For hundreds, even thousands, of years, Cotabato Cordillera has been home to the indigenous people called Manobo. There are at least five other Manobo tribes in Mindanao, but they have no clear connection among one another. Each tribe speaks a language that is unintelligible to the others. Most Cotabato Manobo live in the western part of Sultan Kudarat Province, but their territory extends to some parts of Maguindanao in the north and South Cotabato and Sarangani in the south.
Some organizations classify the Cotabato Manobo into two subgroups—those who dwell in the mountains and those who left and settled near the sea. The former are called Dulangan Manobo and the latter Karagatan Manobo. Dulangan is the name of a legendary ancestor and is said to mean “a high place.” Though it may be a Manobo word, dulangan is not listed in existing Manobo dictionaries. Neither is karagatan, which is the Tagalog term for ocean.
The Dulangan Manobo do not look much different from most Filipinos. Only, they are shorter and lighter in built and most of them have curly hair. It is getting more difficult to distinguish them from the newer settlers because many of them have started to wear modern clothing and adapt the ways of Christian settlers. Among the older Manobo folks, however, traditional ways are still evident. Their teeth and mouths are red from chewing betel quid, and the women often wear large loop earrings made of brass.