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Davao Oriental Villages

The Mandayas: People of the Uplands

At the heart of our visit to the Caraga municipality is the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) project by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), in collaboration with the Mandaya Ethnic Group in the uplands ancestral domain of Sangab, Caraga, Davao Oriental. While exploring Caraga to showcase its natural wonders and attractions, a portion of our group is actively involved with the Mandayas, implementing a “Marketing Enhancement Program” and providing essential “starter-kits” (threads, beads, cotton, etc.), as well as equipment such as sewing machines and back-strap weaving looms.

A lovely Mandaya village in Sangab. Some of these are accommodations for visitors.
A lovely Mandaya village in Sangab. Some of these are accommodations for visitors.
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The Mandaya

The Mandaya, one of the 11 ethnic groups in Davao, holds the distinction of being one of the oldest and largest ethnic groups in the country. Their culture, incredibly rich and illustrious, has persevered through generations. The Mandaya community in Sangab has retained its conservative ways, fostering unity within their community.

The term “Mandaya” was derived from the words “man,” meaning “from,” and “daya,” meaning “upstream” or “uplands.” They are simply referred to as people from the headwaters of Kal’lagan, now called the Caraga River.

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The Mandayas: People of the Uplands
The Mandayas: People of the Uplands

Mandaya Artistry

The Mandaya’s unique mud-dyed Dagmay textile, along with the intricate beadwork and patterns in their garments, is truly a marvel. TPB is also working closely with the community to assist in marketing their craft while ensuring the preservation of the significance and context of their designs through a study focused on “Cultural Sensitivity and Appropriation.”

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The Mandayas: People of the Uplands
Norma Gonos

The Liwagan

Concerning the intricacies of utilizing Mandaya dagmay textile for garbs or attire, the Liwagan: Mandaya Educational Heritage and Research Center, housed within the Colegio de Caraga building, sheds some light. Thanks to Norma Gonos, the Indigenous People Affairs Consultant, who helped set up the research center, there is now a credible resource for all about the history, culture, and traditions of the Mandayas. Aside from books, artifacts, and a weaving demo area, the center displays the many names of ornaments adorning a Mandaya attire, especially for women.

The Mandayas: People of the Uplands
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The Mandayas: People of the Uplands

It was an honor to be warmly welcomed into the Mandaya community in Caraga, witnessing genuine smiles and the enthusiasm in their eyes as the workshop in Sangab opened up new possibilities for their community. May the seeds planted during our visit continue to grow as their community gradually embraces tourism.

Sugno of Mandaya
Sugno of Mandaya
The Mandayas: People of the Uplands
The Mandayas: People of the Uplands
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