The Manbos of Mindano - Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIII, First Memoir
by John M. Garvan
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The gong[3] is of the small imported type and is purchased from Bisya traders. As these gongs, when new, have several ornamental triangular figures on the front, the Manbo is taught to value them at as many pesos minus one as the gong has figures. This gives a gong that cost originally about 2 pesos a value of 4 or 5 pesos.

[3] A-gug.

As a musical instrument it is played in combination with the drum. Suspended from something or held up in the hand, it is beaten on the knob with a piece of wood. The general time kept is the same as that kept by the left hand of the drummer. Its constant clanging serves to heighten the animation of the dance.

Both the drum and gong have a certain religious character. They are used in all greater religious celebrations and seem to be a part of the paraphernalia of the priest, for they are nearly always kept in his house.


The flute, unlike the drum and gong, has no religious idea whatsoever associated with it. It is played at the caprice of the tribesman, to while away a weary hour, to amuse the baby, or to entertain a visitor.

The melody produced by it is soft and low, plaintive and melancholy, resembling in general features Chinese music, with its ever recurring and prolonged trill, its sudden rises and falls, and its abrupt endings.

Flutes are not used by women, and not all men have attained a knowledge of them. Here and there one meets a man who is an expert and who is glad to display his skill.

The tunes are said to be suggestive of birds' and animals' cries[4] and seem to be the product of each.

[4] The more common pieces are: Sin-a-gu to bu—da (the roaring of the crocodile), bu-a-b-a to -mo (the monkey scare), and the din-a-go-yu-n.

Flutes are made from the internodes of a variety of bamboo and are of four kinds, depending on the number and position of the fingerholes.

The pandag flute.[5]—The pandag is the commonest form. The joints of the bamboo are cut off and the circumference of the resulting internode is measured accurately with a piece of abak or other fiber. With this for a measure, 16 marks or rings are cut on the segment and at each end beyond the first and last mark, a distance equal to one-half the circumference is marked off, the remainder of the segment being then cut off square at each end. At the eighth mark a hole about 8 millimeters in diameter is cut or burned in the bamboo. The same is done, but on the opposite side, at the ninth, eleventh, twelfth, and fourteenth marks, respectively. The ends are then cut in much the same shape as an ordinary whistle, and the flute, a segment of bamboo about 1 meter long, is ready for use.

[5] Called also pan-dag.

While being played, it is held in a vertical position, the side with the one fingerhole being toward the body of the player. The end with the first mark, that which is farther away from the fingerholes, is placed just under the upper lip. The thumb and middle finger of the right hand control the openings at the eighth and ninth marks, while those at the eleventh and twelfth are covered by the first and middle fingers of the left hand, respectively, the hole at the fourteenth mark being uncovered.

The blowing is performed without effort in the gentlest way possible, as a very slight increase in the force of the breath raises the tone about two octaves.

The to-li flute.—The to-li is an abbreviated form of the flute just described and is made in a similar way, except that only 10 divisions are made, and that on one side two holes are made at the fifth and seventh marks, and on the other at the fourth and sixth openings, respectively. There is no fifth fingerhole. This form of flute is played like the pandag flute, except that the thumb and middle fingers of the right hand cover the fifth and sixth openings, respectively, while the thumb and fourth finger of the left hand control the seventh and eighth openings.

In pitch this form of flute is considerably higher than the previous one but in other respects the music is similar.

The lntui flute,[6]—A flute known as lntui is in existence, but I am not acquainted with the details of it.

[6] Called also yntui.

The s-bai flute.—The s-bai flute differs from the three already mentioned in being a direct flute. The joint at one end of the bamboo is cut off. Seven circumference lengths are then marked off, beginning at the remaining joint, and holes are made at the first (that is, the point), fifth, sixth, and seventh divisions, one or more holes being added in the center between the sixth and seventh divisions. For a mouthpiece, a segment of bamboo about 2 centimeters long is placed over the jointed end of the flute at the first division but in such a way as not to cover completely the opening at that point.

The sound is produced by the breath passing through the opening last mentioned and striking the edge of the aperture that it partially covers.

When played, this form of flute is held in a horizontal position. The point is inserted into the mouth and the three consecutive holes at divisions Nos. 5, 5.5, and 6 are covered by the first, second, and third fingers, respectively, of the right hand.

In pitch this instrument is lower than the other three but in the quality of the music it in no wise differs from them.


The vine-string guitar.—There are two kinds of vine-string guitars, differing only in size and name, as far as I know, so that a description of the smaller one[7] will answer for the larger.[8]

[7] Kd-lug.

[8] Bin-i-j-an.

It varies in length from 1.5 meters to 2 meters.[9] The combined neck and finger board and the hollow boat-shaped sounding box are of one piece. The other part of the guitar is a thin strip of wood with a lozenge-shaped hole in the center, that fits with great accuracy on the bottom of the sounding box. The head is always a scroll, rudely carved into a remote suggestion of a rooster's head, as the name indicates,[10] and two holes are pierced in it for the insertion of the tuning pegs. Along the neck are from 9 to 12 little wooden frets, fastened to the finger board with beeswax. I can give no information as to the rule by which the interfret distances are determined.

[9] Ordinarily the bn-ti or the sa-gu-bd-bad wood is used.

[10] Min-an-k, from manuk, a fowl.

The strings are two in number and extend from the tuning pegs through two holes in the neck and over the finger board and the sounding box to an elevated piece left on the sounding piece. An interesting feature of these strings is that they are the central part or core of a small vine[11] and give out rather sweet tones, though not so loud as catgut.

[11] Bs-lig.

Projecting from the end of the sounding box, and forming one continuous piece with it, is an ornamental piece carved into a semblance of the favorite fowl head.

The guitar is held like guitars the world over, and the playing is performed by twanging the strings with a little plectrum of bamboo or wood.[12]

[12] As to the tuning and modulating of the instrument I can give no information. The matter requires further study.

The quality of the music is soft and melancholy, wholly in minor keys and of no great range, probably not exceeding one octave. As far as I can judge it bears a resemblance to Chinese music. Various tunes are played on both forms of guitar according to the caprice and skill of the performer.[13]

[13] The following are the names of some of the melodies: Di-u-w-ta ko (Oh, my familiar spirit), a-yu-u-yu- (don't, oh, don't), to-lg-it (the sky), i-ka-nug-d, ta-ta-l-bug, pan-in—ug, mi-a-p tin-ig-bs-ai, du-yg-d-yug, ta-ga-ln-dug, tig-ga-sau, ma-s-gud, pa-m-b to ba-ku-ta, da-g-tan.

There are no special occasions for playing this guitar. It is not played by women nor is it used as an accompaniment for singing. The performer takes up the instrument as the whim prompts him and in the semidarkness plays his rude, melancholy tune.

The bamboo string guitar.[14]—The bamboo guitar is made of an internode of one of the larger varieties of bamboo.[15] Five small cylindrical strips are cut along the surface and small wedges of wood are inserted under them at the ends to stretch them and retain them in an elevated position. These strips extend from joint to joint. There are usually two bass strings on one side and three treble strings on the other. Between these treble bass strings is a longitudinal slit in the bamboo joint intended to increase the resonance of the instrument. The strings are at intervals of about 3 centimeters. Two holes are made in the joint walls, the purpose of which is to increase the volume of sound.

[14] Tan-k.

[15] Pa-tg, da-nu-n, kai-ya-an.

The tuning is regulated by the size of the little wedges which impart greater or lesser tension as desired. I understand neither the theory nor the practice of tuning this guitar.

While being played the guitar is held in both hands. The first finger and thumb of the right hand manipulate the bass strings, while the three treble strings are controlled by the other hand.

The weird staccato music produced by this instrument is indescribable. One must hear it and hear it repeatedly in order to appreciate its fantastic melodies.

Both men and women make use of it for secular and, I am inclined to think, for religious motives. During the famous tgud[16] movement (1908-1910) it was used universally in the religious houses, but I was unable to obtain definite information as to its sacred character. In the postnatal ceremony that has been described under "Birth" I observed the use of the instrument on several occasions, but could obtain no further information except that the strains of this primitive guitar are pleasing to Mandit, the tutelary spirit of infants. This point merits further investigation.[17]

[16] A religious movement that sprang up in 1908 and spread itself all over the southeastern quarter of Mindano. (See Chapter XXIX.)

[17] The following are the names of some of the tunes played on the above guitar: ma-s-gud, tm-bid, gam-a-g-mau, pa-ma-y-bui, tig-ba-bau.

The takmbo.—Though classed here as guitar, the takmbo hardly deserves the name. It is a bamboo joint which has one joint wall opened. At the other end beyond the second joint it is so cut as to resemble a miter. Two strings, uplifted from the surface about 4 centimeters apart, and held in an elevated position and at their requisite tension by little wooden wedges placed underneath, form the strings. A lozenge-shaped hole in the center between the strings increases the resonance. The instrument is played by beating the strings with little sticks preferably of bamboo. Two persons may play at one time.

The time observed is the drum rhythm. The sound produced is very faint and unimpressive, and the instrument is of very sporadic occurrence.

The fact that one end is carved in the form of a miter tends to confirm my supposition that this is a purely religious instrument. The carving is supposed to represent the mouth of a crocodile.[18]

[18] This figure is called bin-u—da, or bin-u-w-ya from bu—ya, crocodile.

I was given to understand that this instrument is used in the immolation to the blood-deities in case of hemorrhage and such other illnesses as are accompanied by fluxes of blood. It is said that the instrument is set in a vertical position, the miterlike cutting being upward, and that a part of the victim's blood is placed upon the node as if it were a little saucer. The instrument is then played. I never witnessed the ceremony, nor heard the instrument played, and am not prepared to give credence to the above story till further investigation corroborates it.


[19] K-gut.

I neither saw nor heard this instrument, but my inquiries substantiate the existence of it. The body is said to be of coconut shell with the husk removed. The bow is made of bamboo bent into the form of a defensive bow, to the ends of which are attached several threads of abak fiber that serve as the bowstring. The strings of the violin are two in number and are made of abak fiber.

The violin is said to be played as our violins are by drawing the bow across the strings. It is not played by women, according to reports, nor are there any stated times and reasons, religious or otherwise, for its use.[20]

[20] The names of some of the tunes played are: Pan-un-g-kit, lin-g-tui ka-b-ka, ba-y-bas, pan-ig—bon to ka-b.


[21] Kubg.

Another instrument which is found occasionally in Manboland, is a species of jew's-harp, made out of bamboo. It is a frail instrument made more for a toy than for its musical qualities. It is ordinarily about 26 centimeters long, and consists of a slender piece of bamboo from the central part of which a small tongue about 6 centimeters long is cut. The tongue remains attached at one end, the tip of it being toward the middle of the instrument. On the the reverse side there is a small cavity in the body of the instrument intended to allow sufficient room for the tongue of the harp to move while being played.

The instrument is played by putting the mouth to the above-mentioned cavity and by blowing as we do in an ordinary jew's-harp. The tongue is made to vibrate by tapping with the finger a needlelike spur that is left at the end of the instrument. This vibration, in conjunction with variations of the mouth cavity of the performer, produces tones which are not unlike those of an ordinary jew's-harp but which are not so loud nor so harmonious.


[22] Tam-b-li.

On the upper Agsan I witnessed the use of bamboo stampers. They consist of large bamboo joints with one partition wall removed. They are stamped on the floor in rhythm with the drum and gong during a dance, the open end being held up. The use of these stampers by Manbos is rare, the custom being confined almost exclusively to Maggugans of the upper Agsan and upper Slug Valleys.

Another instrument, but one which can hardly be called musical, is the bamboo horn used for signaling and calling purposes. It consists of an internode of bamboo with one partition wall removed. An opening large enough for the mouth is made on the side of the bamboo near the other node. In using it the mouth is applied to this aperture and a good pair of lungs can produce a loud booming blast. After the occurrence of a death, especially if the deceased has been slain, it is customary to use this instrument as a means of announcing the death to near-by settlements, thereby putting them on their guard against any of the slain one's relatives who might be impelled to take immediate vengeance on the first human being he met.


A method of signaling, much in use among the mixed Manbo-Maggugans of the upper Agsan, consists in beating on the butresses[sic][23] of trees. It is surprising how far the resultant sound travels in the silence and solitude of the forest.

[23] Da-ld.

In connection with musical instruments it may not be out of place to mention the bamboo sounders[24] attached to looms. They are internodes of bamboo with apertures in the joint wall and a longitudinal slit extending almost from node to node. One of these always constitutes the yarn beam of the loom.

[24] Ka-g.

These internodes, besides serving to support the fabric during the process of weaving, denote by their resonance that the weaver is busy at work. The movement of the batten in driving home the weft produces a sound that, owing to the resonance of the bamboo yarn beam may be heard for several hundred meters.

When the Manbo maiden is especially desirous of calling attention to her assiduity and perseverance, she has an extra internode placed in an upright position against the yarn beam just described. This doubles the volume of sound and serves to intimate to visiting young men that she would be an industrious wife.


Singing is as common among the Manbos as among their countrymen of the Christian tribes. The fond mother croons her babe to sleep with a lullaby. In festive hours the song is the vehicle of praise, of joke, of taunt, and of challenge, and in religious celebrations it is the medium through which the priests address their deities.


The language used in singing is so different from the common vernacular that Bisyas and Christianized Manbos who speak and understand perfectly the ordinary dialect of conversation find the language of song unintelligible. I have had several songs dictated to me and found the song words to be plainly archaic. This observation applies also to the song-dialect of Maggugans, Debabons and Mandyas.

As interpreted to me on many occasions, songs are improvisations spun out with endless repetitions of the same ideas in different words. To give an instance, a mountain might be described in the song as a "beauteous hill," a "fair mount," a "lovely eminence," a "beautiful elevation," all depending on the facility with which the maker[25] can use the language. This feature of the song serves to explain its inordinate length, for a song may occupy the greater part of a night, apparently without tiring the audience by its verbose periphrases and its exuberant figures.

[25] Pn-dui, a smith or maker.


The subjects of songs are as varied as those of other nations, but legendary songs, in which the valiant deeds of departed warriors are recounted, seem to be the favorite. As far as I know, the songs are always extemporaneous and not composed of any set form of words and verses.


One must hear the song in order to get an idea of it. In general it is a declamatory solo. The staccatolike way in which the words are sung, the abrupt endings, and the long slurs covering as much as an octave remind one somewhat of Chinese singing. The singer's voice frequently ascends to its highest natural tone and, after dwelling there for from three to six seconds, suddenly slurs down an octave, where it remains playing around three or four consecutive semitones.

There is no choral singing and no accompaniment. No time is observed, the song having wholly the character of a recitation. Neither are there any attempts at rhyming nor at versification. Recurring intervals are the rule.

The music is, in general, of minor tonality and, unless the subject of the song is fighting or doing some other thing that demands loudness, rapidity, and animation, it is of a weird, melancholy character. When, however, the subject of the song requires anything of the spiritoso or veloce, the strain is sung with verve and even furore. It seems to be good etiquette to cover the mouth with the hand when the singer, desiring to add special vigor to the strain, rises to his highest natural pitch and dwells there with an almost deafening prolonged yell.


[26] Td-um.

Sacred songs, as distinguished from secular songs for festive and other occasions, are sung only by the priests and by warrior chiefs. They are supposed to be taught by a special divinity.[27] The remarks that apply to music and singing in general apply to these religious songs. The only difference is that sacred singing is the medium by which the spirits are invoked, supplicated, and propitiated, and by which the doings of the supernatural world are communicated to Manbodom. These ceremonial chants are performed not only during religious celebrations but more commonly at night. The greater part of the night is often worn away with a protracted diffuse narration in which is described, with grandiloquent circumlocution and copious imagery, the doings of the unseen world.

[27] Tu-tu-d-mon no diu-w-ta.


The Manbo dance is somewhat on the style of an Irish jig or a Scotch hornpipe. It is indulged in on nearly all occasions of social and ceremonial celebrations. Though it may be performed at any time of the day if there is a call for it, yet it usually takes place in the evening or at night, and especially after a drinking bout, when the feasters are feeling extra cheerful in their cups. There are no special dance houses in Manboland, the ordinary dwelling place of the host serving the purpose. Whenever the floor is in poor condition (and that is often the case) a mat or two may be spread upon it for the safety of the dancer. This may be done out of respect also.

Though dances are held the year round during all great rejoicings and during the greater sacrificial celebrations, it is during the harvesting season that they are given with greatest frequency.


