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Cultural Immersion

Meet local people. See how they live. Experience life in nature.

Tagbanua people live off sea

Nomadic Fishing Culture

Tagbanuas, or the “First People” as they are commonly referred to locally, are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines.

With an estimated population in the 2000 census of only 10,000 (down from as many as 130,000 in 1987), a much smaller subset is represented by the Calamian Tagbanuas.

Tribal members of Coron Island and Lakdayan, number approximately 2,000 and 300 respectively, and represent a significant proportion of the remaining group.

Posessing their own distinct language, culture and arts, the Calamian Tagbanuas practied their own religion until Christianized in the 1960’s & 1970’s. With profound ties to a nomadic maritime lifestyle, their main activities include spear & net fishing as well as harvesting seaweed, octopus, and sea cucumbers.

All resources are used

Resource harvesting

While harvesting of the ocean’s resources plays an important role in the Calamian Tagbanuas’ economic lifestyle, on Coron Island they also cultivate dryland rice in swidden or kaingin fields that are intercropped with sweet potato, corn, cassava and korot, a local tuber and important traditional source of fiber.

Lakdayan, with its coastal low-lying terrain, practices an irrigated, “paddie” form of rice cultivation, in sharp contrast to the shifting swidden or kaingin method which is used in uplands farming, and which is responsible for the removal of much native vegetation in those areas. Korot, a dryland tuber, which is poisonous if not cooked properly, requires long and laborious processing. In addition, cashew trees are native to the area and grow plentifully throughout Lakdayan.

They also gather forest products such as gum, rattan, rats and honey. An important source of income are the different handmade products such as mats, baskets and other wood products.

Tribal traiditions are still part of the everyday life


For hundreds of years, the nests of swift-like birds known as “Balinsasayaw” have been collected by the Tagbanua and sold to Chinese traders.

Coron Island is reknowed for the quality of its nests and the correspondingly high prices obtained in their sale.

Located deep within pitch black cave systems high up on jagged karst limestone cliffs, to reach the nests Tagbanuas must be expert climbers to reach the nests barefooted.

For a light source, the traditional method is to use a torch suspended on a string, fueled by amber from the Saleng tree.