Mamanwa Tribe in Samar

philippines-man-010.jpgMamanwa Tribe in Samar

I was cruising along the back roads of central Samar and came across this settlement called the Mamanwa tribe.

philippines-man-013.jpgAfter a quick introduction, the group leader, Jennifer agreed to let us take a few pictures and talk with us.

She is only 19 years old but has been designated the chief of this rag-tag group re-settled in this remote area of Samar by the Philippine government.

She is now in her first year of high school in Calapi, Samar, but she has wisdom beyond her years and walks with confident authority.

philippines-man-007.jpgThese people speak both Waray and Cebuano and have been transplanted to this area from Leyte.

They seem ethnically mixed but I believe that the genuine Mamanwa are genetically Negrito.

philippines-man-009.jpgThey are now in the process of growing rice on the hillsides. Life here is hard enough for the locals and this little band of survivors is just getting by.

philippines-man-003.jpgThis is the official sign with it’s own light. Very impressive.

philippines-man-006.jpgLife is very difficult in central Samar.

philippines-man-001.jpgHeading into the back country!

I really enjoy riding back there but it is not without risk.

Mamanwa Tribe

Oct 7, 2008

37 responses to “Mamanwa Tribe in Samar”

  1. sounds really interesting, would love some more info for our next trip and comments on the roads and location.

    learning much about samar from your experiences, great work.

  2. Hey thats great to have this confirmed DP. Remember last time we drove this, pouring rain most days and the road was just terrible, mud and slush just like what you experienced….I hated it how ever my brother had no such problems. Still, all part of the adventure. Seemed the further we went the worse it became until it ran out of road all together.

    The friendly people and great scenery more than made up for the roads. Now we will be spoilt as intend to head to Allen after taking the central road and down to Guiuam .


  3. Hi DP

    This is Lindsay, brother of Bruce. Really enjoy your website and many of your Philippine motor cycle travel experiences you write about mirror ours. We first rode right around Samar in 2007 and really enjoyed it. I think Bruce emailed you about the delightful little English pub we came across in Palapag, it’s called the Cobadonga Inn. Believe me it was a welcome sight when we rode into town….. I have found some pics of it so if you can give me an email address I will forward them.

    Not sure if you have been down to the town of Guiuan on the southern tip of Samar. Can recommend a couple of days there, very relaxing, there are a few nice beach resorts – very inexpensive.

    We are planning another Samar trip in June and look forward to seeing you.

    Thanks for such an interesting website and the wonderful details you include in it, I just love reading all about your travels.

    Kind Regards


  4. Hi DP

    Yes, we actually went into that “Surf Camp” place to see just what it was like….

    Have a look here:



  5. Hi DP

    Yes, that is the pub we stayed at in Palapag, it certainly is a cool place to stop. We had ridden into town after taking the pumpboats from Rawis (and the butt-clenching experience of watching the locals load the bikes down those steps) We were looking with some trepidation for a place to stay. Bruce spotted the pub and went inside to take a look…. the outside gives no clues as to what lays within. He came back out with a rather stunned look on his face… “go in and take a look…” The last thing you expect to see in north Samar is the inside of that pub! Food was great and the SMG ice-cold. And they have a laundry service. Unfortunately the owner was away on business, works in the oil industry from memory.

    Agreed, the “Surf Camp” is a monumental icon to misguided folly. We went in through sheer curiosity. Nobody was staying there. Millions and millions of pesos have been spent on a very questionable development that has no local infrastructure to support it. Any “guests” will be bored out of their brains on the third day after arrival. The staff informed us it was for sale…. A not uncommon story in the Philippines.

    We are planning another of our annual forays into the Philippine outback. Our base is Siquijor, we will probably go Siquijor-Dumaguete-Cebu, stop there for a few days R&R. Then to Bohol to look up some old friends in Andar, then cross over to Leyte from Bohol and have a good look around Lake Danao.

    You mentioned you suspect a road may exist through the center from Lake Danao to Jaro or Pastrana all the way to Tacloban. We had a look on Google Earth and it seems to support that assumption, however (as always) a portion of the image is low res. Any further info on this you may have is welcome.

