Ethnic Groups of the Philippines


One of southern Mindanao’s indigenous people, the T’boli are concentrated in Kiamba, Maitum, and Surallah in South Cotabato. As settlers from other Philippine islands arrived, the T’boli gradually withdrew to the mountain slopes and lived in scattered villages. Their cultural heartland lies in the highland lake complex: Sebu, Selutan, and Lahit Lakes. T’boli, B’laan, and Tiruray belong to a single language group and are distinct from the other languages of Mindanao.

T’boli employ slash-and-burn farming in planting corn, upland rice, vegetables, and root crops. The bulk of their produce is for household consumption, but some of it is used in bartering for other household necessities. They are famous for several things, among them: (1) numerous crafts, such as the casting in brass of human and animal figures, bells, and metal boxes; (2) elaborate traditional dresses, especially their ceremonial and festival attire, which is made from tie-dyed woven abaca cloth called tinalak; and (3) vivacious dances and music.


Indigenous People,
Aliawan Travel Images,
National Commission for Culture and The Arts,