The Isnag (also known as the Isneg and Apayao). The earliest residents of Apayao Province (Cordillera Administrative Region) and one of the remaining tribes in Luzon, the Isnag are a small ethnoliguistic group inhabiting the wide mountains of the area.
Various names have been used to differentiate the Isnag. The Spaniards referred to them as los Apayaos (referring to the river along which they live) and los Mandayas (taken from the Isnag term meaning “upstream”).
They are concentrated mainly in the municipalities of Calanasan, Kabugao, Conner, Luna, and Pudtol. Isnags are also found not only in the Province of Apayao but also in the Eastern part of the Province of Ilocos Norte specifically the municipalities of Adams, Carasi, Dumalneg and Solsona and in the Northwestern part of the Province of Cagayan specifically the municipalities of Sta. Praxedes, Claveria and Sanchez Mira.
Isnag, the Isneg language, is spoken by around 300,000 people. They also speak Ilocano.
Approximately 9% of the population are Christians. As of 2006, the entire New Testament, along with the books of Genesis and Exodus, had been translated into Isnag by SIL. Rest of the Isnags are mainly animists.
The Isnag settlements are mostly along the river, but they do farming up the hills at certain times of year. Their villages are small and houses, close together, for security and companionship. The traditional house sits on four large wooden posts and has colourful adornments.
There are two important rituals that bind the Isnag. Say-am is a feast celebrated by an affluent Isnag family, usually accompanied by wining, eating, and dancing. In contrast, pildap is celebrated by the poorer members of the tribe when a family transfers to another place or when someone seeks healing. They speak the Isneg language. Isnag has composed also of the major sub-groups known as the Ymandaya and Imallod. Their places of abode are found in the different municipalities in Apayao as follows:
- Ymandaya (Isnag) - Calanasan(Bayag)
- Imallod (Isnag) - Kabugao, Conner, Pudtol, and some part of Luna(Macatel)
Early accounts of the Isnag
- The Isnag are distinguished from the other Cordillerans by the fine construction of their houses, resembling that of the lowland Filipinos, and they are particularly conspicuous about cleanliness. Their houses are set on four large and strong straight posts of incorruptible wood resistant to humidity, driven into the earth; instead of being made of bamboo cut in long narrow strips joined by rattan, as the lowland Filipinos do. Their houses are airy and bigger, and they do everything to decorate it the best way they can. They barter for products from their mountains, such as beeswax, cacao, and tobacco.
- Jean Mallat, a French adventurer in the Philippines during the 1800s.
Isnag refers to the people and the Tribe. Isneg refers to the dialect of the Isnag.
- Isnag language
- Ymandaya Calanasan
- Imallod Kabugao
- Isnag in the Provinces of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan