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Monobo Term Paper

In: English and Literature

Submitted By yuhanviscayno
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"Manobo" or "Manuvu" means "person" or "people"; it may also have been originally "Mansuba" from man (person or people) and suba (river), hence meaning "river people." A third derivation is from "Banobo," the name of a creek that presently flows to Pulangi River about 2 km below Cotabato City. A fourth is from "man" meaning "first, aboriginal" and "tuvu" meaning "grow, growth." Manobo " is the hispanized form.
The Manobo Belong to the original stock of proto-Philippine or proto-Austronesian people who came from South China thousands of years ago, earlier than the Ifugao and other terrace-building peoples of the northern Luzon. Ethnolinguist Richard Elkins(1966)coined the term "Proto-Manobo" to designate this stock of aboriginal non-Negritoid people of Mindanao. The first Manobo settlers lived in northern Mindanao: Camiguin, Cagayan, and some areas of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. Subgroups are: Agusan-Surigao, Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, Blit, Bukidnon, Cotabato(which include the Arumanen, Kirintekan, and Livunganen), Dibabawon, Higaonon, Ilianon, Kulamanen, Manuvu, Matigsalug, Rajah Kabungsuan, Sarangani, Tboli, Tagabawa, Tigwa, Ubo, Umayamnon, and western Bukidnon. Manobo languages representative of these groups are Agusanon, Banwaon, Binukid of Mindanao, Cagayano of Cagayancillo Island, Cotabato Manobo, Dibabawon Manobo, Eatern Davao Manobo, Ilianon Manobo, Kidapawan, Kinamigin of Camiguin Island, Livunganen, Magahat, Sarangani Manobo, Southern Cotabato and Davao Manobo, Tasaday, Tagabawa, Tigwa Manobo,, Ubo of the Mt Apo region in Davao, western Bukidnon Manobo, and western Cotabato Manobo (Elkins 1966; Olson 1967).
The Manobo have for their neighbors the Talaandig of Bukidnon, the Matigsalug of the middle Davao River area, the Attaw or Jangan of the midland area which is now within the jurisdiction of Davao City, the Tahavawa and Bilaan in the south and southeast, and the Ilianon along the Pulangi river basin . This was the site of barter dealings with the Muslim traders who travelled upriver into the hinterlands


The Manuvu have atukon, riddles; panonggelengan, proverbs; panumanon, folktales, fables, and humorous tales; ituan, myths and legends; and Owaging, epics. Narrative poems and lyric poems are generally also ritual songs addressed to gods. The Ilianon Manobo have the following narrative prose forms: tudtul, a news item; guhud, a historical account; and teterema, folktale.

The following riddles of the western Bukinon Manobo show the use of metaphorical language in describing their natural environment, material culture, and human anatomy. Each riddle is preceded by a phrase "entuke nu kediey." Following are examples of riddle:

It is one way of determining the memory of children by giving riddle during the free time, bedtime,and travel

Examples of Manobo riddles

Emun edtibasan nune vasag ne edlambas ne linew. (Sikan is luvi)

If you cut into it, it's a bow;
If you pierce it, it's a pool. (Coconut)

Kesile man guntaan heyan ne ziya nu edluwiti te zizale. (Sikan is tikulan te manuk)

Camote, the inside of which you peel
. (Chicken gizzard)

Linew man guntaan heyan ne nelingut te ligewana. (Sikan is mata)

A pool surrounded by fishing poles.
(The eyes)

Buntud man guntaan heyan ne emun ed-ahaan nu ne egkiramkiram da, ne emun egkewaan nu nu egkekawe nu.
(Sikan is izung)

A mountain which can only be dimly seen, yet you can reach it with your hand. (nose)

Uripen nu man guntaan heyan ne pinelangge nu su ebpenugitan da ke egkaan, ne sikan is tai zin ne egkeenen nu.
(Sikan is gelingen he vatu)

Your slave which you carefully feed by putting food in its mouth, its tail is what you eat.
(Hand-operated stone corn mill)

The following are Ilianon Manobo proverbs:

Ke etew ne kena edlilingey te impuun din ne kena ebpekeuma diya te edtamanan din

He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.

Ke mevandes ne ed-ipanenew ne melaaran ke egkeruhi.

If a man walks fast and steps on a thorn, it will go in deep, but if he walks slowly, it will go in only a little.

Numerous Ilianon teterema (folktales) have been collected and classified by Wrigglesworth (1981) in tales about animals, culture heroes and heroines, kindness rewarded and evil punished, cleverness and stupidity, and fate.

