Source: Voice from Mt. Apo

Who are the Obo Manobo people? The question has been asked, “do they in fact exists as a group?” The Obo Manobo does exist and are an ethnic minority group located on the north and west slopes of Mt. Apo on the boundary between Davao Del Sur and North Cotabato on the Island of Mindanao, Philippines. Besides the name Obo Manobo, they have also been called: Kidapawan Manobo, Obo Bagobo, and Bagobo. The Obo Manobo call themselves Monuvu or Manobo, the term Obo Manobo has been dropped and they are simply referred to as Manobo. The Obo Manobo language belongs to the Manobo subfamily, which is part of the Philippine branch of the Austronesian language family and is spoken by approximately 50,000 to 80,000 people. However, it should be kept in mind that is the Obo Manobo people who are in focus.  According to a language survey conducted by Richard Elkins, there are some twenty discrete Manobo ethnic groups each with its own dialect.


The Manobo are not a large group of people neither are they influential on the global scene. They are not wealthy as wealth is usually assessed. Like the threads of Manila hemp used to make attractive Manobo traditional clothing, their strength and resilience lies in being interwoven, interdependent, and reliant on each other. The strong strands of character like generosity, hospitality, closeness of family, and respect of elders have kept Manobo culture from becoming totally unravelled over the years. Instead of being defeated by pressures of outside forces, fears of temperamental evil spirits, sorrows of illness and death, and the challenges of daily living, these difficulties have instead ornamented their lives with the rich texture of endurance, like the colourful threads and beads of their traditional clothing.


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