The Ibaloi Culture

Nabaloi, Benguet, IniballuyThe Ibaloy (Ibaloi, Ibadoy, Igodor, Benguet Igorot, Nabaloi, Benguet, Iniballuy) constitute a large ethnic group that number approximately 112,447 (NSO 1990) and are found in Benguet Province, principally in the municipalities of Itogon (12,353), Tuba (11,063), La Trinidad (12,136), Bokod (8,911), Baguio (68,550), and Atok (9,063) (NSO 1980, 1990). The population has spread to the neighboring provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, and Nueva Ecija. Kabayan is recognized as the center of Ibaloy culture. The settlements are scattered in the municipalities of Bokod, Atok, Tublay, Sablan, and Kabayan. A wide range of dialectical differences are known but not clearly studied. Thus far, (1) Ibaloy Proper and (2) Karao are the subgroups cited.

To some extent, rice terracing is practiced in the lower reaches of the drainange systems. Sweet potato and taro are planted dry in areas that cannot be irrigated. The terracing technology is at present applied to middle latitude vegetable growing. Rice is the principal and ritual food. Animal husbandry is practiced, although meat is traditionally limited to ritual consumption. The group has a long history of gold and copper mining.

The Ibaloy lack the ward system of the Bontoc although in the past there were communal dormitories. A traditional community would have a council of elders (tongtong) whose opinions hold sway over a two-tiered social system: the rich (baknang) and the poor (abitug). Deities collectively called “Kabunian” include the major entity, “Kabigat.” Souls of departed relatives (kaamaran) are revered. Ritual celebrations, reportedly numbering more than 40 classes are conducted by mambunung. These include the prestige feast pashit and curing seances that feature animal sacrifice, feasting, and use of fermented rice beer. The rich in Kabayan used to be interred in coffins after mummification in artificially made caves.

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