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Tingguians refers today to the mountain-dwelling people of Abra, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte. The name may have been derived from the term "tingue" or "tinggi", which means mountaineers or mountains. Tingguian, then, refers to "The People of the Mountains" as used during the early Spanish period living in places such as Basilan, Bohol, Zambales and Mindanao which later was used exclusively to the ethnic groups living in northern Luzon.

Today, the Tingguian group is divided into two, the "valley Tingguian", occupying the village communities where there are also Ilocano settlers, and the "mountain Tingguian", distributed in sparsely populated areas in highland regions of northern and eastern Abra.


The Tingguians have always thought of themselves and other Cordillera people as Itneg, people of interior uplands.It is what they are known in the Samtoy (Ilocano) dialect.

The various Itneg groups have their own regular trademarks. The Banaos living in the municipalities of Daguioman and Malibcong made their reputation in agriculture, deriving their livelihood from what the soil yields. The Masadi-it are found in Manabo, Bucloc, Sallapadan and Boliney. Another sub-tribe of the Tingguians are the Maengs. They are the ranchers and they are found in the towns of Tubo, San Isidro, Villaviciosa and Malibcong. The Magbacasare the game hunters and fishermen. They are found in Lacub and Malibcong.

Being skilled craftsmen, the Balatocs are perhaps the Tingguian counterpart of the Ubo tribeof the Mindanao wilds. They carve mortars, grind stones, and cast bobs and similar implements. Binongans are consummate romantics and they are care­free. They are fond of the guitars and musical instruments. Other sub-tribes are the Adasen which are found in Dolores, Lagangilang, Sallapadan, and Tineg. The Gubangs are found in Malibcong and Tayum. While the Danak is relatively a small group and are scattered throughout the province of Abra.

Political Organization

Tingguians have practically no government to speak of because Tingguian communities are relatively small and easily governable. They are peace-loving people. A semblance of authority exists within a council of elders,known as Panglacayen wielding authority.They rule collectively through a council.

Customs and Music

Tingguians have a common culture, costumes, rituals, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, and ethnic values with only slight variations. They wear their hair in a tuft on the crown of the head. Itneg women wear necklaces, antique jewelry and tattoo. Their attires are multicolored, notably of the Batek kind. Physically, they are fine, and their noses are aquiline.

Itneg music is provided by musical instruments such as gangsa (gongs) and cymbals. Their dead are buried in an upright posture, mostly sitting positions. In marriage, the dowry is an inevitable, feature, and weddings are often characterized by lengthy and prolonged celebrations - the longer, the more prestigious. Cows, carabaos, goats, dogs, deer, wild boar, and chickens are slaughtered for feasting of the entire populace. Basi, local wine made from sugar cane, is also served for special occasions.


The religion of the Tingguians revolves around beliefs pertaining to creation and superstitions centering around the anito. Itnegs regard Bagatulayan as their supreme God, who has absolute control over the behavior of his subjects and punishes anyone who disregards his laws and commands. He is followed by Kadaklan, who enforces the decrees of Bagatulayan to the letter. The third ranked tingguian deity is kabonian, who is the benevolent one.