FACES OF THE CORDILLERA

There arenít a lot of Filipinos who havenít been to or at least known of the more popular parts of the Cordillera region, such as Baguio or Sagada. The former remains a favorite destination, and has managed to open up the rest of the Cordillera region to visitors. Still, despite the frequency of our visits, there is little we know about the region outside its center.

This exhibit gathers materials on the Cordillera region, specifically on two of the numerous indigenous tribes present in the area. July also marks the anniversary of the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region, which makes this exhibit timely.

The Cordillera Administrative Region was created by Executive Order No. 220, on July 15, 1987, after which Republic Act No. 6766 was passed on October 23, 1989. RA 6766 provided for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region, which directed the proposed Cordillera autonomous government to exercise governmental functions, including the raising of taxes, but excluding defense, foreign affairs, and monetary functions. For the Organic Act to take effect, it had to be ratified by the people in a plebiscite, during which only the Ifugao voted in its favor. Still, Republic Act No. 8438 created the Cordillera Autonomous Region on December 22, 1997. In January 1998, a group of lawyers challenged the constitutionality of RA 8438. A plebiscite held on March 9 of the same year was held and invalidated the act and turned Cordillera into a regular administrative region.

The Cordillera Administrative Region is composed of provinces that used to be part of the Old Mountain Province: Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Apayao, and Baguio City, which serves as regional center. It encompasses most of the areas within the Cordillera Central mountain range of Luzon, the vastest mountain range in the country. Mount Pulag, the second highest mountain in the country at 2,922 meters, can be found here. Some famous attractions in the region include the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces in the province of Ifugao, the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, and the mummy caves of Benguet and the Mountain Province.

Cordillera is home to the Bontoc, Gaddang, Ibaloi, Ifugao, Ikalahan, Ilongot, Isneg, Iwak, Kalinga, Kankana-ey, and Tinguian. They are collectively known as the Igorot, a word derived from y-golot, an archaic Tagalog term that means from the mountains.

The Ifugao
Ifugao is derived from the word i-pugaw or ipugo, which means people of the earth. They are also known as Amganad, Ayangan, Kiangan, Gilipanes, Quiangan, Tuwali Ifugao, Mayoya (or Mayoyao, Mayaoyaw). They inhabit the most rugged and mountainous part of the country, high in the mountains of Central Cordillera. It is a landlocked province characterized by thick massive forests and plateaus in the east and south.

The Bontoc
Bontoc is derived from two words: bun, which means heap, and tuk, which means top; together, the compound means mountain. The Bontoc or Bontok refers to the people of the Central Mountain Province, and they are the only indigenous group to have laws on warfare. Once known for their headhunting practices, they are now a peaceful agricultural people who have, by choice, retained most of their traditional culture despite frequent contacts with other groups.


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