Movement of groups of people is closely linked to environmental, agricultural and cultural change. Gaining an understanding of these changes in a local context is a vital prelude to the construction of a viable predictive model. We carried out a study in the Philippines to better understand the association between migration and these types of changes at a village scale and to build a picture of how the associations changed in time and space. The study area was located in the uplands of Mindanao. Migration to the village began in the late 1970s. As of 2010, the population is made up of indigenous people (~57 %), people who migrated from elsewhere in the Philippines (~29 %), and descendants of indigenous/non indigenous parents (~14 %). Face-to-face interviews in the village and in the places of origin/destination were used to collect qualitative information on the migrations made by the current and past village inhabitants. The main results relate to the reasons for migration, the socio-environmental processes that induced the decision to move and the description and explanation of more recent moves. The local findings are discussed in the context of existing published models of migration in frontier areas.