Popular Science Monthly/Volume 77/December 1910/The Ilongot or Ibilao of Luzon
|THE ILONGOT OR IBILAO OF LUZON|
By Dr. DAVID P. BARROWS
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
THE practise of taking human heads is particularly associated with the Igorot peoples of the Cordillera of Luzon. These all engage in it or have done so until recently. But to-day the most persistent and dreaded headhunters are neither Igorot nor inhabitants of the Cordillera; they are a wild, forest-dwelling people in the broken and almost impenetrable mountain region formed by the junction of the Sierra Madre range with the Caraballo Sur. They have been called by different names by the peoples contiguous to them on the north, west and south, "Italon," "Ibilao," "Ilongot" or "Ilūngūt." The last designation would for some reasons be the preferred, but "Ibilao," or as it is quite commonly pronounced locally through northern Nueva Ecija, "Abilao," has perhaps the widest use.
There are no early records of these people and until late in his rule the Spaniard knew almost nothing of them. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the valley of the Magat was occupied and the mission of Ituy founded, out of which came the province of Nueva Vizcaya, with its converted population of Gaddang and Isinay. To reach Ituy from the south the trail followed up the valley of the Eio Pampanga almost to its sources and then climbed over the Caraballo Sur to the headwaters of the Magat. On this trail along the upper waters of the Pampanga grew up several small mission stations, Pantabangan and Karanglan, with a population of Pampanga and Tagalog people drawn from the provinces to the south. After more than a hundred years these small towns are still almost the only Christian settlements in
northern Nueva Ecija. From the time of their establishment we find references to the "Ilongotes" who inhabited the mountains to the east and were spoken of as "savages" "treacherous murderers" "cannibals," and wholly untamable. Much as described a hundred years ago they have continued to the present day. Their homes are in thick mountain jungle where it is difficult to follow them, but, from time to time they steal out of the forests to fall upon the wayfarer or resident of the valley and leave him a beheaded and dismembered corpse.
Here are a few instances occurring in recent years which came under my own notice or investigation. In 1902, the presidente of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, informed me that four women had been killed while fishing a short distance from the town. In March of the same year, a party of Ilongot crossed the upper part of Nueva Ecija and in a barrio of San Quentin, Pangasinan, killed five people and took the heads of four. In November, 1901, near the barrio of Kita Kita, Nueva Ecija, an old man and two boys were killed, while a little earlier two men were attacked on the road above Karanglan, one killed and his head taken. In January, 1902, Mr. Thomson, the superintendent of schools, saw the bodies of two men and a woman on the road, six miles south of Karanglan, who had been killed only a few moments before. The heads of these victims had been taken and their breasts completely opened by a triangular excision, the apex at the collar bone and the lower points at the nipples, through which the heart and lungs had been removed and carried away. As late as a year ago (1909), on the trail to San José and Punkan, I saw the spot where shortly before four men were murdered by Ilongot from the "Biruk district."
These men were carrying two large cans of "bino" or native distilled liquor, from which the Ilongot imbibed, with the result that three of their party were found drunk on the trail and were captured. These are only a few out of numerous instances, but they explain why the great fertile plains of northern Nueva Ecija are undeveloped and why the few inhabitants dwell uneasy and apprehensive.
There have been no successful attempts to subdue or civilize these people. Between 1883 and 1893, the missionary friar, Francisco Eloriaga, founded the Mission of Binatangan in the forested hills east of Bayombong, and the Spanish government had the project of erecting it into a "politico-military commandancia," but so far as I know did not reach the point of sending there an officer and detachment. Something was learned about the most accessible Ibilao, but no permanent results followed. Since the American occupation, however, progress has been made in our knowledge and control of this people. In October, 1902, the writer, at that time chief of the Bureau of Non-Christian
Ilongot Hunting Party,
Tribes, and engaged in a preliminary reconnaissance of the pagan peoples of northern Luzon, made a trip with a small party to one of their communities in the mountains east of Bambang. Photographs, measurements and notes on their language and social institutions were made. In January, 1906, Mr. Dean C. Worcester, secretary of the interior, approached these people from the north, by ascending the Kagayan river. His party started from a station of the Tabacalera Company, south of Echague, and from there rode through fine forest to a "sitio" called Masaysayasaya. From here they "started at dawn and about noon passed the 'dead line' set by the Ilongotes. A little before sundown reached Dumabato, an Ilongote and Negrito settlement, which had been the headquarters of Sibley, the deserter. Here were found a few filthy Ilongotes and some fine Negritos."
