Home › Vol 2, No 1 (2013): December  ›  Abstract ›  View Pdf

Describing the Meanings, Functions and Modifications of the Traditional Subanen Costumes

Haydee D. Villanueva, Perlito D. Jomuad

The traditional costumes of the Subanens are cultural expressions of this tribal group in Mindanao, Philippines. Retention of the authentic Subanen costumes is necessary for the survival of the cultural and tribal identity. This study examined the particular meanings and functions embedded in the traditional costumes and the present modifications pervading in the garments. A series of key informant interviews was conducted in Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Sur, with the Subanens selected as key informants according to their knowledge and authority to provide information. Results showed that the traditional costumes of the Subanens are representations of the beliefs, practices, and experiences of the natives. The garments in terms of their original designs, colors, materials, and accessories suggest for a variety of meanings and functions. However, modifications are apparent in the garments caused either by adaptation to the modern day clothing and style, cost of cloth and decorative materials, consent of tribal leaders, or lack of consultation by local government agencies with the Subanens as to the specifics of the traditional costumes. This study may enable the Subanens to realize the significance of their traditional costumes in fostering tribal identity and may motivate them to revive the use of replicas of the garments used by their predecessors.

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