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The meaning of 'Bagbagto'

What is 'bagbagto' or 'bagto'?

'Bagbagto' is a folksong in the Cordillera Region. It is believed that it has been chanted by Cordilleran folks specifically in Bontoc, Mt. Province even before the Spanish Period.

Interestingly, 'Bagbagto' has been used as a contest piece during national and international choir competitions during the Contemporary Period.

But what is the meaning of 'bagbagto'?

Lawrence (1976) defined in the Bontok-English Dictionary the following Kankanaey terms:

1) bagbagto (noun) - a children' s game, in which rocks are used as missiles; a rock fight.

2) bagto (verb) - to engage in a rock fight, of adults as well as children. The battle is between the male inhabitants of Bontoc and Samoki, and is supposed to ensure the development of sweet potato.

Moreover, Beran (1978) published that 'bagbagto' is one of the physical activities among Filipinos even during Pre-Spanish Period.

She explained as quoted by Alcala (2008), choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, that Bagbagto or Stone War was a composition based on a well-known gibberish (meaningless speech or writing chant) of the Igorot tribe in Mountain Province in the Philippines.

Accordingly, the chanting of 'Bagbagto' was done during the dry season to ensure a good harvest wherein the Igorots would assemble at a dry river bed where opposing teams face each other across the river and proceed to throw stones.

Beran further explained that those who would able to cross the river bed amidst a hail of stones would be declared victors. Losers and victors alike receive wounds and lost teeth but a bloody battle was thought to ensure a good crop of sweet potato. No revenge was taken by the losers and the maimed were helped by the victors to get up and get assistance from the local herb doctors to stop the bleeding.

Recently, many netizens have uploaded different versions of 'bagbagto.' Thus, it is important to note that there are various versions of this chant from the different Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) in the Cordillera.


(arranged by Nilo Alcala as Commissioned by the Children's Museum and Library, Inc. (CMLI) as contest piece for Voices in Harmony 2008)

Bagbagto, Bagbagto Lambik

Tolambik, Tolambawikan

Bawikan, Bawikalanay

Kalanay, Kalanapunay

Napunay, Napunayagta

Nayagta, Nayagtakumpa

Takumpa, Takumpayaaw

Payaaw, Payaastibaw

Astibaw, Astibalangaw

Balangaw, Balangawistan

Gawistan, Gawistanabu

Tanabu, Tanabugaoy

Bugaoy, Bugapapayos

Papayos, Papajutiken

Jutiken, Jutikamegeng

Kamegeng, Kamegjiyungas

Jiyungas, Jiyuasaas

Ibaloy version: 𝗕𝗮𝗴𝗯𝗮𝗴𝘁𝗼

(from Some Ibaloy Folksongs by Emma B. Keith, 1993)

Bagbagto, bagbagtolambek

Tolambek, tolambawekan

Bawekan, bawekalanay

Kalanay, kalanafonay

Nafonay, nafonayagta

Nayagta, nayagtakumpa

Takumpa, takumpaya-aw

Paya-aw, payaatimbaw

Atimbaw, atimbalangaw

Balangaw, balangawistan

Gawistan, gawistanabog

Tanabog, tanabogaay

Bogaay, bogaalipoy

Alipoy, alipofadjos

Pofadjos, pofadjotekan

Djotekan, djotekamag-an

Kamag-an, kamag-eyong-as

Eyong-as, eyong asa-as

(Keith explained that an American teacher named Claude Moss, who was among the teachers sent by the American government in in the Philippines in 1901, was assigned in Kabayan. Moss composed the song Bagbagto but did not translate in English language, so the Ibaloys did not know what it meant. Some say, though, that some of the words are similar with Kalanguya language.)


(Version from Lolo Aliona Goyeck & Lola Doliana Cupido Goyeck uploaded by Kankanaey Igorot Fb Page)

Bagbagto, bagbagto lambik

Tulambik, tulambawikan

Bawikan, bawikalanay

Kalanay, kalanapunay

Napunay, napunayagta

Nayagta, nayagtagumba

Tagumba, tagumbaya-aw

Baya-aw, baya-atinbaw

Atinbaw, atinbayanggaw

Bayanggaw, bayang gawistan

Gawistan, gawis tanabog

Tanabog, tanabuga-ay

Buga-ay, bugayesikan

Yesikan, yesikamad-eng

Kamad-eng, kamad-eyeng-as

Eyeng-as, eyeng-asaas.


1) REID, Lawrence A. 1976. Bontok-English Dictionary. Pacific Linguistics Series C -No. 36. Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies of the Australian National University.

2) BERRAN, Janice Ann. 1978. Physical Activities in the Philippines During the Pre-Spanish Period. The North American Society for Sport History.

3) ALCALA, Nilo. 2008. Onomatopoeia: The Choral Works of Nilo Alcala (

4) KEITH, Emma B. 1993. Some Ibaloy Folksongs. Benguet State University.

5) National Commission on Culture and the Arts (

6) Kankanaey Igorot Fb Page (

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