In the spring of 1908, Dr. William Jones, of the Field Columbian Museum, began a residence among the Ilongot of the upper Kagayan and lived with them continuously until nearly a year had passed, when he was killed by them. His notes and specimens were fortunately preserved and, when published, should constitute the most original and important contribution ever made to Philippine ethnology. Dr. Jones was part American Indian, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe. He was not only a brilliant scientist, but one of the most engaging and interesting men I have ever known—a man to cleave to. Here are brief extracts from two letters written by him from the Ibilao country, valuable, I think, not only for the information they contain about this people, but for the light they throw upon him and his manner of work.
Ilongot Men and Woman of Oyao, Nueva Vizcaya. The man on the right wears a characteristic head cover of rattan, which confines his long hair.
with. I have to go much lighter than what I am now to keep up with the little black Negrito. He is like a flea; here to-day, there to-morrow, and ever on the move when food is gone, and at rest, when he has a supply, long enough to consume it. He is at outs with the particular people I am with at present.Kagadyangan, on the Cagayan, Isabela. July, about the 12, 1908. I am compelled by force of circumstances to continue in this field for three or four months more; at least that much time must pass before I can observe a full cycle of the various activities of these people. Furthermore, the rainy season sets in about September and it is difficult ascending in this region where the rapids are numerous and swift. . . . I have come upon Ilongote habitations in cliff and rock shelters. Why might their ancestors or those of others not have lived in such in ages past and left evidences of an earlier culture? Many Ifugao burials are in sepulchres on mountain sides and the practise is no doubt very old. Places like these and those of rock shelters in other lands have given fruitful results and might they not in these islands? "I am having a pleasant time with these people. They are the wildest of any people that I have yet come across in Luzon. But like all wild people, they are cordial and hospitable. I live in their houses and so have their presence day and night. I hunt, fish and hike with them, see them on and off their guard, observe them in all their varying moods—in short, I'm very close to them all the time. Some time I will tell you a thing or two about them.
Alas, for his intimacy and confidence in them! Alas, that so gifted and lovable a man should have been lost by their treachery to science and to his friends!
From the Nueva Vizcaya side considerable progress has been made in the acquaintance and control of these people. For several years, Mr. Conner, the superintendent of schools, cultivated their friendship and gained information that led to his successor, Mr. K. J. Murphy, organizing a school in the community of Makebengat. The method followed was to hire a very trustworthy and capable Filipino of the town of Bambang who speaks their language and has had friendly relations with them, to go out and dwell with them, persuading and hiring them to build a good dwelling house for the teacher, a school house and shop, and to bring their own dwellings into the locality fixed upon for the school. Then there were sent out two native teachers (one a woman, capable of teaching spinning and loom weaving), to begin the instruction of the children in language, figuring and in industrial arts not known to the Ilongot. This school experiment promises to succeed and has already led to starting one or two other schools in communities still more distant in the forest.
Governor Bryant, of the province, has felt much interest in these people, and two years ago performed the very difficult feat of traversing the forests from these first communities northward to the province of Isabela. This hazardous exploration occupied about two weeks before the party emerged from the forest into the open country. The greatest difficulty and peril was lack of food, which can not be carried in sufficient quantities to sustain the entire journey.
In January, 1909, a very important exploration was made by Governor Bryant, escorted by Captain Hunt with a detachment of soldiers, and accompanied by Mr. Murphy and Dr. M. L. Miller, chief of the ethnological survey. The party left Dupah, January 7, and traversed the wholly unknown country lying to the southwest. The course of the wild gorge of the "Kaseknan" river, the head of the Kagayan, was developed, several important communities of Ilongot were discovered and visited without hostilities and the first knowledge obtained of much of this region. After struggling for ten days with the difficulties of jungle, ravine and densely covered mountains, the party reached Baler on the Pacific coast.
