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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 have 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 markers that conflicts arise when other groups try to interfere with the use of these resources. Recent cases of conflicts among people has been recorded, especially those that are related to boundaries in the exploitation of pasture land, water sources for irrigation, mineral resources, arable lands, etc.

In the upland communities, natural resources that are recognized as functional to the welfare and survival of the village include, among others, the following:

  • Forest and forest products
  • Water from mountain springs for irrigation and household needs
  • Rivers for fishing, rituals sites, and tapped for irrigation
  • Swidden land for food production
  • Pasture land for grazing carabaos and cows and horses
  • Mineral land for the extraction of gold, copper and silver
  • Clay for local potteries
  • Terraced land for rice production
  • Residential land.

Of these resources available, agricultural land and water vital for household consumption and irrigation of the rice terraces and fields, are of important consideration by the IPs. Water from a mountain spring is a free commodity but subject to certain tenurial rules prescribe by the people. Such tenurial rules are patterns of behavior that specifically serve to control a society’s use of environmental resources (Brett; Crocombe).

There are three classification of land rights (Brett), namely: (1) communal land rights, (2) corporate land right, and (3) individual land rights. In communal land rights, all members of a village have equal right to exploit the forest for lumber, firewood, forest products, and to hunt, subject to customary communal law. Corporate rights are those rights to common land belonging to a descent group, a family or to a ward. (E.g. muyong, tayan, pinugo, etc.). Individual rights are those rights which have been devolved to individuals such as rice terraces, residential lots, and hillside tree lots.


The indigenous people of Atok have different uses of buday, land. They used the land as pan-umaan (kainginngarden), panduktu-an (camotal land), panpageyan or panpayewan (rice land), panbedeyan/panbe-eyan (residential land), panpastolan (pastureland), dovok (burial ground), pan-anupan (hunting ground), pangaiwan or kidjowan (lumber source for firewood and house construction materials), and many other uses.


There are different notions or ways of acquiring possession to a piece of land in Atok. One acquires the land by tawid, inheritance, i.e. he inherits a piece of lot from his parents or grandparents. These types of land are usually binalyan or saad, residential lots or farm lots like uma or the payew. Kinaba ja inub-obdam is another way of acquiring land if one works and improves a piece of land. The purchase of land (bakal ni buday) can be done when one buys the land improvement or claim of another. It can also be by barter when one exchanges or swaps his property with animals to be used as ritual requirements in offerings to the ancestors.

When one acquires a piece of land as a tawid, i.e. an inheritance, the person is expected to work on it and then pass it on as inheritance to his next of kin. Never will he sell or dispose of it freely on his own lest he will be chastised for not observing the tradition. Some of the Ibalois still believed that this belief still operates among the older folks of the community. However, many claimed that there are inherited properties or other properties for that matter that are being transferred to other individuals or institutions when these are the subject of collateral in the securing loans. Possession of an inherited rice field was transferred to another after a long time of not being able to repay a pig that was used during a lado or life crisis ritual. Likewise, the inability to repay a loan from the bank caused the foreclosure of an inherited property that was used as collateral.


The natives of Atok have different traditional ways of maintaining, conserving, or improving their land resources. The most common ways of conserving or improving their properties could be by planting trees in sloping areas to prevent erosion, or by making panad (terraces) with tuping (riprap), kadkad or baok (lot boundaries), or the installation of alad (fence). Others plant maguey, kawayan (bamboo) or grass paleng; others place atol or boundaries. For still others, they make kulukol (aqueducts) to prevent water from washing off the topsoil.


The ibalois and kankanaeys of Atok believed that the land they intend to occupy or develop may be occupied by spirits, particularly the ampasit. For this reason the people performed some rituals before cultivating the land, building a house, or doing any improvement in an area. The most common ritual performed is the buton or divination. This can be done by butchering a chicken and making an augury of its liver and gall bladder to find out if the proposed activity is favored or not by the spirit, otherwise the activity is abandoned. One may just simply recite a madmad (prayer) asking for permission to perform the activity. Others resort to the offering of pig sacrifice, esapuan das busaang, to gain the favor of the spirits. In Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion, some informants mentioned that for newly improved rice fields, pigs are butchered and sometimes the gongs are played so that the pagey (rice) will always be robust and mabsil, i.e. laden with grains.

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There can be three types of land ownership in the Cordillera that can be applicable to the Atok scenario. These are (1) communal land rights, (2) Corporate land rights, and (3) individual land rights. (See Brett,). Communal lands are usually far from the village but are found within the boundaries of the community. These are usually forests where no permanent improvements on the land have been invested by any of the villagers. Any member has equal right to exploit the forest for lumber, firewood, forest products, and hunt wild animals. Corporate land ownership is a common land belonging to a descent group, a family, or a ward. This could be similar to the tayan of the Bontocs and Applais, the muyong or pinugo private forest of the Ifugaos. Individual land ownership is a piece of land that has been devolved to an individual such as rice terraces, residential lots, or uma (hillside tree lots).


The traditional land ownership systems are conditioned by the following considerations: the family and property allotment, first occupancy, other traces of improvement, inheritance, the Impanama (wise men), and the tongtong (council of elders). (See Pungayan et. al.)

The Family and Property Allotment. Under this concept, Moss observes that among the Ibalois of Benguet, a spouse owns the property inherited from his parents and forebears. In case of childlessness and divorce, such ownership is not altered.

As soon as a child is born to the spouses, the inherited property of such spouse automatically moves from personal to conjugal. In case of divorce, each piece of property is equally divided between the husband and wife. The separation of a husband and wife can be due to the following: childlessness, successive deaths in the nuclear family, constant quarrels, attempt on the life of the other, and adultery or concubinage. (See Pungayan, et. al. p.4.) Children born before the divorce may be given their inheritance just after the divorce or at a later time.

Generally, when both or even the parent is still alive, the property is not yet divided among the children. In those instances where parents decide to give their children’s inheritance early, custom law requires the children to support their generous parents.

Basically, each child is given an equal share of inherited property, from the parents. If one child is observed to have been given more in terms of rice fields, this will not be more than a square meter patch of paddy or shekko/kelleng. (see Pungayan, et. al.)

All properties of the spouses falling under conditions of conjugality are equally divided among the naturally recognized children. All other properties are shared by the half and/or putative siblings, as well as by other beneficiaries, as may be specified by the interpreters or custom law. (Pungayan, et. al.)

First Occupancy: Under this concept, the land is the property of the person who works it. (Moss) Single patch of uma planted to camote and never touched for the past generation is still rightfully owned by the closest descendants or the original camote planter. However, a piece of land abandoned for one generation or more by the first claimant may be forfeited if he manifest in good faith disinterest over such property in favor of a new claimant, whether he be a kin or not.

If a cultivator or planter happens to till the land of another by accident, i.e. knowing that somebody has an earlier claim, he may get all the harvest but must give back the land to its owner. (Moss) However, when the land in question bears “improvement” evidence of both claimants, he recognizes owner retains ownership but the tiller may be awarded by the deciding council only that portion he (not his ancestors) was able to physically “improve”.

The man who first makes a kolokol/bagan (irrigation) for the land is its owner. (Moss) Any subsequent irrigation that may cause the drying of the old ones are not recognized, but rather, looked down as taisho or disturbances. (Moss) The first man to make a kadkad (riprap) or kulog (trench) over a piece of property makes him a legitimate owner of the land over any other would-be claimants. Community members will always favor people to intrude into such property.

Where the involved parties of the first occupancy case are relatives, the old man decide the sequence of inheritance bequeathal and the descendants of the bequeathal or by the rightful heirs as may be declared by witnesses and/or testigos. (Pungayan, et. al.)

Other traces of improvement:Under this concept, the following features manifest proofs of ownership or rights on a piece of property:

For a payew (rice field), claim, even an old, abandoned water ditch is enough proof of ownership. For uma (swidden farm) claims, a visual trace of a stone wall or a single fence pitch (palitek), even the trunk trace of a dead fruit tree are sufficient evidences.

For a pastureland (estancia) claim, this is the most controversial if the fences have already gone out because of forest fires or decay. Usually, however, the controversies lie on the problem of boundaries rather than ownership. The presence of the baok, small terrace dividers, which are not really intended as boundary but for keeping domesticated animals from mixing with animals of neighbors and other estancias, provides enough proof of ownership.

For improvements is abandoned former residences, a tokod (post stump) or a pangawan, where sacrificial horned animals are tied for slaughtering, are enough proof of first occupancy and thus rights resulting from these evidences are respected.

The burial place of a person is always within his land claim. Hence, the dubok/lubok of an ancestor or close relative may proclaim the living descendants’ rights over the property in question.

All forest not claimed as estancias are the properties of the community as a whole. The usually refer to these areas as xijewan/kaiwan. Literally from “where firewood is drawn” and any member of the community can fetch firewood therefrom without molest or restriction from his elders or village mates.

Inheritance: In relation to this concept, inherited properties are not sold. (See Pungayan, Moss, Raymundo) These should be used and taken cared off during one’s lifetime and later on passed to one’s offspring who, in turn, should pass the same to their succeeding children.

Land properties, especially rice fields are equally distributed to children, be they males or females. In case of other properties like the house, heirlooms and others, these are not equally divided but are distributed according to established laws of custom (i.e. the male children get more animals and the female children get more money).

The property of a dead land owner who has no children is distributed as to following: To the wife, all the properties she inherited from her kindred. Sometimes the wife is given half of what was acquired or earned during the years of union. To the parents, all other properties or to the dead man’s siblings if the parents are already dead, provided those with children get more than those without children, or to the closest of kin, if the dead man has no children, parents or siblings.

In the olden days, the slaves (baga-en) of the dead landowner could not get any property but household servants could, if the master was rich (baknang) or of the nobility (karangjan). (See Moss, Pungayan)

The Impan-ama

The Impan-ama (wisest man) of the village always said what was right. These are ennemneman/nanemneman (literally endowed with great thinking). The wisest man does not necessarily include only the rich men but also those of known wisdom and of great age.

The Impan-ama could change the custom law but such changes should be agreed to by the people in an ulnong/agum (a summoned gathering). Once a law is agreed to by the people and if one does not obey, the violator can be subjected to by the Impan-ama to be punished by the people accordingly.

All cases of property disputes or allotment not agreed to by family or by related individual are decided by the Impan-ama. Even the last will of a dying begettor can be altered by the Impan-ama, if such will is objected to by some of the concerned and that, further, if the same is seen as unfair to some of the begettor’s heirs. The practice of contesting the will is that when a man is dying, it is highly possible that his thinking is not so strong and the man becomes mankedas/mandebdebkhan (forgetful).

Tongtong / Ngalat

All cases deemed complex by the Impan-ama was brought to the tongtong, the Impan-ama in-council.

The tongtong resolved all cases, old or new, on the basis of custom laws and therefore most of its decisions are held binding and final, otherwise, the unsatisfied party can challenge for the dreaded inibayosan/inibayos.

Members of the tongtong are not paid, they meet whenever they are needed, but even it there is no case in the community of their coverage, they meet at least once a year in any place agreed to by themselves as convenient.

The tongtong was the supreme law that prevails where there were conflicts of interpretation on custom laws. The tongtong decision always prevailed and such a situation always signaled the ending of a case. Therefore, since the tongtong decision is the last decision, all other treatments applied to a decided case are solely by the participants and if brought again to the tongtong, these are either rejected or regarded as different or new cases.

Traditional Responsibilities to land. The protection, conservation and development of the land and the environment through the indigenous knowledge systems and practices has been passed from generations to generations. Today’s generation is bounded by this intergenerational responsibility in preparation for the future generation’s survival. Customary laws are unwritten yet they are binding and effective. However the impact of education is putting some of this unwritten set of rules and regulation to the brink of oblivion.

Entry of migrants were not allowed for fear of destruction of their domain or disrespect of customary practices which may result to misunderstanding, conflict or violence. Houses were not allowed near the water sources for fear of pollution or the eventual private claim of water rights. In gathering resources within the land, it is also customary that what are to be gathered are those that are needed only. Corresponding penalties are meted to those who gather excessively.

Areas of thick forest and dense vegetation believe to be the abode of spirits are left undisturbed, for a mere trespassing is violent offense to the dwellers. Violators may die a violent death if they don’t appease the spirits by performing rituals.

Like the enacted laws, customary laws when violated have their own corresponding penalties. A case cited happened many years ago in Topdac, Atok when a notorious bandit was killed by the community people because despite being summoned and advised by the elders, he continued sowing fear by continuing his notorious stealing and illegal activities.

Accordingly, such person if not meted the death penalty, shall be subject to public condemnation and therefore looked down in the community as unworthy and thus considered an outcast. This conviction shall be carried over to his innocent children suffering shame and disgrace.

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Traditionally, the forest serves several uses to the Ibalois, the Kankanaeys and Kalanguyas of Atok. The forest is seen as the source of firewood (kaiwan), wood for house construction (pan-amag si baey), source of vines (vahal), sticks (pao) for trellis, or bambo. Other uses include the forest as pan-anupan (hunting ground) for wildlife like bowet, otot or wigit, amkis, motit, makawas, etc., pantagdeyan (place for snaring) birds, sabag (wild chicken), etc., panbague-an (for getting mushrooms), pan-ayusipan (getting black berries), panbagiwan (moss), pan-alaan si pan-alad (getting food for fencing).


The products of the forest include a variety of items like lumber (tabda), and other items like mushrooms (bagel), kutiting, and kore; honey (dinawan), wild ube (kalut), wild fruits like karang, oyok, panuypuy, bintulong, and bajating (wild bananas).

Other endemic products of the forest are guipas or subosob (wild tea), beka, boted, or kawayan (bamboo), wakal (vines), pao (sticks), baguingey (wild fern), and atep (cogon grass for house roofing), among others. Pine wood can also be made into coffin, and other construction materials.


The people of the community realized that forest conservation is necessary and this can be done through doable things that are already in place in the community such as the following: avoiding the burning of the forest, i.e. enchi popool or adi manpupuo si duntog as observed in Naguey, Pasdong, Poblacion, Abiang and Caliking, regulating the cutting of trees or magay manpupuyos kaiw as in Abiang, Caliking, Cattubo and Paoay. Community efforts in forest fire control like the conduct of sebseb (dousing fire with water) and depdep (swatting off fire through the use of plant leaves) are traditional ways that are sometimes effective. These are efforts that require community participation.


Those who have exclusive rights in the use of the forest are supposed to be the inhabitants or residents themselves, i.e. the man-ili or umili and the teeng or the original settlers. Use of the forest is not limited only to the settlers but also to wild animals that live in it as claimed by Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion residents.


The impositions of sanctions in relation to forest conservation are functions that emanate from the nanakay or nanabkes in the community.


The forest are believed to beoccupied by spirits. Any activities undertaken in the forest requires that one must have to pray, ask permission, or do some rituals to the spirits. For example, among the residents of Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion, they have to recite a “madmad” (prayer) before cutting trees to be made into a kulong (coffin). In Abiang and Caliking, they too must recite a madmad (prayer) when entering into the forest. Sometimes, “isapuan da,” i.e. they have to offer something, maybe a chicken sacrifice. In Cattubo and Paoay, they also say their madmad together with an offering of tapey (rice wine) to prevent any “paw-at” (untoward incidents that might happen to them while in the forest).


The different barangays of Atok have identified and maintained their respective watershed areas. It was pointed out that an area in the barangay that is too steep for any form of cultivation is allocated for use as a watershed area for the barangay. No individual in the barangay is allowed to declare the area for their exclusive use because this is reserved for community use.


An area that is identified and considered as a watershed area is protected by the community. Kaingin burning (pool), or any form of cleaning or clearing is not allowed. Even the construction of houses in the watershed area is discouraged in Poblacion, Naguey and Pasdong. Abiang and Caliking residents mentioned that if it is necessary to fence off the area (aladan), they will do it. In Cattubo and Paoay, maiparit di manlaba sin kad-an di obo-ban (it is prohibited to wash clothing near the water spring).


In Poblacion, Naguey and Pasdong, the water sources (temtem) are considered as the home of the botattews (Saint Elmo’s Fire) who are supposed to be maintaining clean the water source and at the same time increase or decrease the volume of water. To insure a continuous supply of water, rituals are offered to the so-called guardians of the water sources. It was claimed that every now and then, isapsapu-an or edagdagaan da (they offer sacrifices) to the Tumungao (spirits occupying water sources).

When constructing water reservoir or water tanks, due caution must be observed so that direct water springs should not be covered or obstructed least you cover the passage ways of the botatew and the kiwet (eel) and the water spring will be transferred to another location.

People should not quarrel about water and its use. It should be free and anyone in the community can have access to it. This will ensure its continuity; otherwise when the guardians of the water withdrew their favors, it will be the loss of water.


The people’s concept of water is that “Water is biag (life)”. Water is for “kataguan or kabiyagan di amin,” i.e. water is vital for the survival of everyone. Be it for domestic or irrigation use, water is a prime necessity.

Who have rights over water/ watershed in the barangay.

The man-ili or umili, the barangay residents, have exclusive rights on their water and their watershed areas. The te-eng (elders) of the community maintained their rights on their water and they will continue to do so with the provisions provided by IPRA. 

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The municipality of Atok has a vast resource of minerals, both metallic and non-metallic. The metallic minerals include gold, copper, and silver that are found in Naguey, Pasdong, Poblacion, Caliking, Paoay, and Cattubo. The non-metallic include the sand and gravel that are found in Caliking, Cattubo and Paoay, the boulders (bato) that are carved into disongan (mortars) in Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion as well as the rocks for riprapping that are found in Cattubo and Paoay, the legleg or clay shampoo found in Abiang, Paoay and Cattubo, the egod (hygienic rocks) found in Cattubo and Paoay, and the mineral hot spring located in Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion.


The mineral resources found in the domain of Atok were mostly used by the umili or man-ili (residents of the municipality) themselves in the respective barangays where these resources are found. Outsiders in the barangay or in the municipality are not allowed to extract the mineral resources, especially gold. The gold resources were usually extracted by abukay, usok or sawil/dawil (lode mining) or by sayo / balkis (placer mining). The abukay is simply following the earth crust or eroded mountain sides where naba (gold ore) are found and then extract the ore. The usok (tunnel method) is the drilling of a mine tunnel following the gold veins and then extracting the ore. The sawil/dawil (use of crowbars) to dig on the gold vein. For the sayo / balkis method of extraction, the gold is washed off from the ore deposits in the river bed. The balkis (sluice pan) is usually an elongated structure lined with jute sacks where water carrying gold particles and dirt are allowed to pass through. The jute sacks filter the gold powders.


The Ibalois, Kankanaeys and Kalanguya of Atok believed that some unseen spirits controls the mineral resources. It is for this reason that rituals are always resorted to when engage in this kind of activities. Before starting with an activity, especially when opening a new tunnel, small scale miners in most barangays of Atok perform a boton (divination) ceremony to find out if it is worthwhile to proceed with their activities and if the spirit guardian of the minerals will allow them to do so. Those from Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion usually recite a madmad (prayer) with the sacrifice of a derrem (black) native pig. A good augury of the gall bladder and liver of the butchered pig will insure that they will be lucky in their undertaking. The small scale miners claimed that if the boton is favorable then the sacrifice of a pig is necessary for good blessings.

The Ibaloi, Kankanaey and Kalanguya small scale miners adhere to a number of taboos when indulge in the gold extraction. Among the prohibitions include the kind of food that is brought into the workplace. For example, miners are not allowed to eat or bring food that are mandangsi/manlengsi like fish, dog meat, beef, horse and even goat’s meat. These types of meat are believed to be abhorred by the guardian spirits and may cause bad luck in the gold extraction process. Another prohibition that they are strict about is the sex taboo. If the miner plans to go into the mine tunnel, he should refrain from even sleeping side by side with his wife (“magay manda-daag sakbay ay man-ubla shin usok”) as claimed by miners from Abiang and Caliking.

Among the small scale miners, sagaok is open to the public (bulos di sagaok). Sagaok is the process by which other members of the community, usually old men or women and children, relatives or not, can go and request for a share of the naba (gold ores) that are being brought out by the miners from the mine tunnel (makisagaok). Generous sharing of the gold ore is a norm among the traditional miners and a behavior that may seek favors from the guardian spirits. 

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World views: Man, the Gods and the Spirits

The Benguet Igorot, particularly the Ibalois and Kankanaeys, believe in the presence of gods and spirits. In the hierarchy of the gods and spirits, Kabunian is recognized as the highest and lower to him are gods and goddesses and spirits. The gods and goddesses, sometimes referred to as the children of Kabunian, come in pairs as husband and wife, brother and brother, or brother and sister. There are at least 13 pairs of recognized gods and goddesses in the Igorot belief system.
The gods and goddesses are believed to be responsible for what is happening here on earth. They have the power to make man progressive or impoverished depending on the offering of appropriate rituals and sacrifices. The gods and goddesses have specific designations and functions to perform according to the different aspects of human endeavor. Based on their respective jurisdictions, the gods and goddesses are invoked to bestow blessings to the people. For example, Bugan is invoked for good animal domestication, Ubbang for good harvest, and Lumawig is the luck giver of hunters and fishermen, among others.

The spirits are classified as nature, ancestral and spirits of the living. The nature spirits are claimed to be the offspring of the gods. They live in the environment and interact with man. The ancestral spirits are classified as (a) the ammed and kadaring, spirits of ancestors who died naturally and who are believed to be good spirits and (b) the penten, spirits of relatives who died unnaturally, i.e. they died of accidents (drowning, vehicular, suicide, etc.). Nature spirits are generally malevolent and do harm to man unless propitiated through rituals. In the Ibalaoi-Kankanaey religious life, one maintains a close relationship with the spirit because they attribute whatever blessings they received and hardships they experienced to the spirits beings. These are seen as capable of manipulating ones status or position in life for better or for worst. For this reason, every Ibaloi or Kankanaey is conscious to work for both the living and the spirit beings. The ab-abiik or kadkadua is the spirit of the living. When this spirit separates from the physical body, the person becomes indisposed unless proper rites are performed and instituted.

The Ibalois and kankanaeys perceived the gods/goddesses and spirits to live in a five-fold world. Kabunian resides in Ataklip na among the sun, the stars, and the moon. Sometimes this gives the impression that the sun, moon, stars and other heavenly bodies represent Kabunian. Hence, prayers are addressed to these heavenly bodies. Taklip na or Liwes (cloud level) is where the children of Kabunian resides -- the gods and the goddesses, namely: Kabigat and BuganBalitok and BanganGatan and BangnanAmduyan and UbbangSuyan and Lingan, etc. The ammed (spirits of ancestors who died a natural death) lives in Gawdan or Gawgawdan which is the level proximate to the summit of Mount Pulag that is often in confluence with the clouds.

Kalutaan is the earth where man resides together with the nature spirits: the surface and underworld spirits. The surface spirits lived in Ligligan (generally the surrounding environment). They are the timengaw, ampasit, bayani, mante-es bilig, etc. The underworld spirits lived in Dalem or in Kalinugan (where the water sinks). These are the an-anitos that are generally malevolent. They always desire to harm man in order that man will feed them through animal sacrifices and other offerings.
Also dwelling in Kalutaan are the (1) kadaring (spirit of relatives and believed to be good spirits), (2) penten (these are the spirits who live in those places where they meet their death and entice people to die a similar death as they did), and (3) angel/banig (spirits of people who recently died). 
The nature spirits lived in identified places in Ligligan (environment). Some live on trees, rocks, rivers, etc. The timongaws living on the trees are characterized to be rich because they want precious things like jars, money, valuable blankets and white pigs as offerings. The timongaws on rocky places, along the rivers, and other areas where there is water are usually cruel and foolish because they usually hurt people and animals and they have to be offered delicious foods and valuables like chicken, palata or old silver coins, and blankets. Sometimes, they marry or have sexual relations with human beings that they fancy. There are accounts of such sexual relations between man and spirits, one of which is that of Apo Anno, one of the Igorot mummies. To free oneself from such relationships one has to perform rituals, e.g. pasang.

The timongaws living on the fields/gardens and kaingins are called ampasit who help people in their works if they like them otherwise they destroy their crops. The ampasit, too, harm people who destroy some of their belongings such as chinaware. They make people sick in order to demand from them payments for their destroyed properties. The timongaws who are called al-alinga-as live in mountains or abandoned houses. They are believed to be poor timongaws. While they make people sick, they seem to accept anything offered them just to be appeased.

The matrix below presents the different levels of the spirit world and the respective dwellers.

Atakip na (beyond the clouds) Kabuninan as manifested through the sun, the moon, the stars and constellations
Liwes or taklip na (cloud level) 13 pairs of Gods and Goddesses
Gawdan (Mt. Pulag Level) Ancestral Spirits
Kalutaan (earth surface) Man and the nature spirits and Penten (spirits of those who died unnaturally like suicide or accident victims)
Dalem (under earth) Underworld Gods and Goddesses and spirits

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Man communicates with the spirits through prayers and rituals. He can communicate directly to the Kabunian or the spirits through “madmad” (individual personal prayers) and “ibayos” (prayer for mercy or for direct intercession of gods or spirits for the plight of an individual), or through the “ated” or "bunong" (prayers) of religious intermediaries (manbunong, man-ated ormambaki) during a ritual celebration. The religious rituals officiated by a mambunong or a man-ated are generally formal rituals performed primarily for festivities (e.g. peshit) or for curative intents (e.g. the lado rituals).

