Based on anthropological perspective, how do the two Filipino cultures, the Bajau and the Ifugao, differ and how are they similar according to their religion, belief system, and in their life perspective?
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An anthropological perspective is a means of examining a culture and thinking about the world and its cultures and societies. More specifically, anthropology can be studied through four different perspectives that make the study of anthropology different from other social sciences. In the study of anthropology, culture and society can be studied through a comparative perspective, meaning that an anthropologist can compare one culture to another to derive a greater understanding; through a historical perspective, meaning that on can study a culture's history or how it has evolved in order to obtain a greater understanding; through an "ecological approach," meaning that an anthropologist can look at how a culture fits in and affects the larger, natural world; and finally through a "holistic approach," which can study culture based on how that one culture relates to other facets of human life (Dudgeon, "The Anthropological Perspective: What Makes it Unique"). As we are limited in space, below are some ideas for understanding both the Bajau and the Ifugao through the cross-cultural anthropological perspective, specifically by comparing their religions.
The Bajau are a maritime Moro indigenous people who were originally from the Sulu Archipelago islands in the Philippines, the coast of Mindanao, and northern Borneo. As a result of their "nomadic marine lifestyle," the Bajau became influenced by Islam, though they did not strictly adhere to orthodox Islam ("Bajau People"). While some practice non-orthodox Islam, others practice a "syncretic folk hybrid" in which they worship sea spirits ("Bajau People"). One practice in this religion involves using individuals pronounced to be spirit mediums to "communicate with the spirit world in ritual ceremonies of celebration, worship and exorcism" (The Peoples of the World Foundation, "The Bajau People"). During such ceremonies, spirit boats are sailed away unattended to cast "offending spirits" out of the community ("The Bajau People"). Another practice in this religion is to worship Omboh Dilaut, the god of the sea ("The Bajau People").
In contrast to the Bajau, the Ifugao live in the mountainous area of the Philippines known as the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. The area is known for its "rugged terrain, river valleys, and massive forests" ("Ifugao"). Similarly to the Bajau who worship a folk hybrid religion, though very different from the Bajau who worship Islam, the Ifugao also worship the spiritual world. Similarly to Native Americans, the Ifugao divide the world into five regions, each containing its own spirits to be worshiped: the people of the earth, the "sky world," the underworld, the "downstream area," and the "upstream area" ("Ifugao--Religion and Expressive Culture"). The spirits they worship are also very complex in that the Ifugao give each each spirit its own name plus place each spirit in 35 different categories, such as "hero ancestors, celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and diseases" ("Ifugao--Religion and Expressive Culture"). Along with spirits, the Ifugao also worship their own set of deities. Also similarly to the Bajau, the Ifugao practice rituals and ceremonies that revolve around their spirits and deities. Ceremonies can be performed to obtain a prophecy, a successful crop, or have a successful hunt, among other things. During these ceremonies, either deities or hero ancestors are invoked through the priests asking the spirit to possess the priest's body. After the spirit has taken possession of the priest, the Ifugao then make an offering to the spirit, such as a chicken or chicken claw, a pig, etc.
Hence we can see through our cross-cultural analysis that though the two groups of people live in different regions of the Philippines and have experienced different influences, in terms of religious practices, they do share some similarities, even though widely different.
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