Introduction / History
The Kankanaey live in the upland areas of Benguet province and belong to the tribal group called "Igorots" They are one of the larger tribes the region. They are a hardworking people in the field of agriculture who are already reached by modern technologies. The Kankanaey build rice terraces which have become sufficient sources of food. The staple foods of the Kankanaey are camote, rice, potatoes, and other root crops like tugi and gabi.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The marriage customs of the Kankanaey are similar to the Ibalois. They practice parental marriage. A wedding is celebrated with big feasts and many rituals done before and during the wedding ceremony. Butchering of animals is a very important part of the wedding. In the past there have been cases of intermarriages with lowland people. But due to unfavorable experiences, this practice is already declining. The Kankanaey families believe that husbands are the heads of the family and elders should be well-respected in the community.
The Kankanaey are some of the best vegetable growers in the Philippines. They are innovative in the fields and they practice proven technology like irrigation and the construction of rice terraces. Most of their income comes from tilling the fields. They are also into mining since the Kankanaey territory yields lots of minerals, particularly gold.
Hunting is also practiced by the people with the use of spears and dogs, while fishing is done with the use of bamboo traps. The Kankanaey women are said to be the best weavers in Benguet province. They produce sweaters, shirts and blankets. They also produce baskets, potteries and furniture which are marketed in the city of Baguio and other nearby towns.
The Kankanaey, having been reached by modern amenities, live in big communities and are aware of the importance of education. Because of a high literacy rate among the group, they desire socio-economic developments such as improvement of the road from towns to villages, protection of remaining forest, and the improvement of the water system and electrification of the Kankanaey territory.
Because they have a big population, they have a strong influence both in the local and national government. There are many socio-economic development programs being done in the area. Many members of the Kankanaey tribe are educated and professional, so they are the ones who are leading their people towards improvement and better living.
Because of the long years of missionary presence in the Kankanaey areas, the people have been Christianized. Many are now Roman Catholics and Protestants. Some have joined the Iglesia ni Cristo and other religious groups established within the Kankanaey areas. Although many have professed faith in Christ, most of them still engage in pagan practices as shown in many of their rituals during weddings, rites of passage, planting and harvest, medicine and others.
The openness of the Kankanaey to the Gospel is a good sign that Christian churches would increase in the area. However, some religious groups or cults have also reached them and tried to convert them. This caused additional missionary efforts and care among the Christian workers in the areas. There is also a lot of pressure regarding many denominational differences. A loving and faithful Christian testimony is needed among the believers so unbelievers will see the difference of Christianity from other religious groups.
Strong and faithful churches as well as good evangelistic strategies are needed to win more souls in the area.
The Kankanaey's geographic location and minority status still limit them from government assisted development programs especially in the socio-economic issues.
Scripture Prayers for the Kankanaey, Kibungan in Philippines.
Asia Missions (AMNET)