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Philippine Culture: Tribal Groups of the Philippines

Philippine Culture: Tribal Groups of the Philippines

The Philippines is made up of over 7,100 islands. With so many islands and over 16 regions, we have different kinds of cultural practices. Although we traditionally follow most practices since the pre-Spanish period but keep up with the modern practices, several indigenous tribes have managed to keep their cultural identity alive.

Many of the tribes in the  Philippines still live in their original ancestral land and practice traditions, while most modern Filipinos keep only the values like hospitality, love for family and God. Here are a few of the indigenous tribes that have kept the culture of the Filipinos


The tribe of Badjao resides in the islands of Sulu, one of the islands in Mindanao. They are sea-faring people. They are known for their artistically-woven, colorful sails. A majority of the Badjaos practice Islam, while a few of them have animalistic beliefs. They still believe in a medium, a person mediating between them and the gods.


The Igorots are comprised of many tribes that reside in the Cordillera mountain ranges. They are known to be rice-cultivators. In fact, the Ifugaos, a variety of the Igorot tribe built the Banaue Rice Terraces, one of the most famous historical and architectural attractions in


This tribe resides in the east mountains of Luzon called Sierra Madre. Many anthropologists and historians find the Ilongot society to be interesting. There is equality between men and women, and both parents usually take motherly roles.


Lumad is a term used to refer to the tribes comprising the eastern parts of Mindanao. They are known for tribal music that makes use of unique instruments they have constructed.


The Mangyans of Mindoro are one of the most popular tribes in the  Philippines.  Among all the existing tribes in the  Philippines, they have the largest population. They practice ancient hunting and animalist religious views, although about 10% have been converted to Christianity

Palawan Tribes

The region of Palawan is house to a number of tribes. Palawan is one of the regions in the Philippines that has not completely embraced urbanism, thus making it perfect as residence to many of the indigenous people. Most of the Palawan tribes live on fishing and hunting.


The Tumadok tribe is probably one of the very few tribes existing in the Visayas region. They usually reside in the Panay Island. They have kept their traditions strictly until now, probably because of their geographical location. They are separated from the other residents with a series of mountain ranges.

It is wonderful to see that there are still many of these existent tribes in the  Philippines. While they grow less and less in number because some tribe members choose to embrace modernity, many of these tribes strive to keep their cultural traditions alive.

Most of the tribes keep their traditions through art. For instance, the Igorots still do farming and cultivation, and most of them wear their woven cloth costume. The Ifugaos are very much attractive to many Filipinos and foreigners because of their unusual costume, especially the males who wear something similar to a G-string.  The Badjaos are known for their colorful sails and even until now, you would see their boats artistically sailing in the

The Philippine government exerted effort in protecting the historical lands of these tribes. During the late World War period, many of these tribes lost their lands to realtors. Because of this, their population made a sudden drop. In order to retain their beautiful culture, the government extended help in preserving artifacts and continuing their traditions. In the past it was quite hard to do, but with the help of Non-government organizations (NGOs), the tribes were able to combine modernity and still keep their traditions alive.

If you are travelling to the Philippines, you probably would see a few of these tribes. The Igorots of the Cordillera usually associate with people. However, some tribes like the Mangyans of Mindoro are secluded in their lands and you have to travel to them if you want to see their ways of living.  Many foreigners enjoy immersing in their special culture because of its complexity and uniqueness.


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