The Ibalois

a. Pawigue

Based on the information gathered through and supplemented by the stories of the living elders of Atok, there once lived a couple by the name of Pawigue and his wife who came from the northernmost tip of Benguet. They were Kankanais. This couple migrated to Atok about the 1500’s following the slope of the mountainside until such time that they arrived in a place now Abiang and settled in Ili. Ili was a mountainous place but there was a plain portion surrounded with big trunks of pine woods. When Pawigue and his wife settled in Ili, nobody else lived in the place except two birds namely the Oles and Martinez. These birds became their neighbors. Every time THE Oles and the Martinez conversed with each other they spoke in Ibaloi. So when Pawigue and his wife begot children they learned how to speak Ibaloi too, because of constantly hearing the conversation between the two birds in Ibaloi. It was in Ili Abiang where the site of the Ibaloi cradle of civilization flourished in Atok. Up to this time, the remains of Pawigue and his wife are still there.

Pawigue and his wife together with their children would constitute the earliest group who settled in the place and can be considered the original people being the first to settle in the area.

b. Kasdan

The first group of migrants came from Kabayan. They passed through Adaoay, Nawal went down to Kiskis then settled in Kasdan (Kasdan was the oldest settlement of the Ibalois), then people spread to both sides of the Amburayan river. The surrounding villages comprise now what we call Naguey. The group of migrants introduced the system of rice culture and the construction of the rice terraces in Naguey which were very similar to that of Kabayan.

It was the intrepid Kasdan who discovered a place of rolling hills and abundant water supply from the river

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Indigenous people believe that land was granted to them by Kabunyan and entrusted to them to harness, to cultivate and develop, to take care, sustain and patronize. To them, private property is nonexistent because they adhere to the value of collectivism. In fact peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship with nature defined the people’s role as stewards or guardians of the land.
Since time Immemorial the indigenous peoples has been occupying the territory that they are presently in. Historical accounts show that even before the coming of the colonizers, the people were already in possession of the land. They have developed systems of how to exploit the resources within the land. They have built their permanent settlements, constructed their rice terraces, identified their territories from boundary to boundaries, and they were living peacefully. They have developed a culture that defined their actions, their behaviors, in order to survive.
The IPs has already a notion of territoriality, a concept of land rights or what we now call as ancestral domain. They believed that the land was bequeathed to them by their ancestors and by Kabunyan.
The Spaniards came and brought with them the Regalian Doctrine, i.e. the land belong to the King, and the IPs were disenfranchised. The Americans came and introduced public land and resources laws that declared all lands in the Philippines as a public land. All the lands belonging to the IPs have become virtually alienable and disposable. Because they have no concept of land ownership, except that the land is communal, the IPs became squatters of the public land because they have no paper titles to prove their ownership. Their native titles recognized by their ancestral law is not recognized by the government.
An IP territory and land rights is defined according to the extent of development that an IP has exerted into a particular resource, i.e. the extent to which one community had built their rice fields, set up their permanent hunting traps and the frequency in the hunting area, the first to tap water from a mountain spring to irrigate their rice fields, the extent to which pasture land were used continuously by the community, and the improvements made by the same community in swidden gardens in the forest. All these give the people prior rights to the territory that they have traditionally occupied and exploited.
Territorial boundaries (beddeng) take the form of mountain ridges, rivers, creeks, ditches, stone walling, trees that are intentionally planted to serve as boundaries. It is along such territorial


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