The Ifugao, immortalized by their magnificent rice terraces; inhabit the rugged terrain of the extensive Cordillera Mountain Ranges of Central Luzon. They have developed and maintained a distinct culture which until recently has resisted outside influences. Until modern times ended their isolation, the only world they knew was their environment of towering mountain ranges, rolling hills, windy plateaus, warm valleys, shallow but swift rivers, dense forests, innumerable rice paddies and kaingin on the mountainsides.
If asked about origins, the Ifugao will readily repeat folklore handed down through generations. He will vividly trace his first ancestors through a large body of myths, especially those pertaining to the creation of the Ifugao world. The Ifugao will declare categorically that his ancestors were the direct descendants of the dieties of the sky world (lugud), which explains why none of their myths make any mention of migrations into Ifugao land.
Later studies however, describe the Ifugaos as the descendants of the first wave of Malay immigrants to the country. They are described as medium build, brawny and brown with black eyes, straight hair, and thin lips. They are industrious people who depend mostly on rice growing for their livelihood supplemented by livestock and poultry raising. For many generations, the Ifugaos have woven on looms and carved works of art from blocks of woods. The rice terraces is a symbol of their industry that will live through the ages.
The major sub-groups of Ifugao are Tuwali, Ayangan, Hanglulo and Kalanguya. The sub-grouping is based largely on the difference of dialects, partly on the variation of oral traditions and customs slightly on the design and color of costumes. In Ayangan for instance, the sound -ch- is very common and prominent. This is the equivalent of the -d- sound in Tuwali and Kalanguya. Hence, the Tuwali word "wada" (there is) is pronounced "wacha" in Ayangan. The Ayangan has also the sound -f- (pronounced in a hard manner and resembles a soft -v-). The Tuwali term "bale" (house is pronounced "foloy") in Ayangan and "baley" in Kalanguya.
The Tuwali sub-group occupies major parts of Banaue, Hingyon, Hungduan, Lagawe ang Kiangan. The Hanglulo tribe occupies Asipulo, the Ayangan occupies Mayaoyao, of Kiangan and Alfonso Lista, while the Kalanguya sub-groups are found in Tinoc and a small part of Kiangan.
The Ifugaos practice a number of rituals. Some of these rituals are Hingot, the betrothal ritual which announces the union of two families (generally marriages among the Ifugaos are pre-arranged); Amung, a sacrificial ritual wherein the gods and the family's ancestors are asked to make the body healthy, the mother well and strong, and the family wealthy; Uya-uy, a ritual of feasting; Hagabi, a ritual of those aspiring to attain the rank of the real "kadangayan"; Ketema, a ritual intended to identify the spirit who caused a certain sickness. Ayag, a ritual performed to identify the evil spirits who caused an illness; and Kolot, a ritual for the first cutting of child's hair.
*Dulawan, Manuel, READINGS OF IFUGAO, ALA Printing Press, La Trinidad Benguet.
*Encyclopedia of Filipino People.