The local religious practitioners in the community are classified accordingly as mansip-ok (diviners or soothsayers), mambunong (priests or shamans), and mankutom (wise elders well versed with custom law). In the practice of their religious functions, these practitioners are not necessarily different but are often complementary. Their respective functions shall be dealt with accordingly.

a) The Mansip-ok (Diviners) (Ib.: mansi-buk; Kan.: Mansib-ok)

The diviners diagnose the cause of illness or afflictions of a person. They are named or labeled differently according to the medium that they use. A manbuyon use metals in his or her divination. A mansip-ok determines the cause of something through prayers or vision. The manbaknew uses water, gin or rice wine. The man-ila or man-anap utilizes visions, among others. The man-asas are another type of diviners.

The diviners are as important as the mambunong in the community. They are generally consulted in times of illness or difficulties because they can see what others cannot. They can predict a future occurrence, determine the causes of people’s maladies or misfortunes, or recommend measures to cure or remedy human problems and afflictions. In most cases, a mambunong can be a mansip-ok. However, a mambuyon who performs a sip-ok cannot officiate the ritual he prescribes. It must be another mambunong. This is to ensure the efficacy of the ritual.

Generally referred to as mansip-ok, these diviners utilize several media. Mr. Wasing Sakla identifies several methods employed by the mansip-ok. (1) the use of bobod or yeast, (2) the use of tapey (rice wine), (3) the use of an egg, (4) the chicken-blood method, (5) the mansip-ok’s use of flint rocks or metals, and (6) manpotos seeing through his patient what is wrong with him.

The findings or diagnoses of a mansip-ok is not always final and his recommendations not always executory. It is only when the findings are properly confirmed do these become final. There are several ways of confirming such findings: (1) Several mansip-oks are consulted and when their diagnoses at least tally with each other, there is strong basis to abide by it. (2) The findings must be “isip-ok” or “idngaw” to the sick patient to find out if it will have any favorable effect. This is done by chewing the root of a “dengaw”, a sweet flag grass (Arocus Calamus L.) to elicit its sweet aroma and then praying over the head of the person with affliction. The chewed dengaw is then rubbed over his head. When the sick person finally recovers in a few days, that diagnoses is probably correct and the ritual is performed. (3) Tapey (rice wine) is prepared from kintoman (red aromatic rice) and then stored in a traditional jar. While storing the rice, a prayer is recited invoking the spirits who may have caused the person’s malady. These spirits are informed that they are now religiously preparing for the prescribed ritual and that if that happens to be the reason for the sickness or misfortune of the person, let the spirits show signs of recovery from the sick person so that the ritual may be pursued.

b) The Mankutom (Interpreter of signs/ overseer of tradition)

The mankutom may be a mambuyon or mambunong but generally he is neither. The mankutoms are distinguished as experts in the interpretation of customary law and traditional beliefs. They interpret dreams or signs and symbols believed to be sent by the spirits or gods. These religious practitioners are regarded as important figures in the community. But the onslaught and appurtenances of modernity are gradually pushing these figures into obscurity.

The mankutom is simply an ordinary citizen but who is considered a wise man in the community for his expertise in the tenets of custom law. They may be persons who have reached higher stages of the peshit (prestige rite) and are therefore respected in the community. They are incidentally composed of elders, generally males, who see to it that tradition is properly followed according to the ways of the community. They supervise the rituals being performed and sometimes dictate on the mambunong. Omens observed during rituals are subject to the interpretation of the mankutom. For example, they interpret the meaning of the bile and gall bladder as well as the liver of a chicken or pig whether these are good or not. Their interpretation is based on their experiences and observations. A person’s dream is ripe for a mankutom’s interpretation especially if these dreams occur during a ritual celebration or during declared ngilin or rest days. Dreams during a death ritual, especially among members of a bereaved family, are considered very important and these must be told to the elders for interpretation. It was told that it is during a ritual celebration when ancestral spirits visit their living relatives and show them signs, which will make them prosperous in life. Such signs must be interpreted accordingly and the sangbu (acceptance ritual) performed so that such gift from the spirits will come to fruition. Among the Kankanaeys, the present status of a family can be attributed to his sangbu or acceptance of a gift from the ancestral spirits.

The mankutom performs other functions in the community. As a respected and judicious man, he is sometimes approached by community members on matters pertaining to the family and other community issues and problems. The settling of disputes among family members (issues on separation between husband and wife), boundary disputes on properties, or other concerns besetting a person or his family, are common themes in which the mankutom operates.

c) The Mambunong (Native Priest or Shaman)

The Mambunong/ Mambaki/ man-ated is the local priest/ priestess who performs or solemnizes the rites identified by the diviners. These religious practitioners, either male or female, are as a rule, come from the nabiteg/ abiteg or poor class in the community. However, their role in the community is important for they are sought by anyone, rich or poor, when their services are needed. They officiate the performance of the rituals as the rituals as the self-proclaimed messengers between man and the spirits or Kabunian.

It was observed that the mambunong, being commissioned by Kabunian to be the people’s spiritual leader, is naturally charged with the duty of playing messenger Every time a community member seeks a communication with Kabunian or other minor gods. While it is in the hands of the Kadangyan (rich men) that Kabunian is said to have entrusted the responsibility of worldly (i.e. temporal) leadership, the spiritual needs of the community including those of the rich, rest in the hands of the mambunong.

It can be noted that the mambunong serves as an intermediary between a sick person and the offending spirits. The mambunong communicates to the spirits a family’s prayers to free a sick person from his afflictions. From the augury presented through the bile of the sacrificial animals offered during the ritual, the mambunong can now determine whether the prayers are answered or not. A favorable sign means that the ritual offering is accepted and for the sick person, a cure supposed to be expected soon.

Mr. Sacla observes that among the Benguet Igorots (Kankanaeys and Ibalois), the mambunong is “a healer in times of sickness, a comforter in times of death, an exalter in times of victory, and as a counselor in times of difficulties.”

To become a mambunong is not an economically profitable profession. But a person has to accept the position if the opportunities warrant that he has to become one. There are several ways by which a person may become a mambunong. Among these are the following: (1) by heredity, (2) by succession, (3) by popular choice, and (4) by constraint.

To become a mambunong by heredity means that the trait, talent, or characteristic of being a mambunong is passed down by an ancestor spirit to living descendant upon the spirit’s discretion. A person who once had an ancestor who was a mambunong will eventually have attributes as a mambunong such as his perceptive familiarity of the ritual performances. Without his knowing, he is becoming himself a mambunong.

A mambunong by succession is simply becoming a mambunong by desire. A person who is interested to become a mambunong learns from the real mambunong the rudiments of the profession. He becomes an apprentice to the mambunong for sometime until he becomes familiar with the bunong (prayers) and the ritual requirements and processes. Once conversant now of the various rituals, he performs a buton (divination) to find out if the ancestral spirits or the gods agree with his becoming a mambunong. If the augury of the chicken or the pig’s bile prognosticate negative signs, this means that his knowledge or preparation for mambunongship is not yet adequate and he has to wait for an appropriate time, otherwise he may not be fit for such a noble profession.

To become a mambunong by popular choice, a person who is knowledgeable and versatile on matters of custom law and religious practices can be a candidate for the mambunong profession and may be prevailed upon by the consensus of his community to accept the job. 

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The Benguet Igorot have a number of rituals that can be classified as to the following: Life crisis rituals that are often associated to the person’s life from childbirth to death. These may include curative rituals to heal a sick person or preventive rituals to avert an impending misfortune to a person such as sickness, accident or even death. The festivity rituals are performed in celebration or in pursuit of certain status in life. The peshit and pedit can be included in ritual. The sangbo can also be included in this category. The community agricultural rituals are rituals that involved the whole community. The pakde of the kankanaeys represent this kind of community ritual.

Ritual animals sacrificed can differ accordingly from chicken to pigs to cows or carabaos. At times dogs, goats, ducks and other fowls are offered. As to functions, rituals can be for festivities (peshit/ pedit, sangbu, kiad, etc.) or for curative intents (i.e. the lado rituals).

Life Crisis Rituals

Rituals related to child bearing:

Pasang. A childless couple performs this so that they may obtain favor from the kabunyan to give them children.

Baeng. A ritual where a pig or two is butchered to hasten delivery of child or to cure a sickly child. This ritual is also performed during prolonged and painful childbirth.

Dawdawak. Maksil, Anawang, Passang, Sagawsaw. These ceremonies are offered for a pregnant woman approaching the day of delivery to ensure that she would not experience severe labor pains. Two rituals are performed hours after the mother gave birth. The first ritual, which is performed inside the house, is called maksil. It is done to welcome a newly born member of the family. The chicken is the ritual animal and is eaten by the elders for the reason that the elders who eat its have to conduct themselves morally; so that when the child grows up he will live a life worth emulating. The second ritual performed outside the house is called dawdawak or anawang. This ritual is performed to restore the health of the exhausted mother after giving birth. The ritual is performed to appeal to the Kabunyan to extend their healing power to the mother for a quick recovery to nurse her baby.

Basal-lang. This is offered after the woman had given birth so that she would not experience either profuse bleeding or suffers skin disease.

On Marriage:

Kape/ Kaong/ Teteg. This is performed in celebration of a marriage.

Es-eset/. This is a ritual performed after the husband and wife have been reconciled by their families and elders due to a quarrel, which may lead to a separation. A pig is offered to the Kabunyan and ancestors and an appeal for meterial blessing for the family because they promise to live a better life.

Sabosab. This ritual is performed: (a) to reconcile broken relations between kin brought about by quarrels and disputes, (b) to dispense the marriage taboo between close relatives, and (c) to neutralize the harmful effect of the lightning strike in the vicinity of a house wherein it is believed that the food stocks and plants are affected by the flash.

On death:

Mangmang. Invoked during this ritual is for the spirit to Mangmang. This is a ceremony celebrated for the first death anniversary of a person and ending the period of mourning for the spouse.

Kiyad. This perfumed to satisfy the spirits of the dead ancestors. No pig is butchered during this feast, only carabao or a horse. The offering is believed to have curative effect as well as the capacity to prolong the life of the performer. There is no dancing during this ritual but rice wine is served.

This is a ritual performed to cure an illness of the member of a family upon the prescription of the diviner. It is believed that when one of the ancestors had performed it, then one of the descendants’ children or grandchildren will have to perform it again. The case of a descendant performing such ritual is referred to as “onkalat”. To consummate this ritual, a horse, carabao or cow must be slaughtered and the meat, eaten and distributed to the community members who are gathered for the occasion.

Sinagawsaw/Sinikwit. This ceremony is offered to a departed ancestor who had performed the same ritual in his own lifetime.Dawigi. This is a ritual offered to the spirit of the deceased who died in a vehicular accident.

Lobon. After the burial of the father or mother, the bereaved members of the family having houses of their own perform the lobon in their respective house. This is to invite the spirit of the departed to visit or dwell in the dwelling of his children. The ritual also signify the parting of the spirits (kadkadwa/ab-abiik) of the dead from this world and leave behind the good fortunes, health, prosperity and desirable traits to his family. The ritual animal offered is pig.

Lawit / Dawit. Oftentimes, during a fall and especially during the period of mourning, souls or spirits of the living are frightened and believed to leave the person and wander off. To call back these souls or spirits, the manbunong perform the rituals during this celebration to allow the person to become whole and live well. This canao is performed most often after death occurs in the family circle. The performer offers blankets, chickens and pigs, among others, to please the Kabunyan and Kabigat. (see also tawal and lawit).

The ritual is performed to call back the spirit of the living (ab-abiik, kadkadua) who may have wandered in the sky world (gawgawdan) or to dalem (underworld). When a person appears to be deeply disturbed after experiencing some kind of misfortune like death in the family, an accident or other untoward occurrences like natural disasters, the lawit is performed so as to call back his ab-abiik who has wandered to another world.

Others forms of life crisis rituals performed by the Ibalois and Kankanaeys of the Atok may include the following:

The following are some of the various rituals performed among the Ibaloi and Kankanaey communities:

Bagol is a ritual performed to drive evil spirits especially when somebody becomes crazy or cruel. This is quite similar to the temmo.

It is a ritual performed when a person is crazy, foolish, and cruel and when a person becomes hot tempered. The animal used for offering is usually a dog; a tibanglan (giant fern) is also used.

When a person manifest such characteristics as being hot tempered, cruel or with lunatic tendencies, a mambuyon may be consulted and when temmo is found to be the cause of the problem, then a mambunong is called and the temmo ritual is performed. This is usually done away from the house. Generally participated in by men, the ritual commences with a group of men sent to get tibanglan shaped into a human head and to be brought to the ritual site. They would be shouting owag as they approach simulating a by-gone head taking practice. As the head taking party arrives, the mambunong meets them and asks whose head they have taken. The party then would respond mentioning the name of a famous head hunter, or whoever. Then the mambunong gives the absolution, the sacrificial dog is butchered, and the prayer-chant commences. When the prayer-chant is over, the dog is butchered. Once again, the cooked meat is offered to the spirits after which the men gathered partake of the meat. After meals, the mambunong or a trusted elder hides the hunted head (tibanglan) in a place not easily reached by anyone.
The tomo is a ritual to ward off the spirits of people who died an unnatural death and prevent them from haunting a sick person. Had the sick person participated in the spilling of the blood of another person whether directly or indirectly, the tomo ritual is intended to cleanse or purify him from guilt and from his sickness. 