In May, 1909, the writer, accompanied by Lieutenant Coon and six native soldiers, reached a small community of Ilongot east of Pantabangan, called "Patakgao." This community seemed to be composed of renegades and outlaws from several other communities. Certainly their hand was against every man. They were charged by a small group of Ilongot living near Pantabangan with the murder of two of their number a few weeks earlier and they themselves professed to be harried and persecuted by unfriendly Ilongot to the north and east of them. They had wounds to exhibit received in a chance fray a few days before with a hunting party from near Baler. Altogether, their wayward and hazardous life was a most interesting exhibit of the anarchy and retaliation that reign in primitive Malayan communities which are totally "in want of a common judge with authority." A series of measurements was obtained by me at Patagkao and vocabulary and notes extended.
With the above remarks as to what has been accomplished in throwing light upon these people some description of them will be given. For information of their location and condition I am indebted to several others, and particularly to Mr. Murphy, otherwise the facts are the results of my own investigation.
Ilongot can not be said to live in villages, for their houses are not closely grouped, but are scattered about within hallooing distance on the slopes of canons where clearings have been made. Each little locality has its name and is usually occupied by families with blood or social ties between them, and several such localities within a few hours' travel of one another form a friendly group. Outside of this group all other Ilongot as well as all other peoples are blood enemies, to be hunted, murdered and decapitated as occasion permits.
The most considerable body of Ilongot appears to be those living east of the towns of Nueva Vizcaya from Mount Palali south, along a high-wooded range to the district of "Biruk," nearly east of Karanglan. Here are some important occupied sites that go by the names of Kampote, Kanatwan, Kanadem, Makebengat, Oyao and Biruk, as well as others. Homes are shifted from time to time as new clearings have to be made, and the name of a community's home will vary and can not always be relied on. All of these communities seem to be in fairly friendly relations with one another, though they are not bound together by tribal or political ties. Southeast on the rough hillsides of the Kaseknan River, the country first traversed by Mr. Bryant's party in January, 1909, are several communities of very wild Ilongot, Sugak, Kumian and Dakgang. These places were greatly alarmed by the
An Ilongot Man at Work in Clearing.
He wears the peculiarly shaped Ilongot knife, the usual head covering and a shell ear-ring. The wavy hair on head, face and limbs strongly suggests the Negrito.
approach of the party and used every effort to persuade it to pass without visiting at their houses. Conversations had to be held by shouting back and forth across deep gorges, and approach was very difficult. These people have scattered rancherias toward Baler and sustain trading relations with the Tagalog of that town, but are hostile with the Ilongot of the Nueva Vizcaya jurisdiction. Appurtenant to the towns of Karanglan and Pantabangan are a few minor communities, among them Patakgao. Finally, further north on the Rio Kagayan, toward the province of Isabela, we have the Ilongot communities in which Dr. Jones worked, and lost his life, Dumabato Kagadyangan and others. It may be that these Ilongot communicate with the Tagalog town of Kasiguran. In all of these communities together there are probably only a couple of thousand souls at most. Few communities have as many as twenty houses or 200 souls; the most are isolated groups of four or five married couples and their immediate relations. The harsh nature of their country, unsanitary life, occasional epidemics and most of all their perpetual warfare contribute toward their diminution rather than their increase.
Like other primitive Malayan people who live in the forest, the Ilongot support life by cultivating a forest clearing or "kaingin." The great trees are girdled, men ascend their smooth clean trunks a hundred feet or more and daringly lop away their branches and stems that the life of the tree may be destroyed and the sunlight be admitted to the earth below. At Patakgao I was shown some beautiful long pieces of the rattan an inch and a half in diameter with elaborately woven loops at the ends. These are swung from one tree top to another and serve as passage-ways for the men at work. To cross they stand on the slack cable, one hand grasping it on each side, and so, crouching, pass along it at a height above the ground of 80 to 100 feet. With this in mind, I could understand their replying to my inquiry as to when they prayed, by saying that they "prayed and sang to the spirits when they went to climb the trees." Their crops are mountain rice, camotes or sweet potatoes, gabi or taro, maize, squash, bananas, tapioca and, in some places, sugar cane and tobacco. They are good gardeners, although all their cultivation is by hand, their tools being a short hoe or trowel and a wooden planting stick, which is ornamented with very tasteful carving.
