The islands of the Philippines are inhabited by a number of different ethnic groups. The majority of the population is composed of ethno linguistic groups whose languages are Austronesian, also known as Malayo-Polynesian, in origin.
Ethnic groups include the Cebuano, Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, Waray, Surigaonon, Zamboangueño and Hiligaynon who are also called Ilonggo.
Many of these groups converted to Christianity, particularly the lowland-coastal groups, and adopted many foreign elements of culture.
About 15% of the population is made up of what are generally defined as indigenous people. They are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines. Many of these groups were virtually untouched by Spanish and American influence and largely retained their customs and traditions.Most well known of these indigenous people are the Igorot, a group that includes the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao and Kalinga. They inhabit the Central Cordillera Mountain Range on North Luzon.
Owing to the difficult terrain, the Cordillera tribes are among the few peoples of the Philippines who have successfully resisted foreign domination and preserved their authentic tribal culture.
These groups were responsible for the construction of the rice terraces of North Luzon that were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The oldest inhabitants of the Philippines are the Negrito. They are a pre-Austronesian people who migrated from mainland Asia around 90,000 years ago.The Negrito population was estimated in 2004 at around 31,000. Their tribal groups include the Ati, who inhabit mountainous areas of Negros, and the Aeta, who live on the slopes of Mount Pinatubo. Their ways of life remain mostly free from Western and Islamic influences.
In the Southern and Central Philippines, upland and lowland tribal groups are concentrated on Mindanao and Western Visayas, although there are several indigenous groups such as the Mangyan living in Mindoro.
An important group on Mindanao are collectively called the Lumad, and include the Manobo, Bukidnon of Bukidnon province, Bagobo, Mandaya, Mansaka and the Tagakaulo in who inhabited the mountains bordering the Gulf of Davao.
Other ethnic groups are the B’laan, Teduray and T’boli who live in South Cotabato.
They maintain their animistic beliefs and traditions though some of them have converted to Christianity.
Another important group are the Muslim ethnic minorities, such as the Maguindanao, Maranao and the Tausug.
Travel Authentic Philippines offers tours that specifically focus on the indigenous culture and people of the Philippines. These tours contain visits to Ifugao, Bontoc and Kalinga minorities in North Luzon. We also offer tours to the Tagbanwa and Batak minorities of Palawan.