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The Subanens, original Inhabitants of Western Mindanao

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on March 22 2006 on November 26, 2009 at 11:47 PM Comments comments (8)



Immigrants from Luzon and the Visayas, and some from foreign countries who adopted Zamboanga Peninsula their permanent residence are now called Zamboanguenos. And they are all Zamboanguenos for all intents and purposes.


There are hundreds of thousands of immigrants here that made up the chore of economic, social and religious life of this Peninsula. We have to take note that the expertise, investments and presence of these immigrants contributed to the present progress and glitter of cities and towns in the Peninsula that we now enjoy.

What is the physical composition of Zamboanga Peninsula? There are three (3) Provinces and four (4) Cities within Zamboanga Peninsula, contiguous and its people similar in culture and aspirations.


But who populated Zamboanga Peninsula before immigrants from Luzon and the Visayas, and some foreigners immigrated here and stayed for good and are now certified Zamboanguenos?


We are talking about three to four hundred years ago. It is established by historical facts and by oral history handed down from generations that Zamboanga Peninsula was populated by the Subanen tribal peoples.


When the Chinese came to trade and the Spaniards came to colonize this place centuries ago, they found no one but Sama people populating the coastal areas and the Subanen tribal peoples populating the highlands of Zamboanga City. The Subanen Timu-ay (Chieftain) resided in Pulo Bato, now renamed Pulong Bato in upper Pasonanca. This whole area then was named Sembu-an (A Subanen word for a “place to welcome people”).


As the years went on, the Subanens imitated the Spanish Language and it then evolved into what is now known as the Chavacano dialect.

Many Subanen maidens were also impregnated by the Spaniards and gave birth to blue or yellow eyed and fair complexioned babies we call Meztizo! Are there still remnants of this beautiful people hereabouts?


My Maternal Subanen ancestors did not like the Spaniards so they left their villages built around at what is now Plaza Pershing and Pasonanca and settled to what is now the province of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Sibugay Provinces.

One of the many reasons why the Subanens did not like the Spaniards was because they were forced to adopt a strange religion that worship idols and burn incense on their altars.


The Subanen tribal peoples were then Animists. They believe in a supreme being with many gods to guard practically anything on Earth. So the Subanen had lesser gods to guard rivers, houses, forests and even farms, among others.


Hopefully, these historical facts will correct certain misconceptions about who is a Zamboangueno. The fact is any man on Earth can come here, established his residence, learn the Chavacano dialect and presto! We will have a brand new Zamboangueno!


But history leads the way to shed light on those who may have misconceptions on our history or cannot distinguish between a Zamboangueno and a Chavacano, or putting it more clearly, between immigrants and original inhabitants.


Although we agree that as of now all permanent residents are known as Zamboanguenos in this Peninsula, we cannot ignore historical facts proving that before immigrants from Luzon and the Visayas, and some foreigners settled here, the Subanens and Sama Tribal peoples were already established as residents of what is now the Zamboanga Peninsula centuries earlier.



Concern about

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on March 22 2006 on November 9, 2009 at 8:51 PM Comments comments (4)
Gempya Gendaw
To all Subanen/Subanon tribe i would like to bring to your attention tah i have read a all the imformation about our culture & tradition 
are use by this website and link to without my approval they link as blog. This website created by a group of non Subanen/Subanon i suspect they will use it to 
commercially. In your opinion what we will going to do this blogspot? Your comment is very important. Please log-in and post a comments.

Subanen Tribe to Party List in 16th Congress 2013

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on March 22 2006 on September 5, 2009 at 12:48 AM Comments comments (17)

I would like to have the opportuntiy to open this topic among you my  beloved Subanen/Subanon to have a representative in 16th Congress 2013. This opinion are open to all, Kindly post your comments 


In behalf of Subanen/Subanon



Loreto D. Danda


PGMA issues E.O. 726

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on Feb. 26 2006 on July 3, 2008 at 8:36 PM Comments comments (1)

PGMA issues E.O. 726 to enable indigenous peoples to enjoy the same rights granted to other Filipinos


To preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the country?s indigenous groups, and for them to enjoy all the rights and opportunities granted to fellow Filipinos, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has transferred the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) from the ambit of the Department of Land Reform (DLR) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The NCIP?s transfer was mandated by Executive Order No. 726 which the President signed last May 23. The EO takes effect immediately.

