Itneg people

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Tinguin men of Sallapadin.jpg
Tinguian men of Sallapadan.
Regions with significant populations
(Cordillera Administrative Region
Itneg, Ilocano, Filipino,
Animism (Indigenous Philippine folk religions), Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Episcopalianism, other Protestant sects)
Related ethnic groups
Igorot people, Ilocano people

The Itneg (exonym "Tinguian" or "Tingguian") are an Austronesian ethnic group from the upland province of Abra in northwestern Luzon, in the Philippines.


1922: a shaman of the Itneg people renewing an offering to the spirit (anito) of a warrior's shield (kalasag)
Itneg potters, the person on the right is a bayok in female attire (c. 1922)
A 1922 photograph of an Itneg shaman making an offering to an apdel, a guardian anito of her village. Apdel are believed to reside in the water-worn stones known as pinaing.

The Itneg live in the mountainous area of Abra in northwestern Luzon who descended from immigrants from Kalinga, Apayao, and the Northern Kankana-ey. They are large in stature, have mongoloid eyes, aquiline nose, and are effective farmers[dubious ].

They refer to themselves as Itneg, though the Spaniards called them Tingguian when they came to the Philippines because they are mountain dwellers.

The Tingguians are further divided into nine distinct subgroups which are the Adasen, Mabaka, Gubang, Banao, Binongon, Danak, Moyodan, Dawangan, and Ilaud.

Wealth and material possessions (such as Chinese jars, copper gongs called gangsa, beads, rice fields, and livestock) determine the social standing of a family or person, as well as the hosting of feasts and ceremonies. Despite the divide of social status, there is no sharp distinction between rich (baknang) and poor. Wealth is inherited but the society is open for social mobility of the citizens by virtue of hard work. Shamans are the only distinct group in their society, but even then it is only during ceremonial periods.[1]

The traditional leadership in the Tangguian community is held by panglakayen (old men), who compose a council of leaders representing each purok or settlement. The panglakayen are chosen for their wisdom and eagerness to protect the community's interest.[1] Justice is governed by custom (kadawyan) and trial by ordeal. Head taking was finally stopped through peace pacts (kalon).[1]

The Itnegs’ marriage are arranged by the parents and are usually between distant relatives in order to keep the family close-knit and the family wealth within the kinship group. The parents select a bride for their son when he is six to eight years old, and the proposal is done to the parents of the girl. If accepted, the engagement is sealed by tying beads around the girl's waist as a sign of engagement. A bride price (pakalon) is also paid to the bride's family, with an initial payment and the rest during the actual wedding. No celebration accompanies the Itneg wedding and the guests leave right after the ceremony.[1]

The females dress in a wrap-around skirt (tapis) that reaches to the knees and fastened by an elaborately decorated belt. They also wear short sleeved jacket on special occasions. The men, on the other hand, wear a G-string (ba-al) made of woven cloth (balibas). On special occasions, the men also wear a long-sleeved jacket (bado). They also wear a belt where they fasten their knife and a bamboo hat with a low, dome-shaped top. Beads are the primary adornment of the Tingguians and a sign of wealth. Also, tattooing is commonly practiced. The Tingguians have two general types of housing. The first is a 2–3 room-dwelling surrounded by a porch and the other is a one-room house with a porch in front. Their houses are usually made of bamboo and cogon. A common feature of a Tingguian home with wooden floors is a corner with bamboo slats as flooring where mothers usually give birth. Spirit structures include balawa built during the say-ang ceremony, sangasang near the village entrance, and aligang containing jars of basi.[1]

The Tingguians use weapons for hunting, headhunting, and building a house, among others. Some examples of their weapons and implements are the lance or spear (pika), shield (kalasag), head axe (aliwa). Foremost among all these weapons and implements is the bolo which the Tangguians are rarely seen without.[1]

The Tingguians still practice their traditional ways, including wet rice and swidden farming. Socio-cultural changes started when the Spanish conquistadors ventured to expand their reach to the settlements of Abra. The Spaniards brought with them their culture some of which the Tangguians borrowed. More changes in their culture took place with the coming of the Americans and the introduction of education and Catholic and Protestant proselytization.[1]


The native Itneg language is a South-Central Cordilleran dialect continuum.

Indigenous Itneg religion[edit]

The Itnegs believe in the existence of numerous supernatural powerful beings. They believe in spirits and deities, the greatest of which they believe to be Kadaklan who lives up in the sky and who created the earth, the moon, the stars, and the sun. The Itnegs believe in life after death, which is in a place they call maglawa. They take special care to clean and adorn their dead to prepare them for the journey to maglawa. The corpse is placed in a death chair (sangadel) during the wake.[1]


  • Bagatulayan: the supreme deity who directs the activities of the world, including the celestial realms[2] referred also as the Great Anito[3]
  • Gomayen: mother of Mabaca, Binongan, and Adasin[3]
  • Mabaca: one of the three founders of the Tinguian's three ancient clans; daughter of Gomayen and the supreme deity[3]
  • Binongan: one of the three founders of the Tinguian's three ancient clans; daughter of Gomayen and the supreme deity[3]
  • Adasin: one of the three founders of the Tinguian's three ancient clans; daughter of Gomayen and the supreme deity[3]
  • Emlang: servant of the supreme deity[3]
  • Kadaklan: deity who is second in rank; taught the people how to pray, harvest their crops, ward off evil spirits, and overcome bad omens and cure sicknesses[4]
  • Apadel (Kalagang): guardian deity and dweller of the spirit-stones called pinaing[5]
  • Init-init: the god of the sun married to the mortal Aponibolinayen; during the day, he leaves his house to shine light on the world[6]
  • Gaygayoma: the star goddess who lowered a basket from heaven to fetch the mortal Aponitolau, who she married[6]
  • Bagbagak: father of Gaygayoma[6]
  • Sinang: mother of Gaygayoma[6]
  • Takyayen: child of Gaygayoma and Aponitolaul popped out between Gaygayoma's last two fingers after she asked Aponitolau to prick there[6]
  • Makaboteng: the god and guardian of deer and wild hogs[7]


  • Aponibolinayen: mortal spouse of the sun god, Init-init[6]
  • Aponitolau: mortal who was fetched by the star goddess Gaygayoma, despite him being already married[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sumeg-ang, Arsenio (2005). "9 The Tingguians/Itnegs". Ethnography of the Major Ethnolinguistic Groups in the Cordillera. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. pp. 177–194. ISBN 9789711011093.
  2. ^ Gaioni, D. T. (1985). The Tingyans of Northern Philippines and Their Spirit World. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Peraren, A. A. (1966). Tinguian Folklore and how it Mirrors Tinguian Culture and Folklife. University of San Carlos.
  4. ^ Millare, F. D. (1955). Philippine Studies Vol. 3, No. 4: The Tinguians and Their Old Form of Worship. Ateneo de Manila University.
  5. ^ Apostol, V. M. (2010). Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions. North Atlantic Books.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Cole, M. C. (1916). Philippine Folk Tales . Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Co.
  7. ^ Demetrio, F. R., Cordero-Fernando, G., & Zialcita, F. N. (1991). The Soul Book. Quezon City: GCF Books.

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