HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 55 no. 1 (2009)

Mayoyao Ethnohistory, 1857-1960

Leah Enkiwe-abayao

Discipline: History, Ethnography



This paper will approach Mayoyao history quite differently from previous treatments of Ifugao history and culture. Drawing from both primary and secondary sources, this study will use an in-depth analysis of a particular extant tradition in Mayoyao—death ritual and funeral rites (cholar and pfu-ah)—to determine and analyze the village transformations from 1857 to 1960. This way, the analysis of the transformations in the death ritual and funeral rites is used as the tool to reconstruct historical events in Mayoyao.


It will examine early accounts on Mayoyao that show the world view, cosmology, complex ritual, and elaborate funeral observances of the Mayawyaw—e.g., Alarcon (1857), Malumbres (1918), Lambrecht (1932), and Barton (1919). Perhaps the most comprehensive account is Fr. Francis Lambrecht's seven-series outstanding work on the "Mayawyaw ritual."


The paper will also examine oral sources on specific aspects of village transformations. These include the introduction of cash economy and public health programs. It will also probe the religious transformations that took place beginning in the 1930s, when the work of the CICM missionaries was felt in central Mayoyao and that of the Esperitista (Union Espiritista Cristiana de Filipinas Incorporada) in southern Mayoyao, and in the mid-1950s, the influential role played by Pentecostal Missionaries and the establishment of the Evangelical United Brethren Missionaries (EUBM), now called United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). It will also include postwar transformations such as the construction of the Banaue-Mayoyao road and its impact on the economic institutions, the dynamics of trade and other forms of exchange, the expansion of commercial goods, and the transport system.