The Bontoc Igorot
Albert Ernest Jenks
Part 6 out of 8
A river cuts in two the pueblo of Alap, and that pueblo is said
to celebrate the harvest by a rock fight similar to that of Bontoc
It is said by Igorot that the Sadanga lis-lis is a conflict with runo
(or reed) spears, which are warded off with the war shields.
It is claimed that in Sagada the public part of the ceremony consists
of a mud fight in the sementeras, mud being thrown by each contending
This ceremony occurs once each year at the time of planting camotes,
in the period of Ba-li'-ling.
Som-kad' of ato Sigichan is the pueblo "priest" who performs the
los-kod' ceremony. He kills a chicken or pig, and then petitions
Lumawig as follows: "Lo-mos-kod'-kay to-ki'." This means, "May there
be so many camotes that the ground will crack and burst open."
Som-kad' of ato Sigichan performs the o-ki-ad' ceremony once each
year during the time of planting the black beans, or ba-la'-tong,
also in the period of Ba-li'-ling.
The petition addressed to Lumawig is said after a pig or chicken
has been ceremonially killed; it runs as follows: "Ma-o'-yed si
ba-la'-tong, Ma-o'-yed si fu'-tug, Ma-o'-yed nan i-pu-kao'." A free
translation is, "May the beans grow rapidly; may the pigs grow rapidly;
and may the people [the children] grow rapidly."
Ko'-pus is the name given the three days of rest at the close of the
period of Ba-li'-ling. They say there is no special ceremony for
ko'-pus, but some time during the three days the pa'-tay ceremony
Ceremonies connected with climate
The Fa-kil' ceremony for rain occurs four times each year, on four
succeeding days, and is performed by four different priests. The
ceremony is simple. There is the usual ceremonial pig killing by the
priest, and each night preceding the ceremony all the people cry:
"I-teng'-ao ta-ko nan fa-kil'." This is only an exclamation, meaning,
"Rest day! We observe the ceremony for rain!" I was informed that
the priest has no separate oral petition or ceremony, though it is
probable that he has.
Once or twice each year, or maybe once in two years, in January
or February, a cold, driving rain pours itself on Bontoc from the
north. It often continues for two or three days, and is a miserable
storm to be out in.
If this storm continues three or four days, Le-yod', of ato Lowingan,
performs the following ceremony in his dwelling: "Ma-kis-kis'-kay
li-fo'-o min-chi-kang'-ka ay fat-a'-wa ta-a'-yu nan fa'-ki
lo-lo'-ta." A very free translation of this is as follows: "You fogs,
rise up rolling. Let us have good weather in all the world! All the
people are very poor."
Following this ceremony Le-yod' goes to Chao'-wi, the site of Lumawig's
former dwelling in the pueblo, shown in Pl. CLIII, and there he builds
a large fire. It is claimed the fierce storm always ceases shortly
after the ka-lob' is performed.
Ang'-way of ato Somowan performs the chi-nam'-wi ceremony once or
twice each year during the cold and fog of the period Sama, when the
people are standing in the water-filled sementeras turning the soil,
frequently working entirely naked.
Many times I have seen the people shake -- arms, legs, jaw, and body --
during those cold days, and admit that I was touched by the ceremony
when I saw it.
A hog is killed and each household gives Ang'-way a manojo of
palay. He pleads to Lumawig: "Tum-ke'-ka ay li-fo'-o ta-a-ye'-o nan
in sa-ma'-mi." This prayer is: "No more cold and fog! Pity those
working in the sementera!"
Ceremonies connected with head taking
Ka-fo'-kab is the name of a ceremony performed as soon as a party
of successful head-hunters returns home. The old man in charge at
the fawi says: "Cha-kay'-yo fo'-so-mi ma-pay-ing'-an. Cha-kay'-mi
in-ked-se'-ka-mi nan ka-nin'-mi to-kom-ke'-ka." This is an exultant
boast -- it is the crow of the winning cock. It runs as follows:
"You, our enemies, we will always kill you! We are strong; the food
we eat makes us strong!"
There is a peculiar ceremony, called "chang'-tu," performed now and
then when i'-chu, the small omen bird, visits the pueblo.
This ceremony is held before each dwelling and each pabafunan in the
pueblo. A chicken is killed, and usually both pork and chicken are
eaten. The man performing the Chang'-tu says:
"Sik'-a tan-ang'-a sik'-a lu'-fub ad Sa-dang'-a nan ay-yam' Sik'-a
ta-lo'-lo ad La'-god nan ay-yam' Sik'-a ta-lo'-lo ye'-mod La'-god
nan fa-no wat'-mo yad Ap'-lay."
This speech is a petition running as follows:
"You, the anito of a person beheaded by Bontoc, and you, the anito of
a person who died in a dwelling, you all go to the pueblo of Sadanga
[that is, you destructive spirits, do not visit Bontoc; but we suggest
that you carry your mischief to the pueblo of Sadanga, an enemy of
ours]. You, the anito of a Bontoc person beheaded by some other pueblo,
you go into the north country, and you, the anito of a Bontoc person
beheaded by some other pueblo, you carry the palay-straw torch into
the north country and the south country [that is, friendly anito,
once our fellow-citizens, burn the dwellings of our enemies both
north and south of us]."
