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

The diving ordeal.[3]—I never witnessed the actual operation of this ordeal except in play, but the belief in its efficacy is strong and widespread. The operation consists in a trial between the parties under suspicion as to the length of time they can remain under water. Two at a time undergo the test. The one that retains his head under water longer is declared innocent for the time being, but has to undergo the test with each one of the suspected parties. This method seems impossible as a final proof, but such is the procedure as described to me on the upper Tgo River.

[3] Sn-ub.

Another and more common method is a simultaneous trial by all the accused. At a given signal they submerge their heads. The one that first raises his from the water is declared guilty. I was told by one party that the respective relatives of the accused ones stand by and hold them down by main force. This statement was corroborated by all those present at the time, but, as neither my informant nor anyone else could explain what it would be necessary to do in case of asphyxiation, I do not give credence to the story.

On numerous occasions I made diving tests in sport with Manbos and found that I could retain my breath longer than they could. They assured me, nevertheless, that if the test were made as an ordeal and if I were the guilty party, I would infallibly lose.

The candle ordeal.—Among the Christianized Manbos of the lake region I found the belief in the efficacy of the candle ordeal for determining the guilt of one of the suspected parties. Candles of the same size are made and are given to the suspects, one to each of them. They are then stuck to the floor and lit at the same time. The contestants have the right to keep them erect and to protect them from the wind. The one whose candle burns out first is declared guilty.

A belief in the value of ordeals is widespread, but the actual practice of them is very rare. No reason for this has been given to me, although it is stated that the refusal to submit to one would be considered evidence of guilt.


In Manboland circumstantial evidence, in the absence of other evidence, has sufficient weight to convict one who is under suspicion. Hence footprints and other traces of a man's presence are carefully examined. In fact, as a gatherer of testimony, even of the most insignificant kind, the Manbo is peerless; he is patient, ceaseless, and thorough. This is due, no doubt, to his cautious, suspicious nature and to that spirit of revenge that never smolders. He may wait for years until the suspicion seems to have died out, when one fine day he hears a rumor that confirms his suspicions and the flame of contention bursts forth. One by one the successive bearers of the incriminating rumor are questioned in open meeting until the truth of it is ascertained and the guilty one brought to justice. I have known many cases, principally of slander, traced in this way from one rumor bearer to another. This illustrates the statement made before that in cases involving damage or loss to another the guilty party and the witnesses as a rule declare the truth, when they are called upon, knowing that one day or another the secret will probably be ferreted out and then the punishment will be greater.


The sentence having been agreed to by the consensus of opinion of both sides, and the defendant having manifested his concurrence therein, a time is set for the payment. When the offense is of a very serious character, partial payment is made at once, the object being to mollify the feelings of the enraged plaintiff. This payment ordinarily consists of a weapon belonging either to the defendant himself or to one of his relatives, but in urgent cases it might be a human being, as a relative for instance. I myself saw delivery of a son made after the termination of an adultery case.

The whole payment or compensation is not exacted at once but a suitable length of time for the completion of it is always agreed upon. The defendant receives a strip of rattan with a number of knots and is at times made to take the wax-burning oath.

His conduct on these occasions is apparently submissive for he does not want to run counter to tribal opinion, but it happens sometimes that upon leaving the house of adjudication he expresses his dissatisfaction with the decision or throws the blame upon somebody else. In this case there may arise another contention. On the whole, however, he abides by the decision.

In the great majority of cases the convicted man makes the stipulated payment, for a refusal to do so would lead to more serious difficulties than those already settled, and excuses for nonfulfillment are not accepted as readily as before. Moreover, a second arbitration subjects his opponent and his opponent's relatives to unnecessary trouble and long journeys. Hence, realizing that a second trial will only serve to exasperate his opponent and arm public opinion against him, he fulfills his obligations faithfully.




Dealings on the part of. Manbos with other tribes such as the Banuon, the Debabon, and the Mandya are almost without exception of the most pacific kind. I made frequent inquiries, especially while on the upper Agsan River, as to the reason for this, and was always given to understand that any trouble with another tribe was carefully avoided because it might give rise to unending complications and to interminable war. I am of the opinion that, in his avoidance of war with neighboring tribes, there is ever present in the Manbo's mind a consciousness of his inferiority to the Mandya, Debabon, and Banuon, and a realization of the consequences that would inevitably follow in case of a clash with them. Thus the Manbos of the upper Agsan, who had provoked the Mandyas of the Kat'il River at the beginning of the Christian conquest, suffered a dire reprisal on the Hlip River, upper Agsan, when some 180 of them were massacred in one night.[1]

[1] See Oartas de los PP. de la Compaa de Jess, 5:22, 1883.

The current accounts of Debabon warriors, as narrated to me by many of them on the upper Slug River, show the severe losses suffered by Manbos of the upper Agsan in their conflicts with Debabons. The same holds true of the Manbos on the lower Agsan when they matched their strength with the Banuons of the Masam, Lbag, and hut Rivers. A perusal of the "Cartas de los PP. de la Compaa de Jess" will give one a vivid picture of the devastation caused by not only the Banuons but by the Mandyas and the Debabons in Manboland.

The reason for these unfriendly intertribal relations and for the consequent defeats of the Manbos in nearly every instance is not far to seek. The Manbo lacks the organization of the Mandya, Debabon, and Banuon. Like the Maggugan he is somewhat hot-headed, and upon provocation, especially while drunk, prefers to take justice into his own hands, striking down with one fell swoop his Mandya or other adversary, without appealing to a public adjudication. The result of this imprudent proceeding is an attack in which the friends and relatives of the slain one become the aggressors, invading Manbo territory and executing awful vengeance upon the perpetrator of the wrong. The friends and relatives of the latter, with their inferior tribal organization and their conscious feeling of inferiority in courage, together with a realization of the innumerable difficulties that beset the path of reprisals, very rarely invade the territory of the hostile tribe.

Both from the accounts given in the aforesaid Jesuit letters and from my own observations and information, I know that the same statements may be made of the intertribal relations of Maggugans and Mandyas, Maggugans and Debabons, and Maggugans and Manbos. The Maggugans are much lower in the scale of culture than the Manbos, and when they are under the influence of liquor yield to very slight provocation. As a result of a rash blow, the Maggugan's territory is invaded and his settlement is surrounded. He is an arrant coward as a rule, and, hot-headed fool as he is, jumps from his low, wall-less house only to meet the foeman's lance. Thus it happens that thousands and thousands of them have been killed. If we may believe the testimony of a certain Jesuit missionary, as stated in one of the Jesuit letters, the Maggugan tribe numbered 30,000 at one time and their habitat extended eastward from the Tgum River and from its eastern tributary, the Slug, between the Hjo and the Ttui Rivers, to the Agsan and thence spread still eastward over the Simlau River. In 1886 Father Pastells estimated them to number some 14,000. In 1910, I made an estimate, based on the reports of their hereditary enemies in Compostela, Ganda, Gerna, and Moncyo, and venture to state that in that year they did not number more than about 10,000 souls. Their territory, too, at that date, was confined to the low range of mountains that formed the Agsan-Slug divide and to the swamp tracts in the region of the Mnat River, with a scattered settlement here and there on the east of the Agsan to the north of the Mnat River.

The Manbos of the Ihawn, Babo, and Agsan Rivers played a bloody part in the massacre of the Maggugans. While on my first visit to the upper Agsan in 1907, I used to hear once or twice a week of the killing of Maggugans. Many a time my Mandya or Manbo or Debabon companions would say to me, upon seeing a Maggugan: "Shoot him, grandpa, he is only a Maggugan."

I know from the personal accounts of Manbo, Mandya, and Debabon warrior chiefs that in nearly every case they had acquired their title of warrior chief by bloody attacks made upon Maggugans. The warrior chiefs of the upper Agsan, upper Karga, upper Manorgau and upper and middle Kat'il had nearly to a man earned their titles from the killing of Maggugans. This is eminently true of the Debabon group. Moncyo itself boasts of more warrior chiefs than any district in eastern Mindano, and stands like a mighty watchtower over the thousands and thousands of Maggugan and Manbo graves that bestrew the lonely forest from Libagnon to the Agsan.


