Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity

By Jacob K. Olupona | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 18

Mandaya myth, memory, and the heroic religious tradition

Between Islam and Christianity

Aram A. Yengoyan

Poised between two prophets (Christian and Muslim), the Mandaya of south-east Mindanao have dealt selectively with matters of religious conversion and cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining a way of life, a portion of which has no counterpart in the world religions that they are encountering. Conversion to Christianity is understood primarily as a means of entering a dominant socio-linguistic group (Cebuano/Bisayan), thus opening new avenues of commercial activity and partial social acceptance. On the other hand, Islam, through its teachers, wandering missionaries, and traders, argues that all features of Mandaya religious action, structure, and thought exist within Islamic religious perspectives, which not only embrace local Mandaya beliefs but are also more powerful. Both world religions operate globally, yet they are limited in terms of the oratory, mnemonics, and genealogical depth that link Mandaya mythical and historical heroes and heroines, and which project the living past onto the present.

The context

Eastern Mindanao is occupied by a number of “tribal” groups who are markedly different from the Islamic populations of southern and central Mindanao, although close similarities with other non-Islamic groups in central and western Mindanao, such as the Bukidnon and the Subanun, do exist. One of the major groups of eastern Mindanao is the Mandaya, who occupy the foothills and mountain areas of eastern Davao province and Surigao del Sur. Interior settlements are generally located up to an elevation of 4,000 feet. In some cases, the Mandaya have moved beyond this elevation, though the effects of swiddening in this ecological zone are highly negative. The push higher into the interior is a result of the extensive nature of Mandaya slash-and-burn cultivation. Although early accounts indicate that the Mandaya were one of the most powerful warring groups in eastern Mindanao, with the decline and disappearance of the bagani (warrior) complex during the 1920s, the Mandaya today are scattered throughout their ancestral areas subsisting on rice, corn, and tuber cultivation, and, occasionally, the commercial production of abaca (hemp).

Like many other non-Christian, non-Islamic groups practicing upland rice swidden cultivation, the Mandaya have only recently become involved in a market economy. Abaca production in swiddens that are no longer useful for upland rice is now found scattered throughout the foothills, from the Mati-Tarragona area north to Cateel. Most of these small-scale abaca farms are still maintained by the Mandaya, but in certain localities Cebuano farmers have taken land from the upland Mandaya. The Visayans are also


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?