Manobo, Ata in Philippines

Manobo, Ata
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Map Source:  Mark Stevens
People Name: Manobo, Ata
Country: Philippines
10/40 Window: No
Population: 40,000
World Population: 40,000
Primary Language: Manobo, Ata
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 9.00 %
Evangelicals: 3.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Filipino, Tribal
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ata-Manobo no longer want to be called by that name, and are further divided into the Langilan and Tala-ingod tribes. They are found in the region west and northwest of Mt. Apo, the headwater of the Davao, Lasang and Libuganon rivers. There is now a town called Tala-ingod in Davao del Norte.

The recognized village leaders are the Datu, Barangay Captain, Purok leaders and religious leaders. They also recognize government leaders especially if the mayor is also the Tribal Council Chief. Social structure is based on kin relationship, and in the past leadership was given to the oldest married family member. Now they have set some qualifications. The datu is given more respect and has more authority.

Marriages are arranged with the bride price as the main concern. Conflicts are settled through peace offerings. Until 1994 the Atas relied mainly on farming for daily subsistence, supplemented with hogs, chickens and other livestock products.

Animism permeates the Ata way of life. However, acculturation has caused some changes especially among the younger generation. Like the Matisalugs, they believe that "Manama" is the supreme god but there are others who do Manama's bidding. These gods must be appeased.

The areas where the tribes live are generally underdeveloped with poor infrastructure. Dispossessed of their tribal lands, they have little control over their lands. They practice slash and burn agriculture and live off the forest. They are driven off the land by loggers and corporate plantations.

Unlike the dominant Muslim tribes, they have failed to consolidate themselves and thus have no significant voice in politics. Because of their unattended grievances, they are prey to the communist rebels and other dissident movements who wish to use them against the government.

What Are Their Needs?

Effective ministries are those that combine evangelism with discipleship and community development. Upland farm technologies are in demand to help uplift the economic situation of the people. Education and medical assistance are other basic needs in the area.

Hindrances to the Gospel include the bitterness of hill tribes at being dispossessed of their ancestral lands by Catholic lowlanders, whom they collectively lump with other Christians.

Prayer Points

Pray that more Manobo pastors and church leaders will be raised up to reach out to their own people.
Pray for wisdom for those who are ministering to them right now, and that they will be able to clearly present Christ to these people.
Pray for improved living conditions
Pray that the surge of materialism (due to lowlander influence) will be stopped by the gospel
Pray that their efforts to hold on to their land will be successful. That they will not deceived by opportunistic lowlanders with offers of money.

Text Source:   Asia Missions (AMNET)