Blaan is one of the Indigenous People of the Philippines. Our tribe is located in South Central Mindanao (South Cotabato, Sarangani Province, General Santos City, Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte). Our tribal name is spelt as Blaan not B'laan/Bilaan/Bla-an/Bla'an/Bl'aan/Blaa'n. Blaan is a coined word "bla " and "an". Bla means counterpart or pair and the suffix an expresses ownership or possession. When joined together, Blaan, means our counterpart tribe, the To Bali "To" means people and "Bali" means the other side. The "To Bali" are today as Tboli. Historically, the Blaan lived closely with Tboli people. -Source: Blaan di Mtutung Book and KafyeBlaan Empowerment, Inc site (www.kafyeblaan.com). Also, my experienced with my Fu (Lola/Lolo - in English, my grandparents) when people asked them where they came from, my Fu always answered, Blaan amda de Lagad (Blaan from the Mountain). So I never heard my old folks mention B'laan/Bilaan/Bla-an/Bla'an/Bl'aan/Blaa'n. The people who call us B'laan/Bilaan are Bisayan and writers/authors/reporters/journalists who were trying to promote our tribe. Since our old folks cannot read and write they cannot tell if the correct spelling has been used. To my fellow Blaan I say we should start to write the correct spelling of our tribe. If you heard someone called you Bilaan you must correct them in a nice way or if you see someone write B'laan/Bilaan/Bla-an/Bla'an/Bl'aan/Blaa'n you must correct them and try to explain to them why we don't want to be called B'laan/Bilaan/Bla-an/Bla'an/Bl'aan/Blaa'n because those words are being use to discriminate against our tribe.
Our tribe is sometimes discriminated against by some people who consider the Blaan people to be lower class. Despite of all demeaning words about us, we continue to pursue our goals and be empowered to seek equal opportunities. I am speaking from my own personal experience. There was a time when sometimes I tried to hide my identity because of discrimination but it was a wrong defence mechanism. When I heard someone discriminate us "Bilaan sa bukid walang tsinelas" I was very angry and argued. When I realised that it was wrong, I used those demeaning words as my inspiration to become successful someday. Some people think that even though one is a professional but Blaan then you are still lower class. That is so harsh. I came to realise that I should not hide my identity. We should learn how to stand up for our rights and speak out. We are unique, respectful and loving people. Our tribe has such a wonderful unique culture that we can actually show to the world such as Maral (Blaan Dance), Manem Igem (Mat weaving), Mabal (Weaving), Malem (Chanting), our Handmade clothing (Ansif and Takmon) and a lot more. Our food is purely organic and healthy.
Now, as a Blaan professional I am trying to help to empower young Blaan in my own little way.