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Ifugao (Ilokano: Probinsia ti Ifugao; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Ifugao) is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Lagawe and it borders Benguet to the west, Mountain Province to the north, Isabela to the east, and Nueva Vizcaya to the south.

Province of Ifugao
The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Flag of Ifugao
Official seal of Ifugao
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 16°50′N 121°10′E / 16.83°N 121.17°E / 16.83; 121.17Coordinates: 16°50′N 121°10′E / 16.83°N 121.17°E / 16.83; 121.17
RegionCordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
FoundedJune 18, 1966
 • TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
 • GovernorJerry U. Dalipog
 • Vice GovernorGlenn D. Prudenciano
 • RepresentativeSolomon R. Chungalao
 • Total2,628.21 km2 (1,014.76 sq mi)
Area rank50th out of 81
Highest elevation2,926 m (9,600 ft)
 (2015 census)[2]
 • Total202,802
 • Rank72nd out of 81
 • Density77/km2 (200/sq mi)
 • Density rank74th out of 81
 • Independent cities0
 • Component cities0
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays175
 • DistrictsLone district of Ifugao
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)74
ISO 3166 codePH
Spoken languages

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and Banaue Rice Terraces are the main tourist attractions in the province. These terraces are believed to have been hand-carved into the mountains 2,000 years ago to plant rice. However, recent research by carbon dating suggests that they were built much later.[3] In 1995, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras were declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[4] In 2008 and 2015, the Hudhud chants of the Ifugao and the Punnuk (Tugging rituals and games) were inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[5][6]



Ifugao is named after the term i-pugo ("i" [from/people] and pugo [hill]), which translates to people of the hill.[7] Alternatively, the province's name may have come from the word pugaw, which means "the cosmic earth",[8] ipugaw then referring to "mortals". Finally, the name may have been derived from ipugo, a type of grain in local mythology given to the people by Matungulan, the god of grains.[8]


Precolonial ageEdit

Prior to colonization, Ifugao was a massive highland plutocracy, among the most sophisticated and prosperous of its kind in the whole archipelago and one of the two grandest highland plutocracies in Luzon, the other being the Plutocracy of Kalinga. The state existed for over 2,000 years and have built massive rice terraces that would be a symbol of the province in later time. There were no monarchs in the state. The state was ruled by its council of elders which led the state into a peaceful and prosperous plutocracy which developed one of the best agricultural technologies in Asia at its time. The state consisted of various subgroups which had similar yet somewhat distinct culture and traditions. Conflicts among the Ifugao people were resolved in the most peaceful way possible. Unlike most of the highland plutocracies in the Cordilleras at the time, the Plutocracy of Ifugao had the least conflict with lowland settlers. Kiangan was known as the birthplace of the Ifugao people and Hungduan as the epicenter of its culture.

Spanish regimeEdit

The Spanish had great difficulty in taking over Ifugao, like most of the Cordilleras due to the fierce belief of the Cordillera people of their rights since ancient times. The Ifugao battled colonizers for hundreds of years, even after the state was colonized and was transformed into a part of Nueva Viscaya province of the Spanish-administered Philippines.[9][10] In 1891, the Spanish government established Quiangan as a comandancia-politico-militar[11][12] for the Ifugao area.[13] The Spanish occupation in the province ended with the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution.

American occupationEdit

Participants in Ifugao uyauwe ceremony, c. 1903

On August 18, 1908, Ifugao was separated from Nueva Vizcaya[14] and, along with Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Kalinga and Lepanto, was annexed to the newly created Mountain Province established by the Philippine Commission with the enactment of Act No. 1876.[9][11][15][16]

World War IIEdit

Ifugao became the center of warfare in the last year of World War II when Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita launched his last stand against the American and Philippine Commonwealth forces at Mount Napulawan. He informally surrendered to Captain Grisham of the 6th US Army in the Philippines based in Kiangan,[9] then formally surrendered at Camp John Hay on 3 Sept. 1945.[17]

Post-war eraEdit

On June 18, 1966, Republic Act No. 4695 was enacted, and Ifugao was converted into a regular province when the huge Mountain Province was split into four (the other three being Benguet, Mountain Province, and Kalinga-Apayao).[7][18] Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao were placed under the jurisdiction of the Cagayan Valley region.[9][19] The capital was moved from Kiangan to Lagawe due to the harsh landscape of Kiangan which made it unsuitable for public transportation and as a capital.

