The Manbos of Mindano - Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIII, First Memoir
by John M. Garvan
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[27] Tam-b-bung.

The preparation of pigs and fowls is such a frequent occurrence in Manboland, as also among Bisyas, Maggugans, Debabons, and Mandyas of the Agsan Valley, that it merits a detailed description.

In preparing a pig, wild boar, or deer, a rough support, consisting of four vertical pieces of wood and a few horizontal parallel pieces, is erected outside the house, if the weather permits. A fire is built beneath the frame and the whole animal, minus the entrails, is laid upon it. Two men or more then set to work with pieces of wood, sharpened lengthwise, and scrape off the hair as fast as it becomes well singed. The operation lasts only about 15 minutes in the case of a large animal. When the hair has been removed the carcass is given a washing more or less thorough, according to the amount of water conveniently available, and the quartering begins.

The game is laid upon leaves; the four legs are removed in order; the head is chopped off; the ribs and remaining parts are hacked crossbone. During this operation the family dogs usually cause an infinite amount of trouble by their incessant attempts to secure a piece of the meat.

If the meat is for distribution, as it always is, except on occasions of festivity or of sacrifice, it is scrupulously divided at this moment. If it is for a feast, it is hacked up into small pieces and loaded into earthen pots, iron pans, and bamboo joints. The dogs are then allowed to lick the blood-stained leaves and to clean the floor.

The preparation of a domestic fowl is also left to the men and deserves a few words. When the fowl is not killed sacrificially, it is burnt to death. Catching the chicken firmly by the feet and wings with one hand and by the head and neck with the other, the owner singes it over the fire till it shows no more signs of life. It may be thought that this is a cruel way of killing an animal, for it kicks and twists and flutters unless firmly held, but the Manbo is not allowed by his tribal institutions to kill the fowl as other peoples do. To cut off the head is strictly tabooed, a cruel and unbecoming procedure, for there is no one "to revenge the deed," he will tell you. So he chokes and burns it to death. All signs of life being extinct, he pulls out a few of the tail and wing feathers. I can give no reason for this procedure, but as the custom is so universal, I think it has a peculiar significance of its own.

As the singeing proceeds, the feather ends are plucked out and a. cursory washing given the fowl. The entrails, even the intestines with the exception of the gall bladder, are removed and utilized. Finally the head, the ends of the wings, and the lower parts of the legs are cut off, and ordinarily are given to the children who have been anxiously awaiting such delicacies.

The pounding and winnowing of the rice is such a common and important operation in the whole of eastern Mindano that it deserves special mention.

As the rice used by the mountain Manbos is exclusively of their own harvesting, it must be hulled, a process that is performed just before every meal wherein it is used. The implements are a wooden mortar and a few heavy wooden pestles. The mortar is a piece of wood of varying dimensions, in the center of which is hollowed out, by burning and cutting, a conical hole, whose depth averages 24 centimeters in height and whose diameter is about 20 centimeters. One sees from time to time a mortar with two holes, or one on which there is evidence of an attempt at artistic effect by means of primitive carving, but, in the main, the mortar is a rough-hewn log with a conical hole in it and with the upper surface so cut that the paddy or rice will have a tendency to fall back into the hole.

The pestle is a pole, preferably and usually of heavy hardwood, about 1.5 meters long and 20 centimeters in circumference. It is a marked exception to find pestles decorated in any way. On the Umaam River I saw one the end of which had been carved in open fretwork with a round loose piece of wood within the fretwork, a device that was as useful as it was ornamental, for the wooden ball by its rattling within the fretwork cage served to animate the holder and her companions to vigorous and constant strokes.

The following is the process of hulling: The mortar is more than half filled with unhulled rice. One or more women or girls grasp the pestles in the middle with one hand. One begins by driving down her pestle with force upon the paddy. Then another, and still another, if there be three. It stands to reason that, since the hole in the mortar is small, the most exact time must be kept, otherwise the pestles would interfere with one another. The sound made by the falling pestles often resembles that general but strange beat so prevalent in Manbo drum rhythm. A visitor who has once seen three Manbo women dressed in gala attire, with coils of beads and necklets, ply their pestles in response to the animated tattoo on the drum will never forget the scene. The pestles are tossed from one hand to the other to afford an instant's rest. They bob up and down with indescribable rapidity and in perfect rhythm as if they were being plied on some imaginary drum.

In a few minutes, from 5 to 15, the hull is shattered from the rice and one of the women bends down and with her hands removes the contents of the mortar to the winnowing tray. After winnowing, they repeat the process till all the husk has been separated from the grain. They then pound a new supply until there is enough rice for the purpose in view. The husk has been shattered from the grain as perfectly, though not as quickly, as if it had been done by a machine.

The winnowing tray is a round shallow tray, 40 centimeters in diameter and usually of plaited rattan strips with a rim of thicker rattan. It is held in both hands and by a series of shuffling motions, which are better seen than described, accompained[sic] by a peculiar movement of the thumb of the left hand, the chaff and the little broken fragments of rice are thrown off into another receptacle for the family pigs.


Rice is not usually washed before cooking. It is put into a homemade earthen pot,[28] which is often lined with sugarcane leaves, not only to prevent the rice from burning, but to impart to it a finer flavor. It is covered with water, the rice being about 5 centimeters below the surface of the water. The pot is set on a hot fire until the water evaporates to the level of the surface of the rice, whereupon the greater part of the fire is removed and the rice is allowed to steam dry. These remarks also apply to the cooking of a variety of millet,[29] which is sown sparingly with the rice.

[28] K-don.

[29] Da-wa.

Another method of cooking rice, especially when on the trail, is in green bamboo. Joints of green bamboo are filled with rice and water, or rice is wrapped in rattan leaves and then packages are put into the water. Rice cooked in this latter way will keep for three days.

There are two orthodox methods of cooking fish and meat and no other is admissible, under penalty of infringing a very important taboo. One method consists of boiling them in water, with a little seasoning of red pepper, ginger, and possibly lemon grass and one or two other ingredients. The second method consists of broiling the pieces of meat and fish in or over the fire. Meat and fish already cooked are thrown into the fire in order to heat them. The fact that they may be burnt and covered with ashes does not detract from the flavor. The most usual method of broiling, however, is to put the meat on skewers of wood or bamboo a few inches above the fire.

When large game has been secured at such a distance from the house that it must be cooked in the forest, it is cut into quarters, and broiled over a heaping fire. This is the invariable method of cooking the heads even of domestic pigs. Chicken heads, legs, and wing ends are invariably broiled, while the intestines are wrapped up in leaves and cooked better than might be supposed, though the flavor, to my taste, is not the most delicate. They seem, however, to be a choice morsel to the majority of my Manbo friends. Monkeys, frogs, and the forest carrion lizard are always broiled.

Camotes and taro are usually cooked unpeeled in the common earthen pot. About a half a liter of water is used in an ordinary pot, so that the process is practically one of steaming. If the pot has no cover, or if the imported pan be used, leaves are employed to confine the heat.

A favorite dish of the Manbo and an indispensable one of the Mandya is the famous -pai.[30] This consists of taro tops (stem and leaves) cut up fine and cooked with water, red pepper, mint, semiwild tomatoes, and any other vegetable seasoning which may be on hand. This makes a very palatable and wholesome dish.

[30] Mandya, ug-bs.


Certain birds such as the hornbill, wild chicken, varieties of wild pigeons, and a few others, must not be divided and given to anyone else before eating. They must be cooked by the broiling method [31] and not in water. After cooking, these birds can not be partaken of by anyone who is not a relative or a member of the household. Neither should a part of a bird belonging to a stranger be accepted or partaken of. The whole bird or nothing must be offered. An infringement of these restrictions would lead, it is believed, to serious results,[32] such as ill luck to the hunting dogs, tangling of the snares, and other misfortunes.[33]

[31] Dng-dang.

[32] Ma-ko-l-hi.

[33] In the upper Agsan the partition of such small birds would lead, I was told, to a dismemberment of the family.

An unmarried man who has ever made indecent suggestions to a woman is prohibited from eating wild-boar meat. The guilty one must free himself from this restriction by making a small present to a priestess. A violation of this taboo would be prejudicial to the success of the hunting dogs.

The use of lard in cooking is interdicted, but it may be eaten raw, even when its smell is not the most wholesome.

On a few occasions, I noticed that some individuals abstained from rice or from chicken. I was unable to elicit any other reason for the abstinence than the good pleasure of the persons concerned. As they admitted that they had been accustomed to use these foods and would use them again after certain periods, I suspect religious motives for the abstinence.



