The Isinais refers to a group of homogenous people inhabiting the three three towns of Dupax del Sur, Bambang and Aritao in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.These are mountainous areas rich with timbers and virgin forests. The Isinai dialect has three variants, spoken in the three towns with minor differences on the intonation, pronunciation of final consonants, and some verbal terms. In writing, however, the Isinai language in Dupax del Sur dialects is used.
Physically, Isinais are predominantly displays a Malay blend but with a high percentage of short people, fair complexioned, with rounded big eyes, natural hair, high cheek bones, well shaped nose, and widened lips. Women are physically more buxom than men.
Isinais, like most indigenous people practices animism. They believe in spirits which inhabits their material and spiritual worlds. But unlike the spirits of other groups, some of their spirits are actually seen. There are some spirits believed to inflict harm. An example is what they call the mangkokolam, like the asuang of the Gaddang, is a spirit which looked like a human being with a cat's eyes. It had a thin, hairlike tongue which is very long and which is thrust into the victim's bodies to eat its livers.
Many of the Isinays social customs are quite distinctive. They are markedly conservative and adhere to the old practices. An evidence of this is their stern disapproval of intermarriages between members of their tribe and neighboring folk (especially the llocanos).On pregnancy and childbirth, meticulous care is taken to insure the welfare of a woman during the period of pregnancy, pansisipe. A lot of do's and dont's are strictly followed especially after giving birth. For example, the woman is advised not to take a bath for ten days, and carefully selects the food she will eat lest the young born child will be affected.
Eighty percent of Isinais sustenance is derived from agriculture. They harvest twice a year and plant vegetables in between seasons. Five percent are fishermen who just rely on fishing in the river. They use their old way of catching fish like tabuu (using net) and panipit(using bamboos) and manual ways of catching fish. Five percent are carpenters and laborers; still another five percent are raising animals like pigs and broiler chickens. As for the middle class Isinays, they manage their own ranches and raise their carabaos for market.
- "Isinai." National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, http://www.ncip.gov.ph/resources/ethno_detail.php?ethnoid=57,(July 13, 2007)
- Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia. Vol.1, Manila:1994.