AskDefine | Define Igorot

Extensive Definition

Igorot (pronounced [ɪgəˈrot]) 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. 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. Among the people in the Cordilleras, not all Kalinga and Ifugao accept the designation of Igorot.

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 Province, 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.

The Bontoc

Alternative/Associated Names: Bontok, Bontoc Location: Central Mountain Province Language: Bontoc 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 today. In the previous time, the most distinctive body decoration of the Igorot was the tattoo. The Bontoc describe three types of tattoos: The chak-lag′, the tattooed chest of the head taker; pong′-o, the tattooed arms of men and women; and fa′-tĕk, for all other tattoos of both sexes. Women were tattooed on the arms only. In the past, the Bontoc engaged in none of the usual pastimes or games of chance practiced in other areas of the country, but did perform a circular rhythmic dance acting out certain aspects of the hunt, always accompanied by the gang′-sa or bronze gong. There was no singing or talking during the dance drama, but the women took part, usually outside the circumference. It was a serious but pleasurable event for all concerned, including the children. 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.

The Ibaloi

Alternative/Associated Names: Ibaloi/Ibaloy/Nabaloi Location: Southern Benguet Language: Nabaloi or Ibaloy — Some samples: Si'kak si... (I am ... or My name is....); Pipiyan taha (I like you.}; Ensemek taha (I love you.) Tuwa'y davan mo? (Where are you going?); Ngantoy moka amaamaga? (What are you doing?); a common greeting instead of saying "good morning" or "good afternoon" would be, Salamat son sikayon emen (Thank you to all of you.).
Etymology: I- in Ibaloy means from, so from Baloy, an old place in Bokod.
Population: The 2000 National census shows some 93,000+ persons in Benguet classified themselves as Ibaloy, compared to the Kankanaey who numbered 114,000+. This does not include the Ibaloys in Kayapa and all over the world. An interesting information is provided by Otto Scheerer who wrote in 1908 that there were from 12,000 to 15,000 Ibaloys and that they dominated Benguet. Based on the census figures, the Ibaloy have become a minority in their own province.
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.
Baguio City, the major city of the Cordilleras, dubbed the "Summer Capital of the Philippines," is located in southern 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.

The Ifugao

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.

The Isneg

Alternative/Associated Names: Isnag, Dibagat-Kabugao-Isneg, Apayao Location: Northern Apayao Language: Isnag
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.

The Kalinga

Alternative/Associated Names: Linimos, Limos; Limos-Liwan Kalinga Location: Kalinga Province Languages: 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.

The Kankana-ey

Alternative/Associated Names: Northern Kankana-ey; Sagada/Besao Igorot, Western Bontoc, Applai/Aplai 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 tayaw, pattong, takik, a wedding dance, and ballangbang.
It should be noted that the Gadannes or Gaddangs were considered a sub group of the Igorots by the spanish missionaries.

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.

Mission statement

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
Igorot in Iloko: Tattao nga Igorot
Igorot in Tagalog: Mga Igorot
Igorot in Turkish: Igorot
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