In transferring the NCIP to the DENR, the President stressed that ?there is a continuing need to remain vigilant in protecting the rights and guaranteeing the respect for the cultural integrity of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples.?

President Arroyo added that there is a need of ?ensuring that all members of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples benefit on an equal footing from the rights and opportunities which national laws and regulations grant to other members of the population.?

One of the powers of the DENR, which now has jurisdiction over the NCIP, ?is the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.?

On the other hand, ?one of its (DENR?s) objectives is to conserve specific terrestrial and marine areas representative of the Philippine natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations.?

The NCIP was earlier created by Republic Act (RA) 8371 ? the ?Act to recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples.?

The NCIP was later placed under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) via Executive Order No. 364 which also ?transformed? the DAR into the Department of Land Reform (DLR) on
Sept. 27, 2004.

Support the Farmers of Kalawit in their struggle to own the land that they till.

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on Feb. 26 2006 on June 21, 2008 at 11:52 PM Comments comments (0)

With the presence of the project, people are deprived of there opportunities. The Case of the Farmers in Sitio San Roque, Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte Province

Kalawit is an interior town, 200 kilometers away from Dipolog City, Mindanao, Philippines. It is home to Kalibugan Muslims and the Subanen people.

The Muslim Kalibugans and the Subanen people settled in the area long before the coming of christian settlers. In 1940s, settlers searching for lands to till flocked into one of its villages, magubok (now Sitio San Roque(, and together with the Kalibugans and the Subanen, cleared areas for agricultural production. Many more people came believing that Kalawit could give them a future for their families and their children because of the availability of a land to till, a land they can call their own.

Indeed for the Muslim Kalibugans, the Subanen and the early christian settlers, Magubok is their home, their very own.

In the 70s, when the so-called "Muslim-Christian Conflict" intensified and the peace and order situation worsened, the military declared the area as "No Man's Land". The people evacuated to safer grounds for fear of their lives. The people did not come back into the area not until 1980s when the situation became relatively normal. By the middle of the 80s, many of those who left the place came back only to find out that the land they came to know as theirs is now occupied by a government project then known as Palayang Bayan.

With the situation, the people protested and petitioned the government to give their lands back to them. The government refused to listen to the people. But with the people's actions, the Provincial Governor of the Province of Zamboanga del Norte negotiated with the people and told them that they are simply borrowing the land for five years. When the land shall have been made productive, that is after five years of project implementation, the provincial government shall return the lands back to the people.

The people resisted but eventually gave way to the request of the Provincial Government hoping that after five years the lands will be given back to them.

The said promise never realized. And the people were frustrated because they had no documents that can prove that the lands were simply borrowed from them by the Provincial Government.

The situation became hopeless when the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Norte executed a Deed of Donation of Usufruct in favor of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) on December 31, 1987. In the said Deed of Donation, the government gave MAF the right to use the 1,651 hectares of land for its projects.

The first project that was put up was the Mindanao Livestock Production Center -- a supposed center for cattle raising. The project started with three hundred cattles but only 30 survived.

In 1990, the Philippine Carabao Center was put up for breeding, and to serve as the take off center for the government's Carabao Dispersal Program.

Another project was put up in 1990, the research farm of the Fiber Industry Development Authority.

These three government projects continue to exist in the area until today.

How it is today
The continued presence of the government projects in Sitio San Roque, Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte has pushed the Kalibugan Muslims, the Subanen and the Christian farmers in an extremely impoverished living conditions. Around 160 families could hardly survive. Without a land to till, these families could only make use of their backyards, and small farm lots to make a living through gardening and livestock raising. A few others who have been lucky enough managed to plat rice and corn in small farm plots.

As a result of the economic dislocation brought about by the presence of government project in people's lands, many families could hardly afford to feed their children nutritious food, or send them to school, or medicate them when they are sick. Which explains why many among the children are malnourished and sick.

The women are hardly hit by the situation of poverty. Many among them are sick and unhealthy. And many among them have neither the capacity nor the opportunity to look for other sources of income that could augment their living condition.

Indeed, the situation has deprived people of both access to the life-giving resources, and the opportunity to make a living.

