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HE Philippine Constitution of 1987, Chapter 1, section 2, mentioned that the state shall recognize, respect and pro- tect the rights of the indigenous people and to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institution. In Re- Public Act (RA) 8371, known as Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, defined indigenous people as a group of homogenous society, who have continuously lived as an organized com- munity on communally bounded and possessed land used as their abode, sharing common bonds of language, customs, culture, traditions and indigenous religions, become historical- ly differentiated from the rest of the Filipinos. Annaya (2004) added, they are the living descendants of pre-invasion inhab- itants of lands now dominated by others; they are culturally distinct groups that find themselves engulfed by other settler who encroached their lands. (Abraham L. Masendo, April 2015,Manobo Tribe Then and Now).
For hundreds, even thousands, of years, Cotabato Cordillera has been home to the indigenous people called Manobo. There are at least five other Manobo tribes in Mindanao, but they have no clear connection among one another. Each tribe speaks a language that is unintelligible to the others. Most Cotabato Manobo live in the western part of Sultan Kudarat Province, but their territory extends to some parts of Maguindanao in the north and South Cotabato and Sarangani in the south.
Some organizations classify the Cotabato Manobo into two subgroups—those who dwell in the mountains and those who left and settled near the sea. The former are called Dulangan Manobo and the latter Karagatan Manobo. Dulangan is the name of a legendary ancestor and is said to mean “a high place.” Though it may be a Manobo word, dulangan is not listed in existing Manobo dictionaries. Neither is karagatan, which is the Tagalog term for ocean. No differentiation is made between the Manobo who live in the highlands and their relatives in coastal areas, since they share ancestry and still have the same practices even up to this day. They are collectively referred to here as Dulangan Manobo.
In 1979, the Summer Institute of Linguistics estimated the population of the Dulangan Manobo at ten thousand. This figure, however, may not be accurate, because the researchers stayed in a few villages only. In 1999, the Indigenous Peoples Ministry of the Archdiocese of Cotabato conducted a more comprehensive study, and the researchers were able to identify 102 Dulangan Manobo settlements with a population of nearly forty thousand. The Dulangan Manobo do not look much different from most Filipinos. Only, they are shorter and lighter in built and most of them have curly hair. It is getting more difficult to distinguish them from the newer settlers because many of them have started to wear modern clothing and adapt the ways of Christian settlers. Among the older Manobo folks, however, traditional ways are still evident. Their teeth and mouths are red from chewing betel quid, and the women often wear large loop earrings made of brass.(Jude Ortega,2013,Portal to the Plateau,Kulaman Sultan Kudarat Mindanao Philippines,Blogspot)
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