Igorot (International Phonetic Alphabet|pronounced [ɪgəˈrot]) is the general name for the people of the Cordillera region, in the Philippines island of Luzon. The Igorot form two subgroups: the larger group lives in the south, central and western areas, and is very adept at rice-terrace farming; the smaller group lives in the east and north. Some Igorot groups formerly practiced headhunting.
Cordillerano, or Cordilleran, is an unofficial and relatively recent term for the people of the hill tribes of Luzon, Philippines, who are residing in the Cordillera and Caraballo mountains. This term is an attempt at political correctness, since a current term, Igorot, has caused controversy due to its perceived negative stigma, which is incorrectly connected to backwardness and inferiority. Of the people in the Cordilleras, some Kalinga and Ifugao refuse to be called Igorot. On the other hand, most Igorot tribes, along with some Kalinga and Ifugao consider themselves as part of the Igorot people.
Igorot ethnic groups
The Cordillera region of Northern Philippines is the ancestral domain of the Igorots. It is comprised of the six provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Provinces, plus the lone city of Baguio. The Igorots are grouped into six ethno-linguistic groups, the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao, Isneg (or Apayao), Kalinga, and the Kankana-ey. Below are brief descriptions of these Igorot ethnic groups.
Alternative/Associated Names: Bontok, Bontoc
Location: Central Mountain Province
The Bontocs live on the banks of the Chico River. They were once well-known because of their headhunting practices in the olden days but not anymore today. Present-day Bontocs are a peaceful agricultural people who have, by choice, retained most of their traditional culture despite frequent contacts with other groups.
The pre-Christian Bontoc belief system centers on a hierarchy of spirits, the highest being a supreme deity called Lumawig. Lumawig personifies the forces of nature and is the legendary creator, friend, and teacher of the Bontoc. A hereditary class of priests hold various monthly ceremonies for this deity for their crops, the weather, and for healing. The Bontoc also believe in the "anito"—spirits of the dead who must be consulted before anything important is done. Ancestral anitos are invited to family feasts when a death occurs to ensure the well-being of the deceased's soul.This is by offering some small amount of food to show that they are invited and not forgotten.
The Bontoc social structure used to be centered around village wards ("ato") containing about 14 to 50 homes. Traditionally, young men and women lived in dormitories and ate meals with their families. This gradually changed with the advent of Christianity. In general, however, it can be said that all Bontocs are very aware of their own way of life and are not overly eager to change.
Alternative/Associated Names: Ibaloi/Ibaloy/Nabaloi
Location: Southern Benguet
People and Culture:
The Ibaloi are one of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines who live mostly in the southern part of Benguet, located in the Cordilleras of northern Luzon. The Ibaloi people were traditionally an agrarian society. Many of the Ibaloi people continue with their agriculture and rice cultivation.
The Ibaloi language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages family. The Ibaloi language is closely related to the Pangasinan language, primarily spoken in the province of Pangasinan, located southwest of Benguet.
The Ibalois' major feast is the Pesshet, a public feast mainly sponsored by people of prestige and wealth. The Pesshet feast can last for weeks and involves the butchering and sacrifice of dozens of animals. One of the more popular dances of the Ibaloi is the Bendiyan Dance, participated in by hundreds of male and female dancers.
Alternative/Associated Names: Ifugao, Amganad, Ayangan, Kiangan, Gilipanes, Quiangan, Tuwali Ifugao, Mayoyao (Mayoyao, Mayaoyaw)
Location: Ifugao Province
Languages: Four distinct Ifugao languages
The country of the Ifugao in the southern part of the Cordillera region is best known for its famous rice terraces, which in modern times have become one of the big tourist attractions of the Philippines. They made these terraces with the use of only their hands and simple tools. The Ifugaos typically build their houses at the edge of their fields. A distinctive aspect of these houses is the post just below the floor beams to keep rats from climbing into the house.
Aside from their rice terraces, the Ifugaos are known for their literary traditions of the 'hudhud' and the 'alim.' The term "Ifugao" is derived from "ipugo" which means earth people or mortals or humans, as distinguished from spirits and deities. It also means "from the hill," as "pugo" means hill. The Ifugaos' highest prestige feasts are the "hagabi," for the most wealthy; and the "uyauy," a feast for those immediately below the wealthiest.
Alternative/Associated Names: Isnag, Dibagat-Kabugao-Isneg, Apayao
Location: Northern Apayao
The Isneg (or Apayao) inhabit the banks of the Apayao River and its tributaries in Northern Luzon. Like most erstwhile headhunters, they are slash-and-burn farmers who have recently, under the influence of their neighbors, begun to practice wet-rice agriculture.
As a dry rice farmer, the male head of a household annually clears a fresh section of tropical forest where his wife will plant and harvest their rice. Isneg women also cook the meals, gather wild vegetables and weave bamboo mats and baskets, while the men cut timber, build houses and take extended hunting and fishing trips. Often when a wild pig or deer is killed, its meat is skewered on bamboo and distributed to neighbors and relatives. Nearly all Isneg households also harvest a small grove of coffee trees since the main cash crop of the area is coffee.
Alternative/Associated Names: Linimos, Limos; Limos-Liwan Kalinga
Location: Kalinga Province
Language: Kalinga, Limos
Inhabiting the drainage areas of the middle Chico River, the Kalingas are noted for their strong sense of tribal awareness and the peace pacts they have made among themselves. They practice both wet and dry rice farming and have developed an institution of peace pacts which has minimized traditional warfare and headhunting and serves as a mechanism for the initiation, maintenance, renewal and reinforcement of kinship and social ties. The Kalinga are divided into Southern and Northern groups; the latter is considered the most heavily-ornamented people of the northern Philippines.
Kalinga society is very kinship-oriented and relatives are held responsible for avenging any injury done to a member. Disputes are usually settled by the regional leaders, who listen to all sides and then impose fines on the guilty party. These are not formal council meetings, but carry a good deal of authority.
Alternative/Associated Names: Northern Kankana-ey; Sagada/Besao Igorot, Western Bontoc, Applai
Location: Western Mountain Province, Southeastern Ilocos Sur Province, Northern Benguet
Language: Northern Kankana-ey
The Kankana-ey's domain includes Western Mountain Province, Northern Benguet and Southeastern Ilocos Sur. Like most Igorot ethnic groups, the Kankana-ey built sloping terraces to maximize farm space in the rugged terrain of the Cordilleras. Two famous institutions of the Kankana-ey of Mountain Province are the dap-ay, the men's dormitory and civic center, and the ebgan, the girls' dormitory where courtship between young men and women took place.
Kankana-ey's major dances include takik, a wedding dance, and ballangbang.
The Igorot Global Organization
The Igorot Global Organization (IGO) is an organization of persons who trace their roots from the Central Cordillera mountains of Northern Luzon, Philippines, who choose to maintain the ethnic identity of Igolot or Igorot, literally meaning people of the mountains.
To preserve for future generations the diverse heritage of the Igorot people and proactively promote their upliftment, advancement and interests and those of related people.
To be the advocate of Igorot rights and causes—linking Igorots and related people worldwide.
IGO Mailing Address
P.O. Box 4471 West Covina, CA 91791 USA Tel: +1 (626) 919-1094 Fax: +1 (626) 919-5144
Famous Igorot Quotes
"I am an Igorot. Let me be treated as I deserve—with respect if I am good, with contempt if I am no good, irrespective of the name I carry. Let the term, Igorot, remain, and the world will use it with the correct meaning attached to it." –Jose Dulnuan
- Marky Cielo - famous Philippine movie actor and youth role model
- Prince Victor Salamat - journalist and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nominee
- Cordillera Online - Igorot Hang-out
- BIBAK.net Online Community
- Igorot Global Organization
- Sagada Igorots