Subanen Blog

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



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.



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Reply Subanen Tribe Website born on March 22 2006
11:55 PM on November 26, 2009 
This is the fact ..this is the great arcticle you have done..Bravo!!!!
Reply Subanen Tribe Website born on March 22 2006
2:36 AM on December 29, 2009 
why happen to the Subanen tribe community are you not interested to talk about this wonderfull write-up of Mr. Apostol
Reply susan
12:09 AM on February 23, 2010 
i am a tour operator. I have a group of foreign tourist who would like to meet the Subanen community in Dipolog. Where could i bring them?Who should i get in touch with?Many thanks susan p.
Reply abel
9:34 PM on December 1, 2010 
"strange religion that worship idols and burn incense on their altars". i am very proud to you Mr. Apostol, honestly, i am already contaminated with the religion that forcely introduce by spaniard. now i am working with my thesis, THE SUBANEN RITUAL FOR THE FUTURE THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION. I am stressing here that subanen ritual worship should respect and to be inculturated by Christian not of regarding it as a pagan practice.
Reply GeoffCukro
12:55 PM on April 1, 2011 
Congratulations, Right attitude, and a truth beyond measure. having lived among the Navajo, in Arizona, USA, i understand Tribal identity and the importance of maintaining the culture. it is important that you teach your culture and beliefs, Remember always that you will always be your true nature, for you that is Being Subanen, and Sama. this is a point of pride, and of strength for you. being called a different name doesn't detract from that.
Reply Pablo
12:47 PM on January 12, 2012 
Acerca el Ciudad de Zamboanga


"Culture is Identity"

1. the Badjaos
2. The Yakans
3. The Subanen
4. The Tausugs
5. The Latino Zamboangueños
a. They are the product of spanish colonization in the southern Philippines
b. the youngest of all cultural groups in Western Mindanao.
c. Iterracial Marriages between the spaniards and natives took place during its construction; this resulted in a new breed of Filipinos and called Zamboangueños.
d. Zamboangueño Chavacano Language - is the LANE of the Zamboangueños.
e. Zamboangueños are generally fair skinned... Mestizos y Mestizas.
f. Characteristics of Zamboangueños
f.1. Kinship Family System
f.2. Love for one's cultural heritage
f.3. propensity for extravagance
f.4. Fiestas y Siestas
f.5. Aristocratic Behavior
g. Social Life
g.1. Resolves around religious practices
g.2. Bantayanon, Fiestas and Fondas
g.3. Baile - Valse, Regodon, Paso Doble
h. Religion
h.1. Catholic Faith
h.2. Devotion towards Jesus through songs
h.3. That the Catholic faith is the true religion
h.4. Devotional hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary - Himno en honor de la Virgen Maria.
h.5. Villancicos / Pastores / Aguinaldos (Christmas Carole)
h.6. Fiestas - Visperas, Diana, Misa, Juegos.
Zamboangueños constitute an AUTHENTIC and DISTINCT Cultural group for two reasons:
2. Undeniable vestiges of Spanish-physical features of mestizos, spanish folk lit., songs, dances, fiestas and Roman Catholocism.

Zamboangueno is a DISTINCT and AUTHENTIC tribe or group in the Western Mindanao.
Reply Ro
2:13 PM on February 9, 2012 

* They are a product of Spanish Colonization in southern philippines;
* The youngest of all cultural group/tribe in western mindanao;
* Fort Pilar - where Inter-racial marriages between Spaniards and native took place during it's construction; this resulted to a new breed of Filipinos and new Philippine Language;
* Zamboanguenos constitute an authentic and distinct cultural group for two reasons: Claim to a distinct dialect Undeniable vestiges of Spanish occupation- physical features of the mestizos, spanish folk lit, songs, dances, fiestas and Roman Catholicism
Reply Ismail
1:32 AM on July 29, 2012