Subanen Wedding Anullment Process

Hello guys

I really need an advice regarding my situation. I am married last 2007 in a Subanen wedding and been separated with him last 2010. Its been 7 years without communication and seeing him. Now, his been in a relationship for 5 years and living with her partner now. I suppose to be married this year but when i took my CENOMAR i found out that our Subanen marriage was legally applied. I was so broke and depress. I really need your help and advice since i dont know what to do now. HOPE and Pray to hear from you guys soon!


Hi Charm,

Your topic has been moved on the Philippines forum.

Hope someone can advice you.

Good luck,

The only cultural community which can divorce in the Philippines are the muslims groups of Mindanao. The subanen are not muslims so they can't divorce.  The only way is annulment like the majority of Filipinos.

In Subanen culture, men are allowed to marry  several women as they like but not a woman to marry several men. Each and every Subanen men could consider themselves as a ruler, a monarch, a king or a prince based on the tribal title because the culture and government being followed is a unique monarchy system that rulers or family of the rulers  from the ancient times which is continuously followed even in our modern times would continuously exist as ruler through a succession or automatic succession of power and authority to any immediate member of the family or the closest or the next kin to the family of the ruler.

The Subanen culture, laws and traditions  allows every man from a ruler family to become the next  ruler, a prince or a king in his controlled territory within Subanen territory. Meaning inside the Subanen territory could have several kings/ several rulers.  Subanen rulers are not into conflict with other  rulers as the culture , tradition, and  belief are still being followed that they are all equal and they live equal except if they want to raise a leader or one ruler to be a superior leader for all of them and be considered the ruler of all their rulers . The one who wants to lead would become a leader if he /she is from the  the family of the rulers. Since Subanen people are not greed to power and authority then others would just preferred to be followers than being a ruler even if they are from the family of the ruler and hand over their authority to their next kin who wants to be a ruler.

Since men or every Subanen man from the family of rulers could be a next ruler, a monarch or a prince or a king in their local title then they are allowed to marry several women as they like.. Like a first lady, second lady, third lady and so on.. Divorce is possible in the tribe. The Timuay, or Datu who initiated the wedding rite still have the power and  authority to divorce or separate the couple. Since it is being practiced in the culture then Philippine government law is not superior over the Subanen Law and tradition as mandated by the United Nation' convention for Indigenous people  to respect the tribal law, custom, belief and tradition. Considering as well that the tribe or the Subanen tribe existed before the existence of the country "the Philippines" and is nearly getting to its extinction then the UN is committed to protect the tribe to  continue existing .

"Subanen divorce" has been practiced since the ancient times and is the most easiest and less expensive or no expense divorce process in the Philippines which is not famous or not known by many except just the Subanen tribe members or the Subanen family  who continuously followed the Subanen culture, belief and tradition.

A Subanen ruler, a Timuay or a Datu who initiated the wedding rite could submit a nullifying order / a tribal leader order to the Registrar's Office of the Philippine government  voiding the legality of the marriage of the couple .The same copy (original) with stamped "received" by the office of the Civil registrar  would be kept by the parties as evidence. A a nullifying order / a tribal leader order  should be in 2 languages (Subanen and with English translation) in 5 copies (2 for the ruler, 1 each for each party and 2 copies for the civil registrar). Then a woman who's marriage is nullified or voided  could be allowed to marry again to another man. No law of bigamy, or other civil law in the Philippines could apply or control or act as supreme over the tribal laws in the Philippines as stated under the convention of rights for the Indigenous people at the UN convention.

If you need further advice and help, keep in touch, I could talk personally the Datu, Timuay or the ruler that initiated your "Subanen wedding rite" to void or nullify your marriage license with a Subanen man for you to be free again and be allowed to marry another man. Further, I would advice you to join or being adopted by a Subanen family for you to be legally protected by the subanen tribal law since you are already considered as a subanen tribe. Though you were married to a Subanen man and would consider you already a subanen but being adopted or "verbally" adopted  by a subanen family would also serve as protection and cleans you from being called as rejected by the tribe for bad deeds, shame, violating the tribal orders or immoral act reason why you were abandoned by your subanen husband .

The same concept applies to all Subanen men who are not from a ruler family in marrying a woman. All Subanen men is allowed to marry several women as they like and the same divorce process applies if nullifying their marriage.

It is true if the marriage was not formally registered in Philippines courts. It seems that it was registered formally and so follow the general rule. Up to now the UN can't impose anything on a country. For now, only muslims are allowed to divorce and have up to 5 wives recognized in the Philippines.

Datu, Timuay etc. and other titles are not recognized by Philippines laws since the Commonwealth period...

Then you are wrong! they are recognized through the pressure of the United nations and the UN convention for Indigenous people. Even mining companies could no longer operate in most provinces without the approval of their tribal leader and Environment Minister Gina Lopez is strengthening that law to protect the IP's.

