SUB-PROVINCE OF IFUGAO, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data SUB-PROVINCE OF IFUGAO, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data


Sub-Province of Benguet

About these Historical Data

[Note to the reader: The original document filed at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections for the Sub-Province of Ifugao, Mountain Province, is a 206-page compilation entitled "Kiangan, Capital of the Sub-Province of Ifugao in the Mt. Province, Island of Luzon, P.I., During the Japanese Occupation." The document was compiled in 1946. In a compiler's note contained inside this same document, Lawrence L. Wilson wrote, "I fondly hope that it [in reference to the document] will be found to be a slight contribution toward the study of the conditions found in wars of aggression..." In other words, the document is not really one of the so-called "historical data" collected by public school teachers in response to a directive issued by then-President Elpidio Quirino in 1951. [see "About Section" of this web site.]

This transcription, therefore, will only include excerpts from the original document that are more in line with the basic notion of these "historical data" to chronicle history and cultural life in the sub-province of Ifugao. All those who wish to read the rest of the document, which is really about conditions in the area in World War II, may follow the link provided at the foot of this page under the "Transcribed from" section.

[p. 1]


The Polis Mountain Range on the north and west forms the border of the Subprovince of Ifugao and cuts it off from Benguet and Lepanto in the west and from Bontoc in the north. Mount Pulog (2,924 meters) in the southwestern corner is the highest peak in Luzon and second only to Mount Apo in Mindanao in the Philippines. The Polis passes through this range and is 1,940 meters above sea level. Mountains cover the western two-thirds of the province. The eastern third is practically uninhabited, slopes gradually [fall] away into the valley of the Magat River. This region is one of the most fertile spots in the Philippines and is a part of the best tobacco-producing region of Isabela. It has always been a neutral ground between the Christians and the Apayaos.

The southeastern winds bring so much moisture that, in the northern part of the province, it rains all the year round. The land is well-drained and the locality healthful.

The north central part of Ifugao, included within a radius of 20 kilometers on either side of the Kiangan-Banaue road, is sparsely populated.

"The soils are of basalt rock origin, very fertile and extremely cultivated. The chief agricultural product is rice, which is grown on terraces along the mountain sides. Nowhere in the Philippines is irrigation developed to the point reached in Ifugao. There are approximately 100 square miles of irrigated rice terraces that are watered by great ditches that run for miles. The terraces are all buttressed with stone walls which measure a total length of about 12,000 miles. It is believed that the construction of the present terraces and irrigation systems has taken from twelve to fifteen hundred years of time." - Boyer.

The Ifugaos have so utilized every drop available water supply that it most places, it is useless to construct any more ditches for lack of water, a deficiency mostly due to deforestation. Several areas have been abandoned awaiting reforestation.

[p. 2]

Potatoes, taro, tobacco, cotton, and a great variety of vegetables such as peas, beans, and onions are grown by the Ifugaos.

Except non-metals, no valuable minerals have as yet been discovered. There is a small seam of coal along the border of Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya near Cagayan, but it is not mined because of the difficulty of transportation. Around Kiangan, and especially to the south of it, there are deposits of lime suitable for mortar. There are extensive areas of good building stone such as [the] terrace walls are made of, hard basic rocks of diorites and conglomerates. There is also good pottery clay. Salt springs and deposits of rock salt are found in the lower Cadaclan and in the valleys of the Asin and Andangan Rivers. The salt finds at [a] large local market.

No animals are used for field work, for everything is done by hand. When the ricefields become dry, fish for food is raised in ponds. Deer and wild carabaos are plentiful in the uninhabited regions.

Two dialects are spoken in Ifugao, a circumstance evidently due to the separation of the inhabitants into two divisions by the range of mountains between Alimit and Ibulao Rivers.

The Ifugaos are a very industrious people as shown in their terrace construction of ricefields. They only need education and Christianity to make them one of the great factors in the progress of these Islands.

This subprovince has 3 townships and 191 barrios. Its capital is Kiangan, with 276 inhabitants. It is located in the southwestern part of the province.

[p. 3]

Number, 132,500; eighth largest group in the Islands and the largest non-Christian group. Loc: Practically all live in the sub-province of Ifugao, with the exception of about 2,000 in the province of Nueva Vizcaya. Mixed Ifugaos in Benguet, Lepanto, Bontok, and Kalinga are classed with the Igorots and Bontoks. Char: Pagan. Of very mixed race; practically all physical types being represented. The Malay blend predominates, while the Indonesian, short Mongol and Ainu come next in order. Some isolated valleys show an extensive mixture with the latter type. The Ifugaos possess a quite unique and extensive culture. Clan organization and government. Villages consist of many scattered hamlets. Populated area contains 400 people to the square mile. Irrigated agriculture highly developed; the greatest system of stone-walled rice terraces to be found in any part of the world. Characteristic house types, clothing, basketry, utensils, and implements. Headhunting practice, but head-axe not used. Distinctive tattoos. No circumcision. A legalized form of trial marriage. Unmarried men and women sleep in separate houses, but there are no public buildings as in Bontok. Extensive mythology and a very highly-developed polytheistic religion, with a trained priesthood. Genealogies often preserved for from 15 to 30 generations. Language is distinct but belongs to the Iloko group; two principal dialects, differing chiefly in phonetics, and several minor dialects. One of the latter, spoken by the Lagaui clan, lexically resembles Pangasinan.

