Mangyan is the general name for the indigenous tribes who live in the provinces of Mindoro. Ten percent of the total population of the people who live in Mindoro are Mangyans. Before Spain conquered the Philippines, the Mangyans were already practicing the “barter trade” with 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.
Anthropological studies revealed that the Mangyans have eight tribes that may look the same but have different cultures and traditions. They are:
The name Alangan was derived from the name of a river and mountain slopes in the upper Alangan Valley.
They live in the tows of Baco, Naujan, San Teodoro and Victoria in Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan, which is located in Occidental Mindoro. The Alangan women, who still practice the old tradition, wears an upper garment called ulango. Some of them wear a red kerchief called limbutong, which is worn over the ulango. For their skirt, they wear the lingeb. It is made from woven cloth and is worn together with abayen - the Alangan’s version of the Aeta’s bahag. The men on the other hand, wear g-strings with fringes in front.
They practice swidden farming, but allow the clearing to be restored for a couple of years. Their practice of allowing the clearing to go back to its old form helped preserve the forests of Mindoro. Swidden farming is also practiced by the other seven tribes.
Betel nut chewing or the chewing of nga-nga is part of the Alangan men and women’s tradition. For them, chewing betel nut prolongs hunger. This practice has a social dimension too. The exchange of its ingredients signify social acceptance between the two parties who conduct the trade.
The Bangons have their own culture, language and writing system that is different from the other seven major Mangyan tribes in Oriental Mindoro. Because of thorough studies, anthropologists have proven that the Bangons should be classified as a different group and therefore should be separated from the Tau-buid Mangyans - the group where the Bangons used to belong.
They live along the Bongabon River and the surrounding mountains located within the towns of Bongabong, Bansud, and Gloria in Oriental Mindoro.
The word Buhid, when translated to English, literally means mountain dwellers. They, together with the Hanunoo-Mangyans, posses a pre-Spanish syllabic form of writing system.
The Buhid Mangyans live in the towns of Roxas, Bansud, Bongabong and some parts of Mansalay in Oriental Mindoro, and in the municiplaities of San Jose and Rizal in Occidental Mindoro.
They are the best among the other seven tribes of Mangyan when it comes to pot making. And because of their expertise, the Alangans and Hanunoos purchase the products of the Buhids.
The women wear black and white upper garment called linagmon and a skirt they call abol. Women who are single put body ornaments such as braided nito belt, beaded headband, earrings with a blue thread, beaded bracelet and beaded long necklace.
The men, on the other hand, wear g-strings or bahag. They also put body ornaments like long beaded necklace, tight choker and beaded bracelets. They also carry an accessory bag called bayong, which shelters personal things like knife and comb. Both the males and females carry a bayong often.
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.
Their clothing is similar to the other tribes of Mangyans. The male wears a bahag or loincloth and a shirt they call balukas, while the females wear ramit or indigo-dyed short skirt and a blouse they call lambung. They also carry the bayong that carries most of their personal belongings. The hagkos is their version of the belt bag.
The men sport long hair, which is tied with a cloth they call panyo. The women also sport long hair and accessorize it with headbands made of beads. They also wear necklaces and bracelets made of beads.
Like the Alangans, the Hanunoos also practice swidden farming. A study on the Mangyans’ way of farming was conducted in 1995 and it revealed that their practice prevented land deterioration.
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.
The Irayas look quite different from the other seven Mangyan tribes. They have curly to kinky hair and dark skin, but could easily be distinguished from the Aetas, who are the most predominant indigenous tribe of the Philippines.
Their ancient clothing is exactly the same as that of the Hanunoos. Today, most of the Irayas wear a civilized outfit.
The Irayas are expert in nito-weaving and other handicrafts that are derived from nito like trays, plates, jars and cups of different sizes.
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.
The Ratagnon women wear a wrap-around cotton cloth from the waistline to the knees. Even if most of them are immersed to modern culture, there are still some males that wear the traditional g-string or bahag and wear a jacket with simple embroidery during gala festivities. The women’s breast covering is made of woven nito or vine. Like the Alangans, they also chew Betel nuts often. They always carry a flint, tinder and other paraphernalia that could produce fire.
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.
Most of the Taubuid Mangyans live in Occidental Mindoro, but there are some who live in the towns of Socorro, Pinamalayan and Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. The Bangon Mangyans used to be part of the Tau-buid tribe before anthropologists found out that the Bangons have a separate culture, language and writing system in 1996.
If the Alangans are known to chew Betel nuts throughout the day, the Tau-buids, on the other hand, are known to smoke in pipes all day! Teenagers of the tribe can smoke anytime they want to.
The tribe’s men and women wear loincloth that is made by extracting, pounding and drying the inner bark of several trees. Some of the women who live in the lower part of the mountains wrap a knee-length cloth around their bark bra-string, while the men wear cloth instead of bark. However, bark cloth is still worn by both men and women in the interior. It is also used as breast covers, headbands and blankets.