent, the responsibility for the death will be laid, not on the warrior who did the killing (unless he had personal motives for committing the murder) but on the one who ordered the death. The warrior was paid and accordingly bears no responsibility. He may be paid again by the relatives of the slain to do a similar act to their enemies. Thus it is, that in Manóboland, it is very necessary to be on such terms of friendship with the members of the warrior class that they will not be inclined to undertake for payment the task of taking vengeance for another.

Killing for public policy is a recognized institution, but such executions very seldom take place. On the upper Tágo River word was sent to me that my guide would be killed if he led me into a certain remote region at the headwaters of that river. It was reported on all sides that the principal chiefs of the region had assembled before my departure and had decided upon his death. For some reason, probably fear, the sentence was not carried into effect.

It was reported to me that in time of an epidemic it is permitted to kill anyone who dares to break the quarantine.

Involuntary killing when it is manifest that it was a pure accident can be compounded.


By the tawágan system a Manóbo is permitted to kill or seize anything or anybody that he may decide upon, provided that he has made every endeavor to settle the dispute by amicable means. Having failed to adjust the matter without bloodshed, he may avenge himself, first and above all, on the guilty party. I will not make a positive statement to the effect that he must announce his intention to make use of the right accorded him by the tawágan custom, but I am of opinion that this must be done, for in every instance that came under my observation it had been generally known beforehand that the aggrieved party would make a seizure within a specified time. I know that on one occasion I had to exact a promise from a man that he would not lay hands on merchandise of mine that was deposited under a house in the vicinity of his settlement. He had made public announcement that he would make a seizure, even though it should be that of my merchandise.

The aggrieved party in making use of his right must, if possible, inflict damage, even death, upon the debtor or other wrongdoer or on some of his relatives, but should this prove impracticable he is at liberty to select anyone. If he kills a neutral party, he must compound with the relatives of the slain one for the death inflicted and enter with them into a solemn promise to act jointly against the offending party. In the case of seizure, he can not dispose of the object seized until the owner be consulted. It is customary for the two to enter a compact by which they bind themselves to take joint action against the offender, advantageous terms being guaranteed to the new colleague. The man whose property is thus seized is very often one who has had an old-time grudge against the original offender or debtor.


Minor offenses such as stealing, slandering, failure to pay debts, deception that causes material damage to another, loss or damage to another's property, the lesser violations of sexual propriety, disrespect to another's property, etc., are punishable by fines that must be determined by the assembled relatives of the two parties. I have never been able to find the least trace of any definite system of fines. In the determination of them for the more serious of offenses (adultery, wanton killing, etc.), the equivalent of a human life, 15 or 30 pesos, is the basis of the calculation. In the case of minor offenses, however, lesser quantities are determined upon after a lengthy discussion of the subject by the respective relatives of the parties involved.



The aggrieved party, upon hearing of the offense and after making many futile efforts to come to an agreement, consults with his relatives, when, after being assured of their cooperation he begins to issue threats, all of which reach the ear of his opponent. At first the latter probably is not disturbed by these, but, as they begin to pour in from all sources, he makes up his mind either to face his opponent in person, if the affair has not gone too far, or to look around for a friendly chief or other person of influence and sagacity to mediate. All this time new rumors of his enemy's anger and determination to appeal to arms reach him, but he must not display cowardice, neither must his opponent openly seek arbitration, for such an action would bespeak fear on both sides. So, on the part of the aggrieved one, there is menace, revenge, and a pretense at least not to be amenable to peaceable measures. On the part of the other, there must be no display of fear, no hurry to arbitrate, and a general indifference, at least simulated, as to the outcome. If the offending party answers threat by threat, his opponent may become incensed and hostilities may break out, as happens in other parts of the world.

In the meantime neighboring chiefs and influential people are throwing the weight of their opinions in favor of peace and if they prevail one or more of them are requested to assist in the final settlement, definite emolument sometimes being promised, especially when either of the contending parties is very anxious to have the matter settled.

It is the duty now of the mediating chiefs or other persons to bring the parties together. This they do either by inviting the contestants to a neutral house or by persuading one of them to invite the other to his house.

It may happen that the aggrieved party, instead of following this procedure, precipitates a settlement by sending a fighting bolo or a dagger or a lance to his opponent. This is an ultimatum. If the weapon is retained it means hostilities. If it is returned, it denotes a willingness to submit the matter to arbitration. But the one who receives the weapon probably will not return it at once as he desires to disguise, in the presence of his opponent's emissary, the bearer of the ultimatum, any eagerness he may feel for arbitration. Once having decided that he will submit the matter to arbitration or that he will yield, he announces to the messenger that he will visit his opponent within a specified period and talk matters over and that he is willing to have the affair settled but that his relatives are unwilling. If a bolo or other such object has been sent to him he returns it, for to retain it would signify his unwillingness to submit and his readiness to take the consequences.

A few days before the appointed time he orders drink to be made and he may go out on a big fishing expedition. He procures also a pig or two. With these, and accompanied by a host of male relatives, he sets out for the house that has been agreed upon. The pigs and drink and other things are deposited in a convenient place near the house, for it would be impolitic to display such proofs of his willingness to yield.

This is the procedure followed in more serious cases. Cases of lesser importance, which occur with great frequency, are settled almost informally in the following manner:

When the subject under dispute is not of such a serious nature, either in itself or by reason of aggravating circumstances, like quarrels or violent language that may have preceded it, the ordinary method of settling the trouble consists in a good meal given by one party to the other. Toward the end of the repast, when all present are feeling convivial from the effects of the drink, the question at issue, usually a debt, is taken up and discussed by the parties concerned and their respective relatives. It happens often that the matter is put off to another time, and thus it may require several semifriendly meetings to settle it. On the whole, however, the proceedings are terminated amicably, although I have seen a few very animated scenes at such times. On one occasion a member of the party, accompanied by his relatives, rushed down the pole and seizing his lance and shield challenged his adversary to single combat. The challenge was not accepted, so he and his party marched away vowing vengeance. I have seen bolos or daggers drawn on many occasions but the relatives and others always intervened to prevent bloodshed. It is to be noted that such violent actions are due often to the influence of drink but do not take place more frequently than drunken brawls do in other parts of the world.

When the case in question is of such an involved and serious character as to make it dangerous for the accused one to enter the house, he remains hidden till he ascertains how his relatives and friends are progressing. In other cases he personally attends and may argue in his own defense.1

1There is a very formal peace-making procedure followed by the Manóbos who have been in contact with the Banuáons of Maásam River, but I never witnessed it, so I can not give any first-hand information as to the details. In the chapter on war will be found such details as have been given to me by trustworthy Bisáyas of Talakógon.


The general features of the procedure are the following: The policy of the aggrieved one and of his party is to maintain a loud, menacing attitude, and to insist on a fine three or four hundred times larger than they expect to be paid. The accused and his relatives keep up a firm attitude, not so firm, however, as to incense unduly their opponents, and from the beginning make an offer of a paltry sum in payment.

Although everybody at times may break into the discussion, or all may yell at the same time, the ordinary procedure is to allow each one to speak singly and to finish what he has to say. The others listen and assent by such expressions as correspond to our "yes indeed," "true," etc., whether they are in accord with the speaker's opinions or not. These lengthy talks are, at least to an outsider, most wearisome, given, as they are, in a dreary monotone, but they explain the inordinate length of arbitrations that may last for several days.

The whole party is squatted on the floor and makes use of grains of corn, of pieces of wood or leaf, of the bamboo slats of the floor, of their fingers and toes or of anything convenient, to aid them in the enumeration of the objects of which they treat. Everybody is armed, probably with his hand on his weapon, and his eyes alert. In very serious cases women and children may not be present. This, of course, is an indication of possible bloodshed and is a very rare occurrence.

The chiefs or other influential men who have been selected to aid each side in the settlement take a conspicuous part in the proceedings and help to influence the parties concerned to come to an understanding, but it can not be said that their word is paramount. The contestants' own relatives have more weight than anyone else. The procedure at a Manóbo arbitration may be likened to that of a jury when in retirement. Point after point is discussed, similitudes and allegories are brought up by each speaker until, after wearisome hours or days, the opinion of each side has been molded sufficiently to bring them into agreement. In one respect it differs from the jury method in that loud shouts and threats are made use of occasionally, proceeding either from natural vehemence or from a deliberate intention on one side to intimidate the other.

It is not good form for the defendant to yield readily. On the contrary, it is in accordance with Manóbo custom and character to yield with reluctance, feigned if not real. When a small pig is really considered a sufficient payment, a large one is demanded. When the pig is received and is really in conformity with the contract, defects are found in it--it is lean or sick or short or light in weight--in a word, it is depreciated in one way or another. The giver, on the contrary, exaggerates its value, descants on its size, length, form, and weight, tells of the exorbitant price he paid for it, reminds the receiver of the difficulty of procuring pigs at this season, and in general manifests his reluctance to part with it.

It must not be supposed that such actions and statements are believed at once. On the contrary, it is only after lengthy talks on each side that opinions are formed, an agreement entered into, a contract is drawn up, or reparation made. It is the identical case of stubborn jurymen.

In the settlement of these disputes much depends upon the glibness of tongue and on the sagacity of one or more of the principal men. For were it not for their skill in understanding the intricacies of the subject and in sidetracking irrelevant claims the disputes would be impossible of satisfactory arrangement. This will be understood more readily if it is borne in mind that outside of the reasonable facts of the case, counterclaims are made by the debtor or the accused party. These claims are sometimes of an extraordinary nature and date back to the time of his grandfather or other distant relative. Thus he may say that his opponent's great uncle owed his grandfather a human life and that this blood debt has never been paid nor revenge obtained. Such an affirmation as this will be corroborated by his relatives and they may immediately break out into menaces of vengeance. Again, he may aver that his opponent was reputed to have had a charm by which death might be caused, and that his son had died as a result of this use of evil magic powers. Whereupon the other vigorously repudiates the imputation and demands a slave in payment of the slander. It is only the popularity of the chief men, their reputation for fair dealing, their sagacity, and perhaps their relationship with the respective contestants that dispose of such side issues and bring about an amicable and satisfactory settlement.

It is customary for the one who loses to regale the assembly with a good meal. In Manóbo-land this latter is the great solace for all ills and the source of all friendship. So, when the question under dispute has been settled, the one who lost sends out and gets the pig and drink that have been brought for that purpose. When prepared, the food is set out on the floor, the guests are distributed in due order, and then begins one of those meals that must be witnessed in order to be understood. One feature of this feast is that the two former adversaries are seated together and vie with each other in reciprocating food and drink. As they warm up under the influence of the liquor they load large masses of food into each other's mouths, each with an arm around the other's neck.

Upon the following day, or perhaps that same day, the winner of the case reciprocates with another banquet. When that is finished, the other party may give another banquet and so they may continue, if their means permit, for many days. I assisted at one peacemaking in which the banqueting lasted for 10 successive days.



The usual and natural method of determining the guilt of the accused is through the instrumentality of witnesses. They are questioned and requestioned at great length even if the defendant be not present. There seems to be no necessity for this procedure, for the defendant admits his guilt when brought face to face with the plaintiff or with the witnesses. The testimony of children is not only admissible but is considered conclusive. That of a woman testifying against a man for improper suggestions and acts is considered sufficient to convict him.

False testimony in the presence of witnesses and relatives is almost unheard of. I suppose that this marvel is to be attributed to the fear of the dire retribution that would infallibly overtake the false witness.


Ordinarily no oath is administered nor any other formal means adopted to make certain that the accused or the witnesses will tell the truth, but there is a practice which is sometimes followed whenever the veracity of anyone is doubted. This is called tó-tung or burning of the wax, a ceremony that may be used not only with witnesses but with anyone from whom it is desired to force the truth. I have used it very successfully on numerous occasions in getting information about trails. The ceremony consists in burning a piece of beeswax in the presence of the party to be questioned. This signifies that if he does not answer truthfully his body by some process of sympathetic magic, will be burned in a similar manner. After making his statement and while the wax is being burned, he expresses the desire that his body may burn and be melted like the wax if his statement is untrue. This is another example of the pervading belief in sympathetic magic.


In the various instances that have come under my observation, the guilty one, as a rule, vigorously denied his guilt until confronted in public assembly by his accusers, so that I judge that custom does not require him to make a self-accusation until that time. But when duly confronted with witnesses, he nearly always admits his guilt.

For if the defendant should deny his guilt and if there were no evidence against him other than suspicion, the injured party would be justified in inflicting injury on anyone else, according to the principles of the private-seizure system. If it should later be discovered that the defendant was the original offender, the innocent parties who were the victims of this seizure would ultimately take terrible vengeance on him. I was informed by the Debabáons that a false denial of one's guilt before the assembled arbiters and relatives is especially displeasing to the deities. I failed to get information on this point from Manóbos, but it would be fairly reasonable to conclude that their belief in the matter is identical with that of the Debabáons.

Should the accused one deny his guilt and should circumstantial evidence point to him as the guilty one, the wax-burning ceremony above described would be performed. If he should still maintain that he was innocent, various methods for the determination of his guilt would be resorted to.


The tests made to determine the innocence or guilt of a person are threefold: (1) the hot-water ordeal, (2) the diving ordeal, and (3) the candle ordeal.

The hot-water ordeal.2--A brass anklet, armlet, or similar metal object is put into boiling water in one of the iron pans so common throughout the Agúsan Valley. The suspected party, or parties, is then called upon to insert a hand into the water and to remove the object that has been placed at the bottom of the shallow pan. Although I have heard many threats of an appeal to this test, I never saw the actual operation of it, but I have been assured repeatedly by those who claimed to have seen the performance that the hand of the guilty one gets badly scalded, while that of an innocent one remains uninjured. The belief in the truth of this test is so strong, that, at times when the ordeal was threatened, I have heard many express not only their willingness but their eagerness to undergo it.


I have made numerous and very definite inquires in different localities and from members of different tribes as to the reason for the value of the ordeal as a test and as to whether or not it might be explained by the agency of supernatural beings, but in reply always received the answer that no reason could be given except that it had always been so and that religion had no connection with it.

The diving ordeal.3--I never witnessed the actual operation of this ordeal except in play, but the belief in its efficacy is strong and widespread. The operation consists in a trial between the parties under suspicion as to the length of time they can remain under water. Two at a time undergo the test. The one that retains his head under water longer is declared innocent for the time being, but has to undergo the test with each one of the suspected parties. This method seems impossible as a final proof, but such is the procedure as described to me on the upper Tágo River.


Another and more common method is a simultaneous trial by all the accused. At a given signal they submerge their heads. The one that first raises his from the water is declared guilty. I was told by one party that the respective relatives of the accused ones stand by and hold them down by main force. This statement was corroborated by all those present at the time, but, as neither my informant nor anyone else could explain what it would be necessary to do in case of asphyxiation, I do not give credence to the story.

On numerous occasions I made diving tests in sport with Manóbos and found that I could retain my breath longer than they could. They assured me, nevertheless, that if the test were made as an ordeal and if I were the guilty party, I would infallibly lose.

The candle ordeal.--Among the Christianized Manóbos of the lake region I found the belief in the efficacy of the candle ordeal for determining the guilt of one of the suspected parties. Candles of the same size are made and are given to the suspects, one to each of them. They are then stuck to the floor and lit at the same time. The contestants have the right to keep them erect and to protect them from the wind. The one whose candle burns out first is declared guilty.

A belief in the value of ordeals is widespread, but the actual practice of them is very rare. No reason for this has been given to me, although it is stated that the refusal to submit to one would be considered evidence of guilt.


In Manóboland circumstantial evidence, in the absence of other evidence, has sufficient weight to convict one who is under suspicion. Hence footprints and other traces of a man's presence are carefully examined. In fact, as a gatherer of testimony, even of the most insignificant kind, the Manóbo is peerless; he is patient, ceaseless, and thorough. This is due, no doubt, to his cautious, suspicious nature and to that spirit of revenge that never smolders. He may wait for years until the suspicion seems to have died out, when one fine day he hears a rumor that confirms his suspicions and the flame of contention bursts forth. One by one the successive bearers of the incriminating rumor are questioned in open meeting until the truth of it is ascertained and the guilty one brought to justice. I have known many cases, principally of slander, traced in this way from one rumor bearer to another. This illustrates the statement made before that in cases involving damage or loss to another the guilty party and the witnesses as a rule declare the truth, when they are called upon, knowing that one day or another the secret will probably be ferreted out and then the punishment will be greater.


The sentence having been agreed to by the consensus of opinion of both sides, and the defendant having manifested his concurrence therein, a time is set for the payment. When the offense is of a very serious character, partial payment is made at once, the object being to mollify the feelings of the enraged plaintiff. This payment ordinarily consists of a weapon belonging either to the defendant himself or to one of his relatives, but in urgent cases it might be a human being, as a relative for instance. I myself saw delivery of a son made after the termination of an adultery case.

The whole payment or compensation is not exacted at once but a suitable length of time for the completion of it is always agreed upon. The defendant receives a strip of rattan with a number of knots and is at times made to take the wax-burning oath.

His conduct on these occasions is apparently submissive for he does not want to run counter to tribal opinion, but it happens sometimes that upon leaving the house of adjudication he expresses his dissatisfaction with the decision or throws the blame upon somebody else. In this case there may arise another contention. On the whole, however, he abides by the decision.

In the great majority of cases the convicted man makes the stipulated payment, for a refusal to do so would lead to more serious difficulties than those already settled, and excuses for nonfulfillment are not accepted as readily as before. Moreover, a second arbitration subjects his opponent and his opponent's relatives to unnecessary trouble and long journeys. Hence, realizing that a second trial will only serve to exasperate his opponent and arm public opinion against him, he fulfills his obligations faithfully.




Dealings on the part of. Manóbos with other tribes such as the Banuáon, the Debabáon, and the Mandáya are almost without exception of the most pacific kind. I made frequent inquiries, especially while on the upper Agúsan River, as to the reason for this, and was always given to understand that any trouble with another tribe was carefully avoided because it might give rise to unending complications and to interminable war. I am of the opinion that, in his avoidance of war with neighboring tribes, there is ever present in the Manóbo's mind a consciousness of his inferiority to the Mandáya, Debabáon, and Banuáon, and a realization of the consequences that would inevitably follow in case of a clash with them. Thus the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan, who had provoked the Mandáyas of the Katí'il River at the beginning of the Christian conquest, suffered a dire reprisal on the Húlip River, upper Agúsan, when some 180 of them were massacred in one night.1

1See Oartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, 5:22, 1883.

The current accounts of Debabáon warriors, as narrated to me by many of them on the upper Sálug River, show the severe losses suffered by Manóbos of the upper Agúsan in their conflicts with Debabáons. The same holds true of the Manóbos on the lower Agúsan when they matched their strength with the Banuáons of the Maásam, Líbañg, and Óhut Rivers. A perusal of the "Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús" will give one a vivid picture of the devastation caused by not only the Banuáons but by the Mandáyas and the Debabáons in Manóboland.

The reason for these unfriendly intertribal relations and for the consequent defeats of the Manóbos in nearly every instance is not far to seek. The Manóbo lacks the organization of the Mandáya, Debabáon, and Banuáon. Like the Mañgguáñgan he is somewhat hot-headed, and upon provocation, especially while drunk, prefers to take justice into his own hands, striking down with one fell swoop his Mandáya or other adversary, without appealing to a public adjudication. The result of this imprudent proceeding is an attack in which the friends and relatives of the slain one become the aggressors, invading Manóbo territory and executing awful vengeance upon the perpetrator of the wrong. The friends and relatives of the latter, with their inferior tribal organization and their conscious feeling of inferiority in courage, together with a realization of the innumerable difficulties that beset the path of reprisals, very rarely invade the territory of the hostile tribe.

Both from the accounts given in the aforesaid Jesuit letters and from my own observations and information, I know that the same statements may be made of the intertribal relations of Mañgguáñgans and Mandáyas, Mañgguáñgans and Debabáons, and Mañgguáñgans and Manóbos. The Mañgguáñgans are much lower in the scale of culture than the Manóbos, and when they are under the influence of liquor yield to very slight provocation. As a result of a rash blow, the Mañgguáñgan's territory is invaded and his settlement is surrounded. He is an arrant coward as a rule, and, hot-headed fool as he is, jumps from his low, wall-less house only to meet the foeman's lance. Thus it happens that thousands and thousands of them have been killed. If we may believe the testimony of a certain Jesuit missionary, as stated in one of the Jesuit letters, the Mañgguáñgan tribe numbered 30,000 at one time and their habitat extended eastward from the Tágum River and from its eastern tributary, the Sálug, between the Híjo and the Tótui Rivers, to the Agúsan and thence spread still eastward over the Simúlau River. In 1886 Father Pastells estimated them to number some 14,000. In 1910, I made an estimate, based on the reports of their hereditary enemies in Compostela, Gandía, Geróna, and Moncáyo, and venture to state that in that year they did not number more than about 10,000 souls. Their territory, too, at that date, was confined to the low range of mountains that formed the Agúsan-Sálug divide and to the swamp tracts in the region of the Mánat River, with a scattered settlement here and there on the east of the Agúsan to the north of the Mánat River.

The Manóbos of the Ihawán, Baóbo, and Agúsan Rivers played a bloody part in the massacre of the Mañgguáñgans. While on my first visit to the upper Agúsan in 1907, I used to hear once or twice a week of the killing of Mañgguáñgans. Many a time my Mandáya or Manóbo or Debabáon companions would say to me, upon seeing a Mañgguáñgan: "Shoot him, grandpa, he is only a Mañgguáñgan."

I know from the personal accounts of Manóbo, Mandáya, and Debabáon warrior chiefs that in nearly every case they had acquired their title of warrior chief by bloody attacks made upon Mañgguáñgans. The warrior chiefs of the upper Agúsan, upper Karága, upper Manorígau and upper and middle Katí'il had nearly to a man earned their titles from the killing of Mañgguáñgans. This is eminently true of the Debabáon group. Moncáyo itself boasts of more warrior chiefs than any district in eastern Mindanáo, and stands like a mighty watchtower over the thousands and thousands of Mañgguáñgan and Manóbo graves that bestrew the lonely forest from Libagánon to the Agúsan.


It must be borne in mind that, judging from the testimony of all with whom I conversed on the subject as well as from my own personal observation, interclan feuds among Manóbos have diminished notably since the beginning of missionary activity and more especially since the establishment of the special government in the Agúsan Valley. Upon the establishment of this government in the lower half of the Agúsan Valley, there was a perceptible decrease in bloody fights due to the effective extension of supervision under able and active officials. Here and there in remote regions, such as the upper reaches of the Baóbo, Ihawán, Umaíam, Argáwan, and Kasilaían Rivers, casual killings took place. On the upper Agúsan, however, where no effective government had been established until after my departure in 1910, interclan relations were not of the most pacific nature. Thus, in 1909, the settlements of Dugmánon and Moncáyo were in open hostility, and up to the time of my departure four deaths had occurred. The Mandáyas of Katí'il and Manorígao had contemplated an extensive movement against Compostela and after my departure did bring about one death. However, the intended move was frustrated happily by the establishment of a military post in Moncáyo in 1910. Several Mañgguáñgans at the headwaters of the Mánat River met their fate in 1909. The whole Mañgguáñgan tribe went into armed vigilance that same year and rendered it impossible for me to meet any but the milder members of the tribe living in the vicinity of Compostela. On one occasion I had made arrangements to meet a Mañgguáñgan warrior chief at an appointed trysting place in the forest. Upon arriving at the spot, one of my companions beat the buttress of a tree as a signal that we had arrived, but it was more than an hour before our Mañgguáñgan friends made their appearance. Upon being questioned as to the delay, they informed us that they had circled around at a considerable distance, examining the number and shape of our footprints in order to make sure that no deception was being practiced upon them. When we approached the purpose of the interview, namely, to request permission to visit their houses, they positively refused to allow it, telling us that they were on guard against three warrior chiefs of the upper Sálug who had recently procured guns and who had threatened to attack them. Upon questioning my companions as to the likely location of the domicile of the Mañgguáñgans, I was assured that they probably lived at the head of the Mánat River in a swampy region and that access to their settlement could be had only by wading through tracts of mud and water thigh deep.

