The Kalagan of the Philippines
There are nearly 70,000 Kalagan living 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 farmed 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 1500's. 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 of them 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?
Two missions agencies are working among the Kalagan, but they have few resources to help them. Evangelistic materials and the Bible in their own language are very much needed to win them to Christ.
- 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 two missions agencies that are targeting the Kalagan.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Kalagan.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Kalagan through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Kalagan believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Kalagan bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Kalagan church for the glory of His name!
See also the following related groups:
of Indonesia, the
of Malaysia, the
of the Philippines, the
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kalagan
- Country: Philippines
- Their language: Kalagan
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1%
- Church members: 699
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 11,900 (17%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 58,000 (83%)
- Country: Philippines
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 151
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.