Accepted paper:

From headhunting to treasure hunting: alternate modes of prosperity among the Bugkalot (Ilongot) of northern Philippines


Shu-Yuan Yang (Academia Sinica)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the shift in modes of attaining prosperity among the Bugkalot and how they attempt to compensate their inability to succeed in the market with treasure hunting.

Paper long abstract:

In traditional Bugkalot (Ilongot) culture, headhunting is the most important means of acquiring prosperity, and headhunters typify Bugkalot ideals of potency, productive health, and beauty. However, headhunting as a mode of attaining well-being and prosperity has lost its significance today, as the Bugkalot converted to Christianity en masse in the 1960s and the 1970s and were brought into the orbit of capitalist economy in roughly the same period. The everyday presence of missionaries and the introduction of extractive industry—logging— stimulated their keen interests in wealth, and they entered commercial gardening at the turn of the century in order to obtain pecuniary benefits from the market. However, the vicissitudes of the market have made it difficult for them to succeed in capitalist ventures, and the Bugkalot developed strong obsession in treasure hunting as a new mode for the attainment of prosperity. They believe that abundant treasure was buried in the mountainous areas where they live by the Japanese during World War II, and missionaries and foreigners have access to secret knowledge of decipher treasure signs. Treasure tales must be examined in the light of the religious and economic worldviews. The relationship between Protestantism and the acquisition of wealth will be revisited in this paper.

panel P21
Invisible hands: alternate modes of prosperity, wealth and well-being