IFUGAO IN 1910

TRAVELING TO IFUGAO COUNTRY IN 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “The next day, we rode out at six, a splendid morning. The Magat is another of those turbulent, uncertain rivers of the Archipelago; we were not sure as we neared it whether we could get over or not. When up, it carries waves in midstream six to seven feet from crest to trough. But we had no such ill-luck, and bancas soon came over for us, the horses swimming. While waiting for them we had a chance to admire the beautiful country; on one side tall spreading trees and broad savannahs, on the other the mountain presenting a bare scarp of red rock many hundreds of feet high; immediately in front the cool, green river, over all the brilliant sun, not yet too hot to prevent our thinking of other things. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“Once over, we had no occasion to complain of our reception! All the notabilities were present, of course, mounted, but in addition there were three bands, all playing different tunes at the same time, in different keys, and all fortissimo. No instrument was allowed to rest, the drums being especially vigorous. One of the bands was that of the Constabulary, playing really well, and with magnificent indifference to the other two. I am bound to say they returned it. We had the Constabulary troops, too, as escort, a well set-up, well-turned-out and soldierlike body. What with the bands, the pigs, the dogs, the horses, the children, the people, it was altogether one of the most delightful confusions conceivable. <>

“Pleasant as was the nooning, it had to end: we mounted and rode on to Solano. The people of Solano made a great effort to have us stay the night, but it was impossible; we had to get on to Bagábag. So on we went, through a calm, dignified afternoon, the country as before impressing me with its open, smiling valleys, its broad fields, its air of expectant fertility, inviting one to come scratch its surface, if no more, in order to reap abundant harvests. In fact, it seemed to me that we were riding through typical farming land at home, instead of through a Malay valley under the tropic. And if anything more were needed to strengthen the illusion, it was a college yell, given by a gang of Ifugaos (the people we were now immediately on our way to visit) repairing a bridge we had to cross! They did it in style, and naturally had no cheer-leader; time was kept by beating on the floor of the bridge with tools. For this uttering of a shout of welcome or of other emotion in unison is a characteristic trait of the Ifugaos, like their using spoons, and can be likened to nothing else in the world but our American college yell. <>

“Our reception at Bagábag was much like all the others we had had: bands, arches, addresses, one in excellent English. But on this occasion, after listening to a speech telling how poor the people were, how bad the roads were, how much they needed Government help, etc., etc., Mr. Forbes squared off in his answer, and told them a few things, as that he had seen so far not a single lean, hungry-looking person, that the elements were kindly, that they could mend their own roads, and that he was tired of their everlasting complaint of poverty and hunger, when a little work would go a great way in this country toward bettering their material condition. This, of course, is just the kind of talk these people need, and the last some of them wish to hear. <>

“On trip out of Ifugao country, De Witt Willcox wrote in From Banawe we rode to Bontok, thirty-five miles, in one day. Our first business this morning was to cross the pass on Polis Mountain, some 6,400 feet above sea-level, the highest elevation we reached. As we rode out of Banawe we could see on the wooded sky-line to our right front a cut as though of a road through the forest; it was not a road, of course, but an opening normal to the crest of the ridge. Across this a net is stretched, and the bats, flying in swarms by night to clear the top, drop into the cut on reaching it, and so are caught in the net in flying across. We saw several such bat-traps during our trip. In this way these highlanders eke out their meager supply of meat. The bat in question is not the animal we are familiar with, but the immensely larger fruit bat, the flesh of which is readily eaten. <>

“Our trail took us up, and sharply; by nine o’clock we had crowned the pass, and stopped for chow and rest. In front of us, as we looked back, plunged the deepest, sharpest valley yet seen, around the head of which we had ridden and across which we could look down on the Ifugao country we had just come from; down one side and up the other could be traced the remains of the old Spanish trail, a miracle of stupidity. To the right (west), but out of sight, lay Sapao, where the rice-terraces have received their greatest development, rising from the valley we were gazing into some 3,000 feet up the slope. Sapao, too, is the seat of the Ifugao steel industry, so that for many reasons I was sorry it was off our itinerary. The point where we were resting has some interest from its associations, for our troops reached it in their pursuit of Aguinaldo, at the end of a long day of rain, and had to spend the night without food or fire or sleep. It was not possible to light a pipe even, a noche triste indeed. Most of the men stood up all night, this being better than lying down in the mud; to march on was impossible, as the country was then trailless, except for the Spanish trail mentioned, to attempt which by night would have been suicide. A tropical forest can be pretty dreary in bad weather, almost as dreary as a Florida cypress swamp on a rainy Sunday.” <>

