Benguet History

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  • Topic: Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, Provinces of the Philippines
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BENGUET HISTORY

Early in the 19th century after the Spanish explorer Guillermo Galvey's report of his expedition, the Spanish government organized the mountain region into six commandancias politico militar", namely: Benguet in 1846, Lepanto in 1852, Bontoc in 1859, Amburayan in 1889, and Kayapa and Cabugaoan in 1891. The Province of Benguet, as now constituted, has portions which were parts of the Districts of Lepanto, Bontoc and Amburayan.

The early commandancias were divided into rancherias. The commandancia of Benguet was divided into 41 rancherias, with La Trinidad as the capital. It was named in honor of Don Galvey's wife Trinidad. The first "Kapitan" of Benguet was Pulito of Kafagway, now Baguio City, which was then a minor rancheria of about 20 houses.

As of 1899, the Katipunan came to Benguet and united the Igorots into establishing Benguet under the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. This was short lived for in the early 1900's, the American colonizers took over.

Under American Rule, local civil government were established on November 22, 1900 under Act No. 48 in the following townships of Benguet: Baguio, La Trinidad, Galiano, Itogon, Tublay, Atok, Kapangan, Balakbak, Palina, Ampusongan, Loo, Kabayan, Buguias, Adaoay, Bokod, Daclan, Sablan, Kibungan and Ambuklao. Under the same Act, the Provincial Government of Benguet was officially established.

When Act No. 1876 was passed on August 13, 1908, Benguet Province became a sub-province of Mountain Province. Under this Act, the sub-provinces embraced by Mountain Province were Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto. In the course of time, the original 19 townships of Benguet as embodied in Act No. 48 were reduced to 13 municipalities. The township of Baguio became a chartered city in 1909, creating in its place the township of Tuba. The townships of Ambuklao, Adaoay, Balakbak, Galiano, Palina and Loo were abolished under Executive Orders issued by the Governor-General of the Philippines.

Finally, under Republic Act No. 4695 enacted on June 18, 1966, Mountain Province was divided into four new Provinces, namely: Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao, and Ifugao. Under this Act, Dennis Molintas, Sr. of Bokod became the first appointed Governor with Mayor Ben Palispis (1968-1986), Bantas Suanding (Officer-in-Charge, 1986-1988), Andres Bugnosen (1988-1992), Jaime Paul Panganiban (1992-1995), Raul M. Molintas (1995-2004), Borromeo P. Melchor ( 2004-2007) and Nestor B. Fongwan (2007 to present).

At present, Benguet is composed of 13 municipalities and 140 barangays. The province's municipalities are: Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay. According to the number of barangays, the capital town of La Trinidad has the most with 16 while Bakun and Kibungan have the least with 7 each.

Land and Inhabitants

The province now known as Benguet was inhabited by the ancestral Ibalois and Kankanaeys believed to be of Malay descent before the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Trade and commerce between these people and lowland groups such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses had been conducted on a regular basis.

There were early attempts by Spanish explorers to conquer the highlands, drawn by the fabled rich gold mines of the Igorots. In 1620, the first major Spanish incursion into the La Trinidad Valley took brief hold of some gold mines, but this endeavor was abandoned six years later. The Benguet people were left unconquered for much of the Spanish period.

In the 19th century, Spaniards began sending expeditions into Benguet to subjugate the Igorots. The first expedition, under Colonel Guillermo Galvey, succeeded in establishing Spanish presence in the La Trinidad Valley.

In 1846, the area of Benguet became a district of the newly organized province of La Union. In 1854, the district became a separate comandancia politico-militar....
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