The Alangan project was incorporated into the South-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists in July 2001. Five churches were planted.

AFM has ministered to the Alangan people since February 1989.

About the people

The Alangan ethnolinguistic group is one of the cultural and language communities collectively referred to as the Mangyan, along with the Iraya, the Tadyawan, the Batangan, the Buhid, the Hanunoo, the Ratagnon and the Tawbuid. The traditional territory of the Alangan is located in the inner highlands of the island of Mindoro in the municipalities of Naujan, Baco, San Teodoro, and Victoria in Oriental Mindoro, and in the municipality of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro. Mindoro’s lowlands are mainly populated by non-Mangyan groups, including members of the Tagalog, Visayan and Ilocano peoples. Relations between the highlander Alangan and the lowlanders have improved in recent years; however, in the past, much prejudice has existed toward the Alangan, even to the point where some believed that these people had tails.

There are different theories regarding the origin of the name Alangan. One possible meaning is ‘group of people with an unrefined culture’ (based on the Tagalog term alangan, which means ‘precariousness,’ ‘uncertainty’ or ‘inadequate’). The more likely origin is the name of a river and some mountain slopes in the upper Alangan Valley.

The women traditionally wear a skirt called lingeb, made of long strips of woven nito (forest vines) and wound around the abdomen. This skirt is worn together with a g-string called abayen. The upper covering is called ulango and is made from the leaf of the wild buri palm. Sometimes a red kerchief called limbutong is worn over the ulango. The men wear g-strings with fringes in front. Today, western attire is common, with men wearing pants or shorts and sometimes a shirt, while the women wear skirts and blouses.

Except for Batangan and Buhid, the languages that make up the Mangyan group are not particularly alike. The territory in which Alangan is spoken borders with regions corresponding to Iraya, Tagalog, Tadyawan and Batangan.

The forest has provided the Alangan with all they need. Rattan and bamboo are used to twine useful plates, baskets, and carrying sacks. Traditionally they also make clothing from the bark and plants they find in the forest. Hunting for boar and forest birds provides meat. Several rivers with chilly, crystal-clear water run through the lush jungle.

Alangan harvest wild rice, but they eat a variety of indigenous and locally introduced plants and hunt for wild game. They practice swidden or slash-and-burn farming and grow sweet potatoes, manioc, beans and a series of fruits in rotation on their shifting-cultivation farms. The Alangan Mangyans practice swidden farming, which consists of eleven stages. Two of them are the firebreak-making (agait) and the fallowing (agpagamas). A firebreak is made so that the fire will not go beyond the swidden site where the vegetation is thoroughly dry and ready for burning. Two years after clearing, cultivation of the swidden normally ceases, and the site is allowed to revert to forest.

Betel nut chewing is also notable among the Alangan, like all other Mangyan tribes. The Alangan chew the betel nut with great fervor from morning to night, saying that they don’t feel hunger as long as they chew betel nut. Betel chewing also has a social dimension. The exchange of betel chew ingredients signifies social acceptance.

The Alangan are struggling to keep their ancestral lands, and more than once, they have retreated further into the mountains. Drilling and mining is big business for foreign companies, who practice strip mining to collect nickel and other minerals. It is difficult for the indigenous Alangan to fight large international companies. (See the video: The last stand of the Alangan.)

The indigenous forest population on Mindoro is animist. For them, nature is animated by spirits and must be treated with holy respect. They believe the god Alulaba protects the rivers, and Kapwambulod watches over the forest and its diversity of plants. The people consider themselves a part of the diversity of nature. They believe that disturbing the natural condition of the forest can have serious consequences.

After centuries of suppression and exploitation, the inaccessible mountains in the interior of Mindoro became a last bulwark for the indigenous forest population. In recent times their jungle areas have become constantly smaller after devastating logging and pressure from new residents who need agricultural land on the island.

About the Project

Lead church-planting missionaries Tim and Dawn Holbrook launched the Alangan project in February of 1989 on the island of Mindoro, Philippines. They took the gospel to this remote tribe and built up a thriving church with local leaders taking over the duties of leadership and evangelism.

By the time the project was handed over to the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2001, the missionaries had established churches in the villages of Baybusan, Pakpak, Buwao, Mayba and Pandurukan—five churches in all. They also launched a school in Mayba and a clinic. The indigenous Alangan have held their own evangelistic series, though most membership growth occurs through friendship evangelism and small group studies. Each year the new believers meet for camp meeting to encourage and strengthen the fledgling churches in this area.

Today, under the leadership of indigenous lay workers, the church continues to expand. In 2011, the Alangan church reported 11 congregations and 650 members.


People-Group Facts

  • Population: 9,600 up to 13,500
  • Language: Alangan
  • Trade Language: Tagalog
  • Religion: Majority of population is animist

Missionaries Who Served

  • Tim and Dawn Holbrook 1989-2001
  • Howard and Charleen Williams 1989-1991
  • Aaron and Wendy Demorest 1991
  • Anthony and Cynthia Ingersol 1992-1997
  • Seth Ferrell (Buwao) 1999-2001
  • Curtis Hartman 1999-2000

Student Missionaries

Caryn Brion (91-92), Roy Maurer, Jr. (92-93), Tony Cash (92-93), Tara Knudson (92-93), Curtis Hartman (94-00), Julie Marsh (94-95), Scott Miller (94-95), David Forsyth (94-96), Marisa Miller (94-96), Jonathon Brauer (95-96), Matthew Shaul (95-97), Heather Charlton (97-98), Dan Reed (97-98), Melissa Rodgers (97-98), Rodney Bowes (98-00), Michelle Carey (98-99), Frank Lawrence (98-99), Christine Pfeiffer (98-99), Marc Engelmann (99-01), Christian Stroeck (99-00), Kimberly VanLiempd (99-00), Christy Croft (00-01), Marcus Eitzenberger (00-01), Salomon Mendoza (00-01), Kirsten Williams (00-01)

Churches Planted

  • Bayabasan
  • Pakpak
  • Buwao
  • Mayba
  • Pandurukan

Special Projects

  • Mayba School
  • Alangan-run Evangelistic Series
  • Clinic
  • Campmeeting

    Project Update

    Entered area in 1989

    Incorporated into SDA church in 2001

      • Churches planted — 5
      • School, clinic and camp meeting established
      • Locally run evangelism

    2014 Update

      • Churches –— 8
      • Companies/Groups — 4
      • Members –— 900

    At least two of the eight churches were formed by the fusion of multiple companies/groups.

    Thirteen ordained elders preach, teach and give Bible studies, and another six are in training.

    The Alangan are reaching out to their neighboring tribes, the Tawbuid and the Buhid.