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mankayan iksp1

       Mankayan is rich with knowledge gained from the experiences of our ancestors. By example, our forefathers taught us the different technologies necessary for our communities to survive and flourish in the domain. There is however limited documentation of the indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP), and we recognize the necessity to continue documenting these, especially those IKSP that are no longer being practiced. Even as we recognize the need to document IKSP, and for the people of Mankayan to revisit their age-old practices, we also recognize the need to incorporate knowledge systems and practices of other cultures, and to develop new ones as our people adjust to ever-changing conditions.

Our people shall continue to evolve, and whatever knowledge system or practice we develop as time passes becomes part of our IKSP. Even as we absorb the knowledge the rest of the world has to teach us, we modify these and infuse our own experience and knowledge, our belief systems, and our distinctiveness as a people. The knowledge becomes part of our people, and our distinctness becomes part of the knowledge.

Necessarily we have changed over the years. Our forefathers have accepted the necessity of change, themselves making many adjustments to the changing conditions of their own time. We can only empathize with the momentous decisions needed by our forefathers as they decided to migrate to the place they have imparted unto us as a domain.

The culture of our forefathers also evolved, changed by the conditions of the domain. The topography, the resources, the unseen forces and spirits in present-day Mankayan have made our knowledge systems and practices unique to our domain.

Even the other introduced knowledge systems and practices with the coming of western influence have become part of our indigenous systems, as we adopted them, even as these have changed the very system they are now part of.

Our knowledge systems and practices are often linked with our belief systems, and are inseparable from each other. With changes in belief systems like the adoption of the Christian faith, some of the processes and systems would no longer be practiced.


Property Concepts

Traditionally, our communities collectively owned the domain, with each community members allowed to use portions of the domain to provide for their needs. Introduction of improvements confers rights to members of the community, and these improved lands become ancestral lands. Actual development and use of the land are the basis of ownership rights. There was no need to claim wide areas, because the traditional farming and mining practices were not extensive, considering that the economy was a subsistence economy.

Ownership over ancestral lands was transferred through inheritance. The eldest inherits most of the lands, while the youngest usually inherits the parent’s house.

However, with the developments in our history, these concepts evolved. Much of the ancestral lands are now declared for taxation purposes, so that ownership is sometimes determined by the tax declaration. Some of the residential areas are tilted, and the rest are mostly covered by tax declarations. Some lands are issued CLOA. Even forested areas have been declared.

Now, our communities allow ownership to be transferred to the spouses of Mankayan indigenous peoples, even if these spouses are not from Mankayan. Even non-indigenous persons may own lands provided they have married into the community. The sale of land to outsiders is now allowed, except for Colalo barangay, where sale is allowed only if the buyer is a member of the community. Generally, relatives have the priority right to buy property being sold.

Despite these changes, our people assert their ownership over the domain.

Land Uses

Residential Areas

Areas in the domain used by our people for residential purposes also were agricultural areas. Livestock and poultry were also raised in the residential areas.

Now, new uses of the residential areas include commercial vegetable farming, and tilapia raising. Some parts of the residential areas are also presently used for commerce, others have become institutional lands for government offices, churches and schools. Still some areas are being used for recreational purposes like playgrounds and basketball courts.

Burial Grounds

Parts of the domain are utilized by our people as burial grounds. These burial grounds are located in residential and agricultural areas.

Agricultural Areas

These are the areas further away from the residential areas devoted to fruit trees, rice fields, camote farms and swidden farms. At present, many of these have been converted to vegetable farms.


Forests were maintained as watersheds, and were used for pasture lands, hunting, source of lumber and firewood (through selective harvest), and as source of food like edible plants, mushrooms and fruits.

Tree Lots

These are forested areas maintained by families or family groups in the domain. (Please see The Muyong and its Uses, p. 63)


Belief Systems Associated with Water Systems

Like other Kankanaeys, Mankayan people believe that spirits live in and guard bodies of water. Putting dirt, garbage or merely throwing rocks into bodies of water may disturb the spirits and may cause a person to get sick or other disharmony in the community.

