Hiligaynon people

Hiligaynon people

Hiligaynon (Ilonggos)
Total population
5,648,595 (1990)[1]
(7.5% of the Philippine population in 2000)[2]
Regions with significant populations

(Western Visayas, SOCCSKSARGEN)

 United States


Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) language
Predominantly Roman Catholic,
Aglipayan minority, Protestant minority,
Islamic minority
Related ethnic groups
other Visayans,
other Filipino peoples,
other Austronesian peoples

The Hiligaynon, often referred to as Ilonggo,[3] are a subgroup of the Visayan people whose primary language is Hiligaynon, an Austronesian language native to the large eastern coastal plain of Panay. Over the years, intermigrations and intramigrations have contributed to the diaspora of the Hiligaynon to different parts of the Philippines. Now, the Hiligaynon form the majority in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Capiz, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.


  • Etymology of Hiligaynon and Ilonggo 1
  • Demographics 2
    • Overseas 2.1
    • Religion 2.2
      • The Ilaga 2.2.1
    • Language 2.3
  • Economy 3
    • Agriculture 3.1
    • Fishing 3.2
    • Textiles 3.3
    • New products 3.4
  • History 4
  • Culture 5
  • Food 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Etymology of Hiligaynon and Ilonggo

The term "Hiligaynon" is derived from the Spanish term "Yliguenes", which is then derived from the Hiligaynon word "Iligan" or "Iliganon". From here are two divergent proposals of origin for the word. The first proposal puts forth that Iligan or "Iliganon" refers to a river, or literally "where the water flows down", and the Spanish were likely to have made this connection to the indigenous residents of Panay, who resided at the river mouth and were thus discovered easily by the Spanish.[4] The second proposal puts forth that "Iligan" or "Iliganon" is derived from "manog-ilig sang kawayan", a phrase that describes bamboo poles that Panay men would float downriver in order to sell the poles. This activity becomes mistaken by the Spanish as the name of the indigenous residents.[5] The term "Ilonggo" is derived from the Spanish term "irong-irong", referring to the Filipino word for nose ("ilong") and an islet in the Batiano River in Panay.[5] “Ilonggo” is considered to define a specific group of people whose ethnic origins are in the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Panay, while "Hiligaynon" defines the language and culture of the people of the Ilonggo.[5] Thus, both terms are interchangeable in referring to the culture of the people, or the people themselves.


According to a 2000 census, 7.5% of the national population is Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, compared to 28.1% Tagalog (the majority group). This makes the Hiligaynon the fifth most populous ethnic group in the nation behind the Tagalog (28.1%), the Cebuano (13.1%), the Ilocano (9%), and the Bisaya (7.6%).[2] Two provinces have populations above one million since a 1990 census: Iloilo (1,608,083) and Negros Occidental (1,821,206),[1] comprising 97.6% and 80.7%, respectively, with urban centers taken into account.[6][1]

Provinces where the Hiligaynon are the majority ethnic group are shown in purple (but are not to be confused with the Kamayo in Eastern Mindanao).
Province Hiligaynon Population Total Population Percentage of Hiligaynon (%)[2]
Abra 96 184743 0.1
Agusan del N. 3309 2001926 0.2
Agusan del S. 26960 420763 6.4
Aklan 7869 380497 2.1
Albay 242 903785 0
Antique 9132 406361 2.2
Aurora 188 139573 0.1
Basilan 1748 238308 0.7
Bataan 2959 425803 0.7
Batanes 2 15026 0
Batangas 2144 1476783 0.1
Benguet 460 485857 0.1
Bohol 107 948403 0
Bukidnon 73656 843891 8.7
Bulacan 4635 1505219 0.3
Cagayan 261 829867 0
Camarines N. 137 390982 0
Camarines S. 909 1305919 0.1
Camiguin 20 64247 0
Capiz 575369 584091 98.5
Catanduanes 59 187000 0
Cavite 9604 1152534 0.8
Cebu 6669 2646517 0.3
Davao 53012 590015 9
Davao del S. 30059 1482745 2
Davao Or. 3410 394697 0.9
E. Samar 148 329335 0
Ifugao 10 147281 0
Ilocos N. 159 461661 0
Ilocos S. 146 519966 0
Iloilo 1608083 1647486 97.6
Isabela 552 1080341 0.1
Kalinga-Apayao 10 211775 0
La Union 193 548742 0
Laguna 3809 1370232 0.3
Lanao del N. 4214 614092 0.7
Lanao del S. 11057 599982 1.8
Leyte 2951 1367816 0.2
Maguindanao 41988 757739 5.5
Marinduque 53 185524 0
Masbate 35480 599355 5.9
Misamis Occ. 397 424365 0.1
Misamis Or. 3611 865051 0.4
Negros Occ. 1821206 2256908 80.7
Negros Or. 43249 925272 4.7
N. Cotabato 283948 763995 37.2
N. Samar 347 383654 0.1
Nueva Ecija 373 1312680 0
Nueva Vizcaya 312 301179 0.1
Occ. Mindoro 18248 282593 6.5
Or. Mindoro 10373 550049 1.9
Palawan 60829 528287 11.5
Pampanga 2826 1532615 0.2
Pangasinan 839 2020273 0
Quezon 1262 1372455 0.1
Quirino 101 114132 0.1
Rizal 14870 977448 1.5
Romblon 1474 227621 0.6
W. Samar 293 533733 0.1
Siquijor 76 73932 0.1
Sorsogon 295 522960 0.1
S. Cotabato 374755 789847 47.4
S. Leyte 179 321940 0.1
S. Kudarat 200660 435905 46
Sulu 11 469971 0
Surigao del N. 1064 327113 0.3
Surigao del S. 4424 452098 1
Tarlac 614 859708 0.1
Tawi-Tawi 51 228204 0
Zambales 3276 562992 0.6
Zamboanga N. 3501 676862 0.5
Zamboanga S. 7409 1138086 0.7
National Capital Region 199290 7948392 2.5


Like many other Filipino ethnic groups such as the

  • More information about the San Francisco Ilonggo Circle
  • More information about the Ilonggo Association of Southern California

External links

  1. ^ a b c d "Culture Profile: Hiligaynon". National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Philippines). 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The World Factbook 2013-2014: Ethnic Groups". CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "The Ilonggos". SEAsite. Northern Illinois University. 
  4. ^ Funtecha, Henry (14 November 2008). "Iliganon, Hiligaynon, Ilong-ilonganon or Ilonggo, which one?". The News Today (Iloilo City: TNT Publishing Inc.). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "CCP encyclopedia of Philippine Art" (PDF) 1. manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. 1990. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (pdf). National Statistics Office (Philippine Statistics Authority). 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d Minahan, James (2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.  
  8. ^ a b May, Ronald (1992). "Vigilantes in the Philippines: From Fanatical Cults To Citizens' Organizations". Philippine Studies (University of Hawai'i at Manoa) 12. 
  9. ^ Funtecha, Henry (14 July 2006). "Do you speak Bisaya?". The News Today (TNT Publishing Inc.). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Magos, Alicia (2011). "Kinaray-a, Hiligaynon, Ilonggo and Aklanon Speaking People". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Yap, Tara (2012). "Lin-ay, symbolic of Iloilo’s history & culture, unveiled". The Daily Guardian (Iloilo City). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Funtecha, Henry (24 June 2005). "Iloilo's economic transformation in the 19th Century". The News Today (Iloilo City: TNT Publishing Inc.). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "The Ilonggos". SEAsite. Northern Illinois University. 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Weaving Progressfor the Miag-ao Hablon Industry" (PDF). Philippine Commission on Women. Philippine Commission on Women. March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Subong, Elisa (1 March 2005). "The women weavers of Miagao: Weaving their lives, their dreams". Philippine Information Agency. Presidential Communications Operations Office. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Bagamasbad, Melissa (29 September 2013). "Best of Ilonggo food, crafts, and fashion at 28th Negros Trade Fair in Glorietta". Interaksyon. TV5. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Ati-Atihan and Other West Visayan Festivals". SEAsite. Northern Illinois University. 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Funtecha, Henry (4 April 2005). "Ilonggo migration to Negros". The News Today (Iloilo City: TNT Publishing Inc.). 
  19. ^ Lucman, Norodin (14 April 2014). "Brief History of Armed Conflicts in Mindanao and Sulu". Philippine History. 
  20. ^ "Culture Profile: Festivals in the Philippines". National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Philippines). 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "The Legend of Maragtas: Ten Bornean Datus and the Purchase of Panay". Dinagyang 2014: The Official Website of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival. Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Incorporated. 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Villa, Hazel (5 March 2002). "How to marry contemporary and indigenous arts - the Ilonggo experiment". International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Ilonggos preparing for Paraw Regatta Fest". The Philippine Star. 9 October 2009. 
  24. ^ Uytiepo, Raffy (15 February 2011). "Ilonggo Azkals". The Freeman. 
  25. ^ "Foods". Iloilo City Government. 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 


