Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the original settlers of Bukidnon province, commonly known as Bukidnon, settled along the coast areas and near the riverbanks. These people lived in settlements where they could forage for food. Unwanted encounters with encroaching lowlanders and colonizers and early Christian settlers however pushed them up the mountains. These people moved generally not out of fear but simply preferred to be left alone so as not be changed to something they are not.
SEVEN TRIBES OF BUKIDNON
The lowlanders began to use the generic name “Bukidnon” to refer to the Indigenous Peoples who settled in the mountains. Among themselves, however, they distinguished each band and tribe with names associated with their immediate dwelling place or locality. The provincial government of Bukidnon recognizes seven distinct tribes, namely, Bukidnon, Higaonon, Manobo, Matigsalug, Talaandig, Tigwahanon, and Umayamnon.
The Jesuits currently accompany four of the seven tribes in their mission areas - the Higaonon, Manobo, Talaandig, and Umayamnon.
There are 18 Lumad ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao that are recognized by the Philippine government. However, there are probably about 25 or more. Owing to the isolation of these groups, the Philippine census has never been consistent. The Lumad (Visayan word meaning indigeneous) groups are: Subanen, Manobo, B'laan, T'boli, Mandaya, Mansaka, Tiruray, Higaonon, Bagobo, Bukidnon, Tagakaolo, Banwaon, Dibabawon, Talaandig, Mamanua, and Manguangan.
There are also 13 Muslim ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao: Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Kalagan, Sangil, Ilanun/Iranun, Palibugan, Yakan, Sama, Badjao, Jumamapun, Palawanon, and Molbog.
The ethnolinguistic Map of Mindanao and images of Lumad peoples shown are courtesy of Museo de Oro, Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro.
The Talaandig peoples are found mostly in the areas surrounding Mt. Kitanglad, their historic domain. including the Miarayon region.
The Umayamnon (or Umajamnen) dwell along the Umayam River watershed in the Mt. Pantaron range in Cabanglasan, near Agusan.
The Pulangiyen Manobo mainly reside along the Upper Pulangi River region including Zamboanguita, Bendum, and near Agusan.
The Manobo inhabit the river valleys, hillsides, and plateaus of Agusan, Bukidnon, Cotabato, Davao, Misamis Oriental, and Surigao Del Sur.
The Matigsalug Manobo are the original inhabitants of Bukidnon-Davao highlands near the Salug River (now called the Davao River).
The Higaonon live in the mountain areas of Bukidnon. Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Lanao del Norte.