Born primitive in the Philippines

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Southern Illinois University Press, 1975 - Social Science - 138 pages
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In an account that reads like an ethno­graphical novel, this journal of a five-year period in the life of a Buhid teen­ager provides a unique view of primitive life in the Philippines.


Bag-etan, today twenty-two years old, liv­ing in the Siangi river area of Mindoro Is­land, and not entirely removed from the G-string culture he reveals in this extra­ordinary account, first met Severino N. Luna, the narrator of this story, in 1968, when he was about fifteen. From countless conversations, personal friendships with the Mangyans, and careful study extending over a quarter of a century, Mr. Luna derived this life history and cultural story of Bag-etan.


The boy is just entering adolescence when we meet him. He has recently escaped en­slavement and has been adopted by the chief of the Mangyan settlement. We come to know his friends and the girls to whom he is attracted; with him we attend feasts and funerals, build huts and prepare planting areas, harvest crops and snare wild animals. His story gives us a firsthand knowledge of community law, the forms of punishment and reward, and the superstitions that gov­ern every act of these fascinating primitives.


This is a book about people so remote and so primitive that it will startle and amaze the average reader. Students of ethnology will find here a unique instance of accultur­ation. And general readers interested in strange places and people will find this book delightful as well as fascinating.

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Enslaved and Orphaned
Never hate it will destroy you
It Takes Seven Days to Bury the Dead

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About the author (1975)

Irene Murphy has spent many years in the Philippines in various capacities. She pres­ently resides in Birmingham, Michigan. She is a former Regent of the University of Mich­igan.


Severino N. Luna is the National Execu­tive Director of Community Chests and Councils of the Philippines. His intensive study and research of the Buhid Mangyans of the Siangi River began shortly after World War II.

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