Though it may be said that three meals a day are not the rule among the Manbos, yet they eat the equivalent of three or more, for between pieces of sugarcane and munchings of wild fruit,[34] they keep replenishing the inner man pretty constantly. They eat breakfast at about 9 o'clock in the morning, dinner about 1 p. m., and supper at any hour between 6 and 9 p. m.

[34] There are many wild fruits in the Agsan Valley, the most common of which are: The famous durian (Durio zibethinus), the jackfruit, lanka (Artocarpus integrifolia l. f.), lanzones (Lansium domesticum Jack.), makpa (Eugenia javanica Lam.), mmbug, tmbis, kandis, ktom (Dillenia sp.), and the fruit of the rattan (kpi). Most of these are of a sour acid nature but for this reason seem to be relished all the more.

All being ready for the meal, the inmates of the house squat down upon the floor, the husband with his wife and children apart, male visitors and the unmarried portion of the house eating together. Slaves eat when all have finished, and get what is left in the pots.

Just before beginning to eat, the host and, in fact, everybody except the women, tenders to visitors and others who have come in an invitation to join in the meal and nobody will begin to eat till everybody else has squatted down and is ready. Once the meal is begun, no one leaves, nor is it good etiquette to call anyone from his meal.

The hands are washed by pouring a little water upon them from a bowl, tumbler, coconut shell, or piece of bamboo; the mouth is rinsed, the water being ejected, frequently with force, through the interstices of the floor. Then all begin to eat. It is the invariable rule for men to eat with the left hand, and where others than relatives are present, to wear a weapon of defense, the right hand resting upon it in anticipation of a possible attack.

The various articles of food have already been set on the floor in the various receptacles heretofore described. Each one falls to with an appetite that can hardly be described. One or more of the womenfolk keep the wants of the diners supplied. The method of eating rice among the mountain Manbos differs from that prevalent among the Christian tribes. A good-sized mass of rice is pressed together between the five fingers of the left hand and pushed up into the palm where it is made into a ball. Thence it is conveyed to the mouth. At intervals the rice (or camote) is flavored with a little accompaniment of meat or fish, and all is washed down with the soup of the meat or fish.

The custom of sipping, with a sucking sound, the scalding soup from a plate or bowl and of then passing it on to one's neighbor is almost universal. Great predilection is shown for this soup, even though it be, as happens in a great many instances, practically nothing but hot water. In the upper Agsan, the taro-top soup previously mentioned is the ordinary soup and substitute for meat and fish.

Another peculiar feature in eating is the method of cutting meat from the bone. The carver, who is in a squatting position with his feet close to the body, holds the bolo with the handle between the big first toe in a vertical position, the back of it being toward him. He draws the meat over the edge, thereby doing the carving in a quicker, more convenient, and more effective manner than do a great many more civilized men.

No one may retire from the meal without giving notice to his neighbors. A violation of this custom constitutes a gross breach of Manbo etiquette. The reason for this custom is that the chances for a sudden attack are thereby lessened.

It is not polite to remain seated in the same place after a meal. If the place can not be changed, it is necessary to rise and then sit down again. I can give no explanation for the practice, unless it be a precaution against treachery.


Festive meals are indulged in more especially on the occurrence of the great religious and social celebrations that recur with such frequency in the Manbo world. The arrival of a visitor, or even an unusual catch of fish, is also an occasion for such enjoyments. I have had ample opportunities of witnessing them, because during a trading expedition I was frequently honored with invitations, the reason for which was, of course, to secure from me good bargains, or credit.

Before the meal the house is a scene of indescribable animation. The guests, together with the members of the household, rarely number less than 20 and may reach 100 or more. The pig is cooked in bamboo joints, earthern[sic] pots and iron pans, both in the host's house and, if necessary, in neighboring houses. The same may be said of the rice and camotes. If the host has enough drink, and if there is a little meat or fish to serve as a lunch, he has the food brought out and orders a part of the drink to be distributed to the guests according to their importance. Joyous laughter and loud conversation, together with chewing of tobacco and betel nut, fill up the interval before the meal.

When all is ready, the available number of plates, bowls, glasses, bark platters, and leaves are set out and the boiled meat is apportioned in small pieces, with great exactitude as to size and quality, to the several plates. The same thing is done for the broiled meat after it has been hacked into suitable sizes. No one is forgotten, not even the children of the guests, nor the slaves. The rice is then brought along in bamboo joints, in pots, and even in baskets lined with leaves, and to each person is assigned a heaping portion. When all has been impartially and equally distributed, the guests are bidden to take their places on the floor, each one at his appointed plate, for where visitors other than relatives are present, no precaution is omitted to safeguard the guests against trouble. Experience has proved that the festive board may be tinged with blood before the end. This even distribution of the food and the collocation of the guests often occupies the better part of an hour. If these duties are not properly performed envious feelings and a quarrel might ensue before the end of the meal. The guest of honor is always given preference and the host may also especially favor others whom he may have reason to honor but he always makes public the reason for his partiality.

All being seated the meal begins with a goodly quaff of homemade brew. Then all begin to eat. As the feasters warm under the kindling influence of the drink, they express their good will by giving material tokens, each one to his friend or to one whose friendship he desires to gain. These tokens consist of handfuls of meat—lean, fat, bone, gristle, or anything—smeared with salt and pepper, and bestowed by one friend into the mouth of another without any consideration of the proportion existing between the size of the mouth and the size of the gift. It is not good etiquette to refuse this gift or to remove it from the mouth. This offering is followed probably by a bamboo jointful of beverage which must be received in the same friendly spirit and is gulped down with a mumbled expression corresponding to our "Here goes." The recipient of these favors returns the courtesy in kind, and so the meal goes on in mutual goodfellowship[sic] and congeniality till the food has completely disappeared, for it is against the conventionalities of Manbodom to leave a scrap on the plate. Indeed the Manbo loves a good eater and drinker. It is an honor to gorge and a glory to get drunk. Now it happens at times at a Manbo banquet, as it does in all drinking bouts the world over, that a quarrel ensues and recourse is had to the ever present bolo to settle an argument that wild shouts and frantic gestures can not decide. For this reason the Manbo eats with his left hand and rolls his eyes from side to side in constant vigilance.

These remarks do not apply to the women and children, who sit apart in little groups of their own, and, while feasting one another in their own gentle way, attend to the shouts for more food when they are heard above the din of the revellers.

During the course of a feast of this kind an observer is struck with the hearty appetite exhibited by these primitive people. Man vies with man in holding out. Friend honors friend with plenteous bestowals of food and drink and the host strives to induce his guests to eat to their utmost capacity. Rarely does one see a Manbo troubled with nausea but, if he is, he returns later to the feast, to finish his appointed portion. I have seen this happen on occasions.




Intoxicating drinks are of four kinds: Sugar-palm wine,[1] b-hi toddy,[2] sugarcane brew,[3] and mead.[4]

[1] Tuba or sai-yan or san, the sap of the hi-di-up (Arenga saccharifera) commonly known in the Philippines as cabo negro.

[2] The fishtail palm (Caryota sp.). The extracted sap is called tng-gang.

[3] n-tus.

[4] B-is or bi-a-lis.


Sugar-palm wine is obtained by tapping the fruit stem of the cabo negro palm. The process is very simple. At the time of efflorescence the spadix is cut off and the pithy stem is tapped. This operation lasts from 15 to 30 minutes each day and is continued for from 7 to 14 days. After the tapping the stem must be bent into a downward position. This is effected by inclining it downward every day, a piece of rattan or vine being used to retain it in position. The gentlest of force must be used in this operation, as a forcible strain will prevent the sap from flowing. Once the sap begins to flow from the stem, it is caught in a bamboo receptacle, the mouth of which must be carefully covered to prevent the entrance of the myriads of insects that are attracted by the odor and sweetness of the liquid. Day after day the end of the stem must be pared as otherwise the sap would cease to exude. A tree will produce daily anywhere from 10 to 30 liters according to the fertility of the soil and the humidity of the atmosphere. The humidity determines the duration of time that the tree produces toddy. This time varies from one to three months.

The sap has the color and transparency of water to which a little milk has been added. When fresh, it is a sweet, refreshing laxative, but the fermentation is so rapid that after a few hours it acquires the inebriating qualities of ordinary coconut toddy. In order to promote fermentation and to eliminate the laxative quality of the sap, the bark[5] of a tree is added. On the third day acetification begins to take place, unless a handful of the ordinary native red pepper is thrown into the beverage, in which case the further fermentation is withheld for a period of about four more days.

[5] Called la-gd.

