What does ifugao mean? Ifugao is a renowned land-rocking province situated in the Philippines. It is specifically located in the Cordillera Administrative region which is found in Luzon. To the west, the province is bordered by Benguet, Isabela to the East, and Mountain province to the north and Nueva Vizcaya to the south. Over the years, the province has had its capital being Lagawe, with the millions of its inhabitants having a strong Ifugao culture that is passed on from one generation to another. It has been in existence for over 2,000 years leading the growth of massive rice terraces which have now become the major tourist attractions sites for the province (Araral, 2013). This paper gives a critical insight into the Ifugao people and their culture. It keenly analyzes the economic positions, political systems, religion standings, artistic works, language, family structures among many other aspects of their culture.
History of Ifugao Tribe
The Ifugao people call themselves the i-pugao which is a term used to refer to the inhabitants of the earth. Other names used to refer to these inhabitants include the Ifugao, Yfugao and Ipugao. They claim to have come from the Ipugo lands which means from the hill. Before their colonization, the Ifugao land was among the most sophisticated and prosperous lands in the whole of the Archipelago. In fact, the plutocracy of the highland was massive, coming second to that of the Luzon. Back then, more than 2000 years ago, the Ifugao people adopted the rice farming practice, which involved massive land terraces that have grown to the world's eight wonders. In the pre-colonial age, the Ifugao people had no monarchical system. Instead they were ruled by a council of elders. Their system of leadership was the most peaceful and prosperous among the Asian states at the time (Duluwan, 2006). The conflicts that arose among the people were amicably solved by these elders in the most peaceful ways. Both the Hungduan and the Kiangan, also were at the epicenter of the Ifugan culture, since they too housed a few Ifugao people.
The Ifugao people of Cordilleras believed in the power of the peoples rights since their ancient times. This made it very difficult for the Spanish regime to take over power from the Ifugao. The Ifugao people , intent on protecting their rights fiercely fought their Spanish colonizers for over hundred years and continued even after the state became colonized and the Ifugao people were made part of the Nueva Vizcaya province which was under the Spanish leadership. In 1891, the Spanish regime brought about the Quiangan, who was the comandancia politico military who was in charge of the Ifugao people (Duluwan, 2006). However, their stay was cut short by the development of a Philippine revolution that overwhelmed them.
In the early 1908, the Ifugao people separated from the Nueva Vizcaya province and were annexed to the mountain province by the Philippine commission act which by then was under the American government. In the last year of world war ii, the Ifugao people were at the center of warfare since their commander was against the Philippine and the American commonwealth forces. Upon surrendering, the Ifugao people entered into a post war era, in which the mountain province region was divided into four. Ifugao people were then put under the leadership of the Cagayan valley with their capital being moved from Kiangan to Lagawe. The Ifugao province which was the land of the Ifugao people then became established as a full grown province under the rule of President Corazon Aquino. Since then, the province has grown with the people holding on to their heritage for years (Araral, 2013). The province has indeed become a center of archeological research, with various anthropologists from the Philippines and America interested in their rich culture.
Culture of Ifugao People: Physical Environment and Culture Adaptation
The Ifugao province which houses the Ifugao people is a land that covers an area of about 2,628.21 square kilometers(Acabado, 2010). The land occupies a massive subsection of the Cordillera Administrative region in the Luzon, with the mountain province bordering it to the north, Nueva Vizcaya to the south, Benguet to the west and Isabella to the east. The province being situated on a mountain range is characterized by a rugged terrain with many forests and river valleys. The Ifugao people, according to the 2015 census were approximately 202, 802 with a density of almost 77 people per square kilometer (Acabado, 2010). This can be equated to about 200 inhabitants per mile. The census also showed that the Ifugao land does not only host the Ifugao people. Despite them being the largest ethnic group in the region, the diversity and increase in immigration has the population become more diverse with other ethnic groups such as Ilocano and Kalanguya being reported. Nevertheless, they too have adopted the Ifugao way of life, culture. They have taken up farming of rice as their main food farming and other aspects of culture too.
Ifugao Language and Communication
The Ifugao people mainly use the Ifugao language which is also called the Malayo-Polynesian language. This dialect closely resembles that of the Bontoc and the Kankanaey languages which are used by the Northern Luzon subfamily. The dialect usually has a continuum which is divided into four major varieties such as the Tuwali, Amganad, Mayoyao and Batad. The four divergent dialects have also been subdivided into smaller dialects. For example, the Amganad has been divided into Banaue Ifugao and Burnay Ifugao. The language too has some loan words which are borrowed from the languages of the nearing provinces such as the llocano language (Blench, 2010). These borrowed words have replaced some of the older terminology, but, nonetheless, their major mode of communication is the Ifugao language. Their alphabetical letters are pronounced differently from one area to another depending on the dialect of the speaker.