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Amdag/ Amlag

This is caused by unexplained illness such as headache, toothache, stomachache, etc. The Amdag is performed when Bagbagisen and his three dogs hunt or capture the souls of human beings: It is performed during the night to prevent other victims from being captured. Besides, at night, everyone is in his/her respective house and only a very few travel. The tools used as offerings include the metallic things like bolos, spears, crowbars, etc. Dogs, chicken and pigs are also used as offerings.

The amdag is a curative ritual offered to the in-amdagan, a malevolent nature spirit which journeys on mountain, valleys and creeks hunting for human spirits. When somebody hears the bark of in-amdagan’s hunting dog, he has to offer the amdag to pay for his soul which is being hunted, otherwise, he will suffer an unbearable headache and a stomach ache which cannot be cured by herbal and modern medicine. A chicken offering can suffice for this ritual but more may be offered until the In-amdagan spirit is pleased. The service of a mambunong is required in this kind of ritual.


This batbat ritual is performed to cure a lingering sickness of a household member. Batbat does not simply depend upon the discretion of the household.

Batbat is one of those curative rituals (sometimes referred to as life crisis rituals) which have to be performed when an elder or a mansip-ok (diviner) finds out that such a ritual is “kinmalat”, i.e. the main cause of a sickness. As such it becomes imperative. This happens when a departed ancestor craves for material things like blankets, animals or a re-burial to another place especially in his home lot. The ritual usually starts in the evening and is finished the next day. At least two pigs are butchered; one in the evening and the other on the next day. There is no dancing but the drinking of tapey lasts until the supply lasts. In the performance of this ritual, the elders meticulously follow what is required by the ritual. Failure to implement what has been required may mean the failure of the ritual. It is told that any deficiency in the ritual can always be determined through the mansip-ok or sometimes the spirit can always speak through a medium, i.e. person possessed by the spirit of the ancestor and then give his instructions or pin point certain omissions in the ritual performance. In the case of the sick family member for whom the ritual is offered, the sickness may linger for a time unless the necessary remedies are offered.


Etong is a feast performed for the souls “Kadaring” of the departed to dance (“penajawan ni kadaring”). This is similar to the agamid or the panayawan among the Kankanaeys. The Panayawan is intended for the spirit of the deceased to dance his Tayao which is symbolic of his flight to the spirit world or to Mt. Pulag, which is the sanctuary of dead ancestors. It marks the culmination of the mourning because after the panayawan, the bereaved relatives can now resume their normal work and are free to travel. Animals such as pigs, cows, and carabaos are offered depending on the status of the person. These animals are believed to be taken by the spirit of the deceased to the spirit world where he will continue to take care of them.

Liyaw/ Liaw/ Diyaw

Liyaw can be performed for the cure of skin afflictions, for appeasing angry spirits, for goodwill with spirits inhabiting one’s farm, or for prosperity. When a person is afflicted with severe skin diseases and liyaw is diagnosed as the cause of such, then a chicken or a pig is offered to appease the spirit. When the house or trees standing in the farm is struck by lightning, a god may have been angered and to appease this god, liyaw is performed. To prevent the infestation of crops in the farms, liyaw is also offered. Liyaw is also performed especially during the planting season to ensure general prosperity in the domestication of plants and animals.

Timengaw/ Ampasit

The timengaw are sensitive nature spirits which dwell in rocks, trees, rivers, abandoned house, caves, etc. When the dwelling places of the timengaw has been disturbed, they inflict serious afflictions to any member of the household. To cure such, the mansip-ok or the mambunong will have to establish the cause and the appropriate rituals will be performed. Timengaw as a ritual, is performed to avert or cure skin afflictions, impotency, insanity or even death.


Pasang is a ritual performed when a couple cannot bear a child; it is believed that a temporary impotency of one occurs when one of the couple is married by a timongaw. The term pasang can also refer to a sickness caused by spirits who possess certain powers to inflict sterility and drowsiness. There are two types of pasang: Pasang di timmengao (underworld) and pasang di Kabunyan (skyworld). Pasang di timmengao occurs when symptoms show that the person is always sleepy even during daytime. If this happens, it is believed that the spirit of he person may have been taken by the timmengao as a spouse. This is usually manifested in the dreams of the person, which may be about having a nice relationship with a person he does not know. Chicken serves as the sacrificial animal for this ritual but pigs may also be used as the case warrants it.

For the pasang di Kabunyan, thesymptoms do not show physical sickness but only the fertility aspect of the couple is affected. For example, a newly wed couple may not be blessed with a child after quite sometime of cohabitation. When the gods suspend the abilities of the couple to bear children, it is the god’s way of manifesting their desire for gifts from the married couple. As a practice, a couple who has been married for sometimes but cannot bear a child would often consult the doctors but when the doctor cannot find anything wrong with either of them, they then resort to tradition. When the mambunong or mansip-ok finds out that the couple will have to offer a bigger ritual where larger animals are butchered. Incorporated into this bigger ritual is the curative ritual – i.e. the pasang di Kabunyan. The pasang may possibly be incorporated in a sida or a pedit.

Kechaw/ Kedaw

The kechaw is a ritual to satisfy the desire of one or two ancestors who are in need of chicken, pigs, g-strings or tapis, blankets, etc. or even money. The Kankanaey believe that the human person is composed of the physical body and the ab-abiik (soul). When the ab-abiik of the person is summoned by some spirits, particularly ancestral spirits, because they want to express their desires for some material needs such as blankets, animals, etc., the person becomes sick. When a mansip-ok finally determines that the cause of sickness of the person is the kechaw/ kedaw, then that ritual has to be offered to that particular ancestor so that the ab-abiik of the person will return and his physical body will get well. The materials as well as the animals requested by the ancestor depend on he social status of the ancestor. Sometimes, when the ancestor would like to dance or perform a tayaw, then the ritual becomes bigger and more animals will be butchered and offered to the spirit so as to satisfy their demands from living relatives. 

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This is another ritual to control or remedy the temperamental or quarrelsome tendencies of a member of the family. The Ibalois believe that when members of the family always quarrel verbally or even to the extent of hurting one another, then the sabusab must be performed to curb any curse which may be causing the sickness or misfortunes to the members of the family or household. A pig or a dog is the sacrificial animal required. When the food is ready, the quarreling parties which are separated by pieces of wood, are each served a plate of rice and a plate of meat. The mambunong prays over the food and after the prayer, the quarreling parties exchange plates. When the parties partake of the food offered, then there will be peace between the two and whatever curses uttered before will now be erased. Each party then forgives the other.


This is a ritual performed to facilitate the healing of a wound accidentally inflicted by blade or pointed instruments like knives, bolos’ axes, etc. Assorted leaves of plants are gathered and used as ritual paraphernalia. No animals are offered. Only prayers will do. After the sibisib, the blade or pointed instruments are kept for a while to prevent similar accidents later. An old man who knows the prayer of the sibisib can perform the ritual.

Sumang or Topya/ Topja

These are rituals performed to cure or counteract illnesses caused by angja (witchcraft). Sumang is for less serious illness and topya is for more serious illness caused by a strong mengaja (sorcerer). Feuds between two families often result in the performance of witchcraft or sorcery by one of the families involved. So that when one family feels that it is being the victims of witchcraft or sorcery, the members have to perform the sumang or the topya/ topja for self-defense. Ducks and dogs are the sacrificial animals for these rituals.

Festivity ritualsSangbo

This ritual is offered to Kabunyan in appreciation of the good fortune that was expected from them. Some omens are regarded as signifying good fortune, and it is believed that bad luck would fall upon those who did not perform sangbo as a way of thanking to the Kabunyan.

This is performed as an acceptance of certain signs or symbols which are interpreted as good omens or signs from the ancestors or from Kabunyan and is considered as a Kankanaey formula of success. The Kankanaeys believe that ancestral spirits or the spirits of recently departed relatives can make the living relatives rich by sending them omen signs subject to the wise interpretation of the mankutom and mambunong and the performance of the sangbu ritual. Such omen signs can be observed in dreams. In ritual performances especially in the reading of animal’s bile and liver, and in physical signs observed in the household.

Three omens are particularly observed during and after the performance of a ritual in the household. An interviewee, for example, related that during a ritual, a member of the family dreamt that he is being given by one of his ancestor, a bundle of “iwik” (pointed wood pegs used for killing pigs during rituals), the mambunong and the mankutom interpreted this dream as a good omen. The sangbu was then performed to accept whatever blessings that “iwik” would bring them. Sometime after this, the family observed that whenever they plant carrots, the prices of it in the market goes high. Such luck in the planting of carrots is attributed to the “iwik” for which they performed the sangbu.

In relation to the signs observed during ritual performances, the bile and liver of the chicken or a pig butchered is closely observed for good omens. The enormous size of the bile sac, splitted bile sac (“sip-il”), several bile sacs in one pig, or the reduced or increased number of lobes in the liver, are among the common signs for which the sangbu ritual is performed. Sr. Lilia Canol observed that among the Kankanaeys, the gall bladder is considered good and favorable if it is “pasliten” (perfect, full and is in upright position), “sinmisimlit” (projecting lightly or jutting out slightly), “nak-eban” (hidden or completely enclosed in the liver), “mapdis” (gall bladder is longer than the liver), “mosamos” (no gall bladder at all; is rare and a sign of wealth). Other signs observed in the house for which the sangbu can be performed can include the following: the building honey comb or bee hives inside the house, the entry of snakes, queer looking insects, or birds into the house during or after a ritual and stay for a while.

These signs are usually referred to the mambunong or to the mankutom for their interpretation. The elders would interpret these signs according to their past experiences and observations. When the sign is deemed a good omen then a “buton” is performed to further consult the spirits about it. If the “buton” indeed augurs well, then the sangbu is performed. The only sacrificial animal used in a sangbu is a native pig.


Peshit or Pedit is a big feast performed by a rich family as a sort of thanksgiving. It is a popular belief of the Kankanaeys and Ibalois that with the performance of the pedit, the spirits will always reciprocate with blessings of long life, good health, fertility and economic prosperity. One is then encouraged to perform a peshit because this is one occasion where the ancestral spirits come in to shower good blessings over a couple and the family. A peshit usually takes several days and there is lot of dancing and merrymaking. Usually, for a couple’s first peshit, three pigs are butchered. Then is followed by subsequent feasts wherein five, seven, nine, eleven, or more are sacrificed (more than 10 pigs are referred to as sinbakid or san bahid). A peshit involving more than 20 pigs is referred to as naasawaan.

Among the Kankanaeys, the apex of a pedit performance is when one reaches the 25 pig sacrifice. The ibaloi performs successive peshits with the number of sacrificial pigs increasing in pairs. A person who celebrates the pedit and continues to become rich must have to go on performing such ritual until the prescribed number of animals has been reached or until he graduates.

The Peshit is thus a festivity ritual performed by a rich family as a gesture of thanksgiving to the spirits for blessings received and at the same time to show the family’s progress in life. As soon as the couple gets settled and have a family of their own, the elders would convince them to start with their An-anito by which to anchor forthcoming pedit/ peshit celebrations. The peshit takes the following stages: an-anito (one pig), tultulo (three pigs), limlima (five pigs), pit-pito (seven pigs), siyam (nine), nasawa-an (11, 13, 15, 17, 19 pig sacrificed at any one time), and sinbakid (more than 21-pig sacrifice). The highest is the 25 pigs sacrifice. 

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Community/Agricultural Rituals


This is a community ritual performed before harvest when it is observed that the crop is not productive or when the plants are affected by diseases. It is also observed during famine or when death occurs. The ceremony is performed outside the village.


This ceremony is distinct in its being community based, each household in the settlement holding the ceremony is bound to participate. It is a tradition to alleviate suffering brought about by failure of crops and the resulting hunger and famine.


This ceremony is performed before the first palay from the granary is pounded. Chicken if the ritual; animal offered to the deities for the purpose of ensuring that the rice when cooked even though in small quantity would be sufficient, and that there would be enough supply of palay until the next planting season.


This is ritual performed by appealing to Kabunyan for a bountiful harvest. A chicken animal is offered for this ritual.


Diyaw is an agricultural ritual performed in the rice fields after the transplanting of rice. The purpose of this is to ensure the rice will grow robust and will plenty of grains. The ricefield owner prepares some food and a chicken and invites neighbors to go to the ricefields where the ritual will take place. While the ritual is in progress, no one is allowed to pass by. There will be drinking of tapey and eating. A good augury of the butchered chicken’s liver and gall bladder means that the field owners will have good crop and good harvest.


This is performed in the celebrants yard after performing the denet. Chicken is the ritual animal offered to the dead ancestor so the crops to be harvested in the harvest season would be fruitful.


This is performed when the palay is bent by strong wind. A chicken is butchered an offering to the spirits of the palay that might have been blown to other places.