The palm from which this sap is obtained is found in great abundance on the eastern[6] side of the lower and middle Agsan Valley and is universally tapped in this region. On the western side, however, it is not found with such frequency. The Manbo is therefore obliged to seek other means of satisfying the craving which he, like a good many of his fellowmen the world over, feels for a stimulant.

[6] In the vicinity of Tudela, Simlau River, there are groves of sugar-palm. I estimated that they contained 5,000 trees.


Tng-gang is the sap of the bhi palm. The method of extraction is identical with that of the sugar-palm wine. It is neither as pleasant nor as strong as the previously described drink, but it is not by any manner of means unwholesome. It is employed as a beverage only when no other is obtainable. I have been reliably informed that sometimes the tree is cut down as a preliminary to the extraction of the sap. Incisions are made in the trunk for the purpose of permitting the flow of the sap.


In-tus is a beverage made out of the juice of the sugarcane. It is the most common and the most popular drink, so much so that it is deemed worthy of being presented to the spirits on sacrificial and other occasions.

Extraction of the juice.—The sugarcane is first peeled and then crushed, stalk by stalk, or piece by piece, under the li-gi-san. This is a very primitive mill, consisting of a round, smooth, heavy log usually of palma brava[7] or of the fishtail palm, set horizontally about 1 meter above the ground on two crude frames. It is provided with a vertical handle, by means of which it can be rolled from side to side over a fiat piece of wood. The cane is introduced gradually between this latter piece and the log, which is kept in constant motion. As soon as the whole or a part of a piece of cane has been crushed, it is doubled up into a mass about 30 centimeters long and is again crushed. By this method about 20 liters of juice are obtained in a day.

[7] An-a-hau (Livistona sp.).

Boiling.—The iron cooking pan described in a previous chapter is preferred for preparing the drink, unless an empty kerosene can has been secured. In the absence of both, the ordinary pot answers the purpose. In the center of the cooking utensil is placed a small cylinder made of slats of bamboo to serve for gaging the amount of evaporation. The boiling vessel is filled with small slices of the root of a gingerlike plant[8] and sugarcane juice is added to fill the interstices.

[8] Lan-kwas (Cordeline terminalis Willd.).

The amount of boiling determines the quality of the resulting liquor. If the sap is boiled down only one-fourth, the drink produced is of a sweetish taste and of a whitish appearance and, in my estimation, is not palatable. The more the sap is evaporated, the more it mellows and browns. The Manbos of the upper Agsan make a better drink than those of the lake region for the reason that they evaporate the juice one-half, while those of the latter-mentioned district only give it a cursory boiling. It is usual to employ a little gaging rod of bamboo for measuring the amount of evaporation, this being done by inserting it into the bamboo cylinder in the center of the pot, but an old hand at brewing can gage by the smell.

Fermentation.—After cooking, the decoction is unfit for immediate use. It must be left to undergo fermentation for at least three whole days. Five days are sufficient to render it fairly drinkable. The longer the period of fermentation, the liner the quality of the resulting liquor, ceteris paribus. When well-cooked brew has been kept for a few months, it assumes a translucid amber color, smells and tastes strongly of rum, and is highly intoxicating. The liquor during fermentation must be kept in closed jars or earthen pots in a cool moist place. If kept in bamboo joints, it will spoil.

In general, the drink is more intoxicating than coconut toddy, but it is wholesome, and its use is not attended by the after effects that are the result of overindulgence in certain other alcoholic drinks like vino. In this connection it may be well to remark that I have never observed a case of delirium tremens nor of any of the other serious consequences that in other parts of the world frequently afflict the habitual drinker. The only ill effects I have seen are the proverbial headache and thirst, but even these are very rare and usually occur only after periods of long and uninterrupted indulgence. As a rule such effects are at once dispelled by taking hot taro-top soup or by munching sugarcane.


This is probably the finest beverage produced in Manboland, but as the honey season is short and as the honey is consumed, both in the forest after taking the nest and in the house by the members of the family, the drink is scarce.

The preparation of the drink is identical with that of sugarcane brew. The same ferment is used, the same method of cooking is employed, and in general the same remarks apply, with the exception that in place of the sugarcane juice, honey and water are used. The honey is mixed with water in varying proportions. It is the proportion of water to honey that determines the strength, quality, and flavor of the final drink, A mixture of half and half is said to yield the best beverage. If fermentation is allowed to continue for a few months, the resulting liquor is of a clear crystalline color, and will compare both in flavor and strength with those more up to date.



Though the Manbos invariably drink during religious feasts, yet neither during the feast itself, nor in the preparation of the toddy, have I ever observed any religious ceremony nor were any magic or other preternatural means employed. It is true that when the crushing appliance[9] is set up, the fowl-waving ceremony, followed by the blood unction, is performed. I witnessed this ceremony myself in several parts of the Agsan River Valley. But such ceremonies are customary on the erection of houses, smithies, and so forth, and bear no relation to the actual production of the drink.

[9] Li-gi-san.

During religious ceremonies a bowlful of the brew is set out with the usual viands, such as meat and rice, for the di-u-a-ia, tag-la-nu-a (lords of the hills and the valleys), and for other spirits, for they, too, like to be regaled with the good things of this world.

Drink is taken on the occurrence of all the great religious and social feasts and upon the arrival of a distinguished friend or visitor—also when it is desired to make a good bargain or to secure any other end by convivial means. The acquisition of an unusual amount of fish or of meat is a common occasion for the making of the brew and gives rise to the following practice:


The sumsm-an, i. e., the eating of meat or fish with an accompaniment of drink, a universal practice throughout the Agsan Valley, the Salg Valley, and the whole Mandya country, is a thing that appeals especially to the true Mandya, Manbo, and Maggugan. When a man of one of these tribes has secured a good catch of fish, or has trapped a wild boar, he procures a supply of beverage and meets his guests at the appointed place, usually his little farmhouse. As soon as all are assembled, the fish or the meat is broiled on sticks of wood over the fire. When it is cooked, the women lay it out and it is slashed into pieces, usually by the host, and apportioned with great precision as to weight, quality, amount of bone, and quantity of inept. During this operation, a few bamboo jointfuls of brew are brought from some hiding place and a relative of the householder sits down with one under his arm. Before him are set such articles as glasses and bowls, if obtainable, or in lieu thereof, small pieces of bamboo joints, each holding about a tumblerful, and not very different in shape from handleless German steins. These bamboo cups admirably fulfill the purpose. The distributor of the liquor slices a little strip from under the mouth of his bamboo deposit to prevent loss of the liquor during pouring, then he inserts two fingers into the mouth of the bamboo and makes an opening through the leaves for the drink, but not so large as to give free exit to such insects as may have found their way into the liquid. He then fills up the vessels at hand, taking care to give to each an equal amount.

It is to be noted that it is an inviolable custom that the host drinks first. This is because of the widespread belief in secret poisons. After drinking the host passes the cup to those whom he wishes to honor, unless they are already provided, and using some expression corresponding to our English "Here goes," the guest or guests quaff the brew. The bowls or other vessels are returned to the distributor, and the process is repeated until all have had a drink.


During religious and social feasts the drinking customs are as above described, except that the beverage is set out in sacred jars, when on hand, and with such an array of bowls as the host may possess. One of these feasts, notably the marriage feast, may be attended by as many as 200 persons and last from 3 to 7 days and nights, so that to hear of 20 jars or 100 bamboo[10] jointfuls of sugarcane brew being consumed on the occasion of a great festival is not strange.

[10] Sugng.

The amount of drink used, both individually and collectively during one of the feasts, gives one an idea of the great capacity which these primitive peoples enjoy. The average white man in my opinion would be deliriously drunk before the Mandya or Manbo would be feeling merry. It is not according to tribal customs to refuse food and drink as long as the host has them to set before his guest. On a few occasions I have seen a tribesman rise, quietly empty the stomach, and calmly return to the feast to finish his appointed portion and wash his hands and his plate as an evidence of that fact.

With regard to women and children, it may be said that they drink little, not from any religious or moral principles, but simply because they do not care to. The men, however, are inveterate drinkers. No disgrace is attached to drunkenness. On the contrary to take the allotted portion is considered a duty and a virtue.


It goes without saying that quarrels sometimes result from these drinking bouts, though not oftener, I venture to say, than among more highly cultured peoples in other parts of the world. The custom of carrying weapons on all occasions where others than relatives are present has a deterrent effect on quarreling, yet there are occasions when daggers or bolos terminate an argument that wild shouts and frantic gestures can not settle.

