The Hinabol of the Higaonon of Impasug-ong Bukidnon

Tell the world what Higaonon Hinabol weavers are

The Higaonon, an indigenous tribe in northern Mindanao in the southern Philippines, has maintained an ancient dispute resolution mechanism that has made it possible for them to be a genuinely peaceful group. However it is important to ensure that this information is not lost in the future.

The Higaonon described as People of the Living Mountains" and "People of the Wilderness" are one of the lumads (indigenous peoples) in the mountainous areas of Northern Mindanao in the Southern Philippines that have resisted assimilation or acculturation, with their traditional structures, traditions and beliefs remaining relatively intact (Tri-people Consortium for Peace, Progress and Development in Mindanao, 1998).

They have continuously lived as an organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, possessed customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits. They are one of the indigenous people (IPs) recognized as the true natives of the islands, who at one time occupied and controlled a substantial portion of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago (Tri-people Consortium for Peace, Progress and Development in Mindanao, 1998).

Mercado (1998) has argued that unlike the early IPs who embraced Christianity, the lumads have retained their original primal religion because they refused to accept either Islam or Christianity at the early times of colonization. Though a Christian sect penetrated the communities in Bukidnon in 2007 and baptized at least 50 members from a tribe in Kagahuman area, these members still practice their original religion while at the same time joining weekly worship with their Christian group.

One of the indigenous practices that the Higaonons have retained up to this day is their system of conflict resolution, locally called paghusay (meaning “to settle”). With its tribal council composed of a Supreme Datu (chieftain), 11 delegates, 3 baes (women delegates), and 25 alimaong (tribal police), they resolve all kinds of conflicts as long as they take place within their jurisdiction. Cases that reach the tribal authorities for possible resolution include thievery, fighting, murder, misunderstandings, adultery, land conflicts, contempt against rituals and conflicts involving rebels.

The ability of the Higaonon to effectively solve internal conflicts has led to them being described as a genuinely peace loving community and the “weavers of peace“.