The word "Batak" is said to be an old Cuyunon term that means "mountain people." They have a very small population, and are feared to become extinct after a few years. Their population progressively decreased over the years.In the early 1900s, they numbered around 600, but a head count conducted in 1970 showed that there were only 393 tribesmen left.
The Batak live mainly in small settlements near Puerto Princesa, close to the coastal villages of Babuyan, Tinitian, and Malcampo. Some of them have lived in several river valleys of Babuyan, Maoyon, Tanabag, Tarabanan, Laingogan, Tagnipa, Caramay and Buayan.
Because of their physical characteristics, the Batak have been classified under the Aeta group, or as having Aeta affinities. An early account described the Batak as resembling somewhat the Aeta in other parts of the Philippines. Scientists believe they have more physical resemblances with the Semang and Sakai of the Malay peninsula, because of their long and kinky hair, hirsute faces and bodies, small stature and muscular built.
The exact origin of the Batak had not been determined. Based on their Aeta characteristics, scientists assumed they comprise the remnants of a formerly numerous group of Aetas who settled in Palawan more than 10, 000 years ago.
The Bataks are a nomadic group that roam on vast areas in the north, settling in a place where there’s enough supply of food, then will move on to other places to continue hunting and gathering.
Despite constant interaction with other Palawan groups and settlers from other islands, their culture has not changed from its seminomadic character.
Their tribe has been severely affected by a number of communicable diseases and malnutrition due to poverty. The arrival of urban settlers from Luzon and Visayas made the Batak’s natural habitat smaller. Their problems were aggravated when the forests of Palawan’s mountainous regions were opened to logging investors.
As pointed out in the a recent study of Batak society, they, like all the other Philippine Aeta groups have been critically influenced and affected by contact with the outside world. The effect has been noted in their subsistence economy, socio-territorial organization, and ritual life. As a consequence, the tribe failed to reproduce successfully. Their tribal distinctiveness is slowly crumbling, because of urban influences. The Batak tribe, together with their unique traditional culture is on the brink of extinction.
Their traditional costume is simple. It consists mainly of bark cloth that they derive from a mulberry tree.
One of the Batak folklores claim that woman did not come from man but man come from woman. The story is about an old man with two sons. He sent them out to the fields to watch over his trees, warning them not to eat the fruits of those trees. But the younger son disobeyed. He ate some of the fruits, and after a while, his breasts became bigger. The older son became curious, and ironically, fell in love with his younger brother. Rhe wedding marked the beginning of the Batak society.
"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 cańoas attend to their cycle of life, death, and agricultural activities. There are many kinds of cańoa. 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.
The Bugkalots are found in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora. They inhabit the easterly central part of the Caraballo and Sierra Madre Mountain ranges. There are about 5,000 Bugkalot families. Although they live far apart from each other, their glaring similarities, customs and arts show that they belong to one distinct group.
The Bugkalots are known for their colorful attire, musical instruments and beautiful artifacts.
The Bugkalots manage to survive on the “kaingin” or slash and burn system of agriculture. Root crops are their main product. They also hunt wild game in the forest and Conwap rivers head stream of the Cagayan river.
The Bugkalots have a regular built and inherited some Mongolian features such as narrow slanting eyes and aquiline nose. The Bugkalots found along the rivers of Bua and Tubo speak the Ilocano dialect.
Mangyan is the general name for the indigenous tribes who live in the province of Mindoro. Ten percent of the total population of the people who live in Mindoro are Mangyans.
Before Spain conquered the Philippines, the Mangyans were already practicing the "barter trade" to the Chinese, who traveled to the shores of Mindoro using their ancient boats. The Mangyans traded their local products of cotton, root crops, medicinal plants and bees-wax for beads, gongs, plates and jars.
Anthropological studies revealed that the Mangyans have eight tribes that may look the same but have different cultures and traditions.
One of the smallest tribes in the Philippines, there were only 61 individuals in a census conducted in 1987. They were originally called “Linat Batang."
Up to this day, they continue to hunt and gather food, dwell in caves, use stone tools and wear garments of “curcoligo” - a kind of fern plant - along side practices acquired through long contact and exchange with neighboring people. They are socially and geographically distant, though not completely isolated. Linguistic studies show Tasadays belong under the ethno linguistic category.