Sunday, March 3, 2013


  -is the modern term to describe the indigenous people of the Cordillera Mountains located in the northern part of the Philippine island of Luzon.  When first "discovered" by the Spaniards in the 16th century, they were called "Ygolotes" - later to be re-spelled "Igorrotes."  The Spaniards used other names to describe Igorots based on where in the Cordilleras they were found.

Igorots furthest north on the Ilocos coast were called by the ordinary term applied to mountain dwellers all over the archipelago: "Tingues" and "Zambales."  In the Cagayan valley, Igorots were called "Infieles" (pagans).  Those up near the Apayao River were called "Mandayas" - literally, "those up above."

Although Igorots are "geographically" Filipino, there are numerous things that give them their own unique identity, which has led to many debates on whether Igorots are Filipinos.  Examples of their uniqueness are:
  • Language:  Igorots speak their own languages (Ibontok, Ibaloy, Kankanaey, Isneg, Kalinga, Tuwali, etc.)
  • Government:  Igorots of the Cordilleras have their own autonomous government made possible by former Philippine President Corazon Aquino.
  • Food:  Igorot food is considered indigenous with little influence from other countries.
  • Clothing:  Traditional clothing for men & women are clearly distinct and bears no Spanish influence.  Surprisingly, it bears a strong resemblance to that of American Indians.
  • Culture & Colonization:  Above all, Igorots were not conquered by Spain.  For more than three centuries, their ability to keep from being colonized by Spaniards allowed their culture to stay preserved to this day.  Spain's King Philip ("Philip"pines) was never able to force his name onto them. 
  • Statement of Significance:  Their rice terraces in the Cordillera Mountains, which are more than 2,000 years old, are evidence of their high level of knowledge of structural and hydraulic engineering.  The rice terraces are the only monuments in the Philippines that show no evidence of having been influenced by any colonial cultures.  For this reason, the rice terraces have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.