Igorots, The People of the Mountains

Basically, “Igorots” and “Cordilleras” typically refer to a number of tribal groups in a collective manner. These groups are the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao, Apayao or Isneg, Kalinga, and the Kankana-eys. They settle in the mountainous North and Central Luzon parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region or CAR which covers a total area of 18, 294 square kilometers.


There are two subgroups in which the larger one can be found in the south-central and western areas of the region and the other one lives in the east and north. Overall, they are ethnic people of the Philippines and are made-known for rice terraces farming.


Today, the term Igorot is used to refer to the indigenous people of the Cordillera Mountains and was originally “Ygolotes” as per the Spaniards. They are well-adapted to places with high altitudes and are definitely used to cold temperatures. They have made a way to carve terraces at the sides of the mountains and planted it with grains of different kinds in order for them to have a steady supply of crop.


The six categories of Igorot are:


BONTOC – They have been known to be headhunters in the past but have now embraced Christianity. Today, they have transitioned into peaceful agricultural people.


IBALOI – Mostly found in the southern part of Benguet, they also belong to the agrarian society with a population of over 93,000 in the Philippines.


IFUGAO – On the other hand, the Ifugaos are popular for their stories and epics. Literally “from the hill”, they are former headhunters that speak in four different dialects.


ISNEG or APAYAO – These people can be found near the riverbanks of Apayao. They have begun practicing sustainable forms of farming, after being slash-and-burn farmers.


KALINGA – Perhaps the most diplomatic of all Igorot, this group puts great importance on social ties and have been heralded for peace acts that have sustained their tribes to be strong.


KANKANA-EY – This group still belongs to the few tribes who still practice the old way of living: girls and boys are separated by dormitory and anyone who enters the dormitories are considered ready for courtship.