Ifugao Welcoming Party in 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “At Payawan we were met by Captain Jeff D. Gallman, P. C, Lieutenant-Governor of the Sub-province of Ifugao, accompanied by one of his chieftains, who made a splendid picture in his barbaric finery. Erect, thin of flank and well-muscled, he had a bold, clear eye and a fearless look; around his neck he wore a complicated necklace of gold and other beads; each upper arm was clasped by a boar’s tusk, from which stood out a plume of red horse-hair. His gee-string was decorated with a belt of white shells, the long free end hanging down in front, and he had his bolo, like the rest of his people, in a half-scabbard—that is, kept by two straps on a strip of wood, shaped like a scabbard. But all these were mere accessories; what distinguished him was his free graceful carriage, the lightness and ease of his motions, the frankness and openness of his countenance. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“Past the divide, the trail became a road over which one might have marched a field battery, so broad and firm and good was it: we were nearing Kiangan. Kiangan was celebrated in Spanish times, and even more recently, as the home of some of the most desperate head-hunters of the Archipelago. But, thanks to Gallman, head-hunting in the Ifugao country is now a thing of the past. The town stands on the top of a bastion-like terrace, thrust avalanche-wise and immense between its pinnacled mountain walls; the site is not only of great beauty, but of great natural strength, like nearly all the other considerable settlements we saw on this journey. The two mountain walls approach somewhat like the branches of the letter V, having between them, near their intersection, as it were, the natural bastion mentioned rising from the bed of the Ibilao River, hundreds of feet below, and some thousands of yards distant. <>

“As we drew nearer and nearer we were welcomed by arches of bamboo decorated with native flowers and plants, and guarded by life-size anitos of both sexes in puris naturalibus, cut out of the tree fern, but with no connotation whatever of indecency. For these statues are either an innocent expression of nature, or, what seems more likely, an expression of Nature or phallic worship. We had now got up to the parade of the cuartel (quarters or barracks) and were greeted by shouts from the people gathered to welcome us. The chief who had met us at Payawan, and who, on foot, had beaten us into Kiangan, appeared in all his bravery and with a prolonged “Who-o-o-o-e-e!” commanded silence. He then mounted a bamboo stand some twenty feet high, with a platform on top, and made us a speech! Yes, a regular speech, with gestures, intonations, and all the rest of it. For these Ifugaos are born orators, and love to show their skill. Accordingly, thanks to Mr. Worcester’s appreciation, orators’ tribunes have been put up at points like Kiangan; it is strange that the Ifugaos had never thought of it themselves. This tribune, by the way, was ornamented with tufts of leaves and grasses at the corners. When the speaker had done, he clapped his hands over his head, and all the people followed suit. <>

“Later on Gallman, who speaks Ifugao like a native, interpreted for us. The speaker told his people that a great honor had been done them by this visit of the “Commission,” and that, besides, the great apo of all had come, too. His arrival could not fail to be of good luck for them, as it meant more rice, more chickens, more pigs, more babies, more good in all ways than they ever had had before. As other speeches began to threaten, on a hasty intimation from Mr. Forbes we moved on to our quarters, preceded by the escort of Constabulary.

“This detachment, composed entirely of Ifugaos, would have delighted any soldier. They certainly excited my admiration by the precision of their movements, their set-up, and their general appearance. A Prussian Guardsman could not have been more erect. There are five companies of Constabulary in the Mountain Province, each serving in the part of the country from which recruited, and each retaining in its uniform the colors and such other native features as could be turned to account. Thus the only “civilized,” so to say, elements are the forage cap and khaki jacket worn directly over the skin; otherwise the legs, feet, and body are bare; the local gee-string is worn, with the free end hanging down in front. Here at Kiangan each man has below the knee the native brass leglet, and on the left hip the bultong, or native bag, a sporran, indeed, showing the local influence in its blue and white stripes.

