Traditionally located at the junction of the Sierra Madre and the Caraballo mountains in the headwaters of the Cagayan, Tabayon, and Conwap rivers in Luzon are three groups of people: (1) Italon, found in the headwaters of the Cagayan River, (2) Engongot (Ipagi), found northwest of the coast of Baler, and (3) Abaka (Ibilao), living in southwestern Nueva Vizcaya. All three are known collectively as the Ilongot. The other names by which the decimated groups are known in literature are Ilonggot, Ibilao, Ibilaw, Ilungot, Ligones, Bugkalot, Quirungut, Iyonout, Egonut, Ipagi, Engongot, Italon, Abaka, and Ibilao. They are densest in the municipality of A. Castaneda (695) and Dupax Sur (685). In the whole of Nueva Vizcaya, they number some 2,085, and in Quirino some 2,173 (NSO 1980). There is a total national population of 50,017 (NSO 1990). The whole population is subdivided into some thirteen localized dialect groups: Abaka, Aymuyu, Belansi, Beqnad, Benabe, Dekran, Kebinanan, Payupay, Pugu, Rumyad, Sinebran, Taan, and Tamsi.

       Of all the ethnic groups of the country, the Ilongot appears to have been the only one devastated by its own harsh culture dispersing the population from the traditional areas of habitation to other provinces: Bulacan (4,969), Cavite (4,781), Zamboanga del Sur (3,735), Palawan (2,745), and others where the Ilongot populations are larger than in the original homeland.

       The people tend to live near tributaries and practice slash-and-burn cultivation. The pattern of housing is dispersed and fortified, for the Ilongot are externally aggressive, traditionally conservative, and resistant to external cultural pressures. Socially, the families in a locality are loosely grouped into bands called alipan. Like all other Philippine groups, kinship is bilateral and there are no descent groups.

       Formerly, the group subsisted on slash-and-burn cultivation, even in the watersheds of the Pampanga river, but have been pushed slowly to the north and east. Planting is multicropped although there is now a trend towards rice as the dominant cultigen. Cultivation is based primarily on root crops, and subsistence is supplemented by hunting, fishing, and food gathering.

       The society is traditionally egalitarian with no leadership structure. Leadership resides in sets of skilled male siblings with powers of persuasion, especially in the art of oratory or puron.

Distribution of Ethnic Groups by Provinces
(Arrangement: Population count)
Total National Population 50,017
Abra 31
Agusan del N. 391
Agusan del S. 174
Aklan 23
Albay 264
Antique 11
Aurora 486
Basilan 149
Bataan 61
Batanes 17
Batangas 1,291
Benguet 384
Bohol 68
Bukidnon 37
Bulacan 4,969
Cagayan 342
Camarines N. 169
Camarines S. 458
Catanduanes 93
Cavite 4,781
Cebu 1,164
Davao 807
Davao S. 21
Davao Or. 370
E. Samar 199
Ifugao 11
Ilocos N. 182
Ilocos S. 109
Iloilo 12
Isabela 281
Kalinga-Apayao 9
La Union 318
Laguna 1,695
Lanao del N. 11
Lanao del S. 48
Leyte 113
Marinduque 52
Masbate 51
Misamis Occ. 80
Misamis Or. 394
Negros Occ. 23
Negros Or. 1,314
N. Cotabato 10
M. Samar 7
N. Ecija 316
N. Vizcaya 2,011
Occ. Mindoro 1,269
Or. Mindoro 1,352
Palawan 2,745
Pampanga 1,329
Pangasinan 808
Quezon 585
Quirino 2,173
Rizal 1,448
Romblon 50
Samar 222
Siquijor 10
Sorsogon 122
S. Cotabato 1,296
S. Kudarat 10
Sulu 137
Surigao del N. 360
Surigao del S. 476
Tarlac 382
Zambales 619
Zamboanga N. 21
Zamboanga S. 3,735
Kalookan 943
Las Pinas 402
Mandaluyong 448
Manila 553
Marikina 334
Malabon 833
Makati 92
Muntinlupa 11
Navotas 454
Paranaque 465
Pasay 99
Pateros 139
Q.C. 1,091
San Juan 550
Taguig 347
Valenzuela 300