BEKIGAN Sadanga, an introduction


Philippine map with the Cordillera Administrative Region in Northern Luzon, Philippines. The ancestral domain of the igorot.

The term Ig-o-lot is from the tagalog root word "golot" meaning mountain chain.The prefix "i" means "dweller in" or people of"  that forms the word igolot  that the early spaniards frequently call "Ygolotes"

The word Igorot  is now adopted tentatively as the name of the extensive primitive Malayan people of northern Luzon, because it is applied to a very large number of the mountain people by themselves and also has a recognized usage in ethnologic and other writings. Its form as “Ĭg-o-rot′” is adopted for both singular and plural, because it is both natural and phonetic, and as it is possible to do so, it is thought wise to retain the simple native forms of such words as it seems necessary or best to incorporate in our language, especially in scientific language

                    Photo credit: wikipedia

The 6 ethno-linguistic groups that forms  the Cordillera  region:

Mountain Province capital (Photo credit: wikimapia)




The  information or "Links"  contain to this site that the author has found interesting, may be interesting or useful to readers of this site. However, no responsibility can be accepted for the content of any external website and a link to an external website, does not of itself imply that the author agrees with all of the contents of the website to which the link refers.
Furthermore, this website is 
purely defined on the objectives of reconnecting iBekigan  and to encourage  making a difference in our communities as we are led.The knowledge  expressed are those of the author based on understanding,
 experiences, memories, observations, personal readings
 and of information from  sources currently living in the  area and should not be construed as representing the  whole igorotlandia,or anyone  other than those defined

I welcome suggestions and contributions to improve and make this site more interesting.Construction  of this site is in the process.  Check us back soon.
thank you. 


                        The 8 Villages of Sadanga

                 Anabel  and Betwagan village


Demang Village 

                      Bekigan and Belwang


                  Barangay Saclit  
photo credit:  Wynner  Amboni Sayaan

*Sacasacan brgy. currently unavailable

Links to References and more info on igorots and Cordillera:

 Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Feb.23,1942 p.1 cont. to p.4)






The People
  *please click on underlined and or highlighted words for reference and additional information.    
          The municipality of Sadanga in Mountain Province  Philippines 
is composed of 8  barangays. This includes, Anabel, Betwagan, Bekigan, Belwang, Demang and Poblacion, Sacasacan and Saclit.
 Bekigan  acounts among the municipality's 9,706 population in 1,268 households according to the 2007 population census of  Sadanga   
 Bekigan and its adjacent barangay Belwang is bounded by Saclit on the north, Bontoc on the South, Sadanga on the east and Tubo, 
Abra on the west. 
The village of Bekigan  settlement area is a slope  that was leveled by its early inhabitants. It is approximately 4 kilometers (2.485 mi) away  from Poblacion Sadanga. The seat of the local government unit.  An hour walk from the village depending on one's speed.

The inhabitants are called i-Bekigan as it is common among the cordillera people to prefix the
letter "i" meaning "dweller in" or "people of"    thus, i-Bekigan means people from Bekigan and so is the distinction iSadanga, a collective identity of the  people  from the  villages of  Sadanga municipality. The Mountain Province in general distinguish its people by  associating them to their respective municipalities rather than the original village a person is from. The
same rule applies by the rest of the cordillera provinces. In this regard we are also called iMountain Province the name  given when it was first established in 1908. Named so for being in the Cordillera Central mountain range found in the upper realms of Luzon island.

Bekigan's children attend their primary education in a school though lack the amenities of  a modern day regular public school, is very accessible to all kids due to its location from every house even a todler can reach on his own.

                                    photo credit: Tina Falitnang

In previous years, it only caters until third grade and the remaining years in primary was taken to its neighbor barangay Belwang by foot via stone walled rice field paths.The addition of the second level of the then three room school building and additional teachers accomodate grades one to six allowing students to complete their primary education in the village with its first batch of graduates in the year 2000. 
     The district's High school is located in Sangey  approximately 3 miles from Bekigan accessible by foot  via rice field pathways and wet  trails. Most of the students opt to rent or work on nearby houses during the week and home by the weekends. Recent  government infrastructure development has made access to the municipal easier thereby reducing time of travel thru cemented walkways. In June 2003, the buiding of high school in Maba-ew, Belwang gives high school students  an option which school to attend.
Colleges and universities are located in the lone City of Baguio and other cities, choosen by a couple or two iBekigan  but most of them takes the only available community college in Bontoc and a nearby town branch campus, yet for families relying on crops for  daily consumption, generating income from it is a question. Sources of income around is very limited for students to find themselves a job to  help finance there studies  resulting in early marriage. 

