The Bontoc Igorot
by Albert Ernest Jenks
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The Bontoc Igorot

by Albert Ernest Jenks

Letter of Transmittal

Department of the Interior, The Ethnological Survey,


Sir: I have the honor to submit a study of the Bontoc Igorot made for this Survey during the year 1903. It is transmitted with the recommendation that it be published as Volume I of a series of scientific studies to be issued by The Ethnological Survey for the Philippine Islands.


Albert Ernst Jenks,




After an expedition of two months in September, October, and November, 1902, among the people of northern Luzon it was decided that the Igorot of Bontoc pueblo, in the Province of Lepanto-Bontoc, are as typical of the primitive mountain agriculturist of Luzon as any group visited, and that ethnologic investigations directed from Bontoc pueblo would enable the investigator to show the culture of the primitive mountaineer of Luzon as well as or better than investigations centered elsewhere.

Accompanied by Mrs. Jenks, the writer took up residence in Bontoc pueblo the 1st of January, 1903, and remained five months. The following data were gathered during that Bontoc residence, the previous expedition of two months, and a residence of about six weeks among the Benguet Igorot.

The accompanying illustrations are mainly from photographs. Some of them were taken in April, 1903, by Hon. Dean C. Worcester, Secretary of the Interior; others are the work of Mr. Charles Martin, Government photographer, and were taken in January, 1903; the others were made by the writer to supplement those taken by Mr. Martin, whose time was limited in the area. Credit for each photograph is given with the halftone as it appears.

I wish to express my gratitude for the many favors of the only other Americans living in Bontoc Province during my stay there, namely, Lieutenant-Governor Truman K. Hunt, M.D.; Constabulary Lieutenant (now Captain) Elmer A. Eckman; and Mr. William F. Smith, American teacher.

In the following pages native words have their syllabic divisions shown by hyphens and their accented syllables and vowels marked in the various sections wherein the words are considered technically for the first time, and also in the vocabulary in the last chapter. In all other places they are unmarked. A later study of the language may show that errors have been made in writing sentences, since it was not always possible to get a consistent answer to the question as to what part of a sentence constitutes a single word, and time was too limited for any extensive language study. The following alphabet has been used in writing native words.

A as in FAR; Spanish RAMO A as in LAW; as O in French OR AY as AI in AISLE; Spanish HAY AO as OU in OUT; as AU in Spanish AUTO B as in BAD; Spanish BAJAR CH as in CHECK; Spanish CHICO D as in DOG; Spanish DAR E as in THEY; Spanish HALLE E as in THEN; Spanish COMEN F as in FIGHT; Spanish FIRMAR G as in GO; Spanish GOZAR H as in HE; Tagalog BAHAY I as in PIQUE; Spanish HIJO I as in PICK K as in KEEN L as in LAMB; Spanish LENTE M as in MAN; Spanish MENOS N as in NOW; Spanish JABON NG as in FINGER; Spanish LENGUA O as in NOTE; Spanish NOSOTROS OI as in BOIL P as in POOR; Spanish PERO Q as CH in German ICH S as in SAUCE; Spanish SORDO SH as in SHALL; as CH in French CHARMER T as in TOUCH; Spanish TOMAR U as in RULE; Spanish UNO U as in BUT U as in German KUHL V as in VALVE; Spanish VOLVER W as in WILL; nearly as OU in French OUI Y as in YOU; Spanish YA

It seems not improper to say a word here regarding some of my commonest impressions of the Bontoc Igorot.

Physically he is a clean-limbed, well-built, dark-brown man of medium stature, with no evidence of degeneracy. He belongs to that extensive stock of primitive people of which the Malay is the most commonly named. I do not believe he has received any of his characteristics, as a group, from either the Chinese or Japanese, though this theory has frequently been presented. The Bontoc man would be a savage if it were not that his geographic location compelled him to become an agriculturist; necessity drove him to this art of peace. In everyday life his actions are deliberate, but he is not lazy. He is remarkably industrious for a primitive man. In his agricultural labors he has strength, determination, and endurance. On the trail, as a cargador or burden bearer for Americans, he is patient and uncomplaining, and earns his wage in the sweat of his brow. His social life is lowly, and before marriage is most primitive; but a man has only one wife, to whom he is usually faithful. The social group is decidedly democratic; there are no slaves. The people are neither drunkards, gamblers, nor "sportsmen." There is little "color" in the life of the Igorot; 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. But head-hunting is not the passion with him that it is with many Malay peoples.

His religion is at base the most primitive religion known — animism, or spirit belief — but he has somewhere grasped the idea of one god, and has made this belief in a crude way a part of his life.

He is a very likable man, and there is little about his primitiveness that is repulsive. He is of a kindly disposition, is not servile, and is generally trustworthy. He has a strong sense of humor. He is decidedly friendly to the American, whose superiority he recognizes and whose methods he desires to learn. The boys in school are quick and bright, and their teacher pronounces them superior to Indian and Mexican children he has taught in Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico.[1]

Briefly, I believe in the future development of the Bontoc Igorot for the following reasons: He has an exceptionally fine physique for his stature and has no vices to destroy his body. He has courage which no one who knows him seems ever to think of questioning; he is industrious, has a bright mind, and is willing to learn. His institutions — governmental, religious, and social — are not radically opposed to those of modern civilization — as, for instance, are many institutions of the Mohammedanized people of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago — but are such, it seems to me, as will quite readily yield to or associate themselves with modern institutions.

I recall with great pleasure the months spent in Bontoc pueblo, and I have a most sincere interest in and respect for the Bontoc Igorot as a man.


The readers of this monograph are familiar with the geographic location of the Philippine Archipelago. However, to have the facts clearly in mind, it will be stated that the group lies entirely within the north torrid zone, extending from 4[degree] 40' northward to 21[degree] 3' and from 116[degree] 40' to 126[degree] 34' east longitude. It is thus about 1,000 miles from north to south and 550 miles from east to west. The Pacific Ocean washes its eastern shores, the Sea of Celebes its southern, and the China Sea its western and northern shores. It is about 630 kilometers, or 400 miles, from the China coast, and lies due east from French Indo-China. The Batanes group of islands, stretching north of Luzon, has members nearer Formosa than Luzon. On the southwest Borneo is sighted from Philippine territory.

Briefly, it may be said the Archipelago belongs to Asia — geologically, zoologically, and botanically — rather than to Oceania, and that, apparently, the entire Archipelago has shared a common origin and existence. There is evidence that it was connected with the mainland by solid earth in the early or Middle Tertiary. For a long geologic time the land was low and swampy. At the end of the Eocene a great upheaval occurred; there were foldings and crumplings, igneous rock was thrust into the distorted mass, and the islands were considerably elevated above the sea. During the latter part of the Tertiary period the lands seem to have subsided and to have been separated from the mainland.

About the close of the subsidence eruptions began which are continued to the present by such volcanoes as Taal and Mayon in Luzon and Apo in Mindanao. No further subsidence appears to have occurred after the close of the Tertiary, though the gradual elevation beginning then had many lapses, as is evidenced by the numerous sea beaches often seen one above the other in horizontal tiers. The elevation continues to-day in an almost invisible way. The Islands have been greatly enlarged during the elevation by the constant building of coral around the submerged shores.

It is believed that man had appeared in the great Malay Archipelago before this elevation began. It is thought by some that he was in the Philippines in the later Tertiary, but there are no data as yet throwing light on this question.

To-day the Archipelago lies like a large net in the natural pathway of people fleeing themselves from the supposed birthplace of the primitive Malayan stock, namely, from Java, Sumatra, and the adjacent Malay Peninsula, or, more likely, the larger mainland. It spreads over a large area, and is well fitted by its numerous islands — some 3,100 — and its innumerable bays and coastal pockets to catch up and hold a primitive, seafaring people.

There are and long have been daring Malayan pirates, and there is to-day among the southern islands a numerous class — the Samal — living most of the time on the sea, yet they all keep close to land, except in time of calm, and when a storm is brewing they strike out straight for the nearest shore like scared children. The ocean currents and the monsoons have been greatly instrumental in driving different people through the seas into the Philippine net.[2] The Tagakola on the west coast of the Gulf of Davao, Mindanao, have a tradition that they are descendants of men cast on their present shores from a distant land and of the Manobo women of the territory. The Bagobo, also in the Gulf of Davao, claim they came to their present home in a few boats generations ago. They purposely left their former land to flee from head-hunting, a practice in their earlier home, but one they do not follow in Mindanao. What per cent of the people coming originally to the Archipelago was castaway, nomadic, or immigrant it is impossible to judge, but there have doubtless also been many systematic and prolonged migrations from nearby lands, as from Borneo, Celebes, Sangir, etc.

Primitive man is represented in the Philippines to-day not alone by one of the lowest natural types of savage man the historic world has looked upon — the small, dark-brown, bearded, "crisp-woolly"-haired Negritos — but by some thirty distinct primitive Malayan tribes or dialect groups, among which are believed to be some of the lowest of the stock in existence.