In this petition the purpose of the Chang'-tu is clearly defined. The
faithful i'-chu has warned the pueblo that an anito, perhaps an enemy,
perhaps a former friend, threatens the pueblo; and the people seek
to avert the calamity by making feasts -- every dwelling preparing a
feast. Each household then calls the names of the classes of malignant
anito which destroy life and property, and suggests to them that they
spend their fury elsewhere.
Ceremony connected with ato
Young men sometimes change their membership from one a'-to to
another. It is said that old men never do. There is a ceremony of
adoption into a new a'-to when a change is made; it is called "pu-ke'"
or "pal-ug-peg'." At the time of the ceremony a feast is made. and
some old man welcomes the new member as follows:
If you die first, you must look out for us, since we wish to live long
[that is, your spirit must protect us against destructive spirits],
do not let other pueblos take our heads. If you do not take this
care, your spirit will find no food when it comes to the a'-to,
because the a'-to will be empty -- we will all be dead.
The Igorot does not know many things in common with enlightened men,
and yet one constantly marvels at his practical knowledge. Tylor
says primitive man has "rude, shrewd sense." The Igorot has more --
he has practical wisdom.
Concerning cosmology, the Igorot believes Lumawig gave the earth and
all things connected with it. Lumawig makes it rain and storm, gives
day and night, heat and cold. The earth is "just as you see it." It
ceases somewhere a short distance beyond the most distant place an
Igorot has visited. He does not know how it is supported. "Why should
it fall?" he asks. "A pot on the earth does not fall." Above is chayya,
the sky -- the Igorot does not know or attempt to say what it is. It
is up above the earth and extends beyond and below the visible horizon
and the limit of the earth. The Igorot does not know how it remains
there, and a man once interrupted me to ask why it did not fall down
below the earth at its limit.
"Below us," an old Igorot told me, "is just bones."
The sun is a man called "Chal-chal'." The moon is a woman named
"Ka-bi-gat'." "Once the moon was also a sun, and then it was always
day; but Lumawig made a moon of the woman, and since then there is
day and night, which is best."
There are two kinds of stars. "Fat-ta-ka'-kan" is the name of large
stars and "tuk-fi'-fi" is the name of small stars. The stars are all
men, and they wear white coats. Once they came down to Bontoc pueblo
and ate sugar cane, but on being discovered they all escaped again
Thunder is a gigantic wild boar crying for rain. A Bontoc man was
once killed by Ki-cho', the thunder. The unfortunate man was ripped
open from his legs to his head, just as a man is ripped and torn
by the wild boar of the mountains. The lightning, called "Yup-yup,"
is also a hog, and always accompanies Ki-cho'.
Lumawig superintends the rains. Li-fo'-o are the rain clouds -- they
are smoke. "At night Lumawig has the li-fo'-o come down to the river
and get water. Before morning they have carried up a great deal of
water; and then they let it come down as rain."
Earthquakes are caused by Lumawig. He places both hands on the edge
of the earth and quickly pushes it back and forth. They do not know
why he does it.
Regarding man himself the Igorot knows little. He says Lumawig gave man
and all man's functionings. He does not know the functioning of blood,
brain, stomach, or any other of the primary organs of the body. He says
the bladder of men and animals is for holding the water they drink. He
knows that a man begets his child and that a woman's breasts are for
supplying the infant food, but these two functionings are practically
all the facts he knows or even thinks he knows about his body.
Under this title are considered all forms of measurement used by
The most common method of enumerating is that of the finger count. The
usual method is to count the fingers, beginning with the little
finger of the right hand, in succession touching each finger with
the forefinger of the other hand. The count of the thumb, li'-ma,
five, is one of the words for hand. The sixth count begins with the
little finger of the left hand, and the tenth reaches the thumb. The
eleventh count begins with the little finger of the right hand again,
and so the count continues. The Igorot system is evidently decimal. One
man, however, invariably recorded his eleventh count on his toes,
from which he returned to the little finger of his right hand for
the twenty-first count.
A common method of enumerating is one in which the record is kept
with small pebbles placed together one after another on the ground.
Another method in frequent use preserves the record in the number of
sections of a slender twig which is bent or broken half across for
When an Igorot works for an American he records each day by a notch
in a small stick. A very neat record for the month was made by one
of our servants who prepared a three-sided stick less than 2 inches
long. Day by day he cut notches in this stick, ten on each edge.
When a record is wanted for a long time -- as when one man loans
another money for a year or more -- he ties a knot in a string for
each peso loaned.
The Igorot subtracts by addition. He counts forward in the total
of fingers or pebbles the number he wishes to subtract, and then he
again counts the remainder forward.
