A Manobo Dulangan family is characteristically patriarchal. The male dominates in all respect of family and community life. He show very little interest in household chores and practically leaves all household chores to his wife. That includes even the preparation of the ingredients for “mama” or chewing of bethel nut.
The land preparation of the farm areas, as a rule, is done by men, however, the weeding and other related activities are done by women. Both of the spouses however do the planting or harvesting, unless the wife is pregnant and is a few months from delivery. On such events, the young son or a nephew is asked to do her tasks.
It is a common sight for the wife to sling her child in a malong around her shoulder while going up and down the house to gather firewood. She fetches water from the spring or creek no matter how heavy the container is and no matter how far is the source of water. At all times, the wife must seek the permission of her husband if she will leave the premises of the residence.
The wife or any female in the community hardly participates in any social gathering or meeting. On occasions where she makes an appearance to a meeting or conference, her presence hardly appreciated by males for her comments or answers to questions or inquiries are not taken seriously and oftentimes are mock by the males around. Hence, they would rather respond or comment almost inaudibly and outside from the circle of males. Sometimes she simply makes her inaudible comments in the kitchen or squatting on the ground outside the venue. She may only express her ideas in the presence of other women or children.
This feeling of inferiority of the Manoba Dulangan may be attributed to the fact that they been contacted in marriage through parental arrangement and there had been no development of affection from either party. In addition thereto is the fact that the female had been given dowry which, in effect, is a kind of payment for her person thus demoting her to the level of a mere commodity. Such lack of respect and esteem for the wife may even take in the form of subjecting her as a guarantee of the gambling debt of the husband. In such event, the wife is deposited in the residence of the Sultan or Datu until the debt is settled.
This may also explain why the incidents of the agaw- asawa (wife snatching) is so common within the Manobo Dulangan communities. With little self-esteem or dignity, the wife easily succumbs to the little attention or lustful advances from another male and, without hesitation runs off with him leaving everything behind, including the children.
In recent years, there have been some improvements in the Manoba Dulangans’ awareness of her role in the community. Due to constant education campaigns conducted by NGOs and government agencies on gender sensitivity, they are now gradually empowered and are now starting to react to the male dominance in the household and the community affairs. In as much as the custom, traditions and practices have been deeply imbedded to the tribe. It may take sometime for his awareness to achieve its goals or objectives so as to Manobo Dulangan will be at par with their Non- IP counterparts.