During the same year various other raids were made, notably on the watershed between the Sálug and the Ihawán Rivers. The Manóbos of the Baóbo River, which has been styled by the well-known Jesuit missionary Urios "the river of Bagáni" (warrior chiefs), were reported to be in a state of interclan war. Such a condition, however, was nothing unusual, for I never ascended the upper Agúsan without hearing reports of atrocities on Baóbo River.2

2The Baóbo River rises in a mountain that is very near the confluence of the Sálug and Libagánon Rivers, and empties into one of the myriad channels into which the Agúsan is divided just below Veruéla.

In time of peace, interclan dealings are friendly, but it may be said in general that dealings of any kind are not numerous and that their frequency is in inverse ratio to the distance between the two clans. It is seldom that a given individual has no feudal enemy in one district or another so that in his visits to other clans he usually has either to pass through the territory of an enemy or to run the risk of meeting one at his destination. This does not mean that he will be attacked then and there, for he is on his guard, but it must be remembered that he is in Manóboland and that a mere spark may start a conflagration.

Hence, visits to others than relatives and trips to distant points are not frequent. This is particularly true of the womenfolk. Here and there one finds a Manóbo man who travels fearlessly to distant settlements for the purpose of securing some object that he needs, but he never fails to carry his lance, and frequently, his shield; he is never off his guard, either on the trail or in the house he may be visiting.

During the greater social and religious gatherings the greatest vigilance is exerted by all concerned as everyone realizes beforehand the possibility of trouble. Hence bolos or daggers are worn even during meals. Enemies or others who are known to be at loggerheads are seated at a respectful distance from each other with such people around them as are considered friendly or at least neutral. This arrangement of guests is a very striking feature of a Manóbo meal and one of great importance, for it prevents many an untoward act. The host, in an informal way, sees to the distribution of the guests, and when his arrangement is not acceptable to any of the interested parties, a rearrangement is made and all seat themselves. This proceeding has nothing formal about it. The whole thing seems to be done by instinct.



The shameless spoliation3 practiced during my residence and travels in eastern Mindanáo (1905-1909) by Christian natives upon the Christianized and un-Christianized Manóbos is a subject that deserves special mention.

3Since the establishment in 1909 of government trading posts, this spoliation has practically ceased in the Agúsan Valley.

Exploitation by falsification.--The hill people, living in their mountain fastnesses out of communication with the more important traders, had to depend wholly for their needs on petty traders and peddlers of the Christian population. They were accordingly kept in absolute ignorance of the true value of the commodities that they required. False reports as to the value of rice, hemp, and vino were constantly spread. To-day, it would be a report of a war between China and Japan that caused a rise of several pesos in the price of a sack of rice. To-morrow, it would be an international complication between Japan and several of the great European powers which caused a paralysis in the exportation of hemp and a corresponding fall of several pesos in the value of it. These and numerous other fabrications were corroborated by letters purporting to come from Butuán, but in most cases written by one trader to another on the spot, with a view to giving plausibility to the lie. It was a common practice for the trader's friend or partner in Butuán to direct, usually by previous arrangement, two letters to him, in one of which was stated the true value of the commodity and in the other the value at which it was desired to purchase or to dispose of it. The latter letter was for public perusal and rarely failed to beguile the ignorant conquistas and Manóbos.

But it was not only in the exorbitant rates charged and in the unspeakably low prices paid for objects of merchandise that the Christian trader swindled his pagan fellow men. The use of false weights and measures was a second means. The Manóbo had little conception of a pikul4 or of an arroba5 of hemp, so that he was utterly at the mercy of the trader. The steelyards used by Christian traders from 1905 to 1908 were never less than 30 per cent out of true and frequently as much as 50 per cent. One pair of scales I found to be so heavily leaded that the hemp that weighed 25 pounds on them weighed between 38 and 39 pounds on a true English scales.

4A pikul is the equivalent of 137.5 Spanish pounds.

5An arroba is 25 Spanish pounds.

Another method of defraudation consisted in false accounts. The Manóbo had no account book to rely upon in his dealings with the trader, but trusted to his memory and to the honesty of his friend. The payment was made in occasional deliveries of hemp or other articles, such deliveries covering a period usually of many months. When the day for settling accounts came, the Manóbo was allowed to spread out his little grains of corn or little bits of wood on the floor and to perform the calculation as best he could. Any mistakes in his own favor were promptly corrected by the trader, but mistakes or omissions in favor of the trader were allowed to pass unobserved. The account would then be closed and the trader would mark with a piece of charcoal on a beam, rafter, or other convenient place, the amount of the debt still due him, for it was extremely rare that he allowed the poor tribesman to escape from his clutches.

Defraudation by usury and excessive prices.--Another method of exploitation consisted in a system of usury, practiced throughout the valley but more especially on the upper Agúsan. An example will illustrate this: A Bisáya advances 5 pesos in various commodities with the understanding that at the next harvest he is to receive 10 sacks of paddy in payment. At the next harvest the Manóbo is unable to pay more than 6 sacks. He is given to understand that he must pay the balance within two months. After that period the trader goes upstream again and proceeds to collect. The paddy is not forthcoming, so the trader informs his customer that the prevailing price of paddy in such and such a town is actually 5 pesos per sack and that he accordingly loses 20 pesos by the failure to receive the paddy stipulated for and that the debtor must answer for the amount. The poor Manóbo then turns over a war bolo or perhaps a spear at one-half their original value, for the contract called for paddy and not weapons. In that way he pays up a certain amount, let us say 10 pesos, and has still a balance of 10 pesos against him, he having no available resources wherewith to settle the account in full. He is then offered the alternative of paying 20 sacks at the next harvest or of performing some work that he is unwilling to do, so he accepts the former alternative. The bargain is then clinched with many threats on the part of the trader to the effect that the Americans will cut off his head or commit some other outrageous act should he fail to fulfill this second contract.

The worst depredation committed on the Manóbo consisted of the advancing of merchandise at exorbitant rates just before harvest time with a view to purchasing rice and tobacco. It is principally at this time that the Manóbo stands in special need of a supply of pigs and chickens for the celebrations, religious and social, that invariably take place. As he has little foresight in his nature and rarely, if ever, speculates, he was accustomed to bartering away in advance a large amount of his paddy and tobacco. The result was that after paying up as much of his paddy debts and tobacco debts as he could, he found that his stock was meager, barely sufficient for a few months. So the time came when he had to repurchase at from 3 to 10 pesos per bamboo joint that which he had sold for 25 centavos.

Exploitation by the system of commutation.--Another means of defrauding perpetrated on the Manóbo was the system of commutation by which the debt had to be paid, if the creditor so desired, in other effects than those which were stipulated in the contract. The value of the goods thus substituted was reckoned extraordinarily low. For example, in the event of a failure to pay the stipulated amount of tobacco, its value in some other part of the Agúsan, where that commodity was high, would be calculated in money, and any object would be asked for that the trader might desire. Suppose the customary value of this object, a pig for instance, to be 10 pesos, at which price it would be offered to the trader, who would reply that he had contracted for tobacco and not pigs. He would go on to show that he had no use for pigs, that he could procure a pig of the same size for 2 pesos in another town, and he would finally persuade the debtor to turn over the pig for 2 pesos.

I adjudicated unofficially, at the request of the Manóbos, several cases where the Bisáya trader tried to collect not only the value of a sow but of the number of young ones that it might have given birth to had it lived. These pigs had been left with Manóbos for safe-keeping and either had died from natural causes or had been killed. One Bisáya went so far as to demand payment for the chickens that a hen would have produced had it not been stolen from the Manóbo to whom it had been entrusted. This part of the claim I did not allow, so the claimant demanded pay for the eggs that might have been laid.

Wheedling or the puának system.--Another means of exploitation practiced on the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan was the puának system, invented by the Bisáya trader. The puának was some prosperous Manóbo who was chosen as an intimate friend and who, out of friendship, was expected to furnish his Bisáya friend anything which the latter might ask for. The Bisáya in return was expected to do the same.

The Bisáya paid his Manóbo friend a few visits every year, on which occasions he was received with all the open-hearted hospitality so characteristic of the Manóbo. Pigs and chickens, purchased frequently at high rates, were killed in his honor. The country was scoured for sugar-cane wine or other drink, and no means were left untried to make the reception royal. The Bisáya, in the meanwhile, lavished on his host soft, wheedling words, at the same time giving him sad tales of the rise in the price of merchandise, of his indebtedness to the Chinese, and before leaving gave him a little cloth or some other thing of small value. In return he received paddy, tobacco, and such other articles as he needed. The farewell was made with great demonstrations of friendship on the Bisáya's part and with an invitation to his Manóbo friend to visit him at a certain stated time.

During his friend's visit the Manóbo had gone around the country canvassing for paddy and such other articles as he had been instructed to barter for. His wife and female relatives had stamped out several sacks of paddy for their friend. His sons and other male relatives had cleaned the Bisáya's boat and supplied him with rattan. In a word, the whole family had made menials of themselves to satisfy the Bisáya's every desire.

At the stated time the Manóbo started downstream with the various commodities that had been requested of him, paddy, tobacco, and other things. At his friend's house he was received with a great exhibition of joy and welcome. During his stay he was kept happy by constant doses of vino. Besides the killing of a suckling pig and of a few chickens, a little wheedling and palavering were about the only entertainment he received. But as the grog kept him in good humor and it is supposed to cost one peso per liter, he was perfectly happy, turned over his wares to the host, had his accounts balanced for him (he was usually in a hilarious condition while this was being done), received further advances of merchandise at the usual usurious rates, and left for his upland home to tell his family and relatives of the glorious time he had at his puának's.

Bartering transactions.--The following schedule of approximate values of commodities in the Agúsan, 1905 to 1909, will serve to show the commercial depredations committed on Manóbos and conquistas by the Bisáyas who have ever looked upon them as their legitimate prey.

Table 1

To this list might be appended the values of exchange in paddy, beeswax, and rattan and the corresponding gain made when these latter are bartered in their turn for hemp or disposed of to the Chinese merchants.

From the above list it is evident that a Bisáya trader could go up the river with goods valued at 26 pesos and within a few weeks return with abaká valued at 138 pesos to 175 pesos, according to the scales and other measures used. His total expenses, including his own subsistence, probably would not exceed 30 pesos.

No mention is here made of such luxuries as shoes, hats, or European clothes on which gains of from 500 to 1,000 per cent are the rule. Neither have various other usuries been included, such as high interest or payment of expenses in case of delays, all of which go to swell the gain that a Bisáya considers his right and his privilege when he has to deal with beings whom he hardly classes as men.

Among the Manóbos the credit system almost invariably prevails, based upon the sacredness with which the Manóbo pays his debts. It is true that the Christianized Manóbo occasionally is not very scrupulous in this respect, but this is because he has been fleeced so much by his Christian brethren.

Arriving in a settlement, the trader displays only a part of his wares at a time. If he has two pieces of cloth, he displays only one. Of five sacks of rice, only two are his, he claims. In answering the inquiry as to whether he has dried fish, he says that he has just a little for his personal use, for the price of it in Butuán was prohibitive. On being besought to sell a little, he secretly orders it taken out from the jar and delivered to his customer, at an outrageous price. The object of this simulation is to hasten the sales of his wares, for should he display all his stock, many of his customers might prefer to wait in hopes of a reduction in prices, a sort of a diminutive "clearance sale."

As the article for which the exchange is made is nearly always abaká fiber, it is evident that a certain period, longer or shorter according to the amount of fiber contracted for, must be allowed the customer. When this period exceeds a week, the stipulation is made that the payment shall be made in installments. A shorter period is allowed than is necessary for the stripping of the hemp, under the pretense that the trader is in a hurry to leave the settlement and catch a certain steamer with which he deals. This is a prudent precaution as the Manóbo is not very methodical in his affairs nor quick in his movements. A thousand and one things--omens, sickness, bad weather--may delay him in the fulfillment of his contract. It is this tardiness that gives rise to the ill feeling and bickering that are not infrequently the outcome of this system of trading. The Manóbo, moreover, has long since become aware of the stupendous gain made by the traders, and, when not dealt with gently, becomes exasperated and on occasions deliberately delays his creditor. Then again, some other trader may have got into the settlement in the meantime and seduced him into buying, cash down, some more enticing article, for this primitive man, like the rest of the world, often buys what he lays his eyes upon without any thought of the future. For this reason, the trader keeps close observation upon all who owe him, almost daily visiting their houses and profiting by the occasion to help himself to whatever little fish or meat or other edibles he may find therein. One who has been in debt a long time is a favorite victim, for when he is unable to pay his debt on time he is shamelessly required to offer a substantial apology6 in the form of a chicken or some other edible.



In general, there was no established system in the Agúsan Valley as far as the dealings of Bisáyas went. The constant fluctuation of prices was a sufficient explanation of this. Thus, rice might be worth 13 centavos per kilogram in Butuán, while at the same time it might command a price of 43 centavos on the Híbung River or in Veruéla. Salted fish might be selling in Butuán for a trifle, whereas up the Simúlau a jar of it at retail might be worth 20 or 30 sacks of paddy. In general the increase in price of a commodity was in direct proportion to its distance from points of distribution. By points of distribution are meant the Chinese stores in Butuán and Talakógon.

Again the old-time custom of selling paddy at a fixed customary price held the Manóbo in commercial servitude to his Bisáya compeer. This was due to the intense conservatism of the Manóbo and to his peculiar religious tenets in this regard, both of which were fostered and sustained by the tribal priests and encouraged by Bisáyas. Could he have been induced to retain his paddy instead of selling it at 50 centavos per sack he would not have been obliged to repurchase at P5 per sack. The same might be said of his tobacco, which he sold wholesale by the bamboo joint at 25 centavos each, or, at most, at a peso each, and which he repurchased, paying, in times of scarcity, 20 centavos for enough to chew a few times.

The credit system, too, was an impediment to his financial advance. It seems to have been a tribal institution. During my trading tour I frequently heard my Manóbo debtors proclaim boastingly to their fellow tribesmen that I had much confidence in their integrity.

The Manóbo who could gain the confidence of the traders and accumulate his debts seemed to be an honored person, but when he was able to make sufficient payment to satisfy his creditors he was a great man. Hence, the traders played upon his vanity and advanced him such commodities as he desired, seldom obliging him to settle in full his obligations, and induced him to accept on credit a certain amount so as to retain him in bondage to them. It must not be imagined that there was anything tyrannical in the manner of collecting outstanding debts. On the contrary, it was almost always done in a gentle diplomatic way, the trader knowing full well that the Manóbo regarded a debt as sacred and that he would finally pay it. But it must not be supposed that the transactions were entirely free from disputes and quarrels. It happened occasionally that the Manóbo detected the frauds in his creditor's accounting or remembered omissions of his own in a past reckoning, and so the bickering began, the Bisáya never caring to admit his errors or frauds, while the Manóbo, who is a hard and fast bargainer, insisted on claiming what he considered his rights. As a rule, the matter was settled peaceably by the principal men of the region. Numerous instances, however, occurred wherein the Manóbo, exasperated by the numerous frauds of his creditor, awaited a favorable occasion to dispatch him. On the whole, it may be said that differences which arose between Bisáyas and their mountain compeers in eastern Mindanáo are to be attributed in no small degree to the ruinous, relentless exploitation of the unsophisticated, untutored Manóbo by the greedy Bisáya traffickers.


By internal trading is meant those simple transactions that take place between Manóbo and Manóbo. The subject presents a striking contrast to the merciless system adopted by the Christian traders in their dealings with their pagan congeners.

The transactions are simple exchanges of the absolute necessities of life.


There is little conception of money as such among the hillmen unless they have been in contact with Christian or Christianized traders, and even then although monetary terms are made use of, there is but a vague conception of the real value of what they represent. I asked a Manóbo of the upper Wá-wa the price of his little bamboo lime tube. The answer was 30 pesos.

Money, therefore, has no value as a circulating medium, although it may be prized as a material out of which to make rings and other ornamental objects. As substitutes, there are several units of more or less indefinite value. Thus, the value of a slave which, expressed in monetary value, varies between 15 and 30 pesos, is mentioned in connection with large fines and with marriage payments. Again, plates of the type called píñggan are referred to in small fines and in other payments, but as these are imported articles the price varies. On the whole, however, 100 píñggan are worth a good serviceable slave--that is, 30 pesos. Pigs also are mentioned as a unit of value, but here again the value is not wholly definite, as a great many of them are imported and vary with the purchasing price.


The following list will give a fair idea of the monetary value of some of the commodities that are most frequently exchanged between Manobos.

Table 2

The values above indicated are based on the monetary terms used to represent their value, and borrowed, possibly, from the terms which are still in vogue in eastern Mindanáo.7

7I-sá-ka sá-pi (Bis., ú-sa'-ka sa-lá-pi), P0.50; ka-há-ti, P0.25; Si-ká-pat, P0.125; Si-kau-au, P0.0625.

From the above scale it will be seen that a pig 1 year old could be exchanged for 2 full-grown chickens, 2 sacks of paddy, and 2 bamboo joints of tobacco. It is not customary to trade in such things as camotes, taro, and corn, the return of them being the usual stipulation, but the corresponding values have been inserted in the above list in order to give the reader an idea of the value of food commodities.


No measure of weight is used by the hill Manóbo. The Christianized Manóbo may have obtained some old scales of the type used by Bisáyas for weighing abaká fiber. These scales are steelyards, the construction of which permitted the Bisáya trader to fleece his non-Christian customers of as much as 50 per cent of their abaká fiber. The method of falsifying the balance was by loading the counterpoising weight with lead, and by filing the crosspiece that acts as fulcrum. Another method which might be used with even true steelyards consisted in giving the counterpoise arm a downward tilt, after the abaká fiber had been loaded on the other arm. This was usually done on the pretense of picking up the counterpoising weight which had been purposely left on the ground.

In measures of volume the Manóbo is almost equally destitute for he has only the gántañg. This is a cylindrical measure made out of the trunk of a palm tree, with a bottom of some other wood. It has a capacity of from 10 to 15 liters, but I know of no rule which fixes its exact size. An interesting point with regard to the size of this measure is that it is double that of the one used by Bisáyas.8 It is suggested that the early Bisáya traders, on the introduction of the Spanish ganta and fanega, taught, for obvious purposes, their unsuspecting mountain friends to make a measure double the size of the legal one.

8The gántang measure in eastern Mindanáo is of two kinds, de almacen, "of the store," and de provincia, "of the province." The latter is twice the size of the former, and is universally used by the mountain peoples.

In the manner of measuring out paddy (for it is practically only for this purpose that the gántang serves) there is a feature that is characteristic of Manobo frugality and economy. The paddy is scooped with the hands, little by little, into the measure, which is not moved until it is full. Then with a piece of stick the surface of the paddy is leveled off and it is emptied into the larger receptacle. At the same time the number is counted out loudly. The intention in not moving or disturbing the measure is to allow the paddy to have greater bulk, for if it is disturbed the grains settle and it requires more to fill the measure.

Twenty-five of these gántang make a kabán, bákkid, or anéga, as it is variously called. This kabán, although there is no measure corresponding to it in Manóboland, would be equivalent in bulk to two sacks of rice, or about 150 liters.

The yard is the distance from the end of the thumb, when the arm is extended horizontally, to the middle of the sternum. It, of course, varies somewhat with each individual.

The Bisáya trader, in measuring cloth, considerably shortens his yard by not giving a full stretch to the arm, and by slightly turning the outstretched hand toward his body. This gain, together with another little one secured when he bites off the measured piece from the bolt, makes a total gain of 10 centimeters approximately. Remonstrances on the part of the customer are unavailing, for he is told that such is the length of the trader's yard and, if the customer is not satisfied, he is not obliged to accept the cloth. As it is a credit transaction, the poor Manóbo is obliged to yield.

The fathom9 is the distance between the thumb tips when the arms and hands are outstretched. The fraud practiced by the Bisáya trader in the yard measure is also employed in this.


The span 10 is the stretch between the tip of the first finger and that of the thumb as they are stretched over the object to be measured.


The finger length11 is the length of either the first or of the middle finger, according to the custom of each locality.


The joint length 12 is the length of the middle joint of the finger. It is a measure that is very seldom used.




I have not visited the Agúsan Valley since 1910, so that I am unable to give any information as to the actual extent of slave trading at the present day. From 1905 to 1909 the practice was in vogue, but to no great extent. It is reported on all sides by Mañgguáñgans, Mandáyas, Manóbos, and Banuáons that since the American occupation it has diminished to a remarkable degree, due to the wonderful reputation of the Americans for having overcome the Spaniards. This diminution was a natural sequence of the decrease of war raids.

Slave trading among the Manóbos of eastern Mindanáo was practically confined to the Ihawán, Baóbo, upper Simúlau, and Agúsan Rivers. I am of the opinion that during my four years' residence in the Agúsan there were not more than 100 cases of slave trade in the regions outside of the Ihawán and Baóbo River Valleys.

The customary value of a slave has been mentioned in this chapter, but it is only proper to add that a great many considerations, such as poor health, weak constitution, and other defects which might lessen the ability of the slave to work, detract from his value. It may be said in general that the value of a slave ranges between 10 and 30 pesos, never exceeding the last figure, at which he stands on a par with an unusually good hunting dog, or with an extra large prolific sow.

Slave trading does not, in the Manóbo's mind, involve the idea of degradation which attaches to it among other nations. A slave is to the Manóbo a chattel which he can sell, kill, or dispose of in any other way that he may deem expedient.


Captives13 are those who have been captured from the enemy. At first their treatment may be a little harsh, or they may, when their owners happen to be angry, be killed outright. This is due to the fact that the feelings of revenge have not cooled off. But after a few days their condition and treatment is similar to that of ordinary slaves, except that more precautions are taken to prevent their escape. If fear of their escape is entertained, it is usual to sell them as soon as possible.


By ordinary slaves14 are meant those who have been purchased or who have been delivered over in payment of fines or marriages. There is no institution in Manóboland by which a freeman, not a minor, can become a slave by reason of debt. But minors, usually relatives of the debtor, sometimes in an exigency are turned over in payment of a debt. This is usually done with a view to avoiding bloodshed.



