THREE or four days' journey to the south and east of the Tinguian live the Igorot; but so difficult are the trails over the mountains and through the swift rivers that there is little intercourse between the two tribes, consequently each believes the other a people to be feared. Salt, weapons, and jars are sometimes exchanged, but the customs and beliefs are not similar. Each group leads its own life and is governed by its own spirits.
From a distance an Igorot village looks like a group of haystacks nestling among the hills; but viewed more closely, it is found to consist of houses whose board sides are almost hidden by the overhanging grass roofs. The upper part of the house is used as a storehouse, while below, on a ground floor, the family cooks and eats. In one end there is a tiny boxlike bedroom where the father, mother, and small children sleep. After they are two or three years old the girls spend the night in a dormitory, while the boys sleep in the men's council house.
These people have splendid terraced fields on the mountain sides where water is brought from the streams through troughs and ditches. Here both men and women are busy early and late cultivating the rice, sweet potatoes, and small vegetables on which they live. The men are head-hunters and ardent warriors, each village demanding a head in payment for any taken by a hostile village.
Watching over the Igorot, controlling the winds and the rains, and providing good crops and health for the people, is the Great Spirit, Lumawig, who lives in the sky. He is believed to have created the Igorot and even to have lived among them on the earth. He no longer visits them in person, they say, but each month they perform a ceremony at which they pray to him to protect them and entreat him to favor them with health and good crops.
The following tales are told by the fathers and mothers to the children to teach them how things came to be as they are.
Mabel Cook. Philippine Folk Tales. London: