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ALTERNATE NAMES: Igorots, Kiangan
LOCATION: Philippines (northern Luzon)
POPULATION: Over 133,000
RELIGION: Native beliefs
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 3: Filipinos; Kalinga


Among highland peoples of the insular Southeast Asia, the Ifugao enjoy the rare distinction of becoming widely known not under some originally generic term for "[savage] mountaineer," but under their own name for themselves as mispronounced by their Christianized Gaddang neighbors: i-pugaw, "the people of the known earth." The Ifugao belong to a group of peoples inhabiting northern Luzon's Cordillera Central who are collectively known among Filipino lowlanders as "Igorots," a term that first appears in Spanish records as a label for mountaineers who came down to Pangasinan to trade gold. As these Igorots resisted Spanish colonial rule, acculturation, and Christianization for three centuries, the Spanish referred to them as infidels and fierce and independent tribes, distinguishing them from the indios, the tribute-paying, trouser-and dress-wearing, and church-going lowlanders.

Including the Ilongot of the Caraballo range and Sierra Madre, the Igorots are far from homogeneous, dividing into eight linguistic groups and four broad cultural types. The southern group includes the Ibaloi and the Kankanai, whose gold mines attracted more concerted Spanish attention and exposed them to more lowland influences, such as upper garments for their women; elsewhere in the highlands women traditionally went bare-chested. The northern group includes the swidden-farming (shifting-cultivation) and relatively egalitarian societies of the northern Kalinga [SeeKalinga ], Isneg (or Apayao), and Tinggianes (meaning "highlanders," a name that used to apply far more broadly). The Ilongot ("forest people," [SeeIlongot ]) comprise the Southeast group and are known for their extreme conservatism and isolationism.

Known to their mountain neighbors as "Kiangan" after their ancestral locality, the Ifugao themselves belong to the Central group along with the Bontok ("mountain"), northern Kankanai, and southern Kalinga, peoples who are world-renowned for their mountainside rice terraces. Even within this group, there are significant variations. For example, whereas Bontok society uses a village-ward (ato) system to subordinate individual and kin-group interests to those of the wider community, Ifugao society gives free play to competition among individuals of forceful personality and great wealth; this contentious spirit has even precluded the emergence of a Kalinga-style interregional peace-pact system [SeeKalinga ]. Ifugao culture (like Cordillera and non-Christian cultures more generally) has contributed key icons to the national identity of the predominantly Christian and Hispanized Philippines: in 1995 the rice terraces of the Cordillera (the most renowned of which are those built by the Ifugao at Banaue) were declared UNESCO World Heritage sites and in 2001 the Hudhud chants of the Ifugao were put on the UNESCO list of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Cordillera peoples hardly lived in absolute isolation. Spanish military expeditions seeking gold or punishing lowland-raiding Igorots, as well as Catholic missionaries, penetrated the highlands from time to time, generally making little lasting impression. Of greater regularity and significance was the circulation of Ilocano traders; in the 18th century, this vigorous highland–lowland trade subverted the colonial tobacco monopoly. Ilocano towns often contracted peace-pacts with highland groups. Lowlanders and highlanders killed each other in blood feud cycles much as went on among highlanders themselves.

Possessing no gold mines and notoriously "unmanageable," the Ifugao largely escaped Spanish attention until 19th-century scholars disclosed the wonders of the rice terraces to the wider world. The Ifugao's main outside conflict was not with the Spanish directly but with the Gaddang over control of the upper Magat valley; the latter retained slave-holding chiefs for half a century after accepting Catholicism and allying with the Spanish against the Ifugao.