The manner of delivering the slave to a new owner depends ordinarily upon the feelings with which he regards the change, except in the case of children, who are easily coaxed into accepting it. In the case of older persons who have been attached to their owners, the matter is more difficult, as they display a reluctance to change hands. A ruse is then resorted to, as in a case which I witnessed. The person, in this case a slave girl, was sent to her purchaser's house, ostensibly for the purpose of procuring salt and of delivering a basket of paddy. As she was about to return her purchaser called her back into the house. She then, realizing the circumstances, burst into tears, but was soon soothed by the wives of her new owner.

On the whole slaves are not mistreated. Like all menials, they at times become remiss in the performance of what is expected of them, and accordingly are given a few blows with a stick or other convenient object. In a very passionate moment, or when drunk, the master may cut off his slave girl's hair or denude her completely in the presence of the household, but such acts are of very rare occurrence.

Immediately after being captured, or after a change of master, the slave feels his lot keenly, but as time goes on and as he realizes that there is no hope of deliverance, the remembrance of his relatives fades away and he resigns himself to his fate. Sometimes one finds a slave who has become so attached to his master that he is unwilling to return to his relatives. This is true of those who have been captured when young, and especially of girls. A fondness often grows up between the latter and their master's wife, and separation causes loud and long weeping.

A slave enjoys no rights, either personal or political. He can be disposed of without his consent either by sale or in marriage, or in any other way his master sees fit. If he runs away he is pursued and brought back to his master's house. If he runs away with frequency, and the owner is unable to dispose of him to some one else, he is simply speared to death. I never witnessed the actual killing, but trustworthy accounts authenticate the fact that formerly, at least, it occasionally took place. If a slave flees from his master's house no one may aid or abet him in his flight, though it is lawful for anyone to capture him with the intention of returning him to his master, who in this case must pay the capturer P15.15

15On my last trip among the Mandáyas of southeastern Mindanáo (Karága River) I was instrumental in saving the life of a woman slave who had escaped six times. At the time of her escape six slaves, led by a boy slave of about 14 years of age, had fled from the house of their master. They were recaptured and no punishment except a good scolding and an infinity of threats was meted out to them. A few days afterwards an elderly slave again escaped. She was discovered in a neighboring house and brought back by the wife and daughter of her owner. When her master saw her he rushed from his house with spear and bolo and would have killed her had it not been for my remonstrances and entreaties.

The slave does his share of domestic service. To the female falls the task of drawing water, gathering firewood, pounding rice, cooking, and weeding; to the male that of acting as his master's companion, porter, and general messenger, and of planting camotes and other crops.

The slave's dress is usually sufficient to cover his nakedness and no more. Ear disks, bracelets, and similar articles of feminity[sic] are not allowed, and too neat arrangement of the hair is not countenanced, as it might be indicative of matrimonial inclinations. Marriage of his slaves is not looked upon with favor by the master, and he does not permit it unless the material advantages are so great that they will repay him for the loss of the slave's services.

I know of few slave marriages. Captives, however, are said to be married off for a good payment, when their looks and other good qualities have won the heart of some young man.

My observation and the testimony of Manóboland as to the sexual morality of slaves is that it is excellent, though no vigilance seems to be exercised over them in the matter. The female slave makes trips alone to the water place even by night, and spends many hours of the day in solitary places while working in the clearings or traveling to the granary. This sexual morality is due to the fact that intercourse with a female slave is looked down upon with unmitigated contempt.

The slave fares no worse in the matter of food than the inmates of the house; possibly he fares even better, for he gets more secret tastes of sugarcane and roasted camotes between meal hours; during meals he does not forget himself, as he often has the handling of the pots.





The matter of Manóbo religious belief is so difficult of investigation, and withal so important, that I feel a certain amount of timidity in taking up the subject. The natural suspiciousness of the Manóbo and his inclination not to answer questions truthfully until he has assured himself of his interrogator's motives in asking it are the principal sources of this difficulty. Then again his fear of offending the divinities, coupled with his absolute subjection in spiritual affairs to his priests, do not render the undertaking easier. And finally his primitive, untutored mind is not capable of setting forth in a satisfactory manner the intricacies, and not infrequently, the numerous variations and apparent contradictions that arise at every step in the investigation. However, my sojourn among, and intimate dealings with, both laymen and priests give me hope that the following is in its essentials a true interpretation of this primitive religion.



The life of a Manóbo is as deep an expression of his religious beliefs as that of any man I know. Belief in the supernatural seems to be instinctive with him. He undertakes no action out of the ordinary routine without consulting the powers above, and when he has assured himself of their disapprobation, he refrains most sacredly from his intended project, even if it should be one so cherished as vengeance on an enemy. But if these higher powers manifest their approbation he carries out his project with full assurance of success.

To the Manóbo his deities and demons, spirits, giants, ghouls, and goblins are as real as his own existence, and his belief in them seems to him entirely rational and well founded, because for authority he has tradition and revelation--tradition handed down from generation to generation, revelation imparted to priests while manifesting all the indications of what he considers supernatural influence.


I have had occasion to study the working of the Manóbo mind when brought into contact with phenomena which it had never contemplated before and I observed that when the phenomenon impressed him as being not prejudicial nor unintelligible it was ascribed to a beneficent supernatural agency, but when it produced the impression of being unintelligible or detrimental it was at once condemned as being the work of evil spirits. On one occasion a Manóbo of the upper Agúsan accompanied me to Talakógon and, upon seeing the government launch, made inquiries as to its nature. His questions being answered to his satisfaction, he made his comments, praised its form, and finally declared it to be the work of a god. But when it began to move, giving forth its shrill whistle and producing the noise characteristic of a gasoline launch, he at once condemned it as being the work of evil agency.

I saw another instance illustrative of this tendency upon the arrival of the first phonograph in the Simúlau River district. My companion was a Manóbo of the upper Bahaían. Upon hearing the strains of the phonograph he concluded at once that there was an evil spirit within it. Notwithstanding the fact that I assured him to the contrary, he persisted in his belief, averring that no good spirit would give vent to such an unearthly noise.

Almost invariably my watch, cornet, compass, and barometer were condemned as being the work of malevolent spirits. Instances might be multiplied indefinitely, but the general conclusion is that anything that suggests the unintelligible, the unusual, the suspected, the gloomy, is at once attributed to inimical powers. Hence a crow that caws at night is thought to be an evil spirit. The crashing of a falling tree in the forest is the struggle of mighty giants. The rumbling of thunder, the flash of lightning, the tempest's blast, and all the other phenomena of nature are the operations of unseen agencies. The darkness is peopled with hosts of spirits. On the desolate rocks, in the untrodden jungle, on the dark mountain tops, in gloomy caves, by mad torrents, in deep pools, dwell invisible powers whose enmity he must avoid or whose good will he must court, or whose anger he must placate.

Fear then seems to be the foundation of the Manóbo's religious beliefs and observances. Untutored as he is, he fails to understand occurrences which the average trained mind can easily explain. On one occasion I was at the headwaters of the Abagá River, a tributary of the Tágo River. I had to cross the river at a point where a mighty rock stood in midstream, dividing the river in two. I noticed that each of my Manóbo carriers deposited a little stone near an aperture in the rock. I asked them why they had made their tribute to the spirit dweller of the rock, and I could not convince them that the rock was not placed there by the spirit, but was a natural result of the action of the water. They would never, they said, be able to return to the Agúsan unless they showed their good will to the spirit lord of Abagá.


In all the concerns of life the Manóbo must secure immunity from the ill will of the multitudinous spirits that surround him. But this alone is not sufficient. He must be able to detect future evil, otherwise how can he avoid it? His ancestors for long bygone generations, have taught him how to foresee and avoid evil, for they have learned, often after bitter experience, the signs of present and approaching evil and the means of effectively avoiding it. These signs are embodied in a system of augury, that forms one of the most important parts of Manóbo religion. Hence, before all important undertakings, and, above all, whenever there is any suspicion of bodily danger or any apprehension of supernatural ill will, the omens must be sedulously consulted and the machinations of evil or of inimical spirits thereby detected.


Now it happens that at times these omens can not be observed, so that it might seem that the Manóbo is left exposed to, and defenseless against, a host of spirit enemies.1 However, he knows a means of defense, for the good old people of yore have handed down the belief that there is an hierarchy of beneficent divinities called diwáta that are ever ready to be his champions against the powers of evil. The old, old, people found this faith justified and experienced the help of the beneficent gods. Why should not he?


How then is he to communicate with these invisible champions? Evidently through those who have been chosen by the deities themselves for that purpose--the order of priests called Italian. And so, following out the practice of his forefathers, he has recourse to the priests in more important concerns in which he can not otherwise ascertain the schemes of malignant spirits or determine the pleasure of the gods. The priest, in answer to his call, either by means of divination, or by ecstatic communion with his tutelary deity, or by appropriate offerings, learns the means to ward off the impending or suspected evil.

Living in a "land of terror," as he had up to about 35 years ago, surrounded on all sides by mortal enemies, and in constant warfare with them, the Manóbo, like his forebears, felt the necessity of having recourse to spiritual agents for protection against his enemies and for assistance in conquering them. Herein is involved another feature of Manóbo religion--the belief in a multitude of warlike spirits called tagbúsan with whom communication is held through the mediation of warrior chiefs called bagáni.


Other points of importance in the religious ideas of the Manóbos are the belief in a future life and in the existence, immortality, and duality of the soul.2 An inordinate fear of the dead and of all connected with them, a host of religious and of other taboos, and a belief in the efficacy of charms, talismans, and sympathetic magical means complete the summary of Manóbo religion. For champions the Manóbo has the tutelary diuáta; for mediators, the bailán; for guides, dreams, divination, auguries, and omens; for propitiation, prayers, invocations, oblations, and sacrifice; for proof of faith, tradition, revelation, and personal experience.

2Not the metaphysical soul that is maintained in biblical and theological belief, but a material counterpart of each individual.


The umágad,3 or spirit companions of man, as understood by the Manóbo, may be defined as his material invisible counterparts without whose presence he would cease to live. He attributes to these spirits or souls invisibility, power of locomotion, and to at least one of them immortality. He invests not only men, but also animals and such plants as are cultivated by man for his sustenance, with souls or spirits. He will tell you that the soul of rice is like rice, and exists as a separate invisible form beside the visible material entity known as rice. I was given to understand that trees once had souls and in proof of the assertion the narra tree was cited, for even yet, it was explained, it bleeds when cut.4 No other explanation is offered in the case of animals, than that they live and die and dream, therefore they must have a spirit or soul.

3From á-gad, accompany.

4The sap of the narra tree bears a very striking resemblance to blood. Narra is one of the Pterocarpus species.

Vegetable souls in such plants as are used for the nourishment of man, are explained in the following way: The offerings of rice and drink which are set out for the deities, tutelary or other, are partaken of and after repast of the gods the offerings become insipid, because they have lost their "soul." I frequently tested the substantial remains of the spirits' feast and found that they had still retained their pristine savor and strength. No argument of mine, however, could convince my Manóbo friends to the contrary. The spirits had consumed the soul, and there remained, according to their staunch belief, nothing but the outward form and inert bulk of the former offerings.

The Manóbo supposes himself to have been endowed by Mandáit with two invisible companions and he is convinced that without their attendance he could not exist. These souls or spirits are not indwelling principles of life but are two separate indeterminate entities that differ only in two respects from the person whose associates they are. The first difference is that of size, for it is the general belief that they are a trifle smaller than their bodily associates. Besides being smaller, they are invisible. No mortal eye, it is said, except the priest's, has seen a man's spirit companion, and yet it is only for brief intervals that they are absent from their corporal companions. At times they crouch upon the shoulders. When the man is making ready for a journey, they do likewise. When he sets out upon his travels they follow him, one on each side in somewhat the same way as the "guardian angels" of other creeds accompany their wards. I once witnessed a little incident illustrative of this belief. It was on the middle Agúsan, when a mother was about to leave the house of birth. At the last moment she addressed the spirits of her little one, conjuring them to follow and to care for their tender ward.

Hence our souls are as our shadows, our other selves. Notwithstanding the close association between them and their human companions, they are seldom invoked. They are considered to have little, if any, power to help. It is thought that without their presence man would become mad, and in proof of this I was informed of cases where persons, on being awakened rudely and hurriedly, had recourse to the bolo, in a fit of madness due as it was thought, to the absence of their souls.5

5This belief explains the reluctance that the Manóbo, like members of other Philippine tribes, feels in arousing a person hurriedly from sleep.

It is said that when we sleep these spirits wander off for a brief space on their own mystic errands, and their doings are mirrored in our dreams. Hence the strong and abiding belief of the Manóbo in dreams. These strange companions of man have no material wants yet they lead an insecure existence, exposed, as they are, to the insidious attacks of the common foes of mortals. Hence it comes to pass that one of them, while away on its random rambles some unlucky day, is mysteriously kidnaped and finally "devoured" by a ruthless evil spirit.6 As soon as the surviving soul realizes what has taken place, it bemoans the loss of its companion and leaving its corporal companion unattended wends its way, sad and solitary, to the land of Ibú. I have been assured by priests that this companionless soul frequently returns to the scene of sickness and there bemoans with piteous cries the loss of its companion, heaping horrid imprecations on the head of the foul spirit that wrought the evil. Only the priest can hear its wild wail of woe and see its piteous face, all suffused with tears. Upon seeing the spirit's grief the priest renews at once his supplications to his tutelary deities, beseeching them to rescue the captured soul from the clutches of its enemy and thereby save the life of the patient. Should the prayers of the priest prove unavailing, the soul wends its way to the region of Ibú, where, free from the agressions[sic] of earthly enemies, it begins its second and unending existence in the company of its spirit relatives.

6The "souls" of an ordinary priest and of war priests, as also those of the slain, are not subject to such attacks, being under the protection of numerous dieties[sic].


Manóbo religion consists primarily of a belief in an innumerable number of deities called úmli and of secondary deities called diuáta. In contradistinction to these is a multitudinous host of demons known as búsau, waging incessant and ruthless war against the Manóbo world. In addition to these there is a numerous array of spirits known as tagbánua to whom is assigned the ownership of the forests, hills, and valleys, while the various other divisions and operations of nature are thought to be under the superintendence of other preternatural beings, beneficent or otherwise.

The conception which the Manóbo has of the supernatural world is very much like his idea of the world in which he lives. His gods, like his warrior chiefs, are great chiefs, no one of whom recognizes the sovereignty of the other. We find no idea of a supreme being as such. The priests of one settlement have their own special deities to whom they and their relatives have recourse, while the priests of another settlement have another set of deities for their tutelaries, with whom they intercede, either for themselves or for such of their friends as may need assistance. It is true that each priest has amongst his familiars a major divinity from whom he may have experienced more help, but in the spirit world there does not exist, according to Manóbo belief, one supreme universal being.7 Each priest declares the supremacy of his major deity over those of other priests, and Manóbos declare Manóbo deities to be superior to those of other tribes.

7During the great religious movement that was at its height in 1909, there was a general belief in the existence of a Magbabáya, or supreme being, that was to overthrow the world, but before my departure from the Agúsan in 1910, this supreme being was multiplied and was being sold to anyone of Manóbo belief who could afford to pay the equivalent of a human life. Thus one frequently heard that So-and-So had received one or more Magbabáya.

CLASSIFICATION OF DEITIES AND SPIRITS The following is a general classification of Manóbo deities and spirits.


(1) Úm-li, a class of higher beings who on special occasions, through the intercession of the diuáta, succor mortals.

(2) Diuáta, a minor order of benignant deities, with whom the priests hold communion on all occasions of impending danger, before all important undertakings, and whenever it is considered necessary to feast or to propitiate them.


(1) Tagbúsau, a category of sanguinary gods who delight in blood and who incite their chosen favorites, the bagáni or warrior chiefs, to bloodshed and revenge, and ordinary laymen to acts of violence and madness.

(2) Panaíyang, a class of fierce deities related by ties of kinship, and subordinate to the tagbúsau or gods of gore. Their special function seems to be to drive men to madness.8

8They are called ma-ka-yáng-ug, i. e., "can make mad."

(3) Pamáiya, retainers of the tagbúsau, and their emissaries, when it is desired to incite men to acts of rage.


Bú-sau, an order of insatiable fiends, who, with some exceptions, occupy themselves wantonly in the destruction of human kind. The following are some of the classes and individuals who are commonly believed in but who, unlike most of the other búsau, are not of a perfidious nature unless aroused to anger.

(1) Tag-bánua, a class of spirits who are not unkind, if duly respected, and who live in all silent and gloomy places.

(2) Táme, a gigantic spirit, that dwells in the untraveled jungle and beguiles the traveler to his doom.

(3) Dágau, a mischievous, fickle spirit that delights in stealing the rice from the granary. If aroused to anger she may cause a failure of the rice crop.9

9She is called also Ma-ka-bún-ta-sái, i. e., "can cause hunger."

(4) Anit or Anítan, is the spirit of the thunderbolt, and one of the mightier class of spirits that dwell in the upper sky world.10


(5) Epidemic demons, who hail from the extremity of the world at the navel11 of the ocean.

11Pós'-ud to dá-gat.


(1) Kakiádan, the goddess of the rice, and its custodian during its growth.

(2) Tagamáling, the goddess of other crops.

(3) Taphágan, the harvest goddess, and guardian of the rice during its storage in the granary.


(1) Mandáyangan, a harmless humanlike giant whose home is in the far-off mountain forests.

(2) Ápíla, an innocuous humanlike giant, the rival of Mandáyanñgan for the wrestling championship.

(3) Táme, the giant demon referred to above.


(1) Tagabáyau, a dangerous goddess, that incites to consanguineous love and marriage.

(2) Agkui, half diuáta, half búsau, who urges men to consanguineous love and to sexual excesses.


(1) Inaíyau, an empyrean god, the wielder of the thunderbolt and the lightning, and the manipulator of the winds and storms.

(2) Tagbánua, who, besides being local gods reigning over the forest, have the power to produce rain.

(3) Umoúiuí, the cloud spirit.


(1) Sugúdon or Sugújun, the god of hunters and trappers, under whose auspices are conducted the operations of the chase and all that pertains thereto. He is also the protector of the hunting dogs.

(2) Libtákan, the god of sunrise, sunset, and good weather; a god who dwells in the firmament and seems to have special power in the production of light and good weather.

(3) Mandáit, the soul spirit who bestows upon every human being two invisible, not indwelling, material counterparts.

(4) Yúmud, the water wraith, an apparently innocuous spirit, abiding in deep and rocky places, usually in pools, beneath the surface of the water.

(5) Ibú, the queen of the afterworld, the goddess of deceased mortals, whose abode is down below the pillars of the world.

(6) Manduyápit, the spirit ferryman, the proverbial ferryman who ferries the departed soul across the big red river on its way to Ibúland.

(7) Makalídung, the founder of the world, who set the world on huge pillars (posts).



12Called also úm-li or ma-di-góon-an no di-u-á-ta.

The primary diuáta are a class of supernatural beings that dwell in the upper heavens. It is generally believed that at one time they led a human existence in Manóboland but finally built themselves a stone structure up into the sky and became transformed into divinities of the first order. They stand aloft in a category by themselves and have no dealings with the Manóbo world. On occasions the minor diuáta or those of the second class, when they are unable to afford man the required help, have recourse to these greater deities. During my last trip to the Agúsan Valley, it was the common report that the diuáta of a certain Manóbo clan on the upper Umaíam River, having been unable to protect the people from military persecution had recourse to this higher hierarchy and that it was only a matter of time when the members of the clan would be taken up into the higher-sky regions where the supreme powers dwell and where they would themselves become úmli or madigónan no diuáta.

It is thought that these deities have brass intestines and that they can draw up a house into their ethereal abodes with a gold limbá,13 but the conception of them is so vague and so varying that I am unable to give further definite information.

13Lim-bá possibly means chain.


It is with the secondary order of divinities, however, that we have to deal more at length, for they are the guardians and champions of the Manóbo in all the vicissitudes and concerns of life.

They are thought to be beings that in the long forgotten past lived their earthly lives here below and after their mortal course was run were in some inexplicable way changed into diuáta. Though belonging now to a different and more powerful order, they still retain a fondness for the tribesmen who sojourn here below. Selecting certain men and women for their favored friends 14 they keep in touch with worldly affairs and at the call of their favorites hasten to the help of humankind.

13Lim-bá possibly means chain.

14These are the báilan or priests and priestesses of Manóboland.

In physical appearance these deities are human and Manóbo-like but they are described as being "as fair as the moon." Warriors they are, to a certainty, for they are said to carry their shield and all the insignia of a Manóbo warrior chief and to fare forth at times to punish some bold demon for his evil machinations against the tribe.

They are said to reside on the highest and most inaccessible mountains 15in the vicinity of their favorite priests but are ready to fly "on the wings of the wind" to any part of the world in answer to a call for help.

15We find several mountains and promontories in eastern Mindanáo named after these gods, notably Mount Magdiuáta to the southwest, and the Magdiuáta range to the northwest, of the town of Liañga. Point Diuáta also, to the west of Butuán, is reported as being the dwelling place of Manóbo divinities.

On these lofty heights they ordinarily lead a peaceful life. They are blessed with wives and children and have attendant spirits 16 to do their bidding. They have slaves, too, in their households, black ill-visaged demons captured in some great raid. They have few material wants, for betel nut is said to be their food but still they love to join in the feasts of mortals and to be regaled with all the good things of this world. They do not consume mortal offerings in a material way, for the offerings remain intact except for some slight fingerings that have been found at times on the surface of the rice and other offerings. It is only the "soul," or, as is held by others, the redolence of the viands that is partaken of. An exception, however, must be made in the case of the blood of victims, for this is actually consumed by the deities.

16These retainers are called lim-bó-tung.

So great is their desire for the savory things of life that they are said to plague their mortal friends into providing them. Thus Mandáit, the soul spirit, makes the babe restless, and even indisposed, with no other intention than to induce the people to provide a fatted fowl. It is believed too that Manaúg, the special patron of the sick, causes many a bodily ailment in order that his idol may be set up and that he may be treated to the various delicacies that he is fond of. And the bloodthirsty war lords, Tagbúsau, must have their blood libation periodically, whether it comes from a human being or from an animal victim. It is true that this blood offering is to all appearance taken by the warrior chief or by the priest, for they ravenously suck it from the gory wound, or gulp it down from the vessel in which it has been caught. But it is believed that neither the priest nor the warrior chief drinks it, but the familiar spirits of the former, or the gods of the latter, who at the moment of sacrifice have taken possession of them, and produce in them violent tremblings and other manifestations of preternatural possession. I could get no satisfactory explanation of the manner of this possession. It is said to be effected by a mysterious corporal transformation of the divinity such as even the demons are capable of when they desire to ply their malice on humankind.

It is during this period of ecstatic seizure that the priest reveals to the assembled tribesmen the directions and desires of his deities. Breaking forth with loud voice and great belching into a wild strain, he announces to the people the recovery of the sick one, or a plentiful harvest, but it is not the priest that utters these prophecies and instructions, but the diuáta that speaks through him.


These warlike beings are an order of divinities under whose special protection the priest warrior chief performs his feats of valor, and for whose special veneration he makes sacrifices and other offerings.

The prevailing idea with regard to them is that they are a class of deities whose sole delight is the blood of the human race. This is said to be their choice food, though they are willing, on nearly all occasions, to accept as a substitute that of a pig or of a fowl.

