Ethnic Groups of the Philippines

The Bagobo People

6 May 2011

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Bagóbo are a proud people with proto Malayan features and with a strong social structure enabled them, as a group, to integrate with the main body politic while retaining much of their indigenous customs, beliefs, and values. That said, most of the Bagóbo have suffered dislocation due to the loss of their ancestral lands and the effects of modern day insurgency. While many are in economically depressed circumstances, a considerable number have attained a substantial degree of self-sufficiency. For instance, they are renowned for their metal-craft skills, particularly in the production of brass articles by means of the ancient lost-wax process; weaponry best exemplify Bagóbo ornate traditions of metal-crafting. While still others of the Bagóbo specialize weaving abacca cloths of earth-toned hues, as well as, basket-making trimmed with beads, fibers and horse hair.

Their distinct ceremonial attire made of ikat textiles is likely to be referred to as either costume or dress. For the Bagóbo, however, whichever word is used made a difference. For example, they tend to use kóstyom (costume) when speaking to non-Bagóbo; amongst themselves, they use ompák (garment or clothing). Kóstyom is not just “costume” pronounced with a local accent, it referred to something more exact. For the Bagóbo, the implementation of these clothes took on multiple meanings that delineated the many modes of being a modern Bagóbo. Textiles continue to profoundly connect to ideas of the self in relation to the group, especially with regard to shared ideals of spiritual understanding and belonging.