It was American colonial troops, followed by American schoolteachers and Protestant missionaries, who began the "integration" of the Cordillera peoples into the wider Filipino nation, though at the same time institutionalizing their status as cultural minorities. During the Japanese occupation during World War II, many Ifugao suffered from violence, hunger, and displacement; fighting extended into the Ifugao highlands. The Japanese general Yamashita surrendered to U.S. troops at Kiangan in 1945. In 1966, in recognition of highland diversity, the central government broke up the American-created Mountain Province into four separate provinces: Benguet, Mountain (Bontok), Kalinga-Apayao (now two separate provinces), and Ifugao. Currently, grouped together as the Cordillera Administrative Region, these provinces (now including Abra) enjoy a measure of autonomy that may increase to the level of that of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The highland peoples face diverse and increasing pressures from lowland society. Most threatening (through the early 1990s) have been dam projects that intend to flood ancestral valleys and the spread of fighting between NPA (communist) guerrillas and the Philippine government; these have been less of an issue since the early 1990s. Agrarian reform has affected few Ifugao because landholdings tend to be very small, but the government has begun to recognize highland peoples' rights to their ancestral lands. In the past 87% of land in the Cordillera region was classified as state property and much was awarded by politicians to logging companies. International tourism, as elsewhere, has been a mixed blessing, eroding much of traditional culture at the same time as promoting certain aspects of it. In some areas, the rice terraces are falling into neglect as young people, attracted by work in cities or abroad, become less and less willing to stay in their home villages to do the arduous work of maintaining them.


The Ifugao inhabit 1,940 sq km (750 sq mi) of rugged uplands in northern Luzon's Cordillera Central (which includes peaks of 2,440 m or 8,000 ft), an area drained by tributaries of the Magat River, which in turn joins the upper course of the Cagayan River. Supporting themselves on rice grown on terraces carved into the steep mountainsides, the Ifugao constituted 67.9% of the population of the province of Ifugao in 2000, numbering almost 110,000 (Ilocanos were 13.7%). Over 23,000 Ifugao lived in Nueva Vizcaya province. Estimates for the various Ifugao dialect-groups are as follows: Amganad, 27,000 (1987); Batad, 43,000 (1987); Mayoyao, 40,000 (1998); and Tuwali (Kiangan), 50,786 (1990). Population density is as high as 155 persons per sq km (400 per sq mi) in some locales.


The Ifugao language is an Austronesian language, belonging to the Northern Philippine branch whose most numerically important member is Ilocano. Ifugao's immediate relations, however, are with the neighboring Cordillera languages Bontok and Kankanay from which, linguists estimate, it began to diverge 1,000 years ago.


The Ifugao have a verse epic, the Hudhud; individual episodes are sung to relieve the tedium of harvesting, a female soloist leading and the other harvesters answering in chorus. The heroes of the epic are kadangyan (wealthy, high-status people), such as Bugan, a female kadangyan who fights as bravely as her brother Dinulawan and who seeks for her mate only the man who can fit her brother's sword belt. Daulayan, a poor man, fits the sword belt and eventually turns out to be of kadangyan lineage after all.

Part of the Ifugao marriage ceremony is the myth of Bali-tok and Bugan of Kiangan, a brother-sister couple who survive the great flood and become the ancestors of the Ifugao. In one variant, Bugan is so ashamed of becoming pregnant by her brother that she goes downstream (lagod) to seek destruction from the spirits there; the spirits, however, teach her how to sacrifice a male and female pig from the same litter in order to lift the curse for incest. According to another variant, Bugan is so distraught from childlessness that she goes downstream to seek death, encountering in turn Fire, a crocodile, and a shark, all of whom she impresses with her boldness and beauty. The shark passes her on to Umbumabakal, who lives in a terrifying house covered with gigantic ferns. There Bugan offers herself for Umbumabakal to devour. Umbumabakal, too, takes pity on her and takes her to Ngilin and the gods of Animal Fertility; they all return to Kiangan where they teach the priests there how to perform the bubun ceremony in which sacrificial meat is divided between Ambahing, the spirit who steals semen from the womb, and Komiwa, the spirit who stirs semen up in the womb.


The Ifugao traditional religion recognizes as many as 1,500 named gods, divided into 35 categories associated with, to name the most prominent, hero ancestors, celestial bodies, natural phenomena, diseases, and agriculture. Each possesses specific attributes and powers. All are immortal, can change form, become invisible, and travel through space. They inhabit all of the five divisions of the Ifugao universe: kabunian (the sky world); dalum (the underworld); pugao (the "known earth," the land of the Ifugao); daiya (the upstream region); and lagod (the downstream region). Particularly exalted is the sky world deity Lidum; the uncle of Balitok, ancestor of the Ifugao, Lidum is their great teacher and lawgiver. One example of minor deities is the class of halupe. A person may send a halupe to harass another person by forcing an idea constantly on the latter's mind, e.g., a creditor may send a halupe to a debtor in hopes of making the latter respond peacefully to a request for repayment, or a youth may commission a halupe to make a pretty girl more receptive to his romantic overtures.