By the social dance is meant the dance which takes place on an occasion of rejoicing and which is indulged in by men, women, and children, one at a time. It is exceptional that two or more persons dance simultaneously. A striking peculiarity in dancing is the wearing of a woman's skirt by males during the dance. No reason is assigned for the practice except the force of custom. It is customary, also, to array the dancer in all the available wealth of Manboland—waist jacket, hat, necklaces, girdle, hawk bells, and, in case of a female, with brass anklets. Two kerchiefs, held by the corner, one in each hand, complete the array. No flowers nor leaves are used in the decoration of the person during dancing.

The drum, and when it is available, the gong are the only musical accompaniments to the dancing. When these are lacking an old tin can, if such a thing by some good luck has made its way into the house, answers the purpose of a musical instrument. Even the floor is sometimes beaten to produce an accompaniment for the dance. On the upper Agsan bamboo stampers are occasionally used, in imitation of Maggugan custom, to impart more animation to the dance.

The dance is never accompanied by vocal music unless the constant scream of approbation and encouragement from the spectators be included under that term.

The time to which the dancing is performed is the same as that described under "the drum" at the beginning of this chapter. It corresponds somewhat to that of our waltz when played presto, although the movements of the feet do not correspond to those of that dance.

The dancer names the rhythm he desires and it is the rule, rather than the exception, that several starts are made, and several drummers tried before a good dancer feels satisfied with the method of playing. This is an indication of the excellent ear which the Manbo has developed for this apparently rude and primitive form of music.

The women in dancing are more gentle in their manner than the men; they make fewer bending motions and do not posture so much. In other respects the dancing of the men and women is identical.

The step may be called dactyllic[28] in that a long or accented beat is struck with one foot and, in immediate succession, two quick short steps are taken with the other. This is varied at recurring intervals by omitting the two short steps, especially in mimetic or dramatic dances when the dancer desires to return to the center or to execute some extra evolution.

[28] A term borrowed from Latin and Greek versification.

To give a satisfactory description of the attitude and movements of the dancer is impossible, as the skill and grace of the dance consists essentially in postures and gestures, and each individual has his own variations and combination. In fact no two men dance alike, though the women are much alike in their style of dancing, due to the fact that they bend the body and gesticulate comparatively little and that they display less force and exertion. Suffice it to say that the dancer moves his feet in perfect time to the rhythm of the drum and gong, at the same time keeping the arms, hands, fingers, head, and shoulders in constant movement. Now one hand is laid upon the hip while the other is extended upward and at an oblique angle from the shoulder. Again both hands are placed upon the hips and the dancer trips around a few times when suddenly turning, he retires hastily, but in perfect time, with both arms extended upwards and at an angle from the shoulders, the two kerchiefs waving all the time to the movements of the body. During all his movements the arms, hands, and fingers are twisted and turned with graceful and varied, but measured, modulation. Now he raises one shoulder and then another. Now he gazes up with a look of defiance upon his countenance, as if at some imaginary foe, and then down, as if in quest of something. At one time he stops and gently moves his feet to the rhythm of the music for several seconds, at another he circles around with uplifted arms and flying kerchiefs, and scurries to the other end of the dancing space, as if pursued by some foeman. At this point he may circle around again and, the music of the drum and gong surging loud, stamp defiance as if at an imaginary enemy, in measured beat and with quick, wild movements of the legs and the whole body.

And thus the dance goes on, now slow, now fast, now stately, now grotesque, the feet pounding the floor in regular and exact time to the music, and every part of the body moving, according to the whim of the dancer, with graceful and expressive modulation.

The whole dance requires great exertion, as is evidenced by the perspiration that appears upon the dancer's body after a few minutes. For this reason, a dancer rarely continues for more than ten minutes. He names his successor by dancing up to him, and putting the kerchiefs on his shoulders. The appointee nearly always excuses himself on the plea that he does not know how to dance, that his foot is sore, or with some other excuse, but finally yields to the screams of request and exhortation from the encircling spectators.

One who has witnessed a Manbo dance at night by the flare of fire and torch will not forget the scene. Squatted around in the semidarkness are the russet figures of the merry, primitive spectators, lit up by the flickering glare of the unsteady light, the children usually naked, and the men having frequently bared the upper parts of their bodies. In the center circles the dancer with his wealth of ornaments, advancing, retreating, and posturing. The drum booms, the gong clangs, and the dancer pounds the floor in rhythm. The jingle bells and the wire anklets of the dancer tinkle. The spectators scream in exultation, encouragement, and approval. The dogs add to the pandemonium by an occasional canine chorus of their own, which coupled with the crying of the babies and several other incidental sounds, serves to enhance the rejoicing and to add eclat to the celebration.


Unlike the secular dance just described, the sacred dance is performed exclusively by the male and female priests and by the warrior chiefs of the tribes. It may be performed either in the house or out on the ground, according to the place selected for the sacrifice. In the case of the sacrifice of a pig, the dance and its accompanying rites are always performed out of doors near the house of one of the priests.

The dress of the priests is always as elaborate as possible, as in ordinary festive dancing. Their various portable charms and talismans are always worn around the neck and, instead of kerchiefs being held in the hands, palm fronds[29] are used, one in each hand.

[29] Ma-yn-hau.

The music is similar to that described for the ordinary dance, and the step and movements are identical except that the dance is more moderate, there being no attempt at grotesque or fantastic movements. As it is usually performed before an altar, a mat is spread upon the floor, so that the dancing range is limited. In general, the sacred dance presents, in its simplicity and its lack of violent contortions, rapid motions, and gestures, an element of respect and religious quietude that is not observed in secular dancing. The encircling spectators do not indulge in such unseemly acclamations, though it may be remarked that they assume no posture indicative of religious worship, for they continue to talk among themselves and to indulge in the ordinary occupation of betel-nut chewing, leaving the performance of the dance and the attendant ceremonies to the priests, whose profession it is to attend to such matters.

The dance is performed either consecutively or simultaneously by the priests but is interrupted occasionally by other rites proper to the ceremony.[30]

[30] See Chapter XXVI.


Mimetic dances in no wise differ from the ordinary festal dancing except that they are a pantomimic representation, by gestures, by postures, and by mimicry of some feature of Manbo life. So far as I know these dances are never performed by women.

Mimetic dances are very popular in Manboland, and visitors whom it is desired to honor, are often treated, without solicitation on their part, to a series of these performances. They often contain an element of what we would call lasciviousness, but to the Manbo they merely represent ordinary natural acts. The following are some of the mimetic dances which I have witnessed.

The bathing dance.—The dancer gyrates and pirouettes in the ordinary style for several minutes when, by a bending movement, he intimates the picking up of some heavy object. He simulates placing this on his shoulder and then imitates a woman's walk, indicating thereby that he is a woman and that he is going either to get water or take a bath. All this, as well as subsequent representations, are performed in perfect time to the music. By a slow movement and with many a backward glance to see whether he is being watched, he reaches the end of the dancing place which evidently represents the stream for he goes through a pantomimic drinking. He then cautiously and after repeated backward glances, divests himself of all his clothes, and begins the bathing operations. He is frequently interrupted, and upon the supposed appearance of a person presumably a male, he indicates that he has to resume his skirt. The operation of washing the hair and other parts of the body are portrayed with appropriate gestures and movements, as are also the resuming of his dress and the return to the house with a bamboo tubeful of water.

The dagger or sword dance.—This dance is performed only by men, two of whom may take part in it at the same time. It consists in portraying a quarrel between them, the weapon used being either the Mandya dagger, as on the upper Agsan, or the ordinary war bolo, as in the central and lower Agsan. Appropriate flourishes, parries, lunges, foils, advances, and retreats, all extremely graceful and skillful, are depicted just as if a real encounter were taking place.

The apian dance.—This is a dramatic representation of the robbing of a bee's nest. The gathering of the materials and the formation of them into a firebrand, the lighting of it, and the ascent of the tree, are all danced out to perfection. A striking part of the pantomine is the apparently fierce stinging the robber undergoes, especially on certain parts of his body.[31]

[31] The pubic region is referred to.

This part of the performance always draws screams of laughter from the spectators. The whole ends with a vivid but very comic representation of the avid consumption of the honey and beebread.

The depilation dance.—This is an illustration, by dancing movements, of the eradication of hair especially in the pubic region. The dancer, indicating by continual glances that he is afraid of being seen, simulates the depilation of the pubic hair. The pain thereby inflicted he manifests by the most comic contortions of his face.[32]

[32] Though depilation of the pubic region is represented in dancing, I do not know positively that it takes place in reality.

