Central Mountain province, Philippines
The Bontocs live on the banks of the
. They are one of the six ethno-linguistic groups of the Igorots, the hill tribes in Chico River Luzon.
In the past, the Bontoc engaged in none of the usual pastimes or games of chance practiced in other areas of the country, but did perform a circular rhythmic dance acting out certain aspects of the hunt, always accompanied by the gang′-sa or bronze gong. There was no singing or talking during the dance drama, but the women took part, usually outside the circumference. It was a serious but pleasurable event for all concerned, including the children. Present-day Bontocs are a peaceful agricultural people who have, by choice, retained most of their traditional culture despite frequent contacts with other groups.
The pre-Christian Bontoc belief system centres on a hierarchy of spirits, the highest being a supreme deity called Lumawig. Lumawig personifies the forces of nature and is the legendary creator, friend, and teacher of the Bontoc. A hereditary class of priests hold various monthly ceremonies for this deity for their crops, the weather, and for healing. The Bontoc also believe in the anito —spirits of the dead who must be consulted before anything important is done. Ancestral anitos are invited to family feasts when a death occurs to ensure the well-being of the deceased's soul. This is by offering some small amount of food to show that they are invited and not forgotten.
The Bontoc social structure used to be centred around village wards (ato) containing about 14 to 50 homes. Traditionally, young men and women lived in dormitories and ate meals with their families. This gradually changed with the advent of Christianity. In general, however, it can be said that all Bontocs are very aware of their own way of life and are not overly eager to change.
Well-known by: their tattoos and headhunting
They were once well-known because of their headhunting practices in the olden days but not today. In the previous time, the most distinctive body decoration of the Igorot was the tattoo. The Bontoc describe three types of tattoos: The chak-lag′, the tattooed chest of the head taker; pong′-o, the tattooed arms of men and women; and fa′-tĕk, for all other tattoos of both sexes. Women were tattooed on the arms only.
© Text and images: Wikipedia