There are two occasions when a pakde is performed. One when an important community member is sick and two, in relation to agriculture before planting or during harvest time, in the first instance to ask blessing for an abundant harvest, and in the second to offer thanksgiving. It may be family ceremony or community affair.

Other rituals include the following:

Podad. This is ritual offered to the person who committed suicide.

Tawal. This is intended to call back the soul of a person, imprisoned in some unknown spirit world. The tawal or call is resorted to with one chicken and one jar of tafey for offering.

Tomo (Ib. Temmo). This is a ceremony offered to the departed ancestors to free a person from insanity as caused by the departed ancestors who were headhunters. Dog is the ritual animal.

Topya (Ib. Topja). This feast is performed to counteract a curse, and to cure illness or physical deformity caused by an adversary who is identified by the victim through dreams. It is generally believed that a person can be afflicted by someone with whom he is quarrelling, his death even possibly caused by the same, usually through the instrumentality of padpadja (witchcraft) hence the need to perform this ritual. The ceremony is performed by an expert manbunong. Chickens, ducks, dogs, and goats are the sacrificial animals for this feast. 



Agricultural cycle / Agricultural Calendar

Rice is the main crop being planted in the irrigated rice terraces along the mountain slopes. There are two cropping patterns for rice: the first crop, the talon, is done from the months of July to August and harvested in December to January while the second crop, the Kintoman, is planted in March to April and harvested in May to June. The irrigated rice terraces are assured of steady water to sustain the cropping season.
The cropping season follow a set of activities that are regularly performed in the process. (Submitted document to Application for recognition of Ancestral Claim submitted by Ibalois and Kankanaeys of Atok, Benguet)

First: Chalos. Cleaning of the surrounding of the rice fields, the stonewalls, and those areas near the rice paddies. Women are especially assigned this task but men can do the work in the absence of women.

Second: Pasagad. This is breaking the ground of the rice fields generally by men. The field is first plowed (arado) and then harrowed (pasagad) after flooding the soil with water. Harrowing is loosening the soil to make it ready for planting. Work animals like the carabaos are used for this activity.

Third: Tambak. This is the fixing of the edges of the rice fields by stuffing it with mud to prevent water from seeping out or overflowing and maybe causing erosion. This can be done by men or women, or whoever is available.

Fourth: Tikval. Usually done by men, this is the final preparation of the rice fields for planting.

Fifth: Tuned. Transplanting of the rice seedling to the rice paddies. Seedlings are usually sown a month before transplanting. The planting of rice can be a joint acivity of both men and women.

Sixth: Dangdang. Cleaning the stonewalls of the ricefields to keep the rats and other insects/pests from eating the palay. Prior to this activity is the cleaning of the rice paddies from weeds that competes with the growth of rice. This is supposed to be activities of the women.

Seventh: Avol. Taking care of the rice plants that are forming panicles. Rice birds are kept away from the rice fields by planting scarecrows or anything that may frighten the birds away.

Eight: Ani. Harvesting the ripe palay with the rakem. Rice stalks are cut one by one and the harvested palay are measured by the tan-ay, bundle.

The following thus summarizes the agricultural activities done by the Ibaloi and the Kankanaey farmer in the course of a single year.

  1. January – people start to plant camote for “chamo”.
  2. February – animals start to be in heat until the month of March.
  3. April – wild and domesticated birds start to lay eggs. This lasts until May.
  4. June – rice fields are prepared for planting. The preparation usually lasts until August while the people wait for the typhoons of “tigwi/ tagvi” to water the ricefields.
  5. August – the rice seedlings are transplanted to the prepared fields.
  6. September – the typhoon called “puwek ni alachog/ alchog” comes. The time for “dangdang” and “kamas”, cleaning the rice fields of weed comes.
  7. October – the typhoon of “tiway” arrives. It is a time for “panagaavol” or “pagbabantey ni pagey”.
  8. November – the last typhoon, “puwek ni kiling” comes. Some farmers start to harvest their rice.
  9. December – the rest of the farmers start to harvest their rice. Kaingins are also cleared for the next cropping season.

Some Beliefs/Practices Related to the Rice Culture

The best time for planting comes during “beska” or new moon. It is unproductive to plant the rice seedlings (“tuned”) during “lened” (that part of the month when there is no moon). The “inat” (a full moon) is a good sign for harvest but not for planting; it is believed that pests, birds and insects will feast on the fruit of plants sown during this period. Neither should one plant on a “leben”, the day following a burial in the community. This is supposed to be the time for rest in respect to the spirit of the dead.

The “payews” are the Ibaloi rice paddies that are improved and irrigated by the “bagan” or “payas”, an indigenous system of canals. The “talakan”, indigenous materials like bamboo, giant fern or wood are used to connect “bagan” or “payas” at rocky parts of the field that could not be dug with canals.

When the stalks mature and begin to bear grain, farmer put up Quakers to scare away the birds and the field rats. They do this late in the afternoon so that they will not be seen by anybody (including the birds and rats). The grain is usually ready for harvest in the month of January. The more modern varieties of rice are usually harvested from October to December.

Farmers do not use carabaos that have short tails because the panicles of the rice will become short. They do not use a carabao with narrow horns because the rice will not grow vigorously. They put rice bird quakers in place in the afternoon and go home immediately. Rat traps are usually avoided after they are set so that the rats will not also visit the whole rice field without being caught. Eating on the way to the fields is also prohibited.

They do not plant camote during the last quarter because there are no tubers to harvest even if the leaves are green. They do not plant during the full moon because even though it will bear good tubers, pests and diseases (i.e. rats, squirrels and pests) will attack them. The best time to plant is believed to be during the first quarter of the lunar cycle and during a new moon because these will ensure good tubers. Lunch “baon” should be eaten away from the area where camote is planted; otherwise, the rats will eat the camote. 

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Some traditional agricultural tools used are the following:

Sankap/Sangkuwap. Sickle made of steel used for weeding and planting in varying sizes.

Supsup. A round or semi-flattened piece of steel pointed at one end and hollow at the other end where a piece of wooden handle is attached. It is generally used for digging root crops such as camote and gabi.

Ta-ed. A knife that women usually caries to the field. It is usually used for cleaning camote, cutting gabi stalks.

Shalapshap. Used for digging and preparing soil for planting root crops and vegetables. Usually used in pairs.

Wasay. An axe that is used for splitting wood.

Shixu.An axe that is curved at the tip used for making wooden bowls and for making wooden troughs.

Etak. Bolo that is usually carried by men wherever they go, generally used for cutting.

Saluysuy. Used for harrowing the rice fields for planting.

Kabjun. Hoe with three forks.


Root Crop Agriculture or Swidden farming

Other than rice farming, the people of Atok perform other activities such as the oma or kaingin system where alternative crops are produced for the family. Plants such as camote, taro or gabi, legumes such as string beans (otong) or atab, pineapples, etc. Surplus from their produced are usually sold to the market. Today cash crops are being planted aside from these traditional secondary crops.

For sweet potatoes (camote), “baddo” refers to the period that starts from January, which is the time for clearing the Kaingin (uma) and March to April as the time for planting. “Sekpo” is the season, which include October as the time for cleaning and November to December as the “Dikem” or the time for harvesting. Camote (Sweet Potato) is usually planted in the month of January after the areas to be planted are cleared in December. The period from December to April is called the “chamo” when the tubers mature. The fields are cleared again in April for the May planting (the “taned kapedan”). Camote is planted during the first quarter of the year to protect the crops from pests and parasites. The first stems are also protected by “pudong”, cogon leaves which drive away rats and other wild animals. The clearing and cleaning processes are also done to rid the field of rats that might be hiding in their holes.

Gabi (or Ava) is planted during the months of April to June so that the plants will be robust enough in August and bear tubers from September to November. The fleshy tubers are ready to be harvested in December but sometimes the people let these grow bigger proportions and begin harvesting only in March.

Non-rice crops are usually planted in the “num-a” (var: uma, kinabba, kaingin), a patchof cleared land by the family or a person recognized as part of the family. Other people may borrow this “uma” but it should be returned after a certain period of time. It should also be made to stay fallow in between crops for some time (“mabe-as”) for it to retain its fertility.

People do not plant during the last quarter moon because there are no tubers to harvest. New moon is favorable time for planting. They do not plant also during full moon because the pests and diseases will destroy the tubers.

Community agricultural processes

Communal labor which is operational in agricultural societies is also at work in Atok. Popularly referred to as mutual help system, the aduyon which is functional in Atok carries with it a community reciprocal endeavor where neighbors are expected to help and to be helped. During planting and harvesting seasons, a farmer ask his neighbor to help him in the farm. He is expected to return the favor by helping the neighbor during his turn in the farm.

The aduyon is not limited to planting and harvesting. It actually extends to other activities such the construction and upkeep of their irrigation dikes, the excavating and stonewalling of the rice fields, and in the building of houses. Kamal, sometimes referred to as bayanihan spirit, or collective free labor is always readily extended to community activities. However, when activities concerns an individual or a family such as house construction or repair or the repair of stonewalls eroded during calamities, free labor is still extended but the owner will have to prepare the food of the neighbors during the construction period.

Mining practices/beliefs

The traditional way of extracting gold through the osok (lode mining) and sayo (placer mining) are till practiced in Atok. Sayo or placer mining is the extraction of gold along the river. A miner of this type seeks to extract gold from the sediments deposited along the river bed. The following paraphernalia is usually utilized.

  1. Saludog or balkis. This is some kind of a flume made our of G.I. sheets. It is provided with a screen called Yogoyog and cloth probably that of a rice sack so that when the naba s poured into it, the gold will be caught trapped in it and not carried away with the dirt when water passed through it
  2. Sample Pan. This is disc shaped pan used for sampling if there is the presence of gold in a certain area.
  3.  Used to screen the fine naba from the duct.
  4.  This is used to separate gold from the duct.
  5.  This is a clay saucer used for melting gold powder into solid form.
  6. Sob-oyan. Wooden blower or bellow used to heat or melt gold dust in the gangi.
  7. Tad-yo. This a set of weighing scale used for weighing gold.
  8. Baw-wang. This is a woven bamboo basket used for carrying naba.

Osok (Lode Mining)

A lode miner samples he ground with his Yogoyog (strainer) and sampling pan. When he is convinced that there is gold in the area, he makes his small tunnel to extract naba (gold ore). A boton ritual (ritual to determine omen signs) s performed by offering a chicken sacrifice to determine if there are no spirits or if the spirits will permit them to open a tunnel. A good augury means that they will continue with the tunnel, otherwise they abandon it.

In performing the lode mining process, lode miners are expected to follow certain rules and taboos to ensure that they will be lucky in the undertaking. Some of the taboos observed are the following: It is taboo to enter the osok if one has just attended a wake. It is also forbidden to work in the tunnel if one has eaten horse meat, beef, fish, or even sardines. They believe that they will have bad luck and will not be able to extract any gold.

Hunting and fishing

The best time for hunting or fishing is during the last quarter because it is dark and the fish and other wild animals will not see the hooks and other traps. Ibaloi and Kankanaeys never hunt for commercial gain. Hunters are expected to share their meat with the rest of the community.

The indigenous methods employed to catch game include the “bito”, a pit covered with grass and sticks and the “ebang”, a circular snare made of rope positioned strategically at places where animals are sure to pass. Some hunters favor the “lingen” another type of snare supported by bent hard sticks that snap up like a spring when tripped by a prey. Others prefer to use the “itik”, which makes use of fire in a constructed shack to attract flying birds at night. Another indigenous trap, the “igsil” or “ateb” makes use of two flat objects to kill the game.

Fishing is usually done during the last quarter of the moon until the emergence of the new moon because the fish only come out on dark nights. Animals, on the other hand, come out of their dens during the second quarter and full moon to hunt for their prey and so these are considered good hunting times. Those who fish and hunt should not bring any amount of money with them specially coins since it is believed that this will cause bad luck.

Local fishermen make use of improvised bamboo traps called “gubo” to catch fish. Another way might be to divert the flow of water through the “saep” and catch the fish that follow the diverted stream. Sometimes, fishermen place “teba” or other herbal plants in pools and shallows to stun or weaken the fish for an easy catch.

Some of the fishing implements used by the people are the following:

Aside from the Gubo or ube and the use of teba, the fishers also employ other fish traps such as the following: Balshew or Fishing net used to catch paideng; Dalay or fishing with the use of horsehair or human hair threaded with worm at one end and the other end to a stick; and Sakeb/Seded or basket fish trap made of bamboo.

Domestication of Animals

The practices involved in the raising of animals among the Ibalois and Kankanaeys differ accordingly depending on the kind of animals raised. The “megmeg’ or domestication of chicken must start with a “men-asawa”, i.e. a rooster and a hen. This will ensure that the chickens will multiply. The practice of removing feathers from the inner side of the wing will keep the chickens together and not one will be lost.