They are said to dwell in high, rocky places on far-away mountains. In order to be supplied with the delicacies of which they are so fond, they select certain individuals for their favorites and servants, and accord to them an immunity from personal danger.

It is seldom that they leave their rocky dwelling places, but when they do it is because they consider themselves neglected by their servants or when they experience an inordinate craving for blood. In such cases they hasten to plague their favorites in divers ways into watchfulness and compliance, and thereby keep themselves supplied with the viands so acceptable to them.

They have messengers, too. These are called pamáiya and are sent by their masters to human haunts to incite men to anger, and thereby bring on an occasion for bloodshed, much as the proverbial devil is said to tempt humankind.

During all ceremonial feasts in their honor they are present and partake of the blood of the victim, human or animal. And when their favorite servants go forth to take revenge upon some long-standing enemy, they accompany him and during the attack are by his side, protecting him and inciting him to superhuman deeds. And when the enemy, men and women, lie bleeding all around and the captives have been bound, these terrible spirits eat, through their favorite's mouth, the heart and liver and the blood of one of the slain, preferably that of the chief enemy.




Standing out in strong antithesis to the benevolent divinities is an order of maleficent spirits corresponding to the proverbial devils of other cults. Throughout this paper they will be called, for want of a better name, búsau or demons; that is, evil agents holding an intermediate place between the higher divinities and men. No uniform tradition as to the origin of these spirits appears to exist. It is certain, however, from my investigation that the belief in such spirits antedates the recent partial Christian conquest of the Agúsan.1 It is said that in the old, old days, these spirits were rather well disposed toward men, and that children used to be entrusted to their care during the absence of the parents. Be that as it may, at the present day they have acquired a degree of maleficence that causes them to be considered the implacable enemies of the human race.

1The introduction of Catholicism among the pagan tribes of eastern Mindanáo was begun on a large scale by the Jesuits about the year 1877.

As frequently described to me by priests and by others who claimed to have seen them, these foul spirits are human in all other respects except that they are unusually tall, 2 fathoms being the average height accorded them. Black and hideous in appearance they are said to stalk around in the darkness and silence of the night. By day they retire to dark thickets, somber caves, and the joyless resting places of the dead.

They have no families nor houses, neither do they experience physical wants and so they wander around in wanton malice toward men. Seizing an unwary human "soul," they make it a prisoner and, sweeping away with it "on the wings of the wind," in some mysterious way devour it. Or, again, simulating the shape of a wild boar, an uncommon bird, or even a fish, they inflict bodily harm on their human victim.

The story of "Ápo Bóhon"2 illustrates the belief in the metamorphosis of these demons. Ápo Bóhon was a Manóbo of the Kasilaían River. One day, in the olden time, he went forth to hunt but had no luck, though three times he had offered his tributes to the Lord of the Agibáwa marshland. Wearied with this hunt, he lay down to rest toward evening when lo! he spied a monkey and taking his bow and dart arrow he shot it. But he could not cook it. He piled wood upon the fire but still the flesh only blackened with soot and would not cook. In his hunger he ate the flesh raw but he never returned home, for the monkey was an evil spirit and Ápo Bóhon fell into his power. Thus it is that until this day he wanders around the woods of Kasilaían and may be heard toward evening calling his dogs together for his return to his home on Agibáwa marshland. Woe betide the unlucky mortal who may cross his path, for now his quest is human. But if, upon hearing his voice, the traveler calls upon him and offers him a quid, Ápo Bóhon will pass on his way and do no harm.

2A-po means "grandfather" and bo-on "ulcer."



Naturally to the priest falls the task of opposing, through his influence with men's supernal friends, these malicious beings. Having got together the proper offerings he calls upon his friendly gods, one or several, and beseeches them to rescue and release the missing spirit or umagdd, and to punish the offending demons. Well pleased with the tokens of good will offered by the priest and by his earthly friends, the friendly deities are said to hasten to their home and gird themselves for the pursuit. With lance and shield and hempen coat3 they start off on the raid. They are described as having their hair bound up in small wooden hemispheres, their heads turbaned with the red kerchief, and their necks adorned with a wealth of charms, much like the great warrior chiefs of Manóboland. Guiding their footsteps by means of a powerful glass,4 and traveling with tremendous speed, they are said to overtake quickly the fleeing enemy, even though they may have to travel to the other side of the world. Then begins a fierce battle between them and the enemy for the recovery of a human soul, or for the purpose of punishing the demons for acts of malice.


4Called espiho. There is a universal belief among the Manóbos in an espiho (from the Spanish espejo, looking-glass) by which one can see into the bowels of the earth or to the extremities of the world.

This battle is described in minutest detail by the priests during the period of divine possession through which they pass in the course of the religious ceremonies. At times a hand-to-hand combat between a friendly deity and some more powerful demon is described at great length. Again the capture of many evil spirits is the theme of a story.

A common occurrence during these combats is the use of an iron ball by the friendly deities. The sight of this is said to inspire terror in the demons and leaves them at the mercy of their opponents. Shut up in this ball as in an iron prison they are brought back in triumph to the domains of their conquerors and the rescued companion spirit of man hurries joyously back to its mortal counterpart. These evil demons are said to be held as captives in the houses of the good spirits and to serve them in the capacity of slaves, accompanying and aiding them in their warlike expeditions against other evil spirits.


Besides having recourse to the diuáta the Manóbos make use of a reed,5 or vine,6 of the branches of a wild lemon tree7 and other plants,8 in order to counteract the evil influence of these fiends. It may be remarked that 11 of these cause a painful wound on an ordinary human being but that they are said to be particularly irritating to evil spirits; this is especially true of the wound made by the sá sá reed. Hence, on occasions when these demons are expected to be present, the priest secures the above-mentioned plants and sets them in places where it is thought the demons may be enticed to enter. It is mostly on the occasion of a death or of a birth that these precautions have to be taken for the smell of death and of human blood seems to have a great attraction for these monsters. On such occasions branches of lemon trees or of the other plants above mentioned are hung under the house or at any opening in the wall. The priest, also, frequently carries a sharpened sá sá reed in the hope of encountering some overbold demon. Although the wound inflicted by the reed does not kill the demon, yet it is very slow to heal and is said to be at times incurable.



7Su-á and Ka-ba-yan-á.

8Ka-míli and Húás.

Such is the fear which the evil spirits have of these reeds, vines, and branches that the mere mention of them is believed to be sufficient to frighten the demons. Fire and smoke, also, are said to keep them away and for that reason a fire is often kept burning under the house during times of sickness and death. Great care is used to keep alive the fire at night on nearly all occasions of apprehension.

Loud shouts, too, are resorted to in order to intimidate the evil spirits. During funerals the yelling is particularly noticeable; the loud yells which one hears while traveling through solitary places in the mountains and down the rivers are intended as a menace to the malevolent spirits.


When all other means have proved unavailing, propitiation is resorted to. I witnessed the propitiatory ceremony during several cases of serious sickness. In each case, when the offerings had been set out for the benevolent divinities on the regular sacrificial stands,9 a corresponding offering of meat, rice, and other things was set out for the evil demons that were supposed to be responsible for the sickness. Their offerings were not placed in the house but outside, on a log or on the ground, and were not touched again, nor eaten by anyone, for the spirit of evil might have rendered them baneful.10

9Ban-ká-so and ta-lí-duñg.

10Compare with the customs in vogue in the case of offerings made to the diuáta.

After the various supplications have been made by the priests to the good deities, the evil ones are called upon but not in the same way, for they are not allowed within the precincts of the house, where various objects, like sá sá and lemon branches, have been placed to prevent their entrance. They are addressed from the opening around the house as if they were at a considerable distance, and no very endearing terms are used. During cases of sickness and especially during epidemics the custom of making a ceremonial raft is very common. I have heard numerous accounts both as to the uniformity of this practice and the reason for it.

Sickness of an unusual kind and especially of a contagious nature is supposed to be due to the agency of some very powerful epidemic spirits, who ascend the river, spreading the infection, and eluding at the same time, the diuáta in pursuit. When the priests decide that all efforts to secure aid of the good deities are unavailing, they determine to propitiate the evil epidemic spirits in the following manner: A small raft of bamboo, 1 meter by 5 meters in the instance I witnessed, is constructed. On this is securely bound a victim, such as a pig. Fowl also may be offered on similar occasions and more or less elaborate ceremonies may be performed, like the blood-unction and the fowl-waving rite. In the ceremony which I witnessed the demons in question were formally requested to accept the pig, not to molest the settlement further, and to take themselves and their pig "down the river." The sickness was then addressed and requested to transfer itself to the body of the pig. After this the raft was freed and in its seaward course floated into the hands of persons who had less fear of demons than their Manóbo friends.11

11I know that the pig in question was taken and consumed in a less religious way by a Bisáya trader.



The tagbánua12 or lords of the mountains and the valleys, are a class of local deities, each one of whom reigns over a certain district. To them is assigned the ownership of the mountains and the deep forest and all lonely patches and uncommon places that give an impression of mystery and solitude.

12Tag a prefix denoting ownership, and bá-n-u-a, "uninhabited place," the open uninhabited country as distinguished from the territory in the immediate vicinity of the main rivers or of settled regions.

The tagbánua are thought to be neither kindly nor unkindly spirits, and without guile, provided a proper deference is shown them when we trespass upon their domains.

A tagbánua with his family selects a particular place for his habitation, sometimes a lonely mountain, sometimes a solitary glade or some high cliff or gloomy cavern. On one of my trips from Esperanza to the headwaters of the Tágo River, I saw the dwelling place of a tagbánua. It was a huge bowlder[sic], called Buhiísan, that stood at the junction of the two torrents that form the Abagá River, a tributary of the Tágo.

A favorite haunt of the tagbánua is a natural open place in the center of the forest. Here he builds a house, or more often makes his domicile in a balete tree. I have heard it said that he may at times select the lauán or any other lofty tree but that his choice is usually the baléte. Here he dwells with his family and is said to lead a quiet, peaceful life. Day by day he wanders through his realm and provides himself with the necessaries of life. Uncommon varieties of plants, such as ferns and ricelike growths, furnish him with the vegetable part of his meal, while venison and pork are obtained from the abundance of wild boars and deer. He and his family return home toward sunset and begin to prepare supper by pounding their rice. Many Manóbos have heard with their own ears, they assured me, not only the sound of the rice mortar but all the sounds that are customarily heard in any Manóbo home.


There are in the vicinity of Talakógon two localities where tagbánua are said to reign. One is called Agibáwa and the other Kasawáñgan. Both of them are remote timberless places in the center of swampy regions. In the former the reigning deity had constructed a house, so I was told by one who claimed to have seen the posts while the house was still in the process of construction. According to other reports this deity had a herd of carabaos whose footprints had been seen by several of my friends and acquaintances.13

13These carabaos were evidently the remnant, or the offspring, of a small herd that escaped to the woods in the time of the Philippine insurrection.

The Kasawáñgan district was my hunting ground for nearly a year and I had occasion to observe the character and habits of its deity, as interpreted to me by Manóbo guides and companions.

It was with the very greatest fear and reluctance that my first guide introduced me to the marshland. No sooner had I set foot upon it than it began to rain and my guide requested permission to return. In answer to an inquiry as to why he wished to leave me he proffered the information that he was afraid of the tagbánua, who was evidently displeased, for had not this deity already sent down a shower of rain? The guide then went on to say that if we persisted in transgressing on the marshland some greater evil was sure to follow. As I told him that we would make friends with the diety[sic] he consented to remain with me.

After all preparations for camping had been completed, my companion set out an offering of betel nut on a rude stand and addressing the invisible owner of the marshland, requested him to accept the betel nut and not to be displeased. My guide offered in his own defense that he had come into this region unwillingly.

After a few hours' vain endeavors to procure game, my companion made another donation, requesting the lord of the marsh to forego his ill will and permit us to get a wild boar. His prayers were unavailing for no game was forthcoming. When I lost my compass shortly afterwards my guide assured me that the misfortune was due to the persistent ill will of the tagbánua toward me.

I continued to visit this region week after week and had considerable success in getting game, but it was attributed, partly to the fact that the lord of the marsh had taken a liking to me, and partly to the offerings of betel nut and eggs made by my Manóbo boys.

Illustrations similar to this of the fear and deference displayed toward this invisible ruler of solitary places might be multiplied indefinitely. Suffice it to say, however, that the belief in this class of spirits is widespread throughout all tribes of eastern Mindanáo, Bisáyas14 included.

14Among the Bisáyas who come from Bohol, the respect paid the tagbánua amounts almost to worship.


The existence of a tagbánua in any particular locality is determined by a priest who, through his protecting deities, learns the name 15 of the spirit, ascertains the cause of his displeasure on a given occasion, and prescribes the offerings to be made to him either for reasons of propitiation or of supplication.

15Only the priests may pronounce the name.

Respect must be shown toward the tagbánua in various ways. His territory must not be trespassed upon, nor any of his property, such as trees, interfered with unless some little offering is made. His name, if known, as also the names of fish and of crocodiles, and of other things which are not indigenous to the region, must in no wise be mentioned. A violation of this taboo would be followed by a storm or by some other evil indicative of the tagbánua's displeasure, unless immediate measures were taken to appease his anger. Again, if one points the finger at places like a mountain where dwells a tagbánua, the displeasure of its owner is aroused and the transgressor is liable to feel the spirit's anger. It was explained to me by several Manóbos that pointing at the dwelling place of these spirits might result in petrifaction of the arm.

The occupation of a new site is almost invariably the occasion for an invocation to the tagbánua, especially if the site be in the vicinity of a balete tree tenanted by him, for to occupy the place without obtaining his good will and permission would expose the would-be occupant to numberless vicissitudes. During hunting and trapping operations supplication is resorted to, especially when the hunter finds that game is scarce.16

16In the chapter on hunting, the various observances on such occasions have been described.

In case it is decided by the priest, or even suspected by an individual that an adversity, such as bad weather or sudden floods, is a result of a tagbánua's animosity, and that the ordinary simple offerings are not sufficient to placate him, then a white chicken must be killed and the regular rites peculiar to a blood sacrifice must be performed.

It is rare, however, that a Manóbo has so far forgotten himself as to draw down the resentment of this kindly deity, and render propitiation necessary. I, however, witnessed a case wherein it was considered expedient to placate his anger; I was requested to take the necessary steps, as I was considered the object of his wrath. My Manóbo oarsmen desired to discontinue the journey at an early hour of the afternoon, but for several reasons I wished to reach a certain point before nightfall, so a little ruse was resorted to. I granted their request to rest and they very promptly went to sleep. Not long afterwards I struck a few blows on the outriggers with a piece of iron. The Manóbo could explain it in no other way except that the local tagbánua had been displeased with my demeanor, for had I not, they said, gone into the forest in the vicinity of his arboreal dwelling and, notwithstanding their advice to the contrary, given vent to loud and disrespectful vociferations. As we were in the vicinity of the baléte tree it was unanimously decided to push on. At the next few stopping places the ruse was repeated, so that no doubt was any longer entertained as to the supposed cause of the occurrence, the wrath of the tagbánua. Several little incidents, such as striking a hidden snag, and the increase of the flood, both of which were also attributed to this spirit's malign influence, heightened their fear. They finally begged me to stop for the purpose of sacrificing one of my chickens to the offended deity. We finally reached the desired spot and the supposed supernatural sounds were heard no longer.





The bailán1 is a man or woman who has become an object of special predilection to one or more of those supernatural friendly beings known among the Manóbos as diuáta. This will explain why the word diuatahán is frequently used, especially by the mountain people, instead of bailán. I was frequently told by priests that this special predilection of the deities for them is due to the fact that they happened to be born at the same time as their divine protectors. This belief, however, is not general.

1Bai-lán is probably a transformation of the Malay word be-li-an, a medicine man. (Mandáya, Bagóbo, and Subánun, ba-li-án.)

As a result of the favor in which the supernatural beings hold him, the priest becomes the favorite and familiar of spirits with whom he can commune and from whom he can ask favors and protection both for himself and for his friends. Hence he is regarded by his fellow tribesmen in the light of a mediator through whom they transact all their business with the other world. In the hour of danger the bailán is consulted, and after a brief communion with his spirit Mends he explains the measures to be adopted, in accordance with the injunctions of his tutelary deities. Should a baléte tree have to be removed from the newly selected forest patch, who else could coax its spirit dwellers not to molest the tiller of the soil, if not the bailán? Should a tribesman have a monstrous dream and no one of all the dream experts succeed in giving a satisfactory interpretation, the bailán is called in to consult the powers above and ascertains that the dream forebodes, perhaps, an impending sickness and that an offering of a white fowl must be made to Manáug, the protector of the sick. And should this offering prove unavailing, he has recourse to his supernal friends again and discovers that a greater oblation must be made to save the patient. And if there is a very unfavorable conjunction to omens, who else but the bailán could learn through his divine friends the significance thereof and whether the home must be abandoned or the project relinquished?

At every turn of life, whether the deities have to be invoked, conciliated, or appeased, the Manóbo calls upon the priest to intercede for himself, for his relatives, and for his friends.

The office of priest may be said to be hereditary. I found that with few exceptions it had remained within the immediate circle of the bailán's relatives. Toward the evening of life the aged priest selects his successor, recommending his choice to the diuáta. In one instance that I know of the mother, a bailán, instructed her daughter in the varieties of herbs which she had found to be acceptable to her familiars, and I was told that such is the usual procedure when the priest himself has a personal concern in the succession.

But no matter how proficient the bailán-elect may be in the sacred rites and legendary songs of the order, he is not recognized by his fellow tribesmen until he falls into the condition of what is known as dundan, a state of mental and physical exaltation which is considered to be an unmistakable proof of the presence and operation of some supernal power within him. This exaltation manifests itself by a violent trembling accompanied by loud belching, copious sweating, foaming at the mouth, protruding of the eyeballs, and in some cases that I have seen, apparent temporary loss of sight and unconsciousness. These symptoms are considered to be an infallible sign of divine influence, and the novice is accordingly recognized as a full-fledged priest ready to begin his ministrations under the protection of his spiritual friends. I know of one case on the lower Lamlíñga River, a tributary of the Kasilaían, where a certain individual2 became a bailán without previous premonition and without any aspirations on his part. He was a person of little guile and one who had never had any previous training in the practices of his order.

2Báya (or Bório) is the young man referred to.

When he receives a familiar deity the new priest becomes endowed with five more spirits or soul companions, for his greater protection and for the prolongation of his life. It is evident that his duties as mediator create a deadly hate on the part of the evil spirits toward him; hence the need of greater protection, such as is said to be afforded by the increase in number of spirit companions. It is generally believed that, due also to this special protection, the priests are more long-lived than ordinary men. I was informed by some that with the increase of each familiar there was an addition of five more souls or spirit companions, but I did not find this to be the common belief.


(1) The priest holds converse with his divine friends, whose form he sees and describes, whose words he hears and interprets, and whose injunctions, whether made known directly by personal revelation or through divination or through dreams, he announces. When under supernal influence he is not a voluntary agent but an inspired being, through whose mouth the deity announces his will and to whose eyes he appears in visible incarnation.

(2) By means of his friendship with these unseen beings he is enabled to discover the presence of the inveterate enemies of human kind, the búsau, and even to wound them. I investigated two3 cases of the latter kind and found that not a shadow of doubt as to the truth of the killing and as to the reality of this last-mentioned power was entertained by those who had been in a position to see and hear the facts.

3San Luis and San Miguel.

(3) As a result of the favor with which he is looked upon by the beneficent deities, he is enabled to discover the presence of various spirits in certain localities, and he knows the proper means of dealing with them. This statement applies to the spirits of "souls"4 of the departed whose wishes and wants he interprets; to the spirits of the hills and the valleys, the tagbánua, whose favor must be courted and whose displeasure must not be provoked, and to the whole order of supernatural beings that people the Manóbo world, with the exception of the blood spirits, the worship of whom falls to the war priests.



On first becoming acquainted with the bailán system, I was very dubious, to say the least, of the sincerity and disinterestedness of these favorites of the gods. But long and careful observation and frequent dealings with them have thoroughly convinced me of their sincerity. They affect no austere practices, no chastity, nor any other observance peculiar to the order of priesthood in other parts of the world. They claim no high prerogatives of their own; they can not slay at a distance nor metamorphose themselves into animals of fierce aspect. They have no cabalistic rites nor magic formulas nor miraculous methods for producing wondrous effects. In a word, as far as my personal observation goes, they are not impostors nor conjurers, plying thrifty trade with their fellow tribesmen, but merely intermediaries, who avail themselves of their intimacy with powers unseen to solicit aid for themselves and for their fellows in the hour of trial or tribulation. "I will call on Si Inimigus" (her diuáta's pet name, his real name being Si Inámpo), said a priestess of the Kasilaían River to me once when I consulted her as to the sickness of a child, "and I will let you know his answer." On her return she informed me that the child had fallen under the influence of an evil spirit and that Si Inimigus required the sacrifice of a pig as a token of my good will towards him and also as a gratification of a desire that he felt for such nourishment. She departed as she came, never asking any compensation for her advice.

I might cite many cases of a similar nature that passed under my personal observation and in which I made every endeavor to discover mercenary motives. I frequently interrogated men of political and social standing as to the possibility of hypocrisy and deceit on the part of the priests. The invariable answer was that such could not be the case, as the deities themselves would be the first to resent and punish such deception. One shrewd Manóbo of the upper Agúsan assured me that the Manóbos themselves were wise enough to detect attempts at fraud in such matters.

Moreover, the fact that the priest incurs comparatively heavy expenses is another evidence of his sincerity, for, in order to keep his tutelary spirits supplied with the delicacies they desire, he must offer constant oblations of pig and fowl, since he believes that when these spirits are hungry they lose their good humor and are liable to permit some evil spirit to work malice on him or on some of his relatives. Of course his relatives and friends help to keep them supplied, but at the same time he probably undergoes more expense himself than any other individual.

Finally, as further proof of the absence of mercenary motives, it may be stated that the priest is not entitled to any share of the sacrificial victim except that which he eats in company with those who attend the sacrifice and the subsequent consumption of the victim.


The priest has no political influence as a rule. I am acquainted with none and have heard of very few priests, who have attained the chieftainship of a settlement, even among the conquistas, or Christianized Manóbos, who live within the pale of the established government. But in matters that pertain to the religious side of life their influence is paramount, for it is chiefly due to them that tribal customs and conditions are unflinchingly maintained. The following incident is an illustration of this influence:

During a visit which I made to the Lamiñga River, a western tributary of the Kasilaían River, I met Mandahanán, a warrior chief. Among other matters I referred to the ridiculously low price, 0.50 per sack, at which Manóbos were wont to sell rice to the Bisáya peddlers who at that time were swarming in the district. I suggested that they dispose of their rice at the current Bisáya rate of P2.50 per sack. He replied that he had been of that opinion for some time, but that the four priests of his following had decided that an increase of the customary value of rice would entail a mysterious lessening of the present crop and a partial or even total loss of that of next year, the reason assigned by them being that such an action would be displeasing to Hakiádan, the goddess of rice, and to Tagamáling, the protector of other crops. These deities, he assured me, were very capricious, and when they took umbrage at anything, they either caused the rice in the granaries to diminish mysteriously, or brought about a failure in the following year's crop.5

5The killing of Mr. Ickis, of the Bureau of Science, according to an account that I received, also demonstrates the influence exerted by the priests.