[p. 4]

Kiangan is the barrio head of Ifugao. A municipality is divided into barrios. For administrative purposes, several barrios may be grouped into districts. A sitio is one of the units composing a barrio. One or more sitios may be a barrio; one or more barrios may be a district. A district is an administrative unit. Townships having been abolished by Act 2824, municipalities and municipal districts differ as follows: (1) Municipalities are advanced communities peopled by civilized inhabitants; municipal districts are peopled by inhabitants who have not progressed sufficiently in civilization to make it practicable to bring them under a municipal government as provided by existing laws. (2) Municipalities are created by the Legislature or by the President of the Philippines upon delegation of this authority by the Legislature. Municipal districts (which are to be distinquished from administrative districts as defined above), are organized by the Secretary of the Interior. (3) The Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and councilors of a municipality are elected by the voters at large; the officers of municipal districts are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. (4) Powers and duties of the municipal districts are prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior; those of the municipalities are prescribed by law. (5) Municipalities enjoy more autonomy than municipal districts.

OFFICIALS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES: The officers of a municipality are either elective or appointive. The municipal mayor, vice-mayor and councilors are elected. The municipal treasurer, secretary, the justice of the peace, the chief of police, and the lieutenants of the barrios are appointed.

PROVINCIAL SUPERVISION OVER MUNICIPAL OFFICERS: The provincial governor has general supervision over the municipal officers. He receives and investigates complaints against them for neglect of duty, oppression, corruption, or other forms of mal-administration. For a minor delinquency, he may reprimand the offender. If a more severe punishment is deserved, he may suspend the officer, unless he is the municipal treasurer or the justice of the peace, and file written charges with the provincial board. In this case, the provincial board will set a date for trial, allowing the accused full opportunity to be heard. If the board decides to deal with the officer more severely, the records of the case, together with the recommendation of the board, will be sent to the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior can order the reinstatement, dismissal, or suspension of the official. Disciplinary suspension cannot exceed thirty days' duration, while final dismissal does not take effect until recommended by the department head and approved by the President of the Philippines. The municipal official suspended from duty pending investigation receives no pay in the meantime, but upon subsequent exoneration or reinstatement, the department head may order the payment of the whole or part of the salary accuring during such suspension.

[p. 5]

The Sub-Province of Ifugao and Its People

Ifugao is one of the subprovinces in the Mountain Province, located in the central Cordillera Mountains in the center of Northern Luzon, Philippines, on the eastern slopes, toward the Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela Provinces. To the south is the subprovince of Bontoc and Kalinga. The subprovince of Ifugao has an area of more than 2,000 square miles and is inhabited by a tribe called the "Ifugaos," to differentiate them from the Bontoc tribes, Kalinga tribes, or the Benguets and Apayaos. The Bontocs and Benguets are usually the ones composing the Igorots, but now all the native inhabitants of the Mountain Province are known outside [it] as Igorots, and only among ourselves, for the sake of distinction, that we usually refer to the tribal names.

The population of the Subprovince of Ifugao by the 1939 government census was more than 70,000 inhabitants and, before the outbreak of the war in 1941, it came up to more than 75,000, distributed as follows:

1. Municipality of Kiangan, more than 17,000.
2. Municipality of Banawe, more than that of Kiangan, over 17,300.
3. Municipality of Hungduan, between 13-14,000.
4. Municipality of Burnay, between 14-15,000.
5. Municipality of Mayaoyao, between 12-13,000

The Subprovince of Ifugao is the most thickly populated as compared with the other subprovinces of the Mountain Province.

The inhabitants of Ifugao had been governed by American constabulary officers ever since the Americans established the American Deputy Military Governor of of Ifugao, who was Col. William John C. Early in 1927. Then, a Filipino lowlander, [a] constabulary officer, became Deputy Military Governor until 1935, when I relieved him, as a consequence of the establishment of the Commonwealth Government. By passing civil service examinations, the Moros and Igorots were given and opportunity to govern their own respective people. At the same time, in compliance with the policy of the government to Filipinize the employees of the Commonwealth Government, Military Governor William Dosser was relieved by a Filipino governor. Col. william Dosser was the last American governor of the Igorots, as a whole, and the last American Deputy Military Governor of the Ifugaos, in particular.

Most of the educational workers in the Mountain Province were Americans, and even at this time, the School Superintendent is still an American, not to mention the American teachers in the high schools. From this point of view, one can readily see that the education of the Igorots was practically in the hands of American teachers, aside from the work of the white missionaries, and that the Filipino teachers were just, of course, working side by side with the white teachers. The Igorots, as a matter of fact, had been practically a "white man's burden" in Northern Luzon. Their efforts had [been] crowned by the few well-educated men and women who began to help their own people when the war broke out. We, [the] few fortunate ones who were able to obtain at least a liberal education, became the living example of our people. But this terrible war caused the deaths of

[p. 6]

many of us, and it will be many years again of hard work before the Ifugaos can have educated citizens. The poverty, plus the terrible effects of this war upon the Igorots as a whole, will become one of the stumbling blocks in their desire to obtain at least some sort of education, as [we] did ourselves in the early American occupation of the Mountain Province, by their benevolent and Christian charity, many of us were fortunate to be educated liberally.

The Subprovince of Ifugao was the last battleground against the enemy who invaded our country. The retreat of General Yamashita, with his army of 40,000, into the Ifugao territory, and finally the surrender of General Yamashita with his army at Kiangan, the capital of the subprovince, at last made the land of the Ifugaos historic in World War II, thus ending the war in the Philippines in particular and in the East as a whole.

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Transcribed from:
"Kiangan, Capital of the Sub-Province of Ifugao in the Mt. Province, Island of Luzon, P.I., During the Japanese Occupation", compiled by Lawrence L. Wilson in Manila, January 1946, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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