  1. ^ The percentages here were based on a fraction of the population of Hiligaynon in Iloilo and Negros Occidental[1] and the total population in both respective provinces (with the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod taken into account).[6]
  2. ^ As in the previous note on the percentages of Hiligaynon in Iloilo and Negros Occ., these were based on the population of Hiligaynon in each province[1] and the total population in each respective province, with metropolitan areas taken into account.[6]
  3. ^ Examples of these organizations include the Ilonggo Circle of San Francisco and the Ilonggo Association of Southern California, as well as the Kahirup Ilonggo of Hawaii.
  4. ^ "The Ilaga, it was reported, wore vests inscribed with Biblical quotations, belts which carried bottles of oil and pages ripped from the New Testament, and amulets (anting-anting) which they believed rendered them invincible" Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), 22 May 1971).[8]
  5. ^ According to Funtecha, "This one-sided movement of the people between the two islands is referred to by a writer, Francisco Varona (1938) as “La imigracion Ilonggo."[18]
  6. ^ "Performers recited traditional poems on local radio, ritual dances were performed to a backdrop of more than one hundred modern paintings and installations, and the event's key conference explored the impact of globalisation and information technology on indigenous cultures."[22]


See also

Common meals have fish and other seafood as a main component. They are often cooked with local green produce and other spices. Rice is also served as part of the meal, as in the rest of the country.[3] Several dishes of the Hiligaynon are well known to many Filipinos, and contribute to the local food culture of Iloilo City. La Paz batchoy is one such dish, composed of pork innards, liver, and heart in a broth with noodles and trimmings such as chicharon and garlic. Pancit molo is also a popular dish, a wonton soup with dumplings filled with pork, chicken, and shrimp, as well as trimmings of green onions and garlic. Particular to Western Visayas is ibus, a finger food of glutinous rice wrapped in coconut leaves in the shape of a roll.[25]

Hiligaynon style Guinomis (sago in coconut syrup with toasted rice)


A prominent Hiligaynon profile exists in national and regional sports, notably in football. The popular national football team players Phil and James Younghusband have a mother who is Ilonggo. Football is very popular in Western Visayas, and the Iloilo town of Barotac Nuevo has been known to contribute many football players to the national team. Also of note are Hiligaynon athletes on the national track team.[24]

Many cultural festivals are organized, serving a purpose of cultural preservation and celebration against the "homogenizing of the Philippine culture."[7]:92, while also serving well for local and national tourism. The Dinagyang festival is celebrated every fourth Sunday of January in Iloilo City. The festival name is derived from the word dagyang meaning "merry-making".[20] Modeled after Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Aklan, Dinagyang venerates the Santo Niño, and specifically commemorates the purchase of Panay Island from the indigenous Ati by 10 fleeing Bornean datus (chiefs).[21] Arts festivals, such as the Ilonggo Arts Festival, have used contemporary media such as film and radio, in addition to public performances, and they have also sponsored engagement in dialogue over cultural preservation.[22][6] The Iloilo Paraw Regatta, held each year in February, also has goals for cultural preservation: the ships used in the regatta, the paraw, are traditional sailboats that have long been used by the Hiligaynon. Competitors in the Paraw Regatta are local fishermen, who compete in a week-long competition at sea, accompanied by a festival on land.[23]

Hiligaynon culture is part of the culture of the wider Visayan ethnic group, who constitute one of the largest Filipino ethnic groups.


A later migration of Hiligaynon occurred in the 20th century to Mindanao in the 1940s under Manuel Roxas who was also Hiligaynon. Thousands migrated throughout the 1940s and 1950s as part of a resettlement movement sponsored by the government. This was at the expense of the local Muslim population, who were not helped by the government, and contributed to later tensions between the mostly Catholic Hiligaynon and the Muslims.[19]

Many revolutionaries in the late 19th century who sought independence from Spain were Hiligaynon. Some of them were part of the educated elite who sought for reforms, such as Graciano López Jaena, who led the reformist newspaper La Solidaridad. Others were military leaders such as Martin Delgado, who became known to the Hiligaynon as "the greatest Visayan general of the Philippine Revolution."[5]

The 19th century was marked by the migration of the Hiligaynon from Panay to Negros.[5] Their migration was due to the growth of sugarcane production in the later 19th century. This was also caused by the wane of the textile industry, increasing the labor pool for sugarcane in Panay through the industry’s losses. Spanish colonials actively sponsored the migration, especially by prominent peninsulares and mestizos. It was such that between 1822 and 1876, the population in Negros increased so that it matched the population of Panay (756,000) from the 1822 count of 49,369.[18]

By the arrival of the Spanish in 1569, the inhabitants of Panay were well-organized, yet became part of Spanish colonial rule. [17][7][5] The original inhabitants of Western Visayas were the


