Manobo, the name may came from Mansuba from man (person or people) and suba (river), meaning river people. The first Manobo settlers lived in northern Mindanao, at present Manobo tribes can be found at the hillsides and river valleys of the northeastern part of Cotabato.
‘Manobo’ The last tribes of Mindanao
According to an oral custom, the Manobo’s were lead by brothers: Mumalu and Tabunaway, they lived by the Banobo creek, which flowed in to the Mindanao River near the present site of Cotabato City. In the 14th century Sharif Kabungsuan, a muslim missionary, arrived from Johore, to convert the people of Mindanao. Tabunaway did not require to convert to Islam but told his more youthful father not to reject the Muslim Faith. Tabunaway and his followers moved up the Pulangi River to the inside of Cotabato, they decided to part ways and in the years to come established their own tribes. These groups retained their indigenous beliefs, practices and the name of their original site, Banobo, which finally became Manobo, the descendant’s of Mamalu became the Maguindanao.
Despite the fact that the various Manobo communities have been separated there is common threat that binds them together, Each tribal group culture believes in Great Spirit. usually viewed as the creator figure. The Manobo also think that there’s lots of unseen spirits who can intrude in the lives of humans to accomplish their desires. These spirits are both lovely and nasty in nature and can raise anger and pleasure. There is a common think that a Manobo hunter will be killed by his own canines or prey if they do not ask for permission first from Lalawag, the god of all forest games, before going on a hunting trip.
The Samayaan is a native ritual in which omens are read in connection with the various stages of the farming cycle: clearing, planting, growing, and harvesting. The first day of the planting season marks the beginning of the Manobo year, the last day of harvesting is the ending. Cultivating rice and corn has been and still is an element of the Manobo way of life, some Manobo villages have shifted to the cultivation of coconut for copra export. Corn and rice are planted in the month of February, the corn is harvested in July but rice takes longer to grow and is harvested months later. When the trees start to bloom, the Manobo hunter will wait for the approaching of the bees that will led him to their bee hives. The hunt for bees is the basis of the traditional bee-hunting dance. To pray for a successful hunt only bee hunters are allowed to sing a traditional song titled Manganinay , this hymn is sung in honor of Panayangan, the god of the bee hunt. The song must be proclamed outside the house, singing it inside will cause the house to burn down.
All year long, the elders of the Manobo tribe are looking for the star-lit sky to decide the season of planting, harvesting, fishing and hunting. Each star can bring a different message and will guide the tribal group in their traditional way of life. This practice is called Pamiteun, the Manobos indigenous way of understanding the stars. Nowadays only the members of the older generation of farmers will continue to make use of the Pamiteun but they are passing the knowledge to the present generation, to learn the elderly way of life, keep their culture and traditions alive and deepen their consciousness about their own culture
A Manobo community is mostly male dominated, The man is regarded as the head of the relatives and they is the who will make the relatives decisions. Only a Royal, a Datu can practise polygamy, only with the consent of the first spouse and her parents. The fist spouse will stay the head spouse. The Datu or Chief must also have proven his bravery and leadership in battle as a bagani. This postion can be passed on to a Datu’s children, as long as they have the necessary qualifications. Village member are expect help in any way from their kinship group or persons related by marriage, this relationship is named upakat or reciprocity.
The Manobo are both strong in mind and spirit, their cultural identity is firmly rooted in the land and its nature. It is maintained through storytelling, language, relatives and the passing on of traditional skills and arts. The traditional lifestyle has not ended for most Manobos, like any other tribal community in Mindanao, the Manobo have faced lots of cultural challenges in their past and will encounter even more in the future. They strive to uphold their values and traditions even while living in a contemporary society, faced with new realities, prepared to compete in the modern economic world in lieu of the world of nature.
article source/reference: Ronald de Jong www.mnnetherlands.com
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