Subanon, Western Kalibugan in Philippines

Subanon, Western Kalibugan
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People Name: Subanon, Western Kalibugan
Country: Philippines
10/40 Window: No
Population: 158,000
World Population: 158,000
Primary Language: Subanon, Western
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 60.00 %
Evangelicals: 19.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Filipino, Central
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Subanuns are the first settlers of the Zamboanga peninsula. Because they live near the river ("suba"), they are called river dwellers or Suba-nuns. The family is patriarchal while the village is led by a chief called Timuay. He acts as the village judge and is concerned with all communal matters.

Marriage is similar to that of other tribes: dowry, use of a go-between, feasting called Buklog and the rice rituals. The officiating person is the Misala-getaw who is a respected male leader in the area. The most important part is the witnessing of the rice ritual by the groom and bride. Polygamy is limited to the affluent. Divorce is permitted and decided by the village chiefs. In such cases, the dowry must be returned if the bride is at fault.

In late pregnancy, a special hut called "ghosina" is erected for the expectant mother. Charma is hung above and under the hut to ward off evil spirits. After delivery, the mother lies close to a hot fire for several days in the belief that this will dry up the womb.

The Subanuns and Kolibugans practice swidden agriculture (slash and burn) on the mountain slopes, cultivating upland rice, corn, root crops, and the like. They have a subsistence economy and are in need of technical skills, capital and market access.

The Subanun villages are ruled by village chiefs who dispense justice, divorce, and settle issues and disputes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Subanuns believe that all humans have souls. The dead are usually buried within the same day, before sundown. They believe that souls roam the earth unless certain rituals are made to make it go to heaven or to appease some spirit in the other world. The ritual is usually a feast (polohog for the less well-off, and buklog for the more affluent. The burial party however must bathe before the feast begins.

The Kolibugan on the other hand embraced Islam and are mostly found on the island of Olutanga, off the coast of Zamboanga del Sur. "Kolibugan" is a Sama-Tausug slang for half-breed, because the tribe was former Subanuns who intermarried with Sama and Tausugs and embraced Islam. However, they retain the Subanun dialect.

Open doors are education, radio and community development.

Prayer Points

That adequate funding be supplied to Christian ministries who are engaged in education, radio, primary health care, community and livelihood development.
That adequate long term support be given to church planters for sustained church development in the remote areas.

Text Source:   Asia Missions (AMNET)