The Tibolis live in "long-houses" that are built on six-foot stilts. Their houses are about 50 feet long and nearly 30 feet wide. The materials are predominantly made of bamboo, wood, and palm fronds. Their houses are situated far apart from each other.
The distinctive and colorful clothing characterizes Tiboli men and women. It is a major source of ethnic pride. Nearly all clothing is made of t'nalak, a cloth that has a brown background, lightened by red and beige designs. Women wear ornamental combs, earrings, bracelets, and rings. The Tibolis usually cover their heads with turbans or large circular hats.
They speak a Malayo-Polynesian language called Tiboli. In addition to their native language, many of the Tibolis also speak Ilonggo or Bilaan.
The families usually arrange marriages after lengthy negotiations. Wedding celebrations often require months of preparation. Monogamy is always practiced. However, the rich may sometimes have multiple wives as a symbol of prestige.
The Tibolis believe that aspects of nature have spirits. If the spirits are not appeased, they can cause harm to people.
Although the Tiboli believe in a number of gods, the two most important are Kadaw la Sambad and Bulon la Mogow. They supposedly gave birth to the lesser gods, who either bestow benefits on people or afflict them with bad luck or ailments. The Tibolis place large wooden statues of the gods in their homes and fields. They frequently offer food and liquor to the gods for appeasement.
Television and radio are not yet available in the tribe.
They practice the slash and burn method of agriculture. This involves cutting the forest growth, burning the debris, and planting in the clearing. Rice is their primary crop, though yams and cassava are also grown. Their other sources food are through hunting, gathering forest crops, and fishing. To supplement their incomes, they sell bananas and other forest products in nearby markets.
Food is also provided through hunting, gathering forest produce, and fishing. To supplement their incomes, a Tiboli sometimes sell bananas and other forest produce in nearby markets.
Many Tibolis have little or no access to medical care. Education is inadequate, and at least 80% of the adults are illiterate. Running water and modern sanitation systems are virtually non-existent. Electrical power can only be found in a few villages.
Their methods of transportation and communication are extremely primitive. The arrival of logging and mining operations in Tiboli territory became a threat to their culture and way of life.
A typical Tiboli family of 8 – 10 members are usually malnourished. They only eat two meals a day of staple root crop like camote and taro. The average annual income of a breadwinner is only P6, 000.
Some of them even suffer from major diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, intestinal parasites, amoebic dysentry and upper respiratory tract infections. Some of their illnesses are believed to be the consequence of lack of access to safe potable water.