It must be borne in mind that, judging from the testimony of all with whom I conversed on the subject as well as from my own personal observation, interclan feuds among Manbos have diminished notably since the beginning of missionary activity and more especially since the establishment of the special government in the Agsan Valley. Upon the establishment of this government in the lower half of the Agsan Valley, there was a perceptible decrease in bloody fights due to the effective extension of supervision under able and active officials. Here and there in remote regions, such as the upper reaches of the Babo, Ihawn, Umaam, Argwan, and Kasilaan Rivers, casual killings took place. On the upper Agsan, however, where no effective government had been established until after my departure in 1910, interclan relations were not of the most pacific nature. Thus, in 1909, the settlements of Dugmnon and Moncyo were in open hostility, and up to the time of my departure four deaths had occurred. The Mandyas of Kat'il and Manorgao had contemplated an extensive movement against Compostela and after my departure did bring about one death. However, the intended move was frustrated happily by the establishment of a military post in Moncyo in 1910. Several Maggugans at the headwaters of the Mnat River met their fate in 1909. The whole Maggugan tribe went into armed vigilance that same year and rendered it impossible for me to meet any but the milder members of the tribe living in the vicinity of Compostela. On one occasion I had made arrangements to meet a Maggugan warrior chief at an appointed trysting place in the forest. Upon arriving at the spot, one of my companions beat the buttress of a tree as a signal that we had arrived, but it was more than an hour before our Maggugan friends made their appearance. Upon being questioned as to the delay, they informed us that they had circled around at a considerable distance, examining the number and shape of our footprints in order to make sure that no deception was being practiced upon them. When we approached the purpose of the interview, namely, to request permission to visit their houses, they positively refused to allow it, telling us that they were on guard against three warrior chiefs of the upper Slug who had recently procured guns and who had threatened to attack them. Upon questioning my companions as to the likely location of the domicile of the Maggugans, I was assured that they probably lived at the head of the Mnat River in a swampy region and that access to their settlement could be had only by wading through tracts of mud and water thigh deep.

During the same year various other raids were made, notably on the watershed between the Slug and the Ihawn Rivers. The Manbos of the Babo River, which has been styled by the well-known Jesuit missionary Urios "the river of Bagni" (warrior chiefs), were reported to be in a state of interclan war. Such a condition, however, was nothing unusual, for I never ascended the upper Agsan without hearing reports of atrocities on Babo River.[2]

[2] The Babo River rises in a mountain that is very near the confluence of the Slug and Libagnon Rivers, and empties into one of the myriad channels into which the Agsan is divided just below Verula.

In time of peace, interclan dealings are friendly, but it may be said in general that dealings of any kind are not numerous and that their frequency is in inverse ratio to the distance between the two clans. It is seldom that a given individual has no feudal enemy in one district or another so that in his visits to other clans he usually has either to pass through the territory of an enemy or to run the risk of meeting one at his destination. This does not mean that he will be attacked then and there, for he is on his guard, but it must be remembered that he is in Manboland and that a mere spark may start a conflagration.

Hence, visits to others than relatives and trips to distant points are not frequent. This is particularly true of the womenfolk. Here and there one finds a Manbo man who travels fearlessly to distant settlements for the purpose of securing some object that he needs, but he never fails to carry his lance, and frequently, his shield; he is never off his guard, either on the trail or in the house he may be visiting.

During the greater social and religious gatherings the greatest vigilance is exerted by all concerned as everyone realizes beforehand the possibility of trouble. Hence bolos or daggers are worn even during meals. Enemies or others who are known to be at loggerheads are seated at a respectful distance from each other with such people around them as are considered friendly or at least neutral. This arrangement of guests is a very striking feature of a Manbo meal and one of great importance, for it prevents many an untoward act. The host, in an informal way, sees to the distribution of the guests, and when his arrangement is not acceptable to any of the interested parties, a rearrangement is made and all seat themselves. This proceeding has nothing formal about it. The whole thing seems to be done by instinct.



The shameless spoliation[3] practiced during my residence and travels in eastern Mindano (1905-1909) by Christian natives upon the Christianized and un-Christianized Manbos is a subject that deserves special mention.

[3] Since the establishment in 1909 of government trading posts, this spoliation has practically ceased in the Agsan Valley.

Exploitation by falsification.—The hill people, living in their mountain fastnesses out of communication with the more important traders, had to depend wholly for their needs on petty traders and peddlers of the Christian population. They were accordingly kept in absolute ignorance of the true value of the commodities that they required. False reports as to the value of rice, hemp, and vino were constantly spread. To-day, it would be a report of a war between China and Japan that caused a rise of several pesos in the price of a sack of rice. To-morrow, it would be an international complication between Japan and several of the great European powers which caused a paralysis in the exportation of hemp and a corresponding fall of several pesos in the value of it. These and numerous other fabrications were corroborated by letters purporting to come from Butun, but in most cases written by one trader to another on the spot, with a view to giving plausibility to the lie. It was a common practice for the trader's friend or partner in Butun to direct, usually by previous arrangement, two letters to him, in one of which was stated the true value of the commodity and in the other the value at which it was desired to purchase or to dispose of it. The latter letter was for public perusal and rarely failed to beguile the ignorant conquistas and Manbos.

But it was not only in the exorbitant rates charged and in the unspeakably low prices paid for objects of merchandise that the Christian trader swindled his pagan fellow men. The use of false weights and measures was a second means. The Manbo had little conception of a pikul[4] or of an arroba[5] of hemp, so that he was utterly at the mercy of the trader. The steelyards used by Christian traders from 1905 to 1908 were never less than 30 per cent out of true and frequently as much as 50 per cent. One pair of scales I found to be so heavily leaded that the hemp that weighed 25 pounds on them weighed between 38 and 39 pounds on a true English scales.

[4] A pikul is the equivalent of 137.5 Spanish pounds.

[5] An arroba is 25 Spanish pounds.

Another method of defraudation consisted in false accounts. The Manbo had no account book to rely upon in his dealings with the trader, but trusted to his memory and to the honesty of his friend. The payment was made in occasional deliveries of hemp or other articles, such deliveries covering a period usually of many months. When the day for settling accounts came, the Manbo was allowed to spread out his little grains of corn or little bits of wood on the floor and to perform the calculation as best he could. Any mistakes in his own favor were promptly corrected by the trader, but mistakes or omissions in favor of the trader were allowed to pass unobserved. The account would then be closed and the trader would mark with a piece of charcoal on a beam, rafter, or other convenient place, the amount of the debt still due him, for it was extremely rare that he allowed the poor tribesman to escape from his clutches.

Defraudation by usury and excessive prices.—Another method of exploitation consisted in a system of usury, practiced throughout the valley but more especially on the upper Agsan. An example will illustrate this: A Bisya advances 5 pesos in various commodities with the understanding that at the next harvest he is to receive 10 sacks of paddy in payment. At the next harvest the Manbo is unable to pay more than 6 sacks. He is given to understand that he must pay the balance within two months. After that period the trader goes upstream again and proceeds to collect. The paddy is not forthcoming, so the trader informs his customer that the prevailing price of paddy in such and such a town is actually 5 pesos per sack and that he accordingly loses 20 pesos by the failure to receive the paddy stipulated for and that the debtor must answer for the amount. The poor Manbo then turns over a war bolo or perhaps a spear at one-half their original value, for the contract called for paddy and not weapons. In that way he pays up a certain amount, let us say 10 pesos, and has still a balance of 10 pesos against him, he having no available resources wherewith to settle the account in full. He is then offered the alternative of paying 20 sacks at the next harvest or of performing some work that he is unwilling to do, so he accepts the former alternative. The bargain is then clinched with many threats on the part of the trader to the effect that the Americans will cut off his head or commit some other outrageous act should he fail to fulfill this second contract.

The worst depredation committed on the Manbo consisted of the advancing of merchandise at exorbitant rates just before harvest time with a view to purchasing rice and tobacco. It is principally at this time that the Manbo stands in special need of a supply of pigs and chickens for the celebrations, religious and social, that invariably take place. As he has little foresight in his nature and rarely, if ever, speculates, he was accustomed to bartering away in advance a large amount of his paddy and tobacco. The result was that after paying up as much of his paddy debts and tobacco debts as he could, he found that his stock was meager, barely sufficient for a few months. So the time came when he had to repurchase at from 3 to 10 pesos per bamboo joint that which he had sold for 25 centavos.

Exploitation by the system of commutation.—Another means of defrauding perpetrated on the Manbo was the system of commutation by which the debt had to be paid, if the creditor so desired, in other effects than those which were stipulated in the contract. The value of the goods thus substituted was reckoned extraordinarily low. For example, in the event of a failure to pay the stipulated amount of tobacco, its value in some other part of the Agsan, where that commodity was high, would be calculated in money, and any object would be asked for that the trader might desire. Suppose the customary value of this object, a pig for instance, to be 10 pesos, at which price it would be offered to the trader, who would reply that he had contracted for tobacco and not pigs. He would go on to show that he had no use for pigs, that he could procure a pig of the same size for 2 pesos in another town, and he would finally persuade the debtor to turn over the pig for 2 pesos.

I adjudicated unofficially, at the request of the Manbos, several cases where the Bisya trader tried to collect not only the value of a sow but of the number of young ones that it might have given birth to had it lived. These pigs had been left with Manbos for safe-keeping and either had died from natural causes or had been killed. One Bisya went so far as to demand payment for the chickens that a hen would have produced had it not been stolen from the Manbo to whom it had been entrusted. This part of the claim I did not allow, so the claimant demanded pay for the eggs that might have been laid.

Wheedling or the punak system.—Another means of exploitation practiced on the Manbos of the upper Agsan was the punak system, invented by the Bisya trader. The punak was some prosperous Manbo who was chosen as an intimate friend and who, out of friendship, was expected to furnish his Bisya friend anything which the latter might ask for. The Bisya in return was expected to do the same.

The Bisya paid his Manbo friend a few visits every year, on which occasions he was received with all the open-hearted hospitality so characteristic of the Manbo. Pigs and chickens, purchased frequently at high rates, were killed in his honor. The country was scoured for sugar-cane wine or other drink, and no means were left untried to make the reception royal. The Bisya, in the meanwhile, lavished on his host soft, wheedling words, at the same time giving him sad tales of the rise in the price of merchandise, of his indebtedness to the Chinese, and before leaving gave him a little cloth or some other thing of small value. In return he received paddy, tobacco, and such other articles as he needed. The farewell was made with great demonstrations of friendship on the Bisya's part and with an invitation to his Manbo friend to visit him at a certain stated time.

During his friend's visit the Manbo had gone around the country canvassing for paddy and such other articles as he had been instructed to barter for. His wife and female relatives had stamped out several sacks of paddy for their friend. His sons and other male relatives had cleaned the Bisya's boat and supplied him with rattan. In a word, the whole family had made menials of themselves to satisfy the Bisya's every desire.

At the stated time the Manbo started downstream with the various commodities that had been requested of him, paddy, tobacco, and other things. At his friend's house he was received with a great exhibition of joy and welcome. During his stay he was kept happy by constant doses of vino. Besides the killing of a suckling pig and of a few chickens, a little wheedling and palavering were about the only entertainment he received. But as the grog kept him in good humor and it is supposed to cost one peso per liter, he was perfectly happy, turned over his wares to the host, had his accounts balanced for him (he was usually in a hilarious condition while this was being done), received further advances of merchandise at the usual usurious rates, and left for his upland home to tell his family and relatives of the glorious time he had at his punak's.

Bartering transactions.—The following schedule of approximate values of commodities in the Agsan, 1905 to 1909, will serve to show the commercial depredations committed on Manbos and conquistas by the Bisyas who have ever looked upon them as their legitimate prey.

Sale price in Gain Value barter in of for weighing abak Quantity Original Monetary abak or in Article retailed cost value fiber measuring Butun ———- ————- —— ——- ——- ————- ——— Pesos Pesos Kilos Per cent Pesos Rice 1 sack 5-8 12-22 100-200 30-50 16-38 Vino 1 demijohn 5.50 16 240 30-50 42-48 Salt 1 sack 2.50 12 100 10-30 21-24 Salted fish 1 jar 6.00 16 205 — 33-37 Turkey red 1 piece 4.00 14 106 15-25 26-28 ——- ——- 26.00 138-175 To this list might be appended the values of exchange in paddy, beeswax, and rattan and the corresponding gain made when these latter are bartered in their turn for hemp or disposed of to the Chinese merchants.

From the above list it is evident that a Bisya trader could go up the river with goods valued at 26 pesos and within a few weeks return with abak valued at 138 pesos to 175 pesos, according to the scales and other measures used. His total expenses, including his own subsistence, probably would not exceed 30 pesos.

No mention is here made of such luxuries as shoes, hats, or European clothes on which gains of from 500 to 1,000 per cent are the rule. Neither have various other usuries been included, such as high interest or payment of expenses in case of delays, all of which go to swell the gain that a Bisya considers his right and his privilege when he has to deal with beings whom he hardly classes as men.

Among the Manbos the credit system almost invariably prevails, based upon the sacredness with which the Manbo pays his debts. It is true that the Christianized Manbo occasionally is not very scrupulous in this respect, but this is because he has been fleeced so much by his Christian brethren.

Arriving in a settlement, the trader displays only a part of his wares at a time. If he has two pieces of cloth, he displays only one. Of five sacks of rice, only two are his, he claims. In answering the inquiry as to whether he has dried fish, he says that he has just a little for his personal use, for the price of it in Butun was prohibitive. On being besought to sell a little, he secretly orders it taken out from the jar and delivered to his customer, at an outrageous price. The object of this simulation is to hasten the sales of his wares, for should he display all his stock, many of his customers might prefer to wait in hopes of a reduction in prices, a sort of a diminutive "clearance sale."

As the article for which the exchange is made is nearly always abak fiber, it is evident that a certain period, longer or shorter according to the amount of fiber contracted for, must be allowed the customer. When this period exceeds a week, the stipulation is made that the payment shall be made in installments. A shorter period is allowed than is necessary for the stripping of the hemp, under the pretense that the trader is in a hurry to leave the settlement and catch a certain steamer with which he deals. This is a prudent precaution as the Manbo is not very methodical in his affairs nor quick in his movements. A thousand and one things—omens, sickness, bad weather—may delay him in the fulfillment of his contract. It is this tardiness that gives rise to the ill feeling and bickering that are not infrequently the outcome of this system of trading. The Manbo, moreover, has long since become aware of the stupendous gain made by the traders, and, when not dealt with gently, becomes exasperated and on occasions deliberately delays his creditor. Then again, some other trader may have got into the settlement in the meantime and seduced him into buying, cash down, some more enticing article, for this primitive man, like the rest of the world, often buys what he lays his eyes upon without any thought of the future. For this reason, the trader keeps close observation upon all who owe him, almost daily visiting their houses and profiting by the occasion to help himself to whatever little fish or meat or other edibles he may find therein. One who has been in debt a long time is a favorite victim, for when he is unable to pay his debt on time he is shamelessly required to offer a substantial apology[6] in the form of a chicken or some other edible.

[6] Ba-l-bad.


In general, there was no established system in the Agsan Valley as far as the dealings of Bisyas went. The constant fluctuation of prices was a sufficient explanation of this. Thus, rice might be worth 13 centavos per kilogram in Butun, while at the same time it might command a price of 43 centavos on the Hbung River or in Verula. Salted fish might be selling in Butun for a trifle, whereas up the Simlau a jar of it at retail might be worth 20 or 30 sacks of paddy. In general the increase in price of a commodity was in direct proportion to its distance from points of distribution. By points of distribution are meant the Chinese stores in Butun and Talakgon.

Again the old-time custom of selling paddy at a fixed customary price held the Manbo in commercial servitude to his Bisya compeer. This was due to the intense conservatism of the Manbo and to his peculiar religious tenets in this regard, both of which were fostered and sustained by the tribal priests and encouraged by Bisyas. Could he have been induced to retain his paddy instead of selling it at 50 centavos per sack he would not have been obliged to repurchase at P5 per sack. The same might be said of his tobacco, which he sold wholesale by the bamboo joint at 25 centavos each, or, at most, at a peso each, and which he repurchased, paying, in times of scarcity, 20 centavos for enough to chew a few times.

The credit system, too, was an impediment to his financial advance. It seems to have been a tribal institution. During my trading tour I frequently heard my Manbo debtors proclaim boastingly to their fellow tribesmen that I had much confidence in their integrity.

The Manbo who could gain the confidence of the traders and accumulate his debts seemed to be an honored person, but when he was able to make sufficient payment to satisfy his creditors he was a great man. Hence, the traders played upon his vanity and advanced him such commodities as he desired, seldom obliging him to settle in full his obligations, and induced him to accept on credit a certain amount so as to retain him in bondage to them. It must not be imagined that there was anything tyrannical in the manner of collecting outstanding debts. On the contrary, it was almost always done in a gentle diplomatic way, the trader knowing full well that the Manbo regarded a debt as sacred and that he would finally pay it. But it must not be supposed that the transactions were entirely free from disputes and quarrels. It happened occasionally that the Manbo detected the frauds in his creditor's accounting or remembered omissions of his own in a past reckoning, and so the bickering began, the Bisya never caring to admit his errors or frauds, while the Manbo, who is a hard and fast bargainer, insisted on claiming what he considered his rights. As a rule, the matter was settled peaceably by the principal men of the region. Numerous instances, however, occurred wherein the Manbo, exasperated by the numerous frauds of his creditor, awaited a favorable occasion to dispatch him. On the whole, it may be said that differences which arose between Bisyas and their mountain compeers in eastern Mindano are to be attributed in no small degree to the ruinous, relentless exploitation of the unsophisticated, untutored Manbo by the greedy Bisya traffickers.


By internal trading is meant those simple transactions that take place between Manbo and Manbo. The subject presents a striking contrast to the merciless system adopted by the Christian traders in their dealings with their pagan congeners.

The transactions are simple exchanges of the absolute necessities of life.


There is little conception of money as such among the hillmen unless they have been in contact with Christian or Christianized traders, and even then although monetary terms are made use of, there is but a vague conception of the real value of what they represent. I asked a Manbo of the upper W-wa the price of his little bamboo lime tube. The answer was 30 pesos.

Money, therefore, has no value as a circulating medium, although it may be prized as a material out of which to make rings and other ornamental objects. As substitutes, there are several units of more or less indefinite value. Thus, the value of a slave which, expressed in monetary value, varies between 15 and 30 pesos, is mentioned in connection with large fines and with marriage payments. Again, plates of the type called pggan are referred to in small fines and in other payments, but as these are imported articles the price varies. On the whole, however, 100 pggan are worth a good serviceable slave—that is, 30 pesos. Pigs also are mentioned as a unit of value, but here again the value is not wholly definite, as a great many of them are imported and vary with the purchasing price.


The following list will give a fair idea of the monetary value of some of the commodities that are most frequently exchanged between Manobos.

1. A slave who can perform a full-grown person's work. ..... 30.00 Pesos

2. A slave who can do a certain amount of work. ..... 20.00

3. A slave whose right hand can not reach the tip of his left ear ..... 15.00

4. A male pig 1 year old ..... 1.00

5. A sow that has given birth once ..... 1.00

6. One fathom of abak cloth nearly 1 meter wide ..... 1.00

7. A woman's skirt of abak ... .50

8. One double sack of paddy (150 liters) ..... .50

9. Three double gantas (15 liters) ..... 0.0625

10. One large basket (15 liters) of camotes, corn, taro, etc. ..... 0.0625

11. One bunch of bananas ..... 0.0625

12. One dugout, 7 fathoms long, with a beam of 4 spans ..... 1.50

13. One dugout, 11 fathoms long, with a beam of 5 spans ..... 2.50

14. One bamboo jointful of tobacco, into whose mouth the closed hand can not be easily inserted ..... 0.0625

15. One bamboo jointful of tobacco, into whose mouth the closed hand can be easily inserted ..... 0.125

16. One full-grown hen or rooster ..... 0.125

The values above indicated are based on the monetary terms used to represent their value, and borrowed, possibly, from the terms which are still in vogue in eastern Mindano.[7]

[7] I-s-ka s-pi (Bis., -sa'-ka sa-l-pi), P0.50; ka-h-ti, P0.25; Si-k-pat, P0.125; Si-kau-au, P0.0625.

From the above scale it will be seen that a pig 1 year old could be exchanged for 2 full-grown chickens, 2 sacks of paddy, and 2 bamboo joints of tobacco. It is not customary to trade in such things as camotes, taro, and corn, the return of them being the usual stipulation, but the corresponding values have been inserted in the above list in order to give the reader an idea of the value of food commodities.


No measure of weight is used by the hill Manbo. The Christianized Manbo may have obtained some old scales of the type used by Bisyas for weighing abak fiber. These scales are steelyards, the construction of which permitted the Bisya trader to fleece his non-Christian customers of as much as 50 per cent of their abak fiber. The method of falsifying the balance was by loading the counterpoising weight with lead, and by filing the crosspiece that acts as fulcrum. Another method which might be used with even true steelyards consisted in giving the counterpoise arm a downward tilt, after the abak fiber had been loaded on the other arm. This was usually done on the pretense of picking up the counterpoising weight which had been purposely left on the ground.

In measures of volume the Manbo is almost equally destitute for he has only the gntag. This is a cylindrical measure made out of the trunk of a palm tree, with a bottom of some other wood. It has a capacity of from 10 to 15 liters, but I know of no rule which fixes its exact size. An interesting point with regard to the size of this measure is that it is double that of the one used by Bisyas.[8] It is suggested that the early Bisya traders, on the introduction of the Spanish ganta and fanega, taught, for obvious purposes, their unsuspecting mountain friends to make a measure double the size of the legal one.

[8] The gntang measure in eastern Mindano is of two kinds, de almacen, "of the store," and de provincia, "of the province." The latter is twice the size of the former, and is universally used by the mountain peoples.

In the manner of measuring out paddy (for it is practically only for this purpose that the gntang serves) there is a feature that is characteristic of Manobo frugality and economy. The paddy is scooped with the hands, little by little, into the measure, which is not moved until it is full. Then with a piece of stick the surface of the paddy is leveled off and it is emptied into the larger receptacle. At the same time the number is counted out loudly. The intention in not moving or disturbing the measure is to allow the paddy to have greater bulk, for if it is disturbed the grains settle and it requires more to fill the measure.

Twenty-five of these gntang make a kabn, bkkid, or anga, as it is variously called. This kabn, although there is no measure corresponding to it in Manboland, would be equivalent in bulk to two sacks of rice, or about 150 liters.

The yard is the distance from the end of the thumb, when the arm is extended horizontally, to the middle of the sternum. It, of course, varies somewhat with each individual.

The Bisya trader, in measuring cloth, considerably shortens his yard by not giving a full stretch to the arm, and by slightly turning the outstretched hand toward his body. This gain, together with another little one secured when he bites off the measured piece from the bolt, makes a total gain of 10 centimeters approximately. Remonstrances on the part of the customer are unavailing, for he is told that such is the length of the trader's yard and, if the customer is not satisfied, he is not obliged to accept the cloth. As it is a credit transaction, the poor Manbo is obliged to yield.

The fathom[9] is the distance between the thumb tips when the arms and hands are outstretched. The fraud practiced by the Bisya trader in the yard measure is also employed in this.

[9] D-pa'.

The span [10] is the stretch between the tip of the first finger and that of the thumb as they are stretched over the object to be measured.

[10] Dng-au.

The finger length[11] is the length of either the first or of the middle finger, according to the custom of each locality.

[11] Td-lo.

The joint length [12] is the length of the middle joint of the finger. It is a measure that is very seldom used.

[12] Lm-po.



I have not visited the Agsan Valley since 1910, so that I am unable to give any information as to the actual extent of slave trading at the present day. From 1905 to 1909 the practice was in vogue, but to no great extent. It is reported on all sides by Maggugans, Mandyas, Manbos, and Banuons that since the American occupation it has diminished to a remarkable degree, due to the wonderful reputation of the Americans for having overcome the Spaniards. This diminution was a natural sequence of the decrease of war raids.

Slave trading among the Manbos of eastern Mindano was practically confined to the Ihawn, Babo, upper Simlau, and Agsan Rivers. I am of the opinion that during my four years' residence in the Agsan there were not more than 100 cases of slave trade in the regions outside of the Ihawn and Babo River Valleys.

The customary value of a slave has been mentioned in this chapter, but it is only proper to add that a great many considerations, such as poor health, weak constitution, and other defects which might lessen the ability of the slave to work, detract from his value. It may be said in general that the value of a slave ranges between 10 and 30 pesos, never exceeding the last figure, at which he stands on a par with an unusually good hunting dog, or with an extra large prolific sow.

Slave trading does not, in the Manbo's mind, involve the idea of degradation which attaches to it among other nations. A slave is to the Manbo a chattel which he can sell, kill, or dispose of in any other way that he may deem expedient.


Captives[13] are those who have been captured from the enemy. At first their treatment may be a little harsh, or they may, when their owners happen to be angry, be killed outright. This is due to the fact that the feelings of revenge have not cooled off. But after a few days their condition and treatment is similar to that of ordinary slaves, except that more precautions are taken to prevent their escape. If fear of their escape is entertained, it is usual to sell them as soon as possible.

[13] Bi-ha.

By ordinary slaves[14] are meant those who have been purchased or who have been delivered over in payment of fines or marriages. There is no institution in Manboland by which a freeman, not a minor, can become a slave by reason of debt. But minors, usually relatives of the debtor, sometimes in an exigency are turned over in payment of a debt. This is usually done with a view to avoiding bloodshed.

[14] g-lag.


The manner of delivering the slave to a new owner depends ordinarily upon the feelings with which he regards the change, except in the case of children, who are easily coaxed into accepting it. In the case of older persons who have been attached to their owners, the matter is more difficult, as they display a reluctance to change hands. A ruse is then resorted to, as in a case which I witnessed. The person, in this case a slave girl, was sent to her purchaser's house, ostensibly for the purpose of procuring salt and of delivering a basket of paddy. As she was about to return her purchaser called her back into the house. She then, realizing the circumstances, burst into tears, but was soon soothed by the wives of her new owner.

On the whole slaves are not mistreated. Like all menials, they at times become remiss in the performance of what is expected of them, and accordingly are given a few blows with a stick or other convenient object. In a very passionate moment, or when drunk, the master may cut off his slave girl's hair or denude her completely in the presence of the household, but such acts are of very rare occurrence.

Immediately after being captured, or after a change of master, the slave feels his lot keenly, but as time goes on and as he realizes that there is no hope of deliverance, the remembrance of his relatives fades away and he resigns himself to his fate. Sometimes one finds a slave who has become so attached to his master that he is unwilling to return to his relatives. This is true of those who have been captured when young, and especially of girls. A fondness often grows up between the latter and their master's wife, and separation causes loud and long weeping.

A slave enjoys no rights, either personal or political. He can be disposed of without his consent either by sale or in marriage, or in any other way his master sees fit. If he runs away he is pursued and brought back to his master's house. If he runs away with frequency, and the owner is unable to dispose of him to some one else, he is simply speared to death. I never witnessed the actual killing, but trustworthy accounts authenticate the fact that formerly, at least, it occasionally took place. If a slave flees from his master's house no one may aid or abet him in his flight, though it is lawful for anyone to capture him with the intention of returning him to his master, who in this case must pay the capturer P15.[15]

[15] On my last trip among the Mandyas of southeastern Mindano (Karga River) I was instrumental in saving the life of a woman slave who had escaped six times. At the time of her escape six slaves, led by a boy slave of about 14 years of age, had fled from the house of their master. They were recaptured and no punishment except a good scolding and an infinity of threats was meted out to them. A few days afterwards an elderly slave again escaped. She was discovered in a neighboring house and brought back by the wife and daughter of her owner. When her master saw her he rushed from his house with spear and bolo and would have killed her had it not been for my remonstrances and entreaties.

