KASAMA Vol. 19 No. 3 / July-August-September 2005 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network


AUGUST 10 TO 13, 2005

Cultivating Wisdom, Harvesting Peace

The symposium workshop “Traditional Ways of Resolving Conflict among Indigenous Peoples”, referred to by Archbishop Capalla in his interview, was based on a study “Management of Clan Conflict and Rido among the Tausug, Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama and Yakan tribes” conducted by the Research Centers of Ateneo de Zamboanga University and Notre Dame University. Its aim was to gain better knowledge and appreciation of clan conflict and devise more effective methods of resolution and prevention. Dr. Ofelia Durante (known as Bing by her friends and colleagues) conducted the workshop as a participative exercise. Bing’s workshop notes are reproduced here.

Dr. Ofelia Durante
A Lesson on Clan Conflict Resolution in the Philippines

Dr. Ofelia DuranteIntroduction

The Philippines is a multi–ethnic and multi–religious country. Its second biggest island, Mindanao, is home to three major groups referred to as the island’s tri–people. Based on the total Mindanao population of 18 million, the indigenous people, the Lumads comprise five percent; the Islamized people, the Moros 28.23 percent or five percent of the country’s total population; and the Christians, the settlers and their descendants 71.77 percent.

The focus of this exercise is on the Islamized Moros and the Lumads.

The name Moro refers to 13 ethno–linguistic groups, namely: Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Sama, Sangil, Iranun, Kalagan, Kalibugan, Yakan, Jama Mapun, Palawini, Molibog and Badjao. They constitute the overwhelming majority in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Tawi–Tawi, Sulu, Maguindanao and Basilan and in Marawi City. These areas make up the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a creation of the 1986 Philippine Constitution .

The Lumads, the original inhabitants of Mindanao, make up 18 tribes. Their ancestral domains are encompassed in 17 provinces and 14 cities of Mindanao.

As pointed out by Gowing and McAmis (1974), outside the administrative and political structures imposed by the national government, there was no over–all political authority embracing all of the Moro groups, and each individual group was broken up into one or more principalities. All of the Tausug were in the Sultanate of Sulu; the Maguindanao in several sultanates but only two were important, Maguindanao and Buayan; the Maranao were extremely segmented as shown in 1979 by the existence of 33 sultanates for a population of 61,000 persons. On the other hand, groups such as the Sama, Yakan, and Badjao had no independent political existence and were subject people.

Under colonial rule, the Moros, the Lumads and the Christians have come to be separated from each other by history and culture. Along with their biases and prejudices, especially between Christians and Muslims, they have come to think that they are peoples different from each other.

Muslim Mindanao is known for its troubled history. Aside from the secessionist movement, private armed groups and colorful strongmen set against a backdrop of poverty, underdevelopment, neglect and national government manipulation are the major players in a region that appears to be in perpetual instability. Clan conflict or, in Moro parlance, ‘rido’ is only a part of this complex web of violence inflicted on Mindanao.

Rido is synonymous to tribal war. As such, it is of local significance and not to be attributed or associated with the Moro secessionist movement. The causes are quite different from the grievances of the Moros against the Manila–based government.
A number of factors lend to the outbreak of rido. The issue on land ownership is generally a primary cause. It has created disputes and conflict not only among the Moro people themselves but also Christians with titles and other papers issued by the government. Existing political rivalries and the proliferation of guns have resulted to the escalation of these local conflicts. Other contributory causes are accidental killing, non–payment of debts, affiliation with either the Abu Sayyaf or a paramilitary unit, elopement, petty crimes, and drug–related cases. The bottom line is the need to exact reparation for the damage inflicted on the family’s honor.

Today, rido has taken on the features of modern war. In feuds involving large clans, battles are waged as conventional wars, complete with defined boundaries, modern heavy weapons and the standard trenches and foxholes. As pointed out by a mayor of Maguindanao, the only ones who get hurt in this kind of warfare are the innocent and powerless.

Among the Lumads clan conflict does occur and this is referred to as ‘lido’. They, too, apply some traditional processes in resolving their conflict.

Enforced in the Philippines is the Anglo–American justice system. This is anchored on crime, punishment and retribution. It operates on a ‘win–lose’ situation. On the other hand, the traditional system erases crime, cleanses the violator and restores harmony once reparation is met. As such, it is a more positive approach to creating a ‘win–win’ situation. Moreover, the traditional method of resolving conflicts responds to the demand for cultural solidarity premised on the recognition and respect for the culture and religion of the Moro people and the Lumad of Mindanao.


The exercise seeks to develop among the learners an understanding of some indigenous ways of resolving conflict. Through some exemplars of the practices of the Moros and Lumads of Mindanao, Philippines and the sharing of the participants of their own knowledge and experiences of indigenous conflict resolution in their respective countries, the activity further hopes to nurture intercultural respect and understanding.