Livelihood and Economic

     Bekigan  is characterize by deep ravine and steep slopes which is best suited for wet rice farming, their primary source of livelihood. There carved mountain and cold weather is favorable for major crops such as rice, sweet potatos, legumes, corn, peanuts,squash, some fruits and vegetables that are locally marketable.. Sugarcanes are common plants  even found in house backyards which then processed by milling as "fayas" (sugarcane wine) or  "enti"( home made sugar) . Grocery supplies are purchased in its closest town  Bontoc  the province capital. It is 24 kms. (14.9129 mi) south of Sadanga, an hour drive by jeepneys but longer on rainy season due to consequent landslides. It is  where nearby towns and villages travel to purchase their supplies, attend a community college, access to cities and  connecting routes to different municipalities and villages of the province, by which they also bring there merchandise to make up for the trip.There profits will then be used to purchase  cooking oil, dried fish, salt, detergents,flour and canned goods in bulk for longer consumption.

          the Bontoc- Kalinga Rd follows the winding chico river that offers a spectacular view

  Unlike in some other parts of the region wherein people harvest their "palay" twice a year these inhabitants harvest only once a year due to insufficient supply of water on dry seasons replacing rice with crops that does'nt require abundant water such as legumes, sweet potatos and peanuts.
               The vast and dense forest are  protected watershed that supplies potable water and irrigation for ricefields in Belwang and Bekigan villages. The western portion of the grassland within the territory are  use communaly for hunting. It is also conducive for pasture and breeding cows and carabao's yet there is not much of these livestock left for they are a primary community consumption in social gatherings. Forest  are their source of lumber for building houses and firewoods, gathering rattans to augment their income by producing handicrafts or by selling raw to their neighboring town. All of these are allowed provided not used for big commercial purposes wherein only a few if not individual would benefit.They don't allow outsiders to intrude into their forest as they preserve for their own use. Method of fishing and hunting  is still traditional wherein  chemicals are prohibited in bodies of water.
       During planting and harvest season task is overwhelming that inhabitants uses the "obfo",  a group or number of people  works in someone's cogonal then move to the next field. In this method, workers are not paid monetarily but by providing meals and laboring in each participants field until everyone got their turn.

                                                   women in obfo

The land tilled by these farmers are naturally passed on to them by their parents who  inherited it from ancestors from time immemorial. Some of it was brought from relatives as it is a consideration to offer selling your properties to immediate relatives first  before dealing it to anyone. When working on fields owned by the community members living outside Bekigan, the harvest produced is divided into seventy to eighty percent for the tiller and the rest for the owner. When the owner is present to help, the tiller will give more shares if not equal to that of the tiller. 

The province is dry from November to April and wet from May to  October. Around these two seasons, iBekigans work on a cycle of aboriginal method of agriculture such as:.  

  • repas  tilling of soil
  • erag    planting of rice 
  • saknit  Harvesting of sugar cane, ending in March. 
  •  ani      Harvesting of rice, ending in June

Religious beliefs and practices 
          A brief history that has a significance why cordillera  religious beliefs and practices remains free from foreign influences  for a longer period of time than the rest of the nation. The cordillera ranges in the northern Luzon, Philippines was generally unfazed by Spaniards for the more than three hundred years of colonization.There exploratory attempts to conquer Mountain Province were made between 1566 to 1665. Total subjugation of the area was never achieved throughout the three centuries of Spanish rule because the fierce, war-like, hostile native tribe and formidable travel obstacles intimidated the Spaniards. Belligerence that later helped the americans to drove Japanese forces out of the region during World War II Battle of the Pockets as expressed and apparently published in various articles.

                                           "Simultaneously with the assaults against the points, the
                                           USAFFE eliminated two other centers of enemy resistance behind
                                           the main battle line. In three weeks of savage tree-to-tree fighting,
                                           about one thousand Japanese who had penetrated USAFFE lines
                                           were surrounded and nearly annihilated. Crowded into a jungle
                                           valley for this Battle of the Pockets, the tanks could not maneuver
                                           freely. Igorot tribesmen  rode atop the tanks
                                           and tapped signals for stop, go, left, or right on the turret. These
                                           primitive warriors were less concerned with their own safety than
                                           with other matters. For example, one such tribesman Gentry knew
                                           repeatedly stole mortar ammunition from the enemy enclave. (The
                                           USAFFE returned the shells by firing them back at the doomed
                                           infiltrators.) Another Igorot amassed a collection of Japanese
                                           jaw bones, which he hung from trees."
                                                Register of kentucky Historical Society p.246
 "Hampered by the dense undergrowth and lost in the confusing maze of bamboo thickets,
 vines, and creepers, the tankers would have been impotent had it not been for the aid
 of the Igorot troops of 2d Battalion, 11th Infantry. Hoisted to the top of the tanks
 where they were exposed to the fire of the enemy,
 these courageous tribesmen from north Luzon chopped away
 the entangling foliage with their bolos and served as eyes for the
 American tankers. From their position atop the tanks they fired at
 the enemy with pistols while guiding the drivers with sticks."
 (NY Times  Feb.23,1942) 