In northern Luzon is the Igorot, a typical primitive Malayan. He is a muscular, smooth-faced, brown man of a type between the delicate and the coarse. In Mindoro the Mangiyan is found, an especially lowly Malayan, who may prove to be a true savage in culture. In Mindanao is the slender, delicate, smooth-faced brown man of which the Subano, in the western part, is typical. There are the Bagobo and the extensive Manobo of eastern Mindanao in the neighborhood of the Gulf of Davao, the latter people following the Agusan River practically to the north coast of Mindanao. In southeastern Mindanao, in the vicinity of Mount Apo and also north of the Gulf of Davao, are the Ata. They are a scattered people and evidently a Negrito and primitive Malayan mixture. In Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and perhaps Principe, of Luzon, are the Ibilao. They are a slender, delicate, bearded people, with an artistic nature quite different from any other now known in the island, but somewhat like that of the Ata of Mindanao. Their artistic wood productions suggest the incised work of distant dwellers of the Pacific, as that of the people of New Guinea, Fiji Islands, or Hervey Islands. The seven so-called Christian tribes,[3] occupying considerable areas in the coastwise lands and low plains of most of the larger islands of the Archipelago, represent migrations to the Archipelago subsequent to those of the Igorot and comparable tribes.

The last migrations of brown men into the Archipelago are historic. The Spaniard discovered the inward flow of the large Samal Moro group — after his arrival in the sixteenth century. The movement of this nomadic "Sea Gipsy" Samal has not ceased to-day, but continues to flow in and out among the small southern islands.

Besides the peoples here cited there are a score of others scattered about the Archipelago, representing many grades of primitive culture, but those mentioned are sufficient to suggest that the Islands have been very effective in gathering up and holding divers groups of primitive men.[4]


The Igorot Culture Group

Igorot land

Northern Luzon, or Igorot land, is by far the largest area in the Philippine Archipelago having any semblance of regularity. It is roughly rectangular in form, extending two and one-half degrees north and south and two degrees east and west.

There are two prominent geographic features in northern Luzon. One is the beautifully picturesque mountain system, the Caraballos, the most important range of which is the Caraballos Occidentales, extending north and south throughout the western part of the territory. This range is the famous "Cordillera Central" for about three-quarters of its extent northward, beyond which it is known as "Cordillera del Norte." The other prominent feature is the extensive drainage system of the eastern part, the Rio Grande de Cagayan draining northward into the China Sea about two-thirds of the territory of northern Luzon. It is the largest drainage system and the largest river in the Archipelago.

The surface of northern Luzon is made up of four distinct types. First is the coastal plain — a consistently narrow strip of land, generally not over 3 or 4 miles wide. The soil is sandy silt with a considerable admixture of vegetable matter. In some places it is loose, and shifts readily before the winds; here and there are stretches of alluvial clay loam. The sandy areas are often covered with coconut trees, and the alluvial deposits along the rivers frequently become beds of nipa palm as far back as tide water. The plain areas are generally poorly watered except during the rainy season, having only the streams of the steep mountains passing through them. These river beds are broad, "quicky," impassable torrents in the rainy season, and are shallow or practically dry during half the year, with only a narrow, lazy thread flowing among the bowlders.

This plain area on the west coast is the undisputed dwelling place of the Christian Ilokano, occupying pueblos in Union, Ilokos Sur, and Ilokos Norte Provinces. Almost nothing is known of the eastern coastal plain area. It is believed to be extremely narrow, and has at least one pueblo, of Christianized Tagalog — the famous Palanan, the scene of Aguinaldo's capture.

The second type of surface is the coastal hill area. It extends from the coastal plain irregularly back to the mountains, and is thought to be much narrower on the eastern coast than on the western — in fact, it may be quite absent on the eastern. It is the remains of a tilted plain sloping seaward from an altitude of about 1,000 feet to one of, say, 100 feet, and its hilly nature is due to erosion. These hills are generally covered only with grasses; the sheltered moister places often produce rank growths of tall, coarse cogon grass.[5] The soil varies from dark clay loam through the sandy loams to quite extensive deposits of coarse gravel. The level stretches in the hills on the west coast are generally in the possession of the Christian peoples, though here and there are small pueblos of the large Igorot group. The Igorot in these pueblos are undergoing transformation, and quite generally wear clothing similar to that of the Ilokano.

The third type of surface is the mountain country — the "temperate zone of the Tropics"; it is the habitat of the Igorot. From the western coastal hill area the mountains rise abruptly in parallel ranges lying in a general north and south direction, and they subside only in the foothills west of the great level bottom land bordering the Rio Grande de Cagayan. The Cordillera Central is as fair and about as varied a mountain country as the tropic sun shines on. It has mountains up which one may climb from tropic forest jungles into open, pine-forested parks, and up again into the dense tropic forest, with its drapery of vines, its varied hanging orchids, and its graceful, lilting fern trees. It has mountains forested to the upper rim on one side with tropic jungle and on the other with sturdy pine trees; at the crest line the children of the Tropics meet and intermingle with those of the temperate zone. There are gigantic, rolling, bare backs whose only covering is the carpet of grass periodically green and brown. There are long, rambling, skeleton ranges with here and there pine forests gradually creeping up the sides to the crests. There are solitary volcanoes, now extinct, standing like things purposely let alone when nature humbled the surrounding earth. There are sculptured lime rocks, cities of them, with gray hovels and mansions and cathedrals.

The mountains present one interesting geologic feature. The "hiker" is repeatedly delighted to find his trail passing quite easily from one peak or ascent to another over a natural connecting embankment. On either side of this connecting ridge is the head of a deep, steep-walled canyon; the ridge is only a few hundred feet broad at base, and only half a dozen to twenty feet wide at the top. These ridges invariably have the appearance of being composed of soft earth, and not of rock. They are appreciated by the primitive man, who takes advantage of them as of bridges.

The mountains are well watered; the summits of most of the mountains have perpetual springs of pure, cool waters. On the very tops of some there are occasional perpetual water holes ranging from 10 to 100 feet across. These holes have neither surface outlet nor inlet; there are two such within two hours of Bontoc pueblo. They are the favorite wallowing places of the carabao, the so-called "water buffalo,"[6] both the wild and the half-domesticated animals.

The mountain streams are generally in deep gorges winding in and out between the sharp folds of the mountains. Their beds are strewn with bowlders, often of immense size, which have withstood the wearing of waters and storms. During the rainy season the streams racing between the bases of two mountain ridges are maddened torrents. Some streams, born and fed on the very peaks, tumble 100, 500, even 1,500 feet over precipices, landing white as snow in the merciless torrent at the mountain base. During the dry season the rivers are fordable at frequent intervals, but during the rainy season, beginning in the Cordillera Central in June and lasting well through October, even the natives hesitate often for a week at a time to cross them.

The absence of lakes is noteworthy in the mountain country of northern Luzon — in fact, in all of northern Luzon. The two large lakes frequently shown on maps of Cagayan Province, one east and one west of the Rio Grande de Cagayan near the eighteenth parallel, are not known to exist, though it is probable there is some foundation for the Spaniards' belief in the existence of at least the eastern one. In the bottom land of the Rio Grande de Cagayan, about six hours west of Cabagan Nuevo, near the provincial border of Cagayan and Isabela, there were a hundred acres of land covered with shallow water the last of October, 1902, just at the end of the dry season of the Cagayan Valley. The surface was well covered with rank, coarse grasses and filled with aquatic plants, especially with lilies. Apparently the waters were slowly receding, since the earth about the margins was supporting the short, coarse grasses that tell of the gradual drying out of soils once covered with water. In the mountains near Sagada, Bontoc Province, there is a very small lake, and one or two others have been reported at Bontoc; but the mountains must be said to be practically lakeless.

Another mountain range of northern Luzon, of which practically no details are known, is the Sierra Madre, extending nearly the full length of the country close to the eastern coast. It seems to be an unbroken, continuous range, and, as such, is the longest mountain range in the Archipelago.

The fourth type of surface is the level areas. These areas lie mainly along the river courses, and vary from a few rods in width to the valley of the Rio Grande de Cagayan, which is often 50 miles in width, and probably more. There are, besides these river valleys, varying tracts of level plains which may most correctly be termed mountain table-lands. The limited mountain valleys and table-lands are the immediate home of the Igorot. The valleys are worn by the streams, and, in turn, are built up, leveled, and enriched by the sand and alluvium deposited annually by the floods. They are generally open, grass-covered areas, though some have become densely forested since being left above the high water of the streams.

The broad valley of the Rio Grande de Cagayan is not occupied by the Igorot. It is too poorly watered and forested to meet his requirements. It is mainly a vast pasture, supporting countless deer; along the foothills and the forest-grown creek and river bottoms there are many wild hogs; and in some areas herds of wild carabaos and horses are found. Near the main river is a numerous population of Christians. Many are Ilokano imported originally by the tobacco companies to carry on the large tobacco plantations of the valley, and the others are the native Cagayan.

The table-lands were once generally forested, but to-day many are deforested, undulating, beautiful pastures. Some were cleared by the Igorot for agriculture, and doubtless others by forest fires, such as one constantly sees during the dry season destroying the mountain forests of northern Luzon.