Being a priest (adult males only) is not a full-time occupation but rather a voluntary vocation learned through apprenticeship, during which one must memorize the names and characteristics of the 1,500 gods. Since the American colonial period, priests can practice beyond the circle of their kindred to which they had formerly been confined. In exchange for their services, priests receive meat and rice wine but more importantly enjoy the reputation of having a "good voice." Because ritual chanting provides an opportunity for masculine exhibitionism, as many as 15 priests can participate in a ceremony, as compared to only one or two among the Bontok.

Rituals fulfill a wide range of functions. Omens are read by examining the bile sac or livers of pigs or chickens or by interpreting birdcalls. Some rituals are used to ensure the success of hunting, farming, headhunting, peacemaking, and debt-collection, and rituals accompany prestige feasts, divorce proceedings, and sorcery. Performed under a house or granary (less commonly in a field or forest), rituals involve several hours of chanting in a fixed protocol: invoking the deities; praying to the deities; inviting the deities to possess the priests; having the deities possess the priests; and exhorting the deities to action. Priests gain power over particular deities by reciting a myth that mentions them. Invocation entails "pushing" (tulud) deities from their homes in kabonian, dalum, daiya, and lagod to the village where the ritual is taking place; this requires a long time as each locality (as many as 40) through which the deities must pass is named in turn. Offerings range from a little betel or a chicken claw to sacrifices of pigs or chickens; in the course of a ritual, spirits (through the drinking priests) constantly consume rice wine.

Priests also perform curing rites. Disease can be caused by sorcery or the displeasure of ancestral spirits who may allow malevolent deities to inflict suffering on offending descendants.

According to the 2000 census, 17.6% of the population of the Cordillera Administrative Region, of which Ifugao province is a part, is classified as "Other" in religious affiliation, meaning adherents of indigenous religion. The rest followed a form of Christianity: 65.8% of the region's population is Roman Catholic (much lower than the national percentage of 83%), 8.9% Evangelical, 2.9% Iglesia ni Cristo, 1.6% Jehovah's Witness, 0.8% Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan). In the early 1990s, 54% of ethnic Ifugao identified themselves as Roman Catholic.

Thanks in particular to Christian churches' establishing schools in the Ifugao region, Ifugao associate Christianity with modern civilization and especially with the education that confers high status (and even upward mobility for some non-elite Ifugao) as well as equality with the nationally dominant lowland Filipinos. Elite, educated Ifugao identify themselves as Christian even though they continue to perform or participate in traditional Ifugao rituals (baki or bfuni), from those for healing to those for earning higher social status. Though there were Christians in all social levels among the Ifugao, those who practiced traditional religion exclusively belonged to the non-elite strata. Fundamentalist Protestant churches tended to be more condemnatory of traditional Ifugao culture than the Catholic Church. For instance, Protestant leaders strongly oppose the performance of traditional Ifugao healing rites; local Catholic Church authorities are ambivalent towards such practices, with some priests even encouraging people for whom modern medical treatments are ineffective to sponsor traditional healing rites at their homes.


See the article entitled Filipinos.


An adolescent boy is free to visit an adolescent girl in her agamang dormitory and have sex with her (a girl is not supposed to have more than one lover at a time). An individual usually experiences several "trial marriages" before committing to a permanent union. Employing monbaga (go-betweens), wealthy families are more careful to arrange their children's marriages with partners of equal status and to determine inheritance beforehand. The betrothal ceremony involves the exchange of pigs and gifts and initiates a close liaison. The marriage bond is formalized over a series of four wedding ceremonies including pig and chicken sacrifices, feasting, bile sac augury, and, in the last ceremony, the presentation of jars, cloth, and knives by the groom's family to the bride's. Fines for breaking off the marriage are higher after each successive wedding ceremony.

