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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies > Ub-ufok Ad Fiallig Overview > Teaching Modules > Module 3. Amfusnun: Headhunting and Honor

Module 3. Amfusnun: Headhunting and Honor


Amfusnun, Barlig’s hero-ancestor and forefather of many of today’s Ifiallig people, fell in love with a woman he was supposed to kill during head hunting. Instead of capturing her head, he asked for her hand in marriage. This is a tale of valor and deception derived from the narrative of vilage elder, Arfonso Nacleo, as passed on to him by Churay.

Lesson 1: Head Hunting

Head hunting is an ancient ritual formerly practiced by various tribes in the mountains of Cordillera, Sierra Madre and Caraballo in the Ilocandia as well as the Cagayan Valley. The purpose of this activity varies among these communities.

In the words of Nid Anima, author of The Headhunting: Tribes of the Philippines, among the defined motivations of headhunting are:

  1. To wreak vengeance over a fallen kin
  2. To right a wrong
  3. To carry out a tribe’s mandate
  4. As a prerequisite for mating (courtship or marriage)
  5. To atone a misdemeanor
  6. To honor a beloved departed soul
  7. As a measure of bravery
  8. To qualify for succession to chieftainship
  9. To instill fear and terror
  10. As therapy for an ailing headman


  1. Students read or watch Amfusnun.
  2. Students discuss the story.
  3. Ask students the following questions:

What do you think of head hunting?

Why did the men plot to take the head of Inwayas at the spring?

Did Amfusnun and Inwayas come from rival villages?

Why did Inwayas’ brother harbor a deep resentment towards Amfusnun?

Why do you think Inwayas’ brother insisted on telling the truth about what happened at Amfusnun’s farm? Would you have done the same thing?

What would you have done if you were Amfusnun?

Are there practices in your culture that is similar to head hunting?

Culminating Activity

Students watch the movie, Mumbaki. They will compare and contrast Amfusnun and Mumbaki. They will also write a reflection essay.