The Philippines is a country with a wide spectrum of ethnic groups barely touched by global influences. The Ikalahan, an indigenous community of settlers in Kabayan, Benguet stand out with a set of beliefs and practices almost intact through the centuries. It is nestled at about 7,800 ft above sea level and is considered to be the highest situated community in the Philippines. The Ikalahan tribe takes pride as being closer to the heavens, but their existence reveals a passionate respect for the land that sustainably nourished a community almost totally independent of the country’s social mainstream. These images were taken in a period of three years and serves as an observation to the inevitable encounters with modernity. It’s a hidden jewel in its own right, but encroaching progress and increasing curiosity of outsiders pose a concern in the Ikalahan culture that may be inevitably annihilated by time and modernity.
The Cordillera Mountain Range, the highest mountain range in the Philippines whose inhabitants are closely-related ethnic minorities. Kabayan, Benguet.
Ikalahan children playing at the peak of Mount Pulag. At 2,229 metres above sea level, it is know the be the third highest mountain in the Philippines. Mount Pulag, Kabayan Benguet.
A student of Mt. Pulag Elementary School walks to school. Most students normally takes two to three hours to reach their respective schools. Kabayan, Benguet
A television in one of the houses in the community, with the annual State of the Nation of Address tuned in. TetelpokVillage, Kabayan, Benguet.
Ikalahan men while on their break. A house was being constructed during this time. Babalak Village, Kabayan, Benguet.
Farmers prepare vegetables that were to be transported to the lowlands. The Ikalahan’s source of living is primarily agricultural. Abucot, Kabayan, Benguet.
A portrait of two elderly men sporting cowboy hats. Kabayan, Benguet.
An Ikalahan wedding. Bashoy Village, Kabayan, Benguet.
Men prepares a pig to be butchered as a part of a ritual for a communal feast. Bashoy Village, Kabayan, Benguet.
A Ikalahan man holds a pig’s intestine. Men are in charge of the butchering and cooking of the meat during feasts. Bushy Village, Kabayan, Benguet.
A man lies on the floor after a whole day’s celebration of a wedding. Kabayan, Benguet.
A group of elderly of women in a wedding ceremony. The elderlies play an important role in the Ikalahan community. Their involvement in decision-making and advices in community affairs are sought for. Kabayan, Benguet.
Residents attend a funeral in Kabayan, Benguet. Lebeng, Kabayan, Benguet.
During a film-showing at Mt. Pulag Elementary School. Mt. Pulag Elementary School, Kabayan, Benguet.
A hiker at the peak Mount Pulag National Park in Kabayan, Benguet. Due to to an influx of visitors, restrictions will soon be imposed to regulate foot traffic in this mountain to protect the forests and its residential areas.