To the priests may be ascribed the rigid adherence to tribal practices and the opposition to modern innovations, even when the change confessedly would be beneficial to them.


The priest has no distinctive dress, but while officiating garbs himself with all the wealth of beads, bells, and baubles that he may have acquired. As a rule he has an abundance not only of these but of charms, talismans, and amulets, all of which are hung from his neck, or girded around his waist. These charms have various mystic powers for the protection of his person and some of them are said to have been revealed to him by his favorite deities. While performing the invocation and the sacred dance on the occasion of a greater sacrifice, he always carries, one in each hand, a parted palm frond with the spikes undetached.

All the rites of the Manóbo ritual consist of one or more of the following elements: Invocation, petition, consultation, propitiation, and expiation. The priest is, in fact, either alone or aided by others of his kind, the officiant in nearly every religious ceremony; laymen merely sit round and take desultory interest in the ceremonial proceedings.

These rites are the following:

(1) The betel-nut offering.6
(2) The burning of incense.7
(3) Ceremonial omen taking.8
(4) Prophylactic fowl waving.9
(5) The death feast.10
(6) The sacrifice of a fowl or of a pig11 to his own tutelaries in the event of sickness or in the hour of impending danger.
(7) The offering of a fowl or of a pig to Taphágan, the goddess of grain during the season of rice culture.
(8) The harvest ceremonies in honor of Hakiádan for the purpose of securing an abundant crop and of protecting the rice from sundry insidious enemies and dangers.
(9) The birth ceremony in honor of Mandáit for the protection of the recently born babe.
(10) Conciliatory offerings to the demons during epidemics, as also in cases where the power of the evil spirits is thought to predominate over that of the kindly deities. Madness and inordinate sexual passion, as also the continuance of an epidemic after incessant efforts have failed to secure the aid of the friendly spirits are illustrations of the power of the evil spirits.
(11) Lustration12 either by anointing with blood or by aspersion with water.
(12) The betel-nut omen.13
(13) The invocation of the diuáta with the sacred chant.14




9Kú-yab to má-nuk.


11Hín-añg to ka-hi-mó-nan.


13Ti-maí-a to man-ó-on.



The bagáni or warrior priests are under the protection of preternatural beings called tagbúsau, whose bloodthirsty cravings they must satisfy.

This peculiar priesthood is not hereditary, but is a pure gift from warlike spirits, who select certain mortals for favorites, constantly guard them against the attacks of their enemies, teach them the use of various secret herbs whereby to render themselves invisible and invulnerable, bestow upon them an additional number of soul companions that in some indefinable way protect them against the ire of the resentful slain, and in general afford them an immunity from all dangers, material and spiritual.

It is believed that when the warrior priest dies his soul companions return to the war spirits from whom they proceeded, and with whom they take up their eternal abode upon the far-off mountain heights. Upon their return to these heights it is said that they are pursued by a monstrous crowd of inexorable demons and vexed spirits of those that have fallen victims to their arm, but that, owing to the power and vigilance of the mighty gods of war, they reach their last home unscathed.

Like the priest, a war chief is recognized as a priest when he falls into that state of paroxysm that is considered to be of preternatural origin. This condition is usually the result of a wild fight, in which, after slashing down one or more of the enemy, he eats the heart and liver of one of the slain and dances around in ungovernable fury. I have been frequently informed that the companions of a man thus possessed cautiously withdraw while he is under this influence, as he might do something rash. I witnessed the actions of several bagáni during ceremonial performances to the tagbúsau, and I felt no little fear as to what might be the outcome of the warrior chiefs fury.

What has been said of the sincerity of the ordinary priest and of his disinterestedness and freedom from mercenary motives applies equally to the war chief in his position as war priest.

In return for the protection accorded to his select ones the gods of war require frequent supplies of blood and other delicacies, the denial of which would render the favorite liable to constant plaguing by his protectors in their efforts to make him mindful of their needs. In another chapter we shall see the means whereby the bagáni keeps himself in the good graces of his inexorable deities.15

15For a full description of the rites peculiar to the warrior chief as priest the reader is referred to Chapter XXVI.




The differences which I observed in the performance of ceremonies in different localities appear to be due to the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of the individual performers and not to any established system. But in the main these variations are not essential. For example, in certain localities the blood of the pig as it issues forth from the lance wound is sucked from the wound, while in others it is caught in convenient receptacles and then drank. In the following pages I will attempt to give a description of the accessories, the sacrifices, and their associated ceremonies which may be considered general for the Manóbos of the middle and upper Agúsan.




The priest has no special residence nor any special religious structure except a little wooden shed and a few ceremonial trays that will be described later. His house is not more capacious nor pretentious than that of anyone else, in fact it is often less so, but it may be recognized always by the presence of the drum and gong, by the little religious shed near by, and by the presence of a few lances, bolos, daggers, and various other objects that are considered heritages,2 handed down from his predecessors in the priestly office. It is not unusual for the priest, especially among the Christianized Manóbos, to have two houses, one for the residence of his family and another which, by its seclusion, is better adapted for the celebration of religious rites. Hither he may repair, after assisting perhaps at the Catholic services in the settlement, to perform the pagan ceremonies that for him have more truth and efficacy than the Christian rites. While in the settlement and in contact with Christians, he is to all appearances a Christian, but in the moment of trial or tribulation he hies him to the seclusion of his other house and, in the presence of his fellow believers, performs the primitive rites in honor of beings who, to his mind, are more potent to help or to hurt than the hierarchy of Catholic belief.


In this second house, then, will be found, without fail, not only the priestly heirlooms, but all such objects as have been consecrated3 either by himself or by one of the settlement to the friendly deities. It may be remarked here that these consecrated objects can not be disposed of except by performing a sacrifice, or by making a substitution, usually in the form of pigs and fowl which ipso facto become consecrated, and are eventually sacrificed to the proper deity.



The altar house is a rude bamboo structure consisting of four posts, averaging 1.8 meters high, upon which is a roof of palm thatch. About 45 centimeters beneath this are set one or two shelves for the reception of the oblation bowls and dishes. The whole fabric is decorated with a few fronds of palm trees,4 and covers a space of approximately 2.4 square meters.

4The fronds used are one or more of the following palms: Betel nut, anibung, kagyas, and coconut.

The ceremonial salver5 is a rectangular wooden tray, generally of iláñg-iláñg wood, usually decorated with incised, traced, or carved designs, and having pendants of palm fronds. It is the ceremonial salver on which are set out the offerings of pig, fowl, rice, betel nut, and other things for the deities.


The sacrificial stand6 also is made out of iláñg-iláñg wood. It consists of a disk of wood set upon a leg, and is used for making the offerings of betel nut and other things.


When it is decided to make an offering of a pig, a sacrificial table7 of bamboo is set up close to the house that has been selected as the place of sacrifice. Upon this is bound the victim, lying on its side. Over it are arched fronds of betel-nut and other palms. This stand is used exclusively for the sacrifice of a pig. It is a rude, unpretentious structure.



Fronds of the coconut, betel nut and other palms are the only decorations used at ceremonies. The betel-nut fronds, however,8 enjoy a special preference, being used in every important ceremony when they are obtainable. No other leaves and no flowers, unless the bloom of the betel nut be considered such, are used as decorations.

8Known as ba-gaí-bai.

The consecrated objects, consisting of such things as lances, bolos, daggers, and necklaces, are frequently set out upon a ceremonial structure or put in the ceremonial shed in order to give more solemnity to the occasion, and it is not infrequent to find the structure draped with cloth, preferably red.



Sacred images are of neither varied nor beautiful workmanship. At best they are but rudimentary suggestions of the human form, frequently without the lower extremities. Varying in length from 15 to 45 centimeters they are whittled with a bolo out of pieces of báyud wood, or of any soft white wood when báyud is not obtainable. More elaborate images are furnished with berries of a certain tree10 for eyes and adorned with tracings of sap from the kayúti or the narra tree, but the ordinary idol has a smearing of charcoal for eyes and mouth and a few tracings of the same for body ornamentation.


Images are made in two forms, one representing the male and distinguished by the length of its headpiece and occasionally by the representation of the genital organ, the other representing the female, and distinguished most frequently by the representation of breasts, though in a good image there is often a fair representation of a comb.

Images are intended for the same use as statues in other religions. They are not adored nor worshiped in any sense of the word. They are looked upon as inanimate representations of a deity, and tributes of honor and respect are paid not to them, but to the spirits that they represent. I have seen rice actually put to the lips of these images and bead necklaces hung about their necks; but in answer to my inquiries the response was always the same that not the images, but the spirits, were thereby honored.

It is principally in time of sickness that these images are made. They are placed somewhere near the patient, generally just under the thatch of the roof.

The priest almost invariably has one, or a set of better made ones, which he sets out during the more important ritual celebrations and before which he places offerings for the spirits represented. In a sacrifice performed for the recovery of a sick man on the upper Agúsan, I saw two images, one male and one female, carried in the hand by the presiding priests and made to dance and perform some other suggestive movements.

Occasionally one finds very crude effigies of deities carved on a pole and left standing out on the trail or placed near the house. These are supposed to serve for a resting place for the deities that are expected to protect the settlement or the house. This practice is very common when fear of an attack is entertained, and also during an epidemic.


Offerings consist, in the main, of the blood11 and meat of pig and fowl, betel-nut quids, rice, cooked or uncooked, and an exhilarating beverage. But occasionally a full meal, including every obtainable condiment, is set out, even an allowance of water, wherewith to cleanse12 the hand, being provided for the visiting deities. Such offerings are set out upon consecrated plates13 which are used for no other purpose and can not be disposed of.

11No reference is here made to human blood, a subject which will be found treated in Chapter XXVI.



As a rule the offerings must be clean and of good quality. The priest is very careful in the selection of the rice, and picks out of it all dirty grains. Cooked rice given in offering is smoothed down, and, after the deity has concluded his mystic collation is examined for traces of his fingering.

The color of the victims is a matter of importance, too, for the divinities have their special tastes. Thus Sugúdan, the god of hunters, prefers a red fowl, while the tagbánua display a preference for a white victim.



(1) The betel-nut offering.14
(2) The burning of incense.15
(3) The address or invocation.16
(4) The ceremonial omen taking.17
(5) The prophylactic fowl waving.18
(6) The blood unction.19
(7) The child ceremony.20
(8) The death feast.21
(9) The sacrifice of fowl or pig.22
(10) The rice planting.23
(11) The hunting rite.24
(12) The harvest feast.
(13) The conciliation of evil spirits.
(14) The divinatory rites.
(15) The warrior priest's rites.
(16) Human sacrifice.25





18Kú-yab to mán-uk.


20Tag-un-ún to bá-ta'.






A description of the more important of these ceremonies will be found distributed throughout this monograph under the various headings to which such ceremonies belong. Thus the child ceremony is placed under the heading "birth," the death feast in the chapter on death, the warriors' sacrifice in that portion of this sketch which treats of the warrior. For the present only the minor and more general ceremonies that may be performed separately, or that may enter into the major ceremonies as subrites, will be described.


The betel-nut tribute.--In all dealings with the unseen world, the offering of betel nut is the first and most essential act, just as it constitutes in the ordinary affairs of Manóbo life the essential preliminary to all overtures made by one man to another. The ceremony may be performed by anyone, but partakes of only a semireligious character when not performed by a bailán.

The ceremony consists in setting out on a consecrated plate,26 or in lieu of it on any convenient receptacle, the ordinary betel-nut quid, consisting of a slice of betel nut placed upon a portion of buyo leaf, and sprinkled with a little lime. The priest who has more than one divine protector, must give a tribute to each one of them. In certain ceremonies seven quids are invariably set out by him, always accompanied by an invocation, the strain of which is usually very monotonous and always couched in long periphrastic preambles. It is really an invitation to the spirit whose aid is to be implored to partake of the offering.


Out in the lonely forest the hunter may set his offering upon a log for the spirit owner of the game, or if in the region of a balete tree, he may think it prudent to show his deference to its invisible dwellers by offering them this humble tribute. Again, should a storm overtake him on his way, and should he dread the "stony tooth" of the thunder, he lays out his little offering, quite often with the thought that he has in some unknown way annoyed Anítan, the wielder of the thunderbolt, and must in this fashion appease the offended deity.

The offering of incense.--This ceremony appears to be confined to priestesses. I have never seen a Manóbo priest offer incense. The resin27 of a certain tree is used for the purpose, as its fragrance is deemed to be especially pleasing to the deities. The priestess herself, or anyone else at her bidding, removes from the pod28 at her side, where it is always carried depending from the waist, a little of the resin and lights it. It is then set on the altar or in any convenient spot. The direction of its smoke is thought to indicate the approach and position of the deity invoked. As the smoke often ascends in a slanting direction, it frequently directs itself toward the suspended oblation trays. This is taken as an indication that the deity is resting or sitting upon the bankáso tray, in which case he is called bankasúhan, or on the talíduñg, when he is said to be talidúñgan. This ceremony is preliminary to the invocation.

27Tú-gak to ma-gu-bái.

28This is the pod of a tree called ta-bí-ki.

The deities are very partial to sweet fragrances like that of the betel nut frond and of the incense and seem to be averse to strange or evil smells. Hence fire and smoke are usually avoided during the celebration of regular sacrifices, as was stated before. On one occasion I wished to do a favor by lending my acetylene lamp during a ceremonial celebration, but it was returned to me with the information that the smell was not acceptable to the presiding deities.

Invocation.--The invocation is a formal address to the deities, and on special occasions even to the demons, when it is desired to make a truce with them. It is the prerogative of the priest in nearly all ceremonies. As a rule it begins in a long, roundabout discourse and extends itself throughout the whole performance, continuing at intervals for a whole night or longer in important ceremonies. It may be participated in by one priest after another, each one addressing himself to his particular set of divinities and beseeching them by every form of entreaty to be propitious.

The invocation to the good spirits is made at the discretion of the officiating priest, either in the house or outside, and in a moderate voice, but the invocation to the evil ones is shouted out in a loud voice usually from the opening around the walls of the house, as it is considered more prudent to keep the demons at a respectful distance.

In addressing his gods the Manóbo proceeds in about the same way as he does when dealing with his fellow men. He starts well back from the subject and by a series of circumlocutions slowly advances to the point. The beginning of the invocation is ordinarily in a laudatory strain; he reminds his divinities of his past offerings, descants on the size of the victims offered on previous occasions, and the general expenses of past sacrifices. He then probably recalls to their minds instances where these sacrifices had not been reciprocated by the deities. Having thus intimated to the invisible visitors, for they are thought to be present during these invocations, that he and his people are somewhat ill pleased, he goes on to express the hope that in the future and especially on this occasion they will show themselves more grateful. He next proceeds to enumerate the expenses which in their honor are about to be incurred. The fatness and price of the pig are set forth and every imaginable reason adduced why they should be well pleased with the offerings and make a bountiful return of good will and friendship. The spirits may be even bribed with the promise of a future sacrifice, or they may be threatened with desertion and the cessation of all worship of them.

After a long prologue the priest makes an offering of something, it may be a glass of brew, or a plate of rice, and confidentially imparts to his spirits the object of the ceremony. In this manner the invocation is continued, interrupted at intervals by the sacred dance or by periods of ecstatic possession of the priest himself.

Prophylactic fowl waving.--The fowl-weaving ceremony may be performed by one not of the priestly order. The performance is very simple. A fowl of no special color is taken in one hand and, its legs and wings being secured to prevent fluttering, it is waved over the person or persons in whom the evil influence is thought to dwell and at the same time a short address is made in an undertone to this same influence,29 bidding it betake itself to other parts. The chicken may be then killed ceremonially and eaten, but if it is not killed it becomes consecrated and is given to the priest until it can be disposed of in a ceremonial way on a future occasion.


This ceremony is very common, especially after the occurrence of a very evil dream or a bad conjunction of omens or in case of severe sickness or on the erection of a new house or granary. On one occasion it was performed on me under the impression, it is presumed, that I was the bearer of some malign influence.

I have never been definitely informed as to the reason for the efficacy of this rite, nor of its origin. Tradition handed down by the old, old folks and everyday experience are sufficient foundation for the popular belief in its efficacy.

Blood lustration.--When a fowl or a pig has been killed sacrificially, it is customary to smear the blood on the person or object from whom it is desired to drive out the sickness, or in order to avert a threatened or suspected danger, or when it is desired to nullify an evil influence. The ceremony is performed only by a priest and in the following way: Taking blood in a receptacle to the person for whose benefit it is intended, the priest dips his hand in it and draws his bloody finger over the afflicted part, or on the back of the hand and along the fingers in the case of a sick person, or on the post of the house, thereby leaving bloody stripes. During the operation he addresses the indwelling evil and bids it begone. This ceremony usually follows the preceding one and is performed in all cases where the previous ceremony is applicable, if the circumstances are considered urgent enough to call for its performance.

I once saw a variation of this ceremony. Instead of killing the fowl the priest made a small wound in one leg and applied the blood that issued to a sick man. The fowl then became the property of the priest and could never be eaten, for the evil influence that had produced the sickness in the man was supposed to have passed into the fowl.

Lustration by water.--Lustration by water is somewhat similar in its purpose to the preceding ceremony. It is performed as a subrite among the Christianized Manóbos of the lake region. I am inclined to think that it is only an imitation of an institution of the Catholic Church because I never saw it performed by non-Christian Manóbos.

The following is the cermony[sic]: When the divinities are thought to have eaten the soul or redolence30 of the viands set out for them, and to have cleansed their hands in the water provided for that purpose, the priest seizes a small branch, dips it in this water and sprinkles the assembly. Though, on the occasions on which I witnessed this rite, the recipients did not seem to relish the aspersion, as was evinced by their efforts to avoid it, yet it was believed to have great efficacy in removing ill luck and malign influences.31

30Bá-ho and um-a-gád.





Religion is so interwoven with the Manóbo's life, as has been constantly stated in this monograph, that it is impossible to group under the heading of religion all the various observances and rites that properly belong to it.1 I will now give an account of the sacrifice of a pig that took place on the Kasilaían River, central Agúsan, for the recovery of a sick man. This sacrifice may be considered typical of the ordinary ceremony in which a pig is immolated, whether it be for the recovery of a sick man or to avert evil or to solicit any other favor.

1The reader is referred to Chapter XV for a description of the important religious ceremonies and beliefs connected with the subject of death, to Chapter X for rice culture ceremonies, to Chapter XIV for the birth ceremony. Descriptions of various other ceremonies will be found scattered through this monograph, each under its proper heading.

I arrived at the house at about 4 p.m. Near the pole leading up to the house stood the newly erected rectangular bamboo stand.2 On this, with a few palm fronds arched over it, was tightly bound the intended victim, a fat castrated pig. Within a few yards of this had been erected the small houselike structure,3 which has been described already. It contained several plates full of offerings of uncooked rice and eggs, which had been placed there previously. The ceremonies began shortly after my arrival. Three women of the priestly order sat down near the ceremonial house and prepared a large number of betel-nut quids for their respective deities, but the spectators never ceased for a moment to ask for a share of them. Finally, however, the quids were prepared and placed on the sacred plates, seven to each plate. Then one of the priestesses placed a little resin upon a piece of bamboo and, calling for a firebrand, placed it upon the resin. The other two priestesses, seizing in each hand a piece of palm branch, proceeded to dance to the sound of drum and gong. They were soon joined by the third officiant. All three danced for some five minutes until, as if by previous understanding, the gong and drum ceased, and one of the priestesses broke out into the invocation. This consisted of a series of repetitions and circumlocutions in which her favorite deities were reminded of the various sacrifices that had been performed in their honor from time immemorial; of the number of pigs that had been slain; of the size of these victims; of the amount of drink consumed; of the number of guests present; and of an infinity of other things that it would be tedious to recount. This was rattled off while the spectators were enjoying themselves with betel-nut chewing and while conversation was being carried on in the usual vehement way. Then the drum and gong boomed out again and the three priestesses circled about in front of the ceremonial shed for about five minutes, after which comparative quiet ensued and another priestess took up the invocation. During her prolix harangue to the spirits the other two busied themselves, one in rearranging the offerings in the little shed, the other in lighting more incense, while the spectators continued their prattle, heedless of the services. After an interval of some 10 minutes the sacred dance was continued, the priestesses circling and sweeping around with their palm branches waving up and down as they swung their arms in graceful movements through the air. This continued for several minutes, until one of them stopped suddenly and began to tremble very perceptibly. The other two continued their dance around her, waving their palm fronds over her. The trembling increased in violence until her whole body seemed to be in a convulsion. Her eyes assumed a ghastly stare, her eyeballs protruded, and the eyelids quivered rapidly. The drum and gong increased their booming in volume and in rapidity, while the dancers surged in rapid circles around the possessed one, who at this period was apparently unconscious of everything. Her eyes were shaded with one hand and a copious perspiration covered her whole body. When finally the music and the dancing ceased her trembling still continued, but now the loud belching could be heard. No words can describe the vehemence of this prolonged belching, accompanied as it was by violent trembling and painful gasping. The spectators still continued their loud talking with never a care for the scene that was being enacted, except when some one uttered a shrill cry of animation, possibly as menace to lurking enemies, spiritual or other.



It was some 10 minutes before the paroxysm ceased, and then the now conscious priestess broke forth into a long harangue in which she described what took place during her trance, prophesying the cure of the sick man, but advising a repetition of the sacrifice at a near date, and uttering a confusion of other things that sounded more like the ravings of a madman than the inspirations of a deity. During all this time frequent potations were administered to the spectators, so that in the early night everyone was feeling in high spirits.

After the first priestess had emerged fully from the trance the drum and gong resounded for the continuation of the dance. In turn the other priestesses fell under the influence of their special divinities and gave utterance to long accounts of what had passed between them. It was at a late hour of the night that the whole company retired to the house, leaving the victim still bound upon his sacrificial table.

The religious part of the celebration was then abandoned, for the priestesses took no further part. Social amusements, consisting of various forms of dancing, mimetic and other, were performed for the benefit of the attendant deities and finally long legendary chants4 by a few priests consumed the remainder of the night.


Next morning at about 7 o'clock the ceremonies were resumed by the customary offering of betel nut and by burning of incense, but instead of dancing before the small religious house the three priestesses, joined by a priest, took up their position near the sacrificial table on which the victim had remained since the preceding day. The invocations were pronounced in turn, followed by short intervals of dancing. During these invocations the victim was bound more securely, and a little lime was placed on its side just over the heart. The priest then placed seven betel-nut quids upon the body of the pig and made a final invocation. A rice mortar was placed at the side of the sacrificial table, a relative of the sick man stepped upon it, and, receiving a lance from the hands of the male priest, poised it vertically above the spot designated by the lime and thrust it through the heart of the victim.

One of the female priestesses at once placed an iron cooking pan under the pig and caught the blood as it streamed out from the lower opening of the wound. Applying her mouth to the pan she drank some of the blood and gave the pan to a sister priest.5 At the same time a little was given to the sick man, who drank it down with such eager haste that it ran upon his cheeks. One of the priestesses then performed blood lustration by anointing the patient's forehead with the remainder of the blood. A few others, of whom I was one, had these bloody ministrations performed on them.

