many in the the lowlands, the mountain people are generically referred
to as "igorot," from 'y-golot,' meaning 'from the mountains.'
A pejorative term from the colonized past, 'igorot' has become accepted
as a collective catchword that groups together the Cordillera cultures:
Bontok, Gaddang, Ibaloy, Ifugao, Ilongot, Isneg, Kalinga, Kankana-ey,
Ikalahan, I'wak and Tinguian. Although separate cultures, some groups
share deities and rituals, with overlaps and intermingling at their
Of the colonizers, the Americans were better accepted
than the Spaniards, gaining deeper inroads and effecting greater influences
and more lasting changes, particularly in education. Although their
healing beliefs are steeped in rituals and deities, in general, the
tribes access western medicine earlier than the Tagalog and Visayan
cultures. English as a second language has survived the assault by nationalistic
fervor. The healers, collectively referred to by the acculturated as
"shamans" are distinct by culture and rituals. Although modernization,
Christianity and education have gained inroads and effected changes
in Cordillera traditions and cultures, a system of religious beliefs
and rituals with a profusion of deities and spirits, continue to affect
many facets of their day-to-day lives. Unlike the lowlands, medicinal
herbs do not figure heavily in ther healing modalities. In contrast,
rituals and the use of sacrificial animals are dominant in the culture
of their healing and beliefs.
The Bontoks comprise the inhabitants of the central and eastern Mountain
Province. They believe in a supreme deity, Intutungcho
(intutungtso, the one above) also referred to as Kafunian. Another deity
is Lumawig, Kafunian's son, who became earth-bound to the people to
teach the arts and skills for survival. There is also the belief in
the the existence of spirits (anitos) of the dead who have to be constantly
pleased lest they induce misfortunes and diseases. Intermediation is
usually done by the insup-ok, a seer or medium who
can counter the afflictions caused by evil spirits. through a ritual
of prayers (kapya) and animal sacrifices - a plate
of rice topped with a chicken leg or breast offered to the spirits.
(Also see: Circumcision / Tuli.html) The Bontok's
life, from birth to death, is punctuated with rituals (mangmang) with
the sacrificial butchering of animals.
Mangmang, a ritual counterpart of the
Benguet cañao, is used to appeal to the anito for a sick person
(mangaswak), accompanied by a feast of chicken and
pig meats. A smaller version is called the man-manok,
serving only chicken and salted meats. It is referred to as chao-es
when accompanied by gong playing.
Although the most modernized and acculturated of the ethnolinguistic
groups in Northern Luzon, deities and rituals persist. Religion is polytheistic
and animistic (the soul in plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomenon).
There is no god-worship of statues and carvings. The indigenous god
is Kavuniyan or Kabunyan. The Christian
God is Shivus, is considered the Supreme being, higher
than Kavuniyan. There is also a belief in the spirits of ancestors,
is rife with anitos (nature spirits and ancestral spirits) and rituals.
The anitos dwell in mountains, rivers, trees and rocks, and when their
abodes are disturbed or destroyed, they can cause illness and misfortune
for which rituals and offerings of appeasement are performed.
Ancestral spirits (ka-apuan)
appear in dreams or make their wishes known by causing illness.
Nature spirits are varied: the amdag,
wind-borne with nets to ensnare souls; the ampasit,
cave-dwellers who mislead night travelers; tinmongao,
cave-dwellers that cause illness or injury to intruders, the pinad-eng,
who rule the wild-pigs and fowl of the forests, offered sacrifices by
the hunters; butat-tew, who misguide travelers; the
banig, spirits of the dying or recently departed, and
the penten, spirits of violent deaths, river-dwellers
who can cause perils to crossing travelers.
culture is also rife with rites and rituals. Deities are often invoked
for health and illnesses in rituals that usually involve the sacrifice
of animals and the drinking of tafey (a native rice
beer fermented from the red rice variety) in the background of prayer
chanting by the mambunong. Of the 40 recorded ceremonies,
some are rituals specifically related to illness:
• Ampasit, for sore eyes and sore feet, with
a sacrificial chicken offered to the ampasit, pinad-eng, and tinmongao.
• Dosad, for chest pains, the mambunong hold
his spear against the chest of a pig and prays. After the pig is butchered
and cooked, the mambunong repeats the prayer while holding the spear
against the chest of the sick person.
• Sikop or sigop, a ritual for
curing coughs, sans sacrificial animal or tafey, utilizing instead salt
and ginger that is rubbed on the patient's neck while praying.
• Kolos, for stomach pains and diarrhea, offered
to the water-god Kolos, with a pig or chicken and tafey.