Favorite numskull characters are the couple Welu and Binsey, whose errors of judgement cause one mind adventure after another. One day Welu decides to go fishing and walks as far as he can so he can catch more fish. By the time he stops, it is dark; yet there seems to be no fish at all. Finally he sees a frog and decides to take that to substitute for the absent of fish. He knock it down with his bolo and then, looking at it more closely in the dark, mistakes the frog for his only child. He goes home and both Welu and Binsey prepare the child's wake. As Binsey wails her sorrow over her child's death, the grieving Welu attempts to kill himself. He tries to cut his neck with his bolo but finding too painful. He tries to choke himself by putting his finger down his throat but he complains that "it doesn't even hurt." Finally, Biteey, a relative, attracted by all the noise that the couple is making, discovered that they have been mourning a frog's death. He scolds them and instructs them to eat what Welu brought. The next day Welu returns to the stream to go fishing again and he sees a frog smiling and winking at him. Welu persuaades the frog to come out in the open so he can whack it, but to his suprise the frog hits him back. A prolonged wrestling match between Welu and the frog ensues. Welu then extricates himself from the frog's grip and runs home to Binsey, whom he persuades to run father away with him, because the frog is in pursuit. They go to Biteey, who scolds them again. Welu then decides to return home because he is worried about the crops that he has abandoned. When the couple arrived home, their two children are there. The family eat their fill and take a rest. The daughter breaks wind and Welu thinks that she has died because of her foul smell. They carry her to the burial place and lay her on the ground. When they arrive home, the son also breaks wind, and so the couple took him to the burial place too. Then Binsey breaks wind and Welu repeats the process. Finally, Welu himself breaks wind but he is in a quandary, for there is no one to carry him to the burial place. He decides to walk. The whole family is now sitting around the burial place. Three days later Biteey decides to visit Welu, and upon learning of Welu's foolishness, scolds him, saying: "Welu, get busy harvesting your corn! And stay at home; don't keep acting as if you had no one!"

The fable of the lion and the deer is found among both the Ilianon and the Manuvu. The lion and deer used to be such inseparable friends that they would sleep side by side. One day the lion has a dream that he refuses to tell the deer about. The deer tells him that the dream will be fulfilled if he shares it with his friend. The lion then tells the deer that he dreamed that he was eating a deer's delicious liver. The lion demands that his dream be fulfilled, as the deer promised. Now at odds, the two decide to ask the chief to settle their case. On the way, they meet the lizard, and then the turtle, who both decide to join them. When they arrive at the chief's house, the lizard climbs to one of the rafters. The chief decides in favor of the lion, thinking that his family would also partake of some of the deer meat. Suddenly the lizard falls to the floor, saying that he fell asleep and had a dream. The chief asks the lizard to narrate his dream and the lizard recounts that in his dream he married the chief's daughter. The lizard then argues that the chief's decision over his dream must be consistent with his earlier decision over the lion's dream. The turtle then makes a sudden noise and reveals that he too had a dream. Persuaded to reveal it, he says that he dreamed that he married the chief's wife. The chief, refuses to give his daughter and wife to the lizard and turtle. The animals defy him and help the deer to escape.

A western Bukidnon myth explains the sacredness of the betel chew. It is the means by which people attain immortality, in recompense for their difficult and painful life on earth. Nengazen (Supreme Being) made Mungan, Agyu's sister-in-law and the first baylan, by sending her maya bird which carried betel chew. The areca nut was very small and striped with gold, which signified that Mungan had completed her shamanship and had no need for ordinary food. The spirits and gods eat only betel chew, their favorite food.

A myth about feuding gods in the skyworld explains why the east is red. Ballak and Sallaguitungan were two of the deities who inhavited the skyworld. Ballak helped some of his friends of the earthworld to enter his world. A friend, Tapokak, having overeaten, needed to relieve himself. While doing so, he fell and his blood covered the plants around. Sallaguitungan stopped Ballak from helping Tapokak. Ballak angrily challenged Sallaguitaungan, who could make himself as big as the universe. Sallaguitungan then bit off the thumb of Ballak's wife and threw it eastward. The east turned red with blood of Ballk's wife. Ballak never challenged Sallaguitungan again.

The Manobo believe in the existence of the pusod to dagat, the navel of the sea, into which the water falls when it evaporates or during low tide. Maylan/Makaranos once covered this pusod with his shield. The eagle Manaol, guardian of the pusod, begged him to remove the shield to prevent the earth from flooding. Maylan complied and the eagle led him to where he wanted to go.

Manobo epics that have been documented and translated are the Ulahingan of the Livunganen-Arumanen, Tulalang and Agyu of the Ilianon, and Tuwaang of the Manuvu.

Agyu is an epic hero who is known to most of the indigenous tribes of Mindanao, such as the Bukidnon and most Manobo subgroups. His adventures which are recounted here are those belonging to the Ilianon epic cycle.

