Southern Itneg in Philippines

The Southern Itneg have only been reported in Philippines
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Itneg is an alternate name of Tinguian. Tinguian means "the people of the mountains," It was originally used to refer to all mountain dwelling people. These days it is particularly used to refer to a cultural minority group occupying the mountains of Abra. The Tinguian are listed as one of the Cordillerean people called "Igorots". Some feature of the culture, customs, traditions, rituals, beliefs and ethnic values are the same with the Igorots.

In Abra, they comprise 35 percent of the total population and occupy about two thirds of the province's land area. The people live in scattered villages and cover a large area. Most of them live in settlements usually found near river banks. Dwellings are usually built in clusters with rice granary and vegetable patches. Two or three adjacent settlements generally compose a village.

Present day Tinguians resemble the Ilocanos in bodily proportions and have adopted the Ilocano way of life. Tinguians are almost identical to the Ilocanos. They have abandoned the g-string and other extremes and they behave and dress like their Ilocano neighbors.

In addition, the Tinquians are also influenced by education and the "Christian religion". During the fifties and sixties they faced an identity crisis. But due to the new government policy on indigenous people and cultural minorities, many of the Tinguian elders and professionals with the help of concerned groups tried to revive the cultural traditions and maintain/keep the Tinguian identity which they can be proud of.

Music is an important aspect of Tinguian culture. Singing is a normal occurrence in the community and in the work fields. Their musical instruments are the "kalalent" (nose flute) the gangsa (copper gongs) and the "kulintang" (guitar).

The Tinguian are a language group. They are divided into several sub-groups by dialectical differences: Adasen, Binongan, Gubang or Banao, Inlaod - penanubia, Maeng (also called Assa), Masadiit, Moradan, and Mabaca.

Economic life is based on agriculture. It is the principal source of income for the people. Agricultural products are rice, camote, yams, corn, squash, ginger, melon, sugar cane, fruits, and good quality cotton and tobacco. Aside from being farmers, they also do fresh water fishing, weaving various types of cloths and blanket, pottery making, and basketry.

A Tinguian village is usually headed by one of the old men or "lakay" chosen by a council of elder members of the village. A "lakay" is chosen based on his courage, health, wisdom and character. His role is to settle disputes in accordance with the customs and traditions. If a dispute is serious or the problem is new, he calls the council of elders or heads of influential families to discuss and decide with him.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Traditional religion is based on beliefs in the spirits or anitos, locally called "sasailo" who are natural deities, leader spirits (good or bad), and ancestral spirits. Spirits are revered and feared. They have adopted certain measures to protect themselves and property. They conduct ceremonies, offer food and drinks, and perform magical acts to ill-disposed spirits to assure good harvests.

The Spanish Augustinian missionaries started work in the mountains of Abra, and converted many Tinguians. Historians write that many towns and districts are now recognized as Ilocano and have Christianized Tinguians. Some of the Catholic teachings accommodated and combined with indigenous beliefs and practices. Present day Tinguians are Christians but they have not totally put aside their worship, beliefs and superstitions centering around the "sasailo" cocept. They reconcile their traditional faith with Christianity. They now believe in one supreme being who creates and controls life. The lesser spirits are said to be similar to the patron saints of the Catholic Church. Like the Catholics, they worship and ask intercession for the religious observances that go with various paraphernalia, bamboo arches, Basi (drink offerings), and musical instruments. Protective necklaces are used by children. Cults are in the area.

Prayer Points

Believers to continue their walk with Christ and grow in their faith.
Large portions of Tinguians are yet to be reached. Pray for culturally sensitive workers to continue reaching this people.
Ilocano believers near the area to reach out this people.
New Testament to be distributed, read and understood by this people for salvation.
Cults are very active in the area. Christian and gospel workers will take the challenge of the cults.
Need a clean witness of Christ in the midst of different questionable doctrinal persuasions; they will be freed from false doctrine.

Scripture Prayers for the Itneg, Southern in Philippines.

Profile Source:   Asia Missions (AMNET)  

People Name General Itneg, Southern
People Name in Country Itneg, Southern
Natural Name Southern Itneg
Alternate Names Assa; Lupa-Tiempo; Ma-eng; Southern Itneg
Population this Country 26,000
Population all Countries 26,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 5
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 6  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 15044
ROP3 Code 109483
ROP25 Code 303265
ROP25 Name Itneg
Country Philippines
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Luzon, south Abra Province, Luba, Tubo, and Villavisciosa municipalities.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Philippines
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Luzon, south Abra Province, Luba, Tubo, and Villavisciosa municipalities..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Christianity
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 15.00 %)
57.00 %
Ethnic Religions
43.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Itneg, Maeng
Language Code itt   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Itneg, Maeng
Language Code itt   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
People Groups Speaking Itneg, Maeng

Primary Language:  Itneg, Maeng

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Started

Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Asia Missions (AMNET) 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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