HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 50 no. 1 - 4 (2004)

Notes for an Ethnohistory of the Southern Cordillera, Northern Luzon:A Focus on Kalanguya

Patricia O. Afable

Discipline: History



The southern Cordillera of Northern Luzon is the traditional home of peoples who speak the Ibaloy, Kalanguya (or Kallahan), I'uwak, Ikaraw, and Kankanaey languages. Here, multilingualism is the norm; cultural, linguistic, and social boundaries do not coincide; and ethnic identities arose only within the last century. Of the five languages, only the first and last are mentioned in Spanish accounts from the end of the 19th century, and Spanish observers recognized that Ibaloy- and Kankanaey-speaking people shared much culture even if a profound language gulf separated them. Together, the first four languages are classified in a linguistic grouping that also includes Pangasinan and Ilongot. Kankanaey belongs to another linguistic group that includes, in addition, Isinay, Bontoc, Kalinga, Itneg, Ifugao, and Balangaw. Up to 1970, the two "ethnolinguistic groups" recognized in the literature were the Ibaloy and Kankanaey. Beginning in the 1980s, a "Kalanguya Tribal Organization" wasformed and a "Kalanguya tribe" received wide publicity in the local and national media for the first time. Early "tribal congresses" focused on delineating their territory, asserting a language and history separate from their neighbors, and affirming the common social and political goals among numerous representatives scattered in several adjoining highland and lowland provinces.


This paper will discuss the conditions for the rise of this new ethnic group and examine them within a larger ethnohistory of communication in the southern Cordillera. Here the author makes a case for taking the focus away from "ethnic" or "tribal" boundaries and exploring the history of communicative links within a region in the study of its cultural history.