The sexual dance.—This is a dramatic representation of sexual intercourse on the part of one who apparently has made no overtures or any previous arrangements with the object of his desire. He is supposed to enter the house and approach the recumbent object of his love (in this case represented by a piece of wood or of bamboo) in a timorous, stealthy way. A hand to the ear intimates that he thinks he hears some one approaching. He therefore retires a little distance, and after reassuring himself that all is well, proceeds to attain his object. It is only after protracted circling, approaching, and retiring, that he simulates the attainment of his desire. No indications of bashfulness nor delicacy are exhibited, by the female spectators.[33]

[33] I have been informed that sexual relations between a hen and a rooster form the main feature of another mimetic dance.

The war dance.—The war dance is performed outside of the house on the ground by one man alone or by two men simultaneously. The dancer is attired in full festive array with hat and red turban, and is armed with lance, war bolo, and shield.

The accompaniment to the dance is the drum, but both the rhythm executed on it and the step performed by the dancer baffled description. Suffice it to say that the music is a continuous roll tattooed by two expert players, one at each end of the drum. The dancer keeps his feet moving with the greatest conceivable velocity in perfect unison to the rhythm which gives one the general impression of a rapid two-step. The movement of the feet reminds one of the movements made by a rooster or a turkey cock at times. The nodding of the head of the dancer is also similar to that of a game-cock before a fight.

As the dance is supposed to represent an encounter and harid-to-hand fight, all the movements of advancing and retreating, thrusting and parrying are displayed. The combatants move around in circles, now approaching, now receding, always under the protection of the shield. They gaze savagely at each other, now over the shield, now at the side, constantly sticking out their tongues at each other much as a snake does. At times they place a heel in the ground with upraised foot, and with the knee placed against the shield, and lance poised horizontally above the shoulder, make rapid darts at each other. Every once in a while they kneel down on one leg behind their shields and with rapid movements of the head and spear look defiance at each other. During all the movements of the dance the spear is held horizontally and is thrust forward rapidly. The shoulders are constantly moved up and down, and the shield follows this movement, all being in perfect time to the rapid roll of the drum.

The dance ordinarily does not last more than five minutes as the extreme exertion and rapidity of movement soon tire the dancer. It is a magnificent display of warlike skill and of physical agility and endurance.





Manboland, with the exception of such settlements as have been formed by non-Christian Manbos in the vicinity of Christian settlements and usually situated at the head of navigation on the tributaries of the Agsan, is divided into districts, well defined, and, in case of hostility, jealously and vigilantly guarded. These territorial divisions vary in extent from a few square miles to immense tracts of forest and are usually bounded by rivers and streams or by mountains and other natural landmarks. Each of these districts is occupied by a clan that consists of a nominal superior with his family, sons-in-law, and such other of his relatives as may have decided to live within the district. They may number only 20 souls and again they may reach a few hundred.


In the main it may be said that in time of peace the members of the various clans live on good terms, visiting one another and claiming relationship with one another, but peace in Manboland was formerly very transitory. A drunken brawl might stir up bad blood and every clan and every individual would make ready for a fight.

The Agsan Valley was styled by Montano, the French traveler, "Le pais de terreur," and from the accounts given to me it must have deserved the name. A perusal of the "Cartas de los PP. de la Compaia de Jesus," which set forth the religious conquest of the Agsan Valley, begun about 1875, will give an idea of the continuous raids and ambuscades that interfered to no inconsiderable extent with the work of Christian conquest undertaken by the missionaries. Upon my arrival in the Agsan in 1905 such rivers as the Ihawn, the Babo, the upper Umaam, the upper Argwan, and all tributaries of the upper Agsan, were seldom visited by any but members of the clan to whose territorial jurisdiction these rivers and the adjoining districts belonged. The establishment of a special form of government on the lower and middle Agsan, now known as the subprovince of Butun, did wonders toward repressing the interclan raids, but on the upper Agsan they continued at least until my departure in 1910, though not to such an extent as in previous years.

For example, in February, 1910, the settlements of Dugmnon and Moncyo were in open hostility. I traveled both by land and water with members of the two unfriendly clans. In traveling by water it was necessary to proceed in midstream with shields protecting the occupants of the canoe against the arrows of their enemies. On the trail it was imperative to travel in bodies with a warrior on each side of the trail to guard against ambush.

This feud arose out of a mere bagatelle, followed by the seizure of a pig, and up to the time I left the region had given rise to four deaths. I made every effort to adjudicate the case, but as each clan seemed unwilling to yield, failed to bring the parties together.



It may be said in general that the chief is a man who, by his fluency of speech and by his penetration and sagacity in unraveling the intricate points of a dispute, by his personal prowess, combined with sagacity and fair dealing, has won influence. Personal prowess appeals to the Manbo, so that in time of hostility the warrior chief is looked up to more than any man who in time of peace might have enjoyed more influence and prestige.

It must be borne in mind that the whole political organization of Manboland, including the system of government, social control, and administration of justice, is essentially patriarchal, so that the chieftainship is really only a nominal one. The very entity of a clan springs from the kinship of its individual members, and, as in a family, the stronger or abler brother might be selected on a given occasion to represent, defend, or otherwise uphold the family, so in a Manbo clan or sect the stronger or the wiser member is recognized as chief. However, he can not lay claim to any legal authority nor use any coercion unless it is sanctioned by the more influential members of the clan, is approved by public opinion, and is in conformity with customary law and tribal practices, for there is no people that I know of that is so tenacious and so jealous of ancient usages as the Manbos of eastern Mindano.


Besides the titles applied to warrior chiefs and to priests, there is no title that is in common use to express the influence and authority wielded by any individual. It is not infrequent to hear of so-and-so being spoken of as a datu by the Bisyas of the Agsan Valley, but the title is not used by Manbos, but only by the Banuon group inhabiting the northwestern part of the valley or by Bisyas when they desire to cajole their Manbo friends. The term kulno is sometimes used by the Bisyas, but as far as my knowledge goes is not used by Manbos. It is in all probability a form of the word kulno that is applied, I think, to Bukdnon chiefs in the subprovince of Bukdnon. The fact that no titles appear to exist for influential men except that of warrior chief and of priest is an indication of the inferiority of the Manbo to the Mandya in tribal organization.[1]

[1] In Mandya a very influential chief is styled -ri—ri, a kind of petty king, and the elder of a settlement or even of an individual house has a special name, significative of influence and of respect, to wit, ma-t-dug.

There is no hereditary chieftainship, though a warrior chief makes earnest endeavors to instill the spirit of valor into his first born male child from the time he attains the use of reason. No insignia are worn except by the warrior chief and the recognized warrior[2] to denote the influence that they exert in the tribe or in the clan. Perfect equality is conspicuous in nearly all things. The chief or the warrior chief sallies forth, often in company with his slaves, and takes part in fishing and in hunting expeditions. On the trail he may carry his own share of the burden if he has been unable to induce others to take it. I have had warrior chiefs, priests, and other influential people many a time act as my carriers, but, of course, out of courtesy and respect, had to allow them more in the way of recompense than was given to those of lesser importance. The chief has no subordinate officers, no heralds, and no assembly house. He lives in his own house and when any trouble arises he settles it, in company with other influential men, either at his own house or at any other house to which it may have been deemed expedient to repair. Hence we may say that little or no formal demonstration of respect is shown a chief. He is a Manbo of more than usual ability, of strong character, quick to discover the intricacies of an involved question, facile of tongue, loved for his hospitality and generous nature, more frequently better provided with worldly goods than his fellow clansmen, and as a rule with a reputation for fair dealing. Such are, in general, the sources of the respect that gives him a moral weight in the arbitration of clan troubles or even of tribal concerns when no hostility reigns.

[2] Ma-ni-ki-d.

I have never heard among the Manbos of any special celebration in which a chief, other than a warrior chief, is formally recognized. He seems to grow gradually into recognition, just as one brother of a family may, after years of demonstrated ability, be looked up to by the rest of the family.


Although the chiefs almost invariably look upon other men of the tribe as their equals and show no affectation because of their position, yet by those who come in contact with them a certain amount of respect is shown. This is especially true in the great social and religious gatherings and on the visit of a chief to another house. Here he gets an extra supply of pork and of brew and of everything that is being distributed.

