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THE EVOLUTION OF THE CONCEPT OF PROPERTY AND LAND OWNERSHIP

AMON TH MANUVU OF CENTRAL MINDANAO


A. Introduction
Manuvu' people - were mainly slash-and-burn agriculturist in 1956.
Many of them were trappers, hunters, small scale traders and fishermen as well
as few weavers (women).
B. The Manuvu's
Dallag plateu area is situated on the divide splitting Davao City and Cotabato.
Now: The Manuvu' people occupies the east central part the territory
Pre-World War II: They are in possession of the vast territory occupying
southeastern Bukidnon and Northeastern Cotabato and western Davao. Area is
sandwiched between 2 rivers: Davao River and Pulangi (main branch of Cotabato
River)
1956: Their habitat was mainly forested, grassland and clearings or 2/3 of virgin
forest
Main staples: Corn and sweet potato.
Rice was produced but was not enough to last them 3 months after harvest. They
have no knowledge of plow originally.
Carabaos and horses were used in their trading activities, in the raising of the
bridewealth and in the payment of damages in the settlement of wrongs
and delicts.
The Manuvus were using barkcloth from time immemorial until the middle of the
19th century when weaving was introduced, and so also blacksmithing. Gongs
also began to be used about this time.
Their main arms: bow and arrow, blowgun, shield, spear and short/long blades.
Tree houses/ kuta -built under the house in times of feuding/ little wars
Before 20th Century: Disputes are settled by retaliation which was replaced (not
absolute) by law of damages (lex talionis) after trade goods were acquired.
Progress of Settlement: Early stage nomadic (used to shuttle village pupulation: 23 sites in rotation) -> Semi-nomadic (until 19th) -> Permanent village life 20th
*There are still movement of families from village to village.
Progress of Leadership: Old men (19th) -> developing leaders/ bayanis (who
became recognized in their respective areas of influence) -> datus (20th) [Datu
Name]
Multi-Datu System- 2-3 or more per village depending on population.
Traders- as effective datus for the facilitation of dispute during the accumulation
of wealth.
They became a tribal organization through the Datu's knowledge and experience
during pre-war and occupation years.

B. Origin of the Concept of Property and its Development


Manifestation of concept found in the language's prenominal system w/ch
indicates possession.
Ex: Manuvu language:
kaddi means my, mine
kekaw is your, yours
kandan is their, theirs
Usually language is non-material manifestation of culture but Manuvu' has words
like kandan bansa (their honor)
Since language goes to the very origin of culture, this linguistic evidence is of
primal import in tracing the origin of the concept of property (material or non
material) as something that can be possessed
Terminologies - exclusive indicating possessive pronoun (not possession of other
man). Manuvu ownership is implied in this possessive pronouns.
*Whose is this? -holding but not the owner
"It was used by Datu Nantik."- identifies the owner and anyone who would
attempt to use it would suffer a sanction.
They still practiced food gathering activities (as supplementary to their staples
and antecedent to agriculture). Foraging (aspect of that activity) -gathering and
picking with bare hands.
* For example, when someone sees a nest (with birdies and eggs), his first move
is to show to the outside world the fact of his
discovery by:
a. cleaning the trees surrounding area or
b. cutting a branch and stick it to the ground with the end pointing to the nest
(called tuwos in Manuvu language which indiciate discovery and the prior claim
to the ownership of the eggs or birdies.) Then boy goes home to ask help from
older people.
c. During his absence, any person who ignores the sign below the tree and brings
down the birdies or eggs, is by CUSTOM LAW, guilty of theft.
* From the time the tree is marked and the eggs or birdies are taken down,
THERE IS NO ACTUAL POSSESSION, ONLY POTENTIAL POSSESSION; but even so,
ownership attaches right away, for anyone other than the discoverer to take away
the eggs or birdies is a thing and the wrong down has a sanction, the PAYMENT OF
DAMAGES.
Case 1 Panakaw (theft) is committed when a marked beehive is hauled down;
inferentially, ownership attaches to beehive the moment it is marked by the
discoverer; and damages are demandable against person who haul it down.
Damages paid are in the form of Gongs
A person caught another in the act of taking his potential property can kill the

