Both non-Christian and non-Islamic, the Mandaya are found in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, Mindanao. Their name means “the first people upstream,” derived from man (“first”) and daya (“upstream or upper portion of a river”). Mandayas are said to be polygynous; divorce is also socially acceptable.
The Mandayas are shifting cultivators who rely largely on swidden farming (also known as slash-and-burn) as a means for survival. Their other means of livelihood include fishing, food gathering, hunting, and the planting of abaca as a cash crop.
Aesthetics and arts rank high among the Mandaya. They are excellent metalsmiths, who can fashion beautiful silver ornaments and brass items (evidence of their contact with Muslim groups), and weapons. Music is also an important part of Mandaya culture, as they use various musical instruments and dances for celebrations and rituals.
The name Mansaka is a combination of man (“first”) and saka (“to ascend”), and is almost identical to the meaning of Mandaya: “the first people to climb the mountains or go upstream.” Mansaka can be found in Davao Oriental.
The Mansaka’s traditional clothing distinguishes them from other tribes. The cloth and its patterns are handwoven. Jewelry is an important part of the attire of both genders.