By PIO VERZOLA JR.
Note: This is Part 3, the final installment of an abridged version of the final report for the Cordillera-North Luzon IP Mapping Project. Parts 1 and 2 were published in the Oct. 14 and 21 issues.
IP groups in the Ilocos region
The Ilocos region is composed of four provinces, namely, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan. The region’s composition is predominantly Ilokano – one of the country’s largest ethno-linguistic groups, and among the first to be fully assimilated into the Spanish colonial-feudal setup.
Since the narrow Ilocos coastal strip abruptly gives way to the Cordillera ranges to the east, however, with many rivers and passes providing mutual access, there have always been close ties and near-imperceptible blending between the coastal Ilocano and upland Cordillera groups. The exception to this pattern is in the vast plains and western hills of Pangasinan.
Ilocos Norte. – The NCIP/ONCC counted a total IP population of 11,906 in 11 towns out of the total provincial population of 514,241, in 22 towns and one city. This amounts to a 2.32% IP population.
The towns of Adams, Dumalneg, Carasi, and Nueva Era remain predominantly IP. There are also pockets of nearly solid IP barangays in Bangui, Marcos, Solsona, and Vintar.
(It’s significant to note that the NCIP/ONCC published surveys did not contain any ethnic description to distinguish among some terms that it used, namely, Itneg, Tinguian, or Itneg-Tinguian, and Bago. “Itneg” and “Tinguian”, in many respects, refer to the same general assemblage of peoples inhabiting the western spurs of the Cordillera range in and around Abra province. The two terms can be interpreted very loosely to encompass more distinct local peoples. To emphasize this point, we used the term “unqualified Itneg” or “unqualified Tinguian” in the tables contained in the report. A short description of the Bago peoples can be found in an earlier section of this report.)
Ilocos Sur. – The NCIP/ONCC counted a total IP population of 93,059 in 24 towns and one city, out of the total provincial population of 594,206 in 32 towns and two cities. This amounts to a 15.66% IP population – a significantly high proportion for this heavily-populated province.
The towns, mostly upland, that remain predominantly IP and contiguous with the adjacent Cordillera towns, are Alilem, Banayoyo, Cervantes, Galimuyod, G. del Pilar, Lidlidda, Nagbukel, Quirino, Salcedo, San Emilio, Sigay, Sugpon, and Suyo. Although mostly lowland, the towns of Sta. Cruz, Sta. Lucia, Burgos, and Candon City itself still contain significant IP communities.
La Union. – The NCIP/ONCC counted a total IP population of 74,383 in all of the province’s 19 towns and one city, out of the total provincial population of 657,945. This amounts to an 11.3% IP population – also a significantly high proportion for the heavily-populated province like in the case of Ilocos Sur.
The towns, mostly upland, that remain predominantly IP and contiguous with the adjacent Cordillera towns, are Bagulin, Burgos, Pugo, San Gabriel, Santol and Sudipen. All other towns, including San Fernando City itself, contain either still-distinct IP communities original to the area, or barangays with significant mixed-IP migrant populations.
Pangasinan. – Pangasinan has a large population that is predominantly Ilocano and Pangasinense in ethnic composition. The few IP communities that are truly rooted in Pangasinan who have survived into the 20th century are the Ibaloy, Iwak, Kalanguya and the so-called Bago, on the borders with Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya, and Aeta groups in the mountainous western towns.
Native speakers of Sambal Bolinao, more ethno-linguistically related with Zambales upland peoples, are now fully assimilated into the Filipino majority. The presence of other Cordillera IP groups in the province are the result of modern in-migration.
The NCIP/ONCC estimates a total IP population of 18,225 (in 24 towns and 1 city) out of the total provincial population of 2,434,086 (45 towns and 3 cities). This amounts to 0.46% IP population.
IP groups in the Cagayan Valley
The Cagayan Valley region is composed of five provinces: Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and the island-group province of Batanes.
Throughout the region, the dominant ethnolinguistic group is the Ilocano. In earlier periods, smaller but still substantial ethno-linguistic lowland-riverine-hill groups such as the Ibanag, Itawis-Malaweg, Yogad, Gaddang and Isinay could have retained enough ancestral lifeways to be considered as IP’s. But in the past 30 years or more, they have become fully integrated into the Filipino majority and have lost much of their indigenous identities, except the still prominent use of their own languages and a few persistent traditions and oral literature. (The Kalinga of Isabela is a special issue, to be discussed further below.)
There are two types of IP’s in the region: first, peoples who are truly indigenous to the region by inhabiting its localities since time immemorial; and second, IP groups from other regions, especially from the adjacent Cordillera region, who have settled in the localities as migrant communities replicating the lifeways of their homeland.
