Itawes inhabit the territory drained by the Chico and Matalos rivers as well as all of Southern Cagayan from Nasiping to the Village of Cavug, now the town of Enrile. Except for certain nuances in their language and the flair among-their womenfolk for ornamentation and colorful attire, nothing basically differentiates them from the Ibanags of whom they really are an ethnic subgroup. They got their name from the combination of the word "tawid" meaning across the river and prefix "i" meaning "people of".
Itawes have been called in various names such as "Itawit", "Itawiq","Tawish", "Itawi", "Itaves" and "Itabes". However, the early natives of Cagayan referred to one another by the group description of Ibanags, or the Y-Rita which means "those from the south". Occasionally, Y-Raya, meaning "the upstream people" was also used.
The Itawes culture seems to be quite distinct from that of the lbanags. The Itawes mode of dressing appears to be likewise more colorful, red being a dominant color. The woman used to wear beads on their heads, a practice still found among those in the remote areas.
Farming seems to be a leading source of livelihood. Almost three-fourths of the people of the province are engaged in agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing, and related occupation.
The average Itawes family seems to be education-conscious, this being shown by the good number of their children being sent to school.
Based on the dialect the people appear to be the most versatile group in the province. They speak Ibanag and llocano, but because many Itawes live with the Ibanag, Ibanag has become a standard language. The Itawes dialect has other peculiar characteristics such as the frequent use of double consonants like cc, kk, w.
Contemporary Itawes are a charming, friendly, and sociable group whose daily mode of life is not markedly different from the rest of their countrymen, whether in the style of their houses, their occupation and religious affiliation, all of which are signs of the Itawes culture. Traditional customs are still practiced today. Death among the Itawes galvanizes not only the family but also the whole neighborhood or community into action such that the usual church rites for the wakes and burial are observed.
- "Itawes" http://www.ncip.gov.ph/resources/ethno_detail.php?ethnoid=59 (July 16, 2007)
- Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of Philippine Art. Vol.1, Manila:1994.