The distance between the tips of the thumb and middle finger extended
and opposed is the shortest linear measure used by the Igorot,
although he may measure by eye with more detail and exactness, as
when he notes half the above distance. This span measure is called
"chang'-an" or "i'-sa chang'-an," "chu'-wa chang'-an," etc.
Chi-pa' is the measure between the tips of the two middle fingers when
the arms are extended full length in opposite directions. Chi-wan'
si chi-pa' is half the above measure, or from the tip of the middle
finger of one hand, arm extended from side of body, to the sternum.
These three measures are most used in handling timbers and boards in
the construction of buildings.
Cloth for breechcloths is measured by the length of the forearm,
being wound about the elbow and through the hand, quite as one coils
up a rope.
Long distances in the mountains or on the trail are measured by the
length of time necessary to walk them, and the length of time is
told by pointing to the place of the sun in the heavens at the hour
of departure and arrival.
Rice sementeras are measured by the number of cargoes of palay
they produce. Besides this relatively exact measure, sementeras
producing up to five cargoes are called "small," pay-yo' ay fa-nig';
and those producing more than five are said to be "large," pay-yo'
Measurement of animals
The idea of the size of a carabao, and at the same time a crude
estimate of its age and value, is conveyed by representing on the
arm the length of the animal's horns.
The size of a hog and, as with the carabao, an estimate of its value is
shown by representing the size of the girth of the animal by clasping
the hands around one's leg. For instance, a small pig is represented
by the size of the speaker's ankle, as he clasps both hands around it;
a larger one is the size of his calf; a still larger one is the size
of a man's thigh; and one still larger is represented by the thigh and
calf together, the calf being bent tightly against the upper leg. To
represent a still larger hog, the two hands circle the calf and thigh,
but at some distance from them.
The Bontoc Igorot has no system of liquid or dry measure, nor has he
any system of weight.
The Igorot has no mechanical record of time or events, save as he
sometimes cuts notches in a stick to mark the flight of days. He
is apt, however, in memorizing the names of ancestors, holding them
for half a dozen generations, but he keeps no record of age, and has
no adequate conception of such a period as twenty years. He has no
conception of a cycle of time greater than one year, and, in fact,
it is the rare man who thinks in terms of a year. When one does he
speaks of the past year as tin-mo-win', or i-san' pa-na'-ma.
Prominent Igorot have insisted that a year has only eight moons,
and other equally sane and respected men say it has one hundred. But
among the old men, who are the wisdom of the people, there are those
who know and say it has thirteen moons.
They have noted and named eight phases of the moon, namely: The
one-quarter waxing moon, called "fis-ka'-na;" the two-quarters waxing
moon, "ma-no'-wa," or "ma-lang'-ad;" the three-quarters waxing moon,
"kat-no-wa'-na" or "nap-no';" the full moon, "fit-fi-tay'-eg;" the
three-quarters waning moon, "ka-tol-pa-ka'-na" or "ma-til-pa'-kan;"
the two-quarters waning moon, "ki-sul-fi-ka'-na;" the one-quarter
waning moon, sig-na'-a-na" or "ka-fa-ni-ka'-na;" and the period
following the last, when there is but a faint rim of light, is called
"li'-meng" or "ma-a-mas'."
Recognized phases of the moon.
However, the Igorot do seldom count time by the phases of the moon,
and the only solar period of time they know is that of the day. Their
word for day is the same as for sun, a-qu'. They indicate the time of
day by pointing to the sky, indicating the position the sun occupied
when a particular event occurred.
There are two seasons in a year. One is Cha-kon', having five moons,
and the other is Ka-sip', having eight moons. The seasons do not mark
the wet and dry periods, as might be expected in a country having
such periods. Cha-kon' is the season of rice or "palay" growth and
harvest, and Ka-sip' is the remainder of the year. These two seasons,
and the recognition that there are thirteen moons in one year, and
that day follows night, are the only natural divisions of time in
the Igorot calendar.
He has made an artificial calendar differing somewhat in all pueblos
in name and number and length of periods. In all these calendars
the several periods bear the names of the characteristic industrial
occupations which follow one another successively each year. Eight
of these periods make up the calendar of Bontoc pueblo, and seven
of them have to do with the rice industry. Each period receives its
name from that industry which characterizes its beginning, and it
retains this name until the beginning of the next period, although
the industry which characterized it may have ceased some time before.
I-na-na' is the first period of the year, and the first period of the
season Cha-kon'. It is the period, as they say, of no more work in the
rice sementeras -- that is, practically all fields are prepared and
transplanted. It began in 1903 on February 11. It lasts about three
months, continuing until the time of the first harvest of the rice or
"palay" crop in May; in 1903 this was until May 2. This period is
not a period of "no work" -- it has many and varied labors.
The second period is La'-tub. It is that of the first harvests,
and lasts some four weeks, ending about June 1.
Cho'-ok is the third period. It is the time when the bulk of the palay
is harvested. It occupies about four weeks, running over in 1903 two
days in July.
