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Understanding Locals: Cuyonon Community

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is situated within the traditional territory of various indigenous communities in the larger region of Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago. One of the indigenous communities that live in this region is the Cuyonon community, residing on the island of Cuyo in the province of Palawan, Philippines.

Photo credit: Cuyonon Tribe, Cuyo Pride | Cuyunon Dialects (

Owing to their surroundings and as inhabitants of an island, the Cuyonon community has a strong connection to the sea. Fishing is a significant part of their livelihood and cultural identity. They are skilled navigators and sailors, using traditional boats to traverse the waters around Cuyo. The Cuyonon people have a mix of indigenous beliefs and practices, along with influences from Christianity. They believe in spirits and deities related to nature and ancestral spirits, and they conduct rituals to honor and seek guidance from these entities. They are also known for its craftsmanship in various traditional arts and crafts, including basket-making, pottery, and weaving. These skills are passed down from one generation to another, preserving their cultural heritage. The Cuyonon people have their own language known as "Cuyonon." It is an Austronesian language and is distinct from other languages spoken in the Philippines.

The Cuyonon community's deep connection to the sea and their rich cultural heritage make them an essential part of Palawan's diverse ethnic landscape. Their traditional knowledge of navigation, fishing, and sustainable resource management contributes to the region's environmental and cultural conservation efforts. At TWELF-X, we interested in respecting indigenous communities’ rights and cultural practices. It is crucial to preserve unique identities. To TWELF-X, understanding how the Cuyonon community foster a harmonious coexistence with the land and sea creates an interesting adventure for us to be inspired by.