The Manobo are several people groups who inhabit the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. They speak one of the languages belonging to the Manobo language family. Their origins can be traced back to the early Malay peoples, who came from the surrounding islands of Southeast Asia. Today, their common cultural language and Malay heritage help to keep them connected.
The Manobo cluster includes eight groups: the Cotabato Manobo, Agusan Manobo, Dibabawon Manobo, Matig Salug Manobo, Sarangani Manobo, Manobo of Western Bukidnon, Obo Manobo, and Tagabawa Manobo. Their populations range from less than 15,000 to more than 50,000. The groups are often connected by name with either political divisions or landforms. The Bukidnons, for example, are located in a province of the same name. The Agusans, who live near the Agusan River Valley, are named according to their location.
The eight Manobo groups are all very similar, differing only in dialect and in some aspects of culture. The distinctions have resulted from their separation.
The most common lifestyle of the Manobo is one of rural agriculture. Unfortunately, their farming methods are very primitive. For example, the Bukidnon grow maize and rice as their principal crops. Some of the farmers have incorporated plowing techniques, while others have continued to use the "slash-and-burn" method. The Cotabato use a farming system called kaingin. This is a procedure in which fields are allowed to remain fallow for certain periods of time so that areas of cultivation may be shifted from place to place. This is very inefficient since many plots of land are not being used at one time.
Social life for the Manobo is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The head of the family is the husband. Polygyny (having more than one wife at a time) is common, and is allowed according to a man's wealth. However, among the...