Li'-pas is the fourth period. It is that of "no more palay harvest,"
and lasts for about ten or fifteen days, ending probably about July
15. This is the last period of the season Cha-kon'.
The fifth period is Ba-li'-ling. It is the first period of the season
Ka-sip'. It takes its name from the general planting of camotes,
and is the only one of the calendar periods not named from the rice
industry. It continues about six weeks, or until near the 1st of
Sa-gan-ma' is the sixth period. It is the time when the sementeras to
be used as seed beds for rice are put in condition, the earth being
turned three different times. It lasts about two months. November 15,
1902, the seed rice was just peeping from the kernels in the beds of
Bontoc and Sagada, and the seed is sown immediately after the third
turning of the earth, which thus ended early in November.
Pa-chog' is the seventh period of the annual calendar. It is the
period of seed sowing, and begins about November 10. Although the
seed sowing does not last many days, the period Pa-chog' continues
five or six weeks.
Sa'-ma is the last period of the calendar. It is the period in which
the rice sementeras are prepared for receiving the young plants and in
which these seedlings are transplanted from the seed beds. The last
Sa'-ma was near seven weeks' duration. It began about December 20,
1902, and ended February 10, 1903. Sa'-ma is the last period of the
season Ka-sip', and the last of the year.
The Igorot often says that a certain thing occurred in La'-tub, or
will occur in Ba-li'-ling, so these periods of the calendar are held
in mind as the civilized man thinks of events in time as occurring
in some particular month.
The Igorot have a tradition that formerly the moon was also a sun,
and at that time it was always day. Lumawig told the moon to be
"moon," and then there was night. Such a change was necessary, they
say, so the people would know when to work -- that is, when was the
right time, the right moon, to take up a particular kind of labor.
The paucity of the pure mental life of the Igorot is nowhere more
clearly shown than in the scarcity of folk tales.
I group here seven tales which are quite commonly known among the
people of Bontoc. The second, third, fourth, and fifth are frequently
related by the parents to their children, and I heard all of them
the first time from boys about a dozen years old. I believe these
tales are nearly all the pure fiction the Igorot has created and
perpetuated from generation to generation, except the Lumawig stories.
The Igorot story-tellers, with one or two exceptions, present the
bare facts in a colorless and lifeless manner. I have, therefore,
taken the liberty of adding slightly to the tales by giving them some
local coloring, but I have neither added to nor detracted from the
The sun man and moon woman; or, origin of head-hunting
The Moon, a woman called "Ka-bi-gat'," was one day making a large
copper cooking pot. The copper was soft and plastic like potter's
clay. Ka-bi-gat' held the heavy sagging pot on her knees and leaned
the hardened rim against her naked breasts. As she squatted there
-- turning, patting, shaping, the huge vessel -- a son of the man
Chal-chal', the Sun, came to watch her. This is what he saw: The
Moon dipped her paddle, called "pip-i'," in the water, and rubbed
it dripping over a smooth, rounded stone, an agate with ribbons of
colors wound about in it. Then she stretched one long arm inside the
pot as far as she could. "Tub, tub, tub," said the ribbons of colors
as Ka-bi-gat' pounded up against the molten copper with the stone in
her extended hand. "Slip, slip, slip, slip," quickly answered pip-i',
because the Moon was spanking back the many little rounded domes which
the stone bulged forth on the outer surface of the vessel. Thus the
huge bowl grew larger, more symmetrical, and smooth.
Suddenly the Moon looked up and saw the boy intently watching the
swelling pot and the rapid playing of the paddle. Instantly the Moon
struck him, cutting off his head.
Chal-chal' was not there. He did not see it, but he knew Ka-bi-gat'
cut off his son's head by striking with her pip-i'.
He hastened to the spot, picked the lad up, and put his head where
it belonged -- and the boy was alive.
Then the Sun said to the Moon:
"See, because you cut off my son's head, the people of the Earth are
cutting off each other's heads, and will do so hereafter."
"And it is so," the story-tellers continue; "they do cut off each
Origin of coling, the serpent eagle
A man and woman had two boys. Every day the mother sent them into
the mountains for wood to cook her food. Each morning as she sent
them out she complained about the last wood they brought home.
One day they brought tree limbs; the mother complained, saying:
"This wood is bad. It smokes so much that I can not see, and soon I
shall be blind." And then she added, as was her custom:
"If you do not work well, you can have only food for dogs and pigs."
That day, as usual, the boys had in their topil for dinner only boiled
camote vines, such as the hogs eat, and a small allowance of rice,
just as much as a dog is fed. At night the boys brought some very
good wood -- wood of the pitch-pine tree. In the morning the mother
complained that such wood blackened the house. She gave them pig food
in their topil, saying:
"Pig food is good enough for you because you do not work well."
That night each boy brought in a large bundle of runo. The mother
was angry, and scolded, saying:
"This is not good wood; it leaves too many ashes and it dirties
In the morning she gave them dog food for dinner, and the boys again
went away to the mountains. They were now very thin and poor because
they had no meat to eat. By and by the older one said:
"You wait here while I climb up this tree and cut off some
branches." So he climbed the tree, and presently called down:
"Here is some wood" -- and the bones of an arm dropped to the ground.
