To the Hanunuo, clothing (rutay) is one of the most important criteria in distinguishing the Mangyan from the non-Manyan (damuong). A Hanunuo-Mangyan male wears a loin cloth (ba-ag) and a shirt (balukas). A female wears an indigo-dyed short skirt (ramit) and a blouse (lambung). Many of the traditional style shirts and blouses are embroidered on the back with a design called pakudos, based on the cross shape.
This design is also found on their bags made of buri (palm leaf) and nito (black fern), called bay-ong. Both sexes used to wear a twilled rattan belt with pocket (hagkos) at their waist. Long hair is the traditional style for a man. It is tied in one spot at the back of the head with a cloth hair-band called panyo. Women also have long hair often dressed with a headbands of beads. The Hanunuo Mangyans of all ages and both sexes are very fond of wearing necklaces and bracelets of beads [Miyamoto, 1985].
In the past they cultivated cotton trees and from these obtained raw materials which they wove in a crude hand loom called harablon. The process of weaving was called habilan, which starts with the gathering of cotton balls and pilling them to dry in a flat basket (bilao). Afterwards, the seeds are removed and the cotton placed on a mat and beaten by two flat sticks to make it fine. Next the cotton is placed inside a container made out of banana stalks (binuyo) and woven.
Noted anthropologist Harold Conklin made an extensive study on the Hanunuo-Mangyan agricultural system in 1953. The Hanunuo Mangyans practise swidden farming. This type of farming is different from the "kaingin" system practised by non-Mangyans which is often very destructive when it is done with no proper safeguards to prevent the fire from spreading to the surrounding vegetation. A fallow period is also observed so that the swidden farm will revert back to forest. According to Conklin, the Mangyans managed their swidden farms skillfully. In 1995, almost half a century after Conklin's research, a study on the Hanunuo Mangyans' swidden farming system was conducted by Hayama Atsuko. She concluded that the Hanunuo Mangyans' farming practices have prevented land deterioration in spite of the fact that forest land degradation is now evident in their territory due to various factors.
Together with their northern neighbor the Buhids, the Hanunuo possess a pre-Spanish writing system, considered to be of Indic origin, with characters expressing the open syllables of the language [Postma, 1981]. This syllabic writing system, called Surat Mangyan, is being taught in several Mangyan schools in Mansalay and Bulalacao.
The Hanunuo Mangyans live in the municipalities of Mansalay, Bulalacao, and some parts of Bongabong in Oriental Mindoro, and in the municipality of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.