Ifugao is in the Cordillera Central Mountains of northern Luzon. It is bounded on the north by the Mountain Province, on the east by Isabela, on the west by Benguet, and on the south by Nueva Vizcaya.
Ifugao is home of the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. The extensive mountain ranges that dominate the landscape have been terraced by hand for growing rice because there is hardly any level land. Even the nearby villages are on the
mountain slopes. The peaks rise as high as 2,500 m, with lush forests above the rice terraces. Numerous rivers and waterfalls drain into the lowland valleys. The province's location high in the mountains and its forest cover account for its temperate climate. A short dry season lasts from January to April; it can be very wet during the rainy season.
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1752, a Spanish base was established in Bagabag (in what is now Nueva Vizcaya). The Spanish tried to subdue the Ifugaos who frequently raided Cagayan Valley settlements.
In 1767, however, the Ifugaos defeated the Spaniards in a battle in the town of Kiangan. Other Spanish military expeditions followed which made Ifugao territory part of the Province of Nueva Vizcaya when it was created in 1839. The Spaniards set up a politico- military district in Kiangan in 1841, from where the outlying villages could be controlled and converted to Christianity. The fierce resistance of the Ifugaos, however, continued up until the end of
the Spanish rule.
The Americans used a different approach: they developed friendly relations with the Ifugaos and the other tribes of the Cordilleras by holding canaos (native feasts) and by unifying groups. This led to the creation of the old
Mountain Province by the Philippine Commission in 1908. Ifugao was separated from Nueva Vizcaya and made into one of its sub-provinces. Soon thereafter, roads were built connecting Kiangan to Bontoc and to Bagabag.
During World War 11, the Japanese established a garrison in Kiangan. When the U.S. Liberation Forces landed in Luzon in January 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army under General Yamashita retreated to Ifugao. They established a stronghold on the slopes of Mt. Napaluan in Hungduan, but the joint Filipino- American Forces went after them with continuous bombing and artillery fire. On September 3, 1945, Yamashita finally surrendered in Kiangan, bringing the war in the Pacific to an end.
On June 18,1966, by virtue of Republic Act No. 4695, the old
Mountain Province was divided into four regular provinces-Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao, and the Mountain Province. Ifugao and Kalinga-
Apayao were made a part of the Cagayan Valley region until 1987, when
they became part of the newly- created Cordillera Administrative Region.
Some historians believe that the Ifugaos migrated from Indochina across southern Japan to Luzon then southward to Java because these are the only areas where rice terraces can be found. Others say they migrated northward from Indonesia as evidenced by their art forms and rituals which are similar to Bomeo's, Sumatra's, and those of other Indonesian tribes. Wherever they came from, the relatively short, well-built Ifugao have acquired a reputation as fierce resisters to foreign domination, even as headhunters. They conjure an image of warriors wearing G-strings with a spear in one hand and a wooden shield in the other. Men still wear G-strings and feathered headgear, especially when tourists want to take their pictures. The women wear colorful, hand-woven dresses.
The Ifugao maintain centuries-old traditions. Sacrificial animals are butchered before crop planting but the most colorful rituals are held during harvest time. The village chief is the first to harvest. Then for two days, the community celebrates by feasting on chickens, pigs, or carabaos amidst dancing and the beating of gongs. The inhabitants speak a dialect also called Ifugao.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
The Ifugaos engage in agriculture, hunting, and forestry. They raise rice, rootcrops, vegetables, coffee, and cotton in the rice terraces or in kaingins. Wood-carving and the making of traditional handicrafts such as woven cloth and baskets are important industries. The province's tourism potential can still be developed further to provide employment to residents and boost the economy.
Information gathered from:
League of Provinces
by:Roberto C. Arellano
This page last revised: December 19, 2003