"Oh, oh," exclaimed the younger brother, "it is your arm!"
Again the older boy called, "Here is some more wood" -- and the bones
of his other arm fell at the foot of the tree.
Again he called, and the bones of a leg dropped; then his other leg
fell. The next time he called, down came the right half of his ribs;
and then, next, the left half of his ribs; and immediately thereafter
his spinal column. Then he called again, and down fell his hair.
The last time he called, "Here is some wood," his skull dropped on
the earth under the tree.
"Here, take those things home," said he. "Tell the woman that this
is her wood; she only wanted my bones."
"But there is no one to go with me down the mountains," said the
"Yes; I will go with you, brother," quickly came the answer from the
So the boy tied up his bundle, and, putting it on his shoulder,
started for the pueblo. As he did so the other -- he was now Co-ling'
-- soared from the tree top, always flying directly above the boy.
When the younger brother reached home he put his bundle down, and
said to the woman:
"Here is the wood you wanted."
The woman and the husband, frightened, ran out of the house; they
heard something in the air above them.
"Qu-iu'-kok! qu-iu'-kok! qu-iu'-kok!" said Co-ling', as he circled
around and around above the house. "Qu-iu'-kok! qu-iu'-kok!" he
screamed, "now camotes and palay are your son. I do not need your
food any longer."
Origin of tilin, the ricebird
As the mother was pounding out rice to cook for supper, her little
"Give me some mo'-ting to eat."
"No," answered the mother, "mo'-ting is not good to eat; wait until
it is cooked."
"No, I want to eat mo'-ting," said the little girl, and for a long
time she kept asking her mother for raw rice.
At last her mother interrupted, "It is bad to talk so much."
The rice was then all pounded out. The mother winnowed it clean,
and put it in her basket, covering it up with the winnowing tray. She
placed an empty olla on her head and went to the spring for water.
The anxious little girl reached quickly for the basket to get some
rice, but the tray slipped from her grasp and fell, covering her
beneath it in the basket.
The mother returned with the water to cook supper. She heard a bird
crying, "King! king! nik! nik! nik!" When the woman uncovered the
basket, Tilin, the little brown ricebird, flew away, calling:
"Good-bye, mother; good-bye, mother; you would not give me mo'-ting!"
Origin of kaag, the monkey
The palay was in the milk and maturing rapidly. Many kinds of birds
that knew how delicious juicy palay is were on hand to get their share,
so the boys were sent to stay all day in the sementeras to frighten
these little robbers away.
Every day a father sent out his two boys to watch his palay in a
narrow gash in the mountain; and every day they carried their small
basket full of cooked rice, white and delicious, but their mother
put no meat in the basket.
Finally one of the boys said:
"It is bad not to have meat to eat; every day we have only rice."
"Yes, it is bad," said his brother. "We can not keep fat without meat;
we are getting poor and thin, and pretty soon we shall die."
"That is true," answered the other boy; "pretty soon we shall die. I
believe I shall be ka'-ag."
And during the day thick hair came on this boy's arms; and then he
became hairy all over; and then it was so -- he was ka'-ag, and he
vanished in the mountains.
Then soon the other boy was ka'-ag, too. At night he went home and
told the father:
"Your boy is ka'-ag; he is in the mountains."
The boy ran out of the house quickly. The father went to the mountains
to get his boy, but ka'-ag ran up a tall tree; at the foot of the tree
was a pile of bones. The father called his son, and ka'-ag came down
the tree, and, as the father went toward him, ka'-ag stood up clawing
and striking at the man with his hands, and breathing a rough throat
cry like this:
"Haa! haa! haa!"
Then the man ran home crying, and he never got his boys.
Pretty soon there was a-sa'-wan nan ka'-ag with a babe. Then there
were many little children; and then, pretty soon, the mountains were
full of monkeys.
Origin of gayyang, the crow, and fanias, the large lizard
There were two young men who were the very greatest of friends.
One tattooed the other beautifully. He tattooed his arms and his legs,
his breast and his belly, and also his back and face. He marked him
beautifully all over, and he rubbed soot from the bottom of an olla
into the marks, and he was then very beautiful.
When the tattooer finished his work he turned to his friend, and said:
"Now you tattoo me beautifully, too."
So the young men scraped together a great pile of black, greasy soot
from pitch-pine wood; and before the other knew what the tattooed one
was doing he rubbed soot over him from finger tip to finger tip. Then
the black one asked:
"Why do you tattoo me so badly?"
Without waiting for an answer they began a terrible combat. When,
suddenly, the tattooed one was a large lizard, fa-ni'-as, and
he ran away and hid in the tall grass; and the sooty black one was
gay-yang, the crow, and he flew away and up over Bontoc, because he
was ashamed to enter the pueblo after quarreling with his old friend.
Owug, the snake
The old men say that a man of Mayinit came to live in Bontoc, as he
had married a Bontoc woman and she wished to live in her own town.