The houses of the Ilongot are of two sorts. Sometimes they are low wretched hovels, built two or three feet above the ground, with roofs of grass and sides of bark. But frequently the Ilongot build really well-constructed and creditable homes. These are set high above the ground, fully twelve feet, on a large number of posts or piles; the floor is made of carefully set strips of palma brava, the door-posts, lintels and exposed pieces of framework are curiously and tastefully carved. Such a dwelling is built large and spacious for the occupancy of several families and there is usually a hearth in each of the four corners of the big, single room. Such a house set on a conspicuous ridge and lifted by its piles high among the foliage of the surrounding jungle is a striking and almost an imposing sight.
The arms of the Ilongot are the spear, the jungle knife which they forge into a peculiar form, wide and curving at the point, a slender, bent shield of light wood and the bow and arrow. The use of the latter weapons is significant and here, as always in Malaysia, it indicates Negrito influence and mixture. They use a bow of palma brava and the ingenious jointed arrow of the Negrito with point attached by a long cord of rattan to the shaft, which separates and dragging behind the transfixed animal impedes his escape.
Both men and women wear the long rattan waist belt wound many times about the loins with clouts and skirts of beaten bark cloth. The men also use a curious rain hat not unlike a fireman's helmet, made of rattan and deerskin, the light frame neatly decorated with carving, and a deerskin rain coat to cover their backs in the dripping forest.
The physical type of the Ilongot is peculiar and rather unlike that of any other Philippine people. The men are small, with long bodies and very short legs, weak, effeminate faces, occasionally bearded. The hair is worn long, but usually coiled upon the head and held by a rattan net. The color of the Ilongot is brown and a little lighter than that of Malayans exposed to the sun by life on the water or in the plain. Their head hair is sometimes nearly straight, usually wavy and
Ilongot Men and Women Clearing the Ground for Rice Planting.
The men have a characteristic trowel. The women have planting sticks of hard wood elaborately carved. The man with the curly head indicates the Negrito blood in these people.
occasionally quite curly. These rather unusual characteristics of the Ilongot have led to some absurdly exaggerated reports of their appearance.
My measurements include 15 men, 8 women and a young boy whose stature is disregarded. The height of the men varied from 1,439 mm. to 1,610 mm., the mean being about 1,540, a very small stature though considerably above the Negrito. The stature of the women was from 1,386 mm. to 1,510 mm., the mean being about 1,440. The cephalic index of all but four of the 24 individuals was between 89 and 80 (brachycephalic), one was 79.9, two were 79, and one 76 (mesaticephalic). The nasal index of all but six varied from 100 to 87 (markedly platyrhinian), while the remaining six had indices from 83 to 76. The mean index of all was 88.6. The arm reach, as is usual in Negritic peoples, exceeded the height.
A peculiarity of the Ilongot face is that, while it is relatively wide at the cheek bones, it narrows rapidly below, giving the effect of a pentagonal shaped face with sharp chin. The eyes are relatively well opened and clear, like the eye of the Negrito, without slant or folding lid.
In the Ilongot then we have a small,, wavy or curly-haired man, round headed generally, flat and broad nosed, with occasionally bearded face and restless nervous physiognomy. Most of these are not characteristics of the ordinary forest Malayan; on the contrary, they suggest the Negrito, and occasion the belief, in my own mind, that the Ilongot is, like many other peoples of the Philippines and Malaysia, a mixed race resulting from the union of Negrito and Malayan.
From what has already been said it is apparent that in Ilongot society we have a most rudimentary stage of political development. There is no tribe. There is no inheritance, conveyance and contract. Thus the political life of the Igorot, although exceedingly weak on the side of federation or agreement between the independent towns, is centuries of development ahead of the almost institutionless communities of the Ilongot.. There are no social classes, for the Ilongot have neither aristocracy nor slaves nor what is very common in most Malayan communities, a class of bonded debtors. They have words to designate such classes, a slave being "sina lima" and a debtor "makiotang," but this information was imparted with the repeated statement, "There are none here." I was unable to get any word whatever for a chieftain, although the Ilongot of Neuva Vizcaya spoke of the "nalahaian" or head of the body of kin, but this person seemed to be only the oldest influential relation in the family group. The Ilongot of Patakgao said it was customary to hold a council called "pogon" but it was evident that this gathering was without definite constitution. The feebleness of the political life of the Ilongot can be appreciated by comparing it to the Igorot, the sturdy mountain headhunters in the Cordillera to the west. The Igorot likewise have no conception of the tribe but they do have thoroughly organized towns and town life. They have a detailed social system, based primarily on the possession of wealth; there are slaves, servant and indebted classes, and a carefully developed and adequate body of law covering property,
The Ilongot appears to be usually a monogamist and the wife is purchased, or at least a dowry called "piyat" is paid in weapons, utensils, liquor, wire, etc. Her position is not at all that of a bought piece of property, but, like the woman in Malayan society generally, she is the companion and almost the equal in influence and independence of the man.
