The Ilongot people are a tribal
society who lives in the hills of Northern Luzon in the Philippines.
They were hunter-gatherers and also slash-and burn cultivators. The
men of the tribe hunted, fished, and cleared the forest for gardens.
They hunted deer and wild pig in hunting parties with dogs, bow and arrows.
Meat was generally divided evenly between all. Women did most of
the garden work. Rice was most of what they grew but they also grew
sweet potatoes, taro, yams, bananas, sugar, and tobacco (Rosaldo 1980,
For the most part Ilongot society is pretty equal. No one person is really above anyone else. The different groups of the Ilongot's were called bertan and their social structure comprised of 4 parts: families, then households, then local clusters, and finally bertan (Rosaldo 1980, p 14-15). Bertan is a word that is used rather widely in Ilongot language and means kind or group. It is used to describe different types of plants and animals and is also used to name different groups of Ilongot peoples (Rosaldo 1980, p 222-29). Marriage among these people is different in that unmarried people are encouraged to seek out there own mate rather than following any sort of societal practice.
Brief History of the Ilongot
Starting in 1919 the Ilongot began to practice headhunting more and more, mostly between different Bertan. This caused a great deal of feuding among the people and neighbors even began beheading neighbors in there own homes. In 1923 troops entered Ilongot country lead by Ilongotís from the perimeter of their territory looking for vengeance of previous beheading. Troops destroyed and burned crops and arrested men. One of the men arrested formed a raid after being released against the bertan responsible for the troops coming into Ilongot territory and beheaded many of their bertan. To retaliate for the beheadings they same group brought in troops once again into the Ilongot interior. From 1919 to 1928 much violence took place and headhunting was being practiced a great deal.
Starting 1929 going to about 1935 headhunting came to a halt. Many people moved near the perimeter of Ilongot territory near where a schoolhouse was to be built. Many young men married without taking head (will be explained later in the essay). No heads where taken during this time but many of the people we anxious to start headhunting. Between 1936 and 1941 peasant uprisings took place in the lowlands and the Ilongotís took advantage of the chaos by raiding. Many headhunting raids were done during this period of time. In 1942-45 Japanese soldiers landed in the Philippines forcing many of the Ilongotís to move to the interior so to have strength in numbers. Many feuds broke out and many beheadings took place. This was the peak of Ilongot headhunting (Rosaldo 1980, 48-54). After that time there was relative peace but headhunting didnít stop all together among the Ilongotís until 1974 when rumors of firing squads began.
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