Igorot (ɪgəˈrot) is the name for a Cordillera region people on the island Luzon in the Philippines. They are considered a typical primitive mountain agriculturist group. There is speculation of whether or not this dark brown colored people were descendants from Chinese or Japanese, but no theory has been proven. “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.” (Wiki)

Igorot is translated as “mountaineer transporting agricultural products,” by some language translations, and simply “mountain people,” by other Luzon translations. Regardless of the true definition they did especially carry rice or camote on the head or shoulders frequently. Albert Ernest Jenks, who lived with the Bontac Igorot, said “(Igorot) man would be a savage if it were not that his geographic location compelled him to become an agriculturalist, necessity drove him to this art of peace.” He went on to say that albeit primitive, this group of people are extremely industrious. Yet Jenks painted a bland colored picture of the Igorot, depicting a casual life among the Igorot to include a monogamous marriage, a democratic society, a primitive society, and a people without drunkards, gamblers, slaves, nor sportsmen. “He is not very inventive and seems to have little imagination, his chief recreation – certainly his most-enjoyed and highly prized recreation – is head-hunting.”

Religion is based on the most primitive religion known, animism or spirit belief, but most Igorot grasp the concept of one God. Baskets are kept inside the hut-homes to store food and personal belongings. Sigiat, or circumcision, is done between the ages of 4-7, because traditionally believed if the foreskin is not cut it will continuously grow like the camote vine. Girls and boys never play together while growing up. Marriage can be arranged by parents, or at least must be blessed by parents of both the woman and man. Marriage is often the result of pregnancy as well. Divorce is unheard of, if a child is shared between the parents. One year must pass for a widower to remarry. The most common cause of death for the Igorot is fever. Epidemics are unheard of.

The rice terraces are perhaps the most well known Igorot creation, “Ancestors are the creators of the awe-inspiring rice terraces often called the eighth wonder of the world.” (Aenet)

”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.” (Sagada)

Dance and food are a great identification of any culture in the world, the Igorot are no exception. From self expression, to rituals and ceremonies, dance is their self-edification. Original Igorot dances were to appease ancestors and Gods, to cure ailments, to secure victory in war, ward off bad luck, insure bountiful harvests, favorable weather, and mark milestones in the cycle of life.

    Igorot Dances:
  • Apayao (ah-pah-YAHW) Courtship Dance
    • Couple raises arms like a bird soaring through the sky.
  • Banga (bahng-AH)
    • Maidens marriage prep, done by fetching water from the river.
  • Bindian (BIHN-deeh-ahn)
    • Victory dance, basic step includes stamp by left foot and a light movement by the right.
  • Bontoc War Dance or Pattong
    • This dance dates back to the headhunting era, a war prep. Lots of improv between two warrior groups.
  • Bumayah (booh-mah-YAH)
    • Thanksgiving festival, movements depict rooster stractchingat the ground, Ifugao tribe.
  • Dinuyya (dih-NOOH-yah)
    • Major feast dance done by lfugao, three gongs are used.
  • Lepanto (leh-PAHN-toh) Festival Dance
    • Well wishing, ie wedding celebration, Performed by the Kankana-ey of northern Benguet and the people of Western Bontoc.
  • Kayaw (kah-YAHW)
    • Head hunting dance.
  • Lumagen (looh-MAH-gehn)
    • Kalinga festival dance to celebrate Thanksgiving.
  • Manerwap (MAH-nehr-wahp)
    • Rain dance on top of sacred mountains.
  • Manmanok (mahn-mah-NOHK)
    • Three men vie for a lady’s hand in marriage, colorful blankets are used.
  • Palakis (pah-LAH-keehs)
    • Courtship dance, free-form interaction between male and female. Dancers hold a colorful piece of cloth and flirt.
  • Ragragsakan (rahg-rahg-SAH-kahn)
    • Kalinga women gather and prepare for a budong or peace pact.
  • Sakpaya (sahk-pah-YAH)
    • Bird dance in times of rice field creations.
  • Salip (SAH-lihp)
    • Warrior claims bride by presenting her with a matrimonial blanket, women responds by balancing several clay pots upon her head. Woman follows man’s movements to reverence obedience.
  • Takik (TAH-kihk)
    • Bontac tribe, flirtatious dance or courtship dance. Has more than two though, with a single-file line sometimes circling the couple.

The Igorot are famous for their rice fields on top of high mountains. They make a rice wine, called Tapey. They also have a famous salted pork, Innasin/Etag. Kinal-oy is a rice dish that was served for the rich when a needed spice, bobo, was rare. Pinikpikan is a fowl dish, and what surprises me is the bird is cooked with its feathers on. Among other interesting foods include, Cinafa’y Fanias, a roast monitor lizard, cinafa’y feclat, a roast snake, and Kindilo’y Makan, a weet potato rice mix.


For Igorot news, join this mailing list, Bibaknets@onelist.com

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.