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The Tagakaolos inhabit the western shores of the gulf of Davao and southern part of Mt. Apo. 'Tagakaolo' ('from the mountains') indicates that they came from the river sources. At present, they are also found in the coastal towns of Malita and Lais and Talaguton rivers.


The Tagakaolos live in Malalog, with a population of approximately 124,698. Members can be recognized by the close-fitting suits of red and yellow striped cloth. The majority of the people have hair curled in locks and mutilated, blackened teeth. Shaving the eyebrows and tatooing of the left forearm is also a common practice. One ironic characteristic of the Tagakaolos is being violent, for they are often at war with one another, yet they appear to be quite uniform in type, language, and religious beliefs.

Customs and beliefs

Tagakaolos believe in a supernatural being who lives in Mt. Apo. They offer him human sacrifices when they imagine that he is angered or when they come to the volcano to gather sulphur. They believe that this being can be both benign and malevolent, much like the beliefs attributed to diwatas throughout the islands.

Political organization

Each upland river valley or highland plain is the district or domain of a ruling datu, a position which was inherited by primogeniture. Each datu is the autonomous chief over an area. The datu is both judge and defender of his fellowmen, who in turn work in his fields. A wealthy datu could have as many wives as he could secure, either by capture or by purchase.




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