-Mr. Ambrose Guanso- 


Mankayan, a Municipality of Benguet Province is located in the farthermost north. It is bounded on the east by the Municipality of Buguias, Benguet and Bauko, Mountain Province; on the south and west by the Municipality of Bakun, Benguet; and on the north by the Municipality of Cervantes Ilocos Sur. Mankayan is about 60 miles road distance north of Baguio City and is at latitude 16 deg. 51 min. N, longitude 120 deg. 47 min. e, and elevated at 3,983 feet above sea level.

The boundary on the east between Buguias follows the Halsema National Highway from Bayoyo on the south and ends at Km. 100 at Mt. Data on the north. The boundary between Mountain Province on the north-eastern side lies on the northern foot of Mt. Data following the mountain ridge (northwest) of Pansa-an Agaki, Am-am, down to Pilipil, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. The boundary on the south-western side between Bakun starts from Bayoyo (Halsema Highway) following the mountain ridged of Pongo, Palidan Mill, Nanipil, Toteg, Camanpaguey, Madoto, and ends at the boundary between Cervantes, Ilocos Sur at Mantiyeg.

Divine Providence has endowed our municipality with rich resources and interesting physical features. It may be of interesting physical features. It may be of interest for tourist for tourists and scientist to visit Mt. Data with an elevation of 7,833 feet above sea level, topped by a plateau which is 4 kilometers across in width and 6 kilometers in length on the North West direction. Mt. Data is located on the east of Mankayan Proper about 15 kilometers trail distance.

Also for the interest of people to see is the Dec-can waterfalls situated at Balili as well as the Guillong waterfalls which can be viewed along the road to Cervantes. The graveyard of Palasa-an is about 10 kilometers south of Mankayan, located on the hill of Esmay. The graveyard of Panat along the Guinaoang River about 15 kilometers south on Mankayan is often spoken of as ancient graveyard of the kankana-ey.

Our mountain slopes and plains are very rich in minerals. The Paladian slide, Pacad, and Nayak has often been spoken of as the site of the Igorotes gold since the olden days and even up to the present because of its abundance of gold. The most important lake is in Bedbed about 7 kilometers north-east of Mankayan. It is known for its fairy tale about the “igat” (eel).

In Mankayan today the biggest families which have played significant roles in the peopling, the rise of settlements, and the development of the community are those of Campos in Tabio; Motes in Guinaoang; Sab-it in Tabbak – all of whom trace common descent, on the matrikin side, to Gang-awan; Anno in Suyoc; Tongacan in Palasa-an; Ngaosi in Tubo; Dominguez in Guinaoang Baguista in Cruz; and Taliaken in Gueday – all related, either by the matrikin or marriage, to the first group. 


The people of Mankayan belong to the culture group known as the Kankana-ey which can be found in Sagada, Besao, Tadian, Bauko, Sabangan and some municipalities of Benguet. The people in these places share a distinct dialect and a set of practices and norms. According to stories, the Kankana-ey speaking people of the north are the descendants of the hero-god Lumawig and his wife Bangan who lived in Mt. Kalawitan and, from there, migrated to the surrounding areas such as Bontoc, Benguet and Ifugao. Those who were to come to Mankayan settled first in Namiligan, surviving on hunting and swidden farming. An epidemic supposedly forced them into Mankayan where they occupied the interior places in Panat, Bag-onagn, Dec-can and Ampontoc.

Assuming that the settlers of Bontoc and Benguet came from one source and had, therefore, shared cultural linguistic tradition the differentiation between Central Bontoc and the Kankana-ey speaking area supposedly became manifested when a wealthy man, Pilkan, from Central Bontoc invited the inhabitants of Namiligan and Banao to supposedly started their singing with an announcement of “KANKANAC”, meaning “I am saying” and so the people from the eastern side of Bontoc called them “Kankana-ey”. Later this term was adopted to refer to people on the western side of Bontoc.

Some aspects in the cultural life of the Mankayan people since the olden times points to an affinity with Banao and Namiligan. The rituals as well as the mythology of Mankayan are exactly the same as those of Banao. The highest cañao of Banao and Namiligan called the “bayas” is also performed in Mankayan, in fact up to present time. The “binangi-an” type of house of which is still common in Banao was also the house style of Mankayan before the GI sheets became popular. Based on stories about the Spanish period, moreover, a certain Don Languas supposedly recruited the people of Western Bontoc in 1896 to burn the Rancherias, according to the Western Bontocs, were their relatives.

In the subsequent period after the people of Namiligan and Banao had settled in Mankayan their descendants inter-married with Chinese, the Spaniards, and the Americans who migrated to Mankayan particularly because of the mines. Today the people of Mankayan can be described as light-complexioned, with height of averaging 4 ft. 11 ins. to 5 ft. 10 inches. They have an aquiline nose, semi-thick lips, medium broad forehead, black hair, light physique, and semi-deep eyes. At present, due to the mining companies and the job opportunities they offer, people from different places have resided in Mankayan and have inter-married with the natives. Hence, we find in the barrios of Poblacion, Tabio, Paco and Sapid the most number of people with different ethnic origins. 


Towards the end of the 1600s, a series of migration from Banao, whose ancestors originally came from Namiligan, arrived in Mankayan. The people who had earlier settled in Banao came from Namiligan due to the small pox epidemic ca. 13th century. Prior to the migration of their descendants into Mankayan, these people who settled into Banao had no knowledge of civilization. They usually went during the night to steal the crops of the other people for their food, and kidnap babies and ask for ransom. They threw away their knowledge of agriculture and shifted to stealing and kidnapping. Thus their barbarous practice resulted into tribal wars, and head hunting became rampant as an act of revenge. Since they have man enemies, they suffered starvation. But some of them escaped and migrated to the south, making their way to Panat and Bag-ongan. Some of them came as traders of rice.

From these migrations from Banao started the history of the leading families in Mankayan. According to stories, a man from Banao named Bob-bo-o accidentally killed his brother Tikong because of his temper. He was so afraid and so during the night, together with his family, migrated to Panat and built their permanent residence there. Bob-bo-o had many children and all of them migrated to Bakun except his son Edegan. Edegan married a woman from Panat by the name of Yunga-an. Later it was found out that they were close cousins. Edagan and Yunga-an had eight (8) children, but seven (7) died during child birth. The last one was Gang-awan who was saved by an old woman who happened to passé by their house when Gang-awan was buried by his parent after his birth. The story of this family from the generation of Bob-o to that of Edegan and his wife Yunga-an and to Gang-awan marked the beginning of the line from which sprang the leading families of Mankayan. 


The early economic activities of the early settlers of Panat and Bag-ongan consisted hunting and food gathering from the resources of the thickly forested area they found. They ventured for the wild vine called “gal-lod” a root crop similar to the cassava but dug from five to ten feet from the ground. Since the “gal-lod” could only grow once in five years, this food did not suffice in the course of time as the population grew. The natives turned to swidden farming. They planted camote, gabi, and leafy plants.

When gold was discovered, the natives shifted to mining and later used gold as the medium of exchange in the trade with the lowlands. The native ways of mining gold was called the “labon” system.

Gold mining was the major occupation in Panat and Bag-ongan then while swidden farming was done only during the rainy season. Their swidden farms were cleared during the dry season by cutting back and burning off the vegetative cover and then waiting for the rainy season to come so that the fields could be planted with camote and gabi near the river, brooks, and the spring where there is enough water for the roots to absorb.

Irrigated rice fields were introduced early in Decan and Ampontoc by the settlers there. Since the early settlers were immigrants from Namiligan and Banao, they had early learned to exploit, their rice fields and had been maintaining these as their means of livelihood. Legend has it that rice fields were introduced by the son of the pagan supreme god, Kabunyan. His son Lumawig, introduced rice fields in Kayan and later it was followed by the people of Namiligan and Banao.

Rice fields were worked twice a year during the month equivalent to our present-day June and December. Rice was planted in the month of January and July. Mostly women took good care of the rice fields by removing weeds and maintained the flowing of water from the irrigation, while the men were usually out for hunting. Rice agriculture, however, was mainly for domestic consumption, and was limited to the mentioned areas. Panat, the source of gold, in fact depended on Bakun for rice. The northern part towards the old Kamangga-an was still a thickly forested area by this time. It was only later when two hunters discovered the copper that Kamangga-an gave the direction to historical developments in the rest of Mankayan. The mining method used in copper crude: copper ore was collected and the mineral rock was buried with the use of firewood until the copper would be separated from the rock. This copper was ready to be molted ten into pots and pipes. The burning pocess used a lot of firewood and this was the reason why the area was gradually deforested.