After a while the man died. His friends came to the funeral, and a
snake, o-wug', also came. When the people wept, o-wug' cried also. When
they put the dead man in the grave, and when they stood there looking,
o-wug' came to the grave and looked upon the man, and then went away.
Later, when the friends observed the death ceremony, o-wug' also came.
"O-wug' thus showed himself to be a friend and companion of the
Igorot. Sometime in the past he was an Igorot, but we have not heard,"
the old men say, "when or how he was o-wug'."
"We never kill o-wug'; he is our friend. If he crosses our path on
a journey, we stop and talk. If he crosses our path three or four
times, we return home, because, if we continue our journey then,
some of us will die. O-wug' thus comes to tell us not to proceed;
he knows the bad anito on every trail."
Who took my father's head?
The Bontoc people have another folk tale regarding head taking. In
it Lumawig, their god, taught them how to discover which pueblo had
taken the head of one of their members. They repeat this story as a
ceremony in the pabafunan after every head lost, though almost always
they know what pueblo took it. It is as follows:
"A very great time ago a man and woman had two sons. Far up in the
mountains they owned some garden patches. One day they told the
boys to go and see whether the stone wall about the garden needed
repair; but the boys said they did not wish to go, so the father went
alone. As he did not return at nightfall, his sons started into the
mountains to find him. They bound together two small bunches of runo
for torches to light up the steep, rough, twisting trail. One torch
was burning when they went out, and they carried the other to light
them home again. Nowhere along the trail did they find their father;
he had not been injured in the path, nor could they find where he had
fallen over a cliff. So they passed on to the garden; there they found
their father's headless body. They searched for blood in the bushes
and grass, but they found nothing -- no blood, no enemies' tracks.
"They carried the strange corpse down the mountain trail to their home
in Bontoc. Then they hastened to the pabafunan, and there they told the
men what had befallen their father. The old men counseled together,
and at last one of them said: 'Lumawig told the old men of the past,
so the old men last dead told me, that should any son find his father
beheaded, he should do this: He should ask, "Who took my father's
head? Did Tukukan take it? Did Sakasakan take it?" ' and Lumawig said,
'He shall know who took his father's head.'
"So the boys took a basket, the fangao, to represent Lumawig, and stuck
it full of chicken feathers. Before the fangao they placed a small
cup of basi. Then squatting in front with the cup at their feet they
put a small piece of pork on a stick and held it over the cup. 'Who
took my father's head? -- did Tukukan?' they asked. But the pork and
the cup and the basket all remained still. 'Did Sakasakan?' asked
the boys all was as before. They went over a list of towns at enmity
with Bontoc, but there was no answer given them. At last they asked,
'Did the Moon?' -- but still there was no answer. 'Did the Sun?' the
boys asked, and suddenly the piece of pork slid from the stick into
the basi. And this was the way Lumawig had said a person should know
who took his father's head.
"The Sun, then, was the guilty person. The two boys took some dogs and
hastened to the mountains where their father was killed. There the dogs
took up the scent of the enemy, and followed it in a straight line to
a very large spring where the water boiled up, as at Mayinit where the
salt springs are. The scent passed into this bubbling, tumbling water,
but the dogs could not get down. When the dogs returned to land the
elder brother tried to enter, but he failed also. Then the younger
brother tried to get down; he succeeded in going beneath the water,
and there he saw the head of his father, and young men in a circle
were dancing around it -- they were the children of the Sun. The
brother struck off the head of one of these young men, caught up his
father's head, and, with the two heads, escaped. When he reached his
elder brother the two hastened home to their pueblo."
The language of the Bontoc Igorot is sufficiently distinct from all
others to be classed as a separate dialect. However, it is originally
from a parent stock which to-day survives more or less noticeably
over probably a much larger part of the surface of the earth than
the tongue of any other primitive people.
The language of every group of primitive people in the
Philippine Archipelago, except the Negrito, is from that same old
tongue. Mr. Homer B. Hulbert has recorded vocabularies of ten
groups of people in Formosa; and those vocabularies show that the
people belong to the same great linguistic family as the Bontoc
Igorot. Mr. Hulbert believes that the language of Korea is originally
of the same stock as that of Formosa. In concluding his article
We find therefore that out of a vocabulary of fifty words there are
fifteen in which a distinct similarity [between Korean and Formosan]
can be traced, and in not a few of the fifteen the similarity amounts
to practical identity.
The Malay language of Malay Peninsula, Java, and Sumatra is from the
same stock language. So are many, perhaps all, the languages of Borneo,
Celebes, and New Zealand. This same primitive tongue is spread across
the Pacific and shows unmistakably in Fiji, New Hebrides, Samoa,
and Hawaii. It is also found in Madagascar.
The Bontoc man has not begun even the simplest form of permanent
mechanical record in the line of a written language, and no vocabulary
of the language has before been published.