latter.
Prescription (Right is only good for two days Day 1- Discovery, 2-Acquisition)
The right of ownership to the beehive lapses after the day following its discovery;
this lapse of the right gives other the opportunity to haul down the beehive.
Hauling down of the hive - perfects the discoverer's right of ownership; in the
meantime that two days have not lapsed he has an inchoate right to the
behehive.
Note: Before hauling down, beehive must be smoked out of its bees so torch is
necessary or a titikon (prized possession)- a firemaker made of flint, iron and
tinder.
Beehive hauling is a very old method of food gathering
Case 2 Taking the fish from the trap and removing the latter to another place is
theft; two fishermen settle the case between themselves without bloodshed; a
gong is offered by the thief and this was acceptable reparation.
* In Manuvu Law, anything that a man makes belongs to him. The by-product of
any artefact belongs to the owner of the latter. (The catch/ fish, is an end product)
2 types of Fishing Traps:
1. Traps that are abandoned after use like daliang (trellie like and set; while it is
placed- property of the fishermen until carried away by the water)
2. Traps that require many days to make and are brought home for ready use like
buvu (made of banana strips and tubular in form, may last for years: placed below
surface of river and inspected everyday) - trap and fish caught is the fishermen's
property.
Case 3 Hunting dog killed by a trap: owner demands compensation, which is
given right away plus the performance of a ritual (requires chicken and putaw
bolo as provided by the offender) so that hunter would be favored by the deity of
wild animals once more; greater panavuk (damages) demandable if the presence
of traps were not announced; religion and law.
Baitik - or balatik trap, a trap fot catching wild hogs and deer. It is one of the
oldest inventions where a trap is provided with a missile triggered by a touch to
the sensitive device. Any animal it catches is a property so theft is committed if
someone despouls the owner of the catch.
It is also dangerous to human life or hunting dogs so owner can be held
responsible.
* The articles they made for defense or offense such as bows and arrows, spears,
shields, blowguns, or sharpened bamboo sticks also become property.
*Some digging sticks or spades are made of the hard wood of certain palmtrees
which they keep in household - a more valuable property.

* The charms and bandoliers they perfected were a special kind of property. Some
of these charmstones were used by warriors and hence they were regarded as
priceless possessions.
*Some of the bracelets or manifestation of arts are regarded as heirlooms
C. LAND OWNERSHIP AMONG THE MANUVU
* In a state of nomadism, land ownership can develop only in the sense that
agricultural peoples have concepts about land.
Ex: Negritos of Palanan: They move from one spot to another as they clean up the
food resources. They don not claim ownership over particular areas they have
covered from year to year or from season to another.
* Some element of ownership is obviously lacking, or wanting possession. In
other words, the control over the articles must be complete, that is, exclusive of
any body elses control. They can hardly lay claim in such a huge / vast tract of
land. Ex: Fish trap -lost control when placed, acquired control when he identified
the trap and the thief.
* In nomadism of their ancestors, they moved about in circles occupying one
place at a time then giving back to the old places to clear the area once more and
plant. When the yield became minimal or poor, they moved to another old place
again. No other groups was supposed to occupy the Manuvu old spots and places.
Upon their return, should there be such other band or group, this was considered
an intrusion.
* Because of feuding proclivities of the Manuvu in their law system, there
developed among them warriors, some with distinction to become bahani (a
cognrate of the Tagalog term bayani).
* Husbands came from the outside communities or ethnic groups; they were total
strangers to the band or village. This leads to adding male population to the band.
* The apus or old men were the ones who assigned plots or fields to till or area to
open while in residence which may be for the duration of the lives of their
parents-in-law. So, as the settlements grew into villages, this was the pattern of
land assignment for the reason that the settlement or village became owned by
the band or inhabitants.
* As villagers grew in population, inter-village relationship was unavoidable.
According to datus and old inhabitants, inter-village law did not allow the trespass
over the village territory.
For example:
a. If a citizen from another village ever attempted to cut rattan from the side of
the other village, his bolo could be confiscated by any villager of the latter
b. A hunter who chased a deer across the stream-boundary incurred trespass, but
if he had already disabled the animal which crossed the stream and this animal
was speared to death by another man in the other side, the carcass was divided

equally between the two hunters.