The slave does his share of domestic service. To the female falls the task of drawing water, gathering firewood, pounding rice, cooking, and weeding; to the male that of acting as his master's companion, porter, and general messenger, and of planting camotes and other crops.

The slave's dress is usually sufficient to cover his nakedness and no more. Ear disks, bracelets, and similar articles of feminity[sic] are not allowed, and too neat arrangement of the hair is not countenanced, as it might be indicative of matrimonial inclinations. Marriage of his slaves is not looked upon with favor by the master, and he does not permit it unless the material advantages are so great that they will repay him for the loss of the slave's services.

I know of few slave marriages. Captives, however, are said to be married off for a good payment, when their looks and other good qualities have won the heart of some young man.

My observation and the testimony of Manboland as to the sexual morality of slaves is that it is excellent, though no vigilance seems to be exercised over them in the matter. The female slave makes trips alone to the water place even by night, and spends many hours of the day in solitary places while working in the clearings or traveling to the granary. This sexual morality is due to the fact that intercourse with a female slave is looked down upon with unmitigated contempt.

The slave fares no worse in the matter of food than the inmates of the house; possibly he fares even better, for he gets more secret tastes of sugarcane and roasted camotes between meal hours; during meals he does not forget himself, as he often has the handling of the pots.





The matter of Manbo religious belief is so difficult of investigation, and withal so important, that I feel a certain amount of timidity in taking up the subject. The natural suspiciousness of the Manbo and his inclination not to answer questions truthfully until he has assured himself of his interrogator's motives in asking it are the principal sources of this difficulty. Then again his fear of offending the divinities, coupled with his absolute subjection in spiritual affairs to his priests, do not render the undertaking easier. And finally his primitive, untutored mind is not capable of setting forth in a satisfactory manner the intricacies, and not infrequently, the numerous variations and apparent contradictions that arise at every step in the investigation. However, my sojourn among, and intimate dealings with, both laymen and priests give me hope that the following is in its essentials a true interpretation of this primitive religion.



The life of a Manbo is as deep an expression of his religious beliefs as that of any man I know. Belief in the supernatural seems to be instinctive with him. He undertakes no action out of the ordinary routine without consulting the powers above, and when he has assured himself of their disapprobation, he refrains most sacredly from his intended project, even if it should be one so cherished as vengeance on an enemy. But if these higher powers manifest their approbation he carries out his project with full assurance of success.

To the Manbo his deities and demons, spirits, giants, ghouls, and goblins are as real as his own existence, and his belief in them seems to him entirely rational and well founded, because for authority he has tradition and revelation—tradition handed down from generation to generation, revelation imparted to priests while manifesting all the indications of what he considers supernatural influence.


I have had occasion to study the working of the Manbo mind when brought into contact with phenomena which it had never contemplated before and I observed that when the phenomenon impressed him as being not prejudicial nor unintelligible it was ascribed to a beneficent supernatural agency, but when it produced the impression of being unintelligible or detrimental it was at once condemned as being the work of evil spirits. On one occasion a Manbo of the upper Agsan accompanied me to Talakgon and, upon seeing the government launch, made inquiries as to its nature. His questions being answered to his satisfaction, he made his comments, praised its form, and finally declared it to be the work of a god. But when it began to move, giving forth its shrill whistle and producing the noise characteristic of a gasoline launch, he at once condemned it as being the work of evil agency.

I saw another instance illustrative of this tendency upon the arrival of the first phonograph in the Simlau River district. My companion was a Manbo of the upper Bahaan. Upon hearing the strains of the phonograph he concluded at once that there was an evil spirit within it. Notwithstanding the fact that I assured him to the contrary, he persisted in his belief, averring that no good spirit would give vent to such an unearthly noise.

Almost invariably my watch, cornet, compass, and barometer were condemned as being the work of malevolent spirits. Instances might be multiplied indefinitely, but the general conclusion is that anything that suggests the unintelligible, the unusual, the suspected, the gloomy, is at once attributed to inimical powers. Hence a crow that caws at night is thought to be an evil spirit. The crashing of a falling tree in the forest is the struggle of mighty giants. The rumbling of thunder, the flash of lightning, the tempest's blast, and all the other phenomena of nature are the operations of unseen agencies. The darkness is peopled with hosts of spirits. On the desolate rocks, in the untrodden jungle, on the dark mountain tops, in gloomy caves, by mad torrents, in deep pools, dwell invisible powers whose enmity he must avoid or whose good will he must court, or whose anger he must placate.

Fear then seems to be the foundation of the Manbo's religious beliefs and observances. Untutored as he is, he fails to understand occurrences which the average trained mind can easily explain. On one occasion I was at the headwaters of the Abag River, a tributary of the Tgo River. I had to cross the river at a point where a mighty rock stood in midstream, dividing the river in two. I noticed that each of my Manbo carriers deposited a little stone near an aperture in the rock. I asked them why they had made their tribute to the spirit dweller of the rock, and I could not convince them that the rock was not placed there by the spirit, but was a natural result of the action of the water. They would never, they said, be able to return to the Agsan unless they showed their good will to the spirit lord of Abag.


In all the concerns of life the Manbo must secure immunity from the ill will of the multitudinous spirits that surround him. But this alone is not sufficient. He must be able to detect future evil, otherwise how can he avoid it? His ancestors for long bygone generations, have taught him how to foresee and avoid evil, for they have learned, often after bitter experience, the signs of present and approaching evil and the means of effectively avoiding it. These signs are embodied in a system of augury, that forms one of the most important parts of Manbo religion. Hence, before all important undertakings, and, above all, whenever there is any suspicion of bodily danger or any apprehension of supernatural ill will, the omens must be sedulously consulted and the machinations of evil or of inimical spirits thereby detected.


Now it happens that at times these omens can not be observed, so that it might seem that the Manbo is left exposed to, and defenseless against, a host of spirit enemies.[1] However, he knows a means of defense, for the good old people of yore have handed down the belief that there is an hierarchy of beneficent divinities called diwta that are ever ready to be his champions against the powers of evil. The old, old, people found this faith justified and experienced the help of the beneficent gods. Why should not he?

[1] Bsau.

How then is he to communicate with these invisible champions? Evidently through those who have been chosen by the deities themselves for that purpose—the order of priests called Italian. And so, following out the practice of his forefathers, he has recourse to the priests in more important concerns in which he can not otherwise ascertain the schemes of malignant spirits or determine the pleasure of the gods. The priest, in answer to his call, either by means of divination, or by ecstatic communion with his tutelary deity, or by appropriate offerings, learns the means to ward off the impending or suspected evil.

Living in a "land of terror," as he had up to about 35 years ago, surrounded on all sides by mortal enemies, and in constant warfare with them, the Manbo, like his forebears, felt the necessity of having recourse to spiritual agents for protection against his enemies and for assistance in conquering them. Herein is involved another feature of Manbo religion—the belief in a multitude of warlike spirits called tagbsan with whom communication is held through the mediation of warrior chiefs called bagni.


Other points of importance in the religious ideas of the Manbos are the belief in a future life and in the existence, immortality, and duality of the soul.[2] An inordinate fear of the dead and of all connected with them, a host of religious and of other taboos, and a belief in the efficacy of charms, talismans, and sympathetic magical means complete the summary of Manbo religion. For champions the Manbo has the tutelary diuta; for mediators, the bailn; for guides, dreams, divination, auguries, and omens; for propitiation, prayers, invocations, oblations, and sacrifice; for proof of faith, tradition, revelation, and personal experience.

[2] Not the metaphysical soul that is maintained in biblical and theological belief, but a material counterpart of each individual.


The umgad,[3] or spirit companions of man, as understood by the Manbo, may be defined as his material invisible counterparts without whose presence he would cease to live. He attributes to these spirits or souls invisibility, power of locomotion, and to at least one of them immortality. He invests not only men, but also animals and such plants as are cultivated by man for his sustenance, with souls or spirits. He will tell you that the soul of rice is like rice, and exists as a separate invisible form beside the visible material entity known as rice. I was given to understand that trees once had souls and in proof of the assertion the narra tree was cited, for even yet, it was explained, it bleeds when cut.[4] No other explanation is offered in the case of animals, than that they live and die and dream, therefore they must have a spirit or soul.

[3] From -gad, accompany.

[4] The sap of the narra tree bears a very striking resemblance to blood. Narra is one of the Pterocarpus species.

