Katawhang Lumad

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(c)Photo: Keith Bacongco

“On the Island of Mindanao there lived groups of indigenous peoples who were neither Muslim nor Christian. They had lived over a thousand years on these shores but with the arrival of the various migrations of peoples from other islands in the archipelago, these “natives” of Mindanao retreated from the coastal areas into the forests and mountains of Mindanao.”

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These indigenous peoples were later classified into 18 ethno linguistic groups. It was only in 1986, that representatives from fifteen of these various tribes came together as a unified group to address their common grievances to the government. At that time they decided to refer to themselves by a common name that would signify their unity and enable them to address their common grievances as an indigenous people. The name they chose was “Katawhang Lumad” or native (indigenous) peoples. This appellation was a combination of two Cebuano words, since this dialect was the most common language among them besides their own peculiar dialect. The Lumads that inhabit the forests and mountains of the township of Palimbang are the Cotabato Manobo, certainly one of the poorest and most neglected of the tribes.

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(c)Photo: By Herbert W. Krieger – The Collection of Primitive Weapons and Armor of the Philippine Islands in the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution; 1926: United States National Museum Bulletin No. 137, Public Domain

Katawhang Lumad are the un-Islamized and un-Christianized Austronesian peoples of Mindanao, namely Erumanen ne Menuvu`, Matidsalug Manobo, Agusanon Manobo, Dulangan Manobo, Dabaw Manobo,Ata Manobo, B’laan, Kaulo, Banwaon, Teduray, Lambangian, Higaunon, Dibabawon, Mangguwangan, Mansaka, Mandaya, K’lagan, T’boli, Mamanuwa, Talaandig, Tagabawa, and Ubu`, Tinenanen, Kuwemanen, K’lata and Diyangan. There are about 20 general hilltribes of Mindanao, all of which are Austronesian.

The term lumad excludes the Butuanons and Surigaonons, even though these two groups are also native to Mindanao. This is due to their Visayan ethnicity and lack of close affinity with the Lumad. This can be confusing, since the word lumad literally means “native” in the Visayan languages.

Most of the Mindanao Lumad groups have a musical heritage consisting of various types of Agung ensembles – ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held, bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument.