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A Legend of the Subanen "Buklog"

The term Subanen is given to a group of Philippine ethnic tribes that inhabits areas in Zamboanga del
Sur and Zamboanga del Norte penin-sula and the mountain areas of Misamis Occidental on the island
ofMindanao. Subanen means riverdweller."The tale of the origin of the buklog came from the Subanens
inthe municipality of Lapuyan, located on the northern shore of Duman-quilas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur.
The name Lapuyan is derived from the Subanen word gepuyan, which means "a place for cooking."Long ago,
when the Subanen were still in their hunting and fishing stage, they would come to the bank of the river to
cook their food after a long and tiring hunt for wild pigs in the area. They called the placegepuyan, which in
turn became the name tubig gepuyan which was later Hispanized to Rio de Lapuyan or Lapuyan river.
One of the ancient Subanen leaders who settled along the coast on thebanks of the Lapuyan river
was Gomotan Raja.2 A tall balono tree whichwas believed to have been planted by him several centuries
ago is stillstanding on the bank of Canon creek, a tributary of Lapuyan river.At about this time other
Subanen leaders were settling in otherparts of Zamboanga del Sur. One of them was Gomotan Sangira.
Hesettled in Megusan near Kumalarang and later his clan occupied the Guillian hill near Lapuyan. Gomotan
Sangira had three sons, Pala-ganding and Rainding, who were twins, Gomeed, and a sister namedBulaw.3
They were known to be good swordsmen, and tales have been

The evolution of the name "Zamboanga" provides an interesting insight into its historical
background. The early Malay settlers called the region "Jambangan",which means Land of
the Flowers. These Malays who built their settlements by the river banks were the
subanons, that is the "People of the River".
Their chief, Saragan, lived with his family atop the legendary Mount Pulumbato that today
lords over Pasonanca and Climaco Freedom Park (formerly Abong-Abong Park) then later
on, the Samals and the Badjaos who came on their frail vintas also settled here, building
their frail huts along the shorelines and confused "Jambangan" with "Samboangan" which
comes from the word "Sabuan", the wooden pole used to help push their vintas in shallow
waters or to tie them for anchorage purposes.


The original people of Zamboanga were the Subanen of Indonesian origin who came at about
2,000 to 6,000 years ago. They were coastal people who believe in the spirit of their ancestors
and the forces of nature.
When the Muslims arrived, they were pushed into the hinterlands and lived along the
riverbanks. Thus, the name ?Suba,? meaning people of the river.
The Subanens who communicate through their Subano language prefer and wear colorful
clothes and accessories. Black, red, and white are their favorite colors. The women often wear
red earrings that match with beaded necklaces.
Like other tribes, Subanens have their own entertainment or way of enjoying life. They like
music. The Ginarang or Migboat, Basimba, Gatagan and Sirdel or Sumumigaling are some of
their songs. These are sung with the accompaniment of their instruments like Gong, Kutapi,
Sigitan, Lantoy, Kulaying and Tambubok. court through songs and dances.
Their marriage custom is done through taltal. But aside from their court dance, they also have
war and ritual dances that they perform during social gatherings and special occasions such as
weddings, etc.

The tribe?s political structure consists of a Timuay equivalent to the barangay captain that we
have today. The Timuay tries cases involving crimes and moral turpitude. In case the Timuay
cannot decide on the case or if the case involves heinous crimes, he does not give the final

Subanen was established in Mindanao Island before 500 BC, [4] before the Neolithic Era, or New Stone
Age where the period in the development of human technology taken place beginning 10,000 BC
according to the ASPRO chronology (between 4,500 and 2,000 BC). The evidence of old stone tools in
Zamboanga del Norte may indicate a late Neolithic presence. Burial jars, both earthen and glazed, as
well as Chinese celadons, have been found in caves, together with shell bracelets, beads, and gold
ornaments. Many of the ceramic wares are from the Yuan and Ming periods. Evidently, there was a long
history of trade between the Subanon and the Chinese long before the latters contact with Islam.

For some time before the Spaniards came during the period of colonial rule, the Subanon had trade
contacts with the Tausug and the Maranao. As they are under the protection of the Sultanate of
Maguindanao, they also provide materials, warriors and help in the war efforts of the Sultanate. They
are also entitled to share in the war spoils.

The coming of Spain to the Philippines as a colonial power complicated the picture. The Spanish
colonial government sought to extend its sovereignty over the whole of southern Philippines. Declaring
its intention to protect the un-Christianized, non-Muslim Subanen of the Sibuguey (now Zamboanga)
peninsula, the government under General Valeriano Weyler constructed a series of fortifications across
the Tukuran isthmus for the purpose of shutting out the Malanao Moros. . . from the Subanon country,
and preventing further destructive raids upon the peaceful and industrious peasants of these hills
(Finley 1913:4). Spanish military control of the Tukuran garrison and fortifications ended in 1899, under
the terms of the Treaty of Paris.


The Subanen people are farmers. They cultivate crops, with rice as the most important crop, but they
are also known to raise livestock including pigs, chickens, cattle, and water buffaloes. Subanen houses
are built along hillsides and ridges overlooking family fields.

The ancestors of the Subanen practiced dry agriculture, and most likely had knowledge of pottery
making. The Subanen are mainly agriculturists who practice three types of cultivation.

Along the coastal area, wet agriculture with plow and carabao is the method of producing their staple
rice. Beyond the coasts, both wet and dry agriculture is found. Swidden farming is the norm in the
interior, particularly the uplands. Along the coasts, coconuts are raised aside from rice.

Further inland, corn becomes an additional crop aside from the first two. Apart from the principal crops
raisedwhich are mountain rice and cornthe root crops camote, cassava, gabi (taro), and ubi (yam)
are also grown. These are roasted, boiled, or made into preserves and sweets. In some places, tobacco
is planted. The people supplement their income and their food supply by fishing, hunting, and
gathering of forest products. The extra rice they can produce, plus the wax, resin, and rattan they can
gather from the forest are brought to the coastal stores and traded for cloth, blades, axes, betel boxes,
ornaments, Chinese jars, porcelain, and gongs.

Trade between the mountain- and valley-dwelling Subanen, on the one hand, and the coastal people of
Zamboanga, the Moro exchanges goes back many centuries.

An old Subanen legend tells about the possible origins of this ancient trade. According to the legend,
the first Subanen chieftain was a giant named Tabunaway. He ruled over his people long before the
Moros and the Spaniards appeared on Subanen land. He lived near a place called Nawang (which later
became Zamboanga). It was during his time that the Moros first appeared in Nawang. They sailed
upriver until they reached the place of Tabunaway and his people. The Moros wanted to exchange the
fish they caught at sea, with the fruits and other products of Nawang. They placed their catch on rocks
and waited for the Subanon to come down from the hills. The Subanen tasted the fish, and liked it. They
then put their own food of rice, sugarcane, and yams on the same rocks for the Moros to take.

This was the beginning of trade between the Subanon and the Moros. The coming of the Moros to
Zamboanga was recorded to have taken place in 1380, and trade between the two has been going on
for hundreds of years.
Sometimes there are crop failures, as a result of drought or infestation by pests. Lacking rice, the Subanen
resort to gathering buri and lumbia or lumbay, which are palm types with a pith along the entire length that
is a rich source of starchy flour. This is extracted and processed into food. The Subanen can also gather sago
in the forests, particularly along the riverbanks, for their flour. There are also varieties of wild edible roots in
the woodlands. Where orchards, gardens, and small plantations are cultivated, squash, eggplant, melons,
bananas, papayas, pineapples, jackfruit, and lanzones provide the Subanen additional food. In some coastal
settlements, the Subanen have been known to cultivate coconuts for food and for trading purposes. They
also grow hemp or abaca, and use the fiber for making ropes, weaving cloth, or exchanging for finished
products in the barter trade.

Casal (1986) refers to the Subanen of Sindangan Bay in Zamboanga del Norte as possibly the most riceconscious of all Philippine groups, because of their marked preference for rice above all other staples, as
well as the amount of labor and attention they devote to their rice lands. Before the rice harvest in
September, the Subanon subsist on root crops and bananas.

The relationship between natural phenomena and the agricultural cycle is well established in the folk
knowledge of the Sindangan Subanen. They study wind patterns, looking out for tell-tale signs of imminent
weather changes. Based on their native methods of meteorology, the Subanon identify three distinct
seasons within the agricultural cycle: pendupi, from June to September, characterized by winds blowing from
the southwest; miyan, from December to January, a time of winds and northeast monsoon rains; and
pemeres, from March to April, the hot and dry season. The Subanen also reckon agricultural time by the
stars, notably the constellation Orion. Among the Subanen, as it is with other Mindanao groups, the
appearance of this star group signals the time for the clearing of a new swidden. The monthly rotation of the
stars is a guide for the swidden cycle during the first months of the year (Casal 1986:36).


Subanen society is patriarchal, with the family as the basic governmental unit. (Finley 1913:25). There
is no political hierarchy on the village level, as in the datu system of government. The title of datu was
used occasionally in the past during the Sultanate. Timuay is the traditional title for the communal
leader who is also the chief arbiter of conflict between the families of a community or a confederation.
The word timuay (variously spelled timuai, timuway, timway) is also use in Maguindanao word which
means chief or leader. It connotes both civil and religious authority for the bearer of the title.

The title of timuay may be recalled by the community and given to another tasked with the
responsibility of leading the community. The timuay invokes this authority in cases of violations of
social norms, such as affronts or insults, violations of contracts, and other offenses. Under his
leadership, an association or confederation of families forms a community.

If the timuay proves to be an efficient and popular leader, the community of families under his
authority may expand. The authority of the timuay does not correspond to a particular territory. Within
the same area, his authority may expand or decrease, depending on the number of families which put
themselves under his authority.

Consequently, when a family becomes dissatisfied with the conduct and control of the chief, the
father secedes and places his family under the domination of some other timuay (Finley 1913:25).

This, then, is the basis of Subanon patriarchal society: the absolute authority of the father to assert
the supremacy of family rights within a community voluntarily organized under a designated
timuay. During the Spanish and American colonization, there were several attempts to organize
the Subanon into politically administered towns or villages, but these attempts were resisted by
the people. Such was the premium the Subanen put on the independence of the individual family.
In fact, young Subanen who marry break off from their families and start their own families in
other places.

In recent times, the Subanen timuay have been confronted with concerns ranging from local issues
affecting their particular community to larger, regional issues confronting the entire Subanen
group. These issues include the defense of the Subanen ancestral domain against the
encroachments of loggers and mining companies. Highly politicized Subanen leaders have been
active in organizing their people and coordinating with non-government organizations of tribal


Subanens do not practice division of labor based on sex. Men and women work in the fields together,
and men can cook and care for the children when necessary. Subanons have little social stratification.
Everyone is equal in the Subanon community because everyone has the same family for several years
if he cannot afford to pay the shamaya. It is considered a blessing to have more daughters than sons
because the father will be able to recover the dowry he paid for his wife. There is a general belief that
all human beings should marry.[6]

A neighborhood of 5 to 12 households becomes a unit of social organization, where members engage in

frequent interactions. In cases of dispute, members may intervene to mediate, so that they may over
time develop as efficient arbitrators of disputes, and become recognized as such by this neighborhood.
There are many such communities in Subanen society. A bigger group of interacting communities may
contain as many as 50 households.

in Subanen society is through parental arrangement, which can take place even before the parties reach the
age of puberty. The contracting families go through preliminaries for the purpose of determining the brideprice, which may be in the form of cash or goods, or a combination of both. Negotiations are undertaken
between the two sets of parents through the mediation of a go-between who is not related to either family.
Once the bride-price is determined, a partial delivery of the articles included in the agreement may be
made, to be completed when the actual marriage takes place.
After the marriage ceremonies have been held, and the wedding feast celebrated, the newlyweds stay
with the girls household. The man is required to render service to his wifes parents, mainly in the
production of food. After a certain period of matrilocal residence, the couple can select their own place
of residence, which is usually determined by proximity to the swidden fields.

Family properties which are covered by inheritance consist mainly of acquired Chinese jars, gongs,
jewelry, and, in later times, currency. The ownership of cultivated land, the swidden field, is deemed
temporary, because the Subanen family moves from place to place, and necessitated by the practice
of shifting agriculture. The grains stored in bins or jars do not last long, and therefore are not covered
by inheritance.

The family as a corporate unit comes to an end through divorce, abduction of the wife, or death of
either spouse. But it can be immediately reconstituted through remarriage. The surviving widow can be
married to a brother, married or not, of the deceased husband, or the parents of the deceased wife
almost immediately marries off to the widower one of their unmarried daughters or nieces.

Socioeconomic needs bring about close relationships in Subanen society. Spouses can expect
assistance in many activities from both their parents and their kin, and they in turn extend their help to
these relatives when it is needed. Non-relatives are expected to give and receive the same kind of help.
By the mere fact that they live in a neighborhood, non-relatives become associates in activities that
cannot be done by the head of the family alone, such as constructing a house, clearing the field,
planting, and holding a feast.
Religious Beliefs and Practices
The tribe believes in a supreme being they call "Diwata Migbebaya". The tribe has no religion although it is
believed that they had a holy book at one time. Today the Subanen people have adopted either Catholic [7] or
Islam. Those Subanen who adopted Islam are known as the Kolibugan or Kalibugan, and some Subanen who
were traditionally animist have since adopted Catholism.

The Subanen cosmogony exemplifies the basic duality of mortal life and spiritual realm, with a complex
system of interrelationships between these two cosmic elements. The physical world is inhabited by the
kilawan (visible mortals), who become sick and whose ailments are attributed to supranatural causes. In the
nonmaterial realm exist the kanagkilawan (supernaturals), who are not visible to ordinary mortals, but who
can be perceived and addressed by the balian (medium or shaman). The supernatural beings are of four
kinds: gimuud (souls), mitibug (spirits), getautelunan (demons), and diwata (deities).

In place of a hierarchy or pantheon of supreme beings, the Subanen believe in the spirits who are part of
nature. Spirits and deities are said to inhabit the most striking natural features which are considered the

handiwork of the gods, such as unusually large trees, huge rocks balancing on a small base, peculiarly
shaped mounds of earth, isolated caves, and peaks of very tall mountains.

The active relationship between ordinary mortals and the supernaturals begins when an individual falls sick.
The Subanen believe that an ailing persons soul momentarily departs from the persons body. It is up to the
balian to recall the straying soul, reintegrate it with the ailing person so that the illness could end. Failing
this, the patient dies. The soul then becomes a spirit. The balian, as in any traditional shamanistic culture,
occupies a very special place in Subanen religious and social life. The balian are believed to be capable of
visiting the skyworld to attend the great gatherings of the deities, known as bichara (assembly or meeting).
They are also acknowledged to have the power of raising the dead.

Visual Arts and Crafts

Unlike the glazed imported jars in some households, the indigenous earthenware of the Subanen are
simpler in execution and design. Every household has at least one woman who is knowledgeable in the
art of pottery, and who turns out jars as required by domestic needs.

Several types of baskets may be found in a typical Subanen house. The women shape round baskets
from materials of different colors, such as the nito vine, split rattan, bamboo, and sometimes wood or
tree bark.

Cloth weaving is basically similar to the style of the neighboring Muslim region. The weaving loom is set
up inside the house. Cotton threadspun from cotton by womenusing the distaff crafted by menand
abaca fiber are commonly used. Before cotton was introduced by Muslim and Christian traders, the
Subanen used abaca fiber for their clothing and blankets.

The finer metalcraft possessed by the Subanen, such as bladed weapons like the kris, kampilan, and
barong, and chopping knives called pes, have been obtained through trade with the Moro. But the
Subanen also produce some of their weapons and implements. They also use steel, especially in
making blade edges. The Subanen forge has bamboo bellows, while the anvil is made of wood with an
iron piece on top where the hot metal is worked into shape.
Literary Arts
Subanen oral literature include the folktales, short, often humorous, stories recounted for their sheer
entertainment value; and the epics, long tales which are of a serious character.
To date, three Subanen epics have been recorded and published: The Guman of Dumalinao, the Ag Tobig nog
Keboklagan (The Kingdom of Keboklagan), and Keg Sumba neg Sandayo (The Tale of Sandayo). All performed
during the week-long buklog, Guman contains 4,062 verses; Keboklagan 7,590; and Sandayo 6,577.

Performing Arts
Subanen musical instruments include the gagong, a single brass gong; the kolintang, a set of eight small
brass gongs of graduated sizes; and the durugan, a hollowed log which is beaten like a drum; and the
Vocal music includes the chants for the epic, and several types of songs, which include the dionli (a love
song), buwa (lullaby), and giloy (a funeral song for a dead chieftain). One buwa sung by the Subanon of the
Sindangan Bay goes:
To be at peace with the diwata of the tribe, the Subanen perform ritual dances, sing songs, chant prayers,
and play their drums and gongs. The balian, who is more often a woman, is the lead performer in almost all
Subanen dance rituals. Her trance dance involves continuous chanting, frenzied shaking of palm leaves, or
the brandishing of a bolo alternated with the flipping of red pieces of cloth. Upon reaching a feverish climax,
the balian stops, snaps out of her trance, and proceeds to give instructions dictated by the diwata to the

Dance among the Subanen fulfills a multitude of ceremonial and ritual functions. Most important of the
ritual dances is the buklog which is performed on a platform at least 610 meters above the ground.
The most expensive ritual of the Subanon, the buklog is held to commemorate a dead person, so that
his acceptance into the spirit world may be facilitated, or to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, or to
ask for such a harvest as well as other favors from the diwata.
The soten is an all-male dance dramatizing the strength and stoic character of the Subanon male. It
employs fancy movements, with the left hand clutching a wooden shield and the right hand shaking
dried leaves of palm.
The diwata is a dance performed by Subanon women in Zamboanga del Norte before they set out to
work in the swidden. In this dance, they supplicate the diwata for a bountiful harvest. The farmers carry
baskets laden with grains. They dart in and out of two bamboo planting sticks laid on the ground, which
are struck together in rhythmic cadence by the male dancers. The clapping sequence is similar to that
of the tinikling or bamboo dance.
The lapal is a dance of the balian as a form of communication with the diwata, while the sot is a dance
performed by Subanon men before going off to battle. The balae is a dance performed by young
Subanon women looking for husbands. They whisk dried palm leaves (See logo of this article), whose
sound is supposed to please the deities into granting their wishes.
The pangalitawao is a courtship dance of the Subanen of Zamboanga del Sur, usually performed during
harvest time and in other social occasions. Traditional costumes are worn, with the women holding
shredded banana leaves in each hand, while the men hold a kalasay in their right hand.

Chavacano or Chabacano [taakano] is a Spanish-based creole language spoken in the Philippines.
The word Chabacano is derived from Spanish, meaning "poor taste", "vulgar", for the Chavacano language
which was developed in
Cavite City

It also derived from the word chavano which was coined by the people of Zamboanga. Six different
dialects have developed: Zamboangueo in Zamboanga City, Davaoeo Zamboangueo / Castellano
Abakay in Davao City, Ternateo in Ternate, Cavite, Caviteo in Cavite City, Cotabateo in Cotabato
City and Ermiteo in Ermita.
Linguistic significance
The Chavacano language is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia. It has survived for more than 400
years, making it one of the oldest creole languages in the world. Among Philippine languages, it is the
only one which does not belong to the family of Austronesian languages, although it shows a
characteristic common to the sub-classification of Malayo-Polynesian languages, the reduplication.

Linguistic significance
The Chavacano language is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia. It has survived for more than 400 years,
making it one of the oldest creole languages in the world. Among Philippine languages, it is the only one
which does not belong to the family of Austronesian languages, although it shows a characteristic common
to the sub-classification of Malayo-Polynesian languages, the reduplication.

This creole has six dialects. Their classification is based on their substrate languages and the regions where
they are commonly spoken. The three known dialects of Chavacano which have Tagalog as their substrate
language are the Luzon-based creoles of which are Caviteo (spoken in Cavite City), Bahra or Ternateo
(spoken in Ternate, Cavite) and Ermiteo (once spoken in the old district of Ermita in Manila and is now

Zamboangueo Chavacano emanated from Caviteo Chavacano as evidenced by prominent Zamboangueo

families who descended from Spanish Army officers (From Spain and Latin-America), primarily Caviteo
mestizos, stationed at Fort Pilar in the 19th century. When these Caviteo officers recruited workers and
technicians from Iloilo to man their sugar plantations and rice fields to reduce the local population's
dependence on the Donativo de Zamboanga, taxes levied by the Spanish colonial government on the
islands' inhabitants to support the fort's operations, and with the subsequent migration of Ilonggo traders to
Zamboanga, the Zamboangueo Chavacano was infused with Ilonggo words as the previous migrant
community was assimilated.

The highest number of Chavacano speakers are found in Zamboanga City and in the island province of

Most of what appears to be Cebuano words in Zamboangueo Chavacano are actually Ilonggo. Although
Zamboangueo Chavacano's contact with Cebuano began much earlier when Cebuano soldiers were
stationed at Fort Pilar during the Spanish colonial period, however, it was not until closer to the middle of the
20th century that borrowings from Cebuano accelerated as a result of more migration from the Visayas as
well as the current migration from other Visayan-speaking areas of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Zamboangueo is spoken in Zamboanga City, Basilan Province, parts of Sulu Province and Tawi-Tawi
Province, and in Semporna-Sabah, Malaysia, and Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga
del Norte. The other dialects of Chavacano which have, primarily, Cebuano as their substrate language are
the Mindanao-based creoles of which are Castellano Abakay or Chavacano de Davao (spoken in some
areas of Davao), this dialect has an influence from Chinese and Japanese, also divided into two sub-dialects
namely Castellano Abakay Chino and Castellano Abakay Japn, and Cotabateo (spoken in Cotabato City).
Both Cotabateo and Davaoeo evolved from Zamboangueo. The Chavacano languages in the Philippines
are creoles based on Mexican Spanish and Portuguese. In some Chavacano languages, most words are
common with Andalusian Spanish, but there are many words borrowed from Nahuatl, a language native to
Central Mexico, which are not to be found in Andalusian Spanish.

Many of the words in the Chavacano vocabulary are mostly derived from Mexican Spanish, while its
grammar is mostly based on other Philippine languages, primarily Ilonggo, Tagalog and Cebuano. Its
vocabulary, has influences from Italian, Portuguese and the Native American languages Nahuatl, Taino,
Quechua, etc. as can be evidenced by the words chongo (monkey, instead of Spanish 'mono'), tiange (mini
markets),etc.[citation needed] The vocabulary of the Ternateo dialect, in particular, has a major influence from the
Portuguese language and the language of Ternate in Indonesia since the speakers of the said dialect are the
descendants of the Indonesian soldiers brought by the Spaniards in the area. This can be seen in the use of
the word 'na' instead of the Spanish 'en'.

Chavacano or Chabacano

During the Spanish colonial period, it was called by the Spanish-speaking population as the "lenguaje del
calle", "lenguaje de parian" (language of the street), or "lenguaje de cocina" (kitchen Spanish to refer to the
Chabacano spoken by Chinese-Filipinos of Manila, particularly in Ermita) to distinguish it from the Spanish
language spoken by the peninsulares, insulares, mestizos, or the elite class called the ilustrados.

This common name has evolved into a word of its own in different spellings with no negative connotation,
but to simply mean as the name of the language with that distinct Spanish flavour. However, most of its
earlier speakers were born of mixed parentage Hispanized urbane natives, Chinese migrants and Spanish
or Latin American soldiers and civil servants during the Spanish colonial period.

On 23 June 1635, Zamboanga City became a permanent foothold of the Spanish government with the
construction of the San Jos Fortress. Bombardment and harassment from pirates and raiders of the sultans
of Mindanao and Jolo and the determination to spread Christianity further south (as Zamboanga was a
crucial strategic location) of the Philippines forced the Spanish missionary friars to request reinforcements
from the colonial government.

originated from the Spanish word chabacano which literally means

"poor taste", "vulgar", "common", "of low quality", or "coarse".

Forms and style

Chavacano (especially Zamboangueo) has two registers or sociolects: The common, colloquial, vulgar or
familiar and the formal register/sociolects.

The Zamboangueo people are a Filipino ethnic group native to Zamboanga. Although the product
of Spanish colonization in southern Philippines, they are of Austronesian stock numbering around 850,000.
The Zamboangueos constitute an authentic and distinct ethnolinguistic identity for two reasons: claim to a
distinct language, Zamboangueo (also called Chavacano or Chabacano), and undeniable vestiges of
Spanish occupation (physical features of mestizos, Spanish folk art, fiestas and Roman Catholicism.

People from other ethnolinguistic groups came to Jambangan (present-day Zamboanga City), when the
construction of the present-day Fort Pilar begun. The colonial Spanish government ordered the
construction of a military fort to guard off the city from moro pirates and slave raiders of Sulu. Laborers
from Cebu, Cavite, Bohol, Panay and other islands were brought to the city to help build the fort .

Thru inter-marriage among themselves and with the Spanish, they found their new culture with their
new Ethno-Linguistic Group, called Zamboangueo. and Because these people from different islands
spoke different languages, they also found their new language called Chavano and eventually evolve
into Chavacano. thus, a pidgin begun and eventually, the Zamboangueo Chavacano developed into a
full-pledge creole language to become the lingua franca of Zamboanga City and then the official
language of the Republic of Zamboanga. so to speak, Zamboanga City consider to be the birthplace of
the Zamboangueo Chavacano Language and as a new Cultural Ethno-Linguistic Group, as a new
people with distinct Ethnic Race and Identity called, Zamboangueo.
The Character of the Zamboangueo People are unique as we can say for their Kinship Family System,
Love for one's Cultural Heritage, Propensity for extravagance, Fiestas and Siestas, and Aristocratic
behavior. while their Social Live usually resolve around religious practices, the tradition of the
bantayanon, fiestas, fondas, includes their bailes the baile-valse, regodon and paso doble.

The Zamboangueo customs are based on Spanish, Latin America and European notions of patriarchal
authority, etiquette, familial obligation, as well as a feeling of superiority - characterized by excessive
pride, vanity, jealousy, boastfulness, and snobbishness - over their less-Westernized neighbors. They
are mostly devout Roman Catholics.

The Zamboangueo courtship traditions are elaborate and regulated by a long list of required social
graces. For example, a perfectly respectable Zamboangueo Latino caballero (gentleman) would not sit
unless permitted to do so by the womans parents, he then had to endure questions pertaining to his
lineage, credentials, and occupation. Finally, the courtship curfew, and the need to cultivate the
goodwill of all the members of the womans family were paramount considerations before any headway
could be made in pursuing a Zamboanguea senorita's hand in marriage.

Zamboangueo songs and dances are derived primarily from Spanish/Iberian performances.
Specifically, the Jota Zamboanguea, a Zamboangueo version of the quick-stepping flamenco with
bamboo clappers in lieu of Spanish castanets, are regularly presented during fiestas and formal
"tertulias" or other Zamboangueo festivities.

Likewise, Zamboangueo traditional costumes are closely associated with Spanish formal dress. Men
wear close-necked jackets as they called Camiseta Zamboangueo, "de baston" pants, and
European style shoes, complete with the de rigueur "bigotillos" (mustache). More recently,
Zamboangueo men have adapted to wearing the formal Barong Tagalog, worn by men throughout the
Philippines. Zamboanguea women claim ownership of the Mascota, a formal gown with a fitting
bodice, her shoulders draped demurely by a luxuriously embroidered, though stiff, panuelo and
fastened at the breast by a brooch or a medal. The skirt tapers down from the waist but continues on to
an extended trail called the "cola". The "cola may be held on one hand as the lady walks around, or it
may likewise by pinned on the waist or slipped up a cord (belt) that holds the dainty "abanico" or purse.
The traditional Zamboangueo dress has been limited to formal functions, replaced by the more
common shirt, denim jeans and sneakers for men, and shirts, blouses, skirts or pants, and heeled shoes
for women.

There are several important events of festival that can be witness during 'Semana Santa', a
Zamboangueo Expression of Holy Week. these includes watching peliculas all about Jesus and his
teachings, Visitaciones de las Inglesias, Procession, Novenas and the climbing and praying at the
Estaciones de Cruz in Mt. Pulong Bato

. Fiesta Pilar a festivity in honor to Sra. La Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza en Zamboanga and, the Dia de
Zamboanga and Dia de Los Zamboangueos/Chavacanos which is celebrated every 15 August every
year for foundation of Zamboanga and birth of the Zamboangueo People on 15 of August 1635.
Zamboangueo are mostly Christians, who are mostly devoted Roman Catholics, devotion towards
Jesus through songs and believes that the Catholic faith is the true religion and lastly devoted to Sra.
La Virgen del Pilar. Zamboangueos celebrate Christmas in so many uniquely ways such as the
Villancicos / Aguinaldos o Pastores this also includes the dia de navidea y noche buena, Fiestas,
Visper, Diana, Misa, Juegos, procession or parade, and feasting.

Zamboanga Architecture (1789-1794)

View of a tower and part of the village of ancient "Jambangan" by Fernando Brambila, from collection of
drawings and engravings made on the Malaspina Expedition. The native Philippine house was
characterized by a pitched roof with two or four angles, supported on a framework resting on four or
more wooden pillars. It raised above the ground on a platform of earth.

The Tausg or Suluk people are an ethnic group of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. The
Tausg are part of the wider political identity of Muslims of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan known as the
Moro ethnic group, who constitute the third largest ethnic group of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.[citation
They originally had an independent state known as the Sulu Sultanate, which once exercised
sovereignty over the present day provinces of Basilan, Palawan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, the eastern part of the
Malaysian state of Sabah (formerly North Borneo) and North Kalimantan in Indonesia.


"Tausug" means "the people of the current", from the word tau which means "man" or "people" and sg
(alternatively spelled sulug or suluk) which means "[sea] currents".[1]
The term Tausg was derived from two words tau and sg (or suluk in Malay) meaning "people of the
current", referring to their homelands in the Sulu Archipelago. Sg and suluk both mean the same
thing, with the former being the phonetic evolution in Sulu of the latter (the L being dropped and thus
the two short U's merging into one long U). The Tausg in Sabah refer to themselves as Tausg but
refers to their ethnic group as "Suluk" as documented in official documents such as birth certificates in
Sabah, which are written Malay.

History ,Sultanate Era

The history of Sulu begins with Karim-ul Makhdum, a Muslim missionary, who arrived in Sulu in 1380.
He introduced the Islamic faith and settled in Tubig Indangan, Simunul, until his death. The Mosque's
pillars at Tubig-Indangan, which he built, still stand.
In 1390, Rajah Baguinda Ali landed at Buansa, and extended the missionary work of Makhdum. The
Johore-born Arab adventurer Sayyid Abubakar Abirin arrived in 1450, married Baguinda's daughter,
Dayang-dayang Paramisuli. After Rajah Baguinda's death, Sayyid Abubakar became Sultan, thereby
introducing the sultanate as a political system (the Sultanate of Sulu). Political districts were created in
Parang, Pansul, Lati, Gitung, and Luuk, each headed by a panglima or district leader.
After Sayyid Abubakar's death, the sultanate system had already become well established in Sulu.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, the ethnic groups in Sulu the Tausug, Samal, Yakan, and Bajau were in varying degrees united under the Sulu sultanate, considered the most centralised political
system in the Philippines. Called the "SpanishMoro conflict", these battles were waged intermittently
from 1578 till 1898, between the Spanish colonial government and the Bangsamoro people of
Mindanao and Sulu.

Prior to modern times, the Tausg were under the

Sultanate of Sulu.

The system is a patrilineal system, consisting of the title of Sultan as the sole sovereign of the
Sultanate (in Tausg language: Lupah Sug, literally: "Land of the Current"), followed by various
Maharajah and Rajah-titled subdivisional princes. Further down the line are the numerous Panglima or
local chiefs, similar in function to the modern Philippine political post of the Baranggay Kapitan in the
Baranggay system.

Of significance are the Sarip (Sharif) and their wives, Sharifah, who are Hashemite descendants of the
Islamic prophet, Muhammad. They are respected as religious leaders, though some may take up
administrative posts.

The Tausg currently number about 953,000 in the Philippines. They populate the Filipino province of
Sulu as a majority, and the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan, Cebu and
Manila as minorities. Much of these Filipino-Tausgs have work in neighbouring Sabah, Malaysia as
construction labourers in search for better lives. However, many of them have violate the law by
overstaying illegally and involved in criminal activities. The Filipino-Tausgs are not recognised as a
native to Sabah.[note 1][11]

The overwhelming majority of Tausgs follow Islam, as Islam has been a defining aspect of native Sulu
culture ever since Islam spread to the southern Philippines. They follow the traditional Sunni section of
Islam, however they retain pre-Islamic religious practices and often practice a mix of Islam and
A Christian minority exists. During the Spanish occupation, the presence of Jesuit missionaries in the
Sulu Archipelago allowed for the conversion of entire families and even tribes and clans of Tausgs, and
other Sulu natives to Roman Catholicism. For example, Azim ud-Din I of Sulu, the 19th sultan of Sulu
was converted to Roman Catholicism and baptized as Don Fernando de Alimuddin, however he reverted
back to Islam in his later life near death.
The Tausug language is called "Sinug" with "Bahasa" to mean Language. The Tausug language is
related to Bicolano, Tagalog and Visayan languages, being especially closely related to the Surigaonon

language of the provinces Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur and the Butuanon
language of northeastern Mindanao specially the root Tausug words without the influence of the Arabic
language, sharing many common words.

The Tausg, however, do not consider themselves as Visayan, using the term only to refer to Christian
Bisaya-language speakers, given that the vast majority of Tausgs are Muslims in contrast to its very
closely related Surigaonon brothers which are predominantly Roman Catholics. Tausug is also related
to the Waray-Waray language.

Tausug society is hierarchically stratified and has been since at least the founding of the Sulu sultanate.
Three major rank categories were formerly recognized: nobles, commoners, and slaves. The nobility
consisted of datu, men holding patrilineally inherited titles who exercised regional power, and salip,
religiously revered men and women who claimed descent from the Prophet.


Marriage is ideally arranged by parents. Contacts between the sexes are restricted and marriageable
women are kept in relative seclusion to protect their value to their family as political and economic
assets. First and second cousins are favored spouses (with the exception of the children of brothers). A
series of negotiations precedes marriage, concluding with an agreement on the amount of bride-wealth
and other expenses to be paid by the boy's family. In addition to arranged marriages, wives may be
obtained by elopement or abduction, both common alternatives. Weddings are held in the groom's
parents' house immediately upon payment of bride-wealth and are officiated by an imam. Newly
married couples generally reside uxorilocally for the first year, or until the birth of a child, after which
they are free to join the husband's family, remain with the wife's family, or, preferably, build a new
house of their own, typically close to the husband's natal community. Independent residence is the
eventual ideal. Relations between husband and wife are characteristically close and enduring. Divorce
is permitted but is infrequent, occurring in less than 10 percent of all marriages and, although polygyny
is allowed, few men take more than one wife.

Domestic Unit. The Tausug household consists of either a nuclear family or a stem family, the

latter being comprised of parents, unmarried children, plus a married child, spouse, and grandchildren.
Fully extended families are rare.

Inheritance. Land is usually divided between sons, with some preference given to the eldest.

Other property is generally inherited bilaterally.

Socialization. Children are looked after by both parents and older siblings. A newborn infant's

hold on life is thought to be precarious; therefore, children are commonly protected with amulets (
hampan ) and temporarily secluded immediately after birth. At around 1 or 2 years of age, both boys
and girls undergo a ritual haircutting and immediately afterward are named. Most preadolescent
children attend Quranic school or study the Quran with a private tutor, and when proficient they
demonstrate their skills at recitation in a public ceremony called pagtammat. This is typically a festive
occasion, its scale reflecting the family's status and economic means. Boys are circumcised (
pagislam ) in their early teens; girls undergo a similar rite ( pagsunnat ), but without ceremony and
attended only by females, when they reach the age of 5 or 6.

Socialization emphasizes sensitivity to shame, respect for authority, and family honor. Today children
attend public schools, but few attain more than a primary education. Only one in five who begin school
complete grade six.

Religious Beliefs.

The Tausug are Sunni Muslims, followers of the Shaft school. The Five Pillars are observed, although
only the elderly practice daily prayers regularly. All illness, accidents, and other misfortunes are
ultimately God's will. However, the Tausug retain elements of pre-Islamic belief and, additionally, see
the world as inhabited by local spirits capable of causing good or ill fortune. Folk curers ( mangungubat
) may be sought in time of illness. Traditional medical specialists, who obtain their powers through
dreams or by the instruction of older curers, heal mainly by herbal remedies and prayers.

Religious Practitioners. The imam is an important community figure. He officiates at life-

crisis rites, offers religious counsel, and leads the faithful in prayer. Religion is central to Tausug identity
and traditionally played a major role in maintaining the hierarchical structure of the state. The sultan,
as head of an Islamic polity, was invested with religious authority. Official genealogies traced his
descent to the Prophet and in his person he was expected to exemplify ideal qualities of virtue and
religious devotion. Paralleling the political pyramid was a religious one, united at its apex in the sultan's
person, and consisting, from state to community level, of kadi, ulama, imam, hatib, and bilal, juridical
and religious advisors, and mosque officials.
Ceremonies. Major events in the religious calendar include fasting during Ramadan; Hari Raya
Puasa, a day of feasting immediately following Ramadan; Hari Raya Hadji, the feast of sacrifice on the
tenth day of the month of Jul-Hadj; Maulideen Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet, on the twelfth day of
Maulud; and Panulak Balah (lit., "to send away evil"), a day of ritual bathing on the last Wednesday of

Arts. Dancing, instrumental music, and song are popular forms of entertainment, but the decorative
arts are unelaborated.

Death and Afterlife. Four acts must be performed at death: bathing the corpse, enshrouding
it, reciting the prayer for the dead, and burial. Burial is followed by a seven-day vigil. Depending on a
family's economic circumstances, commemorative feasts may be held on the 7th, 20th, 40th, and
100th day, and on the first, second, and third anniversaries of death. Each person is believed to have
four souls that leave the body at death. The body goes to hell, where the length of punishment it
suffers is determined by the misdeeds and accumulated religious merit of the deceased. On the
fifteenth day of the month of Shaaban, one of the souls ( ro ) of the dead is sent back to earth: here the
deceased is honored with prayers and on the following day graves are cleared.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Subsistence is based primarily on agriculture, fishing, and
trade, with some livestock raising (cattle, chickens, ducks). The Tausug practice plow agriculture,
growing dry rice on permanently diked, nonirrigated fields, using cattle or water buffalo as draft
animals. Rice is intercropped with corn, cassava, and a small amount of millet, sorghum, and sesame.
There are three annual harvests: first, corn and other cereals; second, rice; and third, cassava.

Industrial Arts. Most farm and household items are made of bamboo. Iron implements are forged
locally and the manufacture of bladed weapons has historically been an important local craft. Women
produce pandanus mats and woven headcloths for both home use and sale. Trade. From the founding
of the Sulu sultanate until the mid-nineteenth century, the Tausug conducted an extensive trade with
China in pearls, birds' nests, trepang, camphor, and sandalwood.

