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The Ilongot or Ibilao live in Nueva Vizcaya Province of Luzon in the

Philippines. They numbered about 2,500 in 1975. The name "Ilongot" is
Tagalog and Spanish, and is derived from "Quirungut" (of the forest), one
of the people's own names for themselves. The Ilongot language is
Austronesian (denoting a family of languages spoken in an area), and there
are three dialects: Egongut, Italon, and Abaka. They use Ilocano and
Tagalog in trading. The Ilongot are culturally conservative and
unsubjugated (not comparable). They live as an enclave and resist
incursions into their territory.
Ilongot live in thirteen named dialect groups each with an average
population of 180. Each of these groups includes several settlements,
which in turn are made up of four to nine households (five to fifteen nuclear
families, forty to seventy people). When people move to a new area, their
houses are built in clusters, but as farther, more widely spaced new fields
are cleared, houses are built near the new fields, and the settlement
pattern becomes dispersed. Where there is missionary influence, houses
are built clustered near runways. Houses sit on pilings up to 15 feet above
the ground, and have walls of grass or bamboo. There are no inside walls;
each nuclear family (there are one to three per house) has its own
fireplace. There are also temporary field houses. The Ilongots live in the
southern Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains in the provinces of Nueva
Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija.
The Ilongot depend primarily on dry-rice swidden agriculture and
hunting, as well as fishing and gathering. They burn and plant new fields
each year, growing maize and manioc among the rice. Fields that already
have produced one rice crop are planted in tobacco and vegetables, and
fields that are in their last productive service are used to grow sweet
potatoes, bananas, or sugarcane. Fields made from virgin forest are in use
for up to five years, and then lie fallow for eight to ten years. Fields are
abandoned after a second use, and the group farming them leaves to find
new virgin forest. Men in groups hunt several times a week with the aid of
dogs; the meat acquired is shared equally among all households and is
consumed immediately. Sometimes hunts of three to five days take place,
and the meat from these trips is dried for trade or for bride-price
discussions. Individuals who hunt keep their meat for trade. Fish are taken
by nets, traps, spear, or poison. The Ilongot gather fruits, ferns, palm
hearts, and rattan from the forest. They keep domesticated dogs for
hunting, and pigs and chickens for trade. Men forge their own knives, hoes,
and picks, and make rattan baskets, whereas women weave and sew. The
items noted above as destined for trade are exchanged for bullets, cloth,
knives, liquor, and salt. Most trade within Ilongot society occurs during
bride-price payments and gift giving. Real property belongs to whoever
clears it; personal property belongs to the individual as well.
Above the level of the nuclear family, the be:rtan, or ambilaterally
reckoned allegiance, is important. Generally, males prefer to become
members of their father's be:rtan, and females members of their mother's,
although in cases in which a man's parents pay his bride-price, all of his
children become members of his be:rtan. This term is used polysemicly to
refer in the first sense to kin to whom one is linked during discussions of
various social situations, as well as the thirteen mutually exclusive local
dialect groups. The names of be:rtan are geographical names, plant
names, place names, or colour terms. Kin terminology is of the Hawaiian
type. Affinal terminology applies only to Ego's generation.
Marriage and Family
Young men are expected to engage in a successful headhunt before
marriage. Young men and women select each other as marriage partners
and form couples prior to marriage. Such a relationship includes casual
field labour, gift giving, and sex. Later, there are formal discussions and
marital exchanges. These discussions are used to settle disputes with the
family of the potential spouse. Premarital pregnancy causes the marriage
process to speed up under threats of violence, and disputes are usually
ended with marriage. Marriage with closely related cousins (especially
second cousins) is preferred, because community leadership is held by
sets of male siblings. Levirate and sororate(a type of marriage in which a
husband engages in marriage or sexual relations with the sister of his wife,
usually after the death of his wife or if his wife has proven infertile) are
common upon the death of a spouse. Marriage is monogamous and
matrilocal(of or denoting a custom in marriage whereby the husband goes
to live with the wife's community) for some years after the wedding; married
couples may return to the husband's natal village only when bride-price
payments are complete.
Socio-political Organization
There is no formal leadership. Informal leadership resides in sets of
brothers, especially those with oratorical (puruN ) skills and knowledge of
genealogy; women claim to be unable to understand puruN. The leader
cannot apply sanctions, but can orchestrate consensus. In cases of dispute
requiring an immediate resolution, the offended party may require that the
alleged offender undergo an ordeal to establish innocence. Warfare is
practiced in the form of headhunting. The reasons for headhunting are an
unsettled feud, a death in one's household, and the obligatory requirement
of a young man to kill before marrying. A pig is sacrificed when the head
hunters return. Warring groups may establish peace through negotiations
and exchanges.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Until the 1950s, when Protestant proselytizers arrived, the Ilongot had had
no contact with major world religions. The traditional belief system includes
supernatural beings who are both helpful and dangerous. Illness is
conceived to be caused by supernaturals who lick or urinate on the
individual, by deceased ancestors, or by supernatural guardians of fields
and forests who become angered by human destruction of what they
guard. There are a few shamans who treat disease, and anyone so cured
can use a portion of the shaman's spiritual power to cure; otherwise,
spiritual curing power comes from illnesses and visions. The individual's
spirit, which travels at night during his life, continues on after death. Since
this spirit is dangerous to the living, it is forced away from habitations by
sweeping, smoking, bathing, and invocation.
Project in Literature I


Submitted to:
Romy U. Lumanog, MAEd

Submitted by:
Key Harken S. Cruspero