    From Tacloban we will cross into Samar, probably take the central road across and down to Guian again, then back around the south coast and up the west coast to Allen and go on to Luzon.

    May catch you early-mid June for a cold one.



  6. Hi DP

    My God, what a mission! I admire your dedication and the strength of your new seat. The Honda must have been groaning on the hills. Indeed, one would never see a local that weighed down…. some wouldn’t own that much stuff anyway! Speaking from the weight viewpoint, I have seen some pretty solid pigs aboard habble habbles.

    Would truly appreciate it if you can do a little research on that road, see if it does end up in Tacloban. A bit of asking around may yield something.

    At Milagro there is a Transco substation, I am thinking the staff there may have some knowledge of area roads. Also at Malitbog there is a Geothermal plant, same may apply.



  7. Hi DP

    Really appreciate that. We are quite keen to see if we can get through to Tacloban from Lake Danao. Really enjoy those bush tracks that few travellers use.

    Bruce has been here in NZ for the last 4 weeks, heads back home to Fil today. Last night (over a few medicinal shirazs’) we made further plans. Biri Island is on the “must do” list, the pics on your website look really nice.

    My partner Juvee and I fly out of NZ May 18, really looking forward to getting back. Spend a couple of days in Dumaguete (where she comes from) then I’ll go over to Siquijor, join Bruce and give the bikes a good service. Then pack the bags and hit the road… can’t wait!

    Have you been to the caves at Sohotoun National Park in Samar? We did that trip in 2006, amazing experience. The local guide spoke excellent English and spoke about the Spanish era and events from that time as if it were yesterday. A time not without it’s brutalities.

    A caribao wearing a rice bag on a tricycle? Mate, that would have to be a sight worth seeing! Load shift? I can imagine… steep gradient downhill… speed increasing… engine hitting max overrev… brakes heating up nicely… caribao gets a sniff of this and decides he wants off…..



  8. DP would of loved to see a picture of that one…..amazing

  9. Hi DP

    Sohotoun Caves are dry, relatively free of unpleasant life forms and quite user friendly. They are huge, you can mostly walk upright and have stunning formations in all colours and shades of the rainbow. We spent several hours in the main cave, a good camera flash essential for amazing pics. Trip upriver to the cave is also a nice interlude, from coastal mangrove and fishing villages to narrow gorges with interesting limestone formations. Local guides are good sorts and (at least in 2006) were not mercenary.



  10. Hi DP

    Great, thanks for checking that out. We will have a crack at it and see where we get to. Really appreciate your help.

    Will arrive Ormoc toward the end of May, we would love to catch up with you for a yarn and a couple of cold ones if you have the time. We are both on Smart, can you email your cell number to me or Bruce?



  11. Hi DP

    Mate, that’s great, really appreciated. Been all the way around Leyte and right down San Ricardo at the very bottom, spent a night in Maasin (where all the Leyte bayots seem to congregate) We called in to visit an old Kiwi expat near Malitbog… will tell you more about that when we get to Ormoc. Never done any back roads in Leyte so looking forward to it.

    Juvee and I arrive Cebu 19th, stay one night then go to Dumaguete for a few days, get my teeth fixed and do the family thing. Then over to Siquijor to Bruces’, give the bikes an oil change and a service. Never been impressed with the front brake since I bought it so gonna fit some modern EBC carbon graphite pads, will see if that helps. Rather not use the dog to stop the bike…

    Still laughing about that caribou wearing a rice bag on a tricycle! Excellent!



  12. dutchpickle halo! I am Ninfa from PIA Samar; glad to read ur adventure and happy to see pics of the Mamanwas in Samar. thanks, not many Samarnons are aware such a group of people exists. One thing is great tho, one couple Lorna and Alfredo (from the group) said they are sending their kids to school to be educated not like them who can’t read nor write. thanks again!

  13. hello, im from catbalogan and i didnt have the idea that there is a mamanwa tribe in calapi.

    can i ask for the info on how to get there ? also some local contacts if possible.
    im an amateur photographer who likes to take travel journalism photo’s, maybe if u plan on going back to the mamanwa tribe, pls do let me know :)

    - gerard

  14. Hello!

    I would love more information on where this location is also… We like to travel off the beaten path and are looking for “back roads” and dirt paths through Samar.

