Ethnic Groups of the Philippines

Mandaya, Cataelano

Both non-Christian and non-Islamic, the Mandaya are found in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, Mindanao. Their name means “the first people upstream,” derived from man (“first”) and daya (“upstream or upper portion of a river”). Mandayas are said to be polygynous; divorce is also socially acceptable.

The Mandayas are shifting cultivators who rely largely on swidden farming (also known as slash-and-burn) as a means for survival. Their other means of livelihood include fishing, food gathering, hunting, and the planting of abaca as a cash crop.

Aesthetics and arts rank high among the Mandaya. They are excellent metalsmiths, who can fashion beautiful silver ornaments and brass items (evidence of their contact with Muslim groups), and weapons. Music is also an important part of Mandaya culture, as they use various musical instruments and dances for celebrations and rituals.

The Cataelano Mandaya reside in Cateel, Davao Oriental.


Cole, Fay Cooper. The Wild Tribes of Davao District. Field Museum of Natural History, 1913.
Garvan, John. The Manobos of Mindanao. United States Government Printing Office, 1931.
Ethnologue: Languages of the World,
Fuentes, Vilma May and de la Cruz, Edito. A Treasury of Mandaya and Mansaka Folk Literature.
Peralta, Jesus. Glimpses: Peoples of the Philippines. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 2000
Valderrama, Ursula. The Colourful Mandaya: Ethnic Tribe of Davao Oriental. Tesoro’s Printing Press, 1987
Yengoyan, Aram. Environment, Shifting Cultivation, and Social Organization among Mandaya of Eastern Mindanao. University of Chicago, 1964