Mangyan is a general term that refers to eight ethnolinguistic groups of proto-malay origin that occupies the mountainous region of Mindoro island. The Mangyans are the original inhabitants of Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippines.
The Mangyan settled along the shores of Mindoro island approximately 600-700 years ago. It is believed that they had come from the southern regions of the archipelago. They were gradually forced to leave their coastal settlements by more aggressive groups. It appears that the Mangyan have traditionally been an unwarlike people, choosing to give up an area uncontested rather than fight for it.
Before Spain conquered the Philippines, the Mangyans were already practicing the "barter trade" to the Chinese, who traveled to the shores of Mindoro using their ancient boats. The Mangyans traded their local products of cotton, root crops, medicinal plants and bees-wax for beads, gongs, plates and jars.
The Mangyan population is over 100,000, about 10 percent of the total population of the island. The tribe is one of the 110 tribal groups of the country. Reports say there are about 100,000 Mangyans spread over the country. They are usually clustered into the Northern Mangyan (Tadyawan, Alangan and Iraya) and the Southern Mangyan (Buhid, Taobuid and Hanunuo). A small group called Bangon is considered a branch of the Taobuid. Another small group, Ratagnon on Mindoro's southernmost tip, is closely related to the Cuyonin of Palawan. They are a very nomadic people, who try to avoid outside influences in order to protect their own culture. During the years they have gradually moved away from other settlers. They used to live by the sea, but now they have settled in mountainous areas.
Generally, the Mangyans of Mindoro practise swidden agriculture combined with hunting, fishing, gathering and trade.
The following are the eight Mangyan tribes that may look the same but have different cultures and traditions:
The Alangan Mangyans are found within the municipalities of Naujan, Baco, San Teodoro, and Victoria in Oriental Mindoro, and in the municipality of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.
The name Alangan was derived from the name of a river and mountain slopes in the upper Alangan Valley.
The Bangon Mangyans are found along the Bongabon river called Binagaw and the surrounding mountains located within the municipalities of Bongabong, Bansud, and Gloria in Oriental Mindoro. The Bangon Mangyans have their own culture and language different from the other 6 major Mangyan tribes in Oriental Mindoro and also their writing system. Hence, the Bangons have asserted that they be considered as the 7th major Mangyan tribe not as a sub-tribe of the Tau-buid Mangyans. On March 28, 1996 in a meeting in Ogom Liguma together with Buhid Mangyans, they decided to accept the word Bangon for their tribe.
The Tau-buids are known as pipe smokers and even children begin smoking at a young age. The Taubuid Mangyans are found within the municipalities of Socorro, Pinamalayan and Gloria, but mostly they live in Occidental Mindoro.
The Buhids are known as pot makers. Other Mangyan tribes, like the Alangan and Hanunoo Mangyans used to buy their cooking pots from the Buhids. The word Buhid literally means mountain dwellers. The Buhid Mangyans are found within the municipalities of Roxas, Bansud, Bongabong and some parts of Mansalay in Oriental Mindoro, and in the municiplaities of San Jose and Rizal in Occidental Mindoro.
The Hanunoo Mangyans live in the towns of Bulalacao, Mansalay and some parts of Bongabong in Oriental Mindoro, and in the town of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro. They, like the Buhids and Hanunoo-Mangyans possess a pre-Spanish writing system, considered to be of Indic origin, with characters, expressing the open syllables of the language. This syllabic writing system, called Surat Mangyan, is still being taught in several Mangyan schools in Mansalay and Bulalacao.
The Iraya is the tribe who lives in the beaches of Puerto Galera, San Teodoro and Baco in Oriental Mindoro. However, most of them live in Occidental Mindoro, in the towns of Mamburao, Sta. Cruz, Abra de Ilog and Paluan. Their steady diet consists of rice, banana, sweet potato, and other root crops.
Most of the Ratagnons live in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro. Like the Bangons, the Ratagnons have a unique language that is similar to the Cuyunon dialect that is spoken by the people who live in Cuyo Island in the northern part of Palawan. They also wear accessories made of beads and copper wire.
The Tadyawan Mangyans live in the towns of Naujan, Victoria, Socorro, Pola, Gloria, Pinamalayan, and Bansud. Their ancient clothing is similar to the other Mangyan tribes. Most of them used to wear accessories like bracelets and necklaces made of beads. But today, most of the Irayas wear a civilized outfit. The Tadyawan, like the other Mangyan tribes, depend on swidden farming. And like the Irayas, their steady diet consists of rice, banana, sweet potato, and other root crops.
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