Two groups are formed among the participants. The first group is assigned to discuss the conflict resolution of the Moro and the second, the Lumad practices. Based on the information provided the groups are expected to discuss their understanding of the resolution processes and prepare a mural showing the conflict and the resolution processes. The groups are given ten minutes to discuss and ten minutes to make the mural.

Processing and Analysis

When the murals have been set, the participants are asked to view and reflect on the concepts depicted in the mural. They are given the opportunity to ask questions for clarification. Then sharing of other conflict resolution (country experiences) will be entertained. The learners will also be guided to highlight the differences between the traditional processes and the current practices used in their countries.

From the peace education perspective, the ‘win–win’ characteristics observed in many traditional ways of resolving conflict should be highlighted. This is in contrast to the ‘win–lose’ traits of the so–called western model. The traditional way of resolving conflict is shown below.


Already the most depressed region of the country, Mindanao’s economy continues to retrogress due to various armed conflicts, foremost of which is rido or lido. Being of pre–Islamic origin, this practice has been going on for centuries, even antedating the Moros’ armed struggle against the Spaniards and the Americans.

Given the traditional practice of resolving conflicts, most incidents of rido or lido are settled through mediation and amicable settlement. In mediation, the mediators do not only facilitate communication and negotiations but also assume responsibility for raising the required blood money or manggad. These mediators may be relatives of the conflicting parties, the council of elders, tribal leaders, the local chief executive, the military, and women with influence in the community or area. Amicable settlement is invoked as mediators highlight the value of personal inter–relatedness.

These, however, find very little significance in the mainstream society’s processes of resolving conflict. Raising the awareness and developing the appreciation of the citizens as well as the government and civil society groups on the existence of such practices will hopefully lead to more systematic processes of addressing the Mindanao conflict.


Abinales, Patricio (2004). ‘Getting rid of rido’. Newsbreak. October 25.
Burton, Linda & Moctar Matuan (2005). Choices of Response to Inter–kin group Conflict in Northern Mindanao. A research report.
Durante, Ofelia et. al. (2005) Management of clan conflict and rido among the Tausug, Magindanao, Maranao, Sama and Yakan tribes. A research report.
Gowing, Peter (1979). Muslim Filipino heritage and horizon. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.
Gowing, Peter and McAmis, Robert (1974). The Muslim Filipinos. Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House
Gonzales, Francisco (1999). ‘Sultans in a violent world: Rebels, warlords and ulama.’ By Kristina Gaerlan and Mara Stankovitch. Quezon City: Institute for Popular Democracy.
Tan, Samuel (2001). ‘History and culture in the Mindanao Conflict’. Paper presented at Silsilah Dialogue institute, Zamboanga City, May 22.

Dr. Ofelia Durante is Director of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University Research Center; Visiting Professor of the Graduate Schools of Ateneo de Davao and Notre Dame University; founder and first director of the Notre Dame University Peace Education Center; facilitator of the Peace Education Course of the Mindanao Peace Institute; Executive Director of the Mindanao Peace and Development Education Institute; Member of the Peace Education Commission of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) for which she is currently undertaking a research on interfaith dialogue.

Ways of settling conflict among un–Islamized indigenous Filipinos (Lumad):

There are several ways of resolving clan conflict. The laws are unwritten but the mechanisms have been in existence and observed since time immemorial. Among these are:

1. Tampuda Ho Balagon (cutting of vine discord).
A thin rattan vine is placed on a table or log. Both ends are tied to a chicken. Then the two parties cut the vine with one strike.

2. Payment of manggad.
Exchange of goods between the two parties connoting reparation of damage or harm done.

3. With the assistance of the datu (tribal leader).
Datu mediates for the settlement of the conflict.

4. Without the assistance of the datu.
Minor disputes may be settled without the datu through pamalas or offering to a diwata (goddess).

Ways of settling clan conflict among Islamized Filipinos (Moro):

Clan conflicts are resolved using the traditional method of mediation, not through the modern Western–generated judicial system. The strategy of getting common senior relatives to serve as mediators capitalizes on the value of inter–relatedness which is anchored on the ideological concept of pehak (literally, the eggs or gonads of a fish). The involved family heads (kamattoahan) and these relatives, particularly those who command respect and are known for their high sense of fairness are tapped as ‘go–between’ and ‘feelers’.

The community’s council of elders may also be engaged as mediators. The council which is either formally organized or identified as the need arises is composed of traditional & religious leaders, imams, barangay officials, elderly and other respected and prominent persons from the government and the private sector.

Interviews and extracts from the papers of three other Philippine presenters will be printed in the next issue of Kasama. In the meantime you can read these, and others, online at the Multi-Faith Centre's website at

See also