If a chicken is given as a gift (awil), the receiver must take good care of it, feed it and look for a mate for it in order for the bird to multiply as “puunan”. The people believe that eggs will no longer hatch if an earthquake happens and even if it will be hatched, again pests and pox will attack the chicks such that they die just the same.

When raising pigs, their healthy body and long snouts are considered as prime considerations in choosing which will multiply easily. For cattle (cows and carabaos), these must be well-formed bodies and horns.

The raising of animals must follow certain rules which regulates the relationship of the owner of the animal and the caretaker. These rules vary according to the kind of animals involved. For chicken, if a person feeds (minegmegan) the chicken of another, the chicken offspring should be divided accordingly. For example, if there are only three chicks, two will go to the feeder/ caretaker and one for the owner. If there are four, then these must be equally divided.

For pigs/ swine, the division depends on the number of piglets. If the pig is young when entrusted to the caretaker, the owner must have less number of shares from the piglets. If the pig is old, then the owner must have a greater number of shares of the piglets.

For cows and carabaos and other animals having one litter per season, the following can be adapted. If the animal is still young when taken, the herder owns the first litter. When the animal is old, the owner will take the first kid or calf.

The care and domestication of dogs, pigs, and cattle are the same with the practices in Ba-ayan, Tublay. In raising animals and livestock, rites are performed to implore the “alibay” or the unseen spirits that watch over domesticated animals for their support so that the animals will not be harmed in any way.

In buying cows, carabaos, and goats, great care must be observed to see if they have well-formed horns, hooves, and have good skin and hairs of fur. The female of the species must have well-formed teats and udders. Pigs must also have good teats and udders as well as a good number of them. Dogs must have good posture and well-formed heads and tongues. Bulls and boars must have good testicles and strong legs during mating. 

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The family is usually composed of the father, the mother and their children living under one roof. Sometimes a grandfather or a grandmother or both live with the family.


When a mother feels that she is due or goes into labor, the husband and few women neighbors assists in the delivery of the baby. A woman who delivered easily is called a dimbug. A dimbug is not allowed to see a woman who delivers with difficulty but a woman who delivers with difficulty was encourage to see a dimbug at delivery. Certain rituals are performed before or after the mother gives birth and if the mother has difficulty in giving birth.

Some of the rituals performed on birth are the following: Pasang, Baeng, Dawdawak. Maksil, Anawang, Passang, Sagawsaw, Basal-lang, and Kulimbag (Kulibag)/Ta-idew, among others.

Naming System / Practices

In the past, the Ibaloi/Kankaney has single names. Sometimes there were two or more individuals with the same name. To identify one from the other, it was a custom to mention whose son, daughter, husband, wife, cousin, relative, etc. the person was. The following are instances where the names of the children and adults are derived.

If the parents or grandparents died when the baby was born or still an infant at that time, the infant will be named after the deceased to remember the event of being orphaned by a member of the family who is dearly beloved.

If the infant was born when somebody important arrived or a relative from a distant place, the name of that person would be given to the infant.

If an owl or some other animals were seen or heard at the time of the baby’s birth, his name would most likely be the name of the animal or abilities of the animal.

If the baby was born with a handicap, the baby was called by that handicap.

If there was an old person who reaches old age, the baby will be named after that person because it is believed that the child would grow to old age like his namesake.

If a person is sickly or recovered from a long sickness or disease that leaves scars, the person’s name will be change. Sickly persons had their names change so that their deceased parents would forget them, thus not causing any sickness to them.

If a person acquired defect in growing old or to an accident, the name was changed.

Couples whose children always die had to change their names for it is the belief that the spirits of the dead would let their children live and be confused with the name change.

Growing up

The Kankanaeys and Ibalois of the domain of Atok, just like other people, generally undergo a socialization process, a rites de passage, and of which the young member of the family or community are initiated into their respective functions and responsibilities as new members of the community.

Rites de Passage

The rites de passage for the Ibaloi and Kankanaey simulates the socialization process of a person from infancy to adulthood. There are rituals of life to which every person is exposed to. Immediately after birth, his placenta (baey di muyang) is given appropriate safekeeping so that the child will grow fast and will have retentive memory and intellect. A few days after birth, the child is given his baptism when the father or any of the godparents brings him out of the house at daybreak and prays to Batakagan (morning star) so that he will have a bright future. Before the infant takes his first solid food, he is given his “tuding” – his first bite of a ritual meat (usually pork) so that he will not have allergies in the food he eats. Others give him a drop of ampalaya or lemon/ kalamansi juice to make him strong and resistant to any form of affliction.

As the infant grows older, he is continually exposed to the rituals of growing. He learns to crawl, to walk, and to talk. Carefully, he is guided by the helping hand and the love and understanding efforts of his elders. As a child, he learns to play within the confines of the home, with his parents, and siblings.

As he grows older, he goes out of his home in the company of other children in the village or neighborhood. He learns to associate with playmates and learns to have roles in the games they play. The child tries to explore new horizons. Later, he is gradually being given roles to perform in the home. Boys and girls have different roles to play. Girls help the mother in the kitchen, in the kaingin, in washing or sewing clothes. The boys fetch water, watch the animals, or accompany the father to the farm.

At puberty to adolescence, the work orientation remains the same but the work gets heavier and the children share greater responsibility in the home. Children participate in community affairs. They join peer groups or youth organizations and participate in decision-making for the group. They conceptualize projects and programs not only for themselves or their families but also for the community.

Then, when they are eighteen (18) years old (for the males) and sixteen (16) years old (for females), when they have reached adulthood, they are considered mature and they get themselves involved in more serious activities of living in the community. They explore courtship and marital relationships. They enter the world of work or employment or even the complex arena of politics.

The Roles and Responsibilities of Children

Male Adolescents. Ibaloi and Kankanaey adolescent males are expected to fulfill traditional male adult roles like gathering firewood and fetching water for household use. They are also expected to help their parents in agricultural work like feeding the farm animals and clearing the fields for planting as well as keeping these farms safe from grain-feeding birds. However, they are also expected to help their younger siblings in household chores.

Female AdolescentsFemale adolescents, on the other hand, do typical work like doing the laundry and kitchen work. At times, they are also expected to help the men folk in the “kaingin” and in the fields. They are also expected to take care of the needs of their younger siblings especially in schoolwork.

Both Kankanaey and Ibaloi folk invoke the spirits to guide the maturing adolescent in the socially approved manner. The “tanong” is performed, for example, to invoke the partner-spirit of an adolescent to provide good luck and assistance. The “pasang” is done for a different purpose, that is, to ask for supernatural assistance when an adolescent keeps demonstrating socially unsatisfactory performance such as laziness, irritability and proneness to anger or extravagance and other deviant behavior.

Adulthood.Male children are expected to reach maturity at the age of twenty (20) while females are expected to reach maturity at the age eighteen (18). Once they reach these ages, they are expected to act like gentlemen and ladies. As matured individuals, they are expected to keep their own money and not to give them to their parents for safekeeping. They could buy personal things and effects without the assistance or permission from their parents. Adult males can court a lady and get married and adult females are given the right to decide on their own. They also have the responsibility to take care of their parents and buy their needs especially if they are weak.

Courtship and Marriage

Marriage was usually within the tribe especially when neighboring communities practice headhunting. Marriage was most likely to be with near relatives if there was wealth to conserve.

Parents decide when their children should marry. Marriage is encouraged by parents or close relatives or old folks (elders) when the couple is always seen together and when both parents agree. Generally there was not much courtship in the past. If the elders discover that a young couple are in love, the young man was encourage to look for a pig and prepare other requirements for the marriage ceremony.

Marriage was either arranged parentally or decided upon individually. Parental engagement is called kaising. The procedure of asking for the woman’s consent by a mengalon (go-between) is called kalon.

Kaising is a verbal contract between parents when their children are still young and even when the children are still in the womb that their children would marry when they grow up. Should children have the same sex, the next son or daughter was paired off with the first born. This verbal contract is binding and parents are duty-bound to fulfill it. Kaising was also made among the rich because of the desire to conserve wealth. Kaising was made to patch up personal differences and/or misunderstanding. Disputes over land boundaries were settled by kaising, so that the children of the quarrelling parties would own the lands that cause the trouble. When old men heard quarrels, they settle the quarrel by having the parties make kaising even if they are both single.

Kaising was also a way of obtaining friendship, for kaising binds two families together more so when the two families live in two different communities. The kaising was usually sealed with the butchering of a cow/carabaos/pig depending upon the economic standing of the contracting parties.

Kalon is marriage that is by choice by asking the consent of the woman. The man is privilege to choose the woman if he grows up without being parentally engage. The moment a young man had chosen a prospective wife, he told his father. The father will send “mengalon” to the woman’s house to convince her. The parents of the woman were ask first. If the parents agree they tell the mengalon to talk to the woman. If the woman agrees the mengalon goes back to the man and informs him that the woman has consented to the marriage. If the woman refused to marry the man, the parents may force the couple to marry by the extent that both will be lock in a room.

Among the marriage customs and traditions of the ibaloi and Kankanaey are the kaising and the kalon. The kaising is an arrangement that can begin even before a child is born. The kalon is also an arrangement without the consent of the parties to be married but it’s done immediately after the parents have agreed or when both partners are marriageable age.

Some of the rituals involved in relation to marriage are the following: Kape. Es-eset, and Sabosab, among others. 

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Solemnization of Marriage;

Marriage is considered as a sacred ritual. In the olden days, when the parents of the boy and the girl arrange the marriages of their children, either through kalon or through kaising.

Generally, the wedding takes place at the bride’s residence. The groom shoulder the expenses for the marriage but sometimes the girl’s family contribute to the marriage. There was no need for a marriage contract document the marriage rite is attended and witnessed by people.

The wedding ceremony last for two days, the first day is the wedding proper where a number of pigs or carabao are butchered and rice wine are generously offered for the people who are gathered. A pre-wedding ritual is performed the night before the wedding. Attended by a few elders, this ritual is intended to ensure that nothing untoward will happen during the wedding day because any disruptions, e.g. breaking of a glass, a fist fight, or a quarrel, would break the sanctity of the ceremony, and sometimes it has to be repeated. The singing of the badiw by the elders falls on the night of the wedding day. This is an occasion for the elders to tell stories, experiences or advice that the newlywed couple would emulate. This could be true to life experiences of successful marriages in the past.

A symbolic part of the marriage is the water and tapey drink where the couple is allowed to drink from the ongot, coconut shell bowl, and the man who must offer the drink must be a family man who have many children so that the newlywed couple will also have the same.

On the third day of the wedding and five days thereafter is considered the ngilin, rest day. The couple is not allowed to go out and work. They are advised instead to stay home and keep their fire burning and be wary of any omen signs that might appear. Bad omen signs are twarthed by offering a chicken sacrifice to prevent the negative effect of the signs. Good signs (like appearance of snakes, rats, etc.) are accepted by performing a sangbo so that the couple will have long life, many children, good health, and god domestication of plants and animals.

On the sixth day after the marriage, the couple is allowed to go out, the girl to gather camote and the man to carry fire wood. This is supervised by an elder and if nothing happens to disrupt the activity, the couple is then advised to proceed with their normal activities with the prayer that they will have better future.


The reason for separation as prescribed by custom law may be any or all of the following: (a) childlessness, (b) successive death in the nuclear family, (c) constant quarrels, (d) attempt of the life of another, and (e) adultery/concubinage.

The child usually stays with the mother especially if the husband is at fault. If it is the wife, the child stays with the husband’s parents. The child’s share of the property may be given at this point or later.

Death Belief and Practices

Death to an Ibaloi or a Kankanaey is a mournful event. The rituals involved are considered expensive, elaborate and the longest. A death ritual may last for a few days to even a year of morning. The number of days of vigil can be from a minimum of four days to a maximum of eleven days to even a month, depending on the status of the person who died.

In the olden days, a person is considered dead after the lapse of 24 hours. Once he is confirmed dead, the person is prepared for his funeral wake. The corpse is washed or bathe and then seated on the sangchil, the funeral chair assembled for the purpose. Fire is built in front of the corpse to produce light during the night and smoke during day time to prevent flies from alighting on the skin of the corpse. Meanwhile, the elders sing their badiw days and nights narrating about the exploits of the departed or stories from which the bereaved family will get their lessons or their strengths.

Modernization has affected the way burials are conducted in the Ibaloi and Kankanaey communities, particularly in Atok. However, some of the traditional practices have survived and still characterize the unique Ibaloi and Kankanaey ways of sending their loved ones to the afterlife.


Death RitualsFrom the time the person dies until he is buried, a number of death rituals are being performed. Some of these death rituals involved are the following: Mangmang, Kiyad, Sinagawsaw/Sinikwit, Dawigi, and Lobon, among others.

Sacrificial Animals.For both rich and poor alike, animals are butchered during the death rituals but the number varies accordingly depending on the economic status of the deceased. During the death ritual, there is a meticulous selection of the sacrificial animals to be offered and butchered. The animals must have the following characteristics:
a) the animal must not be Labang/ Balit (with white spots);
b) it must not be Kutop (short tailed);
c) the animals must have black hooves. These are the animals favored to be butchered; and,
d) it must be a native pig because these are believed to be good sacrificial animals and that they invite good luck for the family.

