The term Dumagat may have been derived from the words gubat (forest) and hubad (naked). The more logical origin of its name is taga-dagat which referred to "sea gypsies".
They typify the outstanding negrito physical traits of the dark brown to black color and curly hair. The few cases of straight hair and light complexion may be chiefly the result of mixture with lowland Christians. They have beautiful proportioned bodies, arms, legs, and breasts especially among women. Their stature compares to an average Filipino. The women stand at four feet ten inches to five feet four inches and the men tower from five feet to five feet nine inches.
The Dumagats are found in the province of Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Rizal and Bulacan. They live in single-pole make shift nipa huts along riverbanks during summertime and move to sturdier dwellings on higher grounds during the monsoon rains.
They live the life of the hunters and rattan traders. Hunting is their basic occupation. Their weapons consist of bow and arrow. Hunting with dogs is a favorite technique. They gather rattan palms from the forest cleansing and scrapping them until they are ready to be split into smaller pieces. After these are ready, they deliver them to their tabong (market) in the low lands and exchange them for rice, sugar, salt and other basic commodities. They also use the kaingin system of farming live by fishing with hooks, traps and spears.
Dumagats speak a language of their own among themselves. But as scholars have discovered, they can also speak with facility the language of the region to which they have migrated. A careful examination of the Dumagat language today places its historical origin at the adoption of a mixed Palanan dialect around 1783 when different ethnic groups took refuge in the town in their attempt to escape the Tobacco Monopoly. The vocabulary consists largely Tagalog, Ibanag, Ilocano and Bisayan Terms.
For the Dumagats, there is no wedding ceremony save for a simple celebration to which the couple's relatives, guests are invited, and at which the union is announced. As simply as the union is made, so too is its dissolution. Dumagat couples separate simply by mutual consent.
The Dumagats have no structured religion of their own although they claim to believe in nameless, faceless gods whom they invoke to protect them from danger. They are peace-loving people. When they die, usually of sickness or old age, their remains are placed in simple coffins of buho or bamboo and buried in silence. No prayers are offered over the graves, no sad songs chanted. Relatives and friends of the dead put aromatic herbs around their arms to serve as their perfume.