* As the old men came to be called datus in the 2nd half of the century, and as
the villages grew in population, the village set-up developed an authority system
that was characterized by a number of datus exercising authority over the village
this is called multidatu system. It is now the datus who allotted lands to
foreigners, those who came from the other villages or ethnic groups.
* Another way of acquiring exclusive ownership of a small portion of land by
public declaration law. There were villages who made canals and built dams
across the shallower streams todiver the water into a side hole to convert the
same into some kind of fishpond.
Such artificial body of water became exclusive to the builder to use, and this was
done by open public declaration.
Case 4 Datu takes a band of bananas from an old field or kamot belonging to
another villager during famine; in the custom law this act is theft, but apparently
owner didnt demand damages; instead he gave "tapuk ta langossa" because
the theifs calf was pierced by a trap missile and blood had been spilled.
IV. CLASSIFICATION OF MANUVU PROPERTY AND OBSERVATIONS
The following are considered property:
1. Everything that a Manuvu gathers or catches from the ground, grass, plants,
trees, waters and so on is property
2. Everything that he catches with devices such as traps, hunting gears such as
by using bow and arrow, spear, blowgun, etc. is property
3. Anything that he makes or manufactures
4. Anything that he plants and produces is his own or belongs to his family
5. Animal that he raises, though this is limited to the dog, cat, and chicken. The
puppies and kittens soon get portioned among
relatives or friends.
6. Portions of a stream may be owned by la:w and this property can be passed on
to heirs; exclusive hunting rights may be so declared and such declaration is
recognized by other villages
7. Land can also be owned by occupancy in pioneer areas or by assignment by the
old men of the band or village, and by datus later.
8. Anything that is received as give is property:
a. A husband wishing to take a 2nd wife is likely to court his first wife with gifts to
obtain her permission.
b. When people want favors, they give gifts.
c. Irritation, injured feelings, are placated with gifts.
9. Anything acquired by exchange or barter is property.
10. Articles and animals acquired by trading were valuable property.
11. Seizure of property is recognized in the custom law
12. More serious is dakop (the equivalent to Tagalog dakip), where for

indebtedness a person in the household may be seized for failure to live up to a


contract. Sometimes the person so seized is made to work; but the intention is to
hasten payment.
13. Person captured in little wars or seized during raids became property the
practiced slavery:
a. Slaves were made to work
b. The good ones were made husbands and wives
c. The ugly ones were sacrificed in their ceremonies
14. Anything that a person acquires for services done is property
15. Damages are sources of wealth.
16. Some properties acquired in a special way may not be sold or used in certain
ways.
17. properties acquired by inheritance involve all kinds of properties.
* The Manuvu concept of property came from the general belief that all things
came from Manama, the Manuvu supreme god. While the fish and wild animals
remain in their habitat, they belong to god and his caretakers (diwatas); but the
moment they are caught, they belong to man.
* Terms:
a. impon articles that are worn on the body
b. butang household articles
c. tamuk includes abaca cloth, jewelry such as the kamai, gongs animals such
as the horse and carabao, and others
* In the family there is separation of property between husband and wife. At
marriage the bridewealth was distributed among her parents and closer relatives;
and whatever she acquired during marriage she usually passed it on to her
parents.
* The wealth, however, that the father accumulated during his life was either
divided equally amongst his children and wife, or the bulk was endowed to his first
born son (this is pusaka).
* With land, the pervading concept is DIVINE OWNERSHIP, proceeding to KIN
GROUP OWNERSHIP when bands roamed the country side. Upon permanent
settlement became the patter, CORPORATE OWNERSHIP became the rule, and
from their INDIVIDUAL or FAMILY OWNERSHIP.