In some cases, other ritual or sacrificial animals include cows, carabaos, chicken and dogs especially if the family of the dead is “baknang” (rich).

Funeral BlanketsDuring the scheduled burial, the body is bathe, the skin is removed, and then wrapped with his appropriate funeral blanket (depending on his status). The most common blankets are the alladdang, pinagpagan, kolebaw, sapey, shindi/dilli, the talangking, etc. Properly wrapped with his blanket, the body is placed inside the coffin and then delivered to the burial site, either a burial cave or a hole underground near the house. The remaining animals of the dead are usually butchered on the day of the burial and are used as send off for the dead on his journey to the other world, the ancestral abode.


As to the number of days of the wake, the rich are usually interred after four (4) to twelve (12) days. For ordinary people, burial takes place after four (4) days. For single individuals, burials take place after two to three (2-3) days. 

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Ritual Procedures

The Ibalois follows certain procedures in their death rituals. The number of days, the animals butchered, and other practices are enumerated as follows:

1st day: “Pengananto” (last meal). One pig is butchered for the symbolic meal of the dead.

2nd day: “Bales”.No animal will be butchered.

3rd day: “Camengto” (his possession). This is the day when one of the pigs of the deceased is butchered. This day also marks the day when the giving of “upo”/ “abuloy” (donations) commences.
4th day: Camengto and cameng ni anakto (His possessions and that of his children). Each of the married children will contribute the pigs to be butchered starting from this day to the day of the burial. Animals domesticated by the children are much preferred. The raising of pigs involves a lot of time and effort for the family. Hence, to offer the pigs they have raised is an offering of love by the family. This will elicit compassion from the spirit of the deceased relative. For the poor ones, this is the day for the burial. The minimum number of days for vigil for a dead person is four (4) days. Additional days for vigil will be dependent on the status of the deceased.

5th day: Deben. No one will work on this day for this is still a part of the “ngilin” and tradition requires that work will still have to be suspended not until the culmination of the mourning ritual. Besides, this is the day immediately following the burial rite and every member of the bereaved family is expected to observe for any omen signs, which the spirit of the dead will grant to the bereaved family.
6th day: Sigid/ sisi. The day for cleaning. Everything inside and outside the house of the family must be

fixed and cleaned.

8th to 12th months: “Etong”. This is the culmination of the mourning ritual. It is a ritual offered to the spirit of the deceased relative. To the Ibalois, this is a ritual for the kaapuan, and kedaring. During the “etong”, the tayao dance is performed as a symbolic send-off for the spirit of the deceased to its destination – to Mt. Pulag, the sanctuary of ancestral spirits, or to Gawdan (the skyworld).

Note that the above procedure is for a person who is rich. For a poor or ordinary person, the number of days for the wake is limited to four (4) days and animals butchered will be six black pigs (detem) and some other animals (e.g. cows and carabaos). This is, however, not compulsory. People who died young or of unnatural death like victims of accident, murder or suicide, are treated differently. For example, infants are buried within twelve (12) hours (sin-agew or one daylight) after his/ her death. However, the taboos observed after burial are strictly enforced so as to ensure good health and progress among surviving family members. For deaths which are unnatural, the wake is shortened to a maximum of three to four (3-4) days and is treated just like in a poor man’s funeral.

The revised procedure is as follows:

1st day: one pig is butchered. The offering is called “penganan to”, i.e. the last meal of the dead. This can also be called “penamesan to” or eh bathing of the dead in preparation for the vigil.
2nd day: none.

3rd day: two pigs will be butchered in the vicinity of the house. A dog is butchered when they get the coffin from the mountain. When the coffin is brought into the house, this is the “mutukan ni kayew”. The body is placed inside the coffin and the giving of “upo” commences.

4th day: during the burial, three pigs will be butchered; two pigs are butchered in the yard and another one at the side or further away from the house. The butchering of another pig called “kedingan” is to enable those who cannot take in the food from the dead man’s house to eat. There are people who cannot take in the food from the dead man’s yard and the kedingan for them.

6th day: one pig during the “sisi” or cleaning period.

The Ibaloi communities of Atok do not significantly vary in their death rituals and burial procedures. For some sitios, the following burial procedures were followed:

1st day: “penganan to” or “penamesan to”

2nd day: Bangon to

3rd day: mutukan ni kayew and giving of “upo”

4th day: punpon (in case of a poor person)

5th day: day of deben, pejew, “diwang to”

6th day: “sisi”; for the 7, 9, 12, the sisi can be at the 9th, 13th or 15th day

Take note that the 7th, 9th, and 12th of vigil are the same except for the days of butchering pigs and other animals.

Number of Days of Vigil Period

The number of days of vigil for a dead person depends on the status and age of the deceased. A child or an infant is buried after a 24-hour wake. Teenagers are entitled to a three-day wake before the burial. For adults, the poor ones are commonly accorded four (4) days of wake. Those who have performed the “peshit” (of varying levels) are interred accordingly based on the level of “peshit” they have performed, e.g. 5, 7, 9, 11… to 25 which is the highest level.

The rich can opt to follow a seven, nine or twelve days’ vigil. For these, the butchering of animals called “cameng ni anak to” starts on the 3rd day. This goes on until the burial day when they butcher all his animals called “cameng to”. On the 4th day, community can now give their “upo” abuloy. Other animals not butchered during the vigil are reserved for the “panvingi-an to” or “etong”. Other animals which are used will be distributed to the children, or left to the disposition of the living spouse.

During the wake, the people chant the “eya-ey” (“day-eng”) or the “ba-diw” or “bakdiw”.

Coffins and Other Burial Materials

Aged pine trees (i.e. sinmaleng) which are not stricken by lightning, or trees which do not have two similar branches are preferred for coffins. To use trees struck by lightning or those with two identical branches would be inviting bad omens and disaster for the family. The coffin must also be constructed that the base of the tree must be its foot. Wooden pins attach the wood to each other, as nails should never be used. If ordinary lumber is used, care should also be followed in attaching lumber base to lumber base before the dowels or the wooden log sliced in two and carved to accommodate the corpse. It is used when the burial place is a cave (“tinatagawtaw”). The “intikgi” or “tinikgi” is composed of two wooden slabs, one upon which the corpse is laide and the other to cover it.

For young ones, any type of pinewood is used. For elder ones, especially the very old ones, the whole trunk of the tree is used; it has to be carved from the trunk and wide enough to accommodate the body and the blankets of the dead. The tree must be pure “sinmaleng”.

For death blankets or shrouds, the rich ones use pinagpagan and safey while the poor ones use “kuabaw”, “kolebaw” and safey. Buttons and other metallic objects should be removed from the clothing of the dead or before clothes are placed inside the coffin as these should never mix with their bones. The presence of metals in the coffin of a person may spell bad omen and may mean the suffering of the bereaved family.

Burial Locations and Positions

The Kankanaey and the Ibaloi usually do not bury their dead in cemeteries but in concrete tombs near their houses or within their yards. These tombs are usually covered by separate roof constructions made of galvanized iron sheets to prevent the bones of the dead from getting wet.

Tradition dictates that dead men are buried facing west (i.e. there heads are positioned toward the east) in preparation for travel and can proceed down to the lowlands to trade or to gather firewood for the hearth as men do when still living. Dead women are buried facing east, as living women have to wake up to the sunrise to do early kitchen work after which she can proceed to the “uma” or kaingin.

After the burial, the people perform the “selcheg”, by jumping over a fire and washing their hands before entering the yard or the house. Those who attended the burial also perform the “peg-as”, a washing ceremony before going home to their own houses. This is done in order to prevent bad luck.

Mummification tradition

Atok is one of the municipalities of Benguet where mummies are located, particularly in barangay Pasdong. This indicates that the people in the area during the bygone days were mummifying their dead and preserving them for posterity. Unlike in Kabayan where a number of mummies were identified, Atok had just a few mummies. Studies reveal that the Benguet mummies are probably related with one another as evidenced by the presence of common or seemingly similar tattoo designs.

Donations to the Dead

The donation to the bereaved family, the upo, can take the form of money, rice, animals or anything that the people can afford to give. These are counted of appraised after the burial and these are used to help the family defray the funeral expenses.

The donations are sendoff gifts by the members of the community to the dead to be carried over to the next life to be presented to the spirits of dead ancestors of the giver. This is of course a symbolic gesture. But this will go a long way in assisting the bereaved family from the heavy cost of the death tradition.

Social Classes and Status Giving Rituals

Before the 1970’s, the people observed that there was a rigid stratification between the “baknang” (rich) and the “abiteg” (poor) in Atok. Such stratification was largely based on ownership of rice fields, pastureland, animals, and education. Lately, however, such stratification began to crumble due to the emergence of the educated group who are fast gaining recognition in the community. Stratification today is attributed to several factors not only property ownership of cattle or land but also educational attainment, employment abroad, and employment in government or private institutions.

The Peshit or pedit (as discussed earlier) is the status giving ritual among the Ibalois and Kankanaeys in Atok and in other parts of Benguet. 

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H.1. Nature of Village / Sitio Leadership

The leaders of the village are usually the traditional village elders or the elected barangay officials. The traditional criteria for leadership are usually economic status and wealth. At present, the Ibalois and Kankanaeys of the domain enumerate the following as their bases for choosing their leaders. First, the ability and knowledge to deal with people. Second would be the clean record of public service or the absence of any case filed against him pending in the community or any court or administrative body. Third, he must have the support and respect of his fellow villagers. Fourth, he must be knowledgeable of custom law or local laws. Fifth, he must know how to read and write, and sixth, he is God-fearing.

Village leaders are expected to perform the following roles and functions. He settles problems arising in the community. He advises his fellowmen in times of trouble or emergencies, etc. He stands as a paragon of virtue and implements laws for the general welfare of the community. He can be a counselor and a peace negotiator.

H.2. Peace and Order and Conflict Resolution Systems

The Ibalois and Kankanaeys of Atok adhere to the following processes in conflict resolutions:

Tongtong (council of elders)

This settles conflicts in the community through the efforts of the elders and the barangay officials. The complainant present his case to the barangay officials who will conduct preliminary hearings. In most cases, the elders are invited to shed light into the resolution of the conflict that will be favorable to both parties.

The tongtong is the customary way of amicably and peacefully settling disputes among people in the community. The council of elders consists the tongtong.

Among the concerns that the tongtong considers are the following: family relations, property rights, land disputes, marriage conflicts, inheritance, theft and other criminal offenses, etc.

Before the start of the tongtong, a rice wine is brought out and the peltik prayer is recited, asking for the intervention or intercession of the spirits so that whatever they will discuss will be to ferret out the truth for the benefit of all concern. After a resolution or an agreement has been reached, the peltik prayer is again recited to seal the agreement. Peltik is sometimes referred to as madmad.

Peltik or madmad is not only limited during tongtong. Actually, every social activity usually starts with this to ensure that everything will be okay with the intercession of the spirits.

Features of the Tongtong / Ngalat

All cases deemed complex by the impanama was brought to the tongtong, the impanama in-council.

The tongtong resolved all cases, old or new, on the basis of custom laws and therefore most of its decisions are held binding and final, otherwise, the unsatisfied party can challenge for the dreaded inibayosan/inibayos.

Members of the tongtong are not paid, they meet whenever they are needed, but even if there is no case in the community of their coverage, they meet at least once a year in any place agreed to by themselves as convenient.

The tongtong was the supreme law that prevails where there were conflicts of interpretation on custom laws. The tongtong decision always prevailed and such a situation always signaled the ending of a case. Therefore, since the tongtong decision is the last decision, all other treatments applied to a decided case are solely by the participants and if brought again to the tongtong, these are either rejected or regarded as different or new cases.


This is form of conflict resolution where the aggrieved party and the offender in the presence of the elders will voluntarily talk about their problems for a peaceful settlement. Only a few people are invited to serve as witnesses or counselors. Less expense is incurred.


This is the same as the tongtong. The only difference is that only the elders will settle the case. Only a few people are involved in the ngalat to settle the case.

Other Peace Processes

Ibayos and Sapata.While it is no longer practice in the Atok domain, ibayos is the process by which the participants pray to the spirits or Kabunyan for the offender to tell the truth. Sapata is swearing to the spirits that one is innocent and that it he is telling a lie, he will be punished for doing so according to his wish or desire. For example, if one swears that he will be struck by lightning if he is telling a lie, then it will be so. This is considered by the community as very effective but offenders are encouraged not to invoke the sapata because what they say will happen to them.

