Who Are the Igorots in the Philippines
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Who Are the Igorots in the Philippines

Igorots are a group of cultural minority people in the Philippines. They live in the northern parts of the Philippines and they are known as head hunters long time ago. The igorots are often mistaken as Aetas, Agtas, and other cultural minorities. The fact is that Igorots are just like the other majority groups of Filipinos like Ilicanos, Tagalogs and Visayans.

The word Igorot is a generalized name for the cultural minority group of people living in the northern part of the Philippines or the Cordillera provinces.  The 5 provinces in Cordillera was only one province called Mountain Province.  This province was established by the Americans in 1908.   However in 1966, Mountain Province was divided into 5 provinces namely: Mountain Province, Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet and Ifugao.  Thus the question about who the Igorots really are created a big issue and confused many people even the Igorots themselves.  The word Igorot is often wrongly defined by people as tailed people still living a primitive life.  This is the reason why many people from the Cordillera region refuse to be called Igorot.  While the definition says Igorots are group of people living in the mountains of the northern Philippines, much is to be said that the real Igorots are the people who were once head-hunters. 

In a popularly known term, Igorots are people living in the Cordilleras. They are the group of people who are often mistaken by other Filipinos as tailed people.  Of course unless Igorots are monkeys then it’s possible for them to have tails but Igorots are a group of Filipino people so the tail they are talking about is only a tale.  To make it short, Igorots are cultural minority group of people but they are normal people just like the Ilocanos, the Tagalogs, the Visayans and the Muslims who are all Filipinos but with different ethnicities. 

Igorots may be the head hunters of long time ago and that is a fact but in these modern times when technology has allowed for the discovery of every cave around the world, it would be impossible for Igorots to be still dwelling in caves and tree houses.  Fact is, if you visit the different places where Igorots dwell, their houses have passed the calculating eyes of the best engineers.  Perhaps it is not impossible for an Igorot family to live in a well-constructed house because after all, who had built one of the best engineered wonders of the world?  The Igorots have built the rice terraces with only their crude tools and bare hands yet the wonder has been constructed perfectly just like the building built by the best engineers.

People argue that Igorots are people who still live a primitive life but that is a misunderstanding of those who do not know them.  In 1970, the last old man that I remembered wearing a G-string was my grandfather who refused to wear the long pants that his children bought for him and instead preferred wearing his G-string that he felt more comfortable with. 

Today, when you speak of Igorots, you hear people say, “Igorots are intelligent and humble”.  The new generations of Igorots have produced high caliber people who have made it to the top of their career. 

The Igorots may come and go and generations after generations will come but no matter what achievement the Igorots garner they are still the same humble people living a simple life.

Read more about the Igorots here:

Tan-O-The Igorot Blog

Additional resources:

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Comments (7)

Hadn't heard of these peoples.  Very interesting.

Thanks Sandy.  I am one of them.

Very well written culture of our upland brothers.

Ron thank you.

Nice article. I am one of them and proud of it too.Let it be known that I never felt any different than anyone else. Hope to see more articles. Godspeed.

Thank you to all of you who  have read and commented on my article.

That is a good one. Just hope people who are not well educated, not well traveled and not well informed will get a chance to read this article. Am sick entire of meeting filipinos who are very ignorant and have no clue to what they are talking about, regarding the word igorot. Lately, a filipino customer of mine in a pharmacy here in Canada who can not speak english well, found out that i am igorot, and he said \"you don\'t look like from Baguio.\" I ask how does igorot look like ? am igorot and i am a good looking. After that he said \"so you live in a bamboo house\"  so i ask him, have you been to Baguio ? still he insist and lied that he lives in Baguio. So that is one of the most incidence. It\'s really beyond belief.