The sons of Pamulaw—Agyu, Banlak, and Kuyasu – live in the country of Ayuman. They have four sisters, two of whom are named in the epic as Yambungan and Ikwangan. Banlak's wife, Mungan, is afflicted with leprosy. One day Banlak and Kuyasu deliver nine lumps of beeswax to the Moro datu with whom Agyu trades. The Moro datu is angered by the measly amount given, so a fight ensues between him and Banlak. Anticipating a Moro attack on their country, Agyu leads his people in a exodus to the mountain of Ilian, where they build a fort and lay traps for the pursuig Moros. After a victorious battle against the Moros, Agyu and his people move to Pinamatun Mountain, where they build a settlement. Agyu goes hunting in the nearby mountain and catches a wild pig. Lono finds beehives in the palm trees. The honey and pork are distributed to the people. Agyu remembers his sister-in-Law Mungan, who has been left behind in Aruman because of her affliction. Lono volunteers to take some honey and meat back to Mungan, whose husband has abandoned her. Mungan, however, has become whole again and, in gratitude for Lono's and Agyu's thoughtfulness, she sends back rice and betel nut to distribute to Agyu's people in Pinamatu. Banlak, hearing of Mungan's recovery, wants to reunite wit her, but Agyu and his people return to Aruman but Mungan is gone, having already ascended to the skyworld. They cotinue to the country of Tigyandang, where its people put up a fight with Agyu's people on the shore of Linayangon Bay. Agyu's young son, Tanagyaw, although a mere boy, defeats the enemies on the fourth day. The enemies' leader offers his daughter in marriage to Tanagyaw, who refuses. In the country of Baklayon, the datu's daughter Paniguan offers Tanagyaw betel chew and herself in marriage. The people's enemies attack, but Tanagyaw slays them. The datu's son Bagsili challenges him and is defeated I hand-to-hand combat. The datu then leaves the country. Tanagyaw returns home with Paniguan and they are married. An invasion in Agyu's country compels Tanagyaw to put on his ten-layered armor, shield, and spear, and to slay the enemies. Mountains of corpses pile up on the seashore. With the help of his golden cane called Tanigid, he wins a duel with the enemy datu's son. Agyu then assigns Tanagyaw the country of Sunglawon where he and his wife settle.

The Tulenlangan is the Ilianon epic cycle, an episode of which describing Tulalang's battles with many invaders, both human and non-human, was translated into English and entitled "Tulalang's Slays the Dragon" (Wrigglesworth 1977). The song opens with Tulalang in his turugan (palatial house), busily making leglets. He stops only to take betel chew from his betel box. The women laugh and make fun of him because it is women who customarily prepare the betel chew for the men. Tulalang then proceeds to dress himself by putting on five shirts and five trousers. He winds his tengkulu (headdress) five times and the little bells attached to it tinkle as he walks. Tulalang's only sister had sewn this headdress in pitch darkness, lighted only "by the radiance of her beauty." He puts on his Linambus(warrior's vest) and limbutung (armor). He makes his balaraw dagger and hinepuan dagger, his shield, and spear which tinkles with kulungkulung shells. The sound disturbs the spirit guardian of animals, Mahumanay, who curses him. The limukon ( omen bird) hoots, but Tulalang ignores it.

Tulalang and the banug (hawk) have a battle, and Tulalang emerges the victor. He receives the banug, which vows to serve him for life. Days later, the banug alerts Tulalang on the approach of enemies into the country. They initially defeat Tulalang. His younger brother Menelisim continues the fight, piles up the corpses, and drives away the rest of the enemies. Blood flows ankle deep. Tulalang rallies and notices Menelisim being defeated, so he hides Menelisim inside his necklace. Tulalang retreats, leaving his black shield to cover his retreat. A diwata appears to him in his dream and informs him that the enemies' life breath is hidden away somewhere. The diwata then turns into a bird and flies far and wide in search of the enemies' life breath, which it finds in a serpent dragon.

Tulalang stabs the dragon's heart, which contains a small bottle holding the enemy's life. He returns to the battlefield with the bottle and, heedless of the enemies' pleas for mercy, he smashes the bottle and the enemies die. Tulalang then sings the victor's song and "it was like a cicada beginning to sig on the top of a hill; rolling his tune, trilling his voice."

Two of the Manuvu epic songs about Tuwaang are The Maiden of the Buhong Sky ad Tuwaang Attends a Wedding. In the first song, Tuwaang, I warrior costume rides on the lightning to the land of Pinangayunan. Fully armed and admired by maidens, Tuwaang has come to meet the Maiden of the Buhong Sky, who has fled from the unwanted courtship of the giant Man of Pangumanon, whose headdress reaches up the clouds. Refused by the maiden, the giant has wrought destruction upon her country, and in every place where she has sought refuge. And so she has come to the earthworld. In the monumental angle between Tuwaang and the giant of Pangumanon of all sorts of mortal and magical weapons are used until Tuwaang subdues and kills his adversary. With his battle, Tuwaang then brings back to life all the people killed by the giant. Tuwaang and the maiden then ride on the lightning, and return to his place in Kuaman. In Kuaman, he fights and defeats another invader who has killed his followers, but who are now revived by the hero. Tuwaang gathers his people and takes them to the country of Katusan, one of the heavenly layers of the skyworld. They ride on the sinalimba, an air angel, towards Katusan where there is no death.