Vegetable souls in such plants as are used for the nourishment of man, are explained in the following way: The offerings of rice and drink which are set out for the deities, tutelary or other, are partaken of and after repast of the gods the offerings become insipid, because they have lost their "soul." I frequently tested the substantial remains of the spirits' feast and found that they had still retained their pristine savor and strength. No argument of mine, however, could convince my Manbo friends to the contrary. The spirits had consumed the soul, and there remained, according to their staunch belief, nothing but the outward form and inert bulk of the former offerings.

The Manbo supposes himself to have been endowed by Mandit with two invisible companions and he is convinced that without their attendance he could not exist. These souls or spirits are not indwelling principles of life but are two separate indeterminate entities that differ only in two respects from the person whose associates they are. The first difference is that of size, for it is the general belief that they are a trifle smaller than their bodily associates. Besides being smaller, they are invisible. No mortal eye, it is said, except the priest's, has seen a man's spirit companion, and yet it is only for brief intervals that they are absent from their corporal companions. At times they crouch upon the shoulders. When the man is making ready for a journey, they do likewise. When he sets out upon his travels they follow him, one on each side in somewhat the same way as the "guardian angels" of other creeds accompany their wards. I once witnessed a little incident illustrative of this belief. It was on the middle Agsan, when a mother was about to leave the house of birth. At the last moment she addressed the spirits of her little one, conjuring them to follow and to care for their tender ward.

Hence our souls are as our shadows, our other selves. Notwithstanding the close association between them and their human companions, they are seldom invoked. They are considered to have little, if any, power to help. It is thought that without their presence man would become mad, and in proof of this I was informed of cases where persons, on being awakened rudely and hurriedly, had recourse to the bolo, in a fit of madness due as it was thought, to the absence of their souls.[5]

[5] This belief explains the reluctance that the Manbo, like members of other Philippine tribes, feels in arousing a person hurriedly from sleep.

It is said that when we sleep these spirits wander off for a brief space on their own mystic errands, and their doings are mirrored in our dreams. Hence the strong and abiding belief of the Manbo in dreams. These strange companions of man have no material wants yet they lead an insecure existence, exposed, as they are, to the insidious attacks of the common foes of mortals. Hence it comes to pass that one of them, while away on its random rambles some unlucky day, is mysteriously kidnaped and finally "devoured" by a ruthless evil spirit.[6] As soon as the surviving soul realizes what has taken place, it bemoans the loss of its companion and leaving its corporal companion unattended wends its way, sad and solitary, to the land of Ib. I have been assured by priests that this companionless soul frequently returns to the scene of sickness and there bemoans with piteous cries the loss of its companion, heaping horrid imprecations on the head of the foul spirit that wrought the evil. Only the priest can hear its wild wail of woe and see its piteous face, all suffused with tears. Upon seeing the spirit's grief the priest renews at once his supplications to his tutelary deities, beseeching them to rescue the captured soul from the clutches of its enemy and thereby save the life of the patient. Should the prayers of the priest prove unavailing, the soul wends its way to the region of Ib, where, free from the agressions[sic] of earthly enemies, it begins its second and unending existence in the company of its spirit relatives.

[6] The "souls" of an ordinary priest and of war priests, as also those of the slain, are not subject to such attacks, being under the protection of numerous dieties[sic].


Manbo religion consists primarily of a belief in an innumerable number of deities called mli and of secondary deities called diuta. In contradistinction to these is a multitudinous host of demons known as bsau, waging incessant and ruthless war against the Manbo world. In addition to these there is a numerous array of spirits known as tagbnua to whom is assigned the ownership of the forests, hills, and valleys, while the various other divisions and operations of nature are thought to be under the superintendence of other preternatural beings, beneficent or otherwise.

The conception which the Manbo has of the supernatural world is very much like his idea of the world in which he lives. His gods, like his warrior chiefs, are great chiefs, no one of whom recognizes the sovereignty of the other. We find no idea of a supreme being as such. The priests of one settlement have their own special deities to whom they and their relatives have recourse, while the priests of another settlement have another set of deities for their tutelaries, with whom they intercede, either for themselves or for such of their friends as may need assistance. It is true that each priest has amongst his familiars a major divinity from whom he may have experienced more help, but in the spirit world there does not exist, according to Manbo belief, one supreme universal being.[7] Each priest declares the supremacy of his major deity over those of other priests, and Manbos declare Manbo deities to be superior to those of other tribes.

[7] During the great religious movement that was at its height in 1909, there was a general belief in the existence of a Magbabya, or supreme being, that was to overthrow the world, but before my departure from the Agsan in 1910, this supreme being was multiplied and was being sold to anyone of Manbo belief who could afford to pay the equivalent of a human life. Thus one frequently heard that So-and-So had received one or more Magbabya.

CLASSIFICATION OF DEITIES AND SPIRITS The following is a general classification of Manbo deities and spirits.


(1) m-li, a class of higher beings who on special occasions, through the intercession of the diuta, succor mortals.

(2) Diuta, a minor order of benignant deities, with whom the priests hold communion on all occasions of impending danger, before all important undertakings, and whenever it is considered necessary to feast or to propitiate them.


(1) Tagbsau, a category of sanguinary gods who delight in blood and who incite their chosen favorites, the bagni or warrior chiefs, to bloodshed and revenge, and ordinary laymen to acts of violence and madness.

(2) Panayang, a class of fierce deities related by ties of kinship, and subordinate to the tagbsau or gods of gore. Their special function seems to be to drive men to madness.[8]

[8] They are called ma-ka-yng-ug, i. e., "can make mad."

(3) Pamiya, retainers of the tagbsau, and their emissaries, when it is desired to incite men to acts of rage.


B-sau, an order of insatiable fiends, who, with some exceptions, occupy themselves wantonly in the destruction of human kind. The following are some of the classes and individuals who are commonly believed in but who, unlike most of the other bsau, are not of a perfidious nature unless aroused to anger.

(1) Tag-bnua, a class of spirits who are not unkind, if duly respected, and who live in all silent and gloomy places.

(2) Tme, a gigantic spirit, that dwells in the untraveled jungle and beguiles the traveler to his doom.

(3) Dgau, a mischievous, fickle spirit that delights in stealing the rice from the granary. If aroused to anger she may cause a failure of the rice crop.[9]

[9] She is called also Ma-ka-bn-ta-si, i. e., "can cause hunger."

(4) Anit or Antan, is the spirit of the thunderbolt, and one of the mightier class of spirits that dwell in the upper sky world.[10]

[10] In-ug-t-han.

(5) Epidemic demons, who hail from the extremity of the world at the navel[11] of the ocean.

[11] Ps'-ud to d-gat.


(1) Kakidan, the goddess of the rice, and its custodian during its growth.

(2) Tagamling, the goddess of other crops.

(3) Taphgan, the harvest goddess, and guardian of the rice during its storage in the granary.


(1) Mandyangan, a harmless humanlike giant whose home is in the far-off mountain forests.

(2) pla, an innocuous humanlike giant, the rival of Mandyangan for the wrestling championship.

(3) Tme, the giant demon referred to above.


(1) Tagabyau, a dangerous goddess, that incites to consanguineous love and marriage.

(2) Agkui, half diuta, half bsau, who urges men to consanguineous love and to sexual excesses.


(1) Inayau, an empyrean god, the wielder of the thunderbolt and the lightning, and the manipulator of the winds and storms.

(2) Tagbnua, who, besides being local gods reigning over the forest, have the power to produce rain.

(3) Umoiu, the cloud spirit.


(1) Sugdon or Sugjun, the god of hunters and trappers, under whose auspices are conducted the operations of the chase and all that pertains thereto. He is also the protector of the hunting dogs.

(2) Libtkan, the god of sunrise, sunset, and good weather; a god who dwells in the firmament and seems to have special power in the production of light and good weather.

(3) Mandit, the soul spirit who bestows upon every human being two invisible, not indwelling, material counterparts.

(4) Ymud, the water wraith, an apparently innocuous spirit, abiding in deep and rocky places, usually in pools, beneath the surface of the water.

(5) Ib, the queen of the afterworld, the goddess of deceased mortals, whose abode is down below the pillars of the world.

(6) Manduypit, the spirit ferryman, the proverbial ferryman who ferries the departed soul across the big red river on its way to Ibland.

(7) Makaldung, the founder of the world, who set the world on huge pillars (posts).



[12] Called also m-li or ma-di-gon-an no di-u—ta.

The primary diuta are a class of supernatural beings that dwell in the upper heavens. It is generally believed that at one time they led a human existence in Manboland but finally built themselves a stone structure up into the sky and became transformed into divinities of the first order. They stand aloft in a category by themselves and have no dealings with the Manbo world. On occasions the minor diuta or those of the second class, when they are unable to afford man the required help, have recourse to these greater deities. During my last trip to the Agsan Valley, it was the common report that the diuta of a certain Manbo clan on the upper Umaam River, having been unable to protect the people from military persecution had recourse to this higher hierarchy and that it was only a matter of time when the members of the clan would be taken up into the higher-sky regions where the supreme powers dwell and where they would themselves become mli or madignan no diuta.