Deities may take a person's soul, causing the body to fall ill; if they do not return the soul, the person dies. With all its orifices plugged, the corpse of a person who has died a natural death is seated, tied to an honorary death chair, and guarded by fire and an undertaker. The deceased remains there for as many days (up to 13) as the family can afford to hold a nighttime wake and then is either carried by the undertaker to a hillside family sepulcher (a chamber at the end of a tunnel cut into soft rock) or put into a sealed coffin beneath the house or in a granary-like mausoleum. Children are buried in jars. Three to five years later, a second burial may be performed if the deceased is unhappy and is disturbing or harming the living. In case of wrongful death, the corpse is seated, bound to a house post, and neglected so that its spirit will seek revenge.


Ifugao society looks to no chiefs, councils, or other supravillage political institutions but rather governs itself through a highly complex system of customary law. An individual identifies with the kinship group and "local area," corresponding more or less to the himpuntona'an (traditional agricultural district) to which he or she belongs; this core circle of trust and mutual dependence shades off gradually through areas of less and less affiliation until reaching "enemy territory," from whose alien populations heads traditionally could be taken. Wider regional solidarities began to form only with the American occupation of the highlands.

Wealth constitutes the base of status and influence in Ifugao society. The following categories are distinguished: kadangyan, the rich or those inheriting large areas of irrigated rice fields and prestigious heirlooms; tumuk, those who have sufficient rice year-round but have yet to earn the status of kadangyan; the namatuk or mabitil, poorer people, "those who may hunger" and be forced to incur debts with the wealthy; nawatwat, the "disinherited" or "passed by," who become servants or tenants of the wealthy; and, formerly, slaves, generally children sold by poor families to lowlanders to discharge debts. If bought by fellow Ifugao, they eventually were freed and their children were in any case born free.

In recent times, a new category of wealthy has emerged. The bacnang, a loanword from Ilocano meaning "rich," are people who have become rich in non-traditional ways, primarily in commercial or agricultural ventures, such as owning hotels or restaurants, by which they amass large amounts of cash. According to government statistics on family income from 1988, 4% of the population of Ifugao province fell into the upper-class category (earning over 60,000 pesos) and 75% in the lower-class category (earning under 30,000 pesos). An individual qualifies for kadangyan status by amassing wealth in the form of rice lands and water buffalo (in the past also slaves). Rice lands must be of an extent sufficient to produce a surplus that can be loaned to namatuk families at high rates of interest, so high the debtors can never reach kadangyan status themselves. While hornbill headdresses, gold beads, swords, gongs, and antique Chinese jars are all signs of distinction, the essential mark of having become a kadangyan is the hagabi, a massive lounging bench carved from a hardwood trunk, sitting beside the house. The kadangyan-to-be must provide food and rice wine to the makers of the hagabi for the duration of the work and must hold a lengthy and expensive uyawe feast to install it.

Kadangyan compete in the number and quality of ritual feasts they can hold. Kadangyan status confers no formal political power, but the wealth inherent in it earns considerable influence. Community decision-making requires a consensus among all the kadangyan; this consensus is only reached after the personalities of the kadangyan have had the chance to contend in public debate.

Since there is no higher traditional authority to whom an Ifugao can appeal for redress of grievances, each must obtain his or her own justice, or rather kin-groups of injured parties seek compensation from the kin-groups of injuring parties. For instance, a kin-group could traditionally avenge the murder of one of its own by killing any member of the murderer's kin-group. To witness transactions, resolve disputes, and punish crimes, Ifugao rely on monbaga (go-betweens), individuals knowledgeable in genealogy and customary law who can moreover call on a large kin-group to enforce the decisions they make. Fines consist of valued goods, such as livestock (e.g., water buffalo for sacrifice at the victim's funeral), blankets, kettles, knives, and clothing and are divided between the injured party, his or her kin, and the monbaga. Fines are assessed according to the status of the parties as well as the crime's nature and intentionality. For example, a kadangyan who has committed a crime against a fellow kadangyan pays a higher fine than if the two parties are tumuk and higher still than in a case between two nawatwat. If a kadangyan commits a crime against a person of lesser status, he or she pays a lower fine than for injuring a peer, while a nawatwat wronging a social superior will pay a higher fine than if he or she had wronged an equal.

