The Bukidnon people belong the original proto-Philippine stock. Although the Bukidnon groups are scattered, tradition reveals that they were once a homogeneous group. The Bukidnon groups' major means of subsistence are food gathering and swidden agriculture. The women are skilled in making applique and embroidering garments.
The different cultural communities found in the Province of Bukidnon are Manobo groups: the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Matigsalug. Talaandilig, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. The Arumanen are another sub-group.
The Arumanen-Manobo are found in the Province of North Cotabato. They belong to the original proto-Philippine stock. Their major means of subsistence are food gathering and swidden agriculture. Both the men and women take part in the burden of work. The head of the Arumanen manobo group is the timuay or datu who calls the people to meetings.
The traditional Arumanen social structure consisted of five classes, namely: the timuay (governance group), the walian or "shaman" (spiritual leaders), the warrior, the commoner and the slave. At present, the Arumanen still adhere to certain rituals. The Samaya-an Festival is celebrated annually on the last week of December as a thanks giving to the gods and deities and to seek for a sign of what blessings and misfortunes the coming year will bring to the community.
The Bukidnon speak the Binukid dialect. They have light brown complexion, straight black hair, have an average height of about five feet and their nose bridge is not flat.
Courtship and marriage among the Bukidnon are brought about by parental arrangements made since the children were eleven years old, Men practice polygamy but the women are expected to be monogamous. Marriage is done by exchanging betel with moulded rice.
Bukidnon art is the best expressed in their dances, poetry and music, mat weaving and basketry. The Bukidnon musical instruments consist of bamboo flutes, bamboo Jew's harp, one-stringed violin, and the boat shaped guitar.
The Bukidnon handicrafts consist of mats, hats, fishtraps and clothe weaving. The Bukidnon farmers in upland areas are still practicing the traditional method of farming. The agricultural products produced by the farmers are palay, corn, abaca, and vegetable.
The power of the Bukidnon chieftain or datu is built on trust and the confidence of his constituents. It is a blend of ascription and achievement and not governed by seniority or birth.
The term Higaonon means "people of the wilderness." They occupy not only the parts of the Bukidnon Provinvce but also the hinterlands of Agusan del Sur and boundary of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon Provinces.
The ethno-legal aspect of the Higaonon culture revolves mainly around the datu system. Here, principal headman rules over an entire community \band composed of several clans. Under this headman are a minor datus that form a sort of counseling body. As the headman, the datu is responsible for the administration of the entire community. The status of the datu is both acquired and achieved. A dying datu passes his title to one of his children, preferably a son, through selective inheritance. It is usually the most deserving son who is chosen to acquire the status of the datu.
The Matigsalug are the Bukidnon groups who are found in the Tigwa-Salug Valley in San Fernando, Bukidnon. "Matigsalug " is a term, which means "people along the River Salug". The Matigsalug men wear short tight-fitting pants that are of knee length and are hem and turbans for the head decorated with beads and fringed with goat's/horse's hair. The Matigsalug of Bukidnon have an approximate population of 146, 500.
The Tigwa or Tigwahanon are scattered all over the Municipality of San Fernando in Bukidnon close to the border of Davao del Norte. The term Tigwahanon may have been derived from "guwa" (scattered) or from the Tigwa River where its banks and watershed are inhabited by the Tigwahanon. To date, the Tigwa of Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, and Misamis Occidental Provinces number around 36, 128.
The Umayamnon live along the watershed of Umayan River in Bukidnon Province. The Umayamnon are known to be proud and reserved people, firm in their decisions and forest experts. They genrally possess the following physical features: fair in complexion, medium in height, and prominent cheekbones. The Umayamnon are engaged in beadworks for their body accessories such as the making of ginakit and inaboy (necklaces), suning (men's bags) and binuklad (bracelets). The Umayamnon of the Bukidnon has an approximate population of 101, 906.