General observations have not been made on the temperature and humidity of much of the mountain country of northern Luzon. However, scientific observations have been made and recorded for a series of about ten years at Baguio, Benguet Province, at an altitude of 4,777 feet, and it is from the published data there gathered that the following facts are gained.[7] The temperature and rainfall are the average means deduced from many years' observations:

Month Mean temperature Number of rainy days Rainfall



January 63.5 1 0.06

February 62.1 2 0.57

March 66.9 3 1.46

April 70.5 1 0.32

May 68.3 16 4.02

June 67.2 26 12.55

July 66.5 26 14.43

August 64.6 31 37.03

September 67.0 23 11.90

October 67.0 13 4.95

November 68.2 13 2.52

December 66.0 16 5.47

It is seen that April is the hottest month of the year and February is the coldest. The absolute lowest temperature recorded is 42.10[degree] Fahrenheit, noted February 18, 1902. Of course the temperature varies considerably — a fact due largely to altitude and prevailing winds. The height of the rainy season is in August, during which it rains every day, with an average precipitation of 37.03 inches. Baguio is known as much rainier than many other places in the Cordillera Central, yet it must be taken as more or less typical of the entire mountain area of northern Luzon, throughout which the rainy season is very uniform. Usually the days of the rainy season are beautiful and clear during the forenoon, but all-day rains are not rare, and each season has two or three storms of pelting, driving rain which continues without a break for four or five days.

Igorot peoples

In several languages of northern Luzon the word "Ig-o-rot'" means "mountain people." Dr. Pardo de Tavera says the word "Igorrote" is composed of the root word "golot," meaning, in Tagalog, "mountain chain," and the prefix "i," meaning "dweller in" or "people of." Morga in 1609 used the word as "Igolot;" early Spaniards also used the word frequently as "Ygolotes" — and to-day some groups of the Igorot, as the Bontoc group, do not pronounce the "r" sound, which common usage now puts in the word. The Spaniards applied the term to the wild peoples of present Benguet and Lepanto Provinces, now a short-haired, peaceful people. In after years its common application spread eastward to the natives of the comandancia of Quiangan, in the present Province of Nueva Vizcaya, and northward to those of Bontoc.

The word "Ig-o-rot'" is now adopted tentatively as the name of the extensive primitive Malayan people of northern Luzon, because it is applied to a very large number of the mountain people by themselves and also has a recognized usage in ethnologic and other writings. Its form as "Ig-o-rot'" is adopted for both singular and plural, because it is both natural and phonetic, and, because, so far as it is possible to do so, it is thought wise to retain the simple native forms of such words as it seems necessary or best to incorporate in our language, especially in scientific language.

The sixteenth degree of north latitude cuts across Luzon probably as far south as any people of the Igorot group are now located. It is believed they occupy all the mountain country northward in the island except the territory of the Ibilao in the southeastern part of the area and some of the most inaccessible mountains in eastern Luzon, which are occupied by Negritos.

There are from 150,000 to 225,000 Igorot in Igorot land. The census of the Archipelago taken in 1903 will give the number as about 185,000. In the northern part of Pangasinan Province, the southwestern part of the territory, there are reported about 3,150 pagan people under various local names, as "Igorrotes," "Infieles" [pagans], and "Nuevos Christianos." In Benguet Province there are some 23,000, commonly known as "Benguet Igorrotes." In Union Province there are about 4,400 primitive people, generally called "Igorrotes." Ilokos Sur has nearly 8,000, half of whom are known to history as "Tinguianes" and half as "Igorrotes." The Province of Ilokos Norte has nearly 9,000, which number is divided quite evenly between "Igorrotes," "Tinguianes," and "Infieles." Abra Province has in round numbers 13,500 pagan Malayans, most of whom are historically known as "Alzados" and "Tinguianes." These Tinguian ethnically belong to the great Igorot group, and in northern Bontoc Province, where they are known as Itneg, flow into and are not distinguishable from the Igorot; but no effort is made in this monograph to cut the Tinguian asunder from the position they have gained in historic and ethnologic writings as a separate people. The Province of Lepanto-Bontoc has, according to records, about 70,500 "Igorrotes," "Tinguianes," and "Caylingas," but I believe a more careful census will show it has nearer 100,000. Nueva Ecija is reported to have half a hundred "Tinguianes." The Province of Nueva Vizcaya has some 46,000 people locally and historically known as "Bunnayans," a large group in the Spanish comandancia of Quiangan; the "Silapanes," also a large group of people closely associated with the Bunayan; the Isinay, a small group in the southern part of the province; the Alamit, a considerable group of Silipan people dwelling along the Alamit River in the comandancia of Quiangan; and the small Ayangan group of the Bunayan people of Quiangan. Cagayan Province has about 11,000 "Caylingas" and "Ipuyaos." Isabela Province is reported as having about 2,700 primitive Malayans of the Igorot group; they are historically known as "Igorrotes," "Gaddanes," "Calingas," and "Ifugaos."

The following forms of the above names of different dialect groups of Ig-o-rot' have been adopted by The Ethnological Survey: Tin-gui-an', Ka-lin'-ga, Bun-a-yan', I-sa-nay', A-la'-mit, Sil-i-pan', Ay-an'-gan, I-pu-kao', and Gad-an'.

It is believed that all the mountain people of the northern half of Luzon, except the Negritos, came to the island in some of the earliest of the movements that swept the coasts of the Archipelago from the south and spread over the inland areas — succeeding waves of people, having more culture, driving their cruder blood fellows farther inland. Though originally of one blood, and though they are all to-day in a similar broad culture-grade — that is, all are mountain agriculturists, and all are, or until recently have been, head-hunters — yet it does not follow that the Igorot groups have to-day identical culture; quite the contrary is true. There are many and wide differences even in important cultural expressions which are due to environment, long isolation, and in some cases to ideas and processes borrowed from different neighboring peoples. Very misleading statements have sometimes been made in regard to the Igorot — customs from different groups have been jumbled together in one description until a man has been pictured who can not be found anywhere. All except the most general statements are worse than wasted unless a particular group is designated.

An illustration of some of the differences between groups of typical Igorot will make this clearer. I select as examples the people of Bontoc and the adjoining Quiangan district in northern Nueva Vizcaya Province, both of whom are commonly known as Igorot. It must be noted that the people of both areas are practically unmodified by modern culture and both are constant head-hunters. With scarcely one exception Bontoc pueblos are single clusters of buildings; in Banawi pueblo of the Quiangan area there are eleven separate groups of dwellings, each group situated on a prominence which may be easily protected by the inhabitants against an enemy below them; and other Quiangan pueblos are similarly built. As will be brought out in succeeding chapters, the social and political institutions of the two peoples differ widely. In Bontoc the head weapon is a battle-ax, in Quiangan it is a long knife. Most of the head-hunting practices of the two peoples are different, especially as to the disposition of the skulls of the victims. Bontoc men wear their hair long, and have developed a small pocket-hat to confine the hair and contain small objects carried about; the men of Quiangan wear their hair short, have nothing whatever of the nature of the pocket-hat, but have developed a unique hand bag which is used as a pocket. In the Quiangan area a highly conventionalized wood-carving art has developed — beautiful eating spoons with figures of men and women carved on the handles and food bowls cut in animal figures are everywhere found; while in Bontoc only the most crude and artless wood carving is made. In language there is such a difference that Bontoc men who accompanied me into the northern part of the large Quiangan area, only a long day from Bontoc pueblo, could not converse with Quiangan men, even about such common things as travelers in a strange territory need to learn.

It is because of the many differences in cultural expressions between even small and neighboring communities of the primitive people of the Philippine Archipelago that I wish to be understood in this paper as speaking of the one group — the Bontoc Igorot culture group; a group however, in every essential typical of the numerous Igorot peoples of the mountains of northern Luzon.


The Bontoc Culture Group

Bontoc culture area

The Bontoc culture area nearly equals the old Spanish Distrito Politico-Militar of Bontoc, presented to the American public in a Government publication in 1900.[8]

The Spanish Bontoc area was estimated about 4,500 square kilometers. This was probably too large an estimate, and it is undoubtedly an overestimate for the Bontoc culture area, the northern border of which is farther south than the border of the Spanish Bontoc area.

The area is well in the center of northern Luzon and is cut off by watersheds from other territory, except on the northeast. The most prominent of these watersheds is Polis Mountain, extending along the eastern and southern sides of the area; it is supposed to reach a height of over 7,000 feet. The western watershed is an undifferentiated range of the Cordillera Central. To the north stretches a large area of the present Province of Bontoc, though until 1903 most of that northern territory was embraced in the Province of Abra. The Province of Isabela lies to the east; Nueva Vizcaya and Lepanto border the area on the south, and Lepanto and Abra border it on the west.

The Bontoc culture area lies entirely in the mountains, and, with the exception of two pueblos, it is all drained northeastward into the Rio Grande de Cagayan by one river, the Rio Chico de Cagayan; but the Rio Sibbu, coursing more directly eastward, is a considerable stream.

