Finally, the global social consensus states that the indigenous people of any land deserve far more than they have gotten thus far. Let’s explore one of these groups – the T’boli tribe of the Philippines!


Image: ILOAsiaPacific

Unfortunately, the location of the T’boli tribe seems relatively unclear in the literature. In general, they are located around South Cotabato in Southern Mindanao.

It was suspected that they were once living in and around Alah Valley. However, with the introduction of the first settlers, they have been pushed off the fertile lands, and now mostly live higher up the mountain slopes.


Image: ILOAsiaPacific

Out of the eighteen recognised tribes in Mindanao, the T’boli people are the most well-known. They still live traditionally and distinguish themselves from the other tribes not only in their dialect, but also the colourful clothes, accessories, and ornaments.

The culture is very much based on nature and its influence of mankind. Many of the traditional dances channel the action of local birds and monkeys.

Image: ILOAsiaPacific

T’boli are also quite well-known for their connection to music, even more so than the modern Filipino, believe it or not! Not only do they play their music for entertainment, much of the traditional songs are also used as a link to their ancestors.

In the traditional T’boli household, the man calls all but one of the shots. All his orders must be followed and he makes all the decisions pertaining to the household, with the wife able to make suggestions. Depending on how wealthy he is, however, he may be able to practise polygamy. This, however, is not solely his decision – this is the one thing the main wife is able to control. If she says yes, all wives will have to live under one roof.

Image: ILOAsiaPacific

The day-to-day life of the T’boli people includes slash-and-burn farming, hunting, and fishing. Similarly, their gods are those of the animals and adjacent nature, with much respect placed on the land and its living beings.

With much still to be done to reconcile the indigenous with the ones who have marginalised them, education is the first, most important step. Thank you for learning about the T’boli tribe of the Philippines!