Higaonon are an indigenous tribe found in the northern regions of
the island of Mindanao in The Philippines. With a population estimated
at 350, 000, they are distributed over five provinces --- Agusan
del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and
Bukidnon. Since "Creation Times" the Higaonon have lived
in their forest home, undisturbed, managing the forest in a natural
and harmonious way.
HIGA means Living, GOAN means mountains and ONON means people. They
could be described as "people of the living mountains."
The tribe is made up of eight clans centered around the eight main
rivers of their "Ancestral Domain". These clans are divided
into the warrior and peaceful clans both now existing in peace.
They follow a Datuship system of government, where each Datu (generally
an elder) is trained in distinct areas of expertise, eg administration,
spirituality and education.
All Higaonon people follow the customary laws of Bunkatol Ha Bulawan
Daw Nang Ka Tasa ha Lana, which simply means treasured unity (Love
and Peace). It is really a code of conduct. This is the sacred bond
that unites the entire Higaonon people, who share a common root
language, history and culture.
1954, loggers started cutting their way into the forests - the Ancestral
Domain - creating stress and sadness for its inhabitants.
For the past 40 years, the people have struggled tirelessly for
their right to self-determination and to retain their independence
as a tribe, securing their forest home against destruction.