Situating the Indigenous Peoples in the Age of Digital Information

posted October 15, 2019 at 02:58 pm
It was only in September 2015 when the name “Iraynon Bukidnon” was mentioned on national TV for the very first time. A month before the National Indigenous Peoples Month that year, a popular TV program featured the “rediscovery” of a cluster of rice terraces in the province of Antique after they were spotted on Google Maps. Located in Brgy. Gen. Fullon in the town of San Remigio, it was called “The Antique Rice Terraces”.

 Contrary to popular notion, rice terraces are also built outside the Luzon Cordilleras. (Film still)
The program raked in millions of views that night, and it raked some millions more after being uploaded on online platforms. For the first time, there was now documentation of rice terraces outside Luzon. For the first time, people heard of an IP group called Iraynon Bukidnon.

In the island of Panay today, there are two known indigenous peoples (IP) groups: the Panay Bukidnon and the Panay Ati. Historically, however, there used to be only mundos. In 1882, Ferdinand Blumentritt, the friend of Rizal, wrote an article saying that the indigenous peoples of Panay are called mundos. He said that these people were very fond of magic formulas and sorcery. In an ethnographic map he made of the Philippines, he located the mundos in the mountain range bordering Iloilo and Antique, the range bordering Antique and Capiz, and somewhere in Dumarao and Dumalag, as well as in today’s President Roxas in Capiz and Sara and Batad in Iloilo. After that, writings about the mountain peoples of Panay became scant and few.

The villagers help each other perform farming activities. (Film still)

In the book Sulod Society, anthropologist F. Landa Jocano lamented the seeming scholarly disregard of Panay IPs from 1912 until he started doing his own research. While he used the term Sulodnon to refer to the specific community of his research, he noted that the prominent historian H. Otley Beyer used the terms bukidnon, mundu, and monteses to refer to the Panay mountain indigenous people.

In the article “The Suguidanon of Central Panay”, Dr. Alice Magos proposed to use Panay Bukidnon to refer to the mountain peoples of Central Panay. However, she added that the Kinaray-a Bukidnon and Ligbok Bukidnon may also be used. She mentioned that in Valderrama, Antique, the people use the term Iraynon or Irahaynon to refer to their fellow mountain dwellers. Then in 1995, in an interview of informants from Igsuro, Bugasong, Antique, Dr. Alice Magos, for the first time used the term “Iraynon Bukidnon” refer to an IP group, or to a subset of an IP group, in the Philippines.

Manggina Banicio, one of the village elders, is the only surviving elder in Gen. Fullon
who can still recite fragments from the epic chant Hinilawod. (Film still)
Today, most of the mountain groups in Antique are referred to as Iraynon Bukidnon. It remains unclear, however, what the relationship is between Panay Bukidnon and Iraynon Bukidnon -- whether the terms are interchangeable, or whether one is a subset of the other. But in official and legal documents, the communities of Brgy. San Agustin, Busog, and Culiat, all in Valderrama, Antique, are the Iraynon Bukidnon based on the issuance of their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT). And to the IP Desk of the Provincial Government of Antique, there should be more Iraynon Bukidnon communities out there, but that they are still subject to field verification of the NCIP.


Ironically, despite the fact that most people today live in the age of digital information, the dearth of information on the Iraynon Bukidnon, or on Philippine indigenous peoples in general, look like pixelated areas in a high resolution digital map. A lot of details are missing, and there is a need for more researchers to zoom in on the area.

As a means of educating the public about the Iraynon Bukidnon, the University of the Philippines Visayas – Division of Humanities will offer a free screening of the documentary film Pátok (The Mountain Carvers) in Iloilo City in time for the celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples Month.

 Lerona and UP Visayas production team brave the four-hour trek
to Brgy. Gen. Fullon, San Remigio, Antique, to document the lives of the Iraynon Bukidnon. Photo by Ruperto Quitag. 
Written and directed by Emmanuel Lerona, Pátok was produced through grants from the National Commission for Culture and Arts and the Commission on Higher Education. The film will screen at Festive Walk Iloilo Cinema 2 by Megaworld Lifestyle Malls at the Iloilo Business Park on October 19, 2019. The film has also recently been included in the official selection of Festival de Cinema de Alter do Chão in Brazil to take place on October 21-27, 2019.

Topics: Pátok , AlterFest , Antique Rice Terraces , The Mountain Carvers , Iraynon Bukidnon
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