    We are coming there in March and will be going from Tacloban north and the more back roads and trails we can add to the route the better! I have enjoyed looking through your website and some of the places look very interesting (like this one!) but I am not quite sure where they are :)

    Also would love to have more information about that trail in Leyte from Lake Danao to Tacloban… if it indeed pushes all the way through…


  15. So Calapi is on the road going to San Jose de Buan? Does that road push
    through to anywhere or does it just stop at SJdB?

    By no mans land and politically sensitive I presume you mean that the NPA may be
    in those areas? Always a risk when venturing into remote areas in the Philippines
    no doubt. I have never (knowingly) encountered these folks but my understanding
    is they are more interested in extorting or harassing Filipinos than they are causing
    trouble for foreigners. People also advise traveling during the day, and just
    showing respect for anyone you might encounter in order to avoid trouble.

    We have been very deep in the jungle in Samar between Basey and Maydolong
    and the people we encountered there were very nice, although not quite as
    outgoing as other places we have been. Perhaps they were surprised to see us?
    Very primitive as well, but not quite as much as the Mamanwa in your report here.

    At any rate, we are hoping to find back roads and trails that we can use going from
    Tacloban to NE Samar. The problem seems to be that many of the routes go
    deep into the jungle and just stop. Nothing that we can find seems to push through
    to anywhere…. The road from Taft to Gamay and Palapag was interesting since
    it had been undeveloped in many places but now seems to be finding concrete
    since it is the main coastal road on the eastern side. Although we are excited to
    learn from one of your other reports about the nice guest house in Gamay. Did not
    even notice that when we went through there a year ago!

    Samar is a bit of an enigma… very intriguing but also very difficult to find much
    information about it, so it is very helpful to have insight from someone such as
    yourself that has been there and experienced a lot of it!


  16. Hi!

    Thank you very much for the information… definitely appreciated!

    I should probably clarify what our purpose is… we are “adventure riders” that use
    proper dirt bikes kitted for long-term travel in the back country. Have been riding in
    the Philippines for just over 5 years now, mostly in the Cebu, Negros and Leyte
    areas, so no stranger to remote areas, bad trails, and lack of “tourist facilities” :)

    Myself and a group of friends will be doing a loop of the Visayas in March 2013 and
    rather than just plod along on the concrete in Samar we are trying to research as
    much dirt track as possible. Our problem is that while we enjoy exploring new areas
    the tracks we use need to actually “go somewhere” versus going deep into the jungle
    and stopping. It is great fun working a technical trail through the jungle for a few
    hours, but not so much fun if it stops and we have to go back the way we came.
    Our schedule unfortunately cannot tolerate much of that.

    Now with that said, we definitely do not want to end up in the wrong places and get
    into trouble. So your advice about sensitive areas is well taken. I have viewed
    your Samar by motorbike links previously and found them very interesting! The
    perimeter road on the east coast from Taft northward had very nice scenery
    and little towns to visit. It was mostly unpaved, but progress is slowly making its
    way into that area and a depressing (for us, at least.. . not so much for the locals!)
    amount of concrete is showing up there.

    Biri island definitely looks interesting… hopefully we can squeeze in a stop there!

    I have tried to contact Joni in the past, but he must be a very busy guy since I have
    not had any luck. I agree he seems to be “the man” to talk to about going off the
    beaten path in Samar!


  17. Hi! dp

    can you please give me the adress of the mamanwa tribe, if im from tacloban or catbalogan what exactly transportation can get me thier i desperately need thier help for my NCIP than you

  18. Hi! dp

    can you please give me the adress of the mamanwa tribe, if im from tacloban or catbalogan what exactly transportation can get me thier i desperately need thier help for my NCIP thank you

  19. hi! dp

    yes i know how to speak waray, im applying at the PNP im under height so i want to go there i want to ask from them a height waver so i can enter PNP
    , im here in manila right now big thanks to your reply

    thanks and godbless dp

  20. Hi! DP

    thanks for the info dp, i really thought there was no tribe like this in samar, yes i know how to speak waray..

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