The following alphabet was used in writing Bontoc words in this study:
A as in FAR; Spanish RAMO
A is in LAW; as O in French OR
AY as in AI in AISLE; Spanish HAY
AO as OU in OUT; as AU in Spanish AUTO
B as in BAD; Spanish BAJAR
CH as in CHECK; Spanish CHICO
D as in DOG; Spanish DAR
E as in THEY; Spanish HALLE
E as in THEN; Spanish COMEN
F as in FIGHT; Spanish FIRMAR
G as in GO; Spanish GOZAR
H as in HE; Tagalog BAHAY
I as in PIQUE; Spanish HIJO
I as in PICK
K as in KEEN
L as in LAMB; Spanish LENTE
M as in MAN; Spanish MENOS
N as in NOW; Spanish JABON
NG as in FINGER; Spanish LENGUA
O as in NOTE; Spanish NOSOTROS
OI as in BOIL
P as in POOR; Spanish PERO
Q as CH in German ICH
S as in SAUCE; Spanish SORDO
SH as in SHALL; as CH in French CHARMER
T as in TOUCH; Spanish TOMAR
U as in RULE; Spanish UNO
U as in BUT
U as in German KUHL
V as in VALVE; in Spanish VOLVER
W as in WILL; nearly as OU in French OUI
Y as in YOU; Spanish YA
The sounds which I have represented by the unmarked vowels A, E, I, O,
and U, Swettenham and Clifford in their Malay Dictionary represent by
the vowels with a circumflex accent. The sound which I have indicated
by U they indicate by A. Other variations will be noted.
The sound represented by A, it must be noted, has not always the same
force or quantity, depending on an open or closed syllable and the
position of the vowel in the word.
So far as I know there is no R sound in the Bontoc Igorot language. The
word "Igorot" when used by the Bontoc man is pronounced Igolot. In
an article on "The Chamorro language of Guam" it is noted that
in that language there was originally no R sound but that in modern
times many words formerly pronounced by an L sound now have that
letter replaced by R.
The language of the Bontoc area is not stable, but is greatly
shifting. In pueblos only a few hours apart there are not only
variations in pronunciation but in some cases entirely different
words are used, and in a single pueblo there is great inconsistency
It is often impossible to determine the exact sound of vowels, even
in going over common words a score of times with as many people. The
accent seems very shifting and it is often difficult to tell where
Several initial consonants of words and syllables are commonly
interchanged, even by the same speaker if he uses a word more than
once during a conversation. That this fickleness is a permanency
in the language rather than the result of the present building of
new words is proved by ato names, words in use for many years --
probably many hundred years.
One of the most frequent interchanges is that of B and F. This is shown
in the following ato names: Bu-yay'-yeng or Fu-yay'-yeng; Ba-tay'-yan
or Fa-tay'-yan; Bi'-lig or Fi'-lig; and Long-boi' or Long-foi'. It
is also shown in two other words where one would naturally expect to
find permanency -- the names of the men's public buildings in the ato,
namely, ba'-wi or fa'-wi, and pa-ba-bu'-nan or pa-ba-fu'-nan. Other
common illustrations are found in the words ba-to or fa-to (stone)
and ba-bay'-i or fa-fay'-i (woman).
Another constant interchange is that of CH and D. This also is shown
well in names of ato, as follows: Cha-kong' or Da-kong'; Pud-pud-chog'
or Pud-pud-dog'; and Si-gi-chan' or Si-gi-dan'. It is shown also in
chi'-la or di'-la (tongue).
The interchange of initial K and G is constant. These letters are
interchanged in the following names of ato: Am-ka'-wa or Am-ga'-wa;
Lu-wa'-kan or Lu-wa'-gan; and Ung-kan' or Ung-gan'. Other illustrations
are ku'-lid or gu'-lid (itch) and ye'-ka or ye'-ga (earthquake).
The following three words illustrate both the last two interchanges:
Cho'-ko or Do'-go (name of an ato); pag-pa-ga'-da or pag-pa-ka'-cha
(heel); and ka-cho' or ga-de'-o (fish).
The nouns appear to undergo slight change to indicate gender, number,
or case. To indicate sex the noun is followed by the word for woman
or man -- as, a'-su fa-fay'-i (female dog), or a'-su la-la'-ki
(male dog). The same method is employed to indicate sex in the case
of the third personal pronoun Si'-a or Si-to-di'. Si'-a la-le'-ki
or Si-to-di' la-la'-ki is used to indicate the masculine gender,
and Si'-a fa-fay'-i or Si-to-di' fa-fay'-i the feminine.
The plural form of the noun is sometimes the same as the
singular. Plural number may also be expressed by use of the word
ang-san (many) or am-in' (all) in addition to the noun. It is sometimes
expressed by repetition of syllables, as la-la'-ki (man), la-la-la'-ki
(men); sometimes, also, by the prefix ka together with repetition of
syllables, as li-fo'-o (cloud), ka-li'-fo-li-fo'-o (clouds). There
seems to be no definite law in accordance with which these several
plural forms are made. When in need of plurals in this study the
singular form has always been used largely for simplicity.