Cases between inhabitants of the same "local area" were usually settled by imposing fines, but crimes committed by one party against a party from a different "local area" generally led to feuding on the principle that "might makes right." Warfare entailed hunting for heads by ambushing a member of an enemy group found walking alone at the edge of his or her territory; raiding for women and child slaves was also common.


Ifugao live in small, named hamlets of 8 to 12 houses sitting on several levels of terracing amid hillside rice fields. Hamlets may also cluster to form more extensive communities of hundreds of houses. Toward the northern edge of Ifugao territory, a village's houses are scattered over broad valley bottoms, separated by fields.

With some variation in size reflecting the wealth of the owner, houses are square, raised on four posts (with cylindrical fenders to block climbing rats), accessible by ladder, and have pyramidal roofs of thatch. The well-built wooden structures last for generations. They have few furnishings or decoration other than occasional human figures carved on the doors and, formerly, a shelf for displaying skulls of enemies and sacrificial animals. Larger communities may have stone platforms at their center on which communal celebrations are held and prestigious houses are raised. Less permanent structures, such as the agamang, dormitories for girls and unmarried women, are built on the ground.

Average family income in the Cordillera Administrative Region, of which Ifugao province is a part, amounted to 192,000 pesos (US$3,765) in 2006, among the highest in the country, cf. the national average of P173,000, the National Capital Region's P311,000, Southern Tagalog's P198,000, and those of the neighboring Cagayan Valley and Ilocos regions, P143,000 and P142,000 respectively. In 2000, Ifugao province, however, had the fourth lowest Human Development Index, 0.351 (combining measures of health, education, and income) in the country (above provinces in the Sulu archipelago, cf. the Philippines' national HDI of 0.656).

According to the 2000 census, 35.2% of households in Ifugao province had access to a community faucet, 11.5% to a faucet of their own, and 8.2% to a shared deep well, while 17.4% obtained their water from springs, lakes, rivers, or rain. Almost half of households (46.3%) disposed of their garbage by burning it, 30.2% by burying it in a pit, and 9.1% by feeding it to their animals; only 6.5% had it picked up by a collection truck. 58.5% of houses were lit with kerosene lamps, 36.8% with electricity, and 3.5% with firewood. While 34% of households lacked basic appliances of any kind, 64% possessed a radio, 15.4% a television, 10% a refrigerator, 5.4% a VCR, 1.5% a telephone or cell phone, 17.4% a washing machine, and 6.3% a motorized vehicle.


An individual's kin-group extends as far as great-great-grandparents and third cousins on both the mother's and father's sides. In theory, marriage within this group is taboo, although second and third cousins can marry after the payment of fines in livestock and the performance of propitiatory sacrifices. The kin-group also assumes collective responsibility for wrongs committed by its members and is obliged to avenge wrongs done to its members.

Rice lands, forestlands, and heirlooms (e.g., jewelry, gongs, Chinese jars) are held by individuals only in "trust"; such property formally belongs to a group of persons who can claim, through either maternal or paternal lines, descent from a common ancestor. Such property can only be sold under extreme circumstances, as when needed to obtain water buffalo to sacrifice for the cure of the gravely ill or the sustenance of the deceased in the afterlife; it can only be sold, however, with the consent of other relevant kinfolk and with the performance of an ibuy ceremony. Houses, valuable trees, and crops of sweet potatoes are regarded as personal property whose sale demands no ibuy ceremony. Untilled grassland and forests distant from any settlement belong to anyone from the local area who clears and tills them; sweet potato swidden fields revert to the "public domain" after falling fallow.

Showing no preference for residence with or near either the wife's or husband's family, a couple sets up house near the largest concentration of inherited rice fields. In a house dwell the couple and their young children; children old enough to care for themselves live in an agamang (same-sex dormitory). Because of the severity of the incest taboo, siblings of the opposite sex deliberately avoid each other, being careful to sleep and even be buried apart, as well as refraining from making sexual jokes in each other's presence.

