The entry of Americans in Buguias is remembered by the people not due to any fights between the two groups of “white men”, but in the course of the Americans’ pursuit of the Katipuneros. One day towards the end of Spanish colonial rule in the country, a group of Filipinos armed with bolos and guns passed by Loo on their way to Cervantes. In Loo, Lakay Pongsila invited these men, whom the old folks called “Katipuneros”, at his own residence for the night. This group did not want to stay longer so they proceeded to Cervantes the next day. A week later, another group, this time composed of tall, black and white people – the Negroes and Americans as the natives would refer to them later – passed by Loo in search of the first group.
In Central Buguias, meanwhile, the coming of Americans caused the initial fear of natives for what they thought were another group of Kastilas whose only difference with the first foreigners to colonize them was that the second group spoke a different language. The Kalangoyas of Amlimay thought that the white people who arrived on horseback with some “Iloco” lowlanders were of the same mind as the cruel “Kastila” group. Hence the natives hid in the mountains upon news of the white men’s arrival. It was only later when they found out that these “Americans” were very kind and friendly that the natives came out to meet the foreigners.
The Americans, on the other hand, did their best in order to gain the confidence of the natives. For instance the offered the different natives with bread and cigarettes. The stayed at the Spanish quartels at first and from there either accepted visits from the natives or themselves went out to visit the local communities. Unlike the Kastilas, the Americans even took the initiative in making friends with the people. They observed and respected the customs and traditions of the community, as when their interest was aroused when they first witnessed a cañao held by a certain Longbas. They also offered to help treat the sick although the natives refused because they had their own cañao. Cargadores and guides whose services the Americans needed were also paid, in contrast to what the Spaniards practiced. In due time, therefore, it became much easier for the Americans to gather the natives together whenever there was a need to talk to the people; from then on, colonization became a swift and smooth process.
The American colonizers stayed at Tangawan, a sitio that natives up to now refer to as “Forbes Park” as this was where most of the babaknang of Buguias lived. Dangol Cubangay’s house was temporarily used as the headquarters or office of the Americans; in the 1930’s a municipal building was constructed for the same purpose. Cubangay himself was appointed by the Americans as “president” for Amlimay and the surrounding sitios. In Loo, on the other hand, Pongsila was given the responsibility over the people of the “pueblo de Loo” which had been previously established by the Kastila.
These native leaders were the right-hand men of the Americans. When leaders of all sitios had been designated the Americans began the task of extending to Buguias the white men’s benevolence. The first thing they did was to improve the Spanish trails and construct new ones where there are none at all. The American trail followed the present Mt. Trail or Halsema Road to Natubleng and to Abatan towards Mankayan and Bontoc. Another trail followed the Agno River to Amlimay on the easter side of the river, while Spanish trails towards Kabayan were mostly on the west side of the Agno. The Spanish horse trails towards Ifugao were however maintained yet were improved and widened.
For the construction of these trails the services of the natives were used. Men and women worked on the road. People who worked on the road were at first paid a daily fee of 0.10 centavos for those without cedula for fixed days and 0.20 centavos for those with cedula were forced to buy their cedula at 1.00 peso. Later, a road tax of 2.00 pesos was levied on the people such that those who could not pay this worked on the road for free for ten days. The wage paid to road laborers was gradually increased later to 0.30, 0.50 and to 0.60 a day. When the Mt. Trail was widened up to Kalasipan the people of Buguias and other nearby communities were also asked to help in the construction work which extended up to Mt. Data. Informants recall that during this time, the Americans were rarely around; instead the paymasters, checkers, capataz and heads of the road laborers, who were mostly from the lowlands, supervised the work. When the road-widening reached Bayoyo a camp was built for the road workers and a rest house or Bureau camp was built for the supervisors.
As road construction was going on under the supervision of lowlanders schools were also being built by the Americans. The first primary school was built in Central Buguias. Another was set up in Loo. As these schools offered instructions only from Grade I to IV students who wished to finish Grades V to t VI took these in Kabayan. By 1921, though, the Buguias Central Elementary School had complete offering of elementary education from Grades I to VII; by 1924, Loo Elementary School followed suit. To popularize the American public education system leaders or the other barrios were advised by the Americans to build additional schools. Moreover, all parents were asked to bring their children to school. Barrio leaders and policemen tracked down children who refuse to attend classes. The attitude of the people towards formal education during the early decades of American colonialism was generally not appreciative. Some parents sent only their sons to school and kept the daughters to help in the kaingin in the belief that it would be useless for girls to study; still others chose to evacuate to the forests in order to avoid sending their children to school. For these reasons most of the children of the native leaders and babaknang. Some of them who later on would serve the government either as municipal officials or teachers are Basilio Tumpap, Sr. and Ben Almora. Tumpap of the Basilio or Cubangay line finished his primary grades in Buguias, went to Kabayan for his intermediate elementary years, and finished high school at the Mt. Provincial High School in Baguio. Right after graduation and being the first Igorot in the municipality to be educated, he was taken in as municipal secretary in 1914-1916 in Buguias.
In the primary schools most of the teachers who served were Americans and Ilocanos. It is also remembered that everything was provided for in the schools although pencils returned to the teacher after every class day. A dormitory for pupils, the Loo Dormitory, was also opened in 1932 under the charge of Mrs. Maria Dangwa.
Other than the American initiative in educating the natives of Buguias was, of course, the role of the Belgian missionaries who came to the area starting 1922. Fr. Alfonso Claerhoudt, then stationed in Bokod, visited Buguias once in one or two months until his assistant, Fr. Roberto Gellynek himself in 1928 became the parish priest of Kabayan where Buguias was under. The latter Belgian missionary had with him as assistant, Fr. William Brasseur (now the Bishop) who was able to devote his time for mission work to the people of Buguias. By the early half of the 1930s the natives of Buguias began to accept Christian baptism. To the Catholic missions, the natives who were educated in the American public school system were also the first to respond formally.
In 1907 when the Americans had gained the confidence of the people a municipal government was organized. Through the “line-up” method of voting a certain Alingbas from Central Buguias was elected “president” with a term of one year. Other officials selected were the “vice-presidente and the teniente del barrio. Tenure of office was for one rear from 1907 to 1922, and two years from 1923 to 1942.