Mission Statement
About the Mamanua

Nestled in the heart of Surigao del Sur, in the town of Lanuza, is Baranggay Pakuan-site of the original settlement of the Manobos in the province. It is believed that in the early 18th century, Datu Apo Oja, with his family and hundreds of his men, fled from the baganis (warriors) of the warlike Manobos of Agusan and settled in Pakuan.

Datu Oja and his people liked Pakuan. Because of its lush vegetation of edible ferns, vast timberlands (a source of materials for their houses), crystal-clear springs that served as their water supply, and rivers teeming with fish, Pakuan was the ideal place to settle. In fact, the area's waterfalls were natural sites for the tribe's worship rituals to the diwata (spirit) and for tribal weddings and baptisms.

Today, the Manobo are spread out all over Surigao del Sur and have an estimated population of 129,000 people. They are concentrated mostly in the towns of San Miguel and in the baranggays of Lobo and Cabangahan in Cantilan as well as Pakuan, Agsam and Mante in Lanuza. They also live in Pansukan and Panikiam of Carascal, in Bayugo of Madrid, and in Himpuyan and San Vicente of Carmen.
Unlike the Mamanua, the Manobo have light brown skin, straighter hair and bolder personalities. They decorate their bodies with tattoos and wear bright colorful attire with ethnic designs. They adorn their necks and arms with multi-colored strings, made of indigenous materials skillfully and attractively created. Nowadays, only senior members of the tribe regularly wear the full costume, while younger members have already adopted the mainstream population's mode of dressing.

Unlike the Mamanua, the Manobo are not nomadic.They plant crops for their daily consumption and sell or barter their surplus harvests once a week at tabos (farmer's markets).

They have their own political structure, which is autonomous from the main population. At the head of their political system is the datu (leader) whose position is gained by traditional succession. A council of elders advises him. If the community determines that he is not suited to the position, he is then removed from office and a special election is then called. Peace keeping is entrusted to the baganis (warriors).

The Manobo still practice some of their old customs and traditions. Like the Mamanua they transmit laws orally from generation to generation. Declaring land ownership by word of mouth and planting bamboos to mark land boundaries are actively practiced customs.

Like the Mamanua, the Manobo are gentle people. However, they will not avoid conflicts, especially when their domain is threatened. Proud of their heritage, they hold on to their ancestral lands - ready to fight and die for them. Their land is their life. Although unschooled in Philippine laws governing land ownership, and with no titles of ownership of their domain, the Manobo nevertheless strongly resisted capitalists' attempt to take over the ancestral lands in the early 1960s. They raised their voice in unified protest and the government listened. In a historic breakthrough, the government - through the Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claims program of the National Commission on Indigenous People - have started to award to some Manobo communities certificates of titles to their ancestral lands. Today the Manobo have become a political force.

Struggling to survive amidst strong waves of change, the younger Manobo dream of a better life and a brighter future for their children. They have come to realize that such betterment start with education. The USAA, through its scholarship program, is committed to helping this strong and independent people fulfill their achievable dream.


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