FACT CHECK: NCIP’s claims on the terms Igorot, Lumad, Tumandok are false

Jun. 20, 2022

CLAIM: A Facebook account under the name Manja Bayang shared a snippet of a Zoom video on May 6, 2021 where the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Commissioner Gaspar Cayat spoke in a Project Epanaw activity in SM Baguio.

In the said video, Gayat, an appointee of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, claimed the following:

1. The term Igorot in the Cordillera is a misnomer. Igorot to Spaniards means savage, backward, and uncivilized people. It is not included in the 101 number of IPs in the country;

2. In Mindanao, we do not have Lumad. Lumad it is a Visayan term which refers to a native of a certain place. It is not included in the 101 number of IPs in the country;

3. The term Tumandok refers to a collective group of people in Visayas. It is not included in the 101 number of IPs in the country; and

4. Igorot, Lumads, and Tumandoks are the “very words” used by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA)-National Democratic Front (NDF).

In an apparent sarcasm, Bayang asked the people in FB to applaud the NCIP and said “I KENNAT” (I can’t accept/take) referring to Gayat’s claims especially on numbers 1 and 4. Bayang asked for someone to explain the epistemology of NCIP’s claims.



The term Igorot is an old Tagalog word meaning “people from the mountains” and is a general term used to include all tribes from the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The April 1962 journal article “The Word Igorot”, written by William Henry Scott and published by the Ateneo de Manila University, said the terms “Igorot” and “Moro” are misnomers made by the Spaniards in mockery against the tribes which they had failed to colonize. They label Igorot as savage, head hunting, and backward tribe of Luzon.

Scott cited in his journal a Tagalog scholar in the early 1900’s, Dr. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, that the term “Igorot” is composed of the root word “golot” which means mountain ranges or mountain chain and the prefix I meaning people of or dwellers in.

In a paper “Sugidanon (Epics) of Central Panay” by anthropologist Dr. Alicia Magos, the Tumandoks which literally means “native born” or Pan-ayanon are the mountain dwellers of Central Panay (Capiz-Lambunao) who have resisted various forms of foreign aggression by moving to the interior and more remote areas of Panay islands. In 1996, the residents of 16 villages in Capiz established the TUMANDOK (Tumandok nga mga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta Kag Kinabuhi or Native Tillers who defend their land and life) to defend their rights to their ancestral domain.

Contrary to the NCIP’s claim, the term is widely used among IPs, media practitioners, and academicians.

Mindanao historian Prof. Rudy Rodil in his paper “The Lumads Are Our People, Too!” said that the Lumad are the Indigenous Cultural Communities of Mindanao, namely, in alphabetical order: the Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, Blaan, Bukidnon, Dibabawon, Higaunon, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Mangguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Matigsalug, Subanen, Tagakaolo, Talaandig, T’boli, Teduray, and Ubo.

The name Lumad grew out of the political awakening among them during the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. In June 1986, representatives from 15 tribes agreed to adopt a common name in a congress which also established Lumad Mindanao.

Lumad is a Cebuano word meaning indigenous. The choice of a Cebuano word may be a bit ironic — Cebuano is the language of the natives of Cebu in the Visayas — but they deemed it to be most appropriate considering that the various tribes do not have any other common language among themselves except Cebuano.

With the historical background of the terms, they do not refer to a particular ethno-linguistic group but an aggregate of ethno-linguistic groups of a particular area.

The terms are widely accepted and used contrary to NCIP’s claims that they are terms used by the CPP-NPA-NDF.


The statements made by NCIP pose danger to the IPs and their struggles to ancestral domain because it is tantamount to red-tagging.

Red-tagging has resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and the suffering of communities. It is based on March 2 Resolution 08-009-2021 passed by the Commission en banc “denouncing the use of the term ‘Lumad’ to refer to indigenous cultural communities / indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) particularly of Mindanao and enjoining the public to address ICCs/IPs by their respective ICC/IP affiliation or ethnolinguistic group”.

The NCIP claimed that the word’s “emergence and continued use is marred by its association with the CPP, NDF, and NPA whose ideologies are not consistent with the cultures, practices and beliefs of ICCs/IPs.”

In April 2021, they released a resolution correcting the nomenclature and aggrupation of IP groups and cited the terms Igorot in Cordillera, Region 1 and 2, Aeta in Region 3, Teduray in Maguindanaon province, and B’laan in Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sarangani. (davaotoday.com)

Davao Today is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email info@factsfirst.ph.

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