Introduction / History The Kalagan live on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. They are located in an area between the interior uplands and the western coast of the Davao Gulf. These Kalagan are mainly of the Tagakaolo Kalagan branch. They have converted to Islam either through intermarriage or through contact with their close neighbors, the Magindanaw.
The Kalagan are thought to be one of various groups of lowland Filipinos who came to the islands from Asia's southwestern mainland several thousand years ago. Their lifestyle and culture are very similar to that of the Magindanaw. Their language, also called Kalagan, resembles a number of other languages in the region.
While some Kalagan receive wages for labor, others are "slash and burn" farmers. Maize is the major crop grown and is harvested two or three times a year. The coastal Kalagan are also fishermen, and some are plantation workers.
What are their lives like? The Kalagan are self-sufficient farmers, producing nearly all their own food. Wet rice is grown in the lowlands, and dry rice and corn are raised in the mountainous areas. Yams and sweet potatoes are also staple crops. Vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, and beans are grown; coconuts abound; and many kinds of fruit are available. Goats are raised for meat, and chickens are raised for both eggs and meat. In addition to farming, the Kalagan catch fish and obtain wild foods and other various materials from the marshes.
The Kalagan of highest rank in their society do not perform manual labor. Among the rest of the people, male/female division of labor is not very pronounced. Men do the plowing, tilling and other heavy farm work. The women do most of the domestic work, often assisted by their older children.
Many household items are hand crafted from wood, bamboo, rattan, thatch, and fiber. Most of these are for personal use, but some woven items, mats, and baskets are made for commercial sale.
Kalagan art is limited mostly to weaving, making baskets, and crafting certain ornaments. Personal adornment in the form of bright clothing, beaded jewelry, and other accessories is distinctive and colorful. On special occasions, graceful dances are performed to the rhythmic music of gongs and other instruments.
The Kalagan social structure is unusual because it is modified by a system of social rank, certain rules of descent, and distinctive patterns of marriage. Social rank is generally less important than blood ties. Higher-ranking families maintain elaborate genealogies to prove their descent.
Kalagan marriages are usually monogamous (having only one spouse). Although polygyny (having more than one wife) is permitted, it is practiced only by those of high rank and wealth. There is a strong preference for marriage between related families, especially to second cousins. After marriage, the couples usually live in the husband's community, although today, young couples may form their own independent households.
What are their beliefs? The Tagakaolo Kalagan were not introduced to Islam until Muslim missionaries arrived in the area during the 1500s. About half of the entire group of Kalagan came under Islamic influence at that time. However, many of the Kalagan remained animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits). Today, many are still ethnic religionists, believing in the traditions and religions of their forefathers. They continue to believe in a variety of environmental spirits. Many tales are also told of magic, sorcery, and supernatural beings. Muslim religious leaders and teachers (imams and panditas) direct religious life and teach young boys to read and memorize the Koran (Islam's holy book). Muslim holidays and other observances are celebrated to varying degrees.
What are their needs? Missions agencies may be working among the Kalagan, but they have few resources to help them. Evangelistic materials in their own language are very much needed to win them to Christ.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to minister among the Kalagan of the Philippines.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to the few missions agencies focusing on the Kalagan.
* Pray that Christian radio broadcasts and evangelical literature will be made available to the Kalagan.
* Pray that God will give the Kalagan believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a growing Kalagan church for the glory of His name!
Mindanao, Davao del Sur Province, southwest of Davao city, inland along coast; Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces, including Samal and associated islands, and inland on easern shores of Davao gulf; Davao Oriental Plrovince, highlands; some in North Cotabato Province; dialects: Isamal dialect: Samal Island; western: Davao Oriental Province; Lupon: Davao del Sur Province, along the gulf down to Hagonoy and Guihing near Digos city; eastern: mainly Davao Oriental Province. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)