In the first category are the Agta or local Aeta (variously called Aggay, Arta, Alta, or Atta), the Isnag or Isneg, the Bugkalot or Ilongot, and the Kalanguya or Kallahan. In the second category are Kalinga, Ifugao, Bontoc-Kankanay, Ibaloy, Tinguian, Bago and other IP groups from the Cordillera.
There is no hard-and-fast line between the two categories, however, since much of the colonial administrative divisions during Spanish and American times have been drawn arbitrarily across the land with little regard for real ethnographic distinctions on the ground. For example, Ifugao and Ibaloy communities have inhabited, since time immemorial, what in modern times have become part of Nueva Vizcaya. This is on top of the cumulative inter-mixing of ethnic groups due to the Spanish colonial policy of pacification and reduction, which entailed massive and forcible relocation if not dispersal of indigenous communities.
Cagayan Valley NGO’s estimate a total IP population of about 80,325, or 2.8 percent of the total regional population of 2,853,000. Our research has been unable to acquire more detailed town-by-town (if not barangay-by-barangay) and group-by-group counts.
Agta. – Most Agta, easily distinguishable by their Australoid features (dark-brown skin, curly hair), have retained their nomadic or semi-settled lifeways that revolve around hunting, gathering, and limited slash-and-burn farming. They are distributed widely throughout the still-thickly forested uplands of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces (not to mention pockets of Agta groups in Apayao and Aurora provinces). An NGO survey initially estimates their total number at about 830 households or around 4,000 people, spread out in 21 towns of the region.
Our own NL-IP mapping project, mostly relying on initial surveys by CV-based people’s organizations, identified and listed 49 Agta puroks or sitios (240-plus households) in 14 towns of Cagayan province; riverine Agta groups comprising 518 households in eight towns in Isabela province; and 70 Agta households in two towns of Quirino province.
Bugkalot. – The Bugkalot (aka Ilongot) are found in the mountainous areas of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, the Nueva Vizcaya-Isabela boundary, northeast Nueva Ecija, and north of Baler, Aurora province. Although the 1990 NSO census counted them at 50,786 individuals, many of them have dispersed throughout the area, and non-government researches have estimated their core communities today to have a population of less than 5,000.
The Bugkalots are still particularly intact in four towns of Nueva Vizcaya (Kasibu, A. Castaneda, Dupax del Norte and Dupax del Sur), and in Nagtipunan town in Quirino.
The Kalinga-Isabela. – A small ethnolinguistic group, the Kalinga-Isabela (not to be mistaken with the better-known Kalinga of Cordillera region) is a special case. It may continue to be considered as an indigenous people although it is rapidly being assimilated into the Filipino majority population. The Kalinga-Isabela is found in 16 barangays of San Mariano, Isabela, with an estimated population of 554 families or 2,770 individuals. They continue to be distinguished by their native language and physical features (dark skin and curly hair). Their language is seen as closely related to Yogad, although not enough linguistic and ethnographic studies have been done among them.
Batanes IP’s. – The Batan islands (Batan, Sabtang, Itbayat, and minor islands and islets) comprise Batanes, the country’s northernmost and smallest province. The Babuyan islands (Babuyan, Camiguin, Calayan, Fuga, Dalupiri, and minor islands and islets), which are nearer to mainland Luzon, are administratively part of Cagayan province.
The local peoples indigenous to the Batan islands speak Ivatan and Itbayat and have retained much of their indigenous cultures because of their inaccessibility to mainland Luzon. In recent decades, Ilocano has increasingly become dominant in the Babuyan islands.
Migrant Cordillera IP’s. – Migrants from Kalinga province are found in Cagayan province: in Sto. Nino town (Lagom brgy), Rizal (some in Zinundungan Valley), Piat, and Enrile. They are also found in the Mallig region of Isabela (the towns of Quezon, Mallig and Roxas), together with other migrants from Mt. Province and Ifugao.
Big family groups belonging to the Kalanguya or Kallahan-speaking peoples are found in Kayapa and Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya – either as original communities or as migrant IP’s from the more interior Cordillera towns of Tinoc (in Ifugao) and Ambaguio (in Nueva Vizcaya).
Ifugao migrants are found throughout the region, from Gonzaga and Baggao in Cagayan, through various Isabela towns, down to Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces.
Cordillera IP’s especially from Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Ilocos-Bago areas have also migrated and resettled in significant numbers in Aurora province (especially in the Baler area) and in Nueva Ecija (especially in the Carranglan-Lupao area). #