Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Ayangan Ifugao are a large subgroup of the Ifugao, a Malayo-Polynesian people group of the Philippines. The Ayangan Ifugao comprise about half of the Ifugao population. The Ifugao primarily live in the Ifugao Province. This mountainous region is in the northern part of the island of Luzon, the most populous island of the Philippines.
The Ifugao language belongs to the Austronesian language family. The Ifugao are famous for their advanced system of terraces cut into the sides of the mountains. The terraces are irrigated by diverted streams and springs that flow through them.
Until the early twentieth century, the Ifugao lived completely isolated from the outside world. During the American governing of the Philippines, the Ifugao came into contact with American military officers and schoolteachers. In later years, transportation improved, and people began to travel to large cities to earn wages.
What are Their Lives Like?
Most of the Ifugao are involved in farming. The most important crop is rice, which is grown on terraces. Also grown on terraces, interspersed throughout the rice, are crops such as cotton, beans, radishes, cabbage, and peas. On unterraced mountainsides, the Ifugao practice "slash and burn" agriculture. This means that once the crops are harvested, the remains are burned in order to prepare the ground for the next harvest. Sweet potatoes and corn are two of the most important crops grown in this type of farming.
The Ifugao have a varied diet, with sweet potatoes as the staple. They also eat rice, but consume it more commonly as wine. Chicken and pork are the most prevalent meats, although the meat of deer, bats, and birds is also eaten. Other foods include locusts, grubs, and flying ants.
Teenage Ifugao boys and girls interact freely, and once a young woman becomes pregnant, she is immediately married to her boyfriend. Interestingly, once a child is weaned, the father becomes its primary caretaker. Throughout the day, men care for the children while the women do all the farm work.
The Ifugao were once known for their practice of headhunting. They believed that the taking of a head would benefit the health and well-being of a community, increasing the fertility of families and the productivity of farms. They also believed that losing a head to another community would cause a decrease in the well-being of a village. If a village lost a head, they would kill a member of the opposing community and take the head in an effort to restore the well-being of the village. The head would be placed as a trophy in the home of the man who had cut it off.
What are Their Beliefs?
Ifugao religion is quite complex. It recognizes eleven different classes of deities. The most important deities are those of the spirits of dead ancestors. If a dead ancestor becomes displeased for some reason, the people sacrifice a chicken or pig to pacify the ancestor.
The belief in ancestral spirits greatly influences funeral rituals: the Ifugao attempt to honor a dead person by treating the body with the utmost respect. The body of the deceased is dressed in its finest clothes and strapped in a chair. If the family of the departed person is wealthy, the body is carried from one house to another, as each branch of the family tries to outdo the others by giving a feast in memory of the deceased. This process sometimes continues for two weeks. The body is then moved to a cave. After a year, the bones are removed from the cave, washed, and wrapped in a blanket. The blanket is then placed on a shelf in the back of the family's house.
What are Their Needs?
Although missionaries have worked among them many times throughout the years, response has been limited, especially among the Ayangan Ifugao. Prayer warriors are needed to intercede on behalf of the Ifugao.
* Ask the Lord to send laborers into the Philippines who understand the culture and the needs of the Ifugao.
* Pray that the Ifugao will begin to desire a personal relationship with God.
* Pray that God will save key leaders among the Ifugao who will boldly share the love of Jesus with their people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Ayangan Ifugao.
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