To-day one main trail enters Bontoc Province. It was originally built by the Spaniards, and enters Bontoc pueblo from the southwest, leading up from Cervantes in Lepanto Province. From Cervantes there are two trails to the coast. One passes southward through Baguio in Benguet Province and then stretches westward, terminating on the coast at San Fernando, in Union Province. The other, the one most commonly traveled to Bontoc, passes to the northwest, terminating on the coast at Candon, in the Province of Ilokos Sur. The main trail, entering Bontoc from Cervantes, passes through the pueblo and extends to the northeast, quite closely following the trend of the Chico River. In Spanish times it was seldom traveled farther than Bassao, but several parties of Americans have been over it as far as the Rio Grande de Cagayan since November, 1902. A second trail, also of Spanish origin, but now practically unused, enters the area from the south and connects Bontoc pueblo, its northern terminus, with the valley of the Magat River far south. It passes through the pueblos of Bayambang, Quiangan, and Banawi, in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya.

The main trail is to-day passable for a horseman from the coast terminus to Tinglayan, three days beyond Bontoc pueblo. Practically all other trails in the area are simply wild footpaths of the Igorot. Candon, the coast terminus of the main trail, lies in the coastal plain area about 4 1/4 miles from the sea. From the coast to the small pueblo of Concepcion at the western base of the Cordillera Central is a half-day's journey. The first half of the trail passes over flat land, with here and there small pueblos surrounded by rice sementeras. There are almost no forests. The latter half is through the coastal hill area, and the trail frequently passes through small forests; it crosses several rivers, dangerous to ford in the rainy season, and winds in and out among attractive hills bearing clumps of graceful, plume-like bamboo.

From Concepcion the trail leads up the mountain to Tilud Pass, historic since the insurrection because of the brave stand made there by the young, ill-fated General del Pilar. The climb to Tilud Pass, from either side of the mountain, is one of the longest and most tedious in northern Luzon. The trail frequently turns short on itself, so that the front and rear parts of a pack train are traveling face to face, and one end is not more than eight or ten rods above the other on the side of the mountain. The last view of the sea from the Candon-Bontoc trail is obtained at Tilud Pass. From Concepcion to Angaki, at the base of the mountain on the eastern side of the pass, the trail is about half a day long. From the pass it is a ceaseless drop down the steep mountain, but affords the most charming views of mountain scenery in northern Luzon. The shifting direction of the turning trail and the various altitudes of the traveler present constantly changing scenes — mountains and mountains ramble on before one. From Angaki to Cervantes the trail passes over deforested rolling mountain land, with safe drinking water in only one small spring. Many travelers who pass that part of the journey in the middle of the day complain loudly of the heat and thirst experienced there.

Cervantes, said to be 70 miles from Candon, is the capital of the dual Province of Lepanto-Bontoc. Bontoc pueblo lies inland only about 35 miles farther, but the greater part of two days is usually required to reach it. Twenty minutes will carry a horseman down the bluff from Cervantes, across the swift Abra — if the stream is fordable — and start him on the eastward mountain climb.

The first pueblo beyond Cervantes is Cayan, the old Spanish capital of the district. About twenty-five years ago the site was changed from Cayan to Cervantes because there was not sufficient suitable land at Cayan. Cayan is about four hours from Cervantes, and every foot of the trail is up the mountain. A short distance beyond Cayan the trail divides to rejoin only at the outskirts of Bontoc pueblo; but the right-hand or "lower" trail is not often traveled by horsemen. Up and up the mountain one climbs from about 1,800 feet at Cervantes to about 6,000 feet among the pines, and then slowly descends, having crossed the boundary line between Lepanto and Bontoc subprovinces to the pueblo of Bagnen — the last one before the Bontoc culture area is entered. It is customary to spend the night on the trail, as one goes into Bontoc, either at Bagnen or at Sagada, a pueblo about two hours farther on.

Only along the top of the high mountain, before Bagnen is reached, does the trail pass through a forest — otherwise it is always climbing up or winding about the mountains deforested probably by fires. Practically all the immediate territory on the right hand of the trail between Bagnen and Sagada is occupied by the beautifully terraced rice sementeras of Balugan; the valley contains more than a thousand acres so cultivated. At Sagada lime rocks — some eroded into gigantic, massive forms, others into fantastic spires and domes — everywhere crop out from the grassy hills. Up and down the mountains the trail leads, passing another small pine forest near Ankiling and Titipan, about four hours from Bontoc, and then creeps on and at last through the terraced entrance way into the mountain pocket where Bontoc pueblo lies, about 100 miles from the western coast, and, by Government aneroid barometer, about 2,800 feet above the sea.

Marks of Bontoc culture

It is difficult and often impossible to state the essential difference in culture which distinguishes one group of people from another. It is more difficult to draw lines of distinction, for the culture of one group almost imperceptibly flows into that of another adjoining it.

However, two fundamental institutions of the people of Bontoc seem to differ from those of most adjoining people. One of these institutions has to do with the control of the pueblo. Bontoc has not developed the headman — the "principal" of the Spaniard, the "Bak-nan'" of the Benguet Igorot — the one rich man who becomes the pueblo, leader. In Benguet Province the headman is found in every pueblo, and he is so powerful that he often dominates half a dozen outlying barrios to the extent that he receives a large share, often one-half, of the output of all the productive labors of the barrio. Immediately north of the Bontoc area, in Tinglayan, the headman is again found. He has no place whatever in Bontoc. The control of the pueblos of the Bontoc area is in the hands of groups of old men; however, each group, called "intugtukan," operates only within a single political and geographic portion of the pueblo, so that no one group has in charge the control of the pueblo. The pueblo is a loose federation of smaller political groups.

The other institution is a social development. It is the olag, an institution of trial marriage. It is not known to exist among adjoining people, but is found throughout the area in which the intugtukan exists; they are apparently coextensive. I was repeatedly informed that the olag is not found in the Banawi area south of Bontoc, or in the Tinglayan area east, or among the Tinguian to the north, or in Benguet far southwest, or in Lepanto immediately southwest — though I have some reason to believe that both the intugtukan and olag exist in a crumbling way among certain Lepanto Igorot.

Besides these two institutions there are other differing marks of culture between the Bontoc area and adjoining people. Some of these were suggested a few pages back, others will appear in following pages.

Without doubt the limits of the spread of the common culture have been determined mainly by the physiography of the country. One of the two pueblos in the area not on the common drainage system is Lias, but Lias was largely built by a migration from Bontoc pueblo — the hotbed of Bontoc culture. Barlig, the other pueblo not on the common drainage system (both Barlig and Lias are on the Sibbu River), lies between Lias and the other pueblos of the Bontoc culture area, and so naturally has been drawn in line and held in line with the culture of the geographic area in which it is located — its institutions are those of its environment.

The Bontoc man


The Bontoc Igorot has been in Bontoc longer than the endurance of tradition, for he says he never lived elsewhere, that he never drove any people out before him, and that he was never driven; and has always called himself the "I-pu-kao'" or "I-fu-gao'" — the "people."

This word for people survives not only throughout the Province of Bontoc but also far toward the northern end of Luzon, where it appears as "Apayao" or "Yaos." Bontoc designates the people of the Quiangan region as "I-fu-gao'," though a part of them at least have a different name for themselves.

The Bontoc Igorot have their center in the pueblo of Bontoc, pronounced "Ban-tak'," a Spanish corruption of the Igorot name "Fun-tak'," a common native word for mountain, the original name of the pueblo. To the northwest their culture extends to that of the historic Tinguian, a long-haired folk physiographically cut off by a watershed. To the east of the Cordillera Central the Tinguian call themselves "It-neg'." To the northeast the Bontoc culture area embraces the pueblo of Basao, stopping short of Tinglayan. The eastern limit of Bontoc culture is fixed by the pueblos of Lias and Barlig, and is thus about coextensive with the province. Southward the area includes all to the top of the watershed of Polis Mountain, which turns southward the numerous streams feeding the Rio Magat. The pueblos south of this watershed — Lubong, Gisang, Banawi, etc. — belong to the short-haired people of Quiangan culture. To the west Bontoc culture extends to the watershed of the Cordillera Central, which turns westward the various affluents of the Rio del Abra. On the southwest this cuts off the short-haired Lepanto Igorot, whose culture seems to be more allied to that of Benguet than Bontoc.

The men of the Bontoc area know none of the peoples by whom they are surrounded by the names history gives or the peoples designate themselves, with the exception of the Lepanto Igorot, the It-neg', and the Ilokano of the west coast. They do not know the "Tinguian" of Abra on their north and northwest by that name; they call them "It-neg'." Farther north are the people called by the Spaniards "Nabayuganes," "Aripas," and "Ipugaos;" to the northeast and east are the "Caylingas," "Comunanges," "Bayabonanes," "Dayags," and "Gaddannes" — but Bontoc knows none of these names. Bontoc culture and Kalinga culture lie close together on the east, and the people of Bontoc pueblo name all their eastern neighbors It-neg' — the same term they apply to the Tinguian to the west and northwest, because, they say, they all wear great quantities of brass on the arms and legs. To the south of Bontoc are the Quiangan Igorot, the Banawi division of which, at least, names itself May'-yo-yet, but whom Bontoc calls "I-fu-gao'." They designate the people of Benguet the "Igorot of Benguet," but these peoples designate themselves "Ib-a-loi'" in the northern part, and "Kan-ka-nay'" in the southern part, neither of which names Bontoc knows.