From what has been said in a previous part of this monograph it is obvious that women play no part in the control of public affairs. There are no female chiefs. Women are domestic chattels relegated to the house and to the farm. There is a common saying that women have no tribunal—that is, are not fitted to take part in public discussions—the reference being to the town hall of the Spanish regime. Yet I know of one woman, Sinpi by name, who travels around like a chief and through her influence arbitrates questions that the more influential men of the region are unable to settle. She lives on the Simlao River, just above the settlement of San Isidro, and is without doubt the individual of most influence on the upper Simlao and Bahaan. In the Jesuit letters mention is made of one Pnkai who had great weight among her fellow tribesmen of the Argwan River.

Ceteris peribus, the word and authority of the old are respected more than those of others, probably because the former have more numerous relatives, including often their great-grandsons and great-granddaughters, as well as the indefinite number of relatives by marriage that have joined the family since their first sons or their first daughters married. When, however, they reach the age at which they can no longer travel around and take part in the numerous imbroglios and disputes that arise their influence is much less. This, it seems, is one of the great differences between the social system of the Mandyas and that of the Manbos and will explain the greater constancy and stability of the Mandya character as compared with that of the Manbo.


[3] Ba-g-ni from ba-r-ni (Malay), valiant.

The sword in Manboland, as in all other parts of the world, is the final arbiter when conciliation fails. Hence the prominent part played by the warrior chief in time of war and frequently in time of peace. For this reason it becomes necessary to discuss at more length the powers, prerogatives, and character of the warrior chief.


The general character of the warrior chief is, among all the tribes of the Agsan Valley, that of a warrior who has to his credit an average of five deaths. As such deaths are attributed primarily to the special protection of divinities, called Tagbsau, who delight in the shedding of blood, the chief is regarded in the light of a priest in all that concerns war in somewhat the same way as the bailn or ordinary priest, under the protection of his familiars of tutelary spirits, is expected to officiate in all ordinary religious matters. To the priestly office of the warrior chief is added that of magician to the extent that he can safeguard himself and his friends with magic means against the evil designs of his enemies. Finally, in a country where there is no supremely constituted authority with sufficient force to remedy grievances, but only personal valor and the lance and the bolo to appeal to, it may be expected that in the majority of cases the warrior will assume a fourth prerogative, namely, that of chief. Thus the warrior chief will be considered heir in his warlike character of warrior, in his magic character as medicine man, and finally in his political character as chief.

The Christian conquest of the Agsan Valley, begun in 1877, and the establishment of a special form of government therein in 1907, have contributed in no small measure to diminish the number of feuds and bloody reprisals that had given the Agsan Valley its reputation as "the country of terror," and as a consequence leave little opportunity for the recognition of new warriors. Thus it is that at the present day the ancient system is fast fading away, and it is only a matter of years before the warrior chief will be a thing of the past.


As a person of recognized prowess, the warrior chief is naturally the leader in all warlike expeditions, and in time of peace he is looked up to as the future defender of the settlement in which he resides.

Red is the distinguishing mark of the war chief's dress, which ordinarily consists of a red headkerchief with embroidery of white, blue, and yellow cotton at the corners, of a red jacket with similar embroidery on the shoulders and around the back, and of long trousers, sometimes red. His bolo is usually larger and more costly than those carried by ordinary men and is generally of Mandya origin. His spear, too, is apt to be an expensive one, while his shield not infrequently is tufted with human hair. When leading his band of braves to the attack or during a sacrifice to his protector, the Tagbsau, he wears his charm-collar[4] with its magic herbs.[5] On the warpath he binds his hair knot securely and envelops it with a rough hewn hemisphere of wood. His influence in arranging all the details of the plan of attack is strong, but during the attack itself he has little control over his followers.[6] This might be expected from the spirit of independence which the Manbo displays even in the ordinary affairs of life when not influenced by religious or other motives.

[4] Ta-li-hn.

[5] These collars are often as thick as a man's arm in the center, tapering down to the ends. They are about 75 centimeters long, made out of cloth, and contain in sections charms made of trees, plants, herbs, and bezoar and other magic stones, all thought to have divers mystic powers.

[6] So I have been assured by many great warriors.

In personal valor the warrior chief invariably surpasses his fellows. There are many who will fight face to face, especially in the upper Slug, Babo, Ihawn, and Agsan regions. Lno and his brother, the late Gnlas, both of the upper Slug, are two of the numerous examples that might be adduced. It is true that they take no inordinate risks before an attack, and especially where firearms are opposed to them, yet during an attack they become desperate and will take any risk.

The warrior has often been branded as a traitor, a coward, and butcher, but such an opinion, I unhesitatingly assert, is based on ignorance and prejudice.


When one of the braves who accompany an expedition has killed one or two men in fair fight he acquires the title of manikid and is entitled to wear a headkerchief striped with red and yellow. His prowess is acknowledged, and he is considered to be so favored by the powers above that he is looked upon as a prospective bagni or warrior chief. If during ensuing expeditions, or by ambushes, he increases to five[7] the number of people whom he has killed, his position as a full-fledged warrior is recognized, but he does not become a warrior chief until such time as the spirits of the gods of war become manifested in him. He is then said to be possessed,[8] as it were, and it requires only a banquet to the neighboring datus and warrior chiefs to confirm his title. These peculiar operations of divine influence consist of manifestations of indescribable violence during the attack, of eating the heart and liver of a slain enemy, and of various other exhibitions.

[7] The number of killings required for promotion to the rank of bagni, or recognized warrior, varies according to the locality.

[8] Tag-bu-sau-n.


The rank of a warrior chief depends on the number of deaths which he may have to his credit. There is apparently no fixed rule in this matter, the custom of one region demanding five deaths for a certain rank while that of another locality may require eight or only two deaths for a similar one. From all reports made to me in nearly every district in the middle and upper Agsan it appears that the number of deaths requisite in the olden days for the various degrees of warrior chiefship was much higher than it is at present, due no doubt to the greater frequency with which people were killed in those times. For this reason the more recent warrior chiefs are spoken of by the older warriors as worthless.[9]

[9] A-yo—yo.

The following are the titles recognized by the Manbos of the Agsan valley: (1) hangan; (2) tinabudn;[10] (3) kinaboan; (4) lto or linambsan; (5) lungum; (6) lpus.

[10] Tinabudn, i. e., wrapped, the full expression being "tinabudn to tabag," i. e., wrapped with a red handkerchief.

The first title, hangan, is given to one who has killed five or more people but has not yet been admitted to the full favor of a tagbsau or blood spirit. The second title, tinabudn, is given to a warrior who has made it evident that he has divine favor and protection, made manifest in the consumption of the heart and the liver, and who falls into a condition similar to that of the priest while in an ecstasy. The insignia of this degree consists of a red kerchief worn wrapped around the hair knot at the back of the head.

The third degree, kinaboan, as the word itself indicates,[11] entitles the bearer to add to his apparel a red jacket. Accounts are so various that the exact time when this title is conferred can not be definitely stated. Thus in Umaam I was given to understand that 25 deaths were a sine qua non, whereas on the Kasilaan River 6, and on the Slug 7 deaths were reported as sufficient.

[11] From k-bo, a jacket.

The fourth title, lto, by its derivation means "cooked," "done," "finished," so that on attaining this degree a warrior is complete, at least as far as his raiment is concerned, for he adds a pair of red trousers. Though the number of deaths requisite for the attainment of this degree is variously stated as being from 50 to 100, yet I suggest 15 as being, on the average, nearer the truth. The next degree, lungum, as the word indicates, entitles the bearer to dress himself all in black. It is a title acquired fortuitously, being given to one who during an attack happened to lance unknowingly a dead man in the house of the enemy. I can offer no further information on the point, except that the recipient of this title must have been already a recognized warrior. It seems probable that when a man commits such an act on a dead man he is believed to be especially favored by the war gods.

The warrior chief who acquires the last title, lpus, is supposed to have innumerable deaths to his credit, but I venture to put 50 as a safe standard of eligibility to this title. Fifty deaths extending over a period of many years, and recounted with such additions as a little vanity and a wine-flushed head might suggest, might easily be converted into infinity. I know of no living warrior chief who bears the title of lpus. Twenty-five deaths is the largest number reached by any warrior with whom I am acquainted. The famous Lno of Slug and his brother the defunct Gnlas, reached this rank.


It may be said that in nearly every case the warrior chief is the chief of the clan or settlement. As a man of proved prowess, of sufficient age, and with a good family following he is nearly always recognized as the only one competent to deal with all cases that may come up between his retainers and those of some other chief. Thus it may be said that the Manbo political system is a patriarchal one in which an elder member of a family, through the respect due to his personal prowess, age, and following, and not through any legal or hereditary sanction adjudges such matters of dispute as inevitably arise between his followers and those of some one else. The system is based on custom and is carried out in a spirit of great fairness and equality.

The territory over which the warrior chief extends his sway is recognized as being the collective ancestral property of the settlement. In time of war no one except a relative is permitted to enter it under the penalty of death, but in time of peace it lies open to all friendly fellow tribesmen. Such matters, however, as fish poisoning[12] and hunting by aliens are always interdicted.

[12] Pag-tu-b-han.

Over this territory, usually occupying miles and miles of virgin forest, lofty mountain, and fair valley, are scattered the dependents and relatives of the warrior. It is only in times of trouble or of expected attack that they build high houses for purposes of defense in closer proximity to the chief. These settlements number between 20 and 200 souls, the former number being nearer the average than the latter.

The attitude of the followers toward their chief is in time of peace one of kinship feeling or one of indifference. He has practically no authority until called upon in time of trouble to lend the weight of his influence and the fame of his prowess. He collects no tribute and receives no services. In every respect he does as his lowest retainer does, hunts, fishes, etc., except that he travels more to visit friendly neighboring chiefs, who always receive him as a guest of honor and feast him when they have the wherewithal.

Various grades of chiefs are occasionally reported, such as kuyno,[13] masikmpo,[14] and dtu but such grades do not exist. These names have probably been conferred by mercenary Bisyas for commercial reasons and are not assumed by Manbos even for purposes of ostentation.

[13] Kulno, a title applied, I think, to Moros of the Rio Grande of Mindano, and used, I have heard, by the Banuons.

[14] Maestre de Campo—i. e., field marshal—was a title given by the Spaniards to faithful Bukdnon chiefs.

The warrior chief is in almost every case the person of greatest influence and authority, both by reason of his position in the family and because of the prestige of his valor. In a country where the bolo and lance are final arbiters when all else has failed the warrior must of necessity be chief or be a person of very marked influence. If he is not recognized as such, he generally removes himself with as many as will or must follow to another locality, and there he becomes chief.

Nothing said here is intended to apply to the political organization of the Christianized Manbos, or conquistas into settlements under the special government of the Agsan Province. My remarks are confined exclusively to the pagan people.


The reader is referred to the second part of Chapter XXIV, Part IV, for a detailed account of the functions and prerogatives of the warrior chief in his capacity as priest. For the present we will pass on to consider him in his role of medicine man, summarizing briefly his magic methods for the cure of various ailments ascribed to supernatural agency.

As to the warrior's knowledge and powers in both capacities, I have always found the many warrior chiefs with whom I have come in contact very reticent and have accordingly been unable to secure detailed information on this subject. It is beyond a doubt, however, that great powers are attributed to them both in causing and curing certain ailments.

It may be said that any disease attributed to the displeasure of the blood spirits falls within their jurisdiction as priests and may be cured by a sacrifice or by other ceremonial methods. As a general rule they are supposed to have a knowledge of various magic and medicinal herbs. They are always the possessors of necklaces,[15] to which are attributed such powers as those of imparting invisibility and invulnerability. These peculiar charms, as well as numerous herbs, roots, and other things possessing magic power for good and for evil, are often bound up in the charm collars and can not be seen. Nothing will prevail upon the owner to declare even their names. After opening the breast of the slain enemies they dip these mystic collars in the blood and thereby, through the instrumentality of their blood spirits, impart to the collars greater potency.

[15] Ta-li-hn.

Hemorrhages and all wounds or other troubles in which a flux of blood appears are thought to emanate from the desire of the familiars of the warrior priests for blood. Hence he is called upon to make intercession and to propitiate[16] these bloodthirsty spirits with the sacrifice of a pig or fowl. After the pig has been killed, a little of the blood is caught in a split bamboo receptacle,[17] which is then hung up in the house with the blood left in it for the regalement of these insatiate spirits.

[16] D-yo to tag-bsau.

[17] Bin-u-k.

Besides curative means the warrior medicine man is said to have secret means of causing bodily harm to those against whom he feels a grievance. These means are called kometn and have been described in Chapter XV. It is true that others are reputed to have these secret magic means, but none except the warrior priest will make open confession of their reputed powers.




There exists no military organization in Manboland, no standing army, no reviews, no conscription. The whole male circle of relatives and such others as desire to take part, either for friendship's sake or for the glory and spoil, form the war party. There is no punishment for failure to join an expedition but as blood is thicker than water, the nearer male relatives always take part and there are never wanting others who either bear a grudge against the author of the grievance or go for the emolument that they may receive or even for the sport and the spoil of it. It is customary to bring along such male slaves as may be depended upon to render faithful and efficient work. It is only fear of incurring enmity that holds back the majority of those who do not take part. I here desire, to impress upon my readers one important point in the Manbo's idea of war, and it is this: That no blame is laid upon nor resentment harbored toward anyone who joins an expedition as a paid warrior.[1] I have ascertained beyond reasonable doubt, after continual questioning on my part and open unsolicited avowals on the part of others, that warrior chiefs are frequently paid to redress a wrong in which they have no personal concern.

[1] Sin-n-ho.

In the case of ordinary tribesmen, I know that where personal feelings and the hope of material advantages are not an inducement to partake in the expedition, they are frequently tempted with an offer of some such thing as a fine bolo or a lance, to lend their services to the leader of the war party. It is needless to say that only close ties of friendship or relationship to the enemy prevent the offer from being accepted, especially as the acceptance of it relieves the Manbo from all responsibility for such deaths as may accrue to his credit during the prospective encounter. When, however, previous feuds, or other unfriendly antecedents existed between the warrior and his opponent, the acceptance of a remuneration for his participation in the fray would not shield him from the dire vengeance that would, sooner or later, surely follow.

For a description of the weapons used and of the manner of using them, the reader is referred to Chapter XI.

In the description of the Manbo house (Chapter V), reference was made to the high houses erected for defense when an unusual attack is expected. Tree houses, at the time I left the valley, were very few and far between, even in the eastern Cordillera and at the headwaters of the Tgo River.

Besides building high houses and resorting to devices referred to in Chapter V, the Manbos occasionally slash down the surrounding forest in such a way as to form a veritable abatis of timber.

In one place I saw a very unique and effective form of defense. A fence surrounded the house. To gain access to the latter it was necessary to ascend a notched pole about 2 meters high and then to pass along two horizontal bamboo poles about 10 meters long. Numerous deadly bamboo caltrops bristled out of the ground underneath the precarious bamboo bridge that led to a platform whence the house could be reached only by climbing the usual notched pole. Whosoever ventured to cross this perilous bridge, would certainly meet death from one source or another, either from the hurtling shower of arrows from above or from the bristling caltrops below.


Fighting arises from one or more of the following causes: Vendettas, sexual infringements, debts, and sometimes from a system of private seizure, by which the property or life of an innocent third party is taken. The Manbo expresses the same thing in a simpler way by saying that war has its origin in two things, namely "debt (blood debt included) and deceit." It has been said that glory and the capture of slaves are the springs of war in Manboland, but this, in my opinion, is not true. Nor will I concede that war is undertaken for merely religious reasons. It is my belief, verified by numerous observations made during several years of intimate dealing with Manbos throughout eastern Mindano, that fighting or killing takes place in order to redress a wrong or to collect a debt, whether it be of blood or of anything else. It is true that many who have no grievance, take part merely for the sport, the spoil, and the glory of it, but in no case that I know of was there wanting on the part of those who inaugurated the war a real and reasonable motive. I have heard of cases of unjust warfare but my informants were enemies of the parties against whom they complained and most probably were calumniating them.


Vendettas, which exist in many more enlightened countries of the world, are the most common cause of war, or it would be better to say, of the continuance of war.

There is no doubt, in my mind, but that the whole eastern quarter of Mindano would flame out into interclan warfare, were it not for the efficient form of government now established there. I can bear witness to this fact, as I was cognizant of various raids that took place from 1905 to 1907 and of the fact that they were much less frequent from the close of 1907 till my departure from the Agsan Valley in 1910.

