Taylor's FSLM Journals
The Traditional Tattoos of the Philippine Cordillera Region: A Study on their differences in Appearance, Causes and Discursive Strengths

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

Janette P. Calimag, Reynele Bren G. Zafra, Lady Aileen G. Ambion & *F.P.A. Demeterio III


This paper attempts to investigate the historical culture and practice of traditional tattooing in the Philippine Cordillera region by synoptically looking at them in the context of the eight major ethnolinguistic groups in this said region, namely: 1) the Ibaloy, 2) Kankana-ey, 3) Ifugao, 4) Bontok, 5) Southern Kalinga, 6) Northern Kalinga, 7) Itneg, and 8) Isneg. This paper is premised on a hermeneutic principle that comparisons and contrasts of related phenomena would lead to insights that are otherwise missed if the study were done on a single phenomenon. By looking at the earliest ethnographic materials about tattooing among these eight ethnolinguistic groups, this paper attempts to understand their similarities and differences in appearance, causes and discursive strengths, thereby establishing a historical baseline on tattooing in the said region immediately prior to the massive influx of modern and western influences mediated by the American occupation that started in 1901. The discursive strength of the traditional tattooing of a given ethnolinguistic group is this paper’s estimation of the capacity of the given practice to withstand the said influx of modernizing and westernizing forces. This paper’s attempt to understand and document the various traditional tattooing of the Philippine Cordillera region may be construed as an initial step in safeguarding and promoting these practices as part of the region and of the country’s intangible cultural heritage. The research work undertaken for this paper was funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Republic of the Philippines.

Keywords: Batek, Philippine Traditional Tattoo, Cordillera Region, Ibaloy, Kankana-ey, Ifugao, Bontok, Southern Kalinga, Northern Kalinga, Itneg, Isneg