Anthropology and GIS: Temporal and Spatial Distribution of the Philippine Negrito Groups


The Philippine “negrito” groups comprise a diverse group of populations speaking over 30 different languages, who are spread all over the archipelago, mostly in marginal areas of Luzon Island in the north, the central Visayas islands, and Mindanao in the south. They exhibit physical characteristics that are different from more than 100 Philippine ethnolinguistic groups that are categorized as non-negritos. Given their numbers, it is not surprising that Philippine negritos make up a major category in a number of general ethnographic maps produced since the nineteenth century. Reports from various ethnological surveys during this period, however, have further enriched our understanding regarding the extent and distribution of negrito populations. Using the data contained in these reports, it is possible to plot and create a map showing the historical locations and distribution of negrito groups. Using geographic information systems (GIS), the location and distribution of negrito groups at any given time can be overlaid on historical or current maps. In the present study, a GIS layer was compiled and extracted from the 2000 Philippine Census of population at the village level and overlaid on existing maps of the Philippines. The maps that were generated from this project will complement ongoing anthropological and genetic studies of negrito groups that inhabit different locations within the Philippine archipelago.