A Blaan woman from Sarangani playing the jew mouth harp.
Total population
373,392[1] (2020 census)
Regions with significant populations
Philippines Philippines:
Soccsksargen, Davao
Davao del Sur89,949[3]
South Cotabato48,391[4]
General Santos20,769[5]
Sultan Kudarat9,078[6]
North Cotabato5,988[7]
Davao City3,285[8]
Blaan, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Filipino
Related ethnic groups
Lumad, Visayans, and other Austronesians

The Blaan people,[9][a] are one of the Indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao in the Philippines. Their name could have derived from "bla" meaning "opponent" and the suffix "an" meaning "people". According to a 2021 genetic study, the Blaan people also have Papuan admixture.[11]

A Blaan girl.
A Blaan offering tribe dance during colorful street dancing competition on the T'nalak Festival in South Cotabato.


The Blaan are neighbors of the Tboli, and live in Lake Sebu and Tboli municipalities of South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos, the southeastern part of Davao and around Lake Buluan in North Cotabato. They are famous for their brassworks, beadwork, and tabih weave. The people of these tribes wear colorful embroidered native costumes and beadwork accessories. The women of these tribes, particularly, wear heavy brass belts with brass "tassels" ending in tiny brass bells that herald their approach even when they are a long way off.


Some Blaan natives were displaced when General Santos was founded in 1939. Others settled in the city.

Their language is said to be the source of the name for Koronadal City, from two Blaan words – kalon meaning cogon grass and nadal or datal meaning plain, which aptly described the place for the natives. On the other hand, Marbel, which is another name for the poblacion, is a Blaan term malb-el which means "murky waters" referring to a river, now called Marbel River.

The tribe practices Indigenous rituals while adapting to the way of life of modern Filipinos.[12]

Relations with settlers and their descendants are not always harmonious; settlers reportedly clashed with some Blaan natives in March 2015.[13]

Arts and culture


Main article: Blaan language

Blaans speak their native language of the same name. However, over the decades, Blaans can speak and understand Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tagalog and to the some extent, Ilocano, alongside their own native language. These languages were brought and introduced by these settlers from Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros, Panay, Tagalog-speaking regions, Central Luzon and Ilocandia, upon their arrival into Blaan homelands during the early 20th century. [14]

Indigenous Blaan religion

Some of the deities in the Blaan pantheon include:

Weaving tradition

The Blaans have a system of weaving using abaca fiber.[15] The art of abaca weaving is called mabal or mabal tabih, while the cloth produced by this process is called the tabih.[16]

Blaan weavers do not use spinning wheels. Instead, they join together by hand strands of the abaca fiber, which are then used to weave the tabih.[16]

Fu Yabing Dulo was one of two surviving master designers left of the mabal tabih art of ikat weaving.[16] Estelita Bantilan, who was given the National Living Treasures Award in 2016, is a master weaver of traditional mats known as igêm.[17]

Brass and copper work and beadwork

The Blaan have a tradition of creating art from brass and copper.[15][18] The Blaan smelt brass and copper to produce small bells and handles of long knives. These knives, called the fais, are made with intricately designed brass.

The Blaan also sew plastic beads or shell sequins to create intricate designs on women's blouses and trousers, called the takmon. Geometric and other designs depicting the environment or the solar system are sewn using cotton yarns onto men's pants and shirts, called the msif.[15]

Cleaned civet beans

Wild civet coffee

The Blaan tribe at the foot of Mount Matutum Protected Landscape, scour, for half a century its forest slopes to collect the nocturnal revered Paradoxurus, "Philippine palm civet"'s defecated poops. Their conservation promotes livelihood from the prized wild civet coffee, called "balos" where a cup costs $80 in United States markets. Sitio 8 village, Barangay Kinilis, Polomolok is famous as a civet coffee-producing settlement.[19]


  1. ^ Sometimes erroneously referred to as "B'laan".[10]


  1. ^ "Ethnicity in the Philippines (2020 Census of Population and Housing)". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved July 4, 2023.
  2. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Sarangani" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Davao del Sur" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: South Cotobato" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: General Santos City" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Sultan Kudarat" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: North Cotabato" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Davao City" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Garot, Datu. "The Blaans". National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
  10. ^ Rebollido, Rommel (5 May 2023). "IP advocates: no apostrophes in Blaan, Tboli". MindaNews. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  11. ^ Larena, Maximilian; Sanchez-Quinto, Federico; Sjödin, Per; McKenna, James; Ebeo, Carlo; Reyes, Rebecca; Casel, Ophelia; Huang, Jin-Yuan; Hagada, Kim Pullupul; Guilay, Dennis; Reyes, Jennelyn (2021-03-30). "Multiple migrations to the Philippines during the last 50,000 years". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (13): e2026132118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2026132118. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 8020671. PMID 33753512.
  12. ^ "Blaan women record dreams in woven mats –, Philippine News for Filipinos". Archived from the original on August 4, 2009.
  13. ^ Cadelina-Manar, Malu (12 March 2015). "Moro, Ilonggo settlers clash". Tempo. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Blaan 1 | PDF". Scribd. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  15. ^ a b c Kinoc, Antonio P. "The Blaans". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c Espejo, Edwin (October 21, 2014). "Artist, purist: Fu Yabing, the Blaan master weaver". Rappler. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  17. ^ "82nd Birth Anniversary of Manlilikha ng Bayan Estelita Bantilan – National Museum". National Museum of the Philippines. 2022-10-17. Retrieved 2023-10-23.
  18. ^ de Jong, Ronald (December 31, 2009). "The Bilaan Tribe of Southern Mindanao". Things Asian. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  19. ^ Sarmiento, Bong (18 April 2023). "Philippine tribe boosts livelihoods and conservation with civet poop coffee". Mongabay. Retrieved May 20, 2024.