The Bontoc Igorot

Author: Albert Ernest Jenks

Wages, and Exchange of Labor

The woman receives the same wage as the man. There are two reasons why she should. First, all labor is by the day, so the facts of sickness and maternity never keep the woman from her labor when she is expected and is depended on; and, second, she is as efficient in the labors she performs as is the man — in some she is recognized as more efficient. She does as much work as a man, and does it as well or better. It is worth so much to have a certain work done in a particular time, and the Igorot pays the wage to whomever does the work. The growing boy or girl who performs the same labors as an adult receives an equal wage.

Not only do the people work by the day, but they are paid daily also. Every night the laborer goes to the dwelling of his employer and receives the wage; the wages of unmarried children are paid to their parents.

To all classes of laborers dinner and sometimes supper is supplied. For weeding and thinning the sementeras of young palay and for watching the fruiting palay to drive away the birds, the only wage is these two meals. But this labor is light, and frightening away the birds is usually the work of children or very old people who can not perform hard labors. In all classes of work for which only food is given, much time is left to the laborers in which the men may weave their basket work and the women spin the bark-fiber thread for skirts.

Five manojos of palay is the daily wage for all laborers except those mentioned in the last paragraph. This is the wage of the wood gatherer in the mountains, of the builder of granaries, sementeras, irrigating ditches, and dikes, and of those who prepare soils and who plant and harvest crops.

There is much exchange of labor between individuals, and even between large groups of people, such as members of an ato. Formerly exchange of labor was practiced slightly more than at present, but to-day, as has been noted, all dwellings are built by the unpaid labor of those who come for the accompanying feast and "good time," and because their own dwellings were or will be built by such labor. A great deal of agricultural labor is now paid for in kind; practically all the available labor in an ato turns out to help a member when a piece of work is urgent. However, it is not customary for poor people to exchange their labor, since they constantly need food for those dependent on them. When the poor man desires a wage for his toil he needs only to tell some rich person that he wishes to work for him — both understand that a wage will be paid.


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Chicago: Albert Ernest Jenks, "Wages, and Exchange of Labor," The Bontoc Igorot, ed. Iles, George, 1852-1942 and trans. Oliver Elton in The Bontoc Igorot (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed March 22, 2023,

MLA: Jenks, Albert Ernest. "Wages, and Exchange of Labor." 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. 22 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Jenks, AE, 'Wages, and Exchange of Labor' in The Bontoc Igorot, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, The Bontoc Igorot, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 March 2023, from