The Tagakaolo inhabit Mindanao, Sarangani, Davao del Sur, and Mt. Apo. Tagalaya, from the mountains, indicates they came from the river sources. Presently, they're also found in the coastal towns of Malita, Lais, and Talaguton Rivers. There are approximately 71,356 native speakers (2000, SIL International). Tagakaolo belongs to the Austronesian and Malayo-Polynesian language families; its dialect related to the Mandaya, Kalagan, and Kamayo. Tagakaolo translates to “inhabitants of headwater (olo sa tubig) or sources of rivers and streams.”
Their environment, diverse, consisted of the lowland, coastal, riverine, valley, mountain, highland, and the plain. Their lifestyle, wholly sedentary with principal subsistence dependent on agriculture, fishing, and paid labor. Each upland river valley or highland plain inherited by primogeniture (right of succession belonging to the firstborn child). Central to their culture is the datu who presides over civic and labor duties; a prominent datu could secure, either by capture or by purchase. Each datu is the autonomous chief over an area.