Exploratory Study on the Indigenous Knowledge and Practices on Healing among the Tagabawa Bagobo in Barangay Batasan, Makilala, North Cotabato

AUTHOR/S: Maricel P. Hilario-Patiño, Gina L. Montalan, Rex T. Rola

DATE COMPLETED:  May 31, 2014

KEYWORDS: Tagabawa Bagobo, Makilala, North Cotabato, Health Conditions, Healing Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Medical Anthropology, Ethnomedicine


              This is a descriptive study of health conditions in a Tagabawa Bagobo community in Barangay Batasan, Makilala, North Cotabato. Methodologically, it combined participatory rural appraisal approaches, the social survey method, as well as a literature review in eliciting data. The study is exploratory in character, designed to provide bases for further interdisciplinary research to help address the Bagobo community’s health needs. 

              The study found that most of the community residents are farmers, with some elementary education, and a monthly income of less than Php 6,600.00 a month. At least 30% of the Bagobo no longer have land, but work as on-farm or off-farm laborers. The respondents consider their economic situation as a health issue, as it limits access to food, medicine, and housing. 

            Generally, the Tagabawa Bagobo do not subscribe to the germ theory of illness causation. They attribute illness to hereditary factors, environmental, availability of food, work, the actions of spirits, among others. Respondents stated that low educational attainment, and lack of money and gainful employment affect their access to medical or health services. Child death was found to be prevalent. Child care is is limited by the mothers’ work load, which grows as the number of her children increase. Among the environmental factors cited was the insecure condition brought about by the long-running conflict between government troops and the NPA- which is the leading cause of death in the community- as well as the chemical odors from adjacent plantations. 

             The respondents’ traditional medical repertoire consists mainly of their knowledge of herbal medicines for treating common illness and culture-bound syndromes. However, this knowledge is unequally shared within the community.

The study provides recommendations for further research.

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