Cover: Hardbound



Authored by NARCISO C. TAN

Copyright © 2021 Narciso C. Tan and Vibal Foundation, Inc.



Prior to the introduction of Islam and Christianity, deeply held religious beliefs led various Philippine communities to sanction ritualized forms of violencehuman sacrifice, cannibalism, and head taking. Today, many Filipinos see these practices as “primitive,” “barbaric,” or pertaining only to so-called “tribes” and not related to the national dynamic. Púgot: Head Taking, Ritual Cannibalism, and Human Sacrifice in the Philippines forces Filipino readers to contemplate and confront the not-so-ancient past, when their ancestors sported loincloths, battle gear, and talismans, and participated in violent community-wide celebrations and rituals. The book also reveals these practices not in isolation, but as part of the wider Southeast Asian and Austronesian milieu. The multilingual primary and secondary texts used for this work are sourced from across centuries and disciplines, including thirteenth to eighteenth-century Chinese records, Spanish-period missionary chronicles, and European and American ethnographies from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, as well as folkloric accounts and epics. Encyclopedic in its approach and comparative in its analysis, this ambitious book weaves together historical data and archaeological studies with traditional myths, legends, and songs, to create a seamless narrative of some of the most misunderstood aspects of Philippine culture and to shed light on early modern cultures of violence.


The author takes us on a journey back in time to revisit Philippine culture and society when the ancient Filipino practices of human sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, and head taking became suppressed and ultimately erased in the peoples’ collective memory, particularly in the lowlands. Púgot is the first comprehensive investigation into these ancient Filipino practices. It is an immensely valuable piece of work!

Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines Baguio


The subject matter is both disturbing and controversial; however, Tan manages to handle it in such a professional manner that despite the gruesomeness at times, it never fails to be fascinating and informative. It rises above the sensational aspects of the violent subject matter and thoroughly explores the deep religious and spiritual beliefs which evidently sustained these ritualistic practices over centuries and possibly millennia before the modern Filipino nation fully evolved.

Senior Consultant, Ortigas Foundation Library



List of Tables   vi
Foreword  vii
Acknowledgments   ix
Introduction x
Acronyms    xiv
Note on the Transcriptions, Translations, and Orthography    xv


1 Peoples of the Philippines 3

Visayas   6
Mindanao   6
Luzon   9

2 Human Sacrifice 15

Visayas 17
Cebu 27
Panay 30
Bohol 32
Samar and Leyte 36
Magahat and Ata 40

Mindanao 42
Manobo 52
Bagobo 58
Higaōnon 81
Kulaman 81
B’laan 81
Kalagan, Mandaya, and Tagakaulu 82
Subanen 87
Maranao 91
Sangil 91
Luzon 93
Tagalog And Ayta 105
Sambal, Pangasinan, and Ayta 116
Bicol and Isarog 123
Ivatan 125
Ilocano and Itneg 126
Ibaloi and Kankanay 130
Kalinga 132
Apayao and Isneg 134
Cagayan, Gaddang, and Ibanag 134
Ilongot and Agta 139
Panuypuy and Ipituy 141
Ifugao 143


3  Ritual Cannibalism 147

Visayas 151

Mindanao 158

Manobo 161
Bagobo 166
Higaōnon 166
Kulaman 168
Mandaya 168
T’boli and B’laan 171
Subanen 171

Luzon 174

Ayta and Sambal 175
Ibaloi and Kankanay 179
Itneg 180
Kalinga 184
Apayao and Isneg 186
Gaddang 186
Ifugao 186
Ilongot 188

4 Head Taking 191

Visayas 191
Cebu 197
Negros Island 199
Samar 200
Mindanao 200
Manobo 201
Bagobo 203
Higaōnon 205
B’laan 205
Kalagan, Mandaya, and Tagakaulu 205
Kulaman 206
Subanen 207
Luzon 207
Tagalog and Ayta 209
Ilocano 215
Sambal, Pangasinan, and Ayta 216
Ibaloi and Kankanay 236
Isinai 241
Itneg 242
Bontok 245
Kalinga 249
Apayao and Isneg 255
Cagayan, Ibanag, and Gaddang 259
Ilongot 262
Ifugao 271

Afterword 282
An Early 20th-Century Photo Folio of Headhunting Rituals 305
Appendix A: Aswang and Iron as Talisman 313
Appendix B: Head Axe 318
Glossary 319
Bibliography 320
Index 365

List of Tables

1: Peoples of Mindanao 7
2: Peoples of Northern Luzon Cordillera and Caraballo Mountains 11
3: Lexicon on Human Sacrifice 18
4: Lexicon on Head Taking 192
5: Peoples and Places of Human Sacrifice, Ritual Cannibalism, and Head Taking 285
6: Occasions and Religious Reasons for Human Sacrifice and Head Taking 293
7: Methods of Sacrificial Killing and Treatment of the Victimʼs Body 295
8: Human Parts Ritually Consumed 298
9: Occasions and Religious Reasons for Ritual Cannibalism 298



Academica Filipina+ is an interdisciplinary series that pushes the boundaries of scholarly publishing with smart, literate, and thought-provoking works exploring the Philippine past, present, and future



To read Jonathan Best's book review of Pugot, click here: https://www.bworldonline.com/a-look-at-our-bloody-past/


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