The Mandaya is a group of non-Christian, non-Islamic people living in Eastern Mindanao. The word "Mandaya" is derived from "man" which means "first" and "daya" which means "upstream" or "upper portion of a river". The Mandaya are mainly located in the provinces of Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and the eastern areas of Cotabato. They are also scattered throughout the South-Eastern of Mindanao province and northward of Lianga, Surigao del Sur and Southern Agusan.
Earlier accounts indicate that the Mandaya represented one of the most powerful tribes in these areas. The headman, known as Bagani holds political power over his territory. However, before assuming the title, each bagani had to kill seven to nine men in battle or through surprise raids upon neighboring areas.
In general, Mandaya have high forehead, quite prominent cheekbones, broad noses, thick lips and angular features. Average height of men is 153.9 cms. while 81.3 cms for women. They are also considered to be related to the Manobo group. They stand out among the others because of their sharp Spanish features. They are generally good looking and known to be peace-loving and honorable people. Both sexes wear their hair long and comb it in a knot at the back of the head. Women usually wear bangs over the forehead while men allow a lock to fall in front of each ear. The skin is not tattooed but the eyebrows are often shaved to a thin line and the teeth are filed and blackened.
For a long time, Mandayas have retained their basic social, religious, and political organizations along with their traditional material crafts.
Like other tribes they also rely on Kaingin/slash and burn farming for livelihood.
They are not politically cohesive and have integrated much with the non-tribal people.
They celebrate festivals to invite "diwatas" or spirits and ask for good health and healing for those who are sick. They use an assortment of bamboo musical instruments. The dead are buried with the coffin upright along with some food for the "journey".
Their religion is animistic, believing in anitos, but they consider "Magbabayo or Tagal-lang" (God) as the Supreme Being. A festival for Tagbanwa (the owner of the land) is made every harvest season for thanksgiving. A carved image of this deity can also be found in their homes. Women priestesses (Bailans) mediate during the rituals.
- NCIP (accessed on July 16, 2007)