With regard to the amount of drink consumed, I could as well venture an approximation as to the number of stars in the firmament. This will be readily understood when one is told, that according to the social institutions of the Manbos, it is considered no breach of manners to ask a neighbor for any thing of his to which one may take a fancy. A refusal on his part, unless couched in the most diplomatic terms, might give rise to unneighborly feelings and prompt a reprisal in kind on some other occasion. Hence drink is almost invariably kept deposited in the grass outside of the settlement. When it is needed it is brought to the appointed place secretly or at night, for were others than the invited ones aware of the existence of drink in one's possession they, too, would flock to the scene. In view of the secrecy maintained about the possession of drink it is impossible to give an estimate of the amount of liquor consumed in Manboland. Suffice it to say that the Manbo drinks on every possible occasion and will travel many a mile to secure a little of the flowing bowl.


When the tobacco is ripe, it is gathered, cut fine with a sliver of bamboo, and dried in the sun for a day or two. It is then frequently pounded into bamboo internodes and laid away in a cool, dry place, often in the rice granary, for fermentation. Before using the tobacco it is customary to set it out in the grass for a night or two. This causes a sweating and makes the tobacco fit for chewing.

This is the only form in which tobacco is prepared among the mountain Manbos. The quantity of tobacco raised is insignificant, being a little more than is sufficient for their personal use. As they dispose of a great deal of it during harvest time, it not infrequently comes to pass that there is a dearth long before the next crop.

No harmful effects are attributed to the use of tobacco, though from childhood to the grave it is made use of by men, women, and children.

Only men and boys smoke. The pipe employed for this purpose is commonly a little cone made out of a piece of imported tin or of a piece of steel. The stem is a piece of small bamboo. One occasionally finds wooden pipes, but they have probably been acquired from Christianized Manbos or from Bisyas.

The first-mentioned pipe holds about one thimbleful of tobacco. It is usually lighted with a firebrand, unless it is used when the people are on the trail; at such a time the flint, steel, and tinder are called into requisition.

There are two forms of tobacco chewing: First, the bal-ut method. In this a mixture is made of minced tobacco, lime, the juice of a vine,[11] and pot black. This combination, which in bulk may be the size of a large marble, is carried between the upper lip and the upper gums but resting upon the lower lip and projecting out of the mouth, thereby keeping the lips apart. It is made use of principally for its narcotic qualities, but at the same time it serves as an ornament and tends to blacken the teeth. It is carried in the mouth until its strength is exhausted. During meals it is placed behind the ear. When tobacco is scarce, the same quid receives several additions of lime, pot black, and vine juice, so that it may be used for a whole day. The women are more accustomed than the men to the use of this bal-ut, for the reason that the former do not smoke, and also because they usually have hidden away a less limited supply of tobacco than the men. The second method of using tobacco is known as the la-gt. This consists of chewing a little pinch of tobacco in combination with betel nut. Tobacco is seldom chewed alone.

[11] Ma-mau.



The betel-nut quid is to the Manbo more than the cigarette, cigar, or pipe is to his more civilized fellow man. With him the use of it is a universal, eternal habit. By day and by night, in the house and on the trail, in health and in sickness, he turns for stimulation to the quid of betel nut, betel leaf, and lime. A visitor comes to his house and the first act of hospitality is the offering of the betel-nut quid. He meets an acquaintance upon the trail, and he sits down and offers the soothing chew. He is anxious that his omen be good and he lays a tribute of betel nut upon the trail for the forest deity, and goes on, confident that his desires will be fulfilled. And when he calls upon his gods, the first and most essential offering must be the quid of betel nut, for the fragrance of the nut and the redolence of the blossom are said to be the chief delicacy of the spirits.

The betel nut[12] is obtained from the palms found in the forest. These palms were planted either by the Manbos themselves or by their ancestors. The nuts are found in scarcely sufficient quantity to supply the demand. When they can not be obtained, other plants [13] are used, but they are an inferior substitute. In taste the betel nut is exceedingly astringent and can not be used except in combination with the betel leaf and lime. As a rule the green and tender nut is preferred by the mountain Manbos, but the ripe nut seems to be the choice of those who have come in contact with Christianized Manbos or with Bisyas.

[12] Areca betel.

[13] Kan-n-yag, cinnamon, is one of the substitutes. Also called kanla.

The betel leaf[14] is from a species of pepper, of which there are innumerable species both domestic and wild. A domestic variety is preferred but, since the supply is not always equal to the demand, as in the case of the betel nut, the wild species afford a tolerable substitute. The tender leaves are preferred as being less pungent. For the same reason domestic species are used in preference to the wild ones, these latter possessing a highly acrid taste.

[14] Betel sp.

The lime is made from the shells of shellfish found in the rivers, streams, and lakes. The shells are burnt in a very hot fire, usually of bamboo strips, the fire being fanned continually. The shells are then slaked with a sprinkling of water and the lime is ready for use.

To prepare the quid, the betel nut, frequently stripped of its fibrous rind, is cut into small slices. One slice is laid upon a piece of betel leaf, and a little lime is shaken upon it from the lime tube. The leaf is then wrapped around the nut and the lime, and the pellet is ready for use. The amount of lime must be such that the saliva will turn red, and depends upon the size of the betel nut and the betel leaf. An excess of lime burns the integuments of the mouth and tongue, but this is avoided by increasing immediately the amount of leaf. A little pinch of tobacco, the stronger the better, completes the ordinary quid.

There are sometimes added to this masticatory certain other aromatic ingredients, such as cinnamon, lemon rind, and other things.

The first and immediate effect of chewing this combination is to promote salivation. Following this is the reddening of the saliva by the chemical action of the lime upon the betel nut and the leaf. However, the most important effect produced by the quid is the soothing sensation that follows its use. In this respect it far exceeds tobacco chewing, both in the Manbos' opinion and in my own. The sensations which I experienced on my first trials were a feeling of inflation of the head and a transient sensation of weakness, accompanied by a cold sweat upon the forehead. This was followed by a feeling of exhilaration and quickened vitality. It may be said in general that betel-nut chewing acts as an efficacious restorative, especially during a journey, and as a harmless narcotic which it would be hard to replace. The addition of tobacco intensifies this narcotic effect considerably, other additions such as cinnamon serving only to soften the astringency and the piquancy of the leaf and to impart an aroma to the quid.


The Manbo man carries on his back, in a little bag [15] of abak or other cloth, all the requisites for betel-nut chewing. The woman deposits them in an open basket unless she is on a journey, in which case she carries them in a little closed basket.

[15] P-yo.

The betel nut and the betel leaf are put into the bottom of the sack for the purpose of concealment, for there is a continual clamor for one or the other, and should it be known that a certain individual has a supply, the Manbos' social regulations would oblige him to part with it upon request. Hence he keeps it out of view, and is always ready to excuse himself, when asked for one or the other, on the ground that he has no more.

He keeps a few nuts and leaves for immediate use in a Moro brass box,[16] if he is so fortunate as to possess one. Otherwise he puts them in a cylindrical receptacle [17] usually made out of a small bamboo internode, or in a little round receptacle [18] of plaited rattan coated with the pulp of the seed of a tree.[19] His tobacco for immediate use he keeps in another similar receptacle, the main supply being hidden away in the bottom of the knapsack.

[19] Ta-bon-tbon (Parinarium mindanaense Perkins).

The lime is invariably kept in a small internode [20] of bamboo. This is open at one end and has a spherical plug of plaited rattan inserted into the mouth for the purpose of preventing an excess of lime from issuing. This spherical network resembles in miniature the football seen so commonly throughout the Philippines. When it is desired to add lime to the quid, the tube is taken in one hand and held in a downward position with the thumb and little finger underneath it and the other fingers above it. The first finger is then made to slide with force from the middle finger down to the tube, thereby tapping out the lime. This tapping motion is similar to that performed when winnowing rice.

[20] Tng-tang.

The men use their bolos to cut up the betel nut, but the women have a small knife [21] which also answers the purpose of a general utility implement corresponding to our scissors.

[21] Ba-di' or kam-pit.

When the chewer's teeth have deteriorated from age, the quid is mashed in a small mortar made of hardwood, a piece of steel serving as a pestle. In this way the betel nut and leaf are rendered sufficiently soft for mastication.

In conclusion, it may be said that though the habit seems a dirty one, owing to the discoloration of the mouth and lips of the chewer and to the ruby expectorations that tinge his surroundings, yet on the whole it is a necessary and beneficial practice. From my observation and experience, I believe that the habit eliminates toothache and other disorders of the teeth. Christianized Manbos and Bisyas who have relinquished the habit suffer from dental troubles, whereas the inveterate chewer of the mountains is free from them. The Manbo can not endure the long and frequent hikes, nor carry the heavy loads that he does, without this mild but efficacious restorative.