With very little agriculture except for self-sufficiency and mostly in root crops-and with mining of gold and copper as the more dependable source of livelihood. Mankayan was able to device a thirteen lunar period calendar, each period with about twenty-eight days. This calendar consisted of the following “months” corresponding rough approximation when compared with the present calendar being used:

The Kankana-ey Calendar

“Month” Characteristic Approximate Period
Lebteng Cold Jan 1 - 28
Atong Warm Jan 29 - Feb 25
Opok Hot and Dry Feb 26 - Mar 25
Kitkiti The soil cracks Mar 26 – Apr  22
Kiang Stepping on swidden farm to clear weeds Apr 23 – May 20
Adog Seasonal bird comes May 21 – June 17
Manaba “Big Water” comes June 18 – July 15
Kamadoyong Typhoon season July 16 – Aug 12
Tiway Seasonal bird comes Aug 13 – Sept 9
Siyet Seasonal bird comes Sept 10 – Oct 7
Tigwey Seasonal bird comes Oct 8 – Nov 4
Kiling Seasonal bird comes Nov 5 – Dec 2
Luya It showers Dec 3 – Dec 31

In each of these “months” the natives were doing particular activities such as:

“Month” Activity
Lebteng The men engage in gold and copper mining; the women clear up weeds in the swidden farm.
Atong The men engage in fold and copper mining; the women burn the weeds from the farm.
Opok The men engage in fold and copper mining; the women clear swidden farm, some starts to plant camote.
Kitkiti The men engage in fold and copper mining; the women plant camote and gabi.
Kiang Both men and women work in the gold and copper mines; women clear weeds in swidden farms.
Adog Men and women engage in gold and copper mining.
Manaba Both men and women work in the mines; aside from this the men fish.
Kamadoyong Miners rest in this period; tme men and/or women harvest and plant camote again.
Tiway Both men and women work in the mines; the men gather fire woods, the women plant camote.
Siyet Both men and women work in the mines; women clear weed in the farm.
Tigwey Both men and women work in the mines.
Kiling Both men and women work in the mines; crops begin to ripen.
Luya Both men and women work in the mines; women harvest and plant camote.


While the early society of Mankayan was not clearly divided into rich and poor because of the self-subsistent nature of economic production, leadership in the community, nonetheless, was relegated to the individual who could reach the highest cañaos and he who has the most intelligently vocal in times of settling differences in the community. The “amam-a” (old men) were given due respect to lead the rest of the people in matters related to social life and administration. They with the help of the jury (agom) adjudicated differences ofpeople within the community. In settling cases, the decisions of the jury (agom) were final and irrevocable and no one among the offended party can make any appeal. The word of the “amam-a” were law during those times for it was the primary duty of the old men to rule and govern their subjects and to promote fair and equal justice.

In cases where in the jury cannot decide cases due to lack of evidence after their investigations or when the accused denies the complaints or due to other reasons beyond reasonable doubt, ordeals were used for judgment.

Laws were customary then and were handed down orally from generation to generation. The laws dealt with various subjects such as crime and punishment, marriage, property rights, and loans. It also included minor crimes like adultery, theft, vandalism, physical injuries and oral defamation. These misdemeanors were settled by the jury by the “kaising” system. Other crimes like theft, vandalism, and property rights however, were dealt with penalties. The punishment meted out to the guilty party was usually for him to repay the loses of the accusers. Aside from this, the guilty party was to be penalized by paying for the expenses incurred during the trial.

The judicial process involved the old men as “jury”. One member of the jury acted as judge when trial by ordeal was t to be used. Trials were held publicly and decisions were rendered promptly.

During the trial, the disputants begin presenting their arguments to the jury, supported by the testimonies of their respective witnesses and evidences. The jury would listen and take mental notes of the arguments. The disputant with more witnesses and evidences to his side was adjudged as the winner. The decisions of the jury were final and irrevocable and the loser could not contest the decision.