del Sur is an ethnic mix of Muslims, Visayans, Tagalogs, Chinese,
Japanese and Spanish with a number of indigenous tribes scattered
in the central plains and the western shores of the Davao Gulf. The
city of Davao has a small population of 892,000 inhabitants spread
across a vast 244,000-hectare land. Cebuano is the main language although
English and Pilipino are widely spoken.
Ata people live in some areas of Davao
City all the way to Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. They are related
to the Manobos of Cotabato and include sub-groups such as the Talaingod
of the Kapalong forests in Davao del Norte and the Matigsalug. Numbering
about 222,000, Ata men wear long-sleeved shirts, carry spears, hunt,
log and grow crops. Their womenfolk wear native blouses, "malong"
skirts and accessories of brass bracelets and bead necklaces.Mandaya
and Mansaka are culturally related groups who are highly musical -
playing the five string bamboo guitar, two-string lute, violin, flute,
gong, drum and bamboo jew's harp. They are also excellent silversmiths
crafting breastplates, jewellery, daggers and knives. The Mandayas
are famous for their colorful abaca fiber weaves embroidered with
In both groups, women generally wear
handwoven abaca tube skirts, embroidered blue cotton tops and heavy
jewellery. Men sport wide blue or white fringed and embroidered trousers
and a loose shirt. Red is a color only for a headman ("bagani")
and for women of high status.
Bagobos live in an area that extends
from Davao del Sur and South Cotabato to the foot of Mt. Apo and Davao
City all the way to the land bordered by the Davao and Pulangi rivers
and up to northern Cotobato and southeast Bukidnon. Numbering about
80,000, their traditional costume is woven from abaca fiber and heavily
ornamented with beads, shells, metal discs, embroidery and brightly-colored
geometric applique. Though Bagobos have the most stunning costumes
among the Davao ethnic groups, they wear them only on special occasions.
Like the Mandayas and Mansakas, they shave their eyebrows to a thin
line and file and blacken their teeth. Bagobo smiths cast little bells
which are attached to pouches, bracelets, jackets, anklets and inlaid
Tagacaolos number about 23,000 and
occupy the area between the western shores of the gulf and the slopes
of Mt. Apo. This is one of the tribes which resisted Muslim conversion
and maintained a highland animistic culture.
Kalagans are a Muslim group related
to the Tagacaolos. Numbering only about 7,000, they live along the
shores of the Davao Gulf.
Mangguangans are now only 3,000. They
can be found in Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte.