EARLY ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
The thick forest at takdang was one of the sources of the people’s livelihood. It abounded with wild root crops, wild pigs, deer, and other wild animals. The people engaged in small scale farming through the kaingin system where the camote, corn, gabi and land rice were planted. The people were mostly hunting and fishing because of rich natural resources of the forests and the rivers.
The first method of farming was the kaingin system, the people cut all the trees in an area to clear it. After a month, the felled trees and shrubs were dried up ready for burning. The burned trees, shrubs and bushes serve as fertilizers. After the kaingin was cleared, holes were bored to the ground for planting camote, gabi, corn, codis, balatong, and the upland rice. The upland rice are kinds of palay like thesaigorot and the be-it.
The second method of farming was the powal wherein the soil was tilled with the use of the dalapdap (pointed iron with a wooden handle). Preparation of the soli started in October. Cassava, gabi, squash and many others were planted.
Early rice came from Bontoc. Rice (upland) was first planted in the kaingin until such time that the people learn how to terrace and irrigate their fields. Demot of Paykek was the first to make terrace of rice in Kapangan. He, together with the owners were the first to plant rice in sterraces the seeds coming from Ilocano people of La Union. They were the first to trade with the Ilocanos bartering their products like honey vine seeds (beans, codits, itab), gabi and camote for lowland products. The Ibalois at Datakan and other people likewise began to build their terraces. Today ¼ of Kapangan is terraced having the widest terraced area on the thirteen municipalities of Benguet.
Ganangan Demot, son of Demot Ano, was one of the first to travel outside the community to barter their products in the province of La Union by passing through Sagubo, Copias, Gadang, then to Malabita until they reached Naguilian, La Union which was the trading center. They bartered their products like honey, and vine seeds with sugar, salt and agricultural tools. In the course of trading, the Igorots came to use the Carolos (Spanish money or Mexican money) as the medium of exchange. The trade with the Ilocanos was the beginning of the use of money from the lowlands.
Then, a few years, later, the Igorots developed a more intensified trading with the Ilocanos and started bringing down animals like cows, carabaos, and goats. After they sold their products, they bought blankets, clothes, and g-strings and sold these to their kailian.
Gold was also important trading item. There were two methods of gold mining in the early times: tunneling and panning. Tunneling was practiced in Catampan, Beling-Belis. Mountain sides were bored holes with the use of crude instruments. When rocks imbedded with the precious metal were secured, there were placed in a wooden basin. In separating the gold from the non-gold, kuneg, a gingerlike plant whose juice was applied on the material was used. After the gold has been separated, it was cooked usually in broken cooking pots placed over live charcoal.
Pey-asen, son of Guslod from Loo, Buguias mined gold in catampan, Beling-Belis. Assaying gold was done in Amburayan River. Balanban was engaged in gold panning in this river at about the same time Pey-asen was mining gold. Today, gold panning in the Amburayan is still practiced while tunneling at beling-Belis has been abandoned.
In going to the lowlands to trade the gold, people followed the route from Sagubo to Baguling, to Naguilian then Bauang and finally, to San Fernando which was the trading center.
Dimas Agpao Dalipopo (5th generation from Demot) bought a plow from the Ilocanos and introduced the use of plow among the people. He also trained animals (carabaos) for plowing and greatly improved the system of farming in the area. Soon, many people were encouraged to extend their rice terraces because of these innovations.
As trade continued between the Ilocanos and the people of Tacday, more and more products were traded. The trading center was Naguilian. People usually, traders who constantly went Naguilian later learned the language of the Ilocanos and consequently some words were incorporated into their own language. More advanced farming techniques and new plants like new varieties of rice, sugar, and tobacco were introduced, to them. Tobacco planting was later discouraged due to the tobacco monopoly policy of the Spaniards in the Ilocos.
Demot Ano occupied almost all of Paykek as his pastureland which was almost 15 hectares. He owned 500 cows and carabaos, most of which were used for cañaos and sold to the Ilocanos in La Union. He sold his cows for five carolos (Spanish/Mexican money) each and were used for Gammel (butchering of animals for the purpose of paying whatever labor was rendered by the host in his farm etc.)