“We now entered our quarters” and “had not long been seated in our quarters before a deputation of chiefs with their gansas and a large number of bubud jars entered, and offered us bubud to drink. Very soon our visitors began to dance for us to the sound of the gansa, their dance being different from that we had seen a few days before at Campote. As, however, the next day was one dance from morning to night, I shall not spend any more time upon this affair, except to say that, turn about being fair play, Cootes got up and gave such a representation as he was able of a pas seul. When he had done, our visitors started anew, and the gansas proving irresistible, Cootes and I joined in. The steps, poise of body, motion of the arms and hands are so marked and peculiar that a little observation and practice enabled us in a short time to produce at least a fair imitation; indeed, so successful were our efforts that we were informed we should be invited to dance on the morrow before the multitudes! This brought us up standing, and it was time anyway. So our chieftains took their leave, their bubud jars remaining in our charge. These jars are worth more than a passing mention: the oldest ones come from China, and are held in such high esteem by the Ifugaos that they will part with them for neither love nor money. According to the experts, some of them are examples of the earliest known forms of Chinese porcelain, and are most highly prized by collectors and museums.” <>

Traveling to Banaue in 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “We pushed on next morning early for Banawe, the capital of the sub-province of Ifugao, and Gallman’s headquarters. The cheers of our late hosts accompanied us as we entered the trail and began to climb. The country now took on a different aspect, due to our increasing altitude. The valleys were sharper and narrower, and so of the peaks. From time to time we could see the proud crest of Amuyao ahead of us. Over 8,000 feet high, this mountain, whose name means “father of all peaks,” or “father of mountains,” is the Ararat of the Ifugaos. Their legend has it that, a flood overcoming the land, a father and five sons took refuge on this topmost peak, coming down with the waters as they fell. They even have their Cain, for one of these five was killed by a brother. This family traditionally are the ancestors of all the mountain people. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“It took us some five hours to ride to Banawe, through a country of imposing beauty. It was not that we were in the presence of mighty ranges or peaks, so much as that the alternation of elevation with depression offered a bewildering variety of aspect. At every turn, turns as unnumbered this day as the woes of Greece, the landscape changed its face. No sooner had one’s appreciation become oriented, than it had to give way to the necessity of a fresh orientation. Of course there must be some orographic system; but to mark it, we should have had to fly over the land. To us on the trail it was not evident, mountain shouldering mountain, and valley swallowing valley, in confusion. And wherever possible, rice-terraces! If we posit the struggle for existence, then in this view alone these Ifugaos, and other highlanders as well, are a gallant people. Not every hillside will grow rice; if the soil be good, water will be lacking; or else, having water, the soil is poor. But, wherever the two conditions are combined, there will one find the slope terraced to the top, and scientifically terraced, too, so that every drop of water shall do its duty from top-side to bottom-side. The labor of original construction, always severe, in some cases must have been enormous, as we shall see later. Many of these terraces are hundreds of years old; their maintenance has required and continues to require constant watchfulness. Nearly every year the supply of rice runs short and the people fall back on camotes (sweet potatoes). And yet, in marked contrast with their cousins of the plains, whom these conditions would drive to helpless despair, we heard on this trip not one word of complaint. Not once did they put up a poor mouth and beg the Government to come to their help. On the contrary, they were cheerful throughout, knowing though they did that before the year was over they would probably all have to pull their gee-strings in a little tighter. It is not too much, therefore, to say that these highlanders are in a true sense a gallant people. Indeed, they are the best people of the Archipelago, and with any sort of chance they will prove it. This chance our Government, thanks to Mr. Worcester’s initiative and sustained interest, is giving them, the first and only one they ever have had. <>

“This digression brings us a little nearer to Banawe; we leave the terraced hills behind us, after noting how free of all plants the retaining-walls are kept, the sole exception here and there being the dongola, with its brilliant leaf of lustrous scarlet. In time we began to descend, and finally there burst on the view the sharpest valley yet, as though some Almighty Power had split the mountains apart with a titanic ax. Down one flank we went with Banawe near the head, but farther off than we thought, because the trail was now filled with men that had come out to welcome us, all of whom insisted on shaking hands with all the apos. Our last three miles were a triumphal procession—columns, gansas, bubud, spears, shouts, escorts, flags. Every now and then a halt; a bamboo filled with bubud would be handed up, and everybody had to take a pull. Once I noticed Gallman in front hastily return the bamboo, and reach desperately for his water-bottle; the next man did the same thing. It was now my turn, and I understood; I tipped up the tube, and thought for the moment that I had filled my mouth with liquid fire, so hot was the stuff! If there had ever been any rice in the original composition, it had completely lost its identity in the fearful excess of pepper that characterized this particular vintage. It was hours and hours before our throats forgave us. But at last we threaded our way down, and, turning sharp to the right, rode out on the small plateau that is Banawe, to be saluted and escorted by the Constabulary Guard and to be received by the shouts of thousands. They at once opened on us with speeches, but these were markedly fewer here than farther south. The quarters of the Constabulary officers were hospitably put at our disposition, and our first enjoyment of them was the splendid shower.” <>