Irrigation systems as Communal Property

Irrigation systems are communal property. Farmers in contiguous areas commonly own an irrigation system that commonly services their farms. The system is repaired and cleared of vegetation at least once a year, or when needed. The maintenance activity usually takes days, and affected farmers are expected to help. The rest of the group sanctions those who do not help in the activity.


Belief Systems Associated with Minerals

The people of Mankayan believe that the minerals and the extraction of the minerals affect our people’s relationship with nature, the spirits and Kabunian. In order not to disrupt this relationship, various rituals are performed. Miners among our people also have many taboos regarding their operation.

If the mines are unproductive, it is believed that the spirits are displeased, and the necessary offerings are made. If the mines are productive, offerings of thanksgiving are also made. These rituals serve to have the community share in the bounties of nature.

Mining Practices

Our people have been mining, through abukay and sayo as a method of ore extraction for their livelihood. Processing of these minerals was originally done by simply cleaning by hand and washing. Most of the time, it was the women who processed the ore into gold. The final process is smelting in an earthenware crucible. If needed, borax, when it became available, was applied to clean the gold. Processing ore extracted through lode mining is simple. Rocks containing the ore are broken manually using a double headed hammer on a space covered with rubber or sack called to prevent fragments of ore from scattering. These small pieces are further crushed in a large mortar, with the use of a grinder by rolling it back and forth until the pieces have turned to dust. These are collected into a bucket and then washed on a separator where the slurry is panned and the gold separated from the mud. This separator is most often a burlap sack that catches the fine metal that is then washed into a holding tank. The gold grains are manually collected with the use of a sieve. This are wrapped in plastic then sprinkled with flux and then smelted in the earthenware crucible. The processed gold is then measured and weighed and sold.

Ownership and Sharing of Benefits

It is a common knowledge that a group, family, clan or even individual who first finds a deposit and actually mines it in an area has rights to the find. (Most often, they are the owner of the site or area). Those with rights do not just let other people to do mining activity in his mining area. The owner passes may share or transfer rights to their immediate relatives, clan, or family members.

Over generations, our people have devised ways and systems on how to divide and share gold finds. A family may do the labor all by themselves and all proceeds go to the family. Another option is for several households under the kinship line to undertake the mining activity as a group and divide whatever gold extracted proportionately among themselves. The proportion maybe based on the number of family members who worked, or according to the capacity of the individual.

In some instances, however, non-kin/owner members join in the activity. This is part of a Kankanaey tradition to share with others God’s grace and bounty. When non-kin/owner members strike a jackpot, a minor portion of the gold will be set aside for the kin group/owner. But the larger share goes to and is divided equally among the finders. A kin/owner elder keep the portion set aside for the kin/owner group and is used for rituals.


Part of Kankanaey culture are some taboos miners observe while engaged in either placer or lode mining. This includes abstaining from sex, avoiding abusive language, refraining from eating fish and buffalo meat, not gambling and not scattering garbage within the mine site.

Mine Management

Owners of mine area who are not able to manage the activity will let others to administer/manage the business. The parties will have equal shares of the proceeds from the mining business. Other way of mining management by the Kankanaey people is the so-called financing system (supply) wherein the owner will provide all the inputs/materials and a certain group or individual will do the manual work. In terms of sharing the proceeds derived from the mine, all the expenses during the operation will be deducted from the gross income and whatever remains and/or the remaining will be shared equally by the owner and worker/s.

Hand tools Used in Placer Mining

Balkis (sluice box) is made of galvanized iron fitted with a burlap sack and covered with a coarse screen to catch the fine particles containing the gold nuggets or dust.

Sampulan (vanning pan) collects river sediments.

Kalid (coconut shell) is used to scoop and collect and move fine particles or sediments.

Saluddan (coarse screen) catches residues.

Akiyak (metal tray sieve) filters fine particles from the coarse ones.

Ballita (steel digging bar) is used to dig the soil or sand and to move rocks.

Pala (shovel) is used to construct channels and scoop sand.