The Remontados are members of the Negrito ethnolinguistic group inhabiting the uplands of Rizal and Quezon Provinces along the Sierra Madre mountains. They derive their name from the Spanish verb "remontar", meaning, "to flee to the hills", "to frighten away" or "go back to the mountains".
These indigenous peoples (IPs) are said to be the descendants of lowlanders who opted to live in the mountains to avoid subjugation by the Spaniards. Subsequently, they intermarried with the Negrito groups. Also referred to as Dumagat, they prefer to call themselves taga-bundok (from the mountains) or magkakaingin (those who practice kaingin).
The Remontado are of mixed blood, hence, they have a combination of Negrito and lowland Filipino features. Although the Remontado are semi-nomadic, there is no reported case of heavy out-migration. They roam in a specific geographic range they consider home base. They live mainly on the eastern part of Rizal Province, specifically Sta. Ines of Antipolo Municipality (now part of Tanay); Tinukan, Mamuyao, San Andres, Cuyambay, Layban, Daraitan, and Sampaloc of Tanay; and Macabod, Anginan, Cabooan, Mabolo, Malasia and Puray of Montalban. The areas of Infanta-Real-General Nakar of Quezon Province are also their dwelling places.
The Remontado used to be hunters and gatherers before they switched to shifting cultivation or kaingin. This economic activity has prompted them to gain mastery of seasonal weather and yearly cycle. They also possess their own economic calendar showing the main subsistence activities of the group. The whole family is involved in the process with the father performing the heavier task of preparing the field while both the mother and the children help in sowing, weeding and harvesting.
Supplementary subsistence activities include gathering of uway (rattan), buho (light bamboo), almaciga, vines, honey, and other forest resources which are traded with products of lowlanders. Charcoal-making is also a source of income.
There are no full-time, formal leaders among the Remontado. Nevertheless, advice and decisions of older members of the community are heeded when necessary. Remontado are guided by their "old customs and traditions which are closely observed and seldom violated". They have an open vote election process facilitated by a superintendent. Each barrio elects its own set of officers who "pass ordinances pertaining to public works" of the area concerned". This practice is similar to the "mainstream" political structure.
Culture, Beliefs and Customs
For many reasons, the group does not appreciate the idea of living with the migrants. Cultural differences and conflict of interest heighten this tension. The Remontado suffer the same fate of other indigenous Filipino groups who do not have equal rights and access to resources.
The indigenous group practices monogamy and often, endogamy. Intermarriage with non-Remontado is not popular since the group members, said to be shy and passive by nature, are not comfortable living with the banyaga or settlers.
The Remontado believe in life after death. Traditionally, there are no cemeteries for the departed. When a person passes away, he or she is buried in the same location where he/she died. Thus, the house that used to be occupied by the deceased is burned. A burial ceremony is undertaken by an elder man who recites explanations for the burning of the house so the dead will not haunt the living. He also offers food and betel as the deceased’s share.
The Remontado are fond of music. They sing during feasts, gatherings and ceremonies. The beautiful passages of their ilda (song) in rhyme are sung while walking, during work, or as they rest after the harvest while drinking a locally purchased wine called lambanog. Songs are sang to celebrate their young’s baptismal, or when they pay their last homage to their dead. Love songs or kundimans are accompanied by guitar. Fandango is a must in every feast.
The group members are indulgent with regard to adornments and they readily spend savings for bodily decoration. Beautiful costumes and ornamentation are displayed during special gatherings such as fiestas and weddings to capture the admiration of the opposite sex.
Like other indigenous groups, they also practice dental filing - they grind the anterior surface of their front upper teeth to create a uniform appearance and a concave look. Tattooing, called cadlet, is also practiced.Weaving is a practiced art that produces baskets, hats and mats.