Ifugao Beliefs and Religion
The Ifugao religion is quite complex due to the complexity of its cosmology. The Ifugao has divided itself into four parts of the universe, i.e. the earth which contains the ifugao people, the skyworld which contains the Kabunian, the underworld of Dalum, the upstream area of the Daiya and the downstream area which consists of the Lagdod. Each of these regions has a large number of spirits, almost 1500 which have individual names. The spirits actually belong to about thirty five different categories such as the hero ancestors, natural phenomena, celestial bodies among many others (Zarate & Hughes, 2009). They are located at specific places and carry out very distinct roles and duties. They actually represent every aspect of the Ifugan life such as fishing, rain, disease among others. In addition, the Ifugao people also have deities. These are usually figures which are immortal and have the ability to change their forms to become mobile or invisible.
Nonetheless, about half of the Ifugao people who previously were animists, have changed to adopt Christianity. Traditionally, the Ifugao people believed that the world was ruled by the spirits called anitos. However, over the years, the Roman Catholic religion has taken over with most Ifugan inhabitants practicing it. In fact research shows that more than 60% of the Ifugan people have been converted by the missionaries into Catholics (Zarate & Hughes, 2009). In 2014, 61.5% of the Ifugans were reported to adhere to the catholic practice by the Vicariate of Bontoc. After Roman Catholicism, the next most practiced religion by the Ifugao people is the Aglipayan church. Generally, Christianity has taken over the animist kind of religion with most Ifugans especially in the east and the south provinces converting.
Ifugao Marriage Culture
Monogamy is the most practiced form of marriage among the Ifugao people. however, a few wealthy families often practice polygamy. They inhibit the practice of incest to the first cousins and marriage to distant cousins is allowed if only the payment of livestock penalties is made. Often, there are trial marriages among prospective couples with courtship rituals being allowed t0o take place at the girls home. For the wealthy families, they arrange for the marriage of their daughters and sons through intermediaries. During the marriage ceremonies, the both families exchange gifts and continue to maintain the close ties even after marriage. As for the newlyweds, they are allowed to stay with the parents for a while before setting up their house, probably next to a large rice field (Acabado,2013).
Divorces too are allowed only after a mutual consent or after payment of damages is made. Divorce can occur as a result of bad omens, cruelty, the couple not having children, or change in affection among many other issues. All property usually goes to the children. As for the widows and widowers, they are allowed to remarry only after they have made payment to the family of the deceased (Acabado,2013). The Ifugao tradition allows both males and females to inherit property from the parents but the firstborn always gets the largest share. The illegitimate children born out of wedlock are taken care of by their fathers but lack the right to receive inheritance.
The men of the Ifugao land are responsible for building terraces whereas the female counterparts plant, weed and harvest rice from the large rice fields. The women further pound rice using wooden pestles and stone mortars to produce a shape that is recommended by their tradition. The women also carry out weaving of fabrics which are unique to the culture for long hours. For the children , both men and women can carry them around in scarves that are knotted around their bodies(Acabado,2010).
Four Classes in Ifugao Society
The Ifugao have little to do with political organizations or institutionalized bodies. There are no chiefs or councils to lead and govern them. Instead, they live in clans that go up to the third cousins. In a typical Ifugan household, it consists of members of the extended family, i.e. the nuclear family. When the children grow to the right age, they are allowed to move out of the household and join their age mates in the boys or girls houses. The Ifugao society is usually categorized into four classes depending on the wealth status of the individuals. The wealth is measured in terms of the largeness of the rice fields, the number of slaves or the number of water buffalos (Acabado,2013). There is also an additional class of aristocrats known as the Kadangayan whose role is to guide the people and the whole village on matters related to morality, money matters and the judicial processes.
The class below the Kadangyan is the Natumuk, who own very small lands and are considered very poor in the land. The people are so poor that they end up borrowing money from the Kadangyan group (Acabado,2010). The Kadangyan, on the other hand, take advantage of the situation, and lend them money at high interest rates such that most of them end up being completely indebted to their masters. The poorest group is the Nawatwar who basically work as servants and tenant farmers to the huge rice fields owned by the Kadangyan group.
Ifugao Houses and Residence Patterns
The Ifugao people usually live in very small settlements established on the mountainsides and in the valleys. In a single hamlet, there are about 8 to 12 dwellings which accommodate almost 30 people. These houses are built in locations very close to the massive rice fields. In addition, there are also other buildings which are temporarily established to house the unmarried or the just married couples. The houses usually measure about nine foot in width, with the roofs consisting of thatched pyramids supported by four piles or stilts(Araral, 2013). This pyramid shaped room serves a couple of roles. It acts as the kitchen, bedroom and the store room too, al...
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