5Not infrequently the blood is sucked from the upper wound. This is a custom more prevalent among the Mandáyas than among the Manóbos.

The priest and priestesses at this period presented a most strange spectacle. With faces and hands besmirched with clotted blood, they stood trembling with indescribable vehemence. Their jingle bells tinkled in time with the movement of their bodies. The priestesses recovered from their furious possession after a few minutes, but not so the male priest, for to prevent himself from collapsing completely he clutched a near-by tree, shading his eyes with his bloodstained hand. The drum and gong came into play again and the priestesses took up the step, circling around their entranced companion and addressing him in terms that on account of the rattle of the drum and the clanging of the gong could not be heard. He finally emerged, however, all dazed and covered with perspiration. Through him a diuáta announced the recovery of the patient, at which yells of approval rang out, and then began a social celebration consisting of dancing and drinking. This was continued till the hour for dinner, when the victim was consumed in the usual way.

In this instance, as in many others witnessed, the sick man recovered, and with a suddenness that seemed extraordinary. This must be attributed to the deep and abiding faith that the Manóbo places in his deities and in his priests. The circumstances of the sacrifice are such as to inspire him with confidence and, strong in his faith, he recovers his health and strength in nearly every case.


(1) The betel-nut tribute to the gods of war.
(2) The supplication and invocation of the gods of war.
(3) The betel-nut offering to the souls of the enemies.
(4) The various forms of divination.
(5) The ceremonial invocation of the omen bird.
(6) The tagbúsau's feast.
(7) Human sacrifice.

The first two ceremonies differ from the corresponding functions performed by the ordinary priests in only two respects, first that they are performed in honor of the war spirits, and secondly that the invocation includes an interminable list of the names of those slain by the officiating warrior chief and by his ancestors for a few generations back.

The sacred dance for the entertainment of the attending divinities with which this invocation and supplication is repeatedly interrupted will be described later on.


The ceremony is performed only before an expedition, with a view to securing the good will of souls of the enemies who may be slain in the intended fray. As was set forth before, souls, or departed spirits, seem to have a grievance against the living, and are wont to plague them in diverse ways. Now, in order to avoid such ill will as might follow the separation of these spirits from their corporal companions, a ceremony is performed by the warrior priest in the following way: He orders an offering of rice to be set out upon the river bank, or on the trail over which the spirits are expected to wing their way, and hastens to invite them to a conference. Then a number of pieces of betel leaf are set out on a shield, so that each soul or spirit has his portion of betel leaf, his little slice of betel nut, and his bit of lime. Then the warrior chief, or some one else at his bidding, addresses the souls without making it known that an attack6 is soon to be made. It is then explained to these spirits that they are invited to partake of the offering in good will and peace, that the warrior priest's party has a grievance against their enemies, and that some day they may be obliged to redress the matter in a bloody way. The souls next are urged to forego their displeasure, should it become necessary at any time to redress the wrongs by force and possibly slay the authors of them. The invisible souls are then supposed to partake of the offering and to depart in peace as if they understood the whole situation.

6I was informed that a sometime friend or distant relative of the enemy is generally selected for this task.

There is an incident, which is said to occur during the above ceremony, that deserves special mention, as it illustrates very pointedly the spirit in which the ceremony is performed. All arms are said to be placed upon the ground and carefully covered with the shields in such a way that the spirit guests will be unable to detect their presence on their arrival. The betel-nut portions are placed upon one of the upper shields.


The betel-nut cast.7--This form of divination is never omitted, according to all accounts. In the instance which I witnessed the procedure was as follows: The leader of the expedition invoked the tagbúsau, informing him that each of the quids represented one of the enemy, and beseeching him (or them) to indicate by the position of these symbols after the ceremony the fate of the enemy. The warrior priest or his representative, lifting up the shield with one hand under it, and one hand above it, turned it upside down with a rapid movement, thus precipitating the quids on the floor. Now those that fell vertically under the shield represented the number of the enemy who would fall into their clutches, while those that lay without the pale of the shield represented the individuals who would escape, and to whose slaughter accordingly they must devote every energy. There are numerous little details in this, as in most other forms of divination, each one of which has an interpretation, subject, it would appear, to the vagaries of each individual augur.

7Ba-lís-kad to ma-má-on.

Divination from the báguñg vine.--Before leaving the point from which it has been decided to begin the march two pieces of green rattan, the length of the middle finger and about 1 centimeter thick, are laid upon the ground parallel to each other and about 2.5 centimeters apart. One of these stands for the enemy and the other for the attacking party. A firebrand is then held over the two until the heat causes one of them to warp and twist to one side or the other. Thus if the strip that represents the enemy were to begin to twist over toward that of the aggressors, while that of the latter twists away from the former, the omen would be bad, for it would denote the flight of the assaulting party. Should, however, the rattan of the aggressors twist over and fall on the other, the omen would be auspicious and the march might be entered upon.

The various twists and curls of these strips of rattan are observed with the closest attention and interpreted variously. Should the omen prove ill, the tagbúsau must be invoked and other forms of divination tried until the party feels assured of success.

Divination from báya squares.--The báya is a species of small vine, a fathom of which is cut by the leader into pieces exactly the length of the middle finger. These pieces are then laid on the ground in squares. Should the number of pieces be sufficient to constitute complete squares without any remainder the omen is bad in the extreme, but should a certain number of pieces remain the omen is good. Thus if one piece remains the attack will be successful and of short duration. If two remain, the outcome will be the same, but there will be some delay; and if three remain, the delay will be considerable, as it will be necessary to construct ladders.8


When any of the omens taken by one of the above forms of divination prove unpropitious, the tagbúsau must be invoked and other divinatory methods tried until the party is satisfied that a reasonable amount of success is assured. But should the omens indicate a failure or a disaster, the expedition must be put off or a change made in the party. Thus, for instance, the bad luck9 might be attributed to the presence of one or more individuals. In that case these persons are eliminated and the omens repeated. It is needless to say that the observance of all the omens necessary for an expedition, together with the concomitant ceremonies, may occupy as much as three days and nights.



10Pan-áu-ag-táu-ag to li-mó-kon.

Though at the beginning of ordinary journeys the consultation of the omen bird is of primary importance, yet before a war expedition it acquires a solemnity that is not customary on ordinary occasions. This ceremony is the last of all those that are made preparatory to the march.

The warrior priest turns toward the trail and addresses the invisible turtledove, beseeching it to sing out from the proper direction and thereby declare whether they may proceed or not. In one of the instances that came under my personal observation a little unhulled rice was placed upon a log for the regalement of the omen bird, and a tame pet omen bird in an adjoining house was petted and fed and asked to summon its wild mates of the encircling forest to sing the song of victory. Many of the band imitate the turtle bird's cry11 as a further inducement to get an answer from the wild omen birds that might be in the neighborhood.

11This is done by putting the hands crosswise, palm over palm and thumb beside thumb. The cavity between the palms must be tightly closed, leaving open a slit between the thumbs. The mouth is applied to this slit and by blowing in puffs the Manóbo can produce a sound that is natural enough to elicit in many cases response from a turtledove that may be within hearing distance. In fact, I have known the birds to approach within shooting distance of the artificial sounds.


In the ceremonies connected with, the celebration in honor of his war lord the warrior priest is the principal personage, but he is usually assisted by several of the chief priests of the ordinary class. Such is the general account, and such was the procedure in the ceremony that I witnessed in 1907, of which the following are the main details and which will serve as a general description of the ceremony:

The appurtenances of the ceremony were identical with those described before under ceremonial accessories, except that a piece of bamboo, about 30 centimeters long, parted and carved into the form of a crude crocodile with a betel-nut frond hanging from it, was suspended in the diminutive offering house referred to so many times before. Objects of this kind, like this piece of bamboo, have a mouthlike form and vary from 30 to 60 centimeters in length. They are, as it were, ceremonial salvers on which are set the offerings of blood and meat and gíbañg12 for the war deities.

12Gí-bañg is the nape of the neck, and here refers to that of a pig.

In the ceremony that I am describing I noticed a plate of rice set out on an upright piece of bamboo, the upper part of which had been spread out into an inverted cone to hold the plate. The pig had been bound already to its sacrificial table, but was ceaseless in its cries and in its efforts to release itself. Several war and ordinary priests, covered with all their wealth of charms and ornaments, were scattered throughout the assembly. The war priests particularly presented an imposing appearance, vested in the blood-red insignia of their rank. Around their necks were thrown the magic charm collars, with their pendants of shells, crocodile teeth, and herbs.

About 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the day in question the ceremony was ushered in in the usual way by several male and female priests. The warrior priests did not take part till the following day, though during the night they chanted legendary tales of great Manóbo fights and fighters. The following morning, however, they led the ceremonies.

During the whole performance there seemed to be no established system or order. Both warrior priests and others took up the invocation and the dance as the whim moved or as the opportunity allowed them. One noteworthy point about the ceremony was the ritual dance of the warrior priests in honor of their war deities. Attired as they were in the full panoply of war, with hempen coat and shield, lance, bolo, and dagger, they romped and pirouetted in turns around the victim to the wild war tattoo of the drum and the clang of the gong. Imagining the victim to be some doughty enemy of his, the dancer darted his lance at it back and forth, now advancing, now retreating, at times hiding behind his shield, and at others advancing uncovered as if to give the last long lunge. Under the inspiration of the occasion their eyes gleamed with a fierce glare and the whole physiognomy was kindled with the fire of war. The spectators on this particular occasion maintained silence and attention and manifested considerable fear. It is believed that the warrior priest, being under the influence of his war god, is liable to commit an act of violence.

At the time I did not understand the tenor of the invocations that followed each dance, but was informed that they are such as would be expected on such an occasion, namely, an invitation to the spirits of war to partake of the feast and a prayer to them to accompany the party and assist them in capturing their enemies.

When the moment for the sacrifice arrived the leader of the party, the chief warrior priest, danced the final dance and, stepping up to the pig, plunged his spear through its heart, and, applying his mouth to the wound, drank the blood. Several of the other priests caught the blood in plates and pans and partook of it in the same manner. The leader put the blood receptacle under the wound and allowed some of the blood to flow into it. He then returned it to the diminutive offering house. The ordinary priests fell into the customary trance, but the war-priest, together with several of the spectators, took the blood omen. Apparently this was not favorable, for they ordered the intestines to be removed at once and examined the gall bladder and the liver.

The priests emerged from their trance and no further ceremonies were performed except the taking of omens. This occupied several hours and was performed by little groups, even the young boys trying their hand at it.

When the pig had been cooked it was set out on the floor and was partaken of in the usual way. There was little brew on hand. I learned that on such occasions it is not customary to indulge to any great extent in drinking.

The party expected to begin the march that afternoon; but as the scouts had not returned they waited until the next morning.

When the march was about to begin, and while the party still stood on the river bank, the leader wrenched the head off a chicken and took observations from the blood and intestines. These were not as satisfactory as was desired, but were considered favorable enough to warrant beginning the march tentatively. Upon the entrance of the party into the forest the omen bird was invoked; its cry proved favorable, and the march began.



I never witnessed a human sacrifice nor was I ever able to verify the facts in the locality in which one had occurred, but I have no doubt that such sacrifices were made occasionally by Manóbos in former times.

It is not strange that a custom of this kind should exist in a country where a human being is a mere chattel, sometimes valued at less than a good dog. When it is considered that in Manóboland revenge is not only a virtue but a precept, and often a sacred inheritance, it stands to reason that to sacrifice the life of an enemy or of an enemy's friend or relative would be an act of the highest merit. From what I have observed of Manóbo ways I can readily conceive the satisfaction and glee with which an enemy would be offered up to the war deities of a settlement, slowly lanced or stabbed to death, and then the heart, liver, and blood taken ceremonially. A very common expression of anger used by one Manóbo to another is "huagon ka," that is, "May you be sacrificed."

I find verbal evidences of human sacrifices in those regions only that are near to the territory of the Bagóbos and the Mandáyas. This leads me to think that the custom is either of Bagóbo or of Mandáya origin.

The Jesuit missionary Urios14 makes mention of the case of Maliñgáan who lived on the upper Simúlao, contiguous to the Mandáya country. In order to cure himself of a severe illness he had a little girl sacrificed. Urios describes the punitive expedition sent out against him, and the death of Maliñgáan by his own hand.

14Cartas de los PP. de la Compañía de Jesús, Cuaderno V, letter from Father Saturnine Urios, Patrocinio, Sept. 16, 1881.

I have heard of numerous cases, especially in the region at the headwaters of the Báobo, Ihawán, and Sábud Rivers. One particular case will illustrate the manner in which the ceremony is performed. My authority for the account is one who claimed to have participated in the sacrifice.

A boy slave, who belonged to the man that arranged the sacrifice, was selected. The slave was given to understand that the object of the ceremony was to cure him of a loathsome disease from which he was suffering.15 The preparatory ceremonies were described as being of the same character as those which take place in the ordinary pig sacrifice for the war spirit, namely, the offering of the betel-nub tribute, the solemn invocation of the war spirits and supplication for the recovery of the officiant's son, the sacred dance performed by the warrior priests, and the offering of betel nut to the soul of the slave that it might harbor no ill will against the participants in the ceremony.


The slave, the narrator informed me, was left unmolested, being entertained by companions of his age until the moment for the sacrifice arrived, when he was seized and quickly bound to a tree. The warrior priest, who was the father of the sick one, then shouted out in a loud voice to his war spirits asking them to accept the blood of this human creature, and without further ado planted his dagger in the slave's breast. Several others, among whom my informant was one, followed suit. The victim died almost instantly. Then each one of the warrior priests inserted a crocodile tooth from his neck collar16 into one of the wounds and they became, as the narrator put it, tagbusauán; that is, filled with the blood spirit. The reader is left to imagine the scene that must have followed.


Human sacrifice takes place in other forms, according to universal report. Thus one hears now and then that a warrior chief had his young son kill a slave or a captive in order to receive the spirit of bravery through the power of a war deity, who would impart to him the desire to perform feats of valor. Three warrior chiefs informed me personally that they had done this in order to accustom their young sons to the sight of blood and to impart to them the spirit of courage. I have no doubt whatsoever of the truth of their statements, as they were made in a matter-of-fact, straightforward way, as if the affair were a most natural occurrence. Accounts of such performances may be overheard when Manóbos speak among themselves.

There is also another way in which human lives are sacrificed, but it partakes less of ceremonial character than the two previous methods. I was given the names of several warrior chiefs who had practiced it. The following are the details: If the warriors have been lucky enough to kill an enemy during a fray and at the same time to secure human booty in the form of captives, they are said on occasions to turn one or more of these same captives over to their less successful friends in order that the latter may sate their bloody thirst and feel the full jubilation of the victory. I was informed that the victims are dragged out into the near-by forest, speared to death or stabbed, and thrust with broken bones into a narrow round hole. That this is true I have every reason to believe, for I heard these reports under circumstances of a convincing nature. Furthermore, such proceedings would be highly typical of Manóbo character and would probably occur among any people that valued human life so lightly and that cherished revenge so dearly. What could be more natural and more pleasing in the exultation of victory and in the wildness of its orgies than to deliver a captive, probably a mortal enemy, to an unsuccessful friend or relative that he too might glut his vengeance and fill his heart with the full joy of victory?




The Manóbo not only consults his priest in order to determine the will of the deities but he himself questions nature at every step of life and discovers, by what he considers definite and unerring indications, the course that he may pursue with personal security and success.

To set down the multitudinous array of these signs would be to attempt a task of extreme prolixity and one encompassed with infinite uncertainties and seeming contradictions.

Upon being questioned as to the origin of these manifold omens and auguries the Manóbo can afford no further information than that they have been tried for long generations and found to be true. Show him that on a given occasion the omen bird's cry augured ill but that the undertaking was a success, and he will explain away the apparent inconsistency. Show him that the omens were auspicious and that the enterprise was a failure and he will ascribe the failure to an unnoticed violation of a taboo or to the infraction of some tribal custom which aroused the displeasure of a deity.

In every undertaking he must have divine approbation to give him assurance. If one omen is unsatisfactory, he must consult another, and if that one fails also, he tries a third, and after various other trials, if all are unfavorable, he suspends or discontinues the work until he receives a more favorable answer. After getting a satisfactory omen he proceeds with the full assurance of success.

There can hardly be said to be professional augurers in Manóboland. Here and there one finds one with a reputation for skill but this reputation is never so great as to overcome differences of opinion on the part of others who also claim to be experts. In fact, where a combination of good and bad omens occurs, it is customary to hold a long consultation until the consensus of opinion inclines one way or the other.


The following are a few of the accidental omens that portend ill:

(1) Sneezing when heard by one who is about to leave the house, prognosticates ill luck for him. He must return to the house and wait a few minutes in order to neutralize the bad influence.1

(2) It is an evil portent to see a snake on the trail. The traveler must return and wait till next day, or if that can not be done, recourse must be had to other omens, such as the egg omen, or the suspension omen, in order to determine beyond a doubt what fortune awaits him.

(3) Should a frog, a large lizard, or any other living creature that is a stranger to human habitations, enter a house, the portent is unlucky and means must be taken at once to discover, through divination, the exact significance of the occurrence. In such cases the egg omen is tried, and then the suspension omen, and others until no doubt is entertained as to the significance of the unusual occurrence.

(4) The settling of bees on the gable ornaments of a house, or even in the immediate vicinity of the house, is a sure intimation of the approach of a war party or even of certain death, unless the occurrence has taken place during the rice-planting season and in the new clearing. The fowl-waving ceremony and the blood lustration must be performed immediately and other omens taken at once to determine whether these ceremonies were sufficient to neutralize the threatened danger. I arrived at a house on the upper Karága, shortly after the occurrence of this portent, and took part in the countervailing ceremonies. According to all reports the belief in this omen and the neutralization of it by the above-mentioned ceremonies is common to Manóbos and Mañgguáñgans.

(5) The howling of a dog while asleep portends evil to the owner. This omen is considered very serious and the evil of which it is an intimation must be averted by prompt means. Moreover, the dog must be sold.

(6) The appearance of shooting stars, meteors, and comets prognosticates sickness.

(7) The breaking of a plate or of a pot before an intended trip is of such evil import that the trip is postponed until the following day.

(8) The discovery of blood on an object when no satisfactory explanation of its presence can be found is an omen of very evil import.

(9) The nibbling of clothes by mice is an evil sign, and, though the clothes need not be discarded, neutralizing means must be resorted to.

(10) The finding of a dead animal on the farm is of highly evil import and no means should be left untried toward offsetting the threatened ill.

(11) The crying of birds at night is considered ominous; the sound is thought to be the voice of evil spirits who with intent to do harm have metamorphosed themselves into the form of birds.



As already stated, dreams are believed to be pictures of the doings of the soul companions of the Manóbo and in some mystic way are thought to foreshadow his own fate. Should a person yell in his sleep it is a proof that his soul or spirit is in danger, and he must be instantly aroused but not rudely.2 The belief in dreams is strong and abiding and plays no small part in the Manóbo's religious life.

2If not awakened at once he may fall into a condition in which he is said to be pa-ga-tam-ái-un, a term that I have failed to learn the meaning of.

The interpretation of them, however, is so variable and so involved in apparent contradictions that I have obtained little definite and reliable information. In cases where Manóbo experts differ, and where other forms of divination have to be employed to determine whether a dream is to be considered ominous or otherwise, it is not suprising[sic] that a stranger should have received little enlightenment on the subject.

Much more importance attaches to the dreams of the priest than to those of ordinary individuals, for the former are thought to have a more general application and to be more definite in their significance. But the difficulty of interpretation may frequently make the dream of no value because it may happen that the future must be determined by recourse to other divinatory methods.

There is a general belief that both the ordinary priest and the warrior chief may receive a knowlege[sic] of future events in their dreams and also may receive medicine, but I know of only one case in which the latter claim was made. In that case a priest maintained that he had been instructed in a dream to fish for eels the following day. He stated that he had done so and that he had found a bezoar stone which he had given to a sick relative of his.

However, when once the dream has been interpreted to the satisfaction of the dream experts as ill-boding, means must be taken immediately to avert the impending evil. A common method of doing this is by the fowl-waving ceremony and in serious cases by the blood-lustration rite.



3Bu-dá-kan, a species of creeper.

I witnessed the taking of this omen both in 1905, before the war expedition referred to on previous pages, and also at the time of the selection of a new town site for the town of Monacayo[sic] on the upper Agúsan. As a rule the omen is taken on occasions of this kind. The procedure in the rite is as follows:

A piece of a vine one fathom long is cut up into pieces the length of the middle finger; these pieces are then arranged as in the figure shown herewith as far as the number of the pieces permits. The sides of the square and the pieces which radiate from the corners are first laid in position. One piece is then placed in the center, and those which remain are set at right angles to the rectangle. (See fig. 2c, e.)

The six pieces of vine that are set at right angles to the rectangle, as in figure 2a, represent the ladders or poles by which entrance is gained to the house, represented in this case by the rectangle itself. The pieces that radiate from the four corners represent the posts that support the house. Now, whenever the pieces of vine are not sufficient to form even one "ladder," it is evident that all hopes of entering the house and getting the enemy are vain. The principle of the omen consists in the observation of the presence and number of ladders, and of the length of the central piece which represents the inmates of the house to be attacked. The following are some of the main and more intelligible figures.


As there is no side piece or "ladder" in Figure 2b, c it is a sign that the house of the opponent can not be entered. In Figure 2c the shortness of the central piece is an indication that one of the attacking party will be wounded. This configuration is called lahúñgan4 and is very inauspicious.

4From la-húñg, to carry on a pole between two or more persons.

In Figure 2d the necessary ladders are present and the inmates of the house will be reached. The omen is favorable and is called hagdanan.5

5From hágdan, a pole ladder.

In Figure 2e there are the necessary means of getting access to the house as may be seen by the presence of the three "ladders" at right angles to the house. Moreover, the piece representing the inmates is shorter, an indication of great slaughter. This is a most favorable omen and, as there will be great weeping as a result of the killing, it is called luha'an.6

6From lú-ha, a tear.

In Figure 2f the absence of a piece within the rectangle is symbolical of the flight of the inmates of the house so that the intended attack is put off for a few days and a few scouts sent forward to reconnoiter.

There are several other combinations to which different interpretations may be given according to whether the omen is employed for a war expedition or for the selection of a new site, but the above figures give a general idea of this method of divination.7

7The interpretation of these figures can not be given in greater detail because the Manóbos themselves can not always give consistent explanations of them.

Should the above omen prove unfavorable, the sacrifice of a pig8 or of a chicken in honor of the leader's war gods should be performed, and then another attempt to secure a favorable omen by the use of the vine may be made.

8Dá-yo to tag-bú-sau.



The rattan-frond omen is taken to determine either the success of a prospective attack or the suitability of a new site for a house or farm. The observation is performed in the following way: A frond of rattan one fathom in length is taken and its midrib is cut into pieces each the length of the middle finger, as in the preceding omen, but in such a way that each piece of the midrib retains spikes, one on each side. These two spikes are then tied together, thus forming a kind of a ring or leaf circle. All these leaf circles are taken in one hand and thrown up into the air. Should any of these circlets be found entwined or stuck together when they reach the ground the omen is considered unlucky, for it denotes that one or more of the enemy will engage in a hand-to-hand fight with the attacking party.10 Should, however, the different leaf circles reach the ground without becoming entangled, the omen is excellent. There are a great variety of possible interpretations arising from the number of tangles, each one of which has a special name and a special import, but I am unable to give any further reliable information as to these. This rattan-frond omen appears to be used very rarely. In fact, in some districts no great reliance seems to be placed on it by many with whom I conversed.11

10The omen is then said to be na-ba-ká-an. The exact meaning of this term, I am unable to state.