                                                                     "Many desperate acts of courage and heroism under  my observation 
                                                                    on many fields of battle in many parts of the world.
                                                                    I have seen forlorn hopes become realities. I have seen last-ditch stands,
                                                                     and innumerable acts of personal heroism that defy description.
                                                                     But for sheer breathtaking and heart-stopping desperation.
I have never know the equal of those Igorots riding the tanks. 
                                                                     Gentlemen, when you tell the story, stand in tribute to
                                                                      those gallant Igorots. As members of the Philippine commonwealth,
                                                                      they have proved to be excellent fighting men
"Gen. D.MacArthur
                                                          -   Pittsburgh Post Gazette  (Feb.23,1942 p.1 cont. p.4)

The cordillera natives are held together by their common socio-cultural traits and geographic proximity. They are however, monotheistic despite being profoundly motivated by the  historical religious beliefs, rituals and traditions which are  based on pre-christian  belief system that centers around a hierarchy of spirits, the highest being a supreme deity called "lumawig" ," kabunyan" in our term "ginmaeb"  creator. These terms personifies the forces of nature and is the legendary author of the belief they practice. A hereditary class of elderly leaders hold various ceremonies for this deity for their agricultural crops, death, and to their ancestral spirits ("anitos") for healing.
         There are sacred days called (teer)  that are scattered in a year when work in the field is taboo. These rest days are generally associated with crops, climate, weather and sickness. During these days an elder leader announces to confirm  despite the people's awareness. Anyone who has to go gather a feed for their livestock do it before the break of day and back immediately. Non-community members are not allowed to enter the vicinity for the same reason of not to interupt the spirit of favors and sacredness of the day.
          Rest days like this are still observe but the young generations who has been brought up with the christianity principles that was'nt long ago introduced to Bekigan  has recognized yet another rest day in christian teaching  except the olden time rest day has a fine (rapat)  for one who  breaks the rule. Furthermore, Bekigan has no known involvement nor active participation in any religion except what is outlined in their community beliefs and practices until the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) reached the area in the late 1980's and unlocked the door to christianity. Since then christian beliefs had known by its inhabitants particularly young people  and has been kept thru turns of visiting missionaries with a pastor currently shepherding the first ever built community Presbyterian church built by South Korean missionaries.

Social and political Structure  used to be centered around (ator) village ward. An indigenous social
organization whose membership composed of various families. These are low built stone-walled one room houses roofed with cogon grass and or galvanized iron sheet with an adjoining stone-floored open court. In these courts gather all the members during the performances of all important activities of the organization.

                                                                 then ator  now in use by blacksmiths                      

                With the belief that the creator has taught the functions of the "ator ", it has a direct influence on the people in general. The (peden)peace pact
 is one among its important political functions in relation with other tribes or communities because it resolves territorial disputes and other conflicts. It also prevents the commission of crimes against the people of both tribes having an existing peacepact thereby promoting good relationship between tribes.

   *a documented renewal to strenghten peace pact between our neighbor village Belwang and Bangad, Tinglayan of Kalinga Province are portrayed in the following photos here:
  As a traditional seat of government of the community, it plays a vital role in settling community disputes, it is also a public dormitory for men; in olden times it is where men are sustained, guided and molded by a tightly knit kinship structure, a community discipline exerted by the oldest men of high social status. Even to this day that there are constitution and by laws that governs them, the members of the village still settle their conflict in the traditional court system by gathering in the presence of elected leaders and few remaining elders. 
It is however, slowly  disintegrated with the death of its senior elders and the integration of christianity, yet the teachings of brotherhood in this system stood still which is illustrated in no stranger/visitor who steps in the zone will go hungry. In the event of death of a  member outside their territory, they still follow their traditional custom of bringing home their dead to be buried thru the collective effort of the community members ,  there were instances when the surviving family decide to bury their dead in the place where the deceased had reside permanently or married (kabagaang) since the survivors have the last say. 
       In these villages, family occasions are a community's because neighbors are invited to join in during meals such as in (karang)  a get together for family of a  man and woman getting married, the (senga) a thanksgiving  which could arise from getting healed from sickness or occupying a new house, the (fegnas) a communal after harvest feast, the (chono) cultural mass wedding that calls  for more than a day of celebration that is associated with dancing the  traditional instrument (gangsa) gong  and serving rice with (watwat) meats of pigs, water buffalo or cow and chicken meats. Traditional rice wines (tapey), sugarcane wine (fayas) and chanting the (ayyeng)  a class of songs rendered at some ceremonies by a group of  male adult; recited by one  followed by the rest of the (mangayyeng) chanters  corresponding to that of the occassion. This practices are still  in effect to this day even with the advent of christianity for some who wish to preserve the norm.

Infrastructure & developments
          Houses then were made of cogons and pine woods that slowly transcends to  galvanized iron sheets and pinewoods with concrete now as an option.The only visible infrastructure at present are irrigation, concrete pathways, electricity, footbridges, toilets, waiting sheds, village dispensary and the addition of barangay hall and second level to its primary school to accomodate all grade school level. Delivery of information is thru run-walk system which make it difficult in times of emergency. No telecommunication system in the village has been establish yet but with the installation of SMART cell site in Sadanga in 2006, it gives the village  partial access to celphone communication by locating a good spot.