Philippine Tribes: Bontoc
"Bontoc" is derived from the term "bun," which is the equivalent of heap in English and "tuk," which means top. When combined, the two words mean “mountain,” or “Bontoc,” when translated on the tribe’s dialect.They are the people who live in the mountainous areas of Benguet, Ifugao, Mounatin Province and Kalinga-Apayao. Their population is distributed in 10 municipalities and 137 barrios.
Although there is a common language called Bontoc, each village may have its own dialect and phonetic peculiarities. Population estimate in 1988 was 148,000. Physical types are a mix of Filipino, ancient Ainu and Mongol.The tribesmen’s God is Lumawig. Religious practices, rituals and cañoas attend to their cycle of life, death, and agricultural activities. There are many kinds of cañoa. The chao-es is the feast for the manerwap, which is the ritual requesting for rain from Lumawig.
A cho-es is also held when a person's name needs to be changed because of an incurable ailment that is believed to be caused by an ancestral spirit. The “fosog” is the feast for fertility rites.The tribe’s traditional clothing leaves males and females bare above the waist. But because of modern influence, younger members of the tribe wear trousers, shirts, dresses and shoes that lowland Filipinos usually wear.
The tattoo used to be a prestige symbol, worn only by the headhunter. However, it is now purely ornamental. There are three types of tattoos: the “chaklag,” the breast tattoo of the headhunter; the “pongo,” the arm tattoo of both sexes or the woman's tattoo; and the “fatek” which is used as thegeneric term and refers to all other tattoos.The tattoo used to be a prestige symbol, worn only by the headhunter. However, it is now purely ornamental.
The woman's tattoo is on the back of the hands and encircles the arms beginning from the wrists to above the elbows. On the upper arm, the figure of a man with extended arms and legs may be etched. The man's tattoo has a simpler pattern and uses longer lines; the woman's tattoo uses cross-hatched lines and patchwork designs. Disfigurement such as swellings, are used deliberately as part of the tattoo designs.Bontoc literature is transferred through word of mouth only.
It is either sung or recited. Its primary purpose is to communicate ideas and attitudes to others at certain social occasions. It also reflects the tribe’s collective history. Their literature includes riddles, proverbs, aphorism, songs, tales, legends, and myths.Ritual literature is addressed to the deities or “anito” during ceremonies. Examples of ritual literature are the “ayyeng,” “annako,” “kapya,” “manayeng/manaing,” “orakyo,” and “achog.
”The most important of the tribe’s mythology is the “oggood.” The narrative concerning Lumawig, the Bontoc god and culture hero. He chose to marry the beautiful and industrious lady Fukan after rejecting one lady whose hair was too short, another lady who lived in a village that was too short, and another who “tittered like a bird.”
Many stories about Lumawig pertain to the beginning of the Bontoc society. He rewarded good and punished evil. He wanted peace and prosperity. He established the institution of the ato. He established the rituals. He performed wonders to teach ethical norms. He changed his own selfish father-in-law into a rock with water gushing forth from its anus.On Mt Kal-lat is a huge stone said to have been set down by Lumawig.
When bad weather threatens the people, the men gather around the stone and perform a ritual called “kapya.”The myths are also an integral part of the ritual. In the traditional wedding ceremony, the narrative of Lumawig's wedding is recited. Part of the planting rites to have an abundant harvest is the recitation of the myth about how the gods multiplied and increased the size of the crops.