Post-martial law eraEdit

On July 15, 1987, the Cordillera Administrative Region was established by then-President Corazon Aquino through Executive Order 220, and Ifugao was made one of its provinces.[9][20][21]

Contemporary historyEdit

Ifugao youth in their traditional clothing.

In 1992, Republic Act No. 07173 was enacted, separating several barangays from Kiangan and constituting them under a new municipality known as Asipulo.[22][23]

Since 1992, the province has observed every September 2 as "Victory Day", commemorating the valor of Philippine war veterans and the surrender of General Yamashita in the municipality of Kiangan on September 2, 1945.[24][25][26]

In 1995, the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan) and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan, Ifugao) were inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site under the collective name "Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras".[4]

In 2001, the Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao was chosen as one of the 11 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It was then formally inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.[27][28][29]

In 2013, the official Intangible Heritage Book of the Philippine was published, and 13 of its elements were from Ifugao.

In 2014, the Philippines joined other Asian nations in establishing the support and submission of the "Tug of war" — a multinational cultural heritage or Tugging rituals and games, an Intangible Cultural Heritage that encompasses tug-of-war games in Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. The initial move of the Philippines started in 2013. The Philippines' part in the new element is represented by the tug-of-war of the Ifugaos (in Brgy. Hapao, Municipality of Hungduan) called the punnuk. The element is expected to be declared as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2015.

Since the 20th century, the province has been central to the archaeological research of various international institutions, mostly from the United States and the Philippines. A major discovery was the archaeological site of Kiangan, which proved the oral tradition of the Ifugao that the first settlement in the province was in Kiangan.[30]


Ifugao covers a total area of 2,628.21 square kilometres (1,014.76 sq mi)[31] occupying the southeastern section of the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. The province is bordered by Benguet to the west, Mountain Province to the north, Isabela to the east, and Nueva Vizcaya to the south.

Situated within the Cordillera Central mountain range, Ifugao is characterized by rugged terrain, river valleys, and massive forests.

Administrative divisionsEdit

Ifugao comprises 11 municipalities, all encompassed by a lone legislative district.[2][31]

Political divisions


The 11 municipalities of the province comprise a total of 175 barangays, with Santa Maria in Alfonso Lista (Potia) as the most populous in 2010, and Banga in Lagawe as the least.[32][31]


The rainy season in Ifugao begins in July and runs through January. The weather remains cool from November to February.[33]


Population by ethnicity (2000)[34]
Ethnicity Number
109,659 (67.91%)
22,171 (13.73%)
13,946 (8.64%)
9,935 (6.15%)
1,037 (0.64%)

Other foreign ethnicity
21 (0.01%)
4,192 (2.60%)
Not Reported
522 (0.32%)
YearPop.±% p.a.
1990 147,281—    
1995 149,598+0.29%
2000 161,623+1.67%
2007 180,711+1.55%
2010 191,078+2.05%
2015 202,802+1.14%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[2][32][35]

The population of Ifugao in the 2015 census was 202,802 people,[2] with a density of 77 inhabitants per square kilometre or 200 inhabitants per square mile.


Ifugao people in their traditional clothing
A traditional Ifugao house with the Batad rice terraces in the background
Fabric weaved from Ifugao

Based on the 2000 census survey, Ifugao comprised 67.91% (109,659) of the total provincial population of 161,483. Other ethnic groups in the province included the Ilocanos at 13.73% (22,171), Kalahan at 8.64% (13,946), Ayungan at 6.15% (9,935), and Kankanaey at 0.64% (1,037).[34][36]

The natives of Ifugao province are called Ifugaos, but mistakenly called by non-Cordilleran as Igorots. Ifugaos, despite the similarities in some cultural traditions and practices, are considered a separate ethnic group from Igorots.

