Bontoc is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Mountain Province, Philippines. It is the capital municipality of Mountain Province. According to the latest census, it has a population of 24,798 people in 5,035 households.
The municipality celebrates annual Am-among Festival and Lang-ay Festival.
Bontoc is politically subdivided into 16 barangays.
Origin of the name
Bontoc is the capital of Mountain Province. The province is very mountainous. The word Bontoc is derived from two morphemes “bun” meaning heap and “tuk” meaning top which when taken together means mountain.
Bontoc people – appearance
The average height of the Bontoc male is 5 ft and 41/2 inches, the tallest being slightly more than 5 ft, 9 inches while the shortest is 4 ft 91/2 inches. The color of the skin of the men is brown and there is a wide range of tone of light brown to a very dark brown. The sun has much more to do with the different color tones than anything else. The average height of the Bontoc women is a 4 ft 93/4 inches. They appear short and stocky. The head of the women is carried erect but with certain stiffness, often due in part to the fact that they carry all their burdens on their heads. The color of their skin is brown, the same as the men.
The men wear g-string. The women wear tapis about the waist. Both sexes use blankets to warm themselves during cold nights. The Bontoc men comb their long black hair and fasten it is a knot on top of which they wear a small rattan cap like a sort of skull cap called gologon. Its sides are often decorated with mother-of-pearl cut like a butterfly wings on the tufts of hair. The little pipes (suaco) in which they smoke their tobacco (sindi sublayon) are stuck in their hair when not in use.
The typical Bontoc dwelling has walls about three and a half feet high, with the front wall open in the middle. The walls on the front and the sides are built of wood slabs but the rear is constructed with stones chinked with clay. The floor is the earth itself often covered with hardened mud. On the left, as one enters is a small room partially marked off by stones sunk in the earth. This is the place where the family pound and thresh their rice or millet. Next to place on the left is a small space where the food, including that for the pigs, is cooked. Down the center of the house extends a passage way and to the right as one enters is a shelf or bench called (chuksu) where various household articles are placed.
At the rear is al sleeping box called “ angngan”, extending from one side of the house to the other so that the side walls make its ends and the back walls form the back side. It has a front side and a top of wood and one enters it by means of a small door. This box is sometimes lined on the inside with stones, except at the point where the door gives entrance to it. It contains sleeping boards for the husband and the wife and the small children and on end of it, a fire is built for warmth.
The roof of the house extends nearly but not quite down to the level of the sides and projects beyond them for some distance. Its peak or attic is called (faey). Entrance to this little room above is by means of a small door and ladder. This place is used as a store room for the family’s valuable possessions called (akon) and sometimes for unpounded rice (pachey). The roof of the house is well-thatched with cogon grass. Under the eaves of the house , firewood is stored.
The houses of the Bontoc Igorots are usually closely grouped, forming genuine towns which often number about several thousand inhabitants. Each town is made up of a number of political division known as (atos) or in English term, (wards). The affairs of the ato are presided over by a council of old men, and delegates from each of these councils sometimes meet to discuss affairs which concerns the town as a whole.
Rice field activities
The Bontoc Igorots subsist on rice which they raise in their rice fields usually on the slopes of mountains and along the river banks. They use carabaos to trample the soil, which they fertilize with hog manure and sunflower stems and leaves. The men do the preparation of the rice paddies and the women do the seeding and planting. They harvest twice a year, one in July and the other in January. Aside form rice, they also raise corn, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, bananas. Sugar cane is raised exclusively for making basi. In the absence of sugar cane, they make an intoxicating drink called “tapey” which is made from sticky rice and home-made yeast out of sugar cane called “bubud”.
There is a thriving crafts trade in Bontoc, consisting mainly of pottery making weaving. In the past, the women traveled to the nearby Ilocos provinces to buy thread fro them to weave. The woven materials of the past were of simple design and rather dull colors until bright-colored threads native blankets with beautiful designs and brighter colors. At present, with the western attires in abundance, the Bontoc people wear their beautifully woven attire during special occasions. These native attires now are treated as special clothes and worn only on special occasions such as weddings, or other important celebrations that may occur in the town. This weaving industry by the Samoki women is still going on although in small scale because the materials used, the thread and also yarn are very costly. These woven materials are sold expensively, hence, few people could afford to buy but the weavers sometimes are able to sell their products to tourists who come to town.
The pre-Christian religion of the Bontoc Igorots consists of worship of spirits, or anitos. They see the spirits/souls of their dead ancestors in the anitos; thus, they offer animal sacrifices to these anitos to keep them always in a favorable mood. They designate trees as dwelling places for the anitos and honor them under these trees with canaos, together with the laying out of food. When the forests on the mountains are cut down in the vicinity of the Rancherias, they let occasional trees stand, usually splendid ones. These trees are their anito trees and the area where these trees are growing is called (papattay).
The Bontoc Igorot is monogamous. He has but one wife and is usually faithful to her. Unfruitful unions generally lead to a divorce, separation being accomplished by mutual consent between husband and wife. In case either party to a marriage deserts the other, he or she must pay a fine of one or more plots or other valuable property. If either party dies, the other must not remarry for at least a year.
Bontoc municipality officials
Mayor : Pascual A. Sacgaca
Vice-mayor: William A. Aspilan
- Eusebio S. Kabluyen
- Benjamin M. Ngeteg Sr.
- Jerome B. Tudlong Jr.
- Ignacio F. Afidchao
- Constancio A. Miranda
- Herman C. Farnican
- Wilbert A. Padngaran
- Anthony O. Sumcad