It is thought that these deities have brass intestines and that they can draw up a house into their ethereal abodes with a gold limb,[13] but the conception of them is so vague and so varying that I am unable to give further definite information.

[13] Lim-b possibly means chain.


It is with the secondary order of divinities, however, that we have to deal more at length, for they are the guardians and champions of the Manbo in all the vicissitudes and concerns of life.

They are thought to be beings that in the long forgotten past lived their earthly lives here below and after their mortal course was run were in some inexplicable way changed into diuta. Though belonging now to a different and more powerful order, they still retain a fondness for the tribesmen who sojourn here below. Selecting certain men and women for their favored friends [14] they keep in touch with worldly affairs and at the call of their favorites hasten to the help of humankind.

[13] Lim-b possibly means chain.

[14] These are the bilan or priests and priestesses of Manboland.

In physical appearance these deities are human and Manbo-like but they are described as being "as fair as the moon." Warriors they are, to a certainty, for they are said to carry their shield and all the insignia of a Manbo warrior chief and to fare forth at times to punish some bold demon for his evil machinations against the tribe.

They are said to reside on the highest and most inaccessible mountains [15] in the vicinity of their favorite priests but are ready to fly "on the wings of the wind" to any part of the world in answer to a call for help.

[15] We find several mountains and promontories in eastern Mindano named after these gods, notably Mount Magdiuta to the southwest, and the Magdiuta range to the northwest, of the town of Liaga. Point Diuta also, to the west of Butun, is reported as being the dwelling place of Manbo divinities.

On these lofty heights they ordinarily lead a peaceful life. They are blessed with wives and children and have attendant spirits [16] to do their bidding. They have slaves, too, in their households, black ill-visaged demons captured in some great raid. They have few material wants, for betel nut is said to be their food but still they love to join in the feasts of mortals and to be regaled with all the good things of this world. They do not consume mortal offerings in a material way, for the offerings remain intact except for some slight fingerings that have been found at times on the surface of the rice and other offerings. It is only the "soul," or, as is held by others, the redolence of the viands that is partaken of. An exception, however, must be made in the case of the blood of victims, for this is actually consumed by the deities.

[16] These retainers are called lim-b-tung.

So great is their desire for the savory things of life that they are said to plague their mortal friends into providing them. Thus Mandit, the soul spirit, makes the babe restless, and even indisposed, with no other intention than to induce the people to provide a fatted fowl. It is believed too that Manag, the special patron of the sick, causes many a bodily ailment in order that his idol may be set up and that he may be treated to the various delicacies that he is fond of. And the bloodthirsty war lords, Tagbsau, must have their blood libation periodically, whether it comes from a human being or from an animal victim. It is true that this blood offering is to all appearance taken by the warrior chief or by the priest, for they ravenously suck it from the gory wound, or gulp it down from the vessel in which it has been caught. But it is believed that neither the priest nor the warrior chief drinks it, but the familiar spirits of the former, or the gods of the latter, who at the moment of sacrifice have taken possession of them, and produce in them violent tremblings and other manifestations of preternatural possession. I could get no satisfactory explanation of the manner of this possession. It is said to be effected by a mysterious corporal transformation of the divinity such as even the demons are capable of when they desire to ply their malice on humankind.

It is during this period of ecstatic seizure that the priest reveals to the assembled tribesmen the directions and desires of his deities. Breaking forth with loud voice and great belching into a wild strain, he announces to the people the recovery of the sick one, or a plentiful harvest, but it is not the priest that utters these prophecies and instructions, but the diuta that speaks through him.


These warlike beings are an order of divinities under whose special protection the priest warrior chief performs his feats of valor, and for whose special veneration he makes sacrifices and other offerings.

The prevailing idea with regard to them is that they are a class of deities whose sole delight is the blood of the human race. This is said to be their choice food, though they are willing, on nearly all occasions, to accept as a substitute that of a pig or of a fowl.

They are said to dwell in high, rocky places on far-away mountains. In order to be supplied with the delicacies of which they are so fond, they select certain individuals for their favorites and servants, and accord to them an immunity from personal danger.

It is seldom that they leave their rocky dwelling places, but when they do it is because they consider themselves neglected by their servants or when they experience an inordinate craving for blood. In such cases they hasten to plague their favorites in divers ways into watchfulness and compliance, and thereby keep themselves supplied with the viands so acceptable to them.

They have messengers, too. These are called pamiya and are sent by their masters to human haunts to incite men to anger, and thereby bring on an occasion for bloodshed, much as the proverbial devil is said to tempt humankind.

During all ceremonial feasts in their honor they are present and partake of the blood of the victim, human or animal. And when their favorite servants go forth to take revenge upon some long-standing enemy, they accompany him and during the attack are by his side, protecting him and inciting him to superhuman deeds. And when the enemy, men and women, lie bleeding all around and the captives have been bound, these terrible spirits eat, through their favorite's mouth, the heart and liver and the blood of one of the slain, preferably that of the chief enemy.




Standing out in strong antithesis to the benevolent divinities is an order of maleficent spirits corresponding to the proverbial devils of other cults. Throughout this paper they will be called, for want of a better name, bsau or demons; that is, evil agents holding an intermediate place between the higher divinities and men. No uniform tradition as to the origin of these spirits appears to exist. It is certain, however, from my investigation that the belief in such spirits antedates the recent partial Christian conquest of the Agsan.[1] It is said that in the old, old days, these spirits were rather well disposed toward men, and that children used to be entrusted to their care during the absence of the parents. Be that as it may, at the present day they have acquired a degree of maleficence that causes them to be considered the implacable enemies of the human race.

[1] The introduction of Catholicism among the pagan tribes of eastern Mindano was begun on a large scale by the Jesuits about the year 1877.

As frequently described to me by priests and by others who claimed to have seen them, these foul spirits are human in all other respects except that they are unusually tall, 2 fathoms being the average height accorded them. Black and hideous in appearance they are said to stalk around in the darkness and silence of the night. By day they retire to dark thickets, somber caves, and the joyless resting places of the dead.

They have no families nor houses, neither do they experience physical wants and so they wander around in wanton malice toward men. Seizing an unwary human "soul," they make it a prisoner and, sweeping away with it "on the wings of the wind," in some mysterious way devour it. Or, again, simulating the shape of a wild boar, an uncommon bird, or even a fish, they inflict bodily harm on their human victim.

The story of "po Bhon"[2] illustrates the belief in the metamorphosis of these demons. po Bhon was a Manbo of the Kasilaan River. One day, in the olden time, he went forth to hunt but had no luck, though three times he had offered his tributes to the Lord of the Agibwa marshland. Wearied with this hunt, he lay down to rest toward evening when lo! he spied a monkey and taking his bow and dart arrow he shot it. But he could not cook it. He piled wood upon the fire but still the flesh only blackened with soot and would not cook. In his hunger he ate the flesh raw but he never returned home, for the monkey was an evil spirit and po Bhon fell into his power. Thus it is that until this day he wanders around the woods of Kasilaan and may be heard toward evening calling his dogs together for his return to his home on Agibwa marshland. Woe betide the unlucky mortal who may cross his path, for now his quest is human. But if, upon hearing his voice, the traveler calls upon him and offers him a quid, po Bhon will pass on his way and do no harm.

[2] A-po means "grandfather" and bo-on "ulcer."



Naturally to the priest falls the task of opposing, through his influence with men's supernal friends, these malicious beings. Having got together the proper offerings he calls upon his friendly gods, one or several, and beseeches them to rescue and release the missing spirit or umagdd, and to punish the offending demons. Well pleased with the tokens of good will offered by the priest and by his earthly friends, the friendly deities are said to hasten to their home and gird themselves for the pursuit. With lance and shield and hempen coat[3] they start off on the raid. They are described as having their hair bound up in small wooden hemispheres, their heads turbaned with the red kerchief, and their necks adorned with a wealth of charms, much like the great warrior chiefs of Manboland. Guiding their footsteps by means of a powerful glass,[4] and traveling with tremendous speed, they are said to overtake quickly the fleeing enemy, even though they may have to travel to the other side of the world. Then begins a fierce battle between them and the enemy for the recovery of a human soul, or for the purpose of punishing the demons for acts of malice.

[3] Lim-bo-tung.

[4] Called espiho. There is a universal belief among the Manbos in an espiho (from the Spanish espejo, looking-glass) by which one can see into the bowels of the earth or to the extremities of the world.

This battle is described in minutest detail by the priests during the period of divine possession through which they pass in the course of the religious ceremonies. At times a hand-to-hand combat between a friendly deity and some more powerful demon is described at great length. Again the capture of many evil spirits is the theme of a story.

A common occurrence during these combats is the use of an iron ball by the friendly deities. The sight of this is said to inspire terror in the demons and leaves them at the mercy of their opponents. Shut up in this ball as in an iron prison they are brought back in triumph to the domains of their conquerors and the rescued companion spirit of man hurries joyously back to its mortal counterpart. These evil demons are said to be held as captives in the houses of the good spirits and to serve them in the capacity of slaves, accompanying and aiding them in their warlike expeditions against other evil spirits.


