Hanunuo Mangyans can be found within the territorial jurisdiction of the towns of Mansalay and San Pedro (Bulalacao) along the periphery of Southeastern Mindoro. Their population is approximately 66,132 (OSCC, 1987).
Hanunuo means "true", "real," or "genuine". According to Conklin, when he asked them what kind of Mangyans they were, the Mangyans' answers to his queries were nothing else but their claim to be true, real, and genuine Mangyans. True enough, because among the Mangyans they have remained faithful to the traditions of their forefathers.
The Hanunuosare fairly tall in structure, and their bodies are slim and well-proportioned. They have oblique eyes, flat nose, prominent cheekbone, flat forehead, and olive skin. Men have their custom of sporting a long braided hair in the upper part of their head with the rest of their hair cut short, if not shaved. Women hang up their hair behind their heads, sometimes held in place by a beaded band which serves as ornament. Their hair is long and wavy.
Being more stationary than the other Mangyans, their houses are more permanent structures made out of light materials, elevated up to four or five feet from the ground, supported by bamboo posts or sturdy forest lumber and roofed with nipa materials or cogon grasses. The whole house is a big room used for sleeping, eating, workroom, etc.
Majority of the Hanunuo men still cling to the age old custom of using the G-string, but those who have intermarried with lowlanders substituted G-string with short pants. The women cover themselves with a rectangular piece of cloth with both end sewn together which serve as skirt. They both wear an upper garment, a long sleeved, tight-fitting shirt called the balukas for men and Idmbons for women. For everyday use, they have a short sleeved garment which they call subon. They use a woven belt called nito and wear beaded bands around their necks and arms.
Hanunuo Mangyans possess a system of writing which is a descendant of the ancient Sanskirt alphabet. In the Mangyan syllabary, there are eighteen characters, three of which are vowels and the other fifteen characters are written combined with those vowels. For writing materials, they use the s/yawor a bob-shaped knife for inscribing and the bamboo, either split or whole, for paper.
During merrymaking, the musical joust is participated in by both sexes. Gitgit, Kudyapi, Kinaban, and all string instruments, are usually played by men while those played by women are the lantuy (a bamboo flute), taghup or tanghup (a whistle made out of bamboo). Like music, the ambahan (a poem with lines of seven syllables) has found its place as a tool for courting women.
Social life among the Hanunuos revolves around the family. Mangyan girls marry at an early age. During courtship, a young man convinces the girl of his intention through the use of ambahan. In between the recitations, he plays his subing, a three-string guitar. Marriage plans including the dowry are arranged by both parents. The actual wedding is short, the greater part consists of admonitions and advices dispensed by a magdadniw, a kind of minister.
Relation of the individual to the community is one dominated by the spirit of cooperation and togetherness. They have no written laws. Whateverthey have in the form of laws has been handed down to them by their elders verbally in the form of counsel and advice. In some cases, when troubles arise, the disputants settle their differences in the presence of an elder, a judge who decides the matter. Justice is then meted out to the offending and the offended parties. Different offenses are given different punishments.
Hanunuos have two burial occasions. The first takes place soon after death. The second after a year or two years when the bones have to be exhumed. They believe in a supreme being called Maha na Makaako who watches over them and loves them. They also believe that their supreme being has a son called Presidents who executes his father's command. They also believe in evil spirits and immorality.