1. Socio-Political Development

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, political leadership among the Indigenous Peoples of Buguias was bestowed in the hands of elders and “Babaknangs.” There was then no formal government structure like the Local Government Units of today. The elders and Babaknangs have earned the respect and trust of the community through their good deeds and fair decision-making. Conflicts in the community were decided and resolved by the elders with the involvement of family heads.

The breaching of the mountains of Buguias by the Spanish colonizers happened in the 17th century when Colonel Galvez’s expedition penetrated northwards from the colonial base at La Trinidad. During the Spanish regime, the position of a Cabeza de Barangay was introduced. His functions include the recruitment of manpower for forced labor and the collection of taxes for the colonizers. Natives were then forcibly recruited via the polo system to work on the construction of horse trails to the mines of Lepanto. The natives fled from the conscription, moving eastward to the forest of Kiangan and Nueva Vizcaya. The “Spanish Trail” was nonetheless, finished and a tinibunal (military tribunal) was established at Man-atong (now part of Baculungan Sur) and Poblacion for administrative and tax collection purposes.

In 1896, when the Americans took over the colony from Spain, the new colonial power discovered the mining potentials of Lepanto. Subsequent explorations led them to Loo Valley, Bad-ayan, and further to Amlimay. A township was established at Loo in 1900 with the Americans as temporary officials supervised by the sub-province of Lepanto while Buguias is under the sub-province of Benguet. Later on the township of Loo and Buguias were then merged forming the Township of Buguias under the sub-province of Benguet. The electoral system was introduced, taxation implemented, and road construction initiated. The Americans also established a public educational system in the Loo Valley.

When the Americans took over, the new colonial government issued a series of enactments reorganizing the local government. Act. No. 48, dated November 22, 1900 established Buguias and Loo as two (2) of the nineteen towns of Benguet and provided for the appointment of local officials for all towns. Act No. 49 established the civil government of Benguet. The following day, November 23, 1900, the Act also abolished the township of Loo and merged it with Buguias.

The whole provincial government underwent major structural transformation. A year later, further changes were instituted under Act. No. 155 (November 23, 1901). An amendment (in June 29, 1901) provided for the election of a popular representative on July 4 of that year. (Annex B gave the list of appointed and elected officials of Buguias town from 1900 to 2005.) The provincial civil government underwent reorganization in 1905 with the repeal of Act No. 49 and the passage of Act No. 1396, otherwise known as the “Special Government Act.” Act No. 1646 (May 15, 1907) provided for the election of the provincial representative to the Philippine Assembly, convened that same year.

With the passage of Act No. 1976 on August 18, 1908, Benguet became a sub-province of the newly created Mountain Provinces that included the other sub-provinces of Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto. The establishment of the City of Baguio charter the following year further changed the political-administrative landscape. Six of the nineteen (19) Benguet townships Ambuklao, Adaway, Balabac, Daclan, Galiano, and Palina were abolished and merged with other townships. A new township – Tuba was carved out of the northern territories of Pugo, La Union and the rancherias south of the new city of Baguio.

The relatively steady road of Buguias to prosperity under American rule was rudely interrupted by the advent of the Second World War. Natives were forced to work at the sawmills at Bad-ayan and Sinipsip and children were herded to the schools where the invaders taught them Niponggo and Japanese songs.

The township of Loo, itself was merged with Buguias, which became a regular municipality only during the post war period with the passage of Executive Order No. 42 issued by then President Diosdado Macapagal on June 25, 1963.