Ifugao Rice Terraces in Banaue in 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “Banawe stands at the head of a very deep valley, shut in by mountains on three sides; the stream sweeping the base of the plateau breaks through on the south. This plateau rises sharply from the floor of the valley; in fact, it is a tongue thrust out by the neighboring mountain, and forms a position of great natural strength against any enemy unprovided with firearms. Across the stream on the east mount the rice-terraces over a thousand feet above the level of the stream; a stupendous piece of work, surpassed at only one or two other places in Luzon. Elsewhere we saw terraces higher up, but none on so great a scale, so completely enlacing the slope from base to crest. The retaining walls here are all of stone, brought up by hand from the stream below. This stream makes its way down to the Mayoyao country, and I was told that the entire valley, thirty-five or forty miles, was a continuity of terraces. Indeed, it requires some time and reflection to realize how splendid this piece of work is: it is almost overwhelming to think what these people have done to get their daily bread. In contemplation of their successful labors, one is justified in believing that, if given a chance, they will yet count, and that heavily, in the destinies of the Archipelago. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

Banawe was first visited by Mr. Worcester in 1903, coming down from the north with a party of Igorots. At the head of the pass he was met by an armed deputation of Ifugaos, who came to inquire the purpose of his visit. Was it peace or was it war? He could have either! But he must decide, and immediately. Assured as to the nature of the visit, the head man then gave Mr. Worcester a white rooster, symbol of peace and amity, and escorted him in. But the accompanying Igorots came very near undoing all of Mr. Worcester’s plans. Not only were they shut in during their stay, an obvious and necessary condition of good order and the preservation of peace, but, on Mr. Worcester’s asking food for them, they were told they could have camotes, but no rice; that rice was the food of men and warriors, and camotes that of women and children, and that the Igorots were not men. This almost upset the apple-cart, for the Igorots in a rage at once demanded to be released from their confinement so as to show these Ifugaos who were the real men. But counsels of peace prevailed. In fact, it is a matter of astonishment that Mr. Worcester should be alive to-day, so great at the outset was the danger of personal communication with the wild men of Luzon. It was not always a handsome white rooster, in token of peace, that was handed him; sometimes spears were thrown instead. However, on this trip of ours he got a whole poultry-yard of chickens, besides eggs in every stage of development from new-laid to that in which one could almost feel the pin-feathers sticking through the shell. <>

Partying with Ifugao Locals in Banaue in 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “We spent two days here, and over 10,000 people were collected; some of them apparently showed traces of Japanese blood. During these two days, nights too, the gansas never stopped, neither did the dancing. Mr. Worcester distributed thousands of paper slips, and, besides, much serious business was dispatched. Then we had sports and ceremonial formal dances, much like those we saw at Kiangan, but better done. There was the same slow advance with shields, the same sacrifice of a pig—only this one was not speared, but had his insides mixed with a stick. He proved obstinate, however, and refused to die, so a man sat down on the ground, put his thumbs on the victim’s throat, and choked him to death. Before that the usual lances had been laid across his body, and some bubud poured (judiciously, not extravagantly) on him as a libation. This was a head-dance, the taken head being simulated by a ball of fern-tree pith stuck on a spear fixed in the ground. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“But these formal dances were not the only ones. Everybody danced, even Cootes and I again; but it was our last time. People kept on arriving from miles around, columns in single file, headed by men bearing bubud-jars on their heads. Every party, of course, brought its gansas, and had to give an exhibition of dancing on the parade. In general, but few parties were armed; and, as elsewhere, there were no old women. Some of the shyer people, coming from afar, had brought their spears, and, squatted on the slopes round about, apparently passed their time in silent contemplation of the great game going on below. Everybody seemed to be in a good humor. <>

“This was especially manifest in the great wrestling-match that took place on the afternoon of the 6th, when ranchería after ranchería sent up its best man to compete for the heads of the carabaos that had furnished meat for the multitude. The wrestling itself was excellent. The hold is taken with both hands on the gee-string in the small of the back; and, as all these men have strong and powerful legs, the events were hotly contested and never completed without a desperate struggle. Defeat was invariably accepted in a good spirit.