She has still another set of names for the people surrounding her — people whom she vaguely knows are there but of whom or of whose lands she has no first-hand knowledge. The people to the north are "Am-yan'-an," and the northern country is "La'-god." The "Day'-ya" are the eastern people, while "Bar'-lig" is the name of the eastern and southeastern land. "Ab-a-ga'-tan" are the people of the south, and "Fi'-lig ab-a-ga'-tan," is the south land. The people of the west are "Loa'-od," and "Fi'-lig lao'-od," or "Lo'-ko" (the Provinces of Ilokos Norte and Ilokos Sur) is the country lying to the west and southwest.

Some of the old men of Bontoc say that in the past the Igorot people once extended to the seacoast in the Provinces of Ilokos Norte and Ilokos Sur. This, of course, is a tradition of the prehistoric time before the Ilokano invaded northern Luzon; but, as has been stated, the Bontoc people claim never to have been driven by that invasion, neither have they any knowledge of such a movement. It is not improbable, however, that traditions of the invasion may linger with the people nearer the coast and farther north.

Historical sketch

It is regretted that the once voluminous historical records and data which the Spaniards prepared and kept at Bontoc were burned — tons of paper, they say — probably late in 1898 or early in 1899 by Captain Angels, an insurrecto. However, from scanty printed historical data, but mostly from information gathered in Bontoc from Igorot and resident Ilokano, the following brief sketch is presented, with the hope that it will show the nature of the outside influences which have been about Bontoc for the past half century prior to American occupation. It is believed that the data are sufficiently truthful for this purpose, but no claim is made for historical accuracy.

It seems that in 1665 the Spanish governor of the Philippines, Governor-General D. Diego de Salcedo, sent an expedition from Manila into northern Luzon. Some time during the three years the expedition was out its influence was felt in Fidelisan and Tanolang, two pueblos in the western part of the Bontoc culture area, for history says they paid tribute.[9] It is not probable that any considerable party from the expedition penetrated the Igorot mountain country as far as the above pueblos.

After the year 1700 expeditions occasionally reached Cayan, which, until about twenty-five years ago, as has been stated, was a Spanish capital. In 1852 the entire territory of present Lepanto-Bontoc and a large part of northern Nueva Vizcaya were organized as an independent "distrito," under the name of "Valle de Cayan;"[10] and a few years later, though the author does not give the date, Bontoc was established as an independent "distrito."

The Spaniards and Ilokano in and about Bontoc Province say that it was about fifty years ago that the Spaniards first came to Bontoc. The time agrees very accurately with the time of the establishment of the district. From then until 1899 there was a Spanish garrison of 200 or 300 men stationed in Bontoc pueblo. Christian Ilokano from the west coast of northern Luzon and the Christian Tagalog from Manila and vicinity were the soldiers.

The Spanish comandante of the "distrito," the head of the political-military government, resided there, and there were also a few Spanish army officers and an army chaplain. A large garrison was quartered in Cervantes; there was a church in both Bontoc and Cervantes. In the district of Bontoc there was a Spanish post at Sagada, between the two capitals, Bontoc and Cervantes. Farther to the east was a post at Tukukan and Sakasakan, and farther east, at Basao, there was a post, a church, and a priest.

Most of the pueblos had Ilokano presidentes. The Igorot say that the Spaniards did little for them except to shoot them. There is yet a long, heavy wooden stock in Bontoc pueblo in which the Igorot were imprisoned. Igorot women were made the mistresses of both officers and soldiers. Work, food, fuel, and lumber were not always paid for. All persons 18 or more years old were required to pay an annual tax of 50 cents or an equivalent value in rice. A day's wage was only 5 cents, so each family was required to pay an equivalent of twenty days' labor annually. In wild towns the principal men were told to bring in so many thousand bunches of palay — the unthreshed rice. If it was not all brought in, the soldiers frequently went for it, accompanied by Igorot warriors; they gathered up the rice, and sometimes burned the entire pueblo. Apad, the principal man of Tinglayan, was confined six years in Spanish jails at Bontoc and Vigan because he repeatedly failed to compel his people to bring in the amount of palay assessed them.

They say there were three small guardhouses on the outskirts of Bontoc pueblo, and armed Igorot from an outside town were not allowed to enter. They were disarmed, and came and went under guard.

The Spanish comandantes in charge of the province seem to have remained only about two years each. Saldero was the last one. Early in the eighties of the nineteenth century the comandante took his command to Barlig, a day east of Bontoc, to punish that town because it had killed people in Tulubin and Samoki; Barlig all but exterminated the command — only three men escaped to tell the tale. Mandicota, a Spanish officer, went from Manila with a battalion of 1,000 soldiers to erase Barlig from the map; he was also accompanied from Bontoc by 800 warriors from that vicinity. The Barlig people fled to the mountains, losing only seven men, whose heads the Bontoc Igorot cut off and brought home.

Comandante Villameres is reported to have taken twenty soldiers and about 520 warriors of Bontoc and Samoki to punish Tukukan for killing a Samoki woman; the warriors returned with three heads.

They say that in 1891 Comandante Alfaro took 40 soldiers and 1,000 warriors from the vicinity of Bontoc to Ankiling; sixty heads adorned the triumphant return of the warriors.

In 1893 Nevas is said to have taken 100 soldiers and 500 warriors to Sadanga; they brought back one head.

A few years later Saldero went to "clear up" rebellious Sagada with soldiers and Igorot warriors; Bontoc reports that the warriors returned with 100 heads.

The insurrectos appeared before Cervantes two or three months after Saldero's bloody work in Sagada. The Spanish garrison fled before the insurrectos; the Spanish civilians went with them, taking their flocks and herds to Bontoc. A thousand pesos was the price offered by the Igorot of Sagada to the insurrectos for Saldero's head when the Philippine soldiers passed through the pueblo; but Saldero made good his escape from Bontoc, and left the country by boat from Vigan.

The Bontoc Igorot assisted the insurrectos in many ways when they first came. About 2 miles west of Bontoc is a Spanish rifle pit, and there the Spanish soldiers, now swelled to about 600 men, lay in wait for the insurrectos. There on two hilltops an historic sham battle occurred. The two forces were nearly a mile apart, and at that distance they exchanged rifle bullets three days. The Spaniards finally surrendered, on condition of safe escort to the coast. For fifty years they had conquered their enemy who were armed only with spear and ax; but the insurrectos were armed with guns. However, the really hard pressing came from the rear — there were still the ax and spear — and few soldiers from cuartel or trench who tried to bring food or water for the fighting men ever reported why they were delayed.

The feeling of friendship between the Igorot and insurrectos was so strong that when the insurrectos asked the Igorot to go to Manila to fight the new enemy (the Americans), 400 warriors, armed only with spear, battle-ax, and shield, went a three weeks' journey to get American heads. At Caloocan, just outside Manila, they met the American Army early in February, 1899. They threw their spears, the Americans fired their guns — "which must be brothers to the thunder," the Igorot said — and they let fall their remaining weapons, and, panic stricken, started home. All but thirteen arrived in safety. They are not ashamed of their defeat and retreat; they made a mistake when they went to fight the Americans, and they were quick to see it. They are largely blessed with the saving sense of humor, and some of the warriors who were at Caloocan have been known to say that they never stopped running until they arrived home.

When these men told their people in Bontoc what part they and the insurrectos played in the fight against the Americans, the tension between the Igorot and insurrectos was at its greatest. The insurrectos were evidently worse than the Spaniards. They did all the things the Spaniards had done, and more — they robbed through falsehood. Consequently, insurrectos frequently lost their heads.

Major Marsh went through Bontoc close after Aguinaldo in December, 1899. The Igorot befriended the Americans; they brought them food and guided them faithfully along the bewildering mountain trails when the insurrectos split and scattered — anywhere, everywhere, fleeing eastward, northward, southward, in the mountains.

When Major Marsh returned through Bontoc, after following Aguinaldo into the heart of the Quiangan area, he left in the pueblo some sixty shoeless men under a volunteer lieutenant. The lieutenant promptly appointed an Ilokano presidente, vice-presidente, secretary, and police force in Bontoc and also in Sagada, and when the soldiers left in a few weeks he gave seven guns to the "officials" in Bontoc and two to those in Sagada. A short time proved that those "officials" were untrustworthy men; many were insurrectos who had dropped behind Aguinaldo. They persecuted the Igorot even worse than had the insurrectos. They seemed to have the American Army behind them — and the Igorot stood in awe of American arms.

The crisis came. An Igorot obtained possession of one of the guns, and the Ilokano chief of police was killed and his corporal wounded.

This shooting, at the time apparently unpremeditated, but, in reality, carefully planned and successfully executed, was the cause of the arrival in Bontoc pueblo of the first American civilians. At that time a party of twenty Americans was at Fidelisan, a long day northwest of Bontoc; they were prospecting and sightseeing. The Ilokano sent these men a letter, and the Igorot sent a messenger, begging them to come to the help of the pueblo. Three men went on August 27, 1900; they were Truman K. Hunt, M.D., Mr. Frank Finley, and Mr. Riley. The disagreement was settled, and several Ilokano families left Bontoc under the protection of Mr. Riley.

