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The Ilongot (or Ibilao[1]) are a tribe who inhabit the southern Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains, on the east side of Luzon Island in the Philippines, primarily in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija and along the mountain border between the provinces of Quirino and Aurora. An alternative name of this tribe and its language is "Bugkalots".[citation needed]

Presently, there are about 86,000 Ilongots.[2] The Ilongots tend to inhabit areas close to rivers, as they provide a foodsource and a means for transportation. Their languages are the Ilongot language and the Ilocano language, currently spoken by about 50,000 people.


In Ivan Salva’s study in 1980 of the Ilongots, she described “gender differences related to the positive cultural value placed on adventure, travel, and knowledge of the external world.” Ilongot men, more often than women, visited distant places. They acquired knowledge of the outside world, amassed experiences there, and returned in order to share their knowledge, adventures, and feelings in a public oratory in order to pass on their knowledge to others. The Ilongot men received acclaim as a result of their experiences. Because they lacked external experience on which to base knowledge and expression, Ilongot women had inferior prestige.

On the basis of Michelle Rosaldo’s study and findings of other stateless societies, anthropologists must distinguish between prestige systems and actual power within a society. Just because a male has a high level of prestige, he may not own much economic or political power compared to others that are less prestigious within the society.

Renato Rosaldo went on to study headhunting among the Ilongots in his book Ilongot Headhunting, 1883-1974: A Study in Society and History.

Because of the early experiences of boys living in a close relationship with both parents, who each participate in "motherly" roles, they are relatively unconcerned about the need for achievement or even defaming women. Men involved in household chores do not claim submission to their wives. In social life, the Ilongots show little stratification and sexual inequality but it is certainly present. It is minimized by the fact that women have the right, as well as feel confident enough, to speak their minds. Finally, we find the home gender relations based on equality, focusing on cooperation instead of competition and there is a real intimacy between husband and wife. Rosaldo's conclusion is that perhaps the most egalitarian societies are those where no sex order authority exists, and where the focus of social life itself is the home.


  • Phillip, Conrad. (2005). Window on Humanity. New York: McGraw-Hill
  • Rosaldo, Michelle Zimbalist, Lamphere Louise. A Mulher. A Cultura e a Sociedade. (“Woman. The Culture and Society”) Brazil: RJ. Paz e Terra, 1979. Coleção O Mundo hoje. (“The world today”) 31. p. 58.

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