It is not the court that cares about the registration of any marriages. The NSO through its sub units the Civil Registrar's office are the main responsible for the registry of birth, death, and marriages and they are the sole units that would do corrections if required. Court are not part of the process except for changing of erroneous entry of names

When marriages verification is required, then the court would just rely on the authenticated or red ribbons from the NSO then that would serve as the pure and legit evidence. The court could not decide against the tribal leader's order when it comes to tribal marriages as they are fully recognize by the law of the Philippines and the backing of the Law of the United nations for indigenous people

IPRA which the indigenous law in the Philippines is about ancestral territory and control of activities by the tribal leaders inside their ancestral domain. It has nothing to do in terms of marriage/divorce etc. United Nations can pressure a State, but to comply is another. In my knowledge the Philippines has not yet signed the UN convention on indigenous people. Which is interesting when you know that since 1997 the Philippines has one of the best laws on indigenous people in the world

The application of the laws in the Philippines is based on the understanding, and consideration. If court decision is needed, then they would rely mostly in the populist and mutual respect. Muslim marriages have been known that makes most people believe that muslims are allowed to marry several times without violating the civil laws on bigamy. Muslims in the Philippines are from the tribes of Tausug, Maranao and Maguindanao which are the relative tribes of the non-muslim tribes of Mandaya, Subanen and Kamayo. The general application of the tribal acceptance applies to all regardless of belief. Those 6 majority dominant tribes of Mindanao Island in the Southern Philippines shared the same values, culture except religion or beliefs. Their tribal leaders were given the obligation to govern their people in their day to day life, though politically they are voiceless in the decision making of the Imperial Manila government. I traveled and meet many of their tribal leaders from Timuay, Binukot (princess), Bae (Queen), and Datus and I learned a lot from them.

The fact is I witnessed several criminal acts happened of some of those tribes such as killings and robbery but the Philippine police relied on the decision of the tribal leader what should be the system and how it could be judged. The Police troops are just around watching while the trial is made by the Tribal leader and waited for the order of the tribal leader for the next step.  In absence of their resources to punish the criminals such as jail facilities, then that's the time that they would turn over the criminal to the Philippine police. Lighter violations are deal with the tribal leaders, meaning they were given the authority to exercise their power and given the autonomy for their tribal justice system depending on how heavy is the crime, and how would it affect the entire country. [Thanks to Bathala ( the tribal name of God), they are not corrupt and they always make a fair decision without being influenced by money unlike the Judges of the Philippines's Manila Government that bribing is part of deciding who would win the case]

They were not recognized officially in the Philippine political system because their tribal laws itself prohibit them to be part of the Philippine politics because they are already following their own government which is a monarchy system. Federalism form would solve that issue so they would be fully recognized. 

The main thing is, Philippines Judicial system respects the tribal justice system (Gokuman) so whatever the decision of the tribal leader is respected by the Philippine Judicial system especially if it could not affect the safety of the entire Philippines. The, consideration, concept and justice applied to the other tribes are also applicable to the others. (How the other tribes differ to the other tribes anyway?)

Yes the tribal courts are very interesting but there are not everywhere. Unfortunetly many datus etc. are corrupt, believe me !

The Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines of 1977 is only for muslim Filipinos not other groups. Religion is the main point, not the tribe. It seems that some Filipinos convert to islam to be allowed to remarry. But there is a problem if the first marriage was made under the Family Code (for the mainstream population of the Philippines).

I suppose that the lady who initiated this thread was married under the family Code and so can't divorce if ever the subanen are allowed (which I am really not sure).

Muslim basically not a muslim in origin when it comes to faith and belief. Muslim in the Philippines are from non-muslim tribe before the introduction of islam in the Philippines ..

Look at this  timeline particularly Mindanao island prior to the establishment of the Philippines.

Year 100 -

Year 1000 -

Year 1100 -

Year 1200 -

Year 1300 -

Year 1350 -

Year 1360 -

Year 1370 -

Year 1380 - Karim ul' Makhdum, the first Islamic missionary from Saudi Arabia reached the Sulu Archipelago to introduce islam

Year 1400 -

Year 1500-

Year 1510-

Year 1520-

Year 1521 - Portuguese Explorer Magellan landed the island of Homonhon, eastern part archipelago (March  16,1521) The entry of Christianity to the Archipelago

- March 31, 1521 - Easter Sunday - First Catholic Christian mass  was celebrated in Masao, Butuan, Agusan del Norte (Kingdom of Butuan) under the reign of Kamayo tribes of Butuan.

Year 1600 -

Year 1700 -

Year 1800 -

Year 1880 - Establishment of the Philippines under treaty of Paris, then their is called country Philippines.