August 9, 1901, when the Board of Health for the Philippine Islands was organized, Dr. Hunt, who had remained in Bontoc most of the preceding year, was appointed "superintendent of public vaccination and inspection of infectious diseases for the Provinces of Bontoc and Lepanto." He was stationed at Bontoc. About that time another American civilian came to the province — Mr. Reuben H. Morley, now secretary-treasurer of the Province of Nueva Vizcaya, who lived nearly a year in Tulubin, two hours from Bontoc. December 14 Mr. William F. Smith, an American teacher, was sent to Bontoc to open a school.

Early in 1902 Constabulary inspectors, Lieutenants Louis A. Powless and Ernest A. Eckman, also came. May 28, 1902, the Philippine Commission organized the Province of Lepanto-Bontoc; on June 9 Dr. Hunt was appointed lieutenant-governor of the province. May 1, 1903, Dr. Hunt resigned and E. A. Wagar, M.D., became his successor.

The Spaniard was in Bontoc about fifty years. To summarize the Spanish influence on the Igorot — and this includes any influence which the Ilokano or Tagalog may have had since they came among the people under Spanish protection — it is believed that no essential institution of the Igorot has been weakened or vitiated to any appreciable degree. No Igorot attended the school which the Spaniards had in Bontoc; to-day not ten Igorot of the pueblo can make themselves understood in Spanish about the commonest things around them. I fail to detect any occupation, method, or device of the Igorot which the Spaniards' influence improved; and the Igorot flatly deny any such influence.

The Spaniard put the institution of pueblo presidente pretty well throughout the area now in province, but the presidente in no way interferes with the routine life of the people — he is the mouthpiece of the Government asking for labor and the daily necessities of a nonproductive, resident foreign population.

The "tax" levied was scarcely in the nature of a modern tax; it was more the means taken by the Spaniard to secure his necessary food. In no other way was the political life and organization of the pueblo affected. In the realm of religion and spirit belief the surface has scarcely been scratched. The only Igorot who became Christians were the wives of some of the Christian natives who came in with the Spaniard, mainly as soldiers. There are now eight or ten such women, wives of the resident Ilokanos of Bontoc pueblo, but those whose husbands left the pueblo have reverted to Igorot faith.

In the matter of war and head-hunting the effect of the Spaniard was to intensify the natural instinct of the Igorot in and about Bontoc pueblo. Nineteen men in twenty of Bontoc and Samoki have taken a human head, and it has been seen under what conditions and influences some of those heads were taken. An Igorot, whose confidence I believe I have, an old man who represents the knowledge and wisdom of the people, told me recently that if the Americans wanted the people of Bontoc to go out against a pueblo they would gladly go; and he added, suggestively, that when the Spaniards were there the old men had much better food than now, for many hogs were killed in the celebration of war expeditions — and the old men got the greater part of the meat. The Igorot is a natural head-hunter, and his training for the last sixty years seems to have done little more for him than whet this appetite.



The Bontoc men average about 5 feet 4 1/8 inches in height, and have the appearance of being taller than they are. Again and again one is deceived by their height, and he repeatedly backs a 5-foot-7-inch Igorot up against a 6-foot American, vainly expecting the stature of the brown man to equal that of the white. Almost never does the Bontoc man appear heavy or thickset, as does his brother, the Benguet Igorot — the human pack horse seen so constantly on the San Fernando-Baguio trail — muscularly one of the most highly developed primitive people in the world to-day

Of thirty-two men measured from Bontoc and vicinity the shortest was 4 feet 9 1/8 inches and the tallest was slightly more than 5 feet 9 inches. The following table presents the average measurements of the thirty-two men:

Average measurements of Bontoc men



Stature 160.287

Spread of arms 165.684

Head length 19.212

Head breadth 15.203

Cephalic index (per cent) 79.1328

Nasal length 5.25625

Nasal breadth 4.1625

Nasal index (per cent) 79.191

From these measurements it appears that the composite man — the average of the combined measurements of thirty-two men — is mesaticephalic. Among the thirty-two men the extremes of cephalic index are 91.48 and 67.48. This first measurement is of a young man between 20 and 25 years of age. It stands far removed from other measurements, the one nearest it being 86.78, that of a man about 60 years old. The other extreme is 67.48, the measure of a young man between 25 and 30 years of age. Among the thirty-two men, nine are brachycephalic — that is, their cephalic index is greater than 80; twenty of the thirty-two are mesaticephalic, with cephalic index between 75 and 80; and only three are dolichocephalic — that is, the cephalic index is below 75.

The nasal indexes of the thirty-two men show that the Bontoc man has the "medium" or mesorhine nose. They also show that one is very extremely platyrhine, the index being 104.54, and one is very leptorhine, being 58.18. Of the total, five are leptorhine — that is, have the "narrow" nose with nasal index below 70. Seventeen men are mesorhine, with the "medium" nose with nasal index between 70 and 85; and ten are platyrhine — that is, the noses are "broad," with an index greater than 85.

The Bontoc men are never corpulent, and, with the exception of the very old, they are seldom poor. During the period of a man's prime he is usually muscled to an excellent symmetry. His neck, never long, is well formed and strong and supports the head in erect position. His shoulders are broad, even, and full muscled, and with seeming ease carry transportation baskets laden with 75 to 100 pounds. His arms are smoothly developed and are about the same relative length as the American's. The hands are strong and short. The waist line is firm and smaller than the shoulders or hips. The buttocks usually appear heavy. His legs are generally straight; the thighs and calves are those of a prime pedestrian accustomed to long and frequent walks. The ankles are seldom thick; and the feet are broad and relatively short, and, almost without exception, are placed on the ground straight ahead. He has the feet of a pedestrian — not the inturned feet of the constant bearer of heavy burdens on the back or the outturned feet of the man who sits or stands. The perfection of muscular development of two-thirds of the men of Bontoc between the ages of 25 and 30 would be the envy of the average college athlete in the States.

In color the men are brown, though there is a wide range of tone from a light brown with a strong saffron undertone to a very dark brown — as near a bronze as can well be imagined. The sun has more to do with the different color tones than has anything else, after which habits of personal cleanliness play a very large role. There are men in the Bontoc Igorot Constabulary of an extremely light-brown color, more saffron than brown, who have been wearing clothing for only one year. During the year the diet of the men in the Constabulary has been practically the same as that of their darker brothers among whom they were enlisted only twelve months ago. All the members of the Constabulary differ much more in color from the unclothed men than the unclothed differ among themselves. Man after man of these latter may pass under the eye without revealing a tint of saffron, yet there are many who show it faintly. The natural Igorot never washes himself clean. He washes frequently, but lacks the means of cleansing the skin, and the dirtier he is the more bronze-like he appears. At all times his face looks lighter and more saffron-tinted than the remainder of his body. There are two reasons for this — because the face is more often washed and because of its contrast with the black hair of the head.

The hair of the head is black, straight, coarse, and relatively abundant. It is worn long, frequently more than half way to the hips from the shoulders. The front is "banged" low and square across the forehead, cut with the battle-ax; this line of cut runs to above and somewhat back of the ear, the hair of the scalp below it being cut close to the head. When the men age, a few gray hairs appear, and some old men have heads of uniform iron-gray color. I have never seen a white-haired Igorot. A few of the old men have their hair thinning on the crown, but a tendency to baldness is by no means the rule.

Bontoc pueblo is no exception to the rule that every pueblo in the Philippines has a few people with curly or wavy hair. I doubt whether to-day an entire tribe of perfectly straight-haired primitive Malayan people exists in the Archipelago. Fu-nit is a curly-haired Bontoc man of about 45 years of age. Many people told me that his father and also his grandfather were members of the pueblo and had curly hair. I have never been able to find any hint at foreign or Negrito blood in any of the several curly haired people in the Bontoc culture area whose ancestors I have tried to discover.

The scanty growth of hair on the face of the Bontoc man is pulled out. A small pebble and the thumb nail or the blade of the battle-ax and the bulb of the thumb are frequently used as forceps; they never cut the hair of the face. It is common to see men of all ages with a very sparse growth of hair on the upper lip or chin, and one of 50 years in Bontoc has a fairly heavy 4-inch growth of gray hair on his chin and throat; he is shown in Pl. XIII. Their bodies are quite free from hair. There is none on the breast, and seldom any on the legs. The pelvic growth is always pulled out by the unmarried. The growth in the armpits is scant, but is not removed.

The iris of the eye is brown — often rimmed with a lighter or darker ring. The brown of the iris ranges from nearly black to a soft hazel brown. The cornea is frequently blotched with red or yellow. The Malayan fold of the upper eyelid is seen in a large majority of the men, the fold being so low that it hangs over and hides the roots of the lashes. The lashes appear to grow from behind the lid rather than from its rim.

The teeth are large and strong, and, whereas in old age they frequently become few and discolored, during prime they are often white and clean. The people never artificially stain the teeth, and, though surrounded by betel-nut chewers with dark teeth or red-stained lips, they do not use the betel.