• Sibisib, to cure wounds, performed without
sacrificial animals, with the mambunong praying while placing the instrument
or a substitute over the wound.
• Basal-lang, performed after childbirth to prevent
excessive bleeding and skin disease.
• Tomo, a ritual to cure an insane person, a
sacrificial dog is offered to departed ancestors believed to have caused
• Topya, to counteract a curse or cure an illness
or physical deformity caused by witchcraft (padpadja) with sacrificial
offerings of dogs, chickens, ducks or goats.
• Cañao (kanyaw),
familiar to the lowland culture as the a community celebration of the
Igorots, is a ritual of animal sacrifice, feasting and dancing performed
for healing, thanksgiving, entertainment and for asking for a bountiful
harvest. It is a ritual common to the Ibaloys, Kankana-eys, and Kalanguayas.
Ikalahan is derived from the word kalahan, a type of forest
tree growing in the Caraballo mountain. The traditional celebration
is the keleng, a semi-religious feast and ritual that may be used to
appease the gods, deities and ancestral spirits for the healing of illness.
The ritual is led by the mabaki with prayers and chants
(baki) before the sacrificial pig is killed and again, before the serving
of the cooked meat. During the sacrificial butchering, the pig's liver
is taken to the mabaki for inspection, and if the organ looks ills,
he may request another pig to be sacrificed. Two other celebrations,
the laga (the smallest form of celebration) and the
padit (Prestige feast, most extravagant and expensive)
are also rituals of appeasement.
Nestled in the heart of the Cordillera, Ifugao is the country's smallest
province, but with a complicated belief of the universe and system of
deities. Their flat universe is composed of six worlds: Kabunyan (Skyworld),
Pugaw (Earthworld), Dalom (Underworld), Lagud (Eastern World), Daya
(Western World), and Kadungayan (Spiritual world).
Religion is polytheistic, with nature
and ancestor worship.They do not acknowledge a supreme deity, but consider
Maknongan as the chief god and creator of all things.
There are many gods and deities: Matungulan (gods or goddesses of plenty),
Manahaot (god of sorcery and deception), Bulul (god of idols), Bibiyo
(fairy gods that dwell in trees and rocks) and many other minor gods
that can cause illness.
Their religious beliefs are expressed
in a system of ritual called baki, presided over by
the native priest, mumbaki. The rituals involve the
sacrificial offerings of pigs, dogs, carabaos in the accompaniment of
singing, dancing, drinking and myth recitations.
Among the ifugaos, illness is believed
to be caused by an ancestral spirits and nature spirits residing in
trees, stones and rivers. The healing rituals are chosen according to
who is believed to be causing the illness.
• Ketama - a divination ritual performed for illnesses caused
by ancestral spirits, using a deity-possessed medium, through which
the spirit expresses his grievances and demands.
• Ayag - the ritual for illnesses caused by vengeful evil spirits.
Sacrificial chickens and pigs are offered for the appeasement of deities
and spirits. If the patient's condition does not improve, a more elaborate
one, if affordable, is performed. Sometimes the mumbaki is asked to
call upon all the deities to help bring back the patient to health.
The Isnegs are animistic. Although they have no Supreme Being, the system
of beliefs is rife with spirits, of human and animal forms, dwelling
freely or in nature habitats of rivers, stones, trees. Illnesses and
diseases are attributed to disrespectful intrusions into the deities'
domains. As protection, ceremonial appeasements are common, as is the
wearing of protective amulets (tanib).
The shaman figures heavily in the ceremonies.
The Anituwan, always a woman presides over the Isnegs'
rituals. She chooses and dispenses amulets, diagnoses illnesses, uses
various herbs in her concoctions of treatments.
The Kalinga is a recent province that came out of the 1995 separation
of the Kalinga-Apayao. Kabuniyan is the Supreme Being. Their deity beliefs
are typed into three: nature spirits (pinaing and aran),
dead ancestors and relatives (kakarading and anam),
and mythological heroes.
Illness and death are attributed
to malevolent anitos and vengeful spirits.
For a prolonged illness, a medium is
called to assess the liver of the sacrificial animal. The preceding
night, for appeasement of the spirits, the men gather in merrymaking,
dancing the salisid and playing the tungatong.
Before the healing rite (dawak) is performed by the
medium, the house is decorated with ferns in its four corners. Animals
are butchered for sacrifice. If the healing is not successful, a herbalist
, nabdadagop, is called with his preparation of plants (balat) that
is administered to the patient. If death is imminent, the ritual of
songnga is performed, a death ceremony, without the
accompaniment of merrymaking, the medium pouring the blood of the sacrificial
animal on the dying patient.