With the spread of the Hiligaynon and their culture throughout the country, many business have catered to exporting various aspects of the Hiligaynon culture in marketable products, appealing to urban tastes and members of the culture. These have included food, crafts, fashionable apparel, and art pieces, especially those that exhibit the cultures particular to Iloilo City and Bacolod City.[16]

New products

In Iloilo, weaving based on local fibers is also a source of income, but to a lesser extent. Hand-loom weaving practices began historically among the Hiligaynon after trade with the Chinese introduced weaving materials. By the 1850s, weaving became a substantial export for Iloilo, known then as the "textile capital of the Philippines" for its production of piña (pineapple fibers), silk, jusi (combined weaving of piña and silk), and sinamay (combined weaving of abacá and cotton). The prominence of Ilonggo fabrics on the international scale was propelled by the opening of the port of Iloilo. However, weaving declined by the end of the century due to the popularity of growing sugarcane, and the availability of cheap British cotton cloth produced in factories.[12][14] Today, local weavers have found a niche market in specialty fabrics such as hablon, an expensive cloth woven out of jusi and piña fibers.[13] The Department of Trade and Industry has also helped the weaving industry in Iloilo through adaptive local skills training and other investments.[15] The hablon weaving industry has traditionally been dominated by skilled women working in numerous weaving cooperatives, notably in the town of Miagao in Iloilo. Knowledge of weaving is passed down from mother to daughter, and the daughters are expected to help their families in becoming involved with the trade as they get older. They produce hablon at a net profit of 35%, being paid at an average of 45 pesos per meter. Their hablon is used in barongs - a traditional men's formalwear - decorative linens for the home, and other accessories sold locally and internationally.[14]


"Ang Linay Sang Iloilo" is intended to symbolize the importance of the economic traditions of the Ilonggo

Fishing has also been pursued since before the arrival of the Spanish, and has contributed to the native Hiligaynon cuisine and diet. Coastal towns in Iloilo have a strong fishing tradition, with sources of fish present in the Guimaras Strait. Inland fishing, especially of prawn, has also taken root, especially as pursued by owners of haciendas looking to diversify their sources of income.[5] This practice is also pursued to a lesser extent by residents of the mountains, who use traditional nets and traps and poisonous plant materials in their methods.[10]


[10] to plant seeds. Hunting has also supplemented the farmers' livelihood but has decreased with the decline of the forests since the 1970s.wooden dibbers to cut trees and bolo knives system known as kaingin was and continues to be used by farmers in the mountainous interior of central Panay, using slash-and-burn The [13][5]


The local economy of the Hiligaynon is mostly based on agriculture and fishing, as well as the production of woven cloths and crafts. Recently, a statue was erected in Iloilo City that celebrates the contributions of the Ilonggo in agriculture and fishing. "Ang Linay Sang Iloilo" (The Lady of Iloilo) makes references to rice growing, sugarcane, and fishing, standing to emphasize the economic importance of Iloilo - and the importance of the Ilonggo in general.[11]


The Hiligaynon language is part of the Visaya (Bisaya) family of languages in the central islands of the Philippines, and is particular to the Hiligaynon people. Ultimately, it is a Malayo-Polynesian language like many other languages spoken by Filipino ethnic groups, as well as languages in neighboring states such as Indonesia and Malaysia. This language is marked by its song-like intonation in speech, while also having a more prevalent "l" sound than "r" sound. Its related language on Panay, Kinaray-a, is similar to Hiligaynon but older. Throughout the nation, the Hiligaynon speak Tagalog and English as second languages, especially outside of Western Visayas.[9] There has also been overlap between the Visayan languages in terms of vocabulary and the knowledge of the languages by the Hiligaynon. For example, some towns in Capiz use Aklanon words in their competency of Hiligaynon, while Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon are spoken by the residents of Guimaras, as well as residents in some parts of southern Iloilo.[10]


Several Hiligaynon were implicated in a series of violent attacks on Muslim Filipinos during the 1970s in North Cotabato. These Hiligaynon were members of the "Ilaga" ("Rats"), a vigilante group mostly composed of Catholics who also were traditionally superstitious and fanatical.[8][4] Their targets were the Muslims in the region, and they committed killings of Muslims that contributed to the immediate causes of the Muslim separatist movement in Mindanao.

The Ilaga

Most Hiligaynon are Christians, with a majority of these Christians being Roman Catholics. There are also smaller populations of Hiligaynon who are Aglipayan, Protestant, and Muslim.[7]:91

Areas where Hiligaynon is spoken
Geographically, Hiligaynon is mostly spoken in Panay, Guimaras, Negros, and southern parts of Mindanao.