People, Culture and the Arts
The Isnegs, Ilocanos, and Itawits form the majority of the people living in the province of Apayao. The Isnegs are the indigenous people of the province and are interchangeably referred as Apayaos. The term "Isneg" was derived from a combination of "is" meaning "recede" and "uneg" meaning "interior". Thus, it means people who have gone into the interior. The Ilocanos inhabit the river valleys and plains and most migrated into the region in the last fifty years. Up until recently, the Isnegs were slash and burn agriculturists. They have increasingly abandoned the practice and have adopted intensive rice cultivation in stead. The Isneg are noted basket and mat weavers and the womenfolk trade their products for cloth, pots and materials from Ilocano traders. Isneg women have been known to favor colorful garments for their traditional costumes, which consist of both small and large wrap-around pieces of cloth called the aken. The smaller piece is used as everyday wear, while the large one is reserved for ceremonial occasions. They also wear the badio, a short-waisted, long-sleeved blouse, which is either plain or heavily embroidered. Menfolk, on the other hand, are traditionally clothed in dark-colored (often plain blue) G-string called abag, which on special occasions is adorned with an iput – a lavishly colored tail attached to the back end. Isneg oral tradition is rich with folk riddles. Many of these structurally simple but elegant two liners with a few syllables and rhymed at the end, present a riddle. Some Isnegs possess skills in traditional and oral arts, such as the magpayaw (shouters), the singers of the oggayam, and the debaters who joust with anenas (oral poetry). There are others held in esteem as musicians such as those who display prowess in playing the difficult gorabil, a bamboo violin.