This group consists of inhabitants of the Sagada and Besao municipalities.
There is a belief in the superior deity Kabunian.
Their religion consists of worship of ancestors and nature spirits .
The anitos (spirits or souls of the dead) spirits dwell in the village,
rocks and caves while the nature spirits dwell in the mountains, rocks,
trees and rivers. Illness and death are attributed to the more evil
nature spirits. The ancestral spirits are benevolent and invoked upon
for good health. However, a family illness may be taken as a sign that
the ancestral spirit is hungry, for which a sacrifice of animals is
done to share with the ancestral spirits.
Rituals of healing involve sacrificial
offerings of food, usually salted pork and chicken, and occasionally,
dogs and carabaos. There are no priests or mediums that officiate the
rituals, instead, a village elder is entrusted with the prayers and
inspection and interpretation of the bile sac or liver (mamidis), The
rituals are always performed in complete silence, lest they become ineffective.
Sagawsaw, a cleansing
ceremony, is performed when one becomes insane. Legleg,
another cleansing ceremony, is performed for intractable or incurable
skin diseases and boils, done by the river, utilizing a white chicken,
for that white that symbolizes cleanliness.
Bakid, a sacrificial feast, is performed
when an old man is taken ill. Three pigs and two chickens are slaughtered.
There is prayer chanting, ayeng, asking the gods to heal the patient.
Two days later, lapsag, which involves another butchering
of two pigs and one chicken, is performed and the meat shared with the
people. Another bakid follows, three pigs and two chickens, again for
distribution to the people. When the patient dies, another pig is slaughtered
that will accompany the baya-o, the farewelll song.
Then, another pig for the magapo, and another for a night fall offering,
gawa. After a month, a pig is slaughtered. In two months, another bakid,
three pigs and two chickens After a year, a lapsag, two pigs and two
chickens. The ritual ends with kinaw-ang, the butchering of three pigs
divided amongst the people.
The rituals can force a family into the
sale of material possessions, even destitution, and the more acculturated
families have shied away from the practice.
They are found in the municipalities of Tadian, Bauko, and Sabangan
in the Mountain Province, and Bakun, Kibungan and Mankayan in Benguet.
There is no worship of idols, icons and
sacred places; when found, they are purely decorative. The religion
is based on a belief in deities and spirits. The highest in the deity
hierarchy is Adikaila of the Skyworld, the creator of all things. Next
are the Kabunyan, a collective of gods and goddesses, who include Lumawig
and Kabigat who taught religion and rituals to the people. The Southern
Kankana-eys also believe in ancestral spirits (ap-apo
and kakkading) and earth spirits (anitos).
The rituals are presided over by three
native priests - the mansipok, manbunong,
and mankotom - believed to be empowered by Adikaila
for counseling, healing, interpreting signs, and performing rituals.
• Mansip-ok, the seer or diviner, is consulted for illness diagnosis
and the choosing of the appropriate healing ritual. Diagnosis is achieved
through baknew, the breaking of an a chicken
egg (alternatively, blood from a sacrificial chicken) onto a gabi or
banana leaf, and after a prayer, interprets the egg for signs and suggestions
for cure. (see: Tawas) Sipok,
another method, utilizes a flint-on-a-string that would become heavy
at the mention of words that might suggest the diagnosis.
• Mambunong is the religious functionary called upon after the
diagnosis made by a mansip-ok suggests that an ancestral spirit has
been offended. The mambunong communicates with the spirit to lift the
illness from the patient.
•Mankontom or manchiba also performs the rituals of the mansip-ok
and mambunong. He interprets omens and signs, and In sacrificial healing
ceremonies, reads the bile and liver
Of Spanish origin, Tingguian originally referred to all the mountain
dwellers in the Philippines. Possibly, it was derived from the Malay
word "tinggi," meaning 'mountain' or 'upland.' Later it became
exclusive reference to the inhabitants of Abra and the Ilocos Sur and
Ilocos Norte mountains. Many choose to refer to themselves as "Itnegs,"
probably a name derived from an early Tingguian settlement in Abra.
A religious people, they believe in numerous
supernatural beings (spirits and anitos) inhabiting their land, endowed
with powers to guide protect and guide the Tungguian's lives, and who
therefore are involved in the religious offerings and rituals.
The Tingguian's great god is Kadaklan,
ruler of the supernatural world. Another deity is Kabunyan, friend and
teacher to the people, teaching prayer, the curing of illnesses and
protection from evil spirits. There are more than 150 other named spirits.
Selday is a malevolent spirit who may
induce illness if deprived of the blood offering from a small pig.