Agriculture is in a very primitive condition. It is true that most of the Christianized Manbos living in the river settlements have a few hundred abak plants each, yet the care of them is left practically to nature, their productivity depending upon the soil. But the true mountaineer plants nothing except the bare necessities of life—rice and camotes, some taro,[1] a little sugarcane in season, a little patch of maize, and sometimes ginger and other spices.

[1] In districts close to the Mandya country the use of taro is more common, but even in the upper Agsan it is not a permanent crop. The Mandyas subsist to a great extent on it whenever the soil is adapted to its growth. Taro is the Colocasia antiquorum.

His system of agriculture is in perfect adaptation to his social and political institutions. Living as he does in a state of eternal vigilance, and knowing that the first death in the house or an unlucky combination of omens or the menaces of his enemies may drive him from his home and from his farm, he is content with a small clearing. He builds no embankments, no irrigation ditches, no terraces. He has no plows, nor draft animals. He selects a patch of the virgin forest every year, and with the bolo and rude axe, clears and cultivates the land. For a permanent crop he keeps his camote patch, on which he may plant a few bananas and also invariably a sprinkling of sugarcane. Scattered around this small farm may be found some native tomatoes, more often planted by the birds than by the hand of man, a few ginger and other plants that serve to season the food. A betel-nut palm is planted occasionally, and some betel leaf, but with these exceptions no trees, not even those whose fruit is dearly relished, are planted.


The time for planting is at hand when the voice of the bird kuahu first breaks from the forest and the leaves of lanpau tree begin to fall.[2] Then the farmer hies to the woods to select the site for the rice field, calling upon the omen bird to direct him in his choice. Of course he is governed in his selection by reasons of proximity to water, safety from floods, distance from the settlement, etc., but the omen bird's cry must be favorable. Having decided on the location he makes an offering of betel nut to the tagbnua and to such other spirits as may dwell in the neighborhood. This act of homage is performed in order to make friends with these forest lords so that they may not be displeased on account of the usurpation of a part of their domain. Then he selects a spot for the house and clears it, if he has time, but if not, he cuts down a few small trees as a public notice of his proprietorship. Special attention is here called to the fact that the spot selected must be one of virgin forest. The Manbo never plants his rice in the same place during two successive years, because it would not yield a plentiful harvest.

[2] Certain trees, such as the n-to' and the ba-r-bo', begin to fruit at this season, and are also signs of the approach of the rice-planting season.

The following day, or when all is ready, he and his household begin the work by erecting a small shack sufficiently large to accommodate them. In the middle of the farm[3] is erected a small platform for the seed and, near the house, the usual offering house[4] and other sacrificial perquisites. Then he is ready to perform the rice-planting sacrifice.

[3] U-ma'.

[4] Ka-m-lig.


[5] The tp-hag sacrifice.

Tphgan is a female diuata under whose special superintendence are placed the rice crop and all that pertains to it. She is thought to guard the crop against man and beast, even revealing, it is said, to her chosen ones the names of all trespassers. In return for this she must be frequently feasted from the beginning of the rice season up to the harvest, for at that time her duties cease, and she yields the field to Hakidan.

The officiant in the rice-planting ceremonies is either one or more family priests. The victim is either a pig or a fowl, sacrificed in a special manner. The invocations consist of the same interminable supplications, promises, and repetitions that are characteristic of all Manbo prayers. One variation is observed during this ceremony. The fowl, on being killed, is thrown on the ground and left to flutter around, thereby, it is thought, removing from the soil with its blood such evils as might harm the rice or lessen its production. If a pig, however, has been killed the blood lustration is performed in the ordinary way by smearing a near-by log, the priest bidding the evil[6] of the earth begone. I have often been told that a special ceremony is necessary at the time of rice planting. This ceremony is called h-gad to s-ya or h-gad to s which means "to cleanse the sin." I am inclined to think that this rite is a purificatory one, as the name of it indicates. I suppose that it is a secret expiation of such transgressions as might be punished by a failure of the future crop.

[6] Ka-d-ut.

As in all undertakings of import, the entrails of the victim are carefully observed. Other forms of divination, especially the egg omen, are employed to determine whether the supernal powers approve the site or not.

Among the offerings to Tphgan is a handful of unhulled rice taken from the last harvesting and now set out in the religious shed. It is customary during this feast to give a little rice to such animals and insects as are liable to harm the crop later on. Among these may be mentioned rats, ricebirds, crows, parrakeets[sic],[7] and ants. A little rice is set out on a log for them and they are bidden welcome, and requested not to commit any future depredations. Nor are the omen birds, prophets of plentiful crops, and the kuahu, harbinger and companion of the rice crop, forgotten.

[7] Abkai.

During the growth of the rice the above practices are observed from time to time. No special rule is observed, but it may be said, in general, that the occurrence of ill omens, or the suspicion of danger, urge the owner of the crop to feast Tphgan and thereby obtain immunity from evil. The priest is the best judge as to the necessity of such things.


The omens being favorable, the farmer, assisted by his relatives and friends, begins the clearing without delay. It is essential that at least a little work be done in order to clinch the bargain with the powers above, for should a delay occur the omens might go awry and necessitate a repetition of the ceremonies and even an abandonment of the farm. I heard of several cases where prospective farms were abandoned under these circumstances.

The clearing, like all other agricultural operations, is done on the mutual-help system,[8] that is, the farmer's relatives and friends unite to help him clear the land, which favor he and his family is expected to return in kind.

[8] Pag-a-bai-ys-an.

The average clearing does not comprise more than a few acres, and is completed ordinarily in from two to five days. The first step [9] in the clearing process consists in cutting down the underbrush and small trees. In this the men are assisted by the women and children who gather these into heaps for burning. This may take only a few days, if no inauspicious omens occur, but, according to my observation, it is seldom that some omen or other does not interfere with the work. Thus a dead animal, such as a wild boar, or snake, found on the farm makes blood lustrations necessary. The rumbling of thunder means a temporary discontinuance of the work, and often a purificatory ceremony, of which I can give no details, becomes necessary and delays the work.

[9] Called gs or gi-as.

The next operation consists in the felling of trees.[10] For this purpose, scaffolds, usually of bamboo, are erected around the tree at a height several feet above the buttresses of the tree or at such a point as is considered expedient. Trees are cut down high above the base because the wood at the bottom of the tree is usually exceedingly tough. Standing on his perch at a distance of about 8 feet from the ground, the feller plies his native axe[11] until the tree yields and crashes down in its fall such of its fellows as may stand in its way. It may be observed here that the Manbo as a rule is an expert at tree felling and takes great pleasure in it. Practically all the felling and clearing of Bisya land in the Agsan Valley is done by Manbos of Christian or of pagan persuasion and at a merely nominal cost.

[10] G-ba.

[11] Hu-w-siu.

After the trees have been cut down, all branches and parts of the tree that would be too much of an obstruction in the farm are cut[12] and mounted into heaps for future burning.[13] This burning, of course, can not take place till after the hot weather,[14] which comes at this period and lasts about a month. Unless the clearing was exceptionally free from heavy timber, the ground remains encumbered with the larger trunks and branches, even after the burning, but this is no impediment, for the rice and camotes can be planted between the stumps.

[12] G-ang.

[13] Sng-ag.

[14] Gu-y-bang.


It is essential that the sowing take place between the time of the burning and the next full moon. But the exact date varies according to the locality. Thus, in Umaam district, the time for sowing is said to be the ninth day after the first waning moon that follows that spell of hot weather, known as guybang, whereas in the upper Agsan 12 nights are counted from the first new moon after the guybang and the sowing takes place the following day. It is thought that this procedure will insure a plentiful crop.

The method of sowing is simple. The owner of the farm takes a handful of rice from the woven-grass[15] bag in the center of the clearing and scatters it broadcast. Then the members of the family complete the sowing. There seems to be a knack in so scattering the seed that it may not cover the ground too closely. Once cast upon the surface, the seed is covered[16] immediately so as to get it under the ground and away from the ravages of vermin. This is done by breaking the ground slightly with bolos.

[15] Kam-bu-ya.

[16] The process of covering the seed is called hi-la-bn.

As a protection against weeds, camotes, sugarcane, and even maize are planted in places where the rice is not so close, and especially where the weeds have sprung up. These latter must be removed from time to time until the crop is sufficiently tall to shade the ground. This and all subsequent work connected with the farm, except the making of wild-boar traps and the caring for them, falls upon the women and children.

