Identification. Largely celebrated in the popular literature for their invidious headhunting, the Kalingas are surrounded by other Philippine peoples who are equally famous for their headhunting, including the Apayaos to the north, the Bontoks to the south, and the Ifugaos farther to the southeast. In 1914 the Kalingas were described by Dean Worcester, the first American administrator in their mountainous area, as "a fine lot of headhunting savages, physically magnificently developed, mentally acute, but naturally very wild." Actually the Kalingas themselves did not traditionally use the term "Kalinga," which probably meant simply "enemy" in the language of neighboring lowland peoples and which was used by the early Spanish explorers to refer to everyone in the mountains of northern Luzon. Politicians, administrators, and anthropologists have nevertheless come to apply the word ethnolinguistically to a people fairly well distinguished from their neighbors by a network of mutually intelligible dialects and by similar customs, personal names, ballads, ceremonies, and epic poems.
Location. The Kalingas live in the North Luzon Highlands (sometimes referred to as the Cordillera Central), a rugged and sharply dissected block of mountains stretching north from approximately 16° N for about 320 kilometers and averaging about 65 kilometers wide, between 120° and 122° E. This massive mountainous area, the largest in the Philippine archipelago, boasts several peaks higher than 2,740 meters in its southern range. Located in the north-central section of these highlands, Kalinga territory extends perhaps 30 kilometers north to south and 80 kilometers east to west around 17° N—where the peaks reach about 2,470 meters—and includes the middle drainage area of the northward-flowing Chico de Cagayan River and its tributaries, especially the larger eastward-flowing ones, such as the Mabaca, Saltan, Bananid, and Pasil Rivers, and the northward-flowing Tanudan River.
Demography. Demographic information is at once scarce and unreliable, but some regional studies have been made and there are informed estimates. The most recent figure approaching accuracy on the number of ethnic Kalingas dates to 1972, when the population was estimated at 72,500. Based on a 1.2 percent population-growth rate from a regional study in the mid-1970s, their 1990 population should have been around 92,000.
Linguistic Affiliation. Linguists supply several classifications of languages in the Philippines. Most agree that all these languages belong to the larger Austronesian Family, and most agree that the Kalinga language belongs to a northern Luzon grouping. The most recent classification follows a line from Austronesian (formerly Malayo-Polynesian) through (the new) Malayo-Polynesian (along with Atayalic, Tsouic, and Paiwanic) to Western Malayo-Polynesian to Northern Philippine, and Kalinga may belong to what is sometimes called the North Cordilleran Cluster.