While the machinery for righting injuries or settling grievances is almost non-existent, the Ilongot has a strong sense of injury and of wrongful acts. He will say with the strongest feeling and disgust that certain actions are "forbidden" (ma kŭl).
I once asked an Ilongot what he would do if a man of a neighboring community, with which relations were peaceful, should come and steal his pig. He thereupon detailed the steps open to him. He might take his weapons and go within hallooing distance of the aggressor's home and demand a double fine or restitution ("baiyad"). If the demand did not avail he would make a solemn warning ("tongtongan") and then, if satisfaction did not follow, there was no recourse but retaliation. I believe, however, that compensation, even for such offenses as murder, is frequently arranged through the anxiety of all members of the family to escape retaliation. Feud, that inevitably arises under such social conditions as these, pursues generation after generation and the obligation that descends to posterity and relations to take vengeance is spoken of as the "debt of life" (utang nu biay).
Apart from the taking of heads as an act of vengeance, murder with the winning of the gruesome trophy is obligatory on the other occasions as well. An Ilongot once said to me "A man may during his life take three, four or even five heads, but he must take one, and that before he marries. This head he carries to the relations of his intended wife to prove that his heart and body are strong to defend her." Furthermore, after the palay harvest each year the bundles of unthreshed rice or palay are neatly piled into a stack about a tall stake which is set up in the "kaingin." Then, for some ungodly reason, a human head is very desirable to place on top of this pole. So raids are made, usually on the Christian settlements below. Several questions may be asked regarding these practises, but I can offer nothing by way of answer. To whom is the "debt of life" owed? To the spirit of the dead person? To the customary Malayan spirits of the forest? Only a Ion? acquaintance would enable one to get to the bottom of the motive of such customs as these.
The primitive Malayan is full of beliefs and dreads of the malignant spirits which throng his environment. These are the spirits of forest,
|Ilongot Men of Pulddpud in the Former Spanish Commandery of Principe.|
|One carries a bow and arrow, the other a spear with a point which detaches itself from the shaft to which it is attached by a long cord. The dragging shaft impedes the escape of the animal that has been speared until the hunters can come up and dispatch it.|
trees, cañons, streams and sea; horribly conceived monsters and ghouls, and furthermore, and omnipresent in the affairs of the living, are the spirits of the dead—the ghosts. The Negrito, on the contrary, seems to be very little disturbed by such beliefs. His elementary religious notions leave him free for the most part from terror by night or by day. Where troubled with conceptions of "anito" or "diwata" it is almost certain that he has been learning at the feet of some demon-worshipping Malayan. Now, the Ilongot appear to have religious ideas that have come from various sources. Those of Nueva Vizcaya, with whom I talked, professed belief in spirits and called them "bĕ tung"; the spirits of the dead were "gi na vá." The Ilongot of Patakgao, curiously, have been affected by Christian nomenclature. The ruling spirit or spirits is "apo sen diot" ("apo" meaning lord or sir and "diot" being a corruption of Dios). They had no word for heaven, but mentioned "Impiĕdno" (Infierno). They said that when people die "they go to the mountains." They bury the dead near their houses in a coffin of bark (ko ko). They said that there were no "aswang" (malignant monsters believed in by the Christian Filipinos) in their mountains. They stated that prayer is a frequent observance; that they prayed when some one is sick or injured. "When an animal is killed we pray before cutting up the animal," and as stated above prayer is offered before the dangerous ascent of trees. In one house I saw a little bundle of grasses which was put there, following prayer made "at the first time when we are eating the new rice." Prayer is then made that rats may not destroy the harvest or other ill occur to crops.
