The Bontoc Igorot

Author: Albert Ernest Jenks

Meals and Mealtime

The man of the family arises about 3.30 or 4 o’clock in the morning. He builds the fires and prepares to cook the family breakfast and the food for the pigs. A labor generally performed each morning is the paring of camotes. In about half an hour after the man arises the camotes and rice are put over to cook. The daughters come home from the olag, and the boys from their sleeping quarters shortly before breakfast. Breakfast, called "mang-an’," meaning simply "to eat," is taken by all members of the family together, usually between 5 and 6 o’clock. For this meal all the family, sitting on their haunches, gather around three or four wooden dishes filled with steaming hot food setting on the earth. They eat almost exclusively from their hands, and seldom drink anything at breakfast, but they usually drink water after the meal.

The members of the family who are to work away from the dwelling leave about 7 or 7.30 o’clock — but earlier, if there is a rush of work. If the times are busy in the fields, the laborers carry their dinner with them; if not, all members assemble at the dwelling and eat their dinner together about 1 o’clock. This midday meal is often a cold meal, even when partaken in the house.

Field laborers return home about 6.30, at which time it is too dark to work longer, but during the rush seasons of transplanting and harvesting palay the Igorot generally works until 7 or 7.30 during moonlight nights. All members of the family assemble for supper, and this meal is always a warm one. It is generally cooked by the man, unless there is a boy or girl in the family large enough to do it, and who is not at work in the fields. It is usually eaten about 7 or 7.30 o’clock, on the earth floor, as is the breakfast. A light is used, a bright, smoking blaze of the pitch pine. It burns on a flat stone kept ready in every house — it is certainly the first and crudest house lamp, being removed in development only one infinitesimal step from the Stationary fire. This light is also sometimes employed at breakfast time, if the morning meal is earlier than the sun.

Usually by 8 o’clock the husband and wife retire for the night, and the children leave home immediately after supper.


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Chicago: Albert Ernest Jenks, "Meals and Mealtime," The Bontoc Igorot, ed. Iles, George, 1852-1942 and trans. Oliver Elton in The Bontoc Igorot (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed July 17, 2024,

MLA: Jenks, Albert Ernest. "Meals and Mealtime." The Bontoc Igorot, edited by Iles, George, 1852-1942, and translated by Oliver Elton, in The Bontoc Igorot, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 17 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Jenks, AE, 'Meals and Mealtime' in The Bontoc Igorot, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, The Bontoc Igorot, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 17 July 2024, from