Oral tradition and records about the introduction of Islam into Mindanao give us a clue to the history of pre-Spanish Manobo. Their ancestors inhabited the lowervalley of the Pulangi River in central Mindanao. In the 14th century, Sharif Kabungsuan, a muslim missionary, arrived from Johore, to convert the people. According to oral tradition, the Manobo's leaders were two borthers:Tabunaway and Mumalu. They lived by a creek, Banobo , which flowed into the Mindanao River near the present site of Cotabato City. Tabunaway rejected Islam but advised his younger brother to submit to conversion. Tabunaway and his followers fled up the Pulangi River to the interior and, at a certain stop, they decided to part ways. Tabunaway and his group who went to Livungan became the Livunganen. Others became the Kirinteken, Mulitaan, Kulamanen, and Tenenenen. The Kulamanen split into the Pulangian and Metidsalug/Matigsalug. Branches of the Tenenenen were the Keretanen, Lundugbatneg, and Rangiranen. A group stayed along the river in Lanuan and built an ilian (fort) and so became the Ilianon. Those who went to divava (downriver), Became the Dibabawon, some of whom branched into the Kidapawanen. But because ali these groups retained their indigenous beliefs and practices, they retained the name of their original site, Banobo, which eventually became Manobo. On the other hand, Mamalu's descendant's became the Maguindanao.

Magellan landed in Butuan in 1521 and planted a cross at the mouth of the Agusan River to commemorate the first mass celebrated there. By 1591 Butuan had become an encomienda and tributes were collected. However, Spanish garrison towns and forts had to be erected because of Moro and Manobo resistance to colonization. In 1648, a rebellion that caused the death of many Spaniards was led by a Manobo chieftain named Dabao, a historical figure who became a hero of legends recounting his fantastic feats by a giant. Records of Christian conversion probably refer to the Visayan lowlanders, since all attempts made by the Spaniards to make Manobo conform to the pueblo or town system was futile. Christianized Manobo towns were established bye 1877, but these would shortly after be abandoned and razed to the ground bye the converted Manobo themselves, who would then flee to the mountains and revert to their old ways. By 1896, at the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in other parts of the archipelago, the missionaries and troops had already withdrawn from the hinterlands because the Manobo constantly engaged them in warfare.

It was during the American colonial period that significant changes occurred in the Manobo way of life. Patrols of Philippine Constabulary with American officers in command aimed to put a stop to the intertribal raids and feuding among the Manobo. AT the same time, the civil government tried to persuade the people, through their datu, to live in villages instead of dispersed settlements, and to send their children to school. Consequently, more or less permanent Manobo barrios began to be established in the lower areas.

WWII hastened acculturation because lowlanders evacuated to the mountains to escape the Japanese. After the war, government homestead program encouraged families from the northern islands to settle in Mindanao. Each homesteader was offered "a farm plot of 16 acres for the first year, farming materials, a carabao, and farm implements" (Elken 1966:163). Although the Manobo themselves were offered the same privileges, their elders initially ignored the offer and, thorugh their council of datu forbade their people from cooperating. However, the younger ones, especially those who had been educated, joined the program in defiance of their elders. Furthermore, logging companies caused roads to be built in the mountains, and this facilitated interaction with the lowlanders, especially since the trucks of these companies usually offered them free rides.

A typical Manobo settlement that underwent rapid change is Barrio Salangsang of the municipality of Lebak, Cotabato. For generations, the Manobo way of life was intact here until 1950s, when it was opened to Tiruray setlers. A Protestant church was built in 1959 and an elementary public school in 1951. By 1966, out of a total of 510 households, 143 were Tiruray, all living in the village center. Out of the barrio's 11 sari-sari stores or corner shops, nine belonged to the Tiruray.

The Obo Manobo Story of Creation
The Manobo believed that all things created by the Supreme Being and these things are taken care of by respective spirits that are inspired and needs to be respected. These includes plants and animals including inanimate materials like water, stones, rocks, soil and even air that gives life and food; animate objects like dogs, pigs, carabao, horse, chicken etc.
The tribe believed that the land should not be sold but rather to be properly cared for the children and the future generation. They believed that men and women should get married and have children to till the land and plant crops that will yield good harvest to feed their children.

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