November 24, 2011

Ifugao headhunters, a share to Igorot tribe

(24Nov2011 by: ifugao posts)
credited to National Geographic
     History can tell how Ifugao tribesmen were substantiated in the outside world about the concept of headhunting. It seems that the real purpose of Ifugao headhunting started to divert since 1950s. While I was browsing for current issues about Ifugao, it suddenly popped up an article published on January 16, 1950 by an American newspaper, The Tuscaloosa News - a daily newspaper and a member of the New York Times Regional Media Group, U.S.A. Similar story was also published on the same day by The Miami News, St. Petersburg Times, and The Milwaukee Journal.
     The article reported a rare incident that occurred on Christmas Day (1949) in the wild mountains of Northern Luzon. The article mentioned three Ifugao natives who killed two American professors using locally made spears. After the killing, the victims were buried in a shallow grave. The victims were found after weeks of ground and air search by the U.S. Air Force patrol with the help of Igorot trackers. What concerns me most was the purpose of the killing. The two American professors were robbed with all their valuables taken away from them prior to their lost of breadth. The three suspects admitted the crime, while confessing another three persons who helped them kill the two Americans. Is this the way Ifugao headhunters treat strangers in the past? Or a way to survive? After reading the article, I realized why Ifugaos are also called Igorots.
     I hope this issue will help me clear out the real concept of headhunting. Headhunting has several definitions but let me focus on its primitive meaning. It is the practice of taking a person's head after killing him or her(1). Scholars agree that the primary function of headhunting was ceremonial and that it was part of the process of structuring, reinforcing, and defending hierarchical relationships between communities and individuals. Some experts theorize that the practice stemmed from the belief that the head contained "soul matter" or life force which could be harnessed through its capture. This practice is evident several centuries ago in countries like China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and other countries in Europe. In the Philippines, some provinces in the Cordillera traced a history of this brutal practice. Today, headhunting is universally prohibited and appears to have died out(2).
     My core purpose of discussing this issue is to let the present builders of tomorrow become aware of the Ifugao tribe. Whenever someone asked me of my origin, I would tell them I am an Ifugao which means 'people of the hill'(3). But others also call us Igorots as coined by the Spaniards which means a savage, headhunting and backward tribe(4). Savage means not civilized(5) and backward means behind in progress(6). Whatever and whichever we chose to be called, we belong to a world where globalization(7) and technology help us get closer with each other. Protecting our tribe will somehow heal the wounds of the past just like the incident that occurred on the Christmas Day of 1949.

Note: Additional information about the purpose of the killing. Please consider the information below.
Another daily news agency, Youngstown Vindicator from Ohio, U.S.A. revealed on January 25, 1950 the real purpose of killing the two Americans. After undergoing series of inquest proceedings, the six suspects told that they were looking for someone to sacrifice to regenerate the fertility of the soil. Harvest conditions at that time were bad. The six natives initially put the bodies in an irrigation ditch so that blood will be mixed with the water as it flows through the fields. They later buried the bodies for fear to the rescuers.


Anonymous said...

the Ifugao history shows how great the people. being what we are will be a challenge.

Anonymous said...

a tradition once marred with violence can still be cured by the present generation.

Recent Posts