Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Higaonon Tribe of Mindanao

The Higaonon are an indigenous tribe found in the northern regions of the island of Mindanao in The Philippines. With a population estimated at 350, 000, they are distributed over five provinces --- Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon. Since "Creation Times" the Higaonon have lived in their forest home, undisturbed, managing the forest in a natural and harmonious way.

HIGA means Living, GOAN means mountains and ONON means people. They could be described as "people of the living mountains."

The tribe is made up of eight clans centered around the eight main rivers of their "Ancestral Domain". These clans are divided into the warrior and peaceful clans both now existing in peace. They follow a Datuship system of government, where each Datu (generally an elder) is trained in distinct areas of expertise, eg administration, spirituality and education.
All Higaonon people follow the customary laws of Bunkatol Ha Bulawan Daw Nang Ka Tasa ha Lana, which simply means treasured unity (Love and Peace). It is really a code of conduct. This is the sacred bond that unites the entire Higaonon people, who share a common root language, history and culture.

In 1954, loggers started cutting their way into the forests - the Ancestral Domain - creating stress and sadness for its inhabitants.

For the past 40 years, the people have struggled tirelessly for their right to self-determination and to retain their independence as a tribe, securing their forest home against destruction.

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