Tausug mananasal or blacksmiths produce bolo, kalis, and barong (bladed weapons). Fishing implements are also made, such as the sangkil (single-po-inted spear) and the sapang (three-pronged spear).
The more expensively fashioned blades have floral and geometric incisions; the ganja or metal strips
which lock the handle and the blade are a decorative as well a functional device. Bronze casting is not
as well developed as it is in Lanao.

Visual Arts and Crafts

Tausug visual arts are represented by carvings, metalworks, woodworks, tapestry and embroidery, mat
making and basketry, textile and fashion, pottery, and other minor arts (Szanton 1963).

In general, Tausug visual arts follow the Islamic prohibition of representing human or animal forms.
Consequently, Mindanao and Sulu have developed ukkil or abstract motifs which are carved, printed, or
painted into various media. These motifs are suggestive of leaves, vines, flowers, fruits, and various
geometric shapes.
Tausug carving is best exemplified by the sunduk or grave marker. Although not as stylized as those of
the Samal, the Tausug sunduk are wood or stone carv-ings of geometric or floral forms. Women's grave
mark-ers are flatter with carved geometric designs, those of the men are more floral. Sakayan or
outriggers present yet another media for Tausug carving. Adornments are usually made on the prow
and sometimes on the sambili or strips across the hull. The carvings are done either on the boat itself,
or on a separate piece of wood which is then attached to the vessel.
Abstract manok-manok (bird) motifs are the most common. Ajong-ajong/sula-sula are carved tips
supporting the wrapped sail; the hidjuk (dark cord) on the sangpad (prow-plate) also serve as
decoration. Carved saam or cross--pieces supporting the outriggers are called the mata (eyes) of the
boat. Colors used on the finished carvings are yellow, red, green, white, and blue (Szanton 1973:33-47).
The female biyatawi is a blouse made of plain material like satin and is ornamented with tambuku (gold
or silver buttons) on the breast, shoulders, and cuffs.

The patadjung is an all-purpose skirt worn by both men and women. It has various other uses: as a
turung or headcover, sash or waistband, blanket, ham-mock, and others.

Function and simplicity define Tausug pottery. Decorations are limited to simple geometric lines as the
emphasis has always been on the quantity not quality of the product. Examples include pots, vases,
jugs, and various pieces of kitchenware (Szanton 1973: 61-63).
Tutup or plate covers are made by Tausug men and women; smaller pieces are called turung dulang
riki-riki, and are used as wall adornment. Tutup mea-sure about 75 cm in diameter and are made of
coconut leaves inside, and silal or buri leaves outside. Colored pandan leaves are sewn on the exterior
and serve as decoration (Szanton 1973:64).
Calligraphy is found printed or carved on doors and gates, as well as on tapestries. Musical
instruments, especially the gabbang (native xylophone), are also decorated by the Tausug (Szanton

Tausug literatu Folk nonnarrative poetry includes tigum-tigum or tukud-tukud (riddles), masaalaa
(proverbs), daman (poetic dialogue or advice), pituwa (maxims), malikata (word inversions), tilik (love
spells), and tarasul (poems) (Tuban 1977:101). re includes poetry and prose, and narrative and
nonnarrative forms. Tausug folk narratives include the salsila (ethno-historical narratives), the kaawn
kissa (creation stories), the usulan kissa (origin stories), and the katakata (marchen).


"Sea Nomads"
The Sama-Bajau refers to several Austronesian ethnic groups of Maritime Southeast Asia. The name
collectively refers to related peoples who usually call themselves the Sama, Samah, or Samal; or are
known by the exonym Bajau (/bada/, also spelled Badjao, Bajaw, Bajao, Badjau, Badjaw, Bajo
or Bayao). They usually live a seaborne lifestyle, and use small wooden sailing vessels such as the

perahu, djenging, balutu, lepa, pilang, and vinta (or lepa-lepa).[3][4] Some Sama-Bajau groups native to
Sabah are also known for their traditional horse culture.

The Badjaos are popularly known as the "Sea Gypsies" of the Sulu and Celebes sea. The name Badjao is
a Malay-Bornean word which connotes "man of the seas.

The Sama-Bajau are traditionally from the many islands of the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.


Like the term Kadazan-Dusun, Sama-Bajau is a collective term, used to describe several closely related
indigenous peoples who consider themselves a single distinct bangsa ("ethnic group" or "nation").[3][9] It
is generally accepted that these groups of people can be termed Sama or Bajau, though they never call
themselves "Bajau" in the Philippines. Instead, they call themselves with the names of their tribes,
usually the place they live or place of origin. For example, the sea-going Sama-Bajau prefer to call
themselves the Sama Dilaut or Sama Mandilaut (literally "sea Sama" or "ocean Sama") in the
Philippines; while in Malaysia, they identify as Bajau Laut. [10][11]

"Sama" is believed to have originated from the Austronesian root word sama meaning "together",
"same", or "we".[13][14][15][16] The exact origin of the exonym "Bajau" is unclear. Some authors have
proposed that it is derived from a corruption of the Malay word berjauh ("getting further apart" or "the
state of being away").[16][17] Other possible origins include the Brunei Malay word bajaul, which means
"to fish".[17] The term "Bajau" has pejorative connotations in the Philippines, indicating poverty in
comparison to the term "Sama". Especially since it is used most commonly to refer to poverty-stricken
Sama-Bajau who make a living through begging.[11]


For most of their history, the Sama-Bajau have been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by
trading and subsistence fishing.[19] The boat-dwelling Sama-Bajau see themselves as non-aggressive
people. They kept close to the shore by erecting houses on stilts, and travelled using lepa, handmade
boats which many lived in.[19]

Oral traditions
Most of the various oral traditions among the Sama-Bajau have a common theme which claims that
they were originally a land-dwelling people who were the subjects of a king who had a daughter. After
she is lost by either being swept away to the sea (by a storm or a flood) or being taken captive by a
neighbouring kingdom, they were then supposedly ordered to find her. After failing to do so they
decided to remain nomadic for fear of facing the wrath of the king. [3][18][20]
Historical records
Sama-Bajau were first recorded by European explorers in 1521 by Antonio Pigafetta of the MagellanElcano expedition in what is now the present-day Zamboanga Peninsula. Pigafetta writes that the
"people of that island make their dwellings in boats and do not live otherwise". They have also been
present in the written records of other Europeans henceforth; including in Sulawesi by the Dutch
colonies in 1675, in Sulawesi and eastern Borneo by Thomas Forrest in the 1770s,[3] and in the west
coast of Borneo by Spenser St. John in the 1850s and 1860s.[21]

The SamaBajau peoples speak some ten languages of the SamaBajau subgroup of the Western
Malayo-Polynesian language family.[55] Sinama is the most common name for these languages, but they
are also called Bajau, especially in Malaysia. The Tausg people refer to these languages as Siamal. [10]
Most Sama-Bajau can speak multiple languages.[9]