As marriage is considered to be a union of indefinite duration, a couple may agree to divorce at any time, although this is rare after the birth of the first child. Motives may be bad omens, childlessness, cruelty, desertion, adultery, or change of affection. Upon divorce, if there are no children, partners retain property inherited from their respective kin. If there are children, the property is assigned to the children. In the case of minors, the parent who takes the children, usually the mother, manages the property until the child marries.

Children may receive inheritances, including debt obligations, from either parent. A widow or widower may remarry after paying his or her original parents-in-law a gibu, the fine for extramarital relations.


Traditional attire for men is the G-string, a loincloth that leaves the side of the thigh bare but hangs down in front. Women wear a short sarong (waist to knees) and formerly went bare-chested. Men who had yet to avenge the murder of their father let their hair grow long. Tattoos were also common.

Kadangyan (the wealthy) display their status in clothes and accessories restricted to their class: for men, an elaborate G-string, a tasseled hip-bag, kidney-shaped gold earrings, and a headdress consisting of a turban-like cloth, hornbill skull, and water buffalo horns; for women, an elegant skirt, a tasseled belt, golden earrings, four bead necklaces, strings of white and red beads to secure their long hair, and a little brass statuette.


Agricultural products provide 84% of the Ifugao diet. Rice and sweet potatoes are the staple foods, although rice is by far the more highly regarded. Ground into meal, maize (grown on the sweet potato swidden fields) is also important. Ifugao consume a wide variety of vegetables and fruits: beans, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, peas, taro, yams, cowpeas, lima beans, okra, greengrams, and other legumes, jackfruit, grapefruit, citrus, coconut, and banana. About 10% of the diet is animal protein from flooded rice fields: tilapia minnows, frogs, snails, and especially ginga, a kind of water clam. Sources of meat include domesticated pigs, goats, chickens, and the occasional water buffalo sacrificed in rituals, as well as wild game such as deer, buffalo, pig, civet cat, wild cat, python, iguana, cobra, and bat (only the monkey is hunted for sport alone). People also eat locusts, crickets, and ants.

The heroes of the Hudhud epic are often described as staggering, for the ability to withstand heavy intoxication is rare and much admired. Alcohol consumption is integral to feasts and rituals. While only the poor dilute rice wine (bayah) with water, the rich kadangyan mix bayah with sugarcane juice to make bahi. A press extracts the juice from the cane.


In 2000, literacy stood at 90.5% for the Cordillera Administrative Region, of which Ifugao province is a part. Of the population of Ifugao province over the age of five, 46.2% had attended elementary school, 21.9% high school, and 8.9% college or university see also the article entitled Filipinos in this volume).


Cordillera peoples play a wide range of instruments: nose-flutes (kalleleng), lip-flutes (paldong), whistle-flutes (olimong), panpipes (diwas-diwas), buzzers (balingbing), tube zithers (kolitong), half-tube percussion (palangug), stamping tubes (tongatong), and jaws harps (giwong). Reflecting the primacy of Chinese over Southeast Asian trade contacts, gongs (gangsa) are flat rather than knobbed (strokes, slaps, and slides produce the different tones).

One important male dance is the cockfight dance performed before battle. Other male dances feature the men banging gongs as they move in circles. Female dances emphasize a rigid posture and raising outstretched hands.


Although modern education, administration, commerce, and tourism offer some Ifugao the opportunity for nontraditional occupations, most remain farmers. The wet-rice terraces built by the Ifugao and the neighboring peoples, such as the Bontok, are engineering marvels, climbing 300 m (1,000 ft) up steep mountainsides and held up by walls of earth and stone sometimes as high as 15 m (50 ft). A grouping of adjacent fields forms a himpuntona'an, a traditional agricultural district (as many as 25 in a 104-sq-km or 40-sq-mi area) that is named and includes a ritual plot that is the first to be planted and harvested. Several himpuntona'an share a single water-catchment area and cooperate in regulating irrigation and land use.

