The Isneg tribe of Apayao remain proud of their culture

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By Marjorie Gorospe


KABUGAO, APAYAO – With a population of only about 30,000, it is amazing to see how the Isneg people of this mountainous province were able to resist Christian influence while preserving their culture.

Known as one of the remaining living tribes in Luzon, the Isneg people (also referred to as the Isnags) are the first inhabitants of Apayao. Less than 10 percent of their total population has been Christianized; of all indigenous tribes, they have resisted Spanish influence the most.

Instead, they have scattered themselves in various areas in the North, even influencing the Ilocanos with their traditional way of eating, the design of their homes, even in the dialect.

The traditional Isneg home is set on four large and straight posts of incorruptible wood, and resistant to humidity. They also tend to decorate their homes in a very colorful manner.

Although some of them are already acquainted with modern living, their main form of entertainment is still their ethnic dance called taddok. They still practice ancient rituals and wear multi-colored clothing during special occasions.

Two of the most important rituals that bind them are say-am and pildap. Say-am is said to be the most important of all religious ceremonies of Isnegs, according to Miguel Vasquez in an article from Baguio Midland Courier. It is a feast held by a wealthy Isneg family, usually accompanied by wine, eating and dancing.

Vasquez himself is a native of Apayao and describes the traditional ritual: “Say-am promotes camaraderie among the people and it highlights the essence of sharing a practice, which should not be forgotten by young Isnegs like me.”

Pidlap, on the other hand, is a feast practiced by the poorer natives, usually done when a family moves to another place. It is also practiced as when someone seeks healing and the family offers food wrapped in banana leaves to the community.

Isnegs are peace-loving people and even have a ritual called ariglo or ‘settlement’. Coincidentally, in Filipino, areglo means “to settle”. Blogger Scott Saboy also wrote a detailed account of the way of life of the Kalinga and Isneg tribes of Apayao.

Today, the Isnegs have learned to imbibe modernity but remain steadfastly loyal to their dialect, passed on from one generation to another. Despite today’s technology and modern living, they remain proud of their customs and traditions.

Photo taken from VizWiki and Culture and Arts


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hazel an rei says:

could you help me know more about Isneg people? And I’m looking for the political views of their tribe like the following:
1. their form of government
2. executive
3. legislative
4. judiciary

I also want to know more about their economical views if they are fishing, mining, farming or trading, and it would be well appreciated if you give me futher explanations about it.

aside from that i also want to know their eschatology or what are they expect after they die.

i also want to know their very own riddles proverbs/ sayings short stories, and what architectural works they did.

i’m sorry if it’s terably many. I just can’t find exactly what I’m looking for from the other sites, i hope that you could help me.

miguel vasquez says:

it must be Isnag not Isneg..

i love ifugao..I mean isneg..hehehe

ang galing naman. paano niyo alam..