Profile Source: Asia Missions (AMNET)
Introduction / History
The Iwaks are not a homogenous people. They disperse themselves with dominant ethnic groups in the Cordillera region. And because of this, they are acculturated into the characteristics of the dominant groups.
The Iwaks live in settlements which tend to cluster on the higher slopes of the mountains near streams. Iwak houses are box-like wooden structures covered with cogon-thatched roofs. Its walls are split boards, woven bamboos, or reed-matting. Pig pens are usually connected to the houses because pigs play a big role in their culture, as part of the prestige ritual. Their staple food is taro (gabi). They presently dress as the ordinary lowlanders dress themselves.
Although the Iwaks speak Ibaloi, they differ from the Ibaloi people and remain in their own group identity.
The main source of income is agriculture. Their agricultural system ranges from the intensive type of wet rice planting to slash and burn cultivation of both grain and root crops. Significantly, taro and sweet potato are two of the most preferred root crops. Taro is very important to the Iwaks as their staple food as well as for ritual purposes.
The Iwaks also are producers of handicrafts. Their products are mostly back baskets, small shallow trays, large flat trays and brooms, and are sold in the towns of Santa Fe and Nueva Vizcaya.
Because of their small number and geographic location, the Iwaks do not have a strong political representation, nationally and locally. However, because of their assimilation into dominant groups in the Cordillera region, the Iwaks have local leaders which function as village chiefs or leaders of bigger localities. Politics is still influenced by Iwak's traditional values.
What are Their Beliefs?
The Iwaks are originally animists in religion. But due to the presence of a Baptist ministry in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, the old ways of the Iwaks are changing and some Christian beliefs are included now in their daily activities. Although the Iwaks hold strongly to their old ways, the call of civilization and the influence of Christianity are affecting their dominant religious beliefs.
* There is no report of an existing church among the Iwaks, and they still hold strongly to their old ways. Pray that there will be additional workers from missions organizations.
* Churches must be planted in different Iwak settlements in Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Benguet and Pangasinan.
* With the pressing environmental changes, the Iwaks need additional sources of income aside from agriculture to supplement their physical needs. Pray for community and livelihood projects among the Iwaks.
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