Subanun - Sociopolitical Organization

The Subanun are subjects of the Philippine Republic. They occupy a marginal, almost outcast position in the national society and economy. Their contacts with the arms and agencies of the national government have rarely been happy ones. They have no formal political organization at all. Apart from local appointees of outside powers, either the national government or Muslim traders, leadership among the Subanun is self-achieved by participation in the social arenas that require skills of decision making and persuasion. These are largely contexts of legal debate about local infractions, sexual offenses, and marital and property disputes. The use of formal titles to name leadership positions is common among the Western Subanun and was probably more often the practice everywhere in the Muslim-influenced past.

Social Control. Legal authorities are those with the social influence and persuasive power to impose fines. Force or violence is never used or threatened in local litigation. In the background, however, there is always the fear of a case coming to the attention of government authorities. Although verbal dispute is common enough, physical violence is extremely rare. Even though they are quite dispersed and lack anything in the way of formal political organization, the Subanun greatly enjoy social gatherings. Their legal cases, rituals, and feasts are marked by rice wine drinking, dancing, singing, gong playing, storytelling, joking, and lively conversation by both sexes and all ages.

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