Pacifying the Ifugao

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “As before remarked, however, when Mr. Worcester first organized these meetings, the rancherías came together armed to the teeth. Each would stick its spears in the ground, with shields leaning on them, and then wait for developments. Suspicion, hostility, defiance were the rule, and hostile collisions were more than once only narrowly averted. But on these occasions the native Constabulary proved its worth, by circulating in the crowd, separating parties, and so asserting the authority of the Government in favor of good order. Moreover, the highlanders soon learned to respect the power of “the spear that shoots six times” (the Krag magazine rifle, with which our Constabulary is armed); but it can not be repeated too often that our hold on these people is due almost entirely to the moral agencies we have employed. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

Gradually Mr. Worcester satisfied some rancherías, at least, that had been open enemies for generations, whose men, in Mr. Worcester’s graphic expression, had never seen one another except over the tops of their shields, that nothing was to be gained in the long run by this secular warfare; and his purpose in bringing the clans together is to make them know one another on peaceful terms, to show them that if rivalry exists, it can find a vent in wrestling, racing, throwing the spear, in sports generally. And they take naturally to sports, these highlanders. Success has crowned Mr. Worcester’s efforts; in witness whereof this very concourse of Banawe may be cited, where over 10,000 [121] persons, mostly unarmed, mingled freely with one another without so much as a brawl to disturb the peace. <>

“Two years ago people would not go to Mayoyao from Banawe, through their own country, save in armed groups of ten to twelve; now women go alone in safety. And it is a significant fact that the Ifugaos are increasing in numbers. Of course, this particular sub-province is fortunate in having as its governor a man of Gallman’s stamp. But it is generally true that village warfare is decreasing, and that travel between villages is increasing. These Ifugaos ten years ago had the reputation, and deserved it, of being the fiercest head-hunters of Luzon. Gallman has tamed them so that to-day they have abandoned the taking of heads. Now what has been done with them can be done with others.” <>

Ifugao Violence in 1910

Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “We met Mr. Barton, the local school superintendent. His predecessor had had to be relieved, because one day, as he was going up the trail, an Ifugao threw a spear “into” him, as they say in the mountains, and he consequently got a sort of distaste for the place, although it was clearly established in the investigation that followed, and carefully explained to him, that it was all a mistake, and that the spear had been intended for somebody else. Mr. Barton is doing a useful work here in devoting his spare time and energy to a study of the Ifugao religion with its myths and mythology. He told me that he had so far defined seven hundred different spirits and was not sure that he had got to the end of them. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

The next day “began ominously. As Kiangan is a sort of headquarters, it has a guard-house for the service of short imprisonments, a post-and-rail affair made of bamboo under the cuartel. For while our administration is kindly, these mountaineers from the first have had to learn, if not to feel as yet, that they must be punished if guilty of infringing such laws and discipline as have so far been found applicable. Accordingly, our guard-house held two men, sentenced for twenty days, for having threatened the life of one of their head men. Short as was the sentence, these two men had nevertheless dug a passage in the earthen floor of their quarters, and had just the night before opened the outer end of it, but not enough to admit the passage of a human body. A private of Constabulary, passing by this morning, stooped to examine this hole new [78] to him, when one of the prisoners threw a spear at him, made of a stalk of runo1 the head being a small strip of iron which he had kept concealed in his gee-string. So true was his aim that, although he had to throw his improvised spear between the rails, he nevertheless struck the private in the neck, cutting his jugular vein, so that in five minutes he was dead. <>

“The pen was now entered for the purpose of shackling the criminal, when he announced that he would kill any white man that laid hands on him. Upon Lieutenant Meimban of the Constabulary advancing, both of the prisoners rushed him. In the mellay that followed the murderer was shot and killed and his companion badly beaten up; Strong later had to put seventeen stitches in one scalp wound alone. Although the ranchería from which the murdered private came was two hours off, so that it usually took four hours to send a message and get an answer, yet an hour and a half after the man died a runner came in to ask for his body so it could be suitably buried. Altogether, this double killing damped our spirits considerably; for one thing, there was no telling how it would be received, particularly if there should be any excessive drinking of buhud; there were very few of us, mostly unarmed, and the Ifugaos were coming in hundreds at a time, so that long before the forenoon was well under way several thousands had collected. However, on moving out, we could not find that the cheerfulness of the people had been in the least disturbed.” <>