Since the Igorot keeps no record of years, it is impossible to know his age, but it is believed that sufficient comparative data have been collected in Bontoc to make the following estimates reliable:

At the age of 20 a man seems hardly to have reached his physical best; this he attains, however, before he is 25. By 35 he begins to show the marks of age. By 45 most of the men are fast getting "old"; their faces are seamed, their muscles losing form, their carriage less erect, and the step slower. By 55 all are old — most are bent and thin. Probably not over one or two in a hundred mature men live to be 70 years old.

The following census taken from a Spanish manuscript found in Quiangan, and written in 1894, may be taken as representative of an average Igorot pueblo:

Census of Magulang, district of Quiangan

Years Females Males

0 to 1 191 200

1 to 5 209 210

5 to 10 144 123

10 to 15 132 159

15 to 20 129 114

20 to 30 121 134

30 to 40 212 239

40 to 50 118 126

50 and over 79 62

Total 1,335 1,367

From this census it seems that the Magulang Igorot man is at his prime between the ages of 30 and 40 years, and that the death rate for men between the ages of 40 and 50 is nearly as great as the death rate among children between 5 to 10 years of age, being 52.7 per cent. Beyond the age of 50 collapse is sudden, since all the men more than 50 years old are less than half the number of those between the ages of 40 and 50 years.


The women average 4 feet 9 3/8 inches in height. In appearance they are short and stocky. Twenty-nine women from Bontoc and vicinity were measured; the tallest was 5 feet 4 3/4 inches, and the shortest 4 feet 4 3/4 inches. The following table presents the average measurements of twenty-nine women:

Average measurements of Bontoc women



Stature 145.800

Spread of arms 149.603

Head length 18.593

Head breadth 14.706

Cephalic index (per cent) 79.094

Nasal length 4.582

Nasal breadth 3.608

Nasal index (per cent) 78.744

These measurements show that the composite woman — the average of the measurements of twenty-nine women — is mesaticephalic. The extremes of cephalic index are 87.64 and 64.89; both are measurements of women about 35 years of age. Of the twenty-nine women twelve are brachycephalic; twelve are mesaticephalic; and five are dolichocephalic.

The Bontoc woman has a "medium," or mesorhine, nose, as is shown by the above figures. Four of the twenty-nine women have the "narrow" leptorhine nose with nasal index below 70; seven have platyrhine or the "broad" nose with index greater than 85; while seventeen have the "medium" or mesorhine nose with nasal index between 70 and 85. The broadest nose has an index of 97.56, and the narrowest an index of 58.53.

The women reach the age of maturity well prepared for its responsibilities. They have more adipose tissue than the men, yet are never fat. The head is carried erect, but with a certain stiffness — often due, in part, no doubt, to shyness, and in part to the fact that they carry all their burdens on their heads. I believe the neck more often appears short than does the neck of the man. The shoulders are broad, and flat across the back. The breasts are large, full, and well supported. The hips are broad and well set, and the waist (there is no natural waist line) is frequently no smaller than the hips, though smaller than the shoulders. Their arms are smooth and strong, and they throw stones as men do, with the full-arm throw from the shoulder. Their hands are short and strong. Their legs are almost invariably straight, but are probably more frequently bowed at the knees than are the men's. The thighs are sturdy and strong, and the calves not infrequently over-large. This enlargement runs low down, so the ankles, never slender, very often appear coarse and large. In consequence of this heavy lower leg, the feet, short at best, usually look much too short. They are placed on the ground straight ahead, though the tendency to inturned feet is slightly more noticeable than it is among the men.

Their carriage is a healthful one, though it is not always graceful, since their long strides commonly give the prominent buttocks a jerky movement. They prove the naturalness of that style of walking which, in profile, shows the chest thrust forward and the buttocks backward; the abdomen is in, and the shoulders do not swing as the strides are made.

It can not be said that at base the color of the women's skin differs from that of the men, but the saffron undertone is more commonly seen than it is in the unclothed men. It shows on the shaded parts of the body, and where the skin is distended, as on the breast and about certain features of the face.

The hair of the head is like that of the man's; it is worn long, and is twisted and wound about the head. It has a tendency to fall out as age comes on, but does not seem thin on the head. The tendency to gray hairs is apparently somewhat less than it is with the men. The remainder of the body is exceptionally free from hair. The growth in the armpits and the pelvic hair are always pulled out by the unmarried, and a large per cent of the women do not allow it to grow even in old age.

Their eyes are brown, varied as are those of the men, and with the Malayan fold of the upper eyelid.

Their teeth are generally whiter and cleaner than are those of their male companions, a condition due largely, probably, to the fact that few of the women smoke.

They seem to reach maturity at about 17 or 18 years of age. The first child is commonly born between the ages of 16 and 22. At 23 the woman has certainly reached her prime. By 30 she is getting "old"; before 45 the women are old, with flat, pendent folds of skin where the breasts were. The entire front of the body — in prime full, rounded, and smooth — has become flabby, wrinkled, and folded. It is only a short time before collapse of the tissue takes place in all parts of the body. An old woman, say, at 50, is a mass of wrinkles from foot to forehead; the arms and legs lose their plumpness, the skin is "bagged" at the knees into half a dozen large folds; and the disappearance of adipose tissue from the trunk-front, sides, and back — has left the skin not only wrinkled but loose and flabby, folding over the girdle at the waist.

The census of Magulang, page 42, should be again referred to, from which it appears that the death rate among women is greater between the ages of 40 and 50 years than it is with men, being 55.66 per cent. The census shows also that there are relatively a larger number of old women — that is, over 50 years old — than there are old men.


The death rate among children is large. Of fifteen families in Bontoc, each having had three or more children, the death rate up to the age of puberty was over 60 per cent. According to the Magulang census the death rate of children from 5 to 10 years of age is 63.73 per cent.

The new-born babe is as light in color as the average American babe, and is much less red, instead of which color there is the slightest tint of saffron. As the babe lies naked on its mother's naked breast the light color is most strikingly apparent by contrast. The darker color, the brown, gradually comes, however, as the babe is exposed to the sun and wind, until the child of a year or two carried on its mother's back is practically one with the mother in color.

Some of the babes, perhaps all, are born with an abundance of dark hair on the head. A child's hair is never cut, except that from about the age of 3 years the boy's hair is "banged" across the forehead. Fully 30 per cent of children up to 5 or 6 years of age have brown hair — due largely to fading, as the outer is much lighter than the under hair. In rare cases the lighter brown hair assumes a distinctly red cast, though a faded lifeless red. Before puberty is reached, however, all children have glossy black hair.

The iris of a new-born babe is sometimes a blue brown; it is decidedly a different brown from that of the adult or of the child of five years. Most children have the Malayan fold of the eyelid; the lower lid is often much straighter than it is on the average American. When, in addition to these conditions, the outer corner of the eye is higher than the inner, the eye is somewhat Mongolian in appearance. About one-fifth of the children in Bontoc have this Mongolian-like eye, though it is rarer among adults — a fact due, in part, apparently, to the down curving and sagging of the lower lid as one's prime is reached and passed.

Children's teeth are clean and white, and very generally remain so until maturity.

The child from 1 to 3 years of age is plump and chubby; his front is full and rounded, but lacks the extra abdominal development so common with the children of the lowlands, and which has received from the American the popular name of "banana belly." By the age of 7 the child has lost its plump, rounded form, which is never again had by the boys but is attained by the girls again early in puberty. During these last half dozen years of childhood all children are slender and agile and wonderfully attractive in their naturalness. Both girls and boys reach puberty at a later time than would be expected, though data can not be gathered to determine accurately the age at puberty. All the Ilokano in Bontoc pueblo consistently maintain that girls do not reach puberty until at least 16 and 17 years of age. Perhaps it is arrived at by 14 or 15, but I feel certain it is not as early as 12 or 13 — a condition one might expect to find among people in the tropics.


The most serious permanent physical affliction the Bontoc Igorot suffers is blindness. Fully 2 per cent of the people both of Bontoc and her sister pueblo, Samoki, are blind; probably 2 per cent more are partially so. Bontoc has one blind boy only 3 years old, but I know of no other blind children; and it is claimed that no babes are born blind. There is one woman in Bontoc approaching 20 years of age who is nearly blind, and whose mother and older sister are blind. Blindness is very common among the old people, and seems to come on with the general breaking down of the body.

A few of the people say their blindness is due to the smoke in their dwellings. This doubtless has much to do with the infirmity, as their private and public buildings are very smoky much of the time, and when the nights are at all chilly a fire is built in their closed, low, and chimneyless sleeping rooms. There are many persons with inflamed and granulated eyelids whose vision is little or not at all impaired — a forerunner of blindness probably often caused by smoke.

Twenty per cent of the adults have abnormal feet. The most common and most striking abnormality is that known as "fa'-wing"; it is an inturning of the great toe. Fa'-wing occurs in all stages from the slightest spreading to that approximating forty-five degrees. It is found widely scattered among the barefoot mountain tribes of northern Luzon. The people say it is due to mountain climbing, and their explanation is probably correct, as the great toe is used much as is a claw in securing a footing on the slippery, steep trails during the rainy reason. Fa'-wing occurs quite as commonly with women as with men, and in Ambuklao, Benguet Province, I saw a boy of 8 or 9 years whose great toes were spread half as much as those shown in Pl. XXV. This deformity occurs on one or both feet, but generally on both if at all.

An enlargement of the basal joint of the great toe, probably a bunion, is also comparatively common. It is not improbable that it is often caused by stone bruises, as such are of frequent occurrence; they are sometimes very serious, laying a person up ten days at a time.

The feet of adults who work in the water-filled rice paddies are dry, seamed, and cracked on the bottoms. These "rice-paddy feet," called "fung-as'," are often so sore that the person can not go on the trails for any considerable distance.

I believe not 5 per cent of the people are without eruptions of the skin. It is practically impossible to find an adult whose body is not marked with shiny patches showing where large eruptions have been. Babes of one or two months do not appear to have skin diseases, but those of three and four are sometimes half covered with itching, discharging eruptions. Babes under a year old, such as are most carried on their mother's backs, are especially subject to a mass of sores about the ankles; the skin disease is itch, called ku'-lid. I have seen babes of this age with sores an inch across and nearly an inch deep in their backs.

Relatively there are few large sores on the people such as boils and ulcers, but a person may have a dozen or half a hundred itching eruptions the size of a half pea scattered over his arms, legs, and trunk. From these he habitually squeezes the pus onto his thumb nail, and at once ignorantly cleans the nail on some other part of the body. The general prevalence of this itch is largely due to the gregarious life of the people — to the fact that the males lounge in public quarters, and all, except married men and women, sleep in these same quarters where the naked skin readily takes up virus left on the stone seats and sleeping boards by an infected companion. In Banawi, in the Quiangan culture area, a district having no public buildings, one can scarcely find a trace of skin eruption.

There are two adult people in Samoki pueblo who are insane; one of them at least is supposed to be affected by Lumawig, the Igorot god, and is said, when he hallooes, as he does at times, to be calling to Lumawig. Bontoc pueblo has a young woman and a girl of five or six years of age who are imbecile. Those four people are practically incapacitated from earning a living, and are cared for by their immediate relatives. There are two adult deaf and dumb men in Bontoc pueblo, but both are industrious and self-supporting.

Igorot badly injured in war or elsewhere are usually killed at their own request. In May, 1903, a man from Maligkong was thrown to the earth and rendered unconscious by a heavy timber he and several companions brought to Bontoc for the school building. His companions immediately told Captain Eckman to shoot him as he was "no good." I can not say whether it is customary for the Igorot to weed out those who faint temporarily — as the fact just cited suggests; however, they do not kill the feeble aged, and the presence of the insane and the imbecile shows that weak members of the group are not always destroyed voluntarily.


General Social Life

The pueblo

Bontoc and Samoki pueblos, in all essentials typical of pueblos in the Bontoc area, lie in the mountains in a roughly circular pocket called Pa-pas'-kan. A perfect circle about a mile in diameter might be described within the pocket. It is bisected fairly accurately by the Chico River, coursing from the southwest to the northeast. Its altitude ranges from about 2,750 feet at the river to 2,900 at the upper edge of Bontoc pueblo, which is close to the base of the mountain ridge at the west, while Samoki is backed up against the opposite ridge to the southeast. The river flows between the pueblos, though considerably closer to Samoki than to Bontoc.

The horizon circumscribing this pocket is cut at the northeast, where the river makes its exit, and lifting above this gap are two ranges of mountains beyond. At the south-southeast there is another cut, through which a small affluent pours into the main stream. At the southwest the river enters the pocket, although no cut shows in the horizon, as the stream bends abruptly and the farther range of mountains folds close upon the near one.

Bontoc lies compactly built on a sloping piece of ground, roughly about half a mile square. Through the pueblo are two water-cut ravines, down which pour the waters of the mountain ridge in the rainy season, and in which, during much of the remainder of the year, sufficient water trickles to supply several near-by dwellings.

Adjoining the pueblo on the north and west are two small groves where a religious ceremonial is observed each month. Granaries for rice are scattered all about the outer fringe of dwellings, and in places they follow the ravines in among the buildings of the pueblo. The old, broad Spanish trail runs close to the pueblo on the south and east, as it passes in and out of the pocket through the gaps cut by the river. About the pueblo at the east and northeast are some fifteen houses built in Spanish time, most of them now occupied by Ilokano men with Igorot or half-breed wives. There also were the Spanish Government buildings, reduced to a church, a convent, and another building used now as headquarters for the Government Constabulary.

The pueblo, now 2,000 or 2,500 people, was probably at one time larger. There is a tradition common in both Bontoc and Samoki that in former years the ancestors of this latter pueblo lived northeast of Bontoc toward the northern corner of the pocket. They say they moved to the opposite side of the river because there they would have more room. There they have grown to 1,200 or 1,500 souls. Still later, but yet before the Spanish came, a large section of people from northeastern Bontoc moved bodily to Lias, about two days to the east. They tell that a Bontoc woman named Fank'-a was the wife of a Lias man, and when a drought and famine visited Bontoc the section of the pueblo from which she came moved as a whole to Lias, then a small collection of people. Still later, La'-nao, a detached section of Bontoc on the lowland near the river, was suddenly wiped out by a disease.

The Igorot is given to naming even small areas of the earth within his well-known habitat, and there are four areas in Bontoc pueblo having distinct names. These names in no way refer to political or social divisions — they are not the "barrio" of the coast pueblos of the Islands, neither are they in any way like a "ward" in an American city, nor are they "additions" to an original part of the pueblo — they are names of geographic areas over which the pueblo was built or has spread. From south to north these areas are A-fu', Mag-e'-o, Dao'-wi, and Um-feg'.


Bontoc is composed of seventeen political divisions, called "a'-to." The geographic area of A-fu' contains four a'-to, namely, Fa-tay'-yan, Po-lup-o', Am-ka'-wa, and Bu-yay'-yeng; Mag-e'-o contains three, namely, Fi'-lig, Mag-e'-o, and Cha-kong'; Dao'-wi has six, namely, Lo-wing'-an, Pud-pud-chog', Si-pa'-at, Si-gi-chan', So-mo-wan', and Long-foy'; Um-feg' has four, Po-ki'-san, Lu-wa'-kan, Ung-kan', and Cho'-ko. Each a'-to is a separate political division. It has its public buildings; has a separate governing council which makes peace, challenges to war, and accepts or rejects war challenges, and it formally releases and adopts men who change residence from one a'-to to another.

Border a'-to Fa-tay'-yan seems to be developing an offspring — a new a'-to; a part of it, the southwestern border part, is now known as "Tang-e-ao'." It is disclaimed as a separate a'-to, yet it has a distinctive name, and possesses some of the marks of an independent a'-to. In due time it will doubtless become such.

In Sagada, Agawa, Takong, and near-by pueblos the a'-to is said to be known as dap'-ay; and in Balili and Alap both names are known.

The pueblo must be studied entirely through the a'-to. It is only an aggregate of which the various a'-to are the units, and all the pueblo life there is is due to the similarity of interests of the several a'-to.

Bontoc does not know when her pueblo was built — she was always where she now is — but they say that some of the a'-to are newer than others. In fact, they divide them into the old and new. The newer ones are Bu-yay'-yeng, Am-ka'-wa, Po-lup-o', Cha-kong', and Po-ki'-san; all these are border a'-to of the pueblo.

The generations of descendants of men who did distinct things are kept carefully in memory; and from the list of descendants of the builders of some of the newer a'-to it seems probable that Cha-kong' was the last one built. One of the builders was Sal-lu-yud'; he had a son named Tam-bul', and Tam-bul' was the father of a man in Bontoc now some twenty-five years old. It is probable that Cha-kong' was built about 1830 — in the neighborhood of seventy-five years ago. The plat of the pueblo seems to strengthen the impression that Cha-kong' is the newest a'-to, since it appears to have been built in territory previously used for rice granaries; it is all but surrounded by such ground now.

One of the builders of Bu-yay'-yeng, an a'-to adjoining Cha-kong', and also one of the newer ones, was Ba-la-ge'. Ba-la-ge' was the great-great-great-grandfather of Mud-do', who is a middle-aged man now in Bontoc. The generations of fathers descending from Ba-la-ge' to Mud-do' are the following: Bang-eg', Cag-i'-yu, Bit-e', and Ag-kus'. It seems from this evidence that the a'-to Bu-yay'-yeng was built about one hundred and fifty years ago. These facts suggest a much greater age for the older a'-to of the pueblo.

An a'-to has three classes of buildings occupied by the people — the fawi and pabafunan, public structures for boys and men, and the olag for girls and young women before their permanent marriage; and the dwellings occupied by families and by widows, which are called afong. Each of these three classes of buildings plays a distinct role in the life of the people.

Pabafunan and fawi

The pa-ba-fu'-nan is the home of the various a'-to ceremonials. It is sacred to the men of the a'-to, and on no occasion do the women or girls enter it.

All boys from 3 or 4 years of age and all men who have no wives sleep nightly in the pa-ba-fu'-nan or in the fa'-wi.

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