Sunrise over Tres Marias Mountains east of Naval. (Photo courtesy of the Biliran Provincial Government.)

Biliran Cultural Setting

A sociology textbook defined culture as “the entire way of life followed by a people and everything learned and shared by people in society. It includes all socially standardized ways of seeing and thinking about the world, establishing preferences and goals, and also consisting of the rules which generate and guide behavior.”

Another author refers to culture as “an organization of phenomena which include acts (patterns of behavior); objects (tools and things made by tools); ideas (beliefs, knowledge); and sentiments (attitudes, values).”

Scholars generally agree that the key to culture lies in the minds of individuals, and that the people’s mentifacts or ideas are the foundation of culture. The material aspects of culture are called artifacts.

In this section, we explore largely the mentifacts of the culture of Biliran Province.

In the 1950s, public school teachers of Kawayan and Almeria towns conducted interviews with local residents. They gathered folklore materials mainly from informants living in poblacions, villages, and settlements around the base of Mount Panamao, the most prominent geographical landmark north of Biliran Island. At the time, this island was a remote and isolated geography, reachable from other islands only by sea transportation.

The materials have since been used to explore the possibilities of using folklore as data source for historical writing. Some of the output articles may be accessed from here. They also provide glimpses of the unique world-view of the Biliran natives in their more pristine form.

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