As in other countries, so in Manboland, not only is the vendetta regarded as legitimate but it is considered the duty of every relative of the slain to seek revenge for his death. Living in a state of absolute independence from the restraints of outside government, as they had been up to the beginning of the Christian conquest in 1877, the Manbos, according to their own accounts, passed a very unquiet existence. On account of blood feuds, most of them lived in tree houses built in lofty inaccessible places, as I have been repeatedly told by old men. I have been assured that if ever the Americans leave the valley, old blood scores will be settled, even should it be necessary "to do without salt."[2]

[2] The enjoyment of salt seems to be, in the Manbo's estimation, one of the greatest blessings, if not the greatest, that he has derived from civilization. Yet he would be willing to forego the use of it, if it were possible for him to take revenge upon the slayers of his relatives.

The vendetta system was so prevalent during my first travels in eastern Mindano that on one occasion a Manbo of the Tgo River inquired of me whether there were any living relatives of a certain Manbo of the upper Argwan who had killed his grandfather. Upon learning that there were, he forthwith besought me to accompany him in a raid against the relatives of his grandfather's murderers.

Another instance will show the persistency with which the idea of revenge is entertained. I noticed in a house on the W-wa River a strong rattan vine strung taut from a rafter to one of the floor joists. My host, the owner of the house, waxed over-merry in his cups and was descanting on his valiant feats in the pre-American days. He suddenly jumped up and twanged the rattan, intimating that he might yet be able to take revenge on a certain enemy of his but that if he were unable to do it, his son after him would strive to fulfill his teaching and that in any case vengeance would be had before the vine rotted. Anyone familiar with the rattan knows its durability, when protected from the influences of the sun and rain.

This practice of stretching a green rattan in some part of the house and of vowing vengeance "till it rot" is not uncommon, and is an indication of the deep, eternal desire for vengeance so characteristic of the Manbos.

Another practice, also indicative of the vendetta system, is the bequeathing from father to son[3] of the duty of seeking revenge. I have never been present at the ceremony but have heard over and over again that so-and-so received the inheritance and must endeavor to carry out the dying behest of his father or other relative. One man, who had received this "teaching," on being questioned as to whether he would like to make peace with his enemy, seemed shocked and vehemently protested, saying, "It can't be done, it can't be done, it is tabooed;" he then went on to upbraid me soundly for the suggestion.

[3] It is called ka-tud-li-n.

In some cases, the task of revenge is turned over to a third party, who has no personal interest in the feud. As explained to me, such a person is in a better position to attack the enemy than one whose duty it is. In case he succeeds in getting revenge, no blame, I was assured, is attached to him, as he is regarded in the light of a paid warrior or mercenary. Such an institution as this of the vendetta together with the system of private seizure render life in Manboland very hazardous, and serve to explain the extreme caution and forbearance exhibited by one Manbo toward another in the most trivial concerns of life.


[4] Tau-a-gn.

The practice of private seizure is a very peculiar one, according to our way of thinking, yet it is universal among the tribes of eastern Mindano. As long as it is confined to material things, it is not ordinarily a cause for war, but when practiced on a human being, it frequently results in retaliation in kind.

The practice consists in seizing the property of a third, frequently a neutral, party, as a "call" on the debtor. For example, A owes B a slave and for one reason or another has been unable or unwilling to pay his debt. B has exhibited a sufficient amount of patience, while at the same time he has used every means to bring pressure to bear upon A. Finally, despairing of collecting in an amicable way, and, most probably, suspecting that his debtor is playing with him, he seizes a relative or a slave or a pig of C as a "call" to A. C thus pays A's debt and then takes measures to collect from him, the understanding being that B is to take all responsibility for the consequences.

This system seldom gives rise to a blood feud except when blood has been shed. Thus in the above instance, had B killed C, as a summons to A, a feud would almost infallibly have followed. Yet C's relatives might have been willing to accept a money compensation from B, and might have come to an agreement whereby they would jointly operate against A in order to avenge the death of C.

I witnessed a case in which the seizure of a pig was the origin of a bloody feud that had not ended at the time of my departure from the upper Agsan. As the individuals involved in the case are still living their names will be represented by letters.

A had been fined P15 because his wife had made the statement that B had knowledge of a secret or magic[5] poison. C who was a relative of A and already owed B to the amount of P15, with the consent of all parties concerned, assumed the responsibility of paying A's debt, thereby putting himself in debt to B to the amount of one slave (at P30). Now some of C's relatives had certain little claims against some of B's relatives and thought it a good opportunity to collect their own dues and to diminish their kinsman's debt by presenting their claims for payment. B refused to pay on the ground that his kinsfolk and not himself were responsible for the settlement of said claims, whereupon C refused to deliver his slave till the payment to his relatives was forthcoming.

[5] Ko-me-tn.

The matter thus lingered for several months until B, who owed a slave to another party, and was pressed for payment thought it time to force matters, and, in company with three relatives, seized A's sow as a "call" on C.

The result of this was that after a few weeks B's wife and another woman were speared to death in a camote patch, and in revenge B took the lives of two of C's party. I made every possible effort to have the matter adjudicated in an informal way but neither party seemed to be anxious to come to terms.

Owing to this system of private seizure, a party of warriors returning from an unsuccessful raid are considered dangerous, and settlements on their trail put themselves in a state of watchfulness,[6] for when returning without having secured a victim the party might be incited to make a seizure in order to avoid thereby the derision of their enemies.

[6] L-ma.


Long-continued failure to pay a debt is very frequently the remote cause of war. This is easy to understand if we consider the sacredness with which debts are regarded in Manboland. An excessive delay in meeting obligations gives rise to hot and hasty words on the part of the creditor; the debtor takes umbrage and retorts, a quarrel with bolos ensues, thereby giving rise to a feud that, under favorable conditions, may continue for generations with its fierce mutual reprisals. A feature that serves to increase the number of these financial bickerings is the fact that questions of indebtedness are almost invariably discussed while drinking is going on and as a result, according to an immemorial rule the world over, the creditor frequently indulges in personalities.

Sexual infringements are a cause of war. Only one case passed under my personal notice but instances of olden days were related to me. There is no doubt in my mind as to the result of a serious sexual misdemeanor; it is death by the lance or the bolo for the offender without much parleying, if one may give credence to the universal outspoken Manbo opinion on the subject.



No heralds go forth to announce to the enemy the coming conflict. On the contrary, the greatest secrecy is maintained. If the grievance is a sudden and serious one, such as the death of a clansman, a set of ambushers may be dispatched at the earliest moment that the omens are found favorable. Or it may be decided to attack the settlement of the enemy in full force. If the latter decision is reached, a party is sent out to reconnoiter the place of attack. All information possible is obtained from neighbors of the enemy, and, if the reconnaissance shows conditions favorable for an attack, the march is begun in due form. Should the reconnoitering party, however, report unfavorably, the attack is put off until, after weeks, months, or years of patient, but close, vigilance and inquiry, a favorable opportunity presents itself.

Sometimes a bolder warrior chief who has a personal grievance may send a war message in the shape of a fighting-bolo,[7] or of a lance with an abusive challenge, but this is rare, as far as I have been able to ascertain. It is common, however, for the more famed war chiefs to keep their personal enemies on the qui-vive, by periodic threats. "I will begin my march 10 nights from now," "I will reap his rice," "I will eat his heart and liver," "He won't be able to sow rice for four years," "I need his wife to plant my camotes"—are samples of the messages that reach a clansman and keep him and his family on some mountain pinnacle for many a long year till such time as the threat is carried out and the posts of his house, all wreathed with secondary growth, tell the grim tale of revenge. I have seen such posts scattered over the face of eastern Mindano—a memory of the dead.

[7] Li-kd-l-kud.


The usual time for war is either on the occasion of death in the family or at the time of the harvest season. The former is selected both to soften, by the joy of victory, the sorrow felt for the loss of a dear relative, and to check the jubilation that the enemy would naturally feel and frequently express on such an occasion. The latter is chosen for the purpose of destroying the enemy's rice crop or at least of making it difficult for him to harvest it.

War is undertaken at other times also. Thus a sudden and grievous provocation would cause an expedition to start just as soon as the necessary number of warriors could be assembled, and a favorable combination of omens obtained.

It often happens, I have been told over and over again, that when an attack proves unsuccessful, those who repelled the attack set out at once to surprise their enemies by a shower of arrows while the latter are returning to their homes, or, if possible, reach the settlement before them and massacre the defenseless women and children.


The remote preparations for war consist in locating the house of the enemy and in getting all information, even the minutest, as to the trails, position of traps and bamboo spears. All this must be done through a third party, preferably someone who has a grievance to satisfy, and may require months or even years, for the Manbo is a cautious fighter and will take no unnecessary risks. During all this time the aggrieved party is enlisting, in a quiet, diplomatic way, the good will of as many as he can trust. If he has no recognized warrior chief on his side he must by all means secure the services of at least one, even though it should be necessary to offer him a material compensation and in divers other ways gain his good will and cooperation.

The immediate preparations consist in sending out a few of the nearest male relatives several days or even a week before the intended attack to reconnoiter the settlement of the enemy. On the return of this party word is sent to those who have agreed to join the expedition and a day and place are appointed for meeting. A pig and a supply of rice are procured and on the appointed day the relatives and friends of the leader assemble at the trysting place, which was, in nearly every instance that I witnessed or heard of, a house somewhat remote from the settlement.

With a warrior chief for officiant certain religious rites[8] are performed. The pig is partaken of in the usual style and, if the omens are favorable, all is ready. But should the omens portend evil, the expedition is put off to a more auspicious occasion. In one instance that passed under my personal observation the departure of the warriors was postponed for several days by reason of inauspicious omens. I have heard of some cases in which the war party returned after several days' march in order to await more reassuring signs of success.

[8] See Pt. IV, Ch. XXVI.

No particular demonstrations of sorrow are manifested by the women when the war party sets out. Revenge is of more importance than love. Moreover, it is seldom that the casualties on the side of the aggressors amount to more than one, so that no fear is entertained and all are sanguine as to the outcome, for have not the omens been consulted and have they not portended so many deaths and so many captives?

The band glides off silently and stealthily into the forest. A war chief, if one has been willing to join the expedition, usually leads, accompanied, it is believed, by his invisible war deities. A little ahead, just the distance of a whisper, the Manbos say, strides Mandaygan, the giant and the hero of the old, old days. All ears are alert for the turtledove's cry, and when its prophetic voice is heard, every arm is up and points with closed fist in the direction of it. But it is only its direction with regard to the leader that is considered. If this is unfavorable, the march is discontinued till the next day, but, if favorable, the party proceeds, selecting, as much as possible, tortuous and seldom trodden trails.

The following are some of the taboos that must be observed by the party while en route.

(1) They may speak to no one met on the trail.

(2) Nothing once taken in the hand may be thrown away until night or until arriving at the enemies' settlement. Thus a piece of a branch caught in the hand and broken off accidentally must be retained.

(3) They may eat nothing that is found on the trail. Thus killing game is prohibited. I heard of one man who had been wounded in an ambush arranged by the enemy on the trail. He assured me that his ill luck was due to his having taken a fish dropped by a fish eagle.[9]

[9] Man-d-git.

(4) The food taken on the trail must be placed upon one shield, preferably that of the leader, and thence distributed to the members of the party.

(5) The wives of the warriors are forbidden to indulge in unnecessary shouting and noise, and to remain within the house as far as possible till the return of their husbands.

(6) No cooking may be done on the trail till the settlement of the enemy is reached. This does not mean that food may not be cooked in a house along the trail. On the contrary, I was assured that on a long trip it is customary to call at the house of some friendly person and to make a sacrifice, at the same time taking further observations from the intestines of the victim. I was an eyewitness of this proceeding on one occasion and did not fail to observe also with what relish the war party replenished the inner man.

Besides taboos, there are a number of evil omens that must be guarded against. Thus, if a snake were to cross the path, or any insect such as a bee or a scorpion were to bite or sting one of the party, the return of the whole number would be necessary unless they were too far advanced already. In the latter case other omens must be consulted, and, when it is felt that these new omens have neutralized the effect of the previous ones, the march may be continued. Owing to the observance and reobservance of omens it is obvious that great delays are occasioned and at times the expedition is stopped. On the one that I accompanied in 1907, the turtledove gave a cry, the direction of which was considered to portend neither good nor evil, and the leader expressed his opinion at the time that the object of the expedition would not be attained. He was overruled, however, by the consensus of opinion of his companions, and the march was resumed. Notwithstanding the fact that ensuing signs all proved favorable, yet as I observed very clearly, the first omen had depressed the spirits of the party. When my efforts to settle the dispute without a fight failed, and an open attack was decided upon, there seemed to be no morale in the party, and the attack was abandoned without any special reason. This instance will serve to show the uncompromising faith of the Manbo in omens, especially in that of the turtledove.

There is one omen of a peculiar nature that is of singular importance while on the warpath. On such a journey red pepper and ginger are consumed in considerable quantities for the purpose, it is said, of increasing one's courage. Naturally, no matter how accustomed one may have become to these spices, he always feels their piquancy to a certain extent, so that the warrior who fails to become aware of a sharp biting taste, regards this as an ill omen and, though he accompanies his fellows to the scene of combat, takes no part in the attack.

It is usual, as was said before, to stop over at a friendly house nearest to that of the enemy and to send forward a few of the band to make another reconnaissance but, if no house is available, a stop is made anywhere. A reason for this is that they may arrive near the settlement at nightfall or during the night.

When the party arrives within a few miles of the actual ascent to the mountain where the enemy's house is situated, a halt is again made in a concealed position and a few of the more experienced warriors advance at dusk on the trail to the house. If the enemy has been in a state of constant vigilance, this undertaking is one of extreme difficulty. The house is on the top of a lofty hill and frequently access can not be had to it except by passing through a series of swamps. In addition one must climb up precipitous ascents, and break through a network of felled trees and such other obstacles as the reader can readily imagine for himself. There is, moreover, the danger from spring traps set both for man and animal, and from sharp bamboo slivers placed all around the house and on the trails. Thus a fair idea can be obtained of the difficulties that are encountered by those who, in the silence and darkness of the night, inform themselves of all that is necessary for a successful attack. After going around the house and unspringing traps and removing sufficient of the bamboo slivers to afford a safe passage, the scouts return to the camp and a whispered consultation takes place. Positions are assigned to each man and a general plan of attack is made. Then, groping along in the gloom of the night, with never a sound but that of their own stumbling steps, they put themselves in position around the settlement and await with bated[sic] breath the break of day.



The break of day is selected as the hour for the attack because sleep is then thought to be soundest and the drowsiness and sluggishness following the awakening to be greater. Moreover, at that time there is sufficient light to enable the attacking party to see their opponents whether they fight or flee.

The number of combatants depends entirely on the strength and position of the enemy. As a rule as many as possible are enlisted for an expedition where the enemy has numerical strength and a strong position. In the expedition which I accompanied in 1907, the party numbered some 60. I have heard of war parties that numbered 150.

When the house or houses of the enemy are low, the aggressors steal up noiselessly and, breaking out into the dismal war cry,[10] drive their lances through the floor or through the sides of the house, if it is low enough. They then retire and by listening and questioning ascertain whether any of the inmates still survive. If any remain alive they are to surrender.

[10] Pa-nad-ju-an.

When, however, the settlement is a large one, consisting of one or more high houses, the matter is a more difficult one. The aggressors advance to the house and if the floor is out of reach of their lances one or more of the bolder ones may quietly climb up the posts and after dispatching one or more of the inmates with a few thrusts hurriedly slide down to the ground. Then the war cry is called out to increase the consternation that has begun to reign in the house. If the enemy is known to have a large stock of arrows the aggressors retire and allow them to expend part of their supply.

No unnecessary risks are taken in fighting. When the male portion of the enemy are considered capable of making a stand, the house is not approached but a battle of arrows takes place, the aggressors advancing to entice the enemy to shoot, while their bowmen, usually only a few in number, reply. During all this time there is a bandying of hot words, threats, and imprecations on both sides. "I'll have your hair," "I'll eat your liver," "I'll sacrifice your son," "Your wife will get my water," are a few of the expressions that are used. The drum and gong in the house may be beaten all this time as a signal of distress to call such relatives or friends as may live within hearing distance. The priestesses of the attacked party may go through a regular sacrifice if there is a chicken or a pig in the house, beseeching their deities to protect them in this the hour of danger.

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