Waray people are a subgroup of the Visayan people whose primary
language is the
Waray language (also called Lineyte-Samarnon), an
Austronesian language native to the islands of Samar,
Biliran, which together comprise the
Eastern Visayas Region of the
Waray people inhabit the whole island of
Samar where they
are called Samareños/Samarnons, the northern part of the island of
Leyte where they are called Leyteños, and the island of Biliran. On
Leyte island, the
Waray people occupy the northern part of the island,
separated from the Cebuano language-speaking Leyteños by a mountain
range in the middle of the island.
On the island of Biliran, Waray-Waray-speaking people live on the
eastern part of the island facing the island of Samar; their
Waray-Waray dialect is commonly referred to as Biliranon. On the
island of Ticao, which belongs to the province of
Masbate in the Bicol
Region, Waray-Waray-speaking people live on most parts of the island;
they are commonly referred to as Ticaonon. However, the Ticaonon have
more affinity with the Masbateño-speaking people of Masbate, being
their province-mates. The
Bicolano language has more common vocabulary
with the Waray-
Waray language than with other
Visayan languages (i.e.
Cebuano or Ilonggo).
Waray people form the majority of the population in the provinces
of Eastern Samar, Northern Samar,
Samar while they form a significant
population in Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, and Sorsogon.
The Warays are descendants of the Austronesian-speaking immigrants who
came to the
Philippines during the Iron Age. In 1521, the Warays were
Filipinos to be sighted by Europeans under the leadership of
Ferdinand Magellan. The Warays were among the first Filipinos
converted to Christianity. Paradoxically, they are also among the last
Filipino ethnicities to retain traditional pagan practices alongside
their practice of Roman Catholicism. From the Spanish Colonization
onwards, they have been considered the underdog of Filipino ethnicity.
The ancient Waray tribal folk of Samar, Leyte,
Biliran and Pintuyan
Island were masters of the sea. Some became pirates that attacked and
raided coastal villages of present-day Bohol, Cebu, the southern
coasts of Luzon and the northern coasts of Mindanao. They practiced a
form of indentured servitude, forcing those whom they captured in
their raids into agricultural slavery and even into the ranks of their
war parties. The ancient Waray tribal folk behaved in ways that is
comparably similar to the Vikings of Northern Europe.
Waray people are one of the most religious people in the
Philippines. Most of them belong to the Roman Catholic Church, while
others belong to various Christian denominations. A small percentage
of the population practice other religions – sometimes alongside
Catholicism. For example, a few in the area with Chinese ancestry also
practice Buddhism. Their religious devotion is very evident in their
celebrations, such as feasts honoring their patron saints: the
Santacruzan and many others.
Waray people speak the Waray, a major Visayan language. Many also
speak Cebuano as their second language. Some people of Waray descent
speak Waray as their second or third language, especially among
emigrants to Metro Manila, other parts of the
elsewhere in the world. Other notable foreign languages spoken include
Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.
Many Waray traditions can be traced to pre-colonial times. For
example, the Kuratsa dance is a very popular traditional dance of the
Waray-Waray at many social gatherings, especially weddings. It is very
common throughout Samar. The couple who dances the Kuratsa are
showered with money by the people around them. The belief is that the
more money showered upon them, the more blessings will come their way.
Tacloban City in
Leyte is home to a campus of the University of the
Leyte Normal University is also located in Tacloban.
There are numerous state universities serving the region, including
Samar State University,
Eastern Visayas State University,
Samar State University and the largest both in terms of land area and
curricular offerings in the whole region, the University of Eastern
Philippines located in Catarman, Northern Samar. There are also other
colleges in (Western)
Samar like St. Mary's College of Catbalogan,
formerly Sacred Heart College and
Samar College. Northwest
University, formerly Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science
and Technology and
Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry,
offer courses that are needed in technology and business community.
The Waray-Waray are often stereotyped as brave warriors, as in the
popular phrase, Basta ang Waray, hindi uurong sa away, meaning "Waray
never back down from a fight". They are also known as contented
people, so much so that, during the Spanish era, they were often
called lazy, for being contented to live in simplicity as farmers, and
for making tuba palm wine from coconut nectar.
Warays are also known for their love of music, in particular the
Kuratsa, a courtship dance with music based on native and Hispanic
influences. Local artists often create Waray versions of popular
songs, such as "Ang Bahal nga Tuba" that was based on a Mexican song.
The most important crop and major source of income for many is the
coconut. Other major agricultural products include rice and corn,
while sugarcane, abaca, and tobacco are also grown. Cassava and camote
(sweet potato) are grown as supplementary staple crops. Pineapple,
banana, mangoes, and other fruit are grown year round, as are many
vegetables and peanuts. In Eastern Samar, a root crop known as palawan
is grown. It is not common outside of that area, except in some parts
Samar like Basey and Marabut.
Leyte is a big producer of
Farming and fishing provide much of the livelihood of the Waray-Waray.
There is an impressive variety of seafood available.
Native wines are produced in the area, as in many places in the
Philippines. The most common of these wines are tuba extracted from
the coconut palm, "manyang" extracted from palm tree (common in the
province of Northern Samar) and pangasi, made from fermented rice.
* - Not an official