The total number of Tinguian in the province of Ifugao is 2,609. (source: Philippine Statistics Authority)[full citation needed]



The Ifugao people have an indigenous religion unique to their traditional culture, and highly significant to the preservation of their life ways and valued traditions. They believe in the existence of thousands of gods, which may enter specific sacred objects such as the bul-ul. Among the deities that the Ifugao revere are:

  • Mah-nongan - The chief god generally refer to as the honorary dead and creator of all things, even though Ifugaos do not consider any of their deities as supreme.
  • Ampual - Of the Fourth Skyworld, is the god who bestowed animals and plants on the people and who controls the transplanting of rice. He is one of those gods who expects gifts in return for his blessings.
  • Bumigi - In charge of worms, one of the eleven beings importuned to stamp out rice pests.
  • Liddum - Is regarded as the chief mediator between the people and the other gods.
  • Lumadab - Has the power to dry up the rice leaves, one of the eleven beings importuned to stamp out rice pests.
  • Mamiyo - Stretcher of skeins, one of the twenty-three different deities preside over the art of weaving.
  • Monlolot - The winder of thread on the spindle, one of the twenty-three different deities preside over the art of weaving.
  • Puwok - Controls the dread typhoons.
  • Wigan - Is the god of good harvest.
  • Yogyog and Alyog - Cause the earth to quake. They dwell in the underworld.
  • Kabunian
  • Lumawig[37][38]


Roman Catholicism has a growing influence in the province with approximately 60%[citation needed] of the population being converted by missionaries. In most areas, especially at the east and south of the province, indigenous traditions have degraded due to the influx of Christianity. In 2014, the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe recorded a 61.5% Roman Catholic adherence, a stunning degree of destruction of traditional belief systems. The most significant religion other than Roman Catholicism is Protestantism that make up 20%-30%[39][40] of the population and are mostly found in the central and south-western parts of this province. Other religions includes animism

Rice cultureEdit

Bululs, rice granary guardian deities from Ifugao
Hagabi (left) and native dress (right) in Banaue Museum

The Spanish first described the Ifugao rice terraces in 1801. Though as William Scott notes, "These impressive stone-walled fields, irrigated for both rice and taro, had been known from the time of the first expeditions in to Kiangan in the 1750s..."[41][42]:2

Ifugao culture revolves around rice, which is considered a prestige crop. There is an elaborate and complex array of rice culture feasts inextricably linked with taboos and intricate agricultural rites, from rice cultivation to rice consumption. Harvest season calls for grandiose thanksgiving feasts, while the concluding harvest rites tungo or tungul (the day of rest) entail a strict taboo of any agricultural work. Partaking of the rice wine (bayah), rice cakes, and moma (mixture of several herbs, powdered snail shell and betel nut/arecoline which is used as a chewing gum to the Ifugaos) is an indelible practice during the festivities and ritual activities. Agricultural terracing and farming are the principal means of livelihood. Their social status is measured by the number of rice field granaries, family heirlooms, gold earrings, and carabaos (water buffaloes). Prestige is also conferred through time and tradition.

A prayer is said by an elderly woman when harvest begins, directed towards Cabunian, the goddess of rice. Then, a protective prayer is said before the rice is placed in the granary.[42]:21

The Ifugao solar calendar included a 365 day year, broken down into 13 months of 28 days each, plus one extra day.[42]:37

The more affluent, known as kadangyan or baknang, were usually generous by nature, lending rice to poor neighbors in time of food shortage(s) and/or hardship(s), in return for labor. Acting as village or spiritual leaders, creditors or commercial managers, these rich families exhibited their wealth by providing for many feasts, or cañaos.[43][44]

