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  • Writer's pictureThe Katig Collective


Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Bagobo-Klata [bgi] is a language used in Davao City and the eastern slopes of Mt. Apo. It has 58,500 users in 2005 and is classified as a shifting language (EGIDS 7) with speakers learning Cebuano [ceb] (Eberhard et al., 2022). The language has been noted to have different names, although these are considered variations of Klata and Giangan, terms that refer to the same speech community (Eberhard et al., 2022; Zorc, 2019). The term Bagobo, on other hand, refers to a broader ethnolinguistic group in southern Mindanao within which Bagobo Klata, Bagobo Manobo, and Bagobo Tagabawa belong. According to Zorc (2019), the Bagobo Manobo [obo] and Bagobo Tagabawa [bgs] languages belong to the same Greater Central Philippine subgroup, while Bagobo-Klata is relatively more unique as it is considered to be under the Southern Philippine subgroup. In contrast, Ethnologue labels Bagobo-Klata as Bilic (Eberhard et al., 2022).

Societal struggle

The Bagobo-Klata’s dwindling speaker population may be attributed to its speech community’s struggles concerning their ancestral lands and related environmental issues. Pressure from these may be destabilizing and displacing their communities, which in turn weakens inter-community relations and encourages favoring of wider-used lingua franca (Inzon & de Guzman, 2016). One notable issue exposes the intimidation and use of force by the Kingdom of Jesus, The Name Above Any Name, a religious sect headed by Apollo Quiboloy, which has been eyeing the community’s territory (Baldonado, 2013; Lacorte, 2014). The community also opposed the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) which is “a compromise between a dominant economic framework and an indigenous legal framework seeking security over land and resources” (Baldonado, 2013, p. 84).

Works about Bagobo-Klata

Several scholars conducted studies on Bagobo-Klata. In “Klata/Giangan: A New Southern Philippine Subgroup,” Zorc (2019) explains why Klata belongs to a subgroup different from other Bagobo languages. This paper also cites Phonology Essentials of Bagobo-Klata (2017), a master’s thesis written by SIL linguist Angharad Evans. In a conference paper, Estrera and Rajik (2021) examine particular semantic and morphosyntactic features of Bagobo-Klata and Tausug, while Estrera’s (2021) article “Bagobo-Klata Phonology” provides a comprehensive phonological description of the language by focusing on synchronic features and diachronic changes.


Baldonado, J. (2013). “Yuta ang kinabuhi,” ‘Land is life’: The state and the Bagobo-Klata of Sitio Kahusayan. AghamTao, 22. 83-108.

Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (Eds.). (2022). Bagobo-Klata. Ethnologue: Languages of the world (25th ed.).

Estrera, E. (2021). Bagobo-Klata phonology [Conference paper]. 30th Southeast Asian Linguistics Society Conference.

Estrera, E., & Rajik, J. (2021). Modality expressions in Bagobo-Klata and Tausug [Conference paper]. Linguistic Society of the Philippines International Conference 2021.

Evans, A. (2017). Phonology essentials of Bagobo-Klata, a language of the Philippines [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Gloucestershire.

Inzon, M. R. B. Q., & de Guzman, L. E. P. (2016, March 4). Threatened land, threatened lives: The Bagobo-Klata of the south. Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension–UPLB.

Lacorte, G. (2014, February 23). The expanding kingdom of God’s ‘son’.

Open Language Archives Community. (n.d.). OLAC resources in and about the Giangan language.

Zorc, D. (2019). Klata/Giangan: A new southern Philippine subgroup. The Archive, Special Publications, 16, 33-52.

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