Subanen, Tuboy in Philippines

Joshua Project has identified the Subanen, Tuboy only in Philippines





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Tuboy Subanon live on the island of Mindanao, the second largest island of the Philippines. They generally live in scattered farm settlements in the forested, mountainous interior of the Zamboanga Peninsula. The Tuboy Subanon are a small branch of the Subanon ethnic group and speak various Subanon dialects.

The history of the Subanon is obscure until the 1600's, when they are mentioned in the writings of Spanish Jesuit missionaries. Prior to the twentieth century, their only contact with the outside world was with Muslim merchants who lived along the coast of the peninsula. The Muslims exploited them economically, setting the pattern for Subanon relations to this day.

Since World War II, Christian and Muslim ethnic groups of the Philippines have often clashed. The Subanon, who are polytheists (believe in many gods), have been caught in the crossfire, victimized by one side, then the other.

What Are Their Lives Like?

All of the Tuboy Subanon are farmers who practice "slash and burn" agriculture. This is a type of farming in which a section of forest is cut down, the debris is burned, and various crops are planted on the clearing. Every year a new field is cleared. After one or two years of use, the field must lie fallow for up to 15 years. The Subanon also raise various types of livestock, including pigs, chickens, cattle, and water buffaloes.

Rice is by far the most important crop, although various other grains are raised. If there is any extra rice, it is sold at a lowland market for cash, which is needed to purchase clothing, utensils, and tools.

Subanon houses usually have some distance between them. Their homes are typically rectangular, raised on stilts, and have thatched roofs. They are generally situated on hillsides or ridges that overlook the family fields. Every three or four years the Subanon move to a new location to clear more forest for fields.

Unlike most of the world's peoples, the Tuboy Subanon have virtually no division of labor based on sex. Men and women work in the fields together, and men cook and care for the children when necessary. They have little social stratification. Everyone is on an equal level in Subanon society because everyone has the same occupation and has almost the same economic level and lifestyle.

The Subanon permit polygamy (multiple wives), but nearly all marriages involve only one man and one woman. Families usually arrange marriages, and the groom's family is expected to pay a bride price. Occasionally, the groom will work for the bride's family for a few years rather than paying a full bride price.

What Are Their Beliefs?

In sharp contrast to the surrounding peoples who have adopted Christianity or Islam, the Tuboy Subanon cling to their ancient polytheistic religion. They believe that man shares the universe with a variety of gods, spirits, demons, and ghosts. These supernatural forces are said to have the ability to harm humans. However, humans supposedly have the power to harm them as well. At various times of the year, the Subanon give offerings of rice, meat, and wine to the gods and ancestral spirits. Witch doctors, or shamans, play a large role in Subanon religion. The people depend on the shamans to hear and understand the wishes of the gods and ancestral spirits.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tuboy Subanon have long been exploited and victimized by their neighbors, binding them to a history of servitude and poverty. Their physical needs are great, but their spiritual needs are even greater. Most of them have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel message.

Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the Philippines.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Tuboy Subanon.
* Pray that God will give the Tuboy Subanon believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of the Philippines through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Tuboy Subanon church for the glory of His name!

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Subanen, Tuboy
People Name in Country Subanen, Tuboy
Population in Philippines 96,000
World Population 96,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bukidnon, Mondo, Northern Subanon
Affinity Bloc Malay Peoples
People Cluster Filipino, Tribal
People Name General Subanen, Tuboy
Ethnic Code MSY44x
People ID 15612
Country Philippines
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Tuboy: Sergio Osmeña, Mutia; Zamboanga del Norte: inland from Dipolog City & Dapitan City; Salog: Misamis Occidental, Mindanao.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  2  (up to 20 largest shown)
Cebuano Subanen, Northern
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Cebuano Subanen, Northern
For Primary Language: Subanen, Northern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2012)
New Testament Yes   (2012)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Jesus Film: view in Subanen, Northern Film / Video
The Seed Company Translation Project Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.20 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
98.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
30.0 %
Roman Catholic
70.0 %
Photo Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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