The personal pronouns are:
Si'-a and Si-to-di'
Cha-ta'-ko and Cha-ka'-mi
Cha-i-cha and Cha-to-di'
Examples of the possessive as indicated in the first person are
Other examples of the possessive are not at hand, but these given
indicate that, as in most Malay dialects, a noun with a possessive
suffix is one form of the possessive.
Scheerer gives the possessive suffixes of the Benguet Igorot
K, after A, I, O, and U, otherwise 'KO
} M, after A, I, O, and U, otherwise
'CHA or 'RA
These possessive suffixes in the Benguet Igorot language are the same,
according to Scheerer, as the suffixes used in verbal formation.
The verbal suffixes of the Bontoc Igorot are very similar to those
of the Benguet. It is therefore probable that the possessive suffixes
are also very similar.
It is interesting to note that in the Chamorro language of Guam the
possessive suffixes for the first person correspond to those of the
Igorot -- MY is KO and OUR is TA.
Mention has been made of the verbal suffixes. Their use is shown in
the following paradigms:
The suffixes are given below, and the relation they bear to the
personal pronouns is also shown by heavy-faced type:
Si'-a or Si-to-di'
kami or tako
Cha-ka'-mi or Cha-ta'-ko
Cha-to-di' or cha-i'-cha
The Benguet suffixes as given by Scheerer are:
'ko or 'ak
'mo or 'ka
'kayo or 'dio
'ra or 'cha
The verbal suffixes seem to be commonly used by the Bontoc Igorot in
verbal formations. The tense of a verb standing alone seems always
indefinite; the context alone tells whether the present, past, or
future is indicated.
About eighty-five words have been selected expressing simple
ideas. These are given in the Bontoc Igorot language and as far as
possible in the Benguet Igorot; they are also given in the Malay and
the Sulu languages.
Of eighty-six words in both Malay and Bontoc 32 per cent are clearly
derived from the same root words, and of eighty-four words in the Sulu
and Bontoc 45 per cent are from the same root words. Of sixty-eight
words in both Malay and Benguet 34 per cent are from the same root
words, and 47 per cent of sixty-seven Benguet and Sulu words are
from the same root words. Of sixty-four words in Bontoc and Benguet
58 per cent are the same or nearly the same.
These facts suggest the movement of the Philippine people from the
birthplace of the parent tongue, and also the great family of existing
allied languages originating in the primitive Malayan language. They
also suggest that the Bontoc and the Benguet peoples came away quite
closely allied from the original nest, and that they had association
with the Sulu later than with the Malay.
[In the following compilation works have been consulted respectively
as follows: Malay -- Hugh Clifford and Frank Athelstane Swettenham,
A Dictionary of The Malay Language (Taiping, Perak; in parts, Part
I appearing 1894, Part III appearing 1904); Sulu -- Andson Cowie,
English-Sulu-Malay Vocabulary, with Useful Sentences, Tables,
etc. (London, 1893); Benguet Igorot -- Otto Scheerer, The Ibaloi
Igorot, MS. in MS. Coll., The Ethnological Survey for the Philippine
Sa-gei a ku'-rab
Get up, to
Hair of head
Mortar (for rice)
Satu, suatu, sa
Ha ietu, dun
The following vocabulary is presented in groups with the purpose
of throwing additional light on the grade of culture the Igorot
No words follow which represent ideas borrowed of a modern culture;
for instance, I do not record what the Igorot calls shoes, pantaloons,
umbrellas, chairs, or books, no one of which objects he naturally
Whereas it is not claimed that all the words spoken by the Igorot
follow under the various headings, yet it is believed that the man's
vocabulary is nearly exhausted under such headings as "Cosmology,"
"Clothing, dress, and adornment," and "Weapons, utensils, etc.:"
English, with Bontoc equivalent
Afternoon, middle of
Day after to-morrow
Day before yesterday
Fa-la'-an si a-qu'
Nang'-ab si chay'-ya
Teng-ang si la-fi'
Ang'-san nan tuk-fi'-fi
Moon, eclipse of
Ping-mang'-et nan fu-an'
Moon, waxing, one-quarter
Moon, waxing, two-quarters
Moon, waxing, three-quarters
Moon, waning, three-quarters
Moon, waning, two-quarters
Moon, waning, one-quarter
Moon, period following
La-fi' or mas-chim
Nen-ting'-a or teng-ang si a-qu'
Periods of time in a year
I-na-na', La'-tub, Cho'-ok, Li'-pas, Ba-li'-ling, Sa-gan-ma',
River, down the river
River, mouth of
River, up the river
Season, rice culture
Season, remainder of year
Storm, heavy (rain and winds)
O-chan' ya cha-kim
Storm, heavy prolonged (baguio)
Sun, eclipse of
Le-nun-nek' nan a-qu'
Valley, or canon
Lum-na-kan' si a-qu'
Al-li-pos'-pos or fa-no'-on
Arm, upper, near shoulder
Beard, side of face
Ung-et' or tung-al'
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