With this situation, the farmers have organized themselves and called their organization the Kalawit Tri-people Farmers Association (KATRIFA). The women have also organized themselves into the Kalawit Women's Association for Development (KAWAFED). Even the youth have formed their own organization. These organizations became their r

On several occasion, and from one Government Administration to another, the people have dared to negotiate and dialogue with the authorities. But to no avail. The government made promises that never happened. Until this day, the government has turned a deaf ear on the plight of the people. Despite the promise of bringing development among the poorest of the poor, the government has stood pat on its position not to redistribute the alienable and disposable lands that they are now occupying.

The farmer's lands are just a few inches away from where they are living at the moment. Yet they cannot even make use of these farms because the government has prevented them from doing so.

With this situation, the farmers can only expect the worst.

Issues At Hand

A. Ancestral Domain
The lands occupied by the government is the ancestral lands of both the Kalibugans and the Subanen people. In these lands are found their sacred places, their burial grounds, their hunting grounds. In these lands lie the history of the Subanen and the Kalibugans.

When the government occupied the area, they burned the mosque, bulldozed the burial grounds, and cleared the areas then considered by the Kalibugans and Muslims as their hunting grounds, as well as the place where Magbabaya dwells.

Last February, when all papers have been prepared, the Kalibugans and the Subanen submitted to the government their petition for the realize of their ancestral lands.

B. Alienable and Disposable Lands
Of the 1,651 hectares of land, around 860 hectares are considered Alienable and Disposable. Under the law, A&D lands are supposed to be distributed to the people as these lands can be made very productive, and thus provide opportunity for people's livelihood.


An Appeal for Support

Last December 15, 1998, after realizing that they can only get nothing from dialogues and negotiations, the farmers filed a class suit against the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture. However, realizing that the resolution of the case would take years and years of court trial, the farmers have agreed to settle the issue during the Pre-trial conference, that is, before the Court Trial proper.

It was in the light of this realization that the farmers have agreed among themselves to settle the case through a Compromise Agreement with the Provincial Government and the concerned Government Agencies. This, however, could not be ascertained to be possible given the usual position and option of the government. Only when appropriate and sufficient amount of pressure is generated from support groups will it be possible for the provincial government to enter into a compromise settlement of the problem.

On the basis of these, the farmers requested PhilNet-RDI Zamboanga Project Office to send this piece of information to persons and organizations who might be interested in supporting their case. The farmers' demands are simple: redistribute to them the lands that they once owned and tilled. They government may retain part of those lands but only those that they have already developed, which is about 70 hectares of the 1,651 hectares of land.

What YOU can do

You can support the farmer's struggle by writing to the responsible persons and agencies and requesting them to give heed to the demands of the farmers -- demands that are historically valid and legitimate.

Please write to the following officials:

President Her Excellency Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Malacanan Palace
Manila, Philippines 
Hon. Arthur Yap
Department of Agriculture
Malacanan Palace
Manila, Philippines
Hon. Dong Puno
Department of Local Government
Malacanan Palace
Manila, Philippines
Nasser Pangadangan
Department of Agririan Reform
Malacanan Palace
Manila, Philippines
Hon. Gov. Isagani Amatong
Governor, Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Gen. Luna St, Dipolog City
Hon. Pancrasio D. Ajero
Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol, Gen. Luna St.,
Dipolog City
Hon. Florentino T. Daarol
Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City
Hon. Jose B. Brillantes
Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City
Hon. Concordio Adriatico
Vice Governor of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City
Hon. Herminio Acaylar
Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City
Hon. Jose Montano Jr.
Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City

Pre Notes

Posted by Subanen Tribe Website born on Feb. 26 2006 on March 1, 2006 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (10)

Dear Tribal,

I am glad to to know Ms. Aldrina Hitalia (Ateneo De Zamb. Univ., Snr Asst Dean of Colllege)through my surfing in Subanen publication  in global then i cummincate her by phone this my great pleasure one of the prominent personality are embrassing the whole truth that her "Subanen" tribe blood are more she recognised where she belong , Even me it self i am a half blood but my blood stream and pricinciple are concurrent to where i belong i am proud to be "Subanen" entity to whole world that i am , i am...Thank You to Ms. Adrina Hitalia for your  stream blood principle i really ador you...

The Designer