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The Age of Discovery had also brought on the Age of Colonialism, resulting in hundreds of cultures, now-forgotten, being replaced by those who believed they were superior or were doing these "lesser men" a favor. One of the most brutal was the Spanish Empire who subjugated many cultures living in the Americas and Asia.

But not these two noble savages. Both these warrior cultures had defied the guns and horses of the Spanish even as their neighbors fell into their power. These two independent warlike tribes resisted the might of white burden, saving their culture, and putting the names of their race in the history books.

What happens, however, when these two use their weapons against each other?

Igorot: The tough mountain-dwelling headhunters from the Philippines


Mapuche: The swift and brutal jungle warriors from Chile


Igorot Warrior


The Igorot (Tagalog for 'mountaineer'), or ethnolinguistically called the Cordillerans, are the various ethnic groups living in the mountains of northern Luzon, Philippines, all of whom keep or have kept until recently, their traditional religion and way of life. Some live in the tropical forests of the foothills, but most live in rugged grassland and pine forest zones higher up. The Igorots were one of the ethnic Filipinos whom the Spanish would meet during the colonization of the area in the 16th century.

The Igorot first came into contact with the invaders when the latter discovered gold in the Cordillera. Both gold and the desire to Christianize the Igorot were given as reasons for Spanish conquest. Although the Cordillera Mountains technically belonged to the Spanish, they gained no formal authority or hold of the region. In 1572 the Spanish started hunting for the gold. The Igorots would resist Spanish incursion in a revolt that lasted for decades, killing many Spanish and their Filipino allies in their wake. The Igorots would defy and defeat Spanish expeditions in the years 1601, 1608, 1635, and 1663. The Igorots, together with the Moros, were the only Filipinos to successfully resist Spanish conquest. The Igorot would also play a pivotal role during the Philippine Revolution, Philippine-American War, and World War II.


  • Fal-Feg: The traditional Igorot spear. It is a 5-6 feet long spear with a single barbed blade that range from 2-6 inches long. The barb is meant to dismember and cause tearing of flesh the moment it goes in and is pulled out. The blade is made up of steel and are fastened to the wooden shaft by a short haft or tang inserted in the wood. A conical iron ferrule or cap is also placed on the butt of the shaft so the spear can be struck to the ground or used as a staff.
  • Baliwang Ax: Also known as Kalinga axe, these steel axes are known for its peculiar shape meant for increased chopping power. The ax head is typically rectangular and wide, sometimes ending with a clip. It is also adorned with a nasty spike at the end. The axes are typically 1-2 feet long and can be wielded with one hand.
  • Bamboo Spears: Throwing spears made up of sharpened bamboos are used by Igorots. These bamboo spears are of varying length and can be hurled at an an enemy as far away as 30 feet. Smaller bamboo spears or spikes are also implanted in pits to serve as traps. Anyone who steps into these pits can either be seriously wounded or sometimes killed.
  • Wooden Shield: The only piece of armor the Igorot employ is the wooden shield. They are cut from single pieces of wood, and are generally constructed of very light wood, though some are heavy. The hand grip is cut in the solid timber, is almost invariably made for the left hand, and will usually accommodate only three fingers, free to press forward the upper and lower ends of the shield to slant and glance blows. Shields are usually about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide, where the upper part or “chief” of the shield is cut, leaving three points projecting several inches above the solid field; while the lower end or “base” is cut, leaving two points. The cuts are made so that the Igorot can still have visual of his enemy, as well as places to insert his spear in combat. Most of the Igorot weapons are used in conjunction with the shield.


Mapuche vs sioux.jpg

The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. They constitute a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage. Their influence extended between the Aconcagua River and Chiloé Archipelago and later eastward to the Argentine pampa. The Mapuche makeup about 4% of the Chilean population, and are particularly concentrated in Araucanía Region and due to emigration in Santiago.

The term Mapuche can refer to the whole group of Picunches (people of the north), Huilliches (people of the South) and Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía, or exclusively to the Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía. The Mapuche traditional economy is based on agriculture; their traditional social organisation consists of extended families, under the direction of a "lonko" or chief, although in times of war they would unite in larger groupings and elect a toqui (from Mapudungun toki "axe, axe-bearer") to lead them. The Mapuche were a bellic culture, and their history was plagued by wars and conflicts since they began to settle in the Araucanía; they believed that history was created through warfare, and thus engaged in many military conflicts.


  • Tacuara Spear: These were spears and lances that were 8 feet long. They had a stone tip and a shaft made of the local tacuara, a bamboo-like cane plant. When hitting its target, the tacuara would bend first, then whip back in and cause eve worse damage. They were typically two-handed weapons.
  • Macana: Heavy spiked maces placed on a 1.6 feet wooden shaft. These were capable of inflicting severe blunt trauma and kill in single blows to the head. They were made of either native copper, basalt, granite or really anything harder than wood and mounted on a 50cm wooden shaft. They were effective against both against armored and unarmored opponents.
  • Bolas: A type of throwing weapon made of weights on the ends of interconnected cords, used to capture animals by entangling their legs. They were used as a range weapon by the Mapuche for centuries, even seeing action at the hands of the Mapuche during the Occupation of Araucanía (1861–1883).
  • Mapuche Bow: This small traditional bow were three feet long and made up of nirre wood and other materials. Sinew is also sometimes glued to add reinforcement and power. Accounts of Mapuche bows spoke about how it was strong enough to go through skulls. Although a traditional weapon, they would slowly get phased out as the Mapuche learned how to use horses and guns in warfare. However, they would continue to remain as back-up and ceremonial weapons.



Both the Igorot and the Mapuche are warrior cultures whose military lineage span centuries. Both also have a wealth of tactics, strategies, and specialties in fighting wars. However, the Mapuche seems to be the more flexible warrior. The Mapuche were quick to adapt to the tactics of their enemies. They learned the use of horses and even created their own version of mounted warfare. They also learned European warfare and how to counter them (even capable of fighting in pitch battles) through their wars against highly-trained Spanish, Chilean, and Argentinian soldiers. The Igorot have a more tribal-focused warfare. Although they learned how to use guns and drills from their time fighting together with the Filipinos and Americans, their backbone have always been their traditional way of fighting. Many Igorot tribes never learned how to use the bow or the horse for combat, even after exposure.


The Mapuche have a long history of warfare, first with their rivalry against the Incas, and their wars with the Spanish which would become known as the Arauco War. Even after the Spanish left, the Mapuche would continue to fight against Chile and Argentina (during the Conquest of the Desert and the Mapuche uprising of 1881). The Igorot also have a fleshed out military career. Even before the arrival of the Spanish, Igorot tribes have fought in raids against fellow tribes or those living in the lowlands. They would then fight the Spanish in the Igorot Revolt and its subsequent expeditions. They would also be present in many Filipino wars such as the Philippine Revolution, Philippine-American War, and World War II.


These two warrior cultures defeated the Spanish and other enemies though the use of guerrilla warfare.

The Igorot fought using the tactic of feigned retreat. During a battle, they would hurl projectiles and engage in hand-to-hand combat before suddenly retreating back to the mountains. The Igorots would then launch a surprise charge the moment their enemies pursue them deeper in the jungle, or start hiking down the mountain thinking they have won. They used this to great effect during the Igorot Revolt, most notably during Lt. Aranda's Expedition in 1601. Over a thousand Spanish and Filipino allies pursuing some Igorots who killed a priest, were surprised and massacred by 3000 Igorot warriors, leading to one of the few Filipino victories against the Spanish.

The Mapuche were masters of the jungle ambush (aka "malón"). Their methods are simple - locate the enemy, track their movements, and attack when they least expect it. A little attrition is also added where the Mapuche will stop at nothing to destroy as many enemies as they can, even stranglers. This was exemplified during the Battle of Curalaba in 1598 during the Arauco War. The governor Martín García Oñez de Loyola traveled to Purén leading 50 men. The Mapuche people, aware of their presence, shadowed his movements. A party of 300 warriors then made a surprise night raid. Completely surprised, the governor and almost all of his soldiers and companions were killed. Loyola was the highest-ranking military personnel killed by natives in Spanish Empire history.


