College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Kapuluan: Anthropology in the Archipelago, 2022

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in News

2022 102622 UGAT 02

UP Mindanao’s anthropologists pondered on the presence of maritime traditions and images in the narratives of mountain tribes in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao at “Kapuluan: Anthropology in the Archipelago,” the annual Philippine UGAT conference in October 2022.  

In Panel 1D, “`Islands’ in the highlands,” held on October 26, Associate Professor Myfel Paluga and Assistant Professor Andrea Malaya Ragragio of the Department of Social Sciences guided colleagues in reconstructing and imagining spaces in Mindanao’s Pantaron mountain range through the indigenous peoples’ epic narratives and practices.  

Using data from ritual practices, historical materials, and epic narratives, the panel gleaned resonances of the Austronesian maritime traditions and images that persisted in the memories of tribes in the upland “Pantaron Zone” of Mindanao. 

Among the upland “Ata/Manobo” residents, the presence of a vessel figure called “balangoy” or “sagimbal” is part of the ritual “pag-ugpo,” alongside figures of a house, rice, fish, betel-nut, and spirit companions, which represents a mythic space for the tribe’s decision-making. 

In an oral narrative from the Talaingod highland of the Pantaron range, a datu (tribe chief) appears from distant Arakan (a present-day municipality in North Cotabato Province, central Mindanao), which implies links of “imagined communities” across geographically-distant locations through marital links, economic practices, and others.

Asst. Prof. Kenette Jean Millondaga contributed to a study of the Tuwaang-type epic genre, which is documented to be widely shared from Bukidnon to North Cotabato (both in central Mindanao) to Davao del Norte (southeastern Mindanao). 

Finally, the late Emmanuel Nabayra, Jr. contributes to a study on “Agyu,” a hero in a Dibabawon tribe epic, “Sewatan ni Lumuganod,” which is discussed in relation to other tribal personalities and themes of landscapes, values, and laws.


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