Later, “A boy came up to us in great excitement to say that the prisoner had got hold of a bayonet and was running amok. This was the prisoner of the morning who had been so badly beaten; to make him more comfortable, he had been laid on the veranda of the cuartel (just behind us), hobbled, but otherwise free. The boy spoke the truth; the prisoner had snatched his bayonet from a passing Constabulary private, and, turning into the cuartel, made for the provincial treasurer, who was busy inside. Him he chased out, getting over the ground with extraordinary rapidity, considering his wounds and hobbles; when we turned to look, the prisoner had come out and was running for just anybody. There was now but one thing to do, and done it was. Some one in authority called out to the sentry on duty before the cuartel. “Kill him!” The sentry, who up to this time had been walking up and down as a sentry should, brought down his carbine, aimed at the running man, and dropped him in his tracks by a bullet through the heart. He then ejected his empty cartridge-case, shouldered his piece, and continued to walk his post as unconcernedly as though he had shot a mad dog; as striking an example of discipline as any soldier could wish to see. So far as I could mark, this occurrence made no impression on the people gathered together. The day went on as before. We should recollect, however, that these highlanders have no nerves, have, in the the past held human life cheap, and must have realized in this case that the poor fellow who had been shot was himself trying to take human life; according to mountain law, he had got his deserts. <>

Many years before “some Moros were brought to Mayoyao to work tobacco. The Ifugaos deeply resenting this invasion, at the first opportunity attacked and killed them all. Only one woman escaped, covered with wounds, to Echagüe, where she was in 1910, still alive. The fight was most desperate, three Ifugaos biting the dust for every Moro killed.

Silipan Ifugaos of Andangle

On his visit to the Silipan Ifugaos, Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon”: “Andangle itself is barely more than a name, but we found here a house of bamboo and palm fresh built for us, tastefully adorned with greens and plants, and protected by anitos, resembling those of Kiangan. Like nearly all the other places visited by us, it was finely situated, the mountains we had just ridden through forming a great amphitheater to the north. This branch of the Ifugaos impressed me as being a quieter1 lot than the people we had just left and apparently fonder, if possible, of speech-making. For speeches went on almost without intermission, all breathing good-will and declaring the intention of the people to behave in a lawful manner and promising to have done with killing and stealing. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“There were many women and children, the children very shy. Of weapons there were none. Dancing went on uninterruptedly the whole day and night of our stay, and Cootes and I had to dance again. Only we had now arranged to simulate a boxing-match, which we presented to the beat of the gansa, and to the applause of our gallery. A runner came in while we were here, carrying a note in a cleft stick, the native substitute for a pocket. In dress and appearance, the Andangle people differed in no wise from those of Kiangan. Many of them, however, have a silver jewel, of curious and original design, worn chiefly as earring, but also on a string around the neck. Our splendid chief at Payawan also wore many of these jewels, but his were of gold. Mr. Worcester distributed his white slips to the ever-eager multitudes, listened to reports, and held council with the head men; the people were fed with rice and meat, appeared thoroughly to enjoy themselves, and so the time passed. <>

“The next morning, May 4th, we rode off. Shortly after leaving, we came suddenly upon a party apparently wrangling over a piece of meat, at a point where the trail was crossed by a small stream, flowing in a thin sheet over a smooth face of rock, twenty or more feet high, and tilted at about seventy degrees. The wranglers took alarm on our approach and scattered in all directions. One of them, a boy of perhaps sixteen, ran up the rock just described at [108] full speed on his toes, and disappeared in the bushes at the top. Even if he had wished to use his hands, there was nothing to lay hold on. If I had not seen it performed with my own eyes, I should have declared the feat impossible: I mention it to mark the agility and strength of these people. Bear in mind that this youngster ran up, that the rock was not far from the vertical, and that the water-worn face was smooth and slippery. The thing was simply amazing. <>

“Before the Silipan Ifugao were “the terror of the Spaniards”; they “annihilated an entire garrison at Payoan,” “exacted a heavy annual toll of heads from the people of Ragábag, and ... made the main trail from Nueva Vizcaya to Isabela so dangerous that three strong garrisons were constantly maintained on it, and ... people were not allowed to travel over it: except under military escort, and even so were often attacked and killed.” (Worcester, The National Geographic Magazine, March, 1911.)

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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