Besides having recourse to the diuta the Manbos make use of a reed,[5] or vine,[6] of the branches of a wild lemon tree[7] and other plants,[8] in order to counteract the evil influence of these fiends. It may be remarked that 11 of these cause a painful wound on an ordinary human being but that they are said to be particularly irritating to evil spirits; this is especially true of the wound made by the s s reed. Hence, on occasions when these demons are expected to be present, the priest secures the above-mentioned plants and sets them in places where it is thought the demons may be enticed to enter. It is mostly on the occasion of a death or of a birth that these precautions have to be taken for the smell of death and of human blood seems to have a great attraction for these monsters. On such occasions branches of lemon trees or of the other plants above mentioned are hung under the house or at any opening in the wall. The priest, also, frequently carries a sharpened s s reed in the hope of encountering some overbold demon. Although the wound inflicted by the reed does not kill the demon, yet it is very slow to heal and is said to be at times incurable.

[5] S-s.

[6] U-g.

[7] Su- and Ka-ba-yan-.

[8] Ka-mli and Hs.

Such is the fear which the evil spirits have of these reeds, vines, and branches that the mere mention of them is believed to be sufficient to frighten the demons. Fire and smoke, also, are said to keep them away and for that reason a fire is often kept burning under the house during times of sickness and death. Great care is used to keep alive the fire at night on nearly all occasions of apprehension.

Loud shouts, too, are resorted to in order to intimidate the evil spirits. During funerals the yelling is particularly noticeable; the loud yells which one hears while traveling through solitary places in the mountains and down the rivers are intended as a menace to the malevolent spirits.


When all other means have proved unavailing, propitiation is resorted to. I witnessed the propitiatory ceremony during several cases of serious sickness. In each case, when the offerings had been set out for the benevolent divinities on the regular sacrificial stands,[9] a corresponding offering of meat, rice, and other things was set out for the evil demons that were supposed to be responsible for the sickness. Their offerings were not placed in the house but outside, on a log or on the ground, and were not touched again, nor eaten by anyone, for the spirit of evil might have rendered them baneful.[10]

[9] Ban-k-so and ta-l-dug.

[10] Compare with the customs in vogue in the case of offerings made to the diuta.

After the various supplications have been made by the priests to the good deities, the evil ones are called upon but not in the same way, for they are not allowed within the precincts of the house, where various objects, like s s and lemon branches, have been placed to prevent their entrance. They are addressed from the opening around the house as if they were at a considerable distance, and no very endearing terms are used. During cases of sickness and especially during epidemics the custom of making a ceremonial raft is very common. I have heard numerous accounts both as to the uniformity of this practice and the reason for it.

Sickness of an unusual kind and especially of a contagious nature is supposed to be due to the agency of some very powerful epidemic spirits, who ascend the river, spreading the infection, and eluding at the same time, the diuta in pursuit. When the priests decide that all efforts to secure aid of the good deities are unavailing, they determine to propitiate the evil epidemic spirits in the following manner: A small raft of bamboo, 1 meter by 5 meters in the instance I witnessed, is constructed. On this is securely bound a victim, such as a pig. Fowl also may be offered on similar occasions and more or less elaborate ceremonies may be performed, like the blood-unction and the fowl-waving rite. In the ceremony which I witnessed the demons in question were formally requested to accept the pig, not to molest the settlement further, and to take themselves and their pig "down the river." The sickness was then addressed and requested to transfer itself to the body of the pig. After this the raft was freed and in its seaward course floated into the hands of persons who had less fear of demons than their Manbo friends.[11]

[11] I know that the pig in question was taken and consumed in a less religious way by a Bisya trader.



The tagbnua[12] or lords of the mountains and the valleys, are a class of local deities, each one of whom reigns over a certain district. To them is assigned the ownership of the mountains and the deep forest and all lonely patches and uncommon places that give an impression of mystery and solitude.

[12] Tag a prefix denoting ownership, and b-n-u-a, "uninhabited place," the open uninhabited country as distinguished from the territory in the immediate vicinity of the main rivers or of settled regions.

The tagbnua are thought to be neither kindly nor unkindly spirits, and without guile, provided a proper deference is shown them when we trespass upon their domains.

A tagbnua with his family selects a particular place for his habitation, sometimes a lonely mountain, sometimes a solitary glade or some high cliff or gloomy cavern. On one of my trips from Esperanza to the headwaters of the Tgo River, I saw the dwelling place of a tagbnua. It was a huge bowlder[sic], called Buhisan, that stood at the junction of the two torrents that form the Abag River, a tributary of the Tgo.

A favorite haunt of the tagbnua is a natural open place in the center of the forest. Here he builds a house, or more often makes his domicile in a balete tree. I have heard it said that he may at times select the laun or any other lofty tree but that his choice is usually the balte. Here he dwells with his family and is said to lead a quiet, peaceful life. Day by day he wanders through his realm and provides himself with the necessaries of life. Uncommon varieties of plants, such as ferns and ricelike growths, furnish him with the vegetable part of his meal, while venison and pork are obtained from the abundance of wild boars and deer. He and his family return home toward sunset and begin to prepare supper by pounding their rice. Many Manbos have heard with their own ears, they assured me, not only the sound of the rice mortar but all the sounds that are customarily heard in any Manbo home.


There are in the vicinity of Talakgon two localities where tagbnua are said to reign. One is called Agibwa and the other Kasawgan. Both of them are remote timberless places in the center of swampy regions. In the former the reigning deity had constructed a house, so I was told by one who claimed to have seen the posts while the house was still in the process of construction. According to other reports this deity had a herd of carabaos whose footprints had been seen by several of my friends and acquaintances.[13]

[13] These carabaos were evidently the remnant, or the offspring, of a small herd that escaped to the woods in the time of the Philippine insurrection.

The Kasawgan district was my hunting ground for nearly a year and I had occasion to observe the character and habits of its deity, as interpreted to me by Manbo guides and companions.

It was with the very greatest fear and reluctance that my first guide introduced me to the marshland. No sooner had I set foot upon it than it began to rain and my guide requested permission to return. In answer to an inquiry as to why he wished to leave me he proffered the information that he was afraid of the tagbnua, who was evidently displeased, for had not this deity already sent down a shower of rain? The guide then went on to say that if we persisted in transgressing on the marshland some greater evil was sure to follow. As I told him that we would make friends with the diety[sic] he consented to remain with me.

After all preparations for camping had been completed, my companion set out an offering of betel nut on a rude stand and addressing the invisible owner of the marshland, requested him to accept the betel nut and not to be displeased. My guide offered in his own defense that he had come into this region unwillingly.

After a few hours' vain endeavors to procure game, my companion made another donation, requesting the lord of the marsh to forego his ill will and permit us to get a wild boar. His prayers were unavailing for no game was forthcoming. When I lost my compass shortly afterwards my guide assured me that the misfortune was due to the persistent ill will of the tagbnua toward me.

I continued to visit this region week after week and had considerable success in getting game, but it was attributed, partly to the fact that the lord of the marsh had taken a liking to me, and partly to the offerings of betel nut and eggs made by my Manbo boys.

Illustrations similar to this of the fear and deference displayed toward this invisible ruler of solitary places might be multiplied indefinitely. Suffice it to say, however, that the belief in this class of spirits is widespread throughout all tribes of eastern Mindano, Bisyas[14] included.

[14] Among the Bisyas who come from Bohol, the respect paid the tagbnua amounts almost to worship.


The existence of a tagbnua in any particular locality is determined by a priest who, through his protecting deities, learns the name [15] of the spirit, ascertains the cause of his displeasure on a given occasion, and prescribes the offerings to be made to him either for reasons of propitiation or of supplication.

[15] Only the priests may pronounce the name.

Respect must be shown toward the tagbnua in various ways. His territory must not be trespassed upon, nor any of his property, such as trees, interfered with unless some little offering is made. His name, if known, as also the names of fish and of crocodiles, and of other things which are not indigenous to the region, must in no wise be mentioned. A violation of this taboo would be followed by a storm or by some other evil indicative of the tagbnua's displeasure, unless immediate measures were taken to appease his anger. Again, if one points the finger at places like a mountain where dwells a tagbnua, the displeasure of its owner is aroused and the transgressor is liable to feel the spirit's anger. It was explained to me by several Manbos that pointing at the dwelling place of these spirits might result in petrifaction of the arm.

The occupation of a new site is almost invariably the occasion for an invocation to the tagbnua, especially if the site be in the vicinity of a balete tree tenanted by him, for to occupy the place without obtaining his good will and permission would expose the would-be occupant to numberless vicissitudes. During hunting and trapping operations supplication is resorted to, especially when the hunter finds that game is scarce.[16]

[16] In the chapter on hunting, the various observances on such occasions have been described.

In case it is decided by the priest, or even suspected by an individual that an adversity, such as bad weather or sudden floods, is a result of a tagbnua's animosity, and that the ordinary simple offerings are not sufficient to placate him, then a white chicken must be killed and the regular rites peculiar to a blood sacrifice must be performed.

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