Tau't Batu

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TheTau't Batu or Taw Batu (meaning "people of the rock") are an indigeous tribe occupying the Singnapan Basin, a bowl-shaped valley situated in the southwestern part of Palawan, bounded by Mt. Mantalingajan on the east and a coastal terrain on the west. To the north lies the municipality of Quezon and to the south, the deeper hinterlands of southern Palawan which are still unexplored.

The Tau't Batu were found by a study team to be still residing in their cave homes, although others had already moved out to the open slopes. Their population was numbered at about 198 individuals as of 1987.

Culture

The Tau't Batu are still practicing a traditional lifestyle. The men wear G-strings made of bark and cloth while the women are wearing a skirt made of a piece of cloth to cover their lower body. Most of them are half naked, but because of outside influences through trade, women are beginning to wear blouses on their upper bodies.

They live around cave dwellings in which they construct a house framework made of light and sturdy materials such as saplings. They make sleeping platforms and multi-purpose platforms to serve as floors or beds.

The Tau't Bato practice marriage groups or "ka-asawahan", which serves as the basic social unit among them. The "ka-asawahan" or household units can be made up of a single couple, husband and wife, to several numbers of couples. They are further grouped into a larger association called "bulun-bulun". The system is an arrangement of several couples cohabiting in a single cave. It is characterized by a system of different kinds of social and material exchanges such as food and other equipment.

The Tau't Batu are music lovers too. They know how to play two musical instruments known as "kubing" and "kudlong" in addition to the gong.

Economy

The Tau't Batu practice multiple cropping with cassava as the main product. They also plant sweet potato, sugarcane, malunggay, garlic, pepper, string beans, squash, tomato, pineapple and other plants which grow on their farms. They are also given to hunting and foraging to supply additional protein. Wild pigs are the most commonly hunted animals.

Trade among the Tau't Batu is done through "sambi" (barter) or "dagang" (monetary exchange). The Tau't Batu's trade is specifically for marine fish which they get from the neighboring Candawaga people. The Tau't Batu also trade forest products such as almaciga and rattan. They are good in basketry.


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