Sama-Bajau traditional songs are handed down orally through generations. The songs are usually sung
during marriage celebrations (kanduli pagkawin), accompanied by dance (pang-igal) and musical
instruments like pulau (flute), gabbang (xylophone), tagunggo' (kulintang gongs), and in modern times,
electronic keyboards.[24] There are several types of Sama-Bajau traditional songs, they include: isunisun, runsai, najat, syair, nasid, bua-bua anak, and tinggayun.[13][67]

Among the more specific examples of Sama-Bajau songs are three love songs collectively referred to as
Sangbayan. These are Dalling Dalling, Duldang Duldang, and Pakiring Pakiring.[24] The most well-known
of these three is Pakiring Pakiring (literally "moving the hips"), which is more familiar to the Tausg in
its commercialised and modernised form Dayang Dayang. The Tausg claim that the song is native to
their culture, and whether the song is originally Tausg or Sama-Bajau remain controversial. [24] Most
Sama-Bajau folk songs are becoming extinct, largely due to the waning interest of the younger
Sama-Bajau people are also well known for weaving and needlework skills.

Horse culture
The more settled land-based West Coast Bajau are expert equestrians which makes them remarkable
in Malaysia, where horse riding has never been widespread anywhere else.


Though some Sama-Bajau headsmen have been given honorific titles like "datu", "maharaja" or
"panglima" by governments (like under the Sultanate of Brunei), they usually only had little authority
over the Sama-Bajau community. Sama-Bajau society is traditionally highly individualistic, [21] and the

largest political unit is the clan cluster around mooring points, rarely more. Unlike most neighbouring
peoples, Sama-Bajau society is also more or less egalitarian, and they did not practice a caste system.
The individualism is probably due to the generally fragile nature of their relationships with land-based
peoples for access to essentials like wood or water. When the relationship sours or if there is too much
pressure from land-based rulers, the Sama-Bajau prefer to simply move on elsewhere.

Panggi(cassava) and fish the staple food of Badjaos. Rice is served only for dessert or on special
The women engage in mat weaving, gathering clams, snails, seaweed, and so forth at low tide.
A Badjao settlement consists of a kawman, panglima. Kawman the equivalent of the land-based
Panglima -the head of kawman. Its main function is to settle disputes, collect fines, and officiate at
weddings. The position is usually inherited, but the title is conferred by the sultan.


The annual Islamic calendar includes: a month of fasting ( puasa ) ; Hari Raya Puasa, a feast to celebrate the
end of Ramadan; Hari Raya Haji, a feast of sacrifice observed during the month of Jul-Hadj; tulak bala', a
ritual bathing performed to cleanse away evil during the month of Sappal; and Maulud, the birthday of the
Prophet. Among boat-dwelling and formerly boat-dwelling groups, community spirit mediums are assembled
at least once a year for a public sance and nightly trance-dancing ( magigal jin ). In times of epidemic
illness, they are also called on to set a spirit-boat ( pamatulikan ) adrift in the open sea beyond the village or
anchorage site in order to remove illness-causing spirits from the community.
Arts. Bajau craftsmen have traditionally created ornaments of shell and turtle shell, and embellished
houses, boats, house furnishings, and grave markers with carved designs. Pandanus mats are made by
women for both sale and home use. In the Tempasuk area of western Sabah, Bajau women weave several
types of textiles. The most important are kain mogah, long cloths of small, somewhat somber design, used
mainly as trade cloth and for house hangings, and destar, square headcloths worn by men, woven mainly in
rectangular design elements, using brighter dyes and often incorporating figurative motifs. Music and dance
are richly elaborated. Musical instruments include the kulintangan, an idiophone of between seven and nine
knobbed gongs suspended horizontally in a wooden frame. The kulintangan, providing the main melodic line,
is played by women, together with suspended gongs and drums, the latter played by male musicians, either
alone or in accompaniment to dance. The gabbang, a wooden xylophone, normally of seventeen keys, is also
played by women, either as a solo instrument or in accompaniment to singing and dancing. The main dance
form that employs the gabbang is the daling-daling, performed usually at weddings or betrothals, in which
male and female dancers exchange improvised verses of song.


The Yakan people are among the major indigenous muslim tribes in Mindanao. Having a significant
number of followers of Islam, it is considered as one of the 13 Moro groups in the Philippines. The
Yakans mainly reside in Basilan but are also in Zamboanga City. They speak a language known as
Bahasa Yakan, which has characteristics of both Sama-Bajau Sinama and Tausug (Jundam 1983: 7-8). It
is written in the Malayan Arabic script, with adaptations to sounds not present in Arabic (Sherfan 1976).


The Yakans we dont try to judge them in the Sulu Archipelago, situated to the west of Zamboanga in
Mindanao. Traditionally they wear colorful, handwoven clothes. The women wear tightfitting short
blouses and both sexes wear narrowcut pants resembling breeches. The women covers it partly with a
wrap-around material while the man wraps a sash-like cloth around the waist where he places his
weapon usually a long knife. Nowadays most Yakans wear western clothes and use their traditional
clothes only for cultural festivals.

The Spaniards called the Yakan, "Sameacas" and considered them an aloof and sometimes hostile
hill people (Wulff 1978:149; Haylaya 1980:13).

In the early 1970s, some of the Yakan settled in Zamboanga City due to political unrest which led
the armed conflicts between the militant Moro and government soldiers. The Yakan Village in
Upper Calarian is famous among local and foreign tourists because of their art of weaving.
Traditionally, they have used plants like pineapple and abaca converted into fibers as basic
material for weaving. Using herbal extracts from leaves, roots and barks, the Yakans dyed the
fibers and produced colorful combinations and intricate designs.

The Seputangan is the most intricate design worn by the women around their waist or as a head
cloth. The Palipattang is patterned after the color of the rainbow while the bunga-sama, after the
python. Almost every Yakan fabric can be described as unique since the finished materials are not
exactly identical. Differences may be seen in the pattern or in the design or in the distribution of

Yakan is the language of Basilan Island in the Philippines. It is the only Bornean language in that

Contacts with Settlers from Luzon, Visayas and the American Peace Corps brought about changes
in the art and style of weaving. Many resorted to the convenience of chemical dyes and they
started weaving table runners, placemats, wall decor, purses and other items which are not

present in a traditional Yakan house. In other words, the natives catered because of economic
reason to the needs of their customers which manifest their trading acumen. New designs were
introduced like kenna-kenna, patterned after a fish; dawen-dawen, after the leaf of a vine; pene
mata-mata, after the shape of an eye or the kabang buddi, a diamond-shaped design.

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