Rice is the high-prestige staple, and possession of rice fields is the prime measure of status (all the more so since the end of headhunting). When flooded, rice fields also provide animal protein in the form of small minnows, frogs, etc. After the harvest, cotton, beans, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, and peas are grown on the soggy rice stalks.

In addition, Ifugao cultivate sweet potatoes, the low-prestige staple, on hillside swidden fields that also support a wide variety of vegetables as well as sugarcane and tobacco. Tree crops complete the picture: coffee, jackfruit, grapefruit, rattan, citrus, areca, coconut, and banana. Ifugao raise pigs, goats, and chickens, keeping the last in baskets under the house at night; they also import water buffalo from the lowlands to sacrifice to their ancestors (never to use as draft animals). Hunting and the gathering of wild plants make only a minor contribution to subsistence.

Many men go down into the lowlands to trade. Coffee is the main export while imported goods include livestock, cotton, brass wire, cloth, beads, crude steel, and Chinese jars and gongs. Ifugao trade knives, pots, spears, and salt among themselves. Market gardening is increasing in importance. While in the city of Baguio (50 km [30 mi] southwest of Ifugao territory), lowlanders, including tourists from as far away as Manila, make a point of buying vegetables grown by mountain peoples.


See the article entitled Filipinos.


See the article entitled Filipinos.


The Ifugao practice metallurgy (using the lost-wax process), basketry, weaving, and ikat (tie-dyeing). Their woodcarving traditions are noted for bulol, cowrie-shell-eyed images of male and female gods in fighting position, weapons ready, or squatting with bowls in their outstretched hands. Other noteworthy products are canes with intricately carved handles, polished dining bowls with side compartments for condiments, chests with handles in the shape of pigs' heads, and shelves with crocodile snouts and tails worked in the design. Today, craftsmen produce objects specifically for tourist tastes (Western, generic Filipino, Chinese, Japanese), e.g. ashtrays and cell phone holders.


See the article entitled Filipinos.


In 2000, the literacy level was slightly lower for women (90%) than for men (90.8%) in the Cordillera Administrative Region, of which Ifugao province is a part. In Ifugao province itself, males comprised 55.5% of those attending elementary school but only 51% of the population at large; women, however, were more numerous than men in all levels above high school; 55% of those attending college or university and 64% of academic degree holders were women.

Women's roles in Ifugao society are not conceived of as limited to that of mother; women's labor is understood as complementary to the labor of men (as in the different, but equally essential, tasks each sex takes in rice cultivation); even financially secure elite women work outside the home, and elderly women continue to do farm work, not only out of necessity but also out of love for it. Industriousness in a woman is valued over beauty. At the same time, women are considered the "weaker" sex, whose work is "lighter" than men's work and deserves less pay. In the early 1990s, the wage for a woman's agricultural labor was half that for a man's and thus well below the minimum wage. Women control family finances but feel less free to spend on themselves than do their husbands, who often spend money on drinking sessions with their male friends or on gambling, for which their wives freely criticize them.

Traditional leadership positions are monopolized by elite men. Men are believed to be inherently superior at the oratory believed necessary for leadership, and most high-ranking government officials are men. Women do serve on local community councils but are in the minority. An individual women's status is determined by more than her gender; a female kadangyan or an older woman is perceived as having more power than a man of a lower class and younger age. The influence of Christianity is reinforcing the inferior status accorded to women by traditional culture, and the spread of a cash economy where men have more opportunities to earn wages, or at least to earn higher wages, outside the home is devaluing further the unpaid work women do in the house and on family plots.


Barton, R. F. Ifugao Law. 1919. Reprint, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Gordon, Raymond G., ed. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition. Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2005. http://www.ethnologue.com/ (November 16, 2008).

LeBar, Frank M., ed. Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Vol. 2, The Philippines and Formosa. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1972.

Kwiatkowski, Lynn M. Struggling with Development: The Politics of Hunger and Gender in the Philippines. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998.

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———. "Class Structure in the Unhispanized Families." In Cracks in the Parchment Curtain. Emended ed. Quezon City: New Day, 1985.

———. The Discovery of the Igorots: Spanish Contacts with the Pagans of the Northern Luzon. Rev. ed. Quezon City: New Day, 1977.

—revised by A. Abalahin