  • Battle takes place in a jungle-filled mountain pass. A group of 5 Mapuche has been tasked to attack a small Igorot village hidden in the mountains. Their raid will be challenged by 5 Igorots guarding the mountain pass. For the purpose of this match, the Igorot have already set up a few bamboo traps (but only in the mountains).
  • The timeline will be during the 1580s-1610s. The Igorot group that will be used here will be the Bontoc, while the Mapuche that will be used are the Moluche and Huilliche. There will be no guns or horses in this battle.

References Used


There was a dark place during a dark time in human civilization, where only the strong could survive, where the meek were subjugated and enslaved. Such a hell existed in the jungle, where nature was both a beautiful mother and a green inferno. The jungle was where many colonialists and conquerors met their doom. Nonetheless, it was also a place of refuge for the independent and freedom-loving people.

Tonight however, in a mountain pass filled with thick vegetation and unforgiving humidity, a place that could only have been designed by some twisted imaginator, peace was non-existent. War cries filled the air as two groups of men hurled spears and shot arrows at each other. On one side, standing on high ground were 5 loin-cloth clad Igorot warriors, who were determined to hold this pass and prevent these invaders from setting a foot into their territory. On the other side were 5 poncho-wearing Mapuche, in a desperate mission to raid and gather resources for their hungry people.

Bamboo spears flew towards the Mapuche, yet none landed anywhere near their flesh. The rain of spears proved nothing as the Mapuche kept mobile or took cover. But their bows, easy to aim and easy to fire, proved more accurate. To get out of this stalemate, the Mapuche officer tasked two men to stealthily crawl away and flank the Igorots, as the rest of them continued firing their arrows.

Soon, the Mapuche started to land their mark. One of their arrows passed cleanly through the head of one of the Igorots, killing him. Green.png Before the Igorots could register that they had lost one of their own, they were surprised by a couple of Mapuche who ambushed them from the side. Instead of fighting, the Igorots made a run for it, trying hastily to run back to the mountain. Not wanting to let them get away easily, a Mapuche aimed his bolas and threw, ensnaring one of the Igorot. The poor guy tripped and fell painfully downhill, crashing his head and body on the jagged rocks. The moment he landed near the Mapuche, he got his head bashed mercilessly by maces. Green.png

Finally tasting blood, the Mapuche chased the Igorot down. For half an hour they pursued their much faster opponents in the jungle. They cursed and spat as their ponchos got entangled in the vegetation. Unfortunately for one Mapuche, he laid his foot on a human-sized whole. He then fell into the trap, getting his chest penetrated by long bamboo poles. Blue.png This further enraged the now tense and fatigued Mapuche, who resorted to end this battle in their favor.

As they walked through the jungle, another Mapuche began spitting blood. A bamboo pierced through his abdomen and he fell down with a cry. Blue.png The surviving Igorots rushed the remaining Mapuche and a brutal hand-to-hand combat ensued. An Igorot managed to behead a Mapuche with his large axe, Blue.png while another Mapuche impaled an Igorot with a stone spear. Green.png One of the Igorot failed to see a Mapuche charging at him with his lance, piercing his ribs.Green.png The last remaining Igorot avenged his friend by smashing the wooden shaft of his spear on the Mapuche's face. As the Mapuche laid down disoriented, the Igorot pinned the Mapuche through the soil with his spear. Blue.png

The last Mapuche and Igorot circled each other, fear dripping from their foreheads. There was only one person leaving this mountain, both praying it would be them so their respective tribes could survive. The Mapuche charged first and tried to land a killing blow with his mace. The Igorot blocked the attacks with his shield but the heavy mace slowly chipped and crunched it away.

He knew he had to do something before his defenses finally fell. And so, with the remaining planks of his shield, the Igorot pushed the Mapuche away with all his might. He dodged one swing from a mace which almost took his head off, before burying his axe on his enemy's stomach. The Mapuche screamed in pain, and as he tried to retaliate with a wild haymaker swing, the Igorot took his arm, pulled the axe away, ripping his abdomen. The Mapuche's guts spilled on the ground, and so too was the Chilean jungle fighter. Blue.png

The Igorot raised his axe and yelled in victory.

Expert's Opinion

Expert's believe that while the Mapuche has the edge in range, the more maneuverable spear and better defenses of the Igorot prevailed.