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Bontoc, Mountain Province

Bontoc (Ilocano: Ili ti Bontoc), officially the Municipality of Bontoc, is a 2nd class municipality and capital of the province of Mountain Province, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 24,643 people.[3]

Municipality of Bontoc
Bontoc, Mountain Province (3299081695).jpg
Official seal of Bontoc
Map of Mountain Province with Bontoc highlighted
Map of Mountain Province with Bontoc highlighted
Bontoc is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 17°05′14″N 120°58′32″E / 17.08722°N 120.97556°E / 17.08722; 120.97556Coordinates: 17°05′14″N 120°58′32″E / 17.08722°N 120.97556°E / 17.08722; 120.97556
Country Philippines
RegionCordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
ProvinceMountain Province
DistrictLone District
Barangays16 (see Barangays)
 • TypeSangguniang Bayan
 • MayorFranklin C. Odsey
 • Vice MayorEusebio S. Kabluyen
 • CongressmanMaximo Y. Dalog Jr.
 • Electorate16,040 voters (2019)
 • Total396.10 km2 (152.94 sq mi)
 (2015 census)[3]
 • Total24,643
 • Density62/km2 (160/sq mi)
 • Income class2nd municipal income class
 • Poverty incidence15.43% (2015)[4]
 • Revenue (₱)123,441,548.36 (2016)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)74
Climate typetropical rainforest climate
Native languagesBonton

Bontoc is the historical capital of the entire Cordillera region since the inception of governance in the Cordillera. The municipality celebrates the annual Lang-ay Festival.[5]

Bontoc is home to the Bontoc tribe, a feared war-like group of indigenous people who actively indulged in tribal wars with its neighbours until the 1930s. Every Bontoc male had to undergo a rites of passage into manhood, which may include head hunting, where the male has to journey (sometimes with companions) and hunt for a human head. The Bontocs also used the jaw of the hunted head as a handle for gongs, and as late as the early 1990s, evidence of this practice can be seen from one of the gongs in Pukisan, Bontoc. The town also hosts the UNESCO tentatively-listed Alab petroglyphs.


Bontoc (left) and Bontoc Museum (right)

Samuel E. Kane, American supervisor and then Governor, established the capital here after the Philippine Commission passed the Mountain Province Act in 1908,[6] building a provincial building, hospital, doctor's office, nurse's home, a school, and provincial prison.[7]:281–284 He also built the Tagudin-Bontoc trail, which by 1926, could accommodate a small car.[7]:329


Bontoc is politically subdivided into 16 barangays.

  • Alab Proper
  • Alab Oriente
  • Balili
  • Bay-yo
  • Bontoc Ili
  • Caluttit
  • Can-eo
  • Dalican
  • Gonogon
  • Guinaang
  • Mainit
  • Maligcong
  • Samoki
  • Talubin
  • Tocucan
  • Poblacion (Bontoc)


Bontoc woman with a snake skeleton in hair (a charm against lightning) and Bontoc man, c. 1903, (right)
YearPop.±% p.a.
1918 13,948—    
1939 14,284+0.11%
1948 15,005+0.55%
1960 16,301+0.69%
1970 16,901+0.36%
1975 17,476+0.67%
1980 17,091−0.44%
1990 17,716+0.36%
1995 21,192+3.41%
2000 22,308+1.11%
2007 24,798+1.47%
2010 23,980−1.21%
2015 24,643+0.52%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][8][9][10]

Most inhabitants speak the Bontoc language, with other major languages being Kankana-ey and Ilocano. Minor languages spoken include Tagalog, Pangasinan, Cuyonon and Butuanon.[11]


A group of Igorot pottery makers from Samoki, Mountain Province (c. 1910).

The local economy depends largely on small trades and agriculture. This capital town's biggest economic potential is tourism with its smaller rice terraces in Barangay Bay-yo, Maligcong and other areas.[12]


The highland town of Bontoc is home to two National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines. These are the Stone Agricultural Calendar of Bontoc and Petroglyphs of Alab.[13]

The Alab petroglyphs are ancient figures carved on mountain walls by the prehistoric people of Bontoc.[14] The petroglyphs are the most important ancient rock art carvings in the Cordilleras and the second most oldest in the entire country, second only to the Angono petroglyphs of Rizal. Due to its high significance, it was submitted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines to the UNESCO Tentative List of Heritage Sites in 2006, pending its inclusion in the World Heritage List along with the Singanapan charcoal-drawn petrographs of southern Palawan, Angono petroglyphs of Rizal province, charcoal-drawn Penablanca petrographs of Cagayan, and the Anda red hermatite print petrographs of Bohol.

The Bontoc people have their own indigenous religion that has been preserved for centuries. They believe in a unique pantheon of deities, of which the supreme god is the cultural hero, Lumawig, son of Kabunian. There are many sacred sites associated with Lumawig and a variety of Bontoc deities. Oral tradition tells that Lumawig instilled five great lessons to the Bontoc people, namely: (1) a man must not steal; (2) one should not gossip; (3) men and women must not commit adultery; (4) one must be temperate in eating and in drinking alcoholic drinks; and (5) all people must live simple and industrious lives.[15]


Secondary educationEdit

Institution Location
ALBAGO National High School Balili
Dalican National High School Dalican
Guina-ang National High School Guina-ang
Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School Poblacion
Saint Vincent School Poblacion
Talubin National High School Talubin
Tocucan National High School Tocucan

Tertiary educationEdit

Mountain Province State Polytechnic College is the first tertiary institution in the municipality that offers various undergraduate and graduate courses.

XiJen College of Mountain Province is the only private tertiary institution that also offers technical-vocational courses.


  1. ^ "Municipality". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Province: Mountain Province". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Census of Population (2015). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  4. ^ "PSA releases the 2015 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates". Quezon City, Philippines. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. ^ Malingan, Jamie Joie (12 April 2018). "Feature: Lang-Ay Festival: Celebrating a Culture of Sharing". Philippine Information Agency. Archived from the original on 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Act No. 1876". 18 August 1908. Archived from the original on 2014-10-15. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b Kane, S.E., 1933, Thirty Years with the Philippine Head-Hunters, New York: Grosset & Dunlap
  8. ^ Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  9. ^ Censuses of Population (1903–2007). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Table 1. Population Enumerated in Various Censuses by Province/Highly Urbanized City: 1903 to 2007. NSO.
  10. ^ "Province of Mountain Province". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Annual Report; Local Government of Bontoc; CY 2011" (PDF). Local Government of Bontoc. 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Mt. Province Travel Information". Asia Travel. Archived from the original on 7 May 2001. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 260, s. 1973;". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Annual Report 2010; National Museum" (PDF). Manila, Philippines: National Museum of the Philippines. 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  15. ^

External linksEdit