Trial by ordeal. This is a process of determining who a criminal is by subjecting suspects to the boiling water treatment, the throwing of spears at each other, the throwing of fresh eggs at each other, the throwing of stones, etc. The criminal is the one suffers the consequences. Ibayos and sapata works with this process. Punishment and Sanctions

Multa. This is the fine or punishment given to a person who is guilty. The community elders according to custom law determine the multa. For example in stealing, the guilty person is ordered to replace the items stolen by doubling the value of the item stolen. During multa, the guilty party is also enjoined to feed the people gathered during the tongtong, and to prove the victim additional animals to be used for the victim’s “panmanmanokan” or “pangsingpetan”.

Sadat. This is the same as multa but it is usually on stealing or robbery cases. For example, if one person steals an item from another and dispose of it to another, the suspect is obligated to replace the same item as is and of the same value.

Ikaro. If a person is found guilty as charged, and he cannot afford to replace the lost item or the multa (fine) which are prescribed by the elders, then the suspect is made to render labor to the victims without any compensation. In other words, the suspect has to render work as payment for hi guilt or for the crime committed. 

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I.1. Notion of health, Diagnosis and Treatment of illness

An Igorot ‘s belief system on the supernatural or spirit beings determines , to a large extent, his various networks of interrelationship with his socio-cultural, economic, or physical environment. His belief system pervades in all areas of human endeavor in the family or in the community.

It is ones belief that whatever status one has attained, it can always be attributed to his relationship to the spirit beings. His long life and good health and his poor health and misfortunes can be due to the blessings he received from or his falling off from the graces of the spirits. Success and misfortune in life are seen as twin experiences that can be sought or avoided.

To the Igorots, physical discomforts can be associated to several causes such as natural factors or due to some spirit related afflictions brought about by ones breach of social relations or infractions of ones relation with the spirits or deities.

Illness arising from natural factors can be remedied by indigenous pharmacology. Herbs can be therapeutic. The local environment is replete with a diversity of such medicinal plants. An inventory of the various plants utilized in the cure of maladies must be in order and an ethno botanical study be undertaken to determine the cultural significance attach to the various plants endemic in the community. These plants are rare but can probably be propagated.

When herbal remedies becomes futile, the ritual practitioners are consulted. These are men or women who are especially gifted or trained to divine or diagnose the causes of human discomforts. They are the so-called diviners or diagnostic specialist and the ritual performers. They specialized in the cure of afflictions induced by sorcery, witchcraft or magic and discomforts caused by angered spirits through the performance of various curative or life crisis rituals. Every community has a few of these folk medical experts, notwithstanding the presence of modern medical facilities and practitioners.

Through the years, the indigenous notions on health and sickness and adherence to it have eventually mellowed. The accessibility of modern health providers as well as the appurtenances of modernity has its toll on the indigenous healing practices. Christianity also has its role in the eventual demise of folk medical practice. While some continue to practice folk medicine in the area, others seek the amenities offered by modern medicine. But put in dilemma when the progress of modern medicine cannot render effective cure or explain certain illnesses, the Igorot reverts back to folk healing or traditional rituals as best alternatives.

Today the patient is first referred to medically trained community health workers or nurses who give the necessary remedies or referrals. The patient is brought to a doctor’s clinic for consultation and treatment. Otherwise, the patient is brought to the hospital as a final resort. If the patient is not receptive to modern medicine and his sickness worsens, the patient is brought out of the hospital, even against doctor’s advice, to be brought to some other alternative healers, or brought home as a last resort to perform some curative rituals. Sometimes after a healing ritual the patient gets well, if not, another ritual is performed.

There is no quarrel between folk and modern medicine. In fact, both can be considered as effective remedies in the cure of physical discomforts. Regardless of one’s standpoint, either of the two can be considered as an alternative medicine. The complementarity of these should therefore be properly understood in order that the best care could be extended to people with discomforts. The cost of curing a sick person can be expensive whether in folk or modern medicine. Such cost can be avoided and human lives saved if the nature of an illness is properly assessed, evaluated and understood in its socio-cultural, religious, and scientific perspective.

I.2. Nature of Illness:

Illnesses can be: (a) natural illness which are brought about by the bacteria/viruses or by changes in the weather or the environment. Such afflictions are curable by local pharmacology or modern medications; (b) Spirit-related illnesses which are believed to be caused by the power of spirits, especially those afflictions which are beyond the doctor’s technical capabilities; (c) Natural illness are construed to be spirit-related when such seemingly curable afflictions cannot be relieved by modern medication or local pharmacology.

Common type of illnesses and causes:

Knowledge of the Ibalois and Kankanaeys on the types and cause of illnesses are limited to the common maladies that they generally experience. Among these are the following:

a. Panateng or colds and fever of the ordinary types are caused by bad weather; when protracted spirits (ancestral spirits) causes them.
b. Skin diseases are caused by dirty environment, allergies, insect bites but can also be caused by angry spirits (nature spirits).
c. Headaches, stomach aches, toothaches are caused by weather, environment, or by spirits.

More Specific Types of Illnesses:

More specific types and cause of illnesses are presented as follows:

a. Headache, toothache and stomach ache.The spirits like the tinmengao, kaapuan or kedaring can cause these. When they slap or pinch a person, the person gets sick. Kaapuan who may wish form some things, like blankets, etc, would make their living relatives sick.

In order to cure these illnesses, the mambuyon or mansip-ok or manbunong perform rituals and make offerings of chicken to appease these spirits. Aside from animals sacrificed or offered, blankets, old money (palata), or clothing are need. Those who do not believe in the spirits go to the health workers. Others would simply endure the pain and consult the elders only as last resort.

b. sleeping sickness, cruelty, insanity.The pasang ritual requires the offering of a chicken or dog. It can be performed on a person in two ways: the pasang ni Tinmengao when a person is always sleepy during day time and the pasang ni ganak when a person does not bear a child. Pasang ni tinmengao is sometimes referred to as pasang ni Kabunyan which cause s sterility or insanity. In pasang ni Kabunyan, the [person is always getting angry or hot tempered without any cause. This usually happens to a newlywed couple. This is believed to be simply prompted by the desire of the Tinmengao to ask gifts from the couple.

c. Scabies and wounds.This is caused by a tinmengao who hates human beings. Tinmengao would send poisonous insects to bite a person resulting to scabies and wounds. To cure this, elders put salt or put some herbal plants to the wounds or was them with guava leaf extract. Another way of curing is be offering a ritual that requires the butchering of a chicken to appease the tinmengao. To avoid such illness, the people should be watchful in doing something especially when they are near caves, stony mountains, rivers, forest, or near big trees like the balete tree, Sangindo, and Tuel. A newlywed couple should be watchful of their dreams to avoid scabies and wounds. 

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I.3. Treatment of Illnesses:

1. Herbal medicinesThe Ibalois and Kankanaeys are quite familiar with a number of plants or herbs that they used to cure or remedy a number of illnesses, which afflicts them. Their knowledge of different plants with curative properties can be attributed to the abundance of such plants in the community. For example, the bengao/denmgao is used for alleviating headaches, stomachaches, or toothaches. Guava leaves are also used to cure certain types of skin diseases.

The following are some of the herbal plants used by Ibalois and Kankanaeys for treating their afflictions. Such herbal plants coincided and confirmed the earlier findings by various authors. These include abukado, guava (bayabas), banana (saba or balat), betelnut (bua), bulasting or bangbangsit, celery (knitsay), confrey, erbaka, eucalyptus, ginger (laya or agat), etc.

2. Rituals (curative rituals). Curative rituals are often a resort to cure afflictions that are caused by the spirits. Depending on the findings or prescriptions of the traditional manbuyon, mansip-ok or manbaknew, the rituals may require the offering of chickens, pigs, carabaos, or other sacrificial animals. The size, the color, and the number of animals to be used depend on the nature or gravity of the sickness.

The cause of illness will have to be established by the Manbuyon or mansib-ok. So rituals will have to depend on the diagnosis of the diviner or soothsayer. Some of these curative rituals are discussed earlier.

I.4. Notion on the prevention of illness

The Ibalois and Kankanaeys are expected to observe taboos, folk beliefs and appropriate behaviors/norms of the community always and to follow health workers’ advises to prevent the possible occurrence of such illnesses.

I.5. Implications of good or bad health

Ibalois and Kankanaeys share the belief that health is wealth. Most people believed that they may not have material wealth but as long as they are healthy, that is itself wealth for them. A healthy individual thinks and works wisely, is happy and lovable. A healthy community encourages sharing, loving and helping one another, and opportunities for development and growth.


J.1. Terrace building

Terrace building in the olden days was generally done through some community processes like the gamal and the alluyon. It will be observed tha in the rice growing areas of Naguey and Pasdong, the rice paddies were own by a number of people, one after another. Through the Alluyon and gamal, a group of people work on the rice paddy of one as a group. When it is finished, they build the rice paddy of the next, then the others, until the whole mountain slope is terraced for the whole group.

Nowadays, terracing is not only done for rice but for cash crop vegetables. It is not done only along riversides where irrigation water is abundant but also along mountain sides that may depend on rains for irrigation.

J.2. House construction and some beliefs.

House construction in Benguet vary accordingly among the Ibalois and Kankanaeys. While both groups generally build their houses predominantly of prime pine lumber, there are seemingly typical characteristics that make two types of houses vary. Both groups build their houses on stilt or post and elevated above the group, but the sizes or dimensions may vary accordingly to the socio-economic status of the occupants of the house. The biningi-an type of house in Bakun is a unique Kankanaey houses that has a vent (like a window) directly above the door.

The construction of a house is not simply finding a site and building your own house. Among the Ibalois and Kankanaeys, it entails a formal rite and a more elaborate procedure of doing things. House construction usually includes the following: (1) before the start of construction, the owner of the house to be constructed must first identify the site. A “buton” rite has to be performed to find out favorable location where the house is to be established. (2) After the site has been identified, the owner must decide the time of the year when the construction starts. Anytime from December to March is generally considered as the appropriate time for the construction. (3) The choice of the lumber to be used in the construction has to be considered. It has to come from one and not from several mountains. (4) After the construction of the house, the “dasadas” or “chasachas” rite (house blessing) should be performed for good blessings. Likewise, this ritual is performed to eliminate bad omens that may have been observed during the construction or to appease some spirits so that the occupants of the house will not be bothered as they start occupying the house. “Dasadas” requires pig sacrifice. (5) The “segep” takes place when the family finally decides to start occupying the new house. A pig is also required for this rite.

Ibalois and Kankanaeys traditionally choose construction sites in the following manner. Before building the house, on one afternoon, the owner should put first a bottle of water on the construction site. If the water level changed overnight, a new site should be chosen. If the level stayed the same, then the site is good for a house to be built.

The construction materials should also be chosen carefully. Lumber used for the house must be taken from only one side of the mountain so that the wood will not “fight each other” and cause bad creaking sounds when the house shall be finished. “Quarreling” would produce sounds even if it does not shake or move during earthquakes or typhoons.

When Ibalois or Kankanaeys build a house they consider certain beliefs and practices to insure the safety and security of the house owner. The following norms are in order: Do not use lumbers that were struck by lightning. This is a bad omen. To use it is to invite disaster. For example, lightning will burn the house. Should one, in good faith, uses such wood materials, he can remedy the curse by performing a cleansing ritual (e.g. liaw) to neutralize the bad omen. For the main framers of the house like the posts and beams, a post should never be inverted; the base must be on the ground and the tip should be on top. Beams, rafters and trusses should follow one direction, i.e. the rinds of the wood should not run counter to each other. The base and tips of the wood materials should also be arranged accordingly. This would imply unity and smooth relationship among family members.

Parts of a tree that are used in the making of a coffin should never be used for making a house. The respondents believed that the ghost and kedaring would get angry. Using such wood materials would be inviting death to the household members. Among the Ibaloi-Kankanaey, death is a feared phenomenon. Death ritual incidentally is the most expensive, the most elaborate and the longest ritual with an array of taboos and “pajews”. For this reason, anything associated to death is avoided or shunned.

To the Ibaloi-Kankanaey, snakes are believed to be omen signs. When a snake enters a construction site, the construction should be suspended or discontinued unless otherwise it is declared as normal by the mankutom or mambuyon.

After the house is finished, the owner should conduct a “diyaw” or a “liaw”, which is a rite performed before entering a newly constructed house. It is believed that doing so will protect the house from lightning because the animals butchered will appease it. The “dasadas” is also performed in house blessings and the “lawit” is done to call the spirits of the living members of the family. A prayer called the “buyag” is also chanted to invoke ancestral spirits to bring good luck and good fortune for the family household and to protect the house from any misfortune. In some instances, the rite includes rubbing the blood of the butchered animal to the foreheads of the family members as the prayer is said.

When fencing the vicinity of the house, one should not eat pepper so that whenever they decide to domesticate animals, they will prosper and live. Hot pepper is believed to be bad for domestication because of its characteristics. Also, one should not always climb fences; the animals will also jump over the said fence and go astray.


Other process in the community that deserves further IKSP documentation may include the following: Tafey or rice wine making; Gansa or gong making; Solibao or musical drum making; Rope manufacturing; and Basket weaving, especially Kayabang, among others.

Data Source - NCIP, Benguet

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