- Before the establishment of the country Philippine; Sulu was called Sultanate of Sulu, Zamboanga was just called Semboangan under the Monarchy government of Subanen Tribe. Maguindanao was Sultanate of Maguindanao following the muslim monarchy government, Butuan was a kingdom of Butuan under the Kamayo tribe monarchy government, Tondo was a kingdom of Tondo under the Tagalog Monarchy government and so many kingdoms all over the archipelago.



2010 -

2015 -

2016 -

2017 - current year now..!!

Meaning Prior to year 100 to Year 1370, There is no muslim tribe in Mindanao Island, no islam faith in the archipelago.. . The Maranao, Tausug, Maguindanao, Subanen, Kamayo and Mandaya tribes believes the same God called Bathala the creator of the universe.. They also believe the sames gods, the moon, the sun, stars, big mountains and big trees.


Basically it is not the reason because they are muslim then they are corrupt, I mean the Datu but their tribes is the main reason. For example the Tausug tribe, they are originally pirates and they are operating at the seas of Sulu as their territory. Their life and their livelihood makes them corrupt because the raid ships and get golds, silver and other products.

The Subanen why they are opposite with tausug tribe? Subanen culture is a bit different, they are not living with gold and money but understanding and harmony. Subanen law says No one is the owner of the Subanen territory and the subanen land but all the Subanen people, reason why they do not claim to own a portion of land because it is for all. They share their lands who wants to cultivate. Their livelihood is just as simple as farming, and fishing... so they are not exposed into gold, silver and diamond as payment in trade because they only practiced barter.

The livelihood of the tribes explain who they are and what they are.

Tausug are pirates then they are after of gold, silver and diamond.

For Subanen they have the ancient livelihood for Fishing, Farming and working militia.

- Sembuangan (Zamboanga City in the modern day) is the center of trading in that portion of Mindanao during year 7000.  Sembuangan is the Business district of the Subanen tribe,

-Ozamis (Ozamis City now)  the center of their armed or Subanen militia people who are trained to protect their territory. 

- The farm capitals of subanen are Cagayan de oro, Iligan, Lanao del norte Pagadian and Sindangan as major crops producing areas

- Gingoog, Camiguin and Basilan islands are the center of fishing for the Subanen tribe .

When China traded their goods to Subanen during year 7000, they are only practicing barter. Subanen sold their fire piston products and other agricultural products  to Chinese traders with the payment are Chinese jars and other Chinese goods. While Chinese accepts bronze, gold and silver from the products of Tausug which are also brought to Zamboanga to catch the Chinese traders's ship docking at Sembuangan port.

So that tells about the tribe, their livelihood and their being, who they are...


The marriage mentioned by the lady was not a Philippine rites marriage but a tribal rite. She got married to a Subanen man and the Tribal leader who initiated the rite reported the marriage to the Municipal Civil registrar that makes it recorded. So when she tried to verify to the office of the registrar, there is a record of her marriage reason why she wanted a divorce which seems hard for her.

Any marriage rite initiated by the tribal leader would be recorded only if it would be reported to the civil registrar otherwise, it would remain at the record and file of the Tribal leader. If it is not reported then no need for escalation if divorce is needed but if it is reported then an order from the tribal leader nullifying the  marriage is required to be submitted to the civil registrar.

Why muslim is emphasized in the Philippine laws? because they are famous. They would really fight and fought fought face to face if not at the back to defend Mindanao. American occupancy in the Philippines failed to defeat the Mindanao Island and the Muslim warriors  specifically the two tribes Maguindanao and Tausug.. reason why the island name Mindanao close to the name of the tribe Maguindanao because this tribe defended the island against Spain, and American explorers. America just even turned over Mindanao to be part of the Philippines under the Manila Government without defeating the island, a strategy that swords could not defeat Mindanao but pen and paper, so Manila government populated the Mindanao island by sending ilocanos, illongos, cebuano militias to occupy and owned hundreds and hundreds of hectares of land of the non-mulsim tribes after the WWII to weaken the Muslim forces resulting to a fast growing Christianity in Mindanao that challenged and limit the expansion of muslim tribes outside their ancient territory.

Basically, the lands that owned by Christians in Mindanao are not and never owned by muslim tribes. Davao is under Mandaya non-muslim tribe. Butuan, Surigao are under kamayo Tribes. Camiguin island, Cagayan de oro, Iligan Lanao del norte, Ozamis, Dipolog, Pagadian, Zamboaanga and Basilan Island was the territory of Subanen non-muslim tribe. Only Maguindanao, Marawi, lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, North Borneo are territory of Mulism tribes Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug. Christian people from Luzon and Visayas who were sent by Manila government to occupy Mindanao  never occupied lands of Muslim tribes in Mindanao.

Basically Mindanao during the early times of the Philippines was mistakenly believed as all muslim island because muslim Maguindanaoan fought for Mindanao and they led the war against invaders. but later then it found out that there are several non-muslim tribes in Mindanao

Well said!

Well researched answers. Thanks for defending our subanen rights.