The growth of the rice is carefully observed, and the owner of the farm must be ever ready to counteract evil indications and to feast Tphgan upon their appearance. Thus finding a dead animal, such as a large bird, lizard, or monkey, is considered of ill import and lustration of blood must be resorted to. Again the appearance of certain birds in the vicinity of the farm is looked upon as of evil omen, and it becomes necessary to drive away the impending evil by proper ceremonial means.

Drought, though an uncommon occurrence, is especially feared. I once witnessed a peculiar method of rain making. It was performed under the auspices of Tphgan and in the following manner: The rain makers[17] each secured a frond of some palm tree and went to the bank of the stream near by. Here they beat their fronds upon the surface of the water until the leaves were torn. Then each one stuck his frond upon the bank in a vertical position and went his way, certain that rain would follow.

[17] Mig-pa-yao.

There are, on the other hand, divers good omens and indications of a plenteous harvest. The swarming of bees on the farm is one of these. So is the continuous cry of kuahu. There are many other omens both good and evil that render the growing season one of constant question and answer between nature and primitive man. As the time for the harvest approaches, means must be taken to protect the crop against its enemies. Traps and light fences are the principal defense against wild boar. Scarecrows, consisting of pieces of palm frond, tin cans, and other things, are suspended from long rattan cords that diverge in all directions from the watch house [18] in the center of the field. The waving of these rattan strips, when manipulated by the young person on watch, accompanied by loud yells, serve to frighten away the ricebirds,[19] parrakeets[sic], and monkeys. A little offering of rice is frequently made by way of gaining the good will and speedy departure of the latter.

[18] Ban-ta-an.

[19] Mya.

A final feast, similar to that described in the preceding pages, is given to Tphgan by way of thanksgiving, when the crop is nearly ripe for the harvest, and she then passes out of the Manbo's memory for another year.


The harvest time is the merriest of all the year. It ends, in most cases, the long period of abstinence from rice, and many times terminates a period of actual hunger. It is the season for the celebration of marriages, with their attendant festivals; for hunting and for fishing, especially with poison. And yet it is fraught with religious fear and safeguarded by severe taboos and other restrictions that make it to some extent a season of mystery. In many places it is a time of vigilance against the attacks of the enemy.

The first thing that must be done when the rice is ripe enough to harvest is to close all trails leading to the house and farm. No one may now, under penalty of a fine, enter the precincts, nor may any one but an inmate of the household be present, for otherwise the crop might never come to maturity.[20] Should any one trespass upon the farm, it is imperative that work be discontinued until the following day. This gives a good opportunity to collect the fine imposed on the trespasser. I did not care to violate this taboo, and for this reason can offer only second-hand information as to what takes place from the time of the closing of the trails till the harvest feast.

[20] Makadya is the term used to express the evil that might befall the crop.

The owner makes solemn invocation to the omen bird and, if the omens are satisfactory, proceeds to cut some of the ripe heads of rice in the center of the farm. These are then put into a grass bag prepared especially for this purpose. This bag is said to have bezoar stones[21] placed in it in order that the rice may not only not diminish but may even increase in quantity. For the six following days the women and children reap a little every day and deposit the rice in the above receptacle.

[21] Mt-ja or mt-da.

The rice thus harvested is carefully preserved as seed for the following year, though a little of it may be employed for ceremonial purposes during the sowing and harvesting celebrations. The new rice must on no account be eaten before the harvest feast is ready, and it must not be given away, for that would certainly result in a mysterious decrease.[22] In fine, it has such a sacred character that it must be pounded at night and never in the presence of anyone who is not a member of the household, for should anyone visit the house at this time the rice would be found to have much chaff[23] in it.

[22] Ka-gu-y-dun, i. e., literally, that it would be pulled away.

[23] -pa.


The harvest feast must take place before the real work of harvesting begins. It usually occurs on the seventh day after the closing of the trails, if everything is in readiness. The importance of this feast is such that he who can not kill a pig for the occasion has no title to aristocracy in the tribe. All being ready, the trails are opened and the drum and gong boom out to announce to relatives and friends that they are welcome to the feast of Hakidan, the goddess of grain.

The ceremony differs but little from that to Tphgan, as described on previous pages. The invocation to Hakidan is most elaborate, lasting for several hours in the few instances which I witnessed. It is taken up by one priest after another and every inducement is offered to Hakidan to prevent the rice from being stolen, or destroyed by their enemies, carried away by floods, wet by rain, raided by rats and ants, or stolen by Dgau, that fickle mischievous spirit whose pleasure seems to be to bring hunger [24] to humankind. The dead, whose final feast[25] has not yet been celebrated, are given a betel-nut offering and requested most devoutly not to tamper with the rice. Even the greedy parrakeets[sic], the gregarious ricebirds, and other enemies of the rice have portions of the first fruits set out for them in little leaf packages. Hakidan is asked to instruct these creatures to behave themselves during this delicate season.

[24] Ma-ka-bun-tas-i.

[25] Ka-ta-ps-an.

The pig is killed in the ordinary way, and the feast ends with the usual revels. When the farmer is unable to procure a pig, a chicken is substituted, specious excuses being made for the failure to provide a larger victim.

After the celebration the women and children of the household, assisted by such of their friends and relatives, women and children, as have agreed to harvest the rice, begin the work in real earnest. Each one starts out with her basket hanging upon her back, supported by the string which passes over her head. In her hand she carries the harvesting knife, which is a clamshell set at right angles in a palm's length of rattan, or in lieu of the shell a similarly shaped piece of tin. With this she snips off a ripe ear with a few inches of the stalk and throws it into her basket, which now hangs from her shoulder. When her basket is full she returns to the place where a larger basket[26] has been set and deposits her load in it. Thus the process goes on for the few days (three to five) necessary to harvest the crop.

[26] Diwtan.

The men in the meantime make the granary [27] somewhere in the clearing, usually in the center. It is ordinarily a crude structure consisting of four small posts, upon which rests a roof of rattan leaf thatch. Intermediate between the roof and the ground is a floor either of bamboo slats or of bark, upon which are set the cylindrical bark or grass receptacles for the rice. Sometimes wooden disks or inverted cones of bamboo slatwork are attached to the posts of the rice granary to prevent the entrance of rats and mice.

[27] Tam-b-bung.

The rice in the larger baskets is brought to the granary and in the course of a few days is put on coarse mats of grass and threshed with hands and feet. It is then spread out thinly on these same mats and dried in the sun for one day. After it is dried it is cleaned of chaff by being tossed into the air from the winnowing tray. It is then ready for permanent deposit in the granary, to be disposed of later either by sale or by home consumption.

A field 1 hectare in area will yield, at a low estimate, 25 sacks, but where the soil is particularly well adapted for rice culture, as it is on the upper parts of nearly every river in the Agsan Valley, 50 sacks are not considered an extraordinary yield.


The rice straw that stands upon the field is burnt down, and sweet potatoes, some maize, a score or more of sugarcane plants, a patch of taro, and sometimes a few banana plants are put in at intervals after the harvest entertainments. The time selected for the planting of sugarcane and bananas is around noon. It is thought that, if planted then, they will grow taller and bigger than if planted at any other hour. Taro and corn, on the contrary, must be planted during the morning hours, probably for some reason analogous to the above. If the rumbling of thunder is heard during the planting of these crops, it is an intimation that the planting should be discontinued till the following day, or, in case of urgency, till proper omens be taken to ascertain the attitude of the powers above.

Fruit trees of divers kinds are found scattered throughout the broad expanse of forest that covers eastern Mindano, but they are not of man's sowing nor does the Manbo ever lay claim to them. He takes the fruit, frequently branch and all, eats it, throws the seed away and goes his way rejoicing.


The Manbos are excellent hunters, keen, clever, determined, and enduring, but by no means incessant. In fact, it is only under the stress of hunger or when a few of them rally together that they start off with hunting spears and dogs. Occasionally one meets a professional who takes pride in the business, as may be observed by the trophies of wild-boar tusks and jaws hung in his house.


The dogs used are of the usual type seen throughout the Philippines, except that only the better and pluckier or luckier ones are chosen for hunting. These are recognized by the size and relative position of the nipples on the breast. It is said that from these and other marks the fate of the dog can be foreseen. I was frequently instructed in these signs, but found it impossible to master them for the simple reason that no two experts seemed to agree. Thus in one case, where I consulted those versed in this matter, they respectively informed me that a certain dog would be mangled [28] by a wild boar, swallowed by an alligator,[29] and devoured by a cobra, and advised me not to purchase it. Good hunting dogs are often valued as highly as a human life (30 pesos) and sometimes more so. I have seen dogs that seldom returned without having run down a deer or wild boar.

[28] Pan-ii-gn-on.

[29] Si-bad-n-on to bu-a-ja (buda).