These notes are too fragmentary to give any definite idea of what the religion of the Ilongot may be, but two other things observed had religious significance. When our party reached the vicinity of the community at Patakgao, we encountered in the bed of the cañon we were following a curious contrivance placed over the running water. Two stakes had been set up, and attached horizontally was a branch twelve feet long, five or six feet from the ground. A chicken had been sacrificed here and its blood had been daubed along this pole in at least eighteen different stains. Feathers had been tied to the ends of the upright poles and midway between them a curiously whittled stick of shavings was tied perpendicularly and the giblets and head of the fowl stuck upon it. Our guide, who was a Christian native from a small barrio which has some relations with this community, pronounced this contrivance to be a warning against further approach, in fact a "dead line." But later, Bŭliŭd, one of the important men of Patakgao, insisted that it was an offering made for the cure of their wounds received a few days before in a fight with hostile Ilongot.
In the houses of the Ilongot at Bayyait were many curiously whittled sticks suspended from the rafters. Some of these were of irregular shape like a ray of lightning; many were bunches of shavings, singularly suggestive of the prayer sticks of the Ainu.
The language of the Ilongot is predominantly Malayan. It contains a large bulk of words identical or related to the surrounding Malayan tongues. There are a few Sanskrit or Indian words, "pagi" (palay, "paddy," the unhulled rice) and "pana" for arrow, both words widely diffused in Malaysia. But besides, there is a doubtful element which does not seem to be Malayan; at least no similar words or roots occur in any of the other vocabularies of primitive peoples of northern Luzon collected by me. The Ilongot continually makes use of a short ŭ, which sometimes becomes the German sound ü as in "buh dük," a flower. These sounds can not be imitated by the Christian people in contact with them. This is a condition similar to what we find in Negrito speech, where, with a preponderance of terms occurring in Malayan languages, are often a number of totally distinct and usually eccentric words and sounds.
Finally, it is manifest that the Ilongot are a problem to the government of the islands. What is to be done with such people as these? They can not be allowed to continue, as they have done, to harass and murder the peaceful population of Nueva Ecija, northern Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya. Some means must be found to restrain them. Humanity does not permit their extermination. Steps are now being taken to do something to get them in hand. The exploring parties above referred to have opened the way. The communities organized under teachers of the Bureau of Education seem to promise something as well. Last fall when I left the islands search was being made for the right sort of an American teacher to put in charge of school interests at Baler, with jurisdiction over the Ilongot villages appurtenant thereto. The people of Patakgao since my visit have accepted an invitation, then made, to send their young men and boys to the barrio of San Juan, a village in the mountains back of Pantabangan, where a school is conducted and where several of these youth are now living in charge of a native man in whom the Ilongot have confidence. The Bureau of Education meets the slight expenses of this educational experiment. This work of social development, here as in a thousand similar places in the Philippines, will be best done by the American teacher, but the task is inviting only to the man in whom the spirit of youth and adventure and fascination with human problems runs strong.
Mr. Murphy's last report concluded, "I believe the schools can do these people a great amount of good and solve the government's worst problems. The work, however, is dangerous, as the man who undertakes it has no protection but his own diplomacy in handling the people. If trouble comes it will be from the young bucks, desirous of gaining a reputation."
- The report of these people under different names has been the cause of the belief that they were so many separate peoples. Professor F. Blumentritt makes this mistake. "Versuch einer Ethnographie der Philippinen," p. 33; "List of Native Tribes of the Philippines," translated in Smithsonian Report for 1899.
- A brief account of the people about Binatangan was published by a missionary in 1891 in "El Correo Sino-Annamita," Vol. XXV. "Una Visita a los Rancherias de Ilongotes." by Father Buenaventura Campa.
- Sibley was an American soldier from the 16th Infantry who deserted in 1900, and lived for over four years, a renegade among these people. He finally surrendered to Governor Curry, of Isabela province.
- Fields for seeding.
- Cane rafts.
- The Ifugao are an Igorot people inhabiting the Kiangan region. All the Igorot people practise, wherever possible, the burial of their rich and important personages in caves and artificial grottos. Burial caves occur in many places in the Philippines and have yielded a large store of jars, skulls and ornaments.