William Scott describes the details associated with the Ifugao house, "Square in floor plan, it is elevated to about shoulder height by four posts (tukud), around which are fitted cynlindrical wooden rat-guards (halipan), carrying two transverse girders (kuling) which support three floor joists into which the floorboards (dotal) are fitted and wallboards (goab and pamadingan) and studs (bagad) are mortised. The four studs, placed at the corner of the house, are mortised at their upper end into four tie-beans or purlins (wanan) which form a square to carry much of the weight of the roof as well as the central crossbeam (pumpitolan) on which stand two queenposts (taknang). These queenposts terminate in a small square (ambubulan) which supports the upper ends of the rafters (bughol), the roof being a true pyramid in form with four triangular sides and thus rising to an apex without any ridgepole. The wallboards are rabbeted into a transverse beam (huklub) at waist or chest height, at which point a shelf (patie) is fitted between them and the roof, whose eaves descend as low as the level of the floor. Above the tie beams a reed floor or platform is often fitted to make an attic-like storage space (palan) for unthreshed rice. Wooden panels close doorways on two opposite sides of the house, and entrance is gained by means of a ladder which is removed at night. This type of house is called bale (or fale), but the same basic building with a few modifications - the wallboards extend up to the roof, there is only one door, and the whole thing is smaller - serves as a rat-proof granary (alang)."[42]

Furthermore, their culture was known for their legal system, based on the elders of the village, amama-a. Their words had the effect of law, without appeal. The jury, agom, consisted of those articulate, mansapit, elders. If the jury could not decide a case, trial by ordeal was invoked. The logic being that the gods and goddesses, Kabunian, would not allow the innocent to suffer.[44]:115-120

Ifugao culture values kinship, family ties, religious and cultural beliefs. Ifugao are unique among all ethnic groups in the mountain province for their narrative literature such as the hudhud, an epic dealing with hero ancestors sung in a poetic manner. Also unique to the Ifugao is their woodcarving art, most notably the carved granary guardians bulul and the prestige bench of the upper class, the hagabi. Their textiles are renowned for their sheer beauty, colorful blankets and clothing woven on looms.[45]

Traditional attire for male Ifugaos consists of a simple G-string. Ifugao women, on the contrary, wear tapis, a wraparound skirt.[42]:81-83,89

UNESCO Recognitions in IfugaoEdit

UNESCO has inscribed two Ifugao elements in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 and 2015, respectively. UNESCO has also inscribed one Ifugao site with five properties in the World Heritage Site in 1995.

Rice Terraces of the Philippine CordillerasEdit

An Ifugao woman harvesting rice at the Banaue Rice Terraces

In 1995, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. UNESCO states:

"For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment."

The inscription has five sites: the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan) and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan), all in the Ifugao Province, the Philippines. The Banaue Rice Terraces is not included in the inscription, but may be included through an extension nomination to UNESCO, along with other rice terraces sites in other Philippine Cordillera provinces.[46]

Hudhud Chants of the IfugaoEdit

In 2001, the Hudhud ni Aliguyon (or Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao) became one of the first 11 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. The element was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. UNESCO describes the element as follows:

"The Hudhud consists of narrative chants traditionally performed by the Ifugao community, which is well known for its rice terraces extending over the highlands of the northern island of the Philippine archipelago. It is practised during the rice sowing season, at harvest time and at funeral wakes and rituals. Thought to have originated before the seventh century, the Hudhud comprises more than 200 chants, each divided into 40 episodes. A complete recitation may last several days. Since the Ifugao’s culture is matrilineal, the wife generally takes the main part in the chants, and her brother occupies a higher position than her husband. The language of the stories abounds in figurative expressions and repetitions and employs metonymy, metaphor and onomatopoeia, rendering transcription very difficult. Thus, there are very few written expressions of this tradition. The chant tells about ancestral heroes, customary law, religious beliefs and traditional practices, and reflects the importance of rice cultivation. The narrators, mainly elderly women, hold a key position in the community, both as historians and preachers. The Hudhud epic is chanted alternately by the first narrator and a choir, employing a single melody for all the verses. The conversion of the Ifugao to Catholicism has weakened their traditional culture. Furthermore, the Hudhud is linked to the manual harvesting of rice, which is now mechanized. Although the rice terraces are listed as a World Heritage Site, the number of growers has been in constant decline.The few remaining narrators, who are already very old, need to be supported in their efforts to transmit their knowledge and to raise awareness among young people."[47]

Tugging Games and Ritual: Punnuk of the IfugaoEdit

The Punnuk of the Ifugao was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015 under the multinational inscription of the Tugging Rituals and Games element.[48]


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External linksEdit

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