The Manbos of Mindano - Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIII, First Memoir
by John M. Garvan
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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 Manbo. On the trails he always carries a lance and frequently a shield. For war he has an abak 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 Manbos' 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 abak fiber, constitute her sewing outfit.

Almost all the material employed in weaving is abak fiber. The dyes are vegetable, their fastness depending upon the duration of the boiling. The Manbo woman, unlike the Mandya women, and women of most other tribes in Mindano, 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 Manbo 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 Manboland. 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 Manbo, 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 Manbo 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 abak 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.—Manboland 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 bagni—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 bagni 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 bagni 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 Manboland. 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 Manbos and Christtianized[sic] Manbos, and between the former and Bisyas were comparatively pacific during my residence in the Agsan Valley. Between Manbos and other mountain tribes, excepting Maggugans, the relations were, with casual exceptions, rather friendly, due, no doubt, to the lessons learned by the Manbos in their long struggles with Mandyas, Banuons, and Debabons up to the advent of the missionaries about 1877. The Manbos are inferior to the tribes mentioned in tribal cohesion and in intellect. Their dealings, however, with Maggugans, who are undoubtedly their physical and intellectual inferiors, present a different aspect. With the Mandyas and Debabons, they have helped to reduce the once extensive Maggugan tribe to the remnant that it is to-day.

Manbos 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, Manbos are afraid of the aggressiveness of their neighbors (excluding the Maggugans), and their neighbors f ear Manbo 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 Agsan Valley. Occasional killings took place formerly and probably still take place in remote regions, notably on the upper Babo. It is probable that since my departure from the Agsan 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 Manbo 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 Bisyas and Manbos, 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 punak 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 Manbo being cozened into the idea that the sale was an act of friendship and involved a comparative loss on the part of the Bisya. A period, more or less extended, was allowed him wherein to complete the payment, with a promise of further liberal advances.

Since the Manbo has become aware of the stupendous gain of the Bisya, 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 Manbo 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 Manbos 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 gntang, a cylindrical wooden vessel with a capacity of from 10 to 15 liters; the kabn,[1] which contains 25 gntang; 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.

[1] Called also bkid and anga. A kabn is measured by counting out 25 gntang.

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 Bisyas and others that Manbo justice consists in the oppression of the weak by the strong, but I have not found this to be true. The Manbo 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 Manbos 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 Manboland.

Customary law is based on the intense conservation of the Manbo, 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 Manbo.

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 Manbo 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 fianc. In case of the death of one of the affiancd 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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Manbos 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 Manbo 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 diwta 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 bsau, 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 Manbo 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 tagbnua 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, Dgau; 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 Hakidan and Taphgan take care of the rice during sowing and harvest time, respectively; Tagamling attends to other crops; Libtkan is the god of sunshine and good weather; and Sugjun is the god of the chase.

There are other gods: Mandit, the birth deity; Ib, the goddess of the afterworld; Makaldung, the founder of the world; Manduypit, the ferryman; and Ymud, the water wraith.


The performance of nearly all the greater religious rites is left to the priests who are of two classes—bailn or ordinary priests, and bagni 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 Manbo religious system are:

(1) A firm traditional belief in the existence of anthropomorphic beneficent deities that will help the Manbo 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 Manbo'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 Manbo 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 Manbo'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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Manbos, it is not inferior to that of the Bisya. 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 Bisyas. 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 Manbos 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 Manbos 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 Manbo 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 Manbo is inferior to both the Bisya and the Mandya, as he is undoubtedly of a more conservative and less enterprising disposition.

The Manbo character has been so maligned by missionaries, and by all the Bisyas who have dealings with them, that it deserves a clearance from the aspersions that have been cast upon it. In dealing with the Manbo, 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 Bisya 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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Bisyas, 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[sic] 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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 another[1], relative or not, for even innocent third parties may, by Manbo 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.

[1] It 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 Umaam some 15 or 20 years ago.

It is, moreover, affirmed that Manbos 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 Manbo, Mandya, Maggugan, and Debabon houses erected in strategic positions throughout the interior of eastern Mindano, 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 Manbos and other people of Mindano. 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 Manbo will fight, and fight to a finish. Throughout the Jesuit letters we find mentioned various instances of really brave deeds on the part of Manbos. 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 Mindano.

Laziness and dilatoriness can certainly be predicated of Manbo 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 Manbo'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 Manbo 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 Manbo that he never disowns a debt nor runs away to avoid the payment thereof.

It has been said that the Manbo 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 Manbos no presents are made except of such trifles as have no value.

The Manbo 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 Manbo, 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 Manbos 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 Manbos a reputation for lack of that straightforwardness and frankness that is so noticeable among the Mandyas, 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 Manbos themselves.

One trait of the Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Manbo family. The Manbo is devoted to his wife, fond of his children, and attached to his relatives, more so than the Maggugan, but much less so than the Bisya or the Mandya. 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 Manbo, as of the other people of Mindano, 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 Manboland 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 Manbo 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 Manbos. "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 Manbo a Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Manbos 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 Manbo'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 Manbos 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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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 bagni, 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 Manbo 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 Manbo, 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 Maggugan home but can not compare with the comparatively solid structure of the Mandyas of Kati'il and the Debabons of the Slug country.

He has no tribal halls, no assembly houses. In fact, with the exception of a rude shack[1] 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.

[1] Pin-i-ag.


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


It is obvious that in such an important undertaking the Manbo 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's[2] 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 Manbo 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.

[2] Li-mo-kon.

Now, the selection of the site is of such serious import to the Manbo 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-d-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 Manbo 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 Manbo 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]

[3] It 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 house[4] for defense that more substantial materials are employed.

[4] I-li-hn.


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 Manbos of the Agsan 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 Baglsan, upper Slug River, I saw a Debabon house, belonging to Bagni pinamailan Lantayna, 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 vine[5] are used in lashing the beams and crosspieces to the posts, whereas for the other fastenings, rattan strips are universally employed.

[5] Hag-ni-a (Stenochlena spp.).


The floor consists of laths of bamboo, or of a variety of palm[6] 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.

[6] A-n-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 Manbo 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.

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