11For other omens of a similar nature see Chapter XXVI.



The ordinary manner of divining future events by this method is to suspend a bolo or a dagger that has been consecrated to a deity and from its movement, or from the absence of movement, obtain the desired information. In case of emergency such a common-place object as an old smoking pipe may be used.

The object is suspended, preferably in front of a sacrificial tray, or table, and then questioned just as if it were a thing of life. The answers are somewhat limited, being confined to "yes" and "no," and are expressed by the faint and silent movement or by the utter quietude of the object suspended. Movement denotes an affirmative response to the question, quietude or lack of movement a negative answer.

I was often struck with the childlike simplicity displayed by the taker of the oracle In the particular case wherein a pipe was employed, the party wished to discover whether it would be safe for him to proceed on a journey the following day. The pipe by a slight gyratory motion at once intimated its assent. He then besought it to make no mistake, and, after carefully stilling the movement of his oracle, repeated the question two different times, receiving each time an affirmative answer. The consultation was made within a heavy hempen mosquito net of abaká fiber, and, as the pipe had been suspended in a position where the heated air from the candle could affect it, it is not surprising that it displayed a tendency to be in constant movement.


12Ti-maí-ya to a-tá-yug.

A fresh egg, or one that is known still to be in good condition, is broken in two and the contents gently emptied into a plate or bowl. If the white and the yoke remain separated, the omen is favorable but if they should mix, it is of ominous import. Should the egg prove to be rotten, the omen is thought to be evil in the extreme. I never in a single instance witnessed the failure of this omen. I was informed, however, that on occasions it has proved unfavorable.


Hieromancy is a form of divination that is resorted to on all occasions where the object of a sacrifice is one of very great importance. I witnessed this form of divination practiced upon the departure of a war party in the upper Agúsan in 1907.


The blood from the neck of a sacrificed chicken or from the side of a pig is caught, usually in a bowl. If it is found to be of a bright, spotless red, without any frothing or bubbles, the omen is excellent, but the appearance of foam or dark spots, or blotches is regarded as indicative of evil in a greater or less degree according to the number and size of the spots. The appearance of circular streaks in the blood is highly favorable, as it is taken as an indication that the enemy will be completely encircled, thereby assuring the capture of all the enemy or their annihilation. In this, as in all other omens, the interpretation is given by those who are considered experts. I can afford no reliable information as to the rules governing the interpretation. Answers to inquiries show that in the interpretation of this omen there is involved an infinity of contradictions, uncertainties, and intricacies.


Before the expedition referred to above I observed a peculiar method of determining which of the warriors would distinguish himself.

The leader of the expedition seized a fowl, made a short invocation, wrenched the head from the body and allowed the blood of the beheaded bird to flow into a bowl. When all the blood had been caught in this vessel, the leader held up the still writhing fowl, leaving the neck free. Then several of those present addressed the fowl, beseeching it to point out the ones who would display most valor during the attack. Naturally, through the violent action of the muscles, the neck was twisted momentarily in a certain direction. This signified that the person in whose direction it pointed would show especial courage during the fray. The fowl was questioned a second and a third time with the result that it always pointed more or less in the direction of some one of the party famed for his prowess, which person was then and there acclaimed as one of the Hectors of the coming fight.

I was repeatedly assured that this omen is always consulted before all war expeditions13 or war raids. In the lake region of the Agúsan Valley the omen is interpreted differently for it is said to be good if the neck finally twists itself towards the east or towards the north.

13Mañg-ái-yau is a word used by nearly all tribes in Mindanáo to express a band of warriors on a raid, or the raid itself. Mr. H. O. Beyer, of the Bureau of Science, tells me that the word is used also by some northern Luzon tribes. I myself found it in use by the Negritos of the Gumaín and Kauláman rivers in western Pampanga.


The only rule with regard to the gall bladder is that it should be of normal size in order to denote success. An unusually large, or an unusually small one, prognosticate, respectively, misfortune or failure.14 When the gall bladder is unusually large, however, the omen gives rise to great misgivings and calls for a very careful observance of the following omen, for it portends not only failure but disaster.

14In the former case the omen is said to be gu-tús and in the latter case gí-pus.


This omen is taken from the liver of pigs only. In the observation of it dark spots and blotches are an indication of evil and are counted and examined as to size and form. For all of these there is a corresponding interpretation, varying, probably, according to the idiosyncrasies of each individual augur.

On occasions of great importance such as war raids, or epidemics, this omen is always consulted. But it is taken with great frequency in other contingencies as an auxiliary omen to overcome the influence of previous evil ones.


15Pós-ud. This appendix is a small blind projection found on the intestines of fowls.

I have never determined whether the appendix of a pig is a subject for augury or not. If it is, it escaped my observation. The appendix of a chicken, however, is invariably observed as an auxiliary to the observation of the liver and the gall of a pig. If it is found to be erect, that is, at right angles to the intestine, it is considered a favorable omen but if found in a horizontal or supine position with reference to the intestine, it is said to be highly inauspicious. In every case which I saw the omen was favorable.



Divination by birds is confined practically to the turtledove.16 This homely inert creature is considered the harbinger of good and evil, and is consulted at the beginning of every journey and of every undertaking where its prophetic voice can be heard. Should its cry forebode ill, the undertaking is discontinued no matter how urgent it may be. But should the cry presage good, then the project is taken up or continued with renewed assurance and a glad heart, for is not this bird the envoy of the deities and its voice a divine message?


No arguments can shake the Manóbo's17 faith in the trusty omen bird. For him it can not err, it is infallible. For every case you cite him of its errors, he quotes you numberless cases where its prophecies have come true, and ends by attributing the instance you cite to a false interpretation or to divine intervention that saved you from the evil prognosticated by the bird.

17Mandáyas, Mañgguáñgans, Debabáons, and Banuáons of the Agúsan Valley have practically the same beliefs as the Manóbos in regard to this omen bird.


The omen bird is never killed, for to kill it would draw down unmitigated misfortune. On the contrary, it is often captured and is carefully fed and petted, especially when an inmate of the house is about to undertake a journey. The prospective traveler takes a little camote or banana and, placing it in the cage, addresses the captive bird and asks it to sing to its companions of the woods that they too in turn may sing to him the song of success and safe return.

And again, on the safe return of the traveler, if there is a captive omen bird in his household, it is a common practice to feed it and give it drink, addressing it tenderly as if it had been the cause of the success of the trip.

When the undertaking is one of importance, such as the selection of a site for a new clearing, or one fraught with possible danger, such as a trip into a dangerous locality, the free wild bird of the woods and not the captive bird is solemnly invoked.18 It is requested to sing out its warning or its auspicious song in clear unmistakable tones. Before a war expedition an offering of rice is set out on a log near the house as a further inducement to it to be propitious.

18Táu-ag-táu-ag to li-mó-kon.


It frequently requires an expert to interpret exactly the meaning of the various positions from which the bird has sung and in certain cases even several experts can not arrive at a consensus of opinion. Hence the following interpretation is intended as a mere general outline from which an idea may be gained of the intricacies and sometimes apparent contradictions involved in Manóbo ornithoscopy.

The observations may be divided into three kinds, good, bad, and indifferent, and these three kinds into infinite combinations, for the interpretation of the first original observation may be modified and remodified by subsequent cries proceeding from other directions. Thus what was originally a good omen, may become, in conjunction with subsequent ones, most fatal.

The directions of the calls are calculated from eight general positions of the bird with reference to the person making the observation.

(1) Directly in front.

(2) Directly behind.

(3) Directly at right angles on the right.

(4) Directly at right angles on the left.

(5) In front to the right and at an angle of 45°.

(6) In front to the left and at an angle of 45°.

(7) Behind to the right and at an angle of 45°.

(8) Behind to the left and at an angle of 45°.

The first direction is bad. It denotes the meeting of obstacles that are not necessarily of a very serious character unless subsequent observations lead to such a conclusion. The trip need not be discontinued but vigilance must be exerted.

The second direction19 is also bad. It is a sign that behind one there are obstacles or impediments such as sickness in the family. The trip must not be undertaken or continued until the following day.

19Called ga-biñg.

The third and fourth directions20 are indeterminate. One's fate is unknown until subsequent omen cries reveal the future, hence all ears are alert.

20On the upper Agúsan it is called bá-us-bá-us, on the central, bí-tang.

The fifth direction21 is good and one may proceed with full assurance of success.

21Called bág-to.

The sixth position22 merely guarantees safety to life and limb but one must not be sanguine of attaining the object of the trip.

22Also called bág-to.

The seventh and eighth directions are like the second direction; that is, bad.

Between the above directions are others that receive an intermediate interpretation. There may also be combinations of calls from different directions. The omen bird heard in the fifth or in the sixth direction augurs success and safety, respectively, as we saw above, but if heard simultaneously from those two positions it is considered a most fatal omen; the trip or enterprise must be abandoned at once. Again if the bird calls from the fifth position and then after a short interval from the eighth position, success is assured but upon arriving at the destination one must hurry home without delay.

Should, however, the cry proceed from the sixth direction and then be immediately followed by one from the seventh, great vigilance must be exerted, for the cry is an intimation that one will have to use his shield and spear in defense.

I have found the interpretation of the omen bird's call so varied and so difficult that I refrain from entering any further into the matter. Suffice it to say that at the beginning of every journey the bird is consulted and its call interpreted to the best of the traveler's ability. Should it be decided that the call augurs ill he invariably abandons the trip until the following day when he makes another attempt to secure favorable omens. It thus happens that his journey may be delayed for several days. On one occasion I was delayed three days because the cry of this mysterious bird was unfavorable.


Besides the turtledove there is no other bird that is the harbinger of good luck. There are, however, several that by their cry, forebode evil. Thus the cry of all birds that ordinarily do not cry by night is of evil omen. The various species of hornbills, crows, and chickens are examples. The cawing of crows and the shrieking of owls in the night have a particularly evil significance, for these birds are then considered to be the embodiment of demons that hover around with evil intent.

An unusual cackling of a hen at night without any apparent reason is also of ill import. On one occasion it was thought to be so threatening that the following morning the owner went through the fowl-waving ceremony and killed the hen for breakfast. He told me that he had to kill it or to sell it because bad luck might come if he kept it around the house.

Again, the alighting of a large bird, such as a hornbill, on the house forebodes great evil. Ceremonial means must be taken without delay to avert the evil presaged by such an occurrence. On one occasion I observed the fowl-waving ceremony, the sacrifice of a chicken, and the blood lustration performed with a view to neutralizing the evil portent.




The story of the creation of the world varies throughout the Agúsan Valley. In the district surrounding Talakógon creation is attributed to Makalídung, the first great Manóbo. The details of his work are very meager. He set the world up on posts, some say iron posts, with one in the center. At this central post he has his abode, in company with a python, according to the version of some, and whenever he feels displeasure toward men he shakes the post, thereby producing an earthquake and at the same time intimating to man his anger. It is believed that should the trembling continue the world would be destroyed.

In the same district it is believed that the sky is round and that its extremities are at the limits of the sea. Somewhere near these limits is an enormous hole called "the navel of the sea,"1 through which the waters descend and ascend. This explains the rise and the fall of the tide.

1Pó-sud to dá-gat.

It is said that in the early days of creation the sky was low, but that one day a woman, while pounding rice, hit it with her pestle, and it ascended to its present position.

Another version of the creation, prevalent among the Manóbos of the Argáwan and Híbung Rivers, gives the control of the world to Dágau, who lives at the four fundamental pillars in the company of a python. Being a woman, she dislikes the sight of human blood, and when it is spilled upon the face of the earth she incites the huge serpent to wreathe itself around the pillars and shake the world to its foundations. Should she become exceedingly angry she diminishes the supply of rice either by removing it from the granary or by making the soil unproductive.

According to another variation of the story, which is heard on the upper Agúsan, on the Simúlau, and on the Umaíam, the world is like a huge mushroom and it is supported upon an iron pillar in the center. This pillar is controlled by the higher and more powerful order of deities who, on becoming angered at the actions of men, manifest their feelings by shaking the pillar, thereby reminding mortals of their duties.



The rainbow, according to the general account, is an inexplicable manifestation of the gods of war. At one end of the rainbow there is thought to be a huge tortoise, one fathom broad. The appearance of the rainbow is an indication that the gods of war, with their associate war chiefs and warriors from the land of death, have gone forth in search of blood. If red predominates among the colors of the rainbow it is thought that the mightier war spirits are engaged in hand-to-hand combat; but if the colors are dark, it is a sign of slaughter. If the rainbow should seem to approach, precautions are taken to defend the house against attack, as it is believed that a real war party is approaching.

On no account must the finger be pointed at the rainbow, as it might become curved.


Thunder is a demonstration by Anit of her anger towards men for disrespect to brute animals. Lightning is spoken of as her tongue and is described as being a reddish tongue-shaped stone that is flung by her at the guilty one. Anit is one of the mighty spirits that dwell in Inugtúhan, the sky world, and together with Inaíyau is the wielder of the thunderbolt and of the storm.

She is a very watchful spirit and, in case one offends her, he must hurry to a house and get a priest to appease her with an offering of blood. The belief in this tongue stone is universal, but no one claims to have seen one nor can anyone tell where it can be found.


The almost universal belief regarding an eclipse of the moon is that a gigantic tarantula2 has attacked the moon and is slowly encompassing it in its loathsome embrace. Upon perceiving the first evidences of darkness upon the face of the moon, the men rush out from the houses, shout, shoot arrows toward the moon, slash at trees with their bolos, play the drum and gong, beat tin cans and the buttresses of trees, blow bamboo resounders and dance around wildly, at the same time giving forth yells of defiance at the monster saying, "Let loose our moon," "You will be hit by an arrow." The women at the same time keep sticking needles or pointed sticks in the wall in the direction of the enemy that is trying to envelop the moon.

2Tam-ban-a-káu-a. (Bisáya, ba-ka-náu-a.) Some say that a huge scorpion is the cause of eclipses.

The explanation of these curious proceedings is simple. If the moon does not become freed from the clutches of this gigantic creature, it is believed that there will be no dawn and that, in the eternal darkness that will subsequently fall upon the world, the evil spirits will reign and all human apparel will be turned into snakes.

During the eclipse the priests never cease to call upon their deities for aid against the mighty tarantula that is menacing the moon.

As to the origin, habitat, and character of this tarantula I have never been afforded the least information. The huge creature seizes upon the moon, but soon releases it on account of the shouts and menacing actions of the human spectators. Objections that one may raise as to the invisibility, magnitude, and other obvious anomalies are at once refuted by the simple and sincere declaration that such belief is true because it has been handed down from the days of yore.


It is said that in the olden time the sun and the moon were married. They led a peaceful, harmonious life and two children were the result of their wedlock. One day the moon had to attend to one of the household duties that fall to the lot of a woman--some say to get water, others say to get the daily supply of food from the little farm. Before departing she crooned the children to sleep and told her husband to watch them but not to approach them lest, by the heat that radiated from his body he might harm them. She then started upon her errand. The sun, who never before had been allowed to touch his bairns, arose and approached their sleeping place. He gazed upon them fondly and, bending down, kissed them, but the intense heat that issued from his countenance melted them like wax. Upon preceiving[sic] this he wept and quietly betook himself to the adjoining forest in great fear of his wife.

The moon returned duly and, after laying down her burden in the house, turned to where the children slept, but found only their inanimate forms. She broke out into a loud wail, and in the wildness of her grief called upon her husband. But he gave no answer. Finally softened by the long loud plaints he returned to his house. At the sight of him the wild cries of grief and of despair and of rebuke redoubled themselves until finally the husband, unable to soothe his wife, became angry and called her his chattel.3 At first she feared his anger and quieted her sobs, but finally, breaking out into one long wail, she seized the burnt forms of her babes and in the depth of her anguish and her rage, threw them out on the ground in different directions. Then the husband became angry again and, seizing some taro leaves that his wife had brought from the farm, cast them in her face and went his way. Upon his return he could not find his wife, and so it is to this day that the sun follows the moon in an eternal cycle of night and day. And so it is, too, that the stars stand scattered in the sable firmament, for they are her discarded children that accompany her in her hasty flight. Ever and anon a shooting star breaks across her path, but that is only a messenger from her husband to call her back. She, however, heeds it not but speeds on her way in never-ending flight with the marks of the taro leaves4 still upon her face, and with her starry train accompanying her to the dawn and on to the sunset in one eternal flight.

3Máñg-gad (chattel) and bin-ó-tuñg (purchase slave) are the ordinary terms of reproach used by an angry husband toward his wife and refer to her domestic status as originating in the marriage payment.

4Some say that spots upon the moon are a cluster of bamboos; others, that they are baléte trees, and others again, that they are the taro marks referred to.


5From i-kug, tail.

It seems that long, long ago a ferocious horde of tailed men, Tíduñg,6 overran the Agúsan Valley as far south as Veruéla. They were tailed men from all accounts, the tail of the men being like a dagger, and that of the women like an adze of the kind used by Manóbos. For 14 years they continued their depredations, devastating the whole valley till all the Manóbos had fled or been killed, except one woman on the Argáwan River or, as some say, on the Umaíam.

6It would be interesting to know whether these Tíduñg were members of a tribe in Borneo that made piratical raids to the Súlu Archipelago.

When the Manóbos first arrived in the Agúsan Valley they tried to withstand the tailed men. The Manóbos of the Kasilaían River are said to have dug trenches and to have made valiant resistance, but were finally obliged to flee to the Pacific coast.7 It is said that when encamped near the present site of San Luis these tailed folks slept on a kind of nettle8 and being severely stung, took it for a bad omen and returned.

7It is true that the Manóbos of the Tágo River, province of Surigao, claim kinship with those of the Kasilaían and Argáwan Rivers, but their migration from the Agúsan Valley seems to have been comparatively recent, if I may believe their own testimony.


As to the origin and departure of these invaders nothing seems to be known, but they devastated the valley from Butuán to Veruéla and from east to west.

The solitary woman who had hidden in the runo reeds of Argáwan continued to eke out an existence and to pass her time in weaving abaká cloth. One day as she was about to eat she found a turtledove's egg in one of her weaving baskets and she was glad, for meat and fish were scarce. But when the hour to eat arrived she forgot the egg. Thus it happened day after day until the egg hatched out, when lo! instead of a little dove there appeared a lovely little baby girl who, under her foster mother's care and guidance, throve and grew to woman's estate.

Now it happened that, as the war had ended, scouts began to travel through the country to discover whether the Ikúgan had really departed, and one day a band of them found the woman and foster daughter. Amazed at the young girl's marvelous beauty the chief asked for her hand. The foster mother granted his request, but upon one condition--that he would place a married couple upon every river in the valley. Well pleased with such a simple condition he started upon his quest and before long succeeded in placing upon every river a married couple. In this way came about the repopulation of the Agúsan Valley. The chief then married the beautiful maiden and peace reigned throughout the land.


The great mythic giants of Manóboland are Táma, Mandayáñgan, and Apíla. All three are described as of marvelous height, "as tall as the tallest trees of the mountains," and their domain is said to be the deep and dark forest.

Táma is a wicked spirit, whose special malignancy consists in beguiling the steps of unwary travelers. Leading his victim off the beaten trail by cunning calls and other ruses, he devours him bodily. His haunt is said to be sometimes the balete tree, as the enormous footprints occasionally seen in its vicinity testify. A Manóbo of the Kasilaían River assured me that he had seen them and that they were a fathom long. I have heard various accounts of this fabulous being all over eastern Mindanáo.

Mandayáñgan, on the contrary, is a good-natured, humanlike giant, who loves to attend the combats of Manóboland. He is said to have been one of the great warriors of the days of yore. His dwelling is in the great mountain forests, where live the gods of war.

Apíla is an innocuous giant whose one great pleasure is to leave his far-off forest home and, crashing down the timber in his giant strides, go in quest of a wrestling bout with Mandayáñgan. The noise of their fierce engagement can be heard, it is said, for many and many a league, and there are not wanting those who have witnessed their mighty struggle for supremacy.

Besides these three greater giants, there are others, lesser but more human, the principal of whom is Dábau. Dábau lived on a small mountain in view of the present site of Veruéla. It is said that, before beginning his trip up the Agúsan, he sent word to the inhabitants of the Umaíam River that on a certain day he would pass through the lake region and that all rice should be carefully protected against the commotion of the waters.9

9The nearest settlements to the channel through which Dábau must have passed were several kilometers distant.

On the appointed day he is said to have seized the trunk of a palma brava palm and, using it for a pole, to have poled his bamboo raft from Butuán to the mouth of the Maásin Creek, near Veruéla, in one day.10 With him lived his sister, also a person of extraordinary strength, for it is on record that she would at times pluck a whole bunch of bananas and throw it to her brother on a neighboring hill.

10This trip is a row of from 8 to 12 days in a large native canoe and under normal conditions.


There is, besides the various omens taken from birds, bees, dogs, and mice, a very peculiar observance prevailing among the tribes of eastern Mindanáo with regard to members of the animal kingdom. This strange observance consists in paying them a certain deference in that they must not be laughed at, imitated, nor in anywise shown disrespect. This statement applies particularly to those creatures which enter a human haunt contrary to their usual custom. To laugh at them, or make jeering remarks as to their appearance, etc., would provoke the wrath of Anítan11 the thunder goddess, who dwells in Inugtúhan. If they enter the house, they must be driven out in a gentlemanly way and divinatory means resorted to at once, for they may portend ill luck.

11Called also Á-nit and In-a-ní-tan.

I have myself at times been upbraided for my levity toward frogs and other animals. I also received numerous accounts of disrespect shown to brute visitors to a house and of the ill results that might have followed had not proper and timely propitiation been made to Anítan. The two following incidents, of which the narrators were a part, will sufficiently illustrate the point.

Two Manóbos of the Kasilaían River entered a house and, upon perceiving a chicken that was afflicted with a cold, began to make unseemly remarks to it by upbraiding it for getting wet. Shortly after it began to thunder and, remembering the offense that they had committed, they had recourse to their aunt, a priestess, who decided that Anítan was displeased and had to be propitiated. Finding no other victim than a hunting dog, for the chicken was considered by her ceremonially unclean, she at once ordered the dog to be killed for Anítan. The thunder and the lightning passed away promptly. It may be noted here that the dog may have had considerable value, for a really good hunting dog commands as high a value as a human life.

In another case on the same river the narrator had captured a young monkey. When he arrived at the house its uncouth appearance caused a little merriment and induced the owner to place upon its head a small earthen pot in imitation of a hat. Almost immediately the first mutterings of thunder were heard, and the owner, remembering his indiscretion, slew the monkey and offered it in propitiation to Anítan. As he had expected he averted the danger that he feared from the threating[sic] thunderbolts.

In some cases those who are guilty of this peculiar offense become turned into stone, unless they take the proper means of appeasing divine wrath, as the following legend will show.


In the old, old days a boat was passing the rocky promontory of Kagbubátañg.12 The occupants espied a monkey and a cat fighting upon the summit of the promontory. The incongruity of the thing impressed them and they began to give vent to derisive remarks, addressing themselves to the brute combatants, when lo and behold, they and their craft were turned into stone, and to this day the petrified craft and crew may be seen on the promontory and all who pass must make an offering,13 howsoever small it be, to the vexed souls of these petrified people. If one were to pass the point without making an offering, the anger of its petrified inhabitants might be aroused and the traveler might have bad weather and rough seas.14

12Kag-bu-bá-tañg is a point within sight of the town of Placer, eastern Mindanáo.

13The offering may consist of a little piece of wood, in fact anything, and must be thrown overboard while one is passing the point.

14There is said to be a similar locality near Taganíto, between Clavér and Carrascál.

In further explanation of this singular belief it may be stated that the imitation of the sounds made by frogs is especially forbidden, for it might be followed not merely by thunderbolts, as in some cases, but by petrifaction of the offender; in proof of this I will adduce the legend of Añgó, of Bináoi.15

15Bin-á-oi is the name of an oddly shaped peak at the source of the River Añgadanán, tributary of the Wá-wa River. From the upper Tágo its white crest may be seen overlooking the source of the stream Malitbug that delivers its waters to the Tágo River through the Borubuán.


Añgó lived many years ago on a lofty peak in the eastern Cordillera with his wife and children. One day he went to the forest with his dogs in quest of game. Fortune granted him a fine big boar, but he broke his spear in dealing the mortal blow. Upon arriving at a stream he sat down upon a stone and set himself to repairing his spear. The croaking of the near-by frogs attracted his attention and, imitating their shrill notes, he boldly told them that it would be better to cease their cries and help him mend his spear. He continued his course up the rocky torrent, but noticed that a multitude of little stones began to follow behind in his path. Surprised at such a happening he hastened his steps. Looking back, he saw bigger stones join in the pursuit. He then seized his dog and in fear began to run but the stones kept on in hot pursuit, bigger and bigger ones joining the party. Upon arriving at his camote patch he was exhausted and had to slacken his pace, whereupon the stones overtook him and one became attached to his finger. He could not go on. He called upon his wife. She, with the young children, sought the magic lime16 and set it around her husband, but all to no avail, for his feet began to turn to stone. His wife and children, too, fell under the wrath of Anítan. The following morning the whole family had petrified up to the knees, and during the following three days the process continued from the knees to the hips, then to the breast, and then on to the head. And thus it is that to this day there may be seen on Bináoi Peak the petrified forms of Añgó and his family.

16Limes and lemons, it will be remembered, are supposed to be objects of fear to the evil spirits.




The religious revival of 1908 to 1910 began, according to universal report, among the Manóbos of the Libagánon River.1 It was thence propagated eastward till it extended over the whole region that lies south of the eighth parallel of north latitude and east of the Libagánon and Tágum Rivers. If the rumors that it spread among the Manóbos of the upper Paláñgi, among the Subánuns, and among the Atás be true (and the probability is that it is so), then this great movement affected one-third of the island of Mindanáo, exclusive of that part occupied by Moros2 and Bisáyas. I am acquainted with some Bisáyas who, moved by the extent and intensity of the movement on the upper Agsúan[sic], became adherents.

1The Libagánon River is the western influent of the Tágum River, which empties into the northern part of the gulf of Davao.

2I am informed by Capt. L. E. Case, P.O., deputy-governor of Davao, that the Moros of Máti took a zealous part in the movement. It is then not improbable that the Moros of the gulf of Davao participated in it likewise.

Among the Christianized and non-Christianized Manóbos, Mandáyas, Mañgguáñgans, and Debabáons I know of only a few men and of not a single woman or child old enough to walk who did not take part in it.

Upon my arrival in Compostela I was told about this religious revival, but to make myself better informed I went to the settlement of the one who had introduced the movement into the Agúsan Valley. The following is his story, corroborated since that time in every detail by unimpeachable evidence.


One Meskínan,3 a Manóbo of the Libagánon River, was taken sick with what appeared to be cholera. He was abandoned by his relatives. On the third day, however, he recovered and went in search of his fugitive people. Naturally his appearance caused consternation, but he allayed the fears of his fellow tribesmen by assuring them that his return was not due to the influence of any evil spirit but to that of a beneficent spirit, who, he asserted, had presented him with a medicine which he showed them. They readily gave credence to his story in view of his marvelous recovery, and also because of the extraordinary state of trembling and of apparent divine possession into which he fell after recounting his story. Accounts of this event spread far and wide, until it reached the Mawab River,4 but in so altered a form that it not only attributed to Meskínan an ordinary priesthood but declared that he had actually been transformed into a deity, and that as such he could impart himself to all whom he might desire to honor. The chief of the Mansáka group of Mandáyas on the Mawab sent an urgent message to relatives of his near Compostela. My informant was one of these, and he described to me the midnight exodus of the whole settlement on its way to Mawab. The following is substantially his account.

3Meskínan is the religious pseudonym of Mapákla, a Manóbo of the Libagánon River.

4A tributary of the Híjo River which empties into the gulf of Davao.

Upon their arrival at Mawab the most powerful chief on the river laid before them the messages that had been received from Libagánon; how Meskínan had been changed into a deity and had ceased to perform the natural functions of eating and drinking. On the following day a messenger arrived at Mawab settlement, purporting to come directly from Meskínan. He stated that Meskínan had announced the destruction of the world after one moon. The old tribal deities would cease to lend their assistance to those that garbed themselves in black.5 In the intervening time he (Meskínan) would direct men how to save themselves from destruction.

5My informant interpreted this as meaning non-Christianized people. This reference to dark-colored dress is not clear.

My informant said that the following orders were issued by Meskínan:

(1) All chickens and pigs were to be killed at once; otherwise they would devour their owners.

(2) No more crops were to be planted.

(3) A good building for religious purposes was to be erected in each settlement.

(4) In each settlement there was to be one priest6 who must have received his power from Meskínan himself, and several assistants7 who were to help to propagate the news and to perform the prescribed services in distant "churches."

(5) The services were to consist of praying to Meskínan, performing sacred dances in his honor, and forwarding offerings to him.

6Called pun-ó-an.

7Tai-tái-an, that is, "bridges," meaning probably that these emissaries were to be the bridge over which the religious doctrines would pass in spreading from settlement to settlement.

My informant described to me how several people of Máwab settlement went over the Libagánon for the purpose of ascertaining the truth of the numerous messages and of the ceaseless rumors. On their return they reported that Meskínan was truly a deity; that his body was all golden; that he ate only the fragrance of offerings made to him; and that he bestowed his special protection on those alone who made these offerings. The visitors to Libagánon brought the news that the toppling over8 of the world would take place within one moon, and that the orders of Meskínan, the Magbabáya, should be carried out at once, for otherwise, when the day of destruction arrived, all would be irretrievably lost; husband would be separated from wife, and mother from child; pigs and chickens would prey upon whomsoever they could catch, and all would live a life of darkness and despair. But those who had complied with instructions would be saved; their bodies, at the moment of the fall of the world, would become golden and they would fly around in the air with never a care for material wants, the men on their shields, and the women on their combs.


A high priest from the Tágum River conferred a "Magbabáya"9 or spirit upon my informant and upon several others who were to act as his assistants and emissaries.

9As the narration proceeds an attempt will be made to explain this term.

The people who had assembled at Máwab settlement decided accordingly to erect an immense house for the performance of the religious acts enjoined by the Magbabáya of Libagánon. In this edifice they passed one month in expectation of the impending cataclysm. Men, women, and children, half starving as my informant assured me, danced and sang to the sound of drum and gong, while he and his assistants broke out at intervals into supplications to the Magbabáya of Libagánon and fell into the state of violent exaltation that was the outward manifestation of the fact that a spirit had taken possession of them.


Toward the end of the month word was received from Meskínan that the end of the world would not take place for three more moons in order that every settlement might have an opportunity of erecting its religious house and of saving itself thereby from the impending doom. The priests and their assistants were bidden to spread the news far and wide, even in the most inaccessible haunts of the land.

My informant and his relatives then returned to their settlement on the Báklug River, but only to find that their pigs and chickens had been stolen by Christianized people of Compostela. They constructed a religious house of very fine appearance and faithfully fulfilled all the other behests of the Magbabáya.

All this time reports and messages as to the approach of the end of the world kept pouring into Compostela from Libagánon, so that it was not long before my informant was invited to establish a religious house in Compostela. As this town is the principal intertribal trading point to which Christianized Manóbos, Mañgguáñgans, and Mandáyas resort, it is evident that within a short time word of the approaching calamity was received and believed by all the surrounding peoples, and my informant, the high priest, was invited to establish "churches" in all the settlements of Mandáyaland. Through the instrumentality of other priests and their assistants the movement spread among the Debabáons of the Sálug country, among the Mañgguáñgans of the Mánat and Sálug districts and among the Manóbos of the upper Agúsan, the Baóbo, the Ihawán, and the Simúlau Rivers.

This great religious movement was known as "Túñgud."10

10I am unable to give any suggestion as to the meaning of this word, nor have I been able to find anyone, from high priests down, who pretended to know its meaning.


When I arrived on the upper Agúsan the movement was in full swing, and I had every opportunity to hear the messages and rumors from Libagánon and to watch the proceedings of the high priests and of their assistants. I was handicapped by my inability to follow the language used in the sacred songs and supplications, but I had many of them interpreted to me. With this exception the following statements as to the character of the movement are first hand.

The first and most tangible feature of the revival was the lack of food. No rice nor taro had been planted because of the Magbabáya's injunction, so that the whole population of the upper Agúsan and of the Mandáya country had been compelled to subsist for the months preceding my arrival on the taro that had already been planted and on the camote crop. Hence on my arrival rice was so scarce that it cost me three days' wandering, no little amount of begging, and a good round sum of money to procure a supply sufficient for my own needs. The scarcity or utter lack of food was further made evident by the fact that on several occasions I had to leave settlements because I was unable to get food.

When in their homes the people showed fear at all hours, but especially during the night. The falling of a tree in the forest, the rumbling of thunder, an earthquake, an untoward report from Libagánon, and similar things would draw from them the repetition, in low fearful tones, of the mystic word "túñgud" and would send them off in a hurry to the religious house. In Compostela the people vehemently denied to the visiting Catholic missionary their adherence to the new movement, but as he was leaving the town an earthquake occurred and the words "túñgud, túñgud," broke from the lips of one of the most influential men in the town.

Another and very noticeable feature of the movement, indicative of its profound influence, upon these people, was the cessation of all feuds and quarrels. After all that has been said on the subject of Manóbos in general and their social institution of revenge in particular, one can readily realize and greatly marvel at the paramount influence exerted by the great revival of those two years. Bisáyas and others more or less conversant with Manóbo ways and character were amazed at the wonderful effect which this religious movement exerted on these peoples, one and all. From tribe to tribe, from settlement to settlement, from enemy to enemy, traveled priests, assistants, everybody. Mañgguáñgans, who seldom or never visited Compostela, might be found performing their religious services there. Some of them even went so far as to penetrate into the almost inaccessible haunts of the upper Manorígao Mandáyas, the hereditary and truculent enemies of Compostela whom even the Catholic missionaries could never convert. Debabáons from the Sálug-Libagánon region went fearlessly over to the Karága, Kasaúman, and Manái districts and returned unscathed. Many a time in Compostela and other places I heard it remarked concerning a particular individual that, were it not for the order of the Magbabáya of Libagánon to refrain from quarrels and to forego revenge, he would be killed.

So great then was the sway of this religious movement that the natural law of vengeance yielded to it and its adherents almost starved themselves for it.



In the first place the spirit that received a particular individual under his tutelary protection was either a new divinity communicable to others or one of a new class of divinities. I incline to the latter interpretation as being more in accordance with general Manóbo religious ideas. In either case the old order of deities was relegated to an inferior position, and no further worship was paid to them. The Magbabáya, whether one or more, had come, according to all the statements of Meskínan, to announce the dissolution of the world or at least of that part of the world inhabited by those who dressed in black--that is, pagan peoples--and to teach men to save themselves from a future life of darkness and desolation.

After his deification Meskínan acquired the power to impart himself to such as he deemed worthy, if they presented themselves to him. They were said, after being thus endowed, to have a Magbabáya, in much the same way as we speak of a person having got the spirit. Upon further development of the movement certain individuals acquired the power of imparting their spirit to others, but a spirit bestowed personally by Meskínan was considered to be of greater potency than that granted by others.


The means prescribed by Meskínan through his priests and emissaries for escaping from the consequences of the approaching demolition were:

(1) The construction of well-made and clean religious buildings11 in each settlement.

(2) The frequent worship of him in these buildings by dance and chant under the direction of local priests or of their assistants.

(3) The material offerings of worldly goods to these same officiants.


That these injunctions were carried out faithfully and in the most remote regions I can personally testify. All through the mountainous Mandáya country (Kati'il, Manorígao, Karága, and the very sources of the Agúsan) I found the same religious structures, the same class of priests and faithful congregations. As I learned in my last trip in 1911 up the Karága, the Christianized Mandáyas of the coast towns in the municipalities of Karága, Bagáñga, and Kati'il had joined the movement. From Bagáñga to the point on the Libagánon that was the cradle of the movement is a linear distance of some 120 kilometers, and it takes under very favorable conditions at least seven days of continuous travel over unspeakable trails to communicate from one point to the other. Yet the religious movement spread from Libagánon to Bagáñga and to more distant points in an incredibly short time.

As a further proof of the fidelity with which the observances were carried out, let me say that I frequently dropped into settlements only to find the houses practically empty and the inhabitants all assembled in the religious house. While passing along the trails I could hear on all sides the roll of drums from the distant almost inaccessible settlements as the settlers danced in honor of their unseen gods. Upon my arrival probably the first words that greeted me would be "Túñgud, túñgud."12 In some places, as on the central Kati'il, I could not open my mouth to speak without hearing the women and children utter at once these strange words. Perhaps it was their idea that my conversation might bring about the consummation that they feared so much.

12Besides this there was another mystic word equally unintelligible, ta-gá-an.

In many places I was not allowed to enter the religious buildings, being assured that the new local deity might be displeased, but in such places as I was permitted to enter I noticed the following:

(1) A small alcove13 in one corner, frequently provided with a door, sometimes of the folding type. The purpose of this alcove was to serve as a sanctuary solely for the priests and for their assistants. Within they were supposed to hold closer communion with their deities, while the worshipers chanted and danced outside. As the story of the movement proceeds, the real purpose of this alcove or stall will be explained.

(2) An altar consisting of a shelf supported on two legs and having on it offerings of bolos, daggers, lances, and necklaces, together with a supply of drink.

(3) A drum and gong, a mat or two for dancing, and a hearth made out of four logs set upon the floor.

(4) Eight or more rudely carved posts supporting the house. Along the walls small carved pieces of wood intended for ornamentation.

(5) Great cleanliness under and in the immediate vicinity of the building. In Compostela the devout worshipers actually carried sand from the river and spread it on the ground around the building. Flowers, a variety of wild begonia, I think, were planted around some of the buildings. Such actions as these showed the zeal with which the movement inspired them, for in the regulation of their homes such ornamentation is unprecedented.

(6) An offering stand close to the building. On this were placed offerings of betel nut and drink, which were deemed acceptable to the deities.

13Called sin-á-buñg.


Several rites, such as that of the conferring of a Magbabáya, I was unable to witness, because up to the time of my departure from the upper Agúsan they were not usually performed there, but nearly always over on the Libagánon, Tágum, or Mawab Rivers. The investment of priests and emissaries with Magbabáya spirits did take place a few times in Compostela, but I was not permitted to attend, the assigned reason being that my presence might be displeasing to these deities. The ordinary religious performance, however, in honor of Meskínan I witnessed repeatedly, and will now describe a typical one.

The ceremony was performed at a settlement on the central Kati'il. The high priest and his assistants were my guide and carriers who had taken advantage of my trip to earn a little and at the same time to spread the new religion.

Upon our approach to the settlement one of the assistant priests went ahead to announce our arrival. The first building we reached was the religious house. Before ascending the notched pole that served for a stairs the high priest gave a grand wave of his arm and asked in a loud voice: "Art thou here already, perchance?" In answer I heard a distinct whistle proceeding, as I thought, from the building. The priest went on: "When dids't thou get here?" This was answered by several low whistling sounds which the priest interpreted to mean "early this morning." The dialogue was continued in a similar strain for several minutes, the responses always being in the form of low prolonged whistling or low sharp chirps, and always proceeding, as it seemed to me, from the building, though to others the sound appeared to come from the opposite direction or from the sky, so they said. I questioned the priest and he pointed his hand in a diametrically opposite direction to that from which the sounds appeared to me to come.

When we went up into the building we found nearly the whole settlement assembled. The high priest gave the latest report from Libagánon, which was to the effect that Meskínan had determined not to overthrow the world for three months more in order to give the settlements that had not yet joined the movement an opportunity to do so and thereby to save themselves. The high priest went on to tell the listeners how the Magbabáya of Libagánon had departed to the underworld and had taken up his abode near the pillars of the earth; how he had been engaged in weaving a piece of cloth and had only 1 yard to finish, upon the completion of which the world would be destroyed. After having convinced the audience of the necessity of making known these particulars to neighboring clans and of complying with the orders of Meskínan, he announced the request of Meskínan that a certain number of lances be donated from each settlement. When he had concluded his narration, which was substantiated by his assistants, it was proposed by the assembled people that he perform the túñgud services, whereupon he and his assistants danced and chanted for about an hour, the tenor of the chants being, according to the interpretation given to me, the latest doings and orders of the great Magbabáya of Libagánon.

The following morning it was decided to hold a sacrifice in honor of Meskínan, so the chief of the settlement with great difficulty procured a pig. All being ready and the pig being in position on the sacrificial table with the usual fronds, the ceremony began. Even while vesting himself in a woman's skirt, according to the customs adopted in the performance of the religious dance, the high priest manifested signs of the influence of his Magbabáya, for he trembled noticeably. One feature of the dance was different from those of the ordinary religious dance in that the priest carried a small shield in one hand and a dagger in the other, though he did not make any pretense of performing the dagger dance as described in a previous part of this monograph.14 The use of this shield was enjoined as part of the new ritual and was intended to remind the congregation that faithful male followers would be saved by means of their shields when the world toppled over.

14It may be noted here that the Mandáya dance is neither so graceful nor so impressive as the Manóbo dance. The feet move faster and there are fewer flexings of the body and no mimetic movements, so characteristic of the Manóbo dance. Neither is a woman's skirt worn nor are handkerchiefs carried in the hands.

The high priest danced only about two minutes, because his spirit came upon him, and he fell down upon one knee, unable to rise. I never saw a more gruesome spectacle. A bright unnatural light gleamed in his eyes, his countenance became livid, the eyeballs protruded, a copious perspiration streamed from his body, the muscles of his face twitched, and his whole frame shook more and more vehemently as the intensity of the paroxysm increased. Fearing an utter collapse, I assisted him to his feet and left him resting against the wall.

As soon as the high priest fell under the spell of his spirit, one of the assistants broke forth into a loud chant, which ever and anon he interrupted with a loud coughlike sound followed by the words, "túñgud, túñgud, tagáan." This chant, as well as the subsequent ones, was taken up by several of the assistants successively and, according to the interpretation furnished me, dealt with the wondrous doings of Meskínan in the underworld and described in detail the end of the world as announced by Meskínan. In succession each of the priests, including the local ones, danced and fell under the influence of their deities, but not with such vehemence as the high priest whose spirit was declared to be "very big."

An important point to be noted in the dance was the removal by the dancer at some part of the dance of his sacred headdress,15 the emblem of his new priesthood. This was a kerchief which was supposed to have been given personally by Meskínan to everyone upon whom he had conferred a Magbabáya. Removing his handkerchief the priest waved it over the heads of the congregation and finally over or near any object that he desired. This was an intimation that such object became consecrated and thereby the property of the great Magbabáya of Libagánon. A refusal to surrender it was tantamount to perdition when the end should come. Such was the doctrine universally preached and as uniformly believed and practiced.


Continuing the ceremony, the high priest made several efforts to dance, but always with the same result. He chanted, however, frequently, but always made use of many words that had been taught him by his spirit and which were unintelligible to my interpreters.

After about two hours we all left the religious building and took up our positions around the sacrificial table, the priests in the center. Those whose spears, daggers, bracelets, and other property had been consecrated by the waving of a priest's headdress now deposited them under or near the table.

The high priest was the principal officiant, but was assisted by his fellow priests from the Agúsan and by the new local priests. None of the priests of the old religion took any part, the old gods being supposed to have yielded to the new Magbabáya.

The only divergences from the usual ceremonial proceedings on the occasion of a sacrifice were the placing of the sacred headdresses over the victim and the omission of omen taking, blood libation, and blood drinking. The pig was killed by plunging a dagger through its left side, the blood was caught in a pan, and the meat was consumed in a subsequent feast in which the priests did not participate, not being permitted, they said, by their respective deities.

The scene that followed the killing of the pig was indescribable. The priests covered their heads and faces with their sacred kerchiefs and trembled with intense vehemence, some leaning against the posts of the sacrificial table, the high priest himself groveling on the ground on all fours, unable to arise from sheer exhaustion. When the death-blow had been dealt to the victim they broke into the mystic words, "túñgud, túñgud, tagáan," with loud coughs at the end. These words were taken up by the bystanders and shouted with vehemence. Many of them, especially the small girls, fell into paroxysms of trembling. Many of the men and adult women divested themselves of their property, such as necklaces, bracelets, and arms, and laid them near the sacrificial table. Others promised to make an offering as soon as they could procure one.


I can state unqualifiedly that the whole movement carried on in the Agúsan Valley among the Mandáyas, Debabáons, and Mañgguáñgans of the Sálug-Libagánon region was a fraud from beginning to end. I state this on the testimony of the high priest who introduced it into the Agúsan Valley, on that of the other priests, and on my own discovery of the fraud. The abandonment of the movement and the open avowal of the Mandáyas of the Karága, Manorígao, Bagáñga, Mánai, and Kasáuman Rivers, who are still bemoaning the loss of many valuables that they had given as offerings, is unimpeachable evidence that the whole movement was a great religious deception.

I have no reason for doubting the wonderful recovery of Meskínan, whose real name was Mapákla, nor do I see any improbability in the report that he fell suddenly under the influence of a spirit, for such an occurrence is not without precedent in Manóboland. I will admit even that at the beginning belief in the revival was sincere, but as time went on and the reputation of the power of Meskínan's spirit became greater, abuses crept in, so that shortly after my arrival in Compostela the whole system became an atrocious deception for the purpose of wheedling innocent believers out of their valuables.

The scheme was most probably engineered by some Mandáyas of the Tágum River in league with one of the men of the Mawab River and two of the upper Sálug. The Mandáyas of the Tágum River have had dealings with Moros from time immemorial, and undoubtedly they learned from them much craft and chicanery. It is far from being impossible that they were prompted by Moros in the present case or that Moros themselves set the movement afoot. I have one reason for being inclined to a