Ga’dang People

Sierra MadreThe Ga’dang inhabit the area in the middle Cagayan Valley where tributaries of the Cagayan River merge with the eastern sides of the Cordillera mountains. Some of the more conservative groups may be found in highlands of southeastern KalingaApayao, eastern Bontoc and Isabela. From here, they extend into the valley and have become interspersed with the Christian Ilocano and Ibanag, specifically in the Magat River valley in northwestern Nueva Vizcaya. In the lowlands they are almost indistinguishable from other groups. Five subgroups are recognized: (1) Gaddang proper, (2) Yogad, (3) Maddukayang, (4) Katalangan, and (5) Iraya. The area of concentration is about Cauayan (5,777 NSO 1990), and in the province of Isabela (50,000 NSO 1980), with a total national population of about 20,850 (NSO 1980).

Traditionally, subsistence is based on swidden cultivation of rice and sweet potatoes, supplemented by cash cropping of tobacco and corn. In the lowlands, intensive wet cultivation is practiced. Settlements are located near streams and their cultivated fields. Leadership in a community is based on bravery, skills, knowledge of custom law, and economic wealth usually associated with the status of mingal. Peace pacts (pudon) is practiced. Religion is based on a dichotomy of the earth world and an afterworld, although the former is the major concern. Ritual practitioners are both male and female. Individual prestige feasts is practiced by males at least once in a lifetime. For this, they accumulate wealth to finance the required seven elaborate rituals. Ga’dang dress, especially that of the upland groups, is very colorful, notable for the use of numerous types of beads of semiprecious stones.

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