The ordinary Manbo house has at least a few dogs, and these are allowed the liberty of the house. They share the family mats, and sometimes have a special ladder provided for their ascent and descent. Their food at the best is somewhat scanty. They have names such as "Diguim,"[30] "Spas,"[31] and are addressed by their masters with the greatest familiarity. A dog, however, that howls in its sleep, is thought to forebode the death of its master or of some inmate of the house. It must be sold, else the owner or one of his family might die. Dogs are supposed to be messengers of the blood spirits [32] and to be under the protection of the god of hunting,[33] for whom the following ceremony must be made by the hunter if he desires continued success in the chase and the safety of his dogs from the perils thereof.

[30] "Black."

[31] "Cotton."

[32] Tagb-sau.

[33] Sugdun.


A triangular tray of bayug or of ilang-ilang wood decorated with palm fronds is made and suspended from the rafters of the house. The owner of the dogs then calls upon Sugdun, offers him a quid of betel nut, and promises to kill a fowl if only he will be so kind as to assist in getting a wild boar or a deer the following day. The fowl must be a male and of a red color. This invocation occupies the better part of an hour, and, when the hunter is satisfied that he has convinced Sugdun of the necessity and expediency of being propitious, he slays the red fowl in his honor. The blood is caught in a sacred saucer [34] and placed upon the oblation tray[35] for the special entertainment of the hunting deity. In one case I saw the blood anointment[36] made on the principal dog in order to remove from him some evil influence that he was thought to possess. After the fowl is cooked, a piece of the meat, a little cooked rice, and a few eggs are put upon the sacrificial tray and left there.

[34] Ap-gan.

[35] Su-g-gan.

[36] Lm-pas.


On one of the ensuing days, provided he has observed no ill omen, the hunter starts off, usually with one or more companions, for the selected hunting grounds. As the forests of the Agsan Valley teem with wild boar and deer, the hunters usually do not have to travel far before the dogs get on the scent. This they announce by their continuous yelping. The hunt then begins. The game strives to elude its pursuers by constantly doubling on its path, so that the hunters do not have such a long run as might be imagined. They never cease to encourage their dogs with a peculiar monotonous cry that resembles a long-drawn u sound. The dogs keep on the heels of their prey and worry and harass it with repeated snaps and bites till it finally comes to bay with its back to a tree. The hunters at once become aware of this by the change in the cry of the dogs, and, accordingly, hasten their steps. Upon arriving at the scene, they cautiously steal up behind the game and put it to death with their spears.

Accidents are uncommon during the hunt, but I have seen several in which both men and dogs were mangled by some fierce wild boar that on being wounded had proved a dangerous enemy.

Where several hunters have participated in the hunt, the game is divided in the forest according to the number of dogs engaged. If the hunters are relatives of the same household, as generally happens, the distribution is made after they reach home. The game is carried back by one of the party, and, if there are other relatives in the settlement, they, too, receive a share. Thus a wild boar or a deer is sufficient for just about one meal.


The following taboos in connection with hunting are of interest:

(1) The mention of such things as are displeasing to the local forest deities must be positively avoided, such as the mention of salt, of fish that are not found in the region, and of the name of the quarry.

(2) The meat must not be cooked with lard, garlic, or in any other way except in the orthodox Manbo manner of broiling it, or cooking it in water.

(3) The meat must not be salted and dried.

(4) The game must not be skinned, but singed, for the former act would be one of rashness that would incur divine displeasure and result in lack of success on the part of the dogs during all ensuing hunts.

(5) The bones of the game must not be rapped on the floor to remove the marrow. They must be broken with a bolo.

(6) During the process of boiling the water in which the meat has been placed must be allowed to run over.

(7) The bones of the game must not be thrown into water. Such an act would, it is thought, bring sickness on the transgressor or on a member of his family.

(8) An unmarried man, who has had clandestine relations with a woman, may not partake of the meat before he has made an expiatory offering to the owner of the dogs. This offering need not be of any great value and is usually given in an informal way. The infringement of this taboo is said to be attended with the same baneful effects on the hunting dogs as that mentioned above.

(9) For the same reason a married man must make a compensatory offering of some little thing to his wife in case he has been unfaithful to her. However, the majority of those whom I questioned knew of no such counteracting practice.

A consideration of the above restrictions will explain the reluctance that the Manbo feels in dividing his game with those who are not of his persuasion. He is afraid that the meat may be cooked in lard or that some other regulation may be broken, thereby bringing down upon himself the displeasure of the spirit owner of the game and upon his dogs ill luck or total lack of success in future hunts.

There are various traditional accounts of people who have been charmed [37] by deer and never heard of again. It seems that, at first, they were approached by a circling herd of deer, which they did not fear and allowed to come close. But among the deer was a transformed bsau or demon that advanced and devoured the solitary hunter. It is said that a dog will not follow a deer of this description.[38]

[37] Pag-u-sa-hn.

[38] Called ma-pa-yag.


The ordinary bow is used but the arrow frequently varies from the regular fighting arrow in being heavier, thicker, and not provided with feathering. An arrow with a forked point is occasionally used for small birds, while for hornbills sharp spikes of palma brava are used at times to perforate their tough skins. Dart arrows are favorite for monkeys. The blowpipe (sum-p-tan)[39] is not used. Little game is obtained by the bow and arrow, except when the hunter builds a shelter in a fruit tree and picks off, unseen, such birds as come to feast themselves.

[39] I found a long slender blowpipe all over Mandyaland used for shooting birds, but it is not a very successful weapon, nor is it used in fighting.

"Birdlime," made out of the viscid sap of certain trees, is occasionally used to capture small birds.



As on all occasions, the invocation to the turtledove, the consultation of its cry, and the betel-nut offering to the forest deities of the locality are performed at the outset by the prospective trapper. The omission of the last ceremony might expose him to the danger of being speared by his own trap.

I observed in several districts the use of an ordinary toy magnet,[40] as a charm [41] to insure success in trapping, but I suspect that belief in the efficacy of the magnet was inspired by some inventive trader who wanted to dispose of his magnets with more dispatch and at a bigger gain. The use, however, of magic herbs [42] is said to have been learned from the Mamnuas and is resorted to in the eastern parts of the middle and lower Agsan. I was afforded no information either as to the names or the nature of the herbs used. They are carried around the neck carefully concealed.

[40] B-to bni.

[41] Sm-pa'.

[42] Sin-l-ub.

The male priests and the warrior priests invoke their respective tutelaries before a trapping expedition and the manikiad[43] calls upon the emissary[44] of the war deities. The trapper sets a sign [45] near his house upon his departure. This consists of a bunch of grass or twigs ti'ed to a stick, and is an intimation to passers-by of his absence and of the reason for it. He then sets out for his trapping grounds, but if on the route he meets anyone he must return to the house at least temporarily,[46] for otherwise he would catch nothing in the traps.

[43] A title conferred upon a man who has one or two deaths to his credit. The number depends upon the locality.

[44] This class of spirits is called pan-a-yang.

[45] Ba-li-g.

[46] Manbos claim that the violation of this taboo would bring about a condition that is expressed by the word ma-ka-d-ya; I can not state definitely what this condition is. I never have had a satisfactory explanation.

In his absence the following are a few of the taboos that must be observed:

(1) The trapper's wife must neither do work nor leave the house until his return, or, in case of protracted absence, until sunset.

(2) No one, not even a dog, may enter the trapper's home unless the visitor leaves, or unless there is left for him 011 his departure, an object of personal use, such as his bolo. This is intended as a deposit and will be returned. The dog must be tied till sunset or a similar deposit made for it.

(3) The mention of the words pig and deer must be sedulously avoided, and no one must refer to the purpose of the hunter unless it be in a periphrastic way.

I observed on several trapping expeditions in which I took part, that the trapper built a little offering house [47] near his shelter house, and at first was very regular in his offerings and prayers to the spirit lord of the forest. His religious fervor, however, decreased in direct proportion to the bountifulness with which heaven rewarded his prayers. When he found game becoming scarce, he decided that probably the local forest spirit was displeased, and tried his luck in other parts.

[47] Ba-yui-ba-yui, literally, a little house.



A common method of trapping among the Manbos, more especially practiced during the rainy season, is by the use of the bamboo spear trap that is in very common use throughout the Philippine Islands. Without entering into details, it may be described as a trap in which a spring of bent wood, upon being released, drives a bamboo spear that has been attached to it into the side of a passing pig or deer. The whole apparatus is laid horizontally about 1 foot above the ground, and is carefully concealed. It is a simple contrivance, speedily and cheaply made, and in the rainy season very successful. Accidents to human beings from these traps are rare, due to the keen sight and forest instinct with which the Manbo is endowed. As the pig or deer passes along the trail, it releases the spring and is speared in the side. It is seldom that a wild boar dies on the spot or in the vicinity. It usually has to be tracked for hours and sometimes is never found.


Bamboo caltrops are sharp bamboo slats[49] between 2 and 3 feet long set in the ground, usually at an angle of about 45 in places where the wild boar have to make a descent. It is not a very successful contrivance, as these animals are endowed with such extraordinary sight and scent.

[49] Pa-dg-pa.

The pa-yu-pa-yu trap consists of a set of bamboo slats as described above, set on each side of a pig trail, and of a good-sized log held in a slanting position by a trigger. When released by the boar, the log falls down behind him, and, by the sudden noise, frightens him and causes him to jump into the bamboo spikes.

The pitfall[50] is little used. It consists of a hole large enough for a wild boar or deer, carefully covered so as to deceive the animal. The bottom bristles with sharp bamboo stakes.

[50] Tu-k-bung.

The monkey spring trap[51] is on the style of the bamboo spear trap described above but is much smaller, being set on the branch of a tree without any attempt at concealment. The poor, simple-minded monkey, on catching sight of the bait, walks up innocently, seizes it, and is wounded by the spear. He does not travel far after that, for monkeys succumb quickly to a wound.

[51] P-kis.

An ordinary noose trap [52] consists of a string with a piece of wood bent back and held in position by a trigger. When the trigger is released, the bent piece of wood draws up the noose tight on the bird's leg. It is used for catching wild pigeons, jungle fowl, and other birds.

[52] Lt'-ag.

The circle of nooses [53] is a series of rattan nooses placed around a decoy cock. This bird, by his lusty crowing, challenges his wild fellows to fight. When the fight begins the champion of the woods soon finds his feet enmeshed in the nooses, and within a short time his whole body safely lodged in the trapper's carrying basket.

[53] Ka-l-as.


The Manbo fishes more than he hunts, yet he can by no manner of means be said to be an incessant fisherman. The following are the methods commonly employed for catching fish.


In shooting fish an arrow[54] that has a detachable head is used. The fisherman conceals himself in a tree or on the bank of a stream or lake, and upon spying the fish lets fly a two-pronged arrow which has a steel or iron point.

[54] Bg'-ai.

This method is in universal use in the lake region of the Agsan Valley and in rivers which are too deep for other methods, especially during floods, when the fish roam around over the inundated land. It is ordinarily not attended with great success, three or four fish being an average day's catch. The common catfish, called dalg in Manila, is the ordinary victim, other species being rare victims to the arrow.


The hook[55] is a stout one and is made out of the iron handle of the ordinary kerosene can or out of a piece of brass wire of similar size. It is attached to a substantial abak cord,[56] 45 meters long, more or less. A piece of lead or a stone for sinker and a suitable bait complete the outfit. The fish caught with this apparatus are the swordfish[57] and the sawfish. The fisherman seats himself in his boat or on a sand bank, and with the line tied to his foot or to his arm awaits a bite. He immediately pulls in his victim, never giving him a chance to tire himself out as our fishermen do; Of course the fish is always pulled upstream.

[55] Kaad.

[56] Ha-pn.

[57] Ta-g-han.


[58] Pag-tu-b-han.

Poisoning is a common and successful method of fishing, practiced more frequently on the upper reaches of a river. There are four methods, all of which I have witnessed frequently throughout Manboland.

The tba[59] method.—A quantity of tba varying from one-half to two sacksful is put into a dugout and brought to the spot selected. Everybody comes provided with a fish spear, fishing bow, bolo, boat or raft, and conical traps[60] made for the occasion. The tba is then pounded as it lies in the boat, a little water being added. This process occupies the greater part of an hour, and is a very animated one, everybody being in high hopes of a grand feast. Where there are no boats, the tba is pounded in the rice mortars and brought in bamboo joints to the selected spot.

[59] Tba is the Croton Tiglium or croton-oil tree.

[60] Sn-au.

At a point possibly a mile or more down the stream from the place in which it is decided to cast the poison, the women and girls, aided by a few men, fix their conical traps across the stream so that no large fish may escape. When all is ready the tba is thrown into the river, and everyone dashes downstream with loud exclamations, some in boats, some on rafts, or; where the water is shallow, wading or jumping from rock to rock.

It is some 15 minutes before the poison begins to take effect and then the women and children at the traps may have a busy time removing the fish in order to keep their traps free for the entrance of more. During this time the men and boys scurry around jabbing, hitting, missing, and rushing from side to side with mad shouts of joy and exultation, sometimes two or three after some fine big dazed fish of extra size. Thus they may continue for a few hours if the river is a good sized one and the fish plentiful, for at the beginning a great number of fish probably dart up side creeks, thus escaping from the effects of the poison, and when all the fish in the main stream have fallen a prey, these lurkers must be sought out.

Tba has a deleterious effect on man, producing colic and diarrhea, if taken in fairly strong solution. Yet the fish that die from the effects of it are perfectly harmless in that respect. The famous s-da of the Agsan Valley is the only fish that does not succumb to the effects of this poison.

The tbli method.—The root of the tbli plant is used for poisoning. It is a quicker-acting poison and more universal than the preceding, in the sense that nothing, not even shellfish, escapes its baneful effects. As the plant has to be cultivated, it is obvious that it is not obtainable in large quantities, and for this reason is not used as a rule on the main streams, the quantity available not being sufficient to have an effect. It is used in the same manner as tba.

The lgtag method.—The lgtag is the seed of a tree that is not found in the middle and upper Agsan Valley. I never witnessed the use of this poison on a large scale, due undoubtedly to the absence of it in the middle and upper Agsan. The following was the procedure followed in using it as witnessed by me.

A few handfuls of the seeds are toasted in a frying pan and then pounded in a rice mortar. Then ordinary earthworms, or even the intestines of a bird, are cut into small bits and mixed with the poison. A deep quiet pool in a river or a likely place in a lake is selected and the mixture of worms and lgtag dropped into the water at the edge of the pool. In less than five minutes the minnows and small fish rise to the surface, and begin to circle around giddily. These are followed by the larger ones but it is not an easy undertaking to catch them till they have exhausted themselves in their giddy circles or die in the tall runo grass that grows along the banks.

This poison affects only such fish as eat the worms. People who eat fish caught in this way seem to suffer no ill effects.

There are other vegetable poisons used in killing fish, but I remember only the name of the tree called tiga.


[61] Lngig.

The mass of lakes and channels in the central Agsan dries up into mere pools once a year, or once in a few years, and affords an admirable opportunity for fishing on a large scale. Thousands of people from as far south as Lankilan, and from as far north as Guadalupe, from Los Arcos on the east and from Walo on the west, troop to the lake region in their boats. They bring with them their entire families, a supply of salt, a little rice, if they have it, or the usual substitute (sago and bananas), their earthen pots and pans, and their bolos. Upon arriving at a suitable place, they erect a rude shack and start to work. Wading into the mud and water now half-boiling under a torrid sun, they slash at every fish that by his hurried dash makes known his presence. After the fish have been chased in this manner for some time, some of them bury themselves in the mud, whence they are easily removed with the hand. In this manner a few men may secure hundreds of fish in a few hours, but these are only of two species.[62] Other varieties of fish do not remain in places that dry up to mere ponds. The ha-an are known to leave the torrid water by wriggling up on land and making their way to other water. The fish after being caught are taken to the temporary shack and placed in water[63] until such time as the owners are ready for the cleaning and salting operations.

[62] The s-da or ha-an and pu-yo'-pu-yo.

[63] It is believed that the flesh of fish will harden if they are left in water after being caught.

The heads, except such few as are used for the family meals, are discarded, but the roe and the intestines are carefully preserved as a delicacy. The body is so cut that it can be spread out into one thin piece and then salted, usually in a rather stingy way, about 3.5 liters of salt being used for as many as 90 fish. The fish are then set up on an elevated bamboo frame and left to dry for a whole day or more, according to the strength of the sun.

Though the fishing season is one of the merriest of the year, yet it is a time of work and of stench. It is no unusual thing for the whole family to work till the late hours of the night in order to prevent the fish from putrefying. The odor that prevails where thousands of fish heads—that have not been consumed by the crocodiles that infest the main channels—are rotting under a blazing sun is left to the reader's imagination. The season may last as much as one month and one family may have thousands of dried fish.[64] Ordinarily the lack of salt makes it impossible for any of the Manbos, except those of the better class, to remain long, unless they choose to work for the Bisyas.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse