Kapangan is situated on the northern part of Benguet, twenty-nine kilometers from the capital town of La Trinidad to the new municipal hall at Lomon, Kapangan. It takes two and one-half hours ride from the city of Baguio to reach the place. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Kibungan, on the east by the municipality of Atok, on the west by the province of La Union and on the south by the municipalities of Tublay and Sablan.

She has a land area of 12,950 hectares with a population of 12,793 as recorded from the latest census conducted in 1975. Kapangan existed as an organized town as early as the Spanish regime. When the Americans took over, all existing towns were re-organized. Under Act Nos. 48 and 2877 series of 1900, Kapangan was formally recognized as one of the thirteen municipalities of the sub-provinces of Benguet now the province of Benguet pursuant to RA 4695 otherwise known as the Division Law.

Kapangan is now composed of twelve barrios namely: Central, Datakan, Pongayan, Gasweling, Sagubo, Gadang, Paykek, Pudong, Tab-ao, Cuba, Balacbac and Boklaoan.

*Balacbac is fourteen kilometers away north of the Poblacion. The following sitios of Balacbac:

Leg-leg – the place is called Leg-leg because of the kind of soil which used to wash hair that is found in the place called by this name.

Calew – is the southern sitio of Balacbac at the foot of the mountain. Years ago, when birds were plentiful, there were big birds living in the mountain called calew. These birds shout “Calew! calew!” They are called the clock of the mountain because they make sounds at o’clock and o’clock every day. After these birds the place was named Calew.

Tagpaya - is about half a kilometer north of Calew.

Catampan – is found on the eastern pasrt of Balacbac and just half a kilometer north of Tagpaya.

Abellon – is on the eastern part of Balacbac.  

Manga – is just above Leg-leg.

Buyot – is aboveManga on the western side.

Amionget – is above Buyot on the northern side.

Tawang – is five kilometers away from Amionget on the north.

Beleng – is on the northeastern part of Balacbac.

Cuba is twelve kilometers away from the Poblacion and is two kilometers away from the road. This place is found just below a mountain. The following stories are told how Cuba got its name:

Once upon a time, a dragon lived near a certainvillage. This dragon had been victimizing the vilagers from time to time. The villagers, knowing that they were decreasing in number, set aside a cow to be given to any men who will volunteer to kill the dragon.

One day, a young man by the name of Cuba volunteered to go and kill the dragon. The started to the mountains where the dragon lived with a bolo for his weapon. When he reached the dragon’s den, it was yet asleep. Moving slowly and quietly toward the hungry monster, he unsheathed his bolo and killed the dragon. After killing the dragon, he returned to the village to get his reward. When he asked the old man to give his reward, the old man scoffed at him and did not give him the cow. When the other villagers heard about this, they pitied Cuba, that when he died, they named the village Cuba in honor of him.

Another story is told regarding the origin of the place’s name:

Long ago, many trees whose barks were made into g-strings grew in this place. Cuba is the native term of g-string. So the place was named Cuba.

The sitios of Cuba are the following: 1) Cabelisan Bacatey 2) Toplac 3) Belis 4) Nalbengan – Nalbengan is a small sitio on a mountainside just above Amburayan River. In this place grows a lot of coconuts and pineapples.

Taba-ao is seven kilometers away from the Poblacion. The people are mostly engaged in gardening. In this place was built the Amburayan Bridge about forty meters long. It is comprised of the sitios namely: 1) Boklacan 2) Melegaw 3) Aponan 4) Abiyangand 5) Ligawe.

Paykek is the barrio nearest to the Poblacion. It is about three kilometers from the poblacion. The Anglican Mission built a big church near the school. Here is found wide terraces and a lot of bamboo grooves. In the early times this place was thickly forested. There were a lot of Paykek trees. The early settlers named the place after these big trees.

The sitios are: Lomon, Cadtay, Cayapas.

Sagubo is seven kilometersaway from the Poblacion in the southwestern section of the town. The people named this place Datakan because of the trees by that name that grows abundantly in that area. This tree grows very tall and it is easy to cut down. It is used astalacan, a pipe carved from wood to convey water from the river to the fields.

Kapangan Central or the Poblacion is where the new municipal building was constructed. The sitios are: Salat, Pongayan, Katyawan and Gasweling.

(NB: This portion needs to be updated. Newer barrios out of old sitios are not accorded for)

Kapangan has not alwys been called such. Originally it was referred to as Takdang (meaning people from the east). Later it was known as Amburayan. During the American period the name Kapangan became widely popular. The following are stories related on how Kapangan got its name.

In the olden days, this place was a wilderness and was a favorable hunting ground for the people living in the northern and eastern part of Benguet. Without a name the people called it “the hunting ground of Benguet.” One time a famous hunter by the name Anawan, while hunting found a small level land, and he thought it to be an ideal place to live in. After surveying the place he went home and told his family about his scheme. Anawan’s wife was reluctant because she loved their home in a little village somewhere in the southeast of Benguet, but Anawan was able to convince her, so he and his wife together with their two sons and a daughter packed their handful of belongings and started for the place.

Anawan built a comfortable home and he made kaingin and produced enough food for the family. Anawan’s family lived there in contentment. Later on, as they were the only family living in the place, Anawan thought of building a fence around his house for protection against intruders. This kind of enclosure was called codel.

After five years, some friends and relatives of Anawan who heard that he was living happily in his new home came one after the other to pay him a visit. As Anawan’s place had no name, his first visitor, seeing that this was the only place with a fence, told the other friends of Anawan who wanted to know the name of the place, that it was called Codel. So this name was spread and the friends of Anawan who went to visit him began calling the place Codal for many years.

As time went by, trade began.

The trade was so good that the natives were inspired to trade with the lowlanders. The best way to the lowlands was Codal, the home of Anawan. The people of Benguet passed this way taking their products and gold to the lowlands. In return, they brought up animals, salt and merchandise in exchange for their gold. The news of the business was spread that rich man named Walwalto in a remote place in the northern part of Benguet wanted to be in the business. When the time became favorable, Walwalto took his gold and went to the lowlands passing through Codal. Walwalto showed his gold to the lowlanders and they were so attracted that for a piece of gold he got six heads of carabaos. He was overjoyed and with a singing heart he started away with his carabaos. Slowly, he went from mountain to mountain toward Codal for the carabaos would not travel fast, especially in the heat of the sun. On his way, he met traders like him who asked how much he paid for the carabaos. In reply, he said that he got them for three pieces of gold which made them envy him.

On the tenth day of his travel from the lowlands, he arrived at Codal. On that day, a storm arose and Walwalto could not continue his journey for the storm became stronger and stronger every hour, so he went to the house of Anawan and begged him to let him stay for the night. Anawan was an Ibaloi. But inspite of this, he understood what Walwalto said. Being a very hospitable man, he received Walwalto in his house and even told him to stay until the storm would cease. Walwalto was gladdened and he stayed there. With the aid of his friend Anawan, the carabaos were placed in a shed. In the house he found out that Anawan was living only with his wife and a beautiful girl, his granddaughter, for his three children got married and they were living in separate homes. In the evening, while he was sitting alone in one of the rooms of Anawan’s house, listening to the whistling of the strong wind and the sound of the falling rain, he was in deep thought of how he could cross the Amburayan river lying across his way, if the water gets high..when another thought popped out of his head. He wanted to know the name of the place. Just when, supper was ready so Anawan sent his granddaughter to call Walwalto. Walwalto asked the girl in Kankanaey: “Nagan nan ili ay nay?” The girl who did not understand Kankanaey said in Ibaloi: “Ka pangan.” (Go to eat) Walwaldo who didn’t also understand Ibaloi, thought his is the response to his question and said to himself “so this is Kapangan.” Anawan went after his granddaughter and called Walwalto for supper. While eating Walwalto did not bother to ask again the name of the place because he was satisfied with the girl’s answer. Instead, they talked about trade and his journey to the lowlands.

The next day the storm ceased. Walwalto then prepared and continued his journey bidding Anawan good-bye. On the way, he met traders going to the lowlands. They asked him where he stayed during the storm, and he answered them saying he stayed in Kapangan, the home of Anawan. All the people believed that the place was called Kapangan, after Walwalto told them the story if how he got to know the place. From that time on, Kapangan became the more popular name of that place.

A later version on how Kapangan got its name is told as follows:

One time an American soldier came to this place. He asked the people how the place was called. The people not understanding him prepared food and called the American soldier to eat saying: “Kayo pangan.” The American soldier brought out pencil and paper from his pocket and wrote down the newly learned word: Kapangan. When the American set up their local government the town was named Kapangan. 


Kapangan is a hilly and mountainous place. A lot of the mountains are nameless. The following are some of the significant ones:

The Labueg Hill is one of the best place for viewing the houses in the Central as well as the eastern prts of the town.

The Salat Hill is a pathway up the Bileng Mountains where many people made their kaingin because of the fertile soil; moist cool and very black, which is fitted for root crops especially sweet potatoes. In fact, most of the camote gathered here are exhibited during fiestas. Orchids are plenty in the thickly forested part.

The Sagubo Mountain is one of the highest mountains in the central section of Kapangan.

The towering hills of Camp Utopia overlook Tagudin, Ilocos and the view of La Union and all of Kapangan can be seen on a clear morning. The beautiful rice terraces on the eastern part of Sagubo can be seen from this point.

Most of the mountains are high and crowned with trees except Dakiwagan Mountain the second highest mountain in Kapangan which has very few trees because it is always burned every year.

The eastern and western sections of Kapangan are mountainous with rugged cliffs. The central part, however, is slopy and hilly fitted for rice planting and gardening.

The deepest part of the municipality is the Amburayan River flowing down westward to the Ilocos province. The Amburayan River bisects the barrios of Cuba and Balacbac on the southern part of the town. It is the source of water for irrigation as well as the source of livelihood like fishing and gold panning.


The early people migrated from the last usually from Tinec, Buguias. They were referred to as Tacdangbecause they came from the direction of the rising sun. Some migrated from Bontoc. They migrated into this place as hunters. They usually passed through Buguias then Naguey in Atok and reached Amburayan River where they built their first settlements. They built their houses along the creeks and mostly nearest to the source of water. They lived only by kaingin system by planting camote, gabi, corn, and rootcrops taken from the forest.

The people of Kapangan belong to two linguistic groups: the Kankanaey and the Ibaloi. The Kankanaey settled mostly at Paykek, Balacbac and Pudong while the Ibalois settled mostly at Taba-ao and Datakan which originally was part of Tublay. It is alleged by some old folks that Kelangoya is the mother language of both the Ibaloi and the Kankanaey and that geographic isolation as well as contact with other linguistic groups made for the difference.

Significantly, the two linguistic groups share common customs and traditions. One manbunong may perform in the rituals in an Ibaloi hosted as well as in Kankanaey hosted cañao. Differences are insignificant.

In terms of interrelationships between the two groups of people, it is acknowledged that in the past more Ibaloi were usually bacnangand prestigious in the community. 


There was no formal government, only informal one. Order was maintained in the community through the observance of customs and traditions practiced and which were handed down from generation to generation. The unit of government was the kailian which was the community, whose membership enjoyed mutual sharing of meat to his house.

The people who made decisions in the community were the old folks whose responsibilities was to guide the people in the observance of customs and traditions. These were the baknang. The mambunong were also part of the decision making body. Among their duties were deciding cases either through the tongtong (the amicable manner of settling conflicts by mutual agreement of the parties involved at decisions arrived at by the old folks in cases like land disputes; or through the use of guilat (ordeal)).


There was a deep commitment to truth and unfailing belief in the justice of Kabunian which was implored by the people specially the community leaders when deciding cases. Accused or suspected persons were made to take their oath before the people to tell the truth and nothing but the truth asking Kabunian to decide the case by showing favor to the innocent ones. There were types of ordeals resorted to prove the guilt or innocence of a person. One is the boiling water ordeal where the accused person/s were asked to pick something from a pot of boiling water. If he is successful at getting the object, he is free and if he fails, he underwent punishment. Another ordeal was letting the accused to cross dangerous and deep part of the river from 3 to 6 times.


Relationship of people in the community.

The kailian belonged to one tribe who were united for defense in case of danger or in war with other tribes that try to get into the community. People within the community were classified into three namely: the baknang (rich), the abiteg (poor) and the bagaen (servants).

A man who performed many cañaos was classified baknang. He was identified by the salibibo wound around his head for three to seven times depending on the grade of cañao he has performed. The Salibibo was a piece of cloth usually red, blue, white, or brown. The baknang possessed vast tracts of lands and plenty of animals, and other properties like jars, and lived in big houses.

The abiteg possessed less property although they can still afford to be self-sufficient. The poor people serve the rich during cañaos. First, they prepared the food for the rich people and after they were through eating they are next to eat their share of meat. The poor people wore ordinary turban taken from the bark of the latbang tree.

The baga-en were the poorest people in the community. They possessed nothing or little property except a small hut for shelter.

The baga-en worked for the baknang. They may be paid or not but they were provided with food and clothing by the rich man for whom they work. They served as long as the rich man needed their services. Servant cannot marry the daughter of a rich man, but the son of the servant may marry the daughter of the rich man especially if the man was very industrious, of good and sound health, a fighter, and intelligent. 



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.)



Most people lived near the creeks where water was abundant. A family may have two houses: the apa and agamang. The apa was a little house made of cogon, sticks, wood and vines. This served as a kitchen, dining room as well as sleeping room for the husband and wife. The agamang is the bigger house of the family where foodstuff was stored. It also served as the sleeping room for the family. It provided better protection in cases of danger like enemy attacks and roaming wild animals from the forest. The materials used in the building the agamang were selected from the hard wood, specially the post and flooring of the house.

The abong is a little house built in the farm, to serve as resting place or to shelter from the sum during summer and from the rain during the rainy season. During harvesting time, the crops were first stored in the abong until all the crops were dried. These were then brought to the owner’s house. The abong is temporary shelter for the family while staying in the farm.


The people of old were the tinuto (bark-cloth) from the bark of latbang and the balacbac tree. These were the sources of their clothing aside from other materials from the forest. The men use g-string which were tied between the legs and around the wrist, while women wore their dresses – a piece of cloth tied around the waist. The upper portion of the women’s body was left bare.

In preparing the tinuto bark of the latbang tree or the balacbac tree, first of all, the tree is cut and the bark removed and soaked in water from four to ten days. After soaking, this was smashed with a piece of wood until the bark is soft and ready to be dried. After drying, it was ready for sewing and use.

Other sources of clothing were the fur of the wild cat called mosang. The people hunt these wild animals and collected the fur. These were dried then sewed together for clothing. This animal skin was mostly worn by the little ones for greater comfort.

Later, the people began to use eten (tapis in Ilocano) woven cloth and the men began to use g-string made of woven cloth.


Both men and women wore tattoes on their forehead and arms. Tattoes indicated bravery. Tattoes also served as protection from diseases. They also served to beautify women and enhance the manliness of the males.


Tools and Utensils

The early tools were the bal-ak or gayang – a spear like instrument used as a weapon for protection against wild animals or even men who intruded into the community. Other tools were the dalapdap, a pointed iron with a handle used to till the soil. This tool was particularly used for planting in the kaingin.

The first jars introduced in the place were called the pocao and the potic. The pocao was a jar with plant and flower motifs against a white background while the potic was brown jar with dragon designs at its sides. These jars served as symbols of wealth for the possessor. There were mostly used for fermenting tapuy (rice wine) used during rituals or cañao of the bacnang. The jars were bartered for honeybee, camote and rice with the Chinese traders in La Union.

The gambang is a kind of pot made of copper which came from Mankayan. This was considered a valuable property of the people.

Musical Instruments

Music was important part in the ordinary day to day activities as well as in big celebrations in the community. Musical instruments were rudimentary yet the melody produced by the skillful manipulation of the natives is a unique quality. Among the musical instruments was the pen-pen which was made of a piece of bamboo about two feet long and one inch in diameter. The bamboo is split at the middle from one end to the other and just before the node. The split parts are sharp leaving a wide base from the point of the node becoming thinner towards the end part. The sound is produced from the vibration made as the instrument is played by holding the handle with one hand with striking the end part at the palm of the other hand. This instrument was usually used by women to while away the boredom along the way to the camote patch in the kaingin on going home from the fields.

The awideng was used by a man when he went out to court a lady or when he went out to hunt in the forest. It is made of a piece of metal like iron or bronze. It is about two to three inches long, about one and a half inches wide. The middle portion is cut as illustrated below:

This was played by blowing at the instrument at the same time touching the edges. This process produced a guitar like vibration.

The galdang is made of bamboo which was always played a home as family instrument. This was made of a piece of bamboo two feet long and four inches in diameter. Strings are made from the skin of the same bamboo held in place by string wound tightly at each end. This was played by strumming the strings like a guitar.

The solibao was made wood about four feet long which was hollowed inside. The middle part was wider growing narrower towards both ends. One end was open and covered with dried animal skin. This is played by striking at the skin covering rhythmically. This instrument was always used in cañaos.

The Tallac

“Tallac” is a kind of musical instrument used during cañaos. It is made of light wood called “Bagaybayen.” This musical instrument is usually used during cañao called “Tomo.” Tomo is a cañao for the dead using “Tanapo” Fern as their idol. Pigs are the most preferred animals in this kind of cañao.

Tallac was first musical instruments used during cañaos before the coming of the Chinese to the Philippines. At present, Tallac is rarely used, instead Solibaos and gongs are most preferred during big and small cañaos. 



Long ago, traditional burial practices were community affairs. If a person died all people in the neighborhood and all relatives paid a last visit or attended the burial. Everyone in the community strictly followed regulations regarding burial. There were three classifications of burial in the olden times: the burial of the rich, the poor and the young.

If a young boy or a girl died in the morning, he or she was immediately buried in the afternoon near the parent’s residence.

If an old man died in the community, the old folks gathered together to discuss about the manner of burial for the dead person. First of all they would determine the person’s status in the community: whether rich or poor. If he is a poor person they performed the appropriate ceremonies. Usually, two pigs: a male and a female were used as the ritual animals.

If a poor man died, he was buried underground or interred at the burial cave, but mostly all who died of old age were placed at the cave. A poor man’s funeral is very simple. The relatives mourn for three to six days and after the mourning period the family went to the river to take a bath. On the next day, they were free to go back to their usual activities.

If a rich person died, all the old folks would attend the burial. Prior to the burial, they met among themselves to agree on the length of time before the body was interred. A person who has performed the highest cañao would require at least eight days of mummification. They made the coffin for the dead and followed strictly the regulations regarding death and burial. A chair was made for the dead person on which he was seated and tied to keep him in position. A fire was kept constantly burning to dry the body up. They also made sure that no flies alighted on the body.

Before they brought the body out of the house, the close relatives washed the face of the deceased. All the sons and daughters gave tapey and other presents to their parent so that when they reached the other world he might havegone ahead to this world.

The deceased is wrapped with bandala (death blanket for the baknang), tying it on both sides so that the body would be easily carried to the burial place. Before the burial, the mambunong got some tapuy and asked the dead to drink before he spoke to him in order to ask confirmation regarding the burial place. It usually happened that the spirit of the dead entered a living person, usually a close relative, called the mandopo (medium) and through this person, the dead made known his wishes regarding the manner and the place of his burial.

One man with a rich man’s burial is the mummy identified as Bartazan Saclet found at the cave of Leyang, Paykek, Kapangan. When Baltazan Saclet was still living he told his children: to make a casket and tomb for him and he said to his children: “You know children I am requesting you this because I want to see my resting place before I die and my beautiful casket will be remembered from generation to generation by marking my tomb with broken jars and white jars.”  He was remembered as a baknang.

After the burial of the deceased, the relatives continued their mourning (paniyao) until the mambunong told them to go out and visit their relatives.

The period of mourning should be regulated by the people of the community. Padong (sign not to enter residence of somebody who is mourning) were put up. Sign of mourning for a widower was never cutting his hair, for a period of one year after his wife’s death.


Parental arrangements were commonly practiced among the people. This was called the Kaising. Parents arrive at an agreement. In performing marriage among the rich, first of all, they performed the secyab where twp pigs; a male and a female were butchered. The pigs were killed then placed over the fire to burn the hair. Then, these were washed then butchered. The mambunong examined the bile for omens. If he reads good omen from the bile, cows or carabaos were butchered to welcome good omen. Then the mambunong led the prayer blessing the husband and wife to have long lives and to be successful in any of their future endeavors together.

The people were given a share of food and meat which were distributed to everyone. When night time comes, the mambunong summoned the husband and wife inside the house and put them in bed and blessed them, then left them in the private room. After all the ceremonies the husband and wife were subjected to three-day ngilin(mourning). After three days of ngilin, the mambunong escorted them to the river and blessed them by sprinkling water over them saying. “In the name of Kabunian you will be washed by these waters from sin and you will begin your new life to come.”

The marriage of a poor man is very simple; the male presented himself at the house of the woman with his parents who asked the parents of the girl if they would accept their son. If the parents and their children both agree to the marriage proposal, a date was set for the marriage ceremonies. A pig was butchered during the wedding. After the ceremonies the people recited baclew for marriage. First of all, the parents of the man will sing his baclew and say: “I thank you for accepting my son as a husband of your daughter and I hope you will count him as your real son and that you will teach him about any work regarding family life. He is a poor man but he is strong and wise.” The parent of the girl answers. “As long as in the side of the woman, I accept any man who would love my daughter and it happened that your children are of one heart, one mind and one body. I believe it is the will of God that they will be together forever and ever.”


In the performance of cañaos, the following gods and goddesses were implored:

Kabigat               Balitok               Pati               Bangan               Amdoyan               Masecen               Kaman-ay               Lingan               Lumawig               Soyan               Maodi

The mambunong was the person who had the sole authority to perform the religious rituals involved in each type of cañao.

The following is an account of how a person becomes a mambunong.


Before a person acquired his authority to become a mambunong, he experiences an unusual dream. For example, if a person dreamt that he defeated a snake barehanded, he was privilege to perform sangbo in preparation to his becoming a mambunong. A mambunong was believed to have been helped by a supernatural being in acquiring his power.

The mambunong were classified into the following groups: those who perform the peshit, those who perform the sangbo, and another group is the mambate. The mambunongs were expected to perform the different rituals from the simplest ones to the more complicated ones.

Aside from the mambunong, there was also a mansip-ok; a fortune teller and at the same time the one who pointed out the causes of the people’s sickness.


Certain stars and group of stars served as important guides for the people for certain activities. The moon was the reference in counting the days and the months. From the first quarter until the last quarter constituted one month. Twelve full moon cycles constituted one year. Certain phases of the moon indicated omens. If a baby was born during a full moon, this was an omen presagin richness in the future or leadership in the community as well as respect from the people.

When the sinapon big dipper went down into the sea and leveled with the big ocean, the people went fishing or hunting for it was sure that they would have a big catch of fish or game, Other significant stare were liwan, the group of stars pointing the north the batacagan morning star.


In the early times, people made use of shrubs, tree barks and leaves for medicine, Cuts and wounds were applied with alot-ot vines. The leaves were pounded with a piece of wood until it was soft. This was placed on top of the wound which stopped the bleeding and protected top of the wound which stopped the bleeding and protected the wound from infection. Even today, this method is still extensively used. Gitol is a ginger-like plant which emits a strong odor. This was used for cure of snake bites and centipede bites. The bile of a snake was used to cure stomach ulcers or any pain in the stomach.


The baclew (Ibaloi) or the day-eng (kankana-ey) is a general term which refer to the ballads sang during different occasions. The Baclew or day-eng was sung as alibaby (friendly conversation) during a peshit. The people who can recite the day-eng or bac-lew were the old folks who understood the meaning which was profuse with idiomatic expressions. The genealogy of the host was traded, other important topics regarding the person who gave the cañao were sung. Blessings to become rich so that he would host a cañao in the future, hopes for meeting again were expressed in the songs. The aboy was sung to impress the person who hosted songs. The aboy was sung to impress the person who hosted the cañao.

There was also a baclew for the dead, ebayos or degoo were last sentiments for the dead were expressed. Likewise the good deeds which were significant to the people of the place or to his family were recounted. 


Kapangan was constituted into 4 barrios by the Spanish officials namely: Paykek, Pongayan, Balacbac and Taba-ao. These barrios composed the “kailian,” meaning a group of people belonging to one tribe who would defend their community in case there was conflict with another community.

The first Spaniard who came to Kapangan was a trader of gold looking for the source of the metal in the community and asking the people to trade their gold if they had. But no gold was traded to him because the people cannot understand him. The succeeding Spaniard who arrived at the place where the Spanish officials and some Igorot leaders from La Trinidad including a priest. They reached the place on horseback and stayed at the residence of Pimentel Carino at Datakan. The people’s reaction to the strangers were varied. All the people were curious to see white people. Some were afraid of the “Apo Padi” and the other Spanish officials. They stayed at the house of Espiritu Cariño and made it as their headquarters for one year. So Espiritu Cariño was able to pick up some Spanish words and learned how to speak a little Spanish.

The Spanish officials appointed Espiritu Cariño as the first Capitan del Barrio. As the leader of the community he forced the people to declare their improved lots, but only a few obeyed him. In reply to this policy the people said: “Ngatoy ya man bayad cami ni bayad ni daga pay la-angi-ngi enhalan ni Kabunian sonsicatayo ipan biagan no to-o.” (Why do we need to pay tax to the Spaniards and yet we are the owners of these lands given by Kabunian.)

He also led the people to work for the Spanish trail from Tublay to Datakan, to Labueg, Paykek, Pudong, until they reached Cuba the end of the Spanish trail. People who rendered free labor in the construction of the Spanish trails were called “polictas.” If the people failed to work they were forced to pay “sicapat” (five centavo coin called “carolos.”)

The Captain was aided by a teniente del barrio whose duty was to inform the people to render free labor to the government. One other duty of the teniente del barrio was to collect taxes from the people. First, they asked for money and if they did not have any cash, collected chickens or eggs as payment for their taxes. Anyone who could not pay their taxes were forced to work at the Spanish trail for ten days. The people who could not pay the taxes to the government and those who were afraid of the Spaniards moved to other places and left their improved properties and resettled to farther places. Many people left their homes and lived in remote places or in forests and stayed there until the Spaniards forgot their names.

Juan Ora-a Cariño also served as Capitan del Barrio. He campaigned among the people to declare their landholdings but most of the people were afraid and moved to remote places of Kapangan particularly at Copias, Gadang and some moved to Baguling, La Union province. Some of the lands left untended, Juan Ora-a Cariño improved and declared as his own.

Juan Ora-a Cariño was later appointed by the Spanish Officials as Commandantes, one of the highest ranking office during the Spanish times. He took his oath of office at Naguilian, La Union. Many of his relatives went to attend his oath-taking. After he was inducted to office, he went home at once to Datakan to have a “Cañao” for “Sangbo.”  Many people went to his house to congratulate him for his high position in government.

Juan Ora-a Cariño and Epiritu Pimintel Cariño were authorized to appoint people to lower government positions. They appointed eight barrio capitans namely:

  1. Badillo Palaez – Balacbac
  2. Kilalan Gil-lao - Taba-ao
  3. Tepeg Ganangan-Palayao – Paykek
  4. Dimas Balangkod – Cuba
  5. Martin Damaso – Datakan
  6. Saldo Alodos – Central
  7. Paterno Paresta – Pudong
  8. Colintas Langbis - Cabilisan

The main responsibility of the barrio capitanes was to oversee the construction of the Spanish trails.

Juan Ora-a Cariño was invited to represent Baguio and Benguet in a meeting of friars and government officials in Baguio. Their meeting was to discuss the enforcement of the Catholic religion. After a month, Spanish officials accompanied Ora-a Cariño to Manila and he stayed there for many years to study the function of the Spanish government.

Espiritu Cariño served as Capitan del Barrio most of the time until he retired and he endorsed Badillo Palaez of Balacbac to the Spanish officials and they appointed him as Capitan. As a young man, Badillo had ventured to farther places within Benguet and as far as La Union. Because of his adventurous nature and aggressiveness, he was easily chosen as Capitan or Cabeza de Barangay by the Spanish Authorities who had given him the surname “Palaez.” He was known as an effective leader of his people because he had cooperated with the Spanish civil authorities in recruiting many of his people to render forced labor on public roads and trails. His service under the Spaniards ceased at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.


When the Spaniards reached Datakan, among the first who were converted were the Cariños. Espiritu Pimentel Cariño donated a portion of his lot at Labueg, Kapangan to the Spanish parish priest to build the church on. Originally, Labueg was a thickly forested hill, it was through the efforts of Father Ricardo Cantero, a Spanish priest who started the mission in 1894 that the place was cleared and a wooden chapel was constructed. Here, the first converts gathered for Sunday worship. Some people wondered whether the priest would force them to become Christians so they just observed what the priest would do during the first mass that was celebrated. 


Espiritu Pimentel Cariño married to Terona Sonkala of Datakan, one of the richest men of Kapangan. They settled at Datakan where he occupied the good area for agriculture land, pastureland as a rancher, he distributed his cows, carabaos, and sheep to all the different places under the charge of his caretakers. Each of this caretakers brought their family to the pasturelands where he was assigned. The share of the caretaker for the animals’ eas the “encatlo system.” For example if a cow had given birth to three claves, the caretaker for the animals got the third calf for his share. The total of all his animals spread in Kapangan and Bagulin, La Union was more or less 2,200 heads of carabaos and cows. He was the richest among the people of Kapangan during this time. He held many cañaos like peshit, batbat and all the different rituals of the traditional custom of the people. 


There was no intermarriage during the Spanish time between the natives and the Spaniards. However, there was intermarriage between the Igorots and the lowland peoples. These intermarriages was called sab-o. These typeof marriages was usually a result of the trading activities as well as the increased mobility of people in general. 


In June 1897, Aquino Ora-a Cariño, Dr. Paterno and Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo moved from Manila to Ilocos Sur then to Baguio. From baguio, Juan Ora-a Cariño proceeded to Kapangan. After some time, he was asked again to go to Baguio to join Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. From Baguio, the group procedded to Tagudin, Ilocos Sur and climbed up the mountain of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur and came out of the Amburayan river at Kapangan and hid at Bolinak cave in Paykek. They stayed there for about two weeks. They were sufficiently supplied with food provided by the people. From Kapangan, they moved to Tublay and stayed in Magastino Laruan’s residence where Dr. Paterno was left in hiding. Juan Ora-a Cariño proceeded to go to Bokod with some other of Gen. Emilio’s companions. Here, he was shot by a sniper American soldier on his knees. He survived the injury but was found by the Americans. Then, they brought him to San Fernando, La Union for treatment until he was healed. 


In 1898 just after the Spanish-American War, the government of United States set up their local government at Kapangan. The people were then faced with the problem of what government to follow, the Spanish or the American system. In 1900, they appointed Espiritu Cariño as president of the town and so the people were persuaded to follow their headman hence, accepting eventually the government that the Americans offered. After his appointment, the Americans further directed Cariño to choose his municipal council from vice-mayor to the councilors. He then appointed Mr. Gilao as vice mayor while the following served as councilors of each barrio:

  1. Badillo Palaez - Councilor of Balacbac
  2. Tepeg Palayao - Councilor of Paykek
  3. Martin damaso - Councilor of Datakan
  4. Poncian Cab-ad - Councilor of Pudong
  5. Dimpayos Gavino - Councilor of Sagubo
  6. Apalyas Amango - Councilor of Central

The first municipal building was established at Taba-ao. This was made of cogon, sticks, wood and other materials. As Taba-ao was a place where water abounds, this was made the center of Kapangan. During the time of Winsley Merrit, the military governor, this place was established as a town together with other municipalities of Benguet.

After the expiration of his term as mayor, Espiritu Cariño in 1901 endorsed his vice-mayor Gilao Kilaban to be the next president of Kapangan, in 1902, Badillo Palaez followed in 1903. Palaez was the one who asked the transfer of the municipal building from Taba-ao to Balacbac for the reason that Balacbac was more thickly populated than the other barrio. The municipal building was transferred to Codal (Central Kapangan) where they built a better building made up of lumber and galvanized iron.

In 1902, Badillo was appointed as president of Kapangan, the third man to serve since the setup of the local government of the American government. The site of the municipal building was in Taba-ao during the time of Kilaban, Gilao, then Badillo Palaez requested the transfer of the municipal site and it was approved by the higher authorities to be transferred at Balacbac, Kapangan. In 1905, when Badilla was elected the same position for the second time as the president of themunicipal district of Kapangan that the municipal building was moved to Central Kapangan. It is recounted by the people that during his administration, he initiated the distribution of coffee planting to barrio officials who in turn encouraged the people to plant. This was the first time coffee was planted in Kapangan.

When Samiclay (bandit from Tinec, Hunduan) arrived at balacbac, and they wanted to rob some house, Badilla as the leader of the place, managed his people and organized a fighting group from nearby barrios which he led against Samiclay and his bandits and drove them as far as Naguey, Atok, resulting in the eventual death of this Samiclay who was shot by Carbonell, the municipal treasurer of Atok at that time.

In 1905, under the civil government, election by color began and the first to be elected as mayor of Kapangan under this system was Acamen of Balacbac followed by bthe following people:

1.   Bangcado Palada                                       - 1904 – From Balacbac

2.   Badillo Palaez                                              - 1905 – From Balacbac

3.   Dimas Balangcod                                       - 1906 – From Cuba

4.   Salda Aludos                                                - 1907 – From Balacbac

5.   Montes Dadwes                                           - 1908 – From Balacbac

6.   Bangcado Palada                                        - 1909 – From Balacbac

7.   Dimpayos Gavino                                        - 1910 – From Cayapas

8.   Kiso Agal-al                                                   - 1911 – From Paykek

9.   Ampiso Bangao                                           - 1912 – From Cayapas

10. Palayao Senior Ganagan                           - 1913 – From Paykek

11. Apalyas Amango                                          - 1914 – From Kapangan Central

12. Martin Damaso                                             - 1915 – From Datakan

13. Ponsian Cab-ad                                            - 1916 – From Pudong

14. Nadnaran Fianza                                          - 1917 – From Datakan

15. Wasing Andong                                            - 1918 – From Ca-ew

16. Comsing Bartazan                                       - 1920 – From Longboy

17. Colintas Almeda                                           - 1922 – From Cabilisan

18. Bentres Tokawi                                             - 1924 – From Datakan

19. Nadnaran Fianza                                          - 1926 – From Datakan

20. Mariano Dilla                                                 - 1928 – From Paykek

21. Sagandoy Sagapan                                     - 1930 – From Ca-ew

22. Frank Tilib                                                      - 1932 – From Cadtay

23. Tamolag                                                         - 1936 – From Cayapas

24. Liwangen Dangwa                                       - 1939 – From Cadtay

25. Simon Martin                                                 - 1941 – From Pongayan 

In 1904, during the term of Acamen Senior as president of Kapangan the American Government officials informed the mayor of Kapangan that they will appoint Ora-a Aquino Cariño to represent the Igorots as the assemblyman of Baguio and Benguet. He then became the first assemblyman who served from 1904 to 1910. 


The first project of the American government was to open the road to the province and to the towns so, the municipal officials informed their kailian about the enforcement of the road tax which was P2.00 to help in the expense needed in the construction of roads. People who could not afford to pay their taxes worked in road construction for ten days as their payment. Aside from the road tax, every family was required to work for five days for free. 


Another development the government introduced was the opening of schools in barrios. In 1904, the first school was opened in Datakan intermediate school which was made of cogon, sticks, and wood and other materials. The first teacher was an Ilocano from San Fernando, La Union named Mr. Sopla. The school provided papers, pencils, books and other things that were needed in the classroom. These were distributed. 


After three years since the arrival of the Americans to the place, there were some changes in the customs and attitudes of the people. Various plants like avocado, cacao, coffee and other commercial vegetables such as pechay, beans, and cabbages were introduced. Coffee and cacao were the most numerous fruit trees in the community because they were suitable to the climate of the place and were easily traded with the Ilocanos. Together with other products, the people went to the lowlands to sell. The natives in turn bought clothes like g-strings, skirts, blouses, blankets, and some agricultural tools which they needed. Their route in going to San Fernando was from Sagubo to Copias then Gadang and then they passed through Malabita until they reached La Union. In 1905, during the reign ofMayor Badillo Palaez, more agricultural tools were made by the natives and one ofthese was the clipper plow, and the caritilya (wheelbarrow). These encouraged the people of the place to widen their fields with the use of these tools adopted from the Ilocano people in the lowlands. They irrigated their rice fields with the rivers and creeks as sources of water supply aside from the rain during the rainy season. 


Another innovation during the American period was election. The first election during the American time was lining. The qualification for an electorate was the first that he was a resident of the place and secondly that he was a married man. During the election, the candidate stood in front of the electorate and the person responsible for the conduct of the election asked who were in favor of one particular candidate. The people voting for that candidate stood up and formed a line behind the candidate. Whoever garnered the longest line among the candidates was the winner. The second manner of election was by color, which had similar rules and regulation as that of the former. Candidates selected their color and plastered a colored paper or cloth at backs. The voters just selected from strips of differently colored paper and put these in a box. Counting of votes immediately followed, and as soon as counting was over, the winner was proclaimed. These methods of elections were gradually replaced by the use of ballots as soon as people were able to read and write. 


In 1894, the first Spaniard missionary arrived in Kapangan. Father Ricardo Cantero built a wooden chapel at the forest site of the municipal building in Central Kapangan. Here, the first Christian converts gathered to hear mass on Sundays. In 1934, a bigger chapel was constructed by the Belgian missionaries which is still in use today. During those times, resident priest was assigned to care for the growing mission. Among the more illustrious mission rector was Rev. William Brasseur, the present bishop of the Mt. Province, His missionary zeal and patoral solitude during the Japanese occupation has done a lot for the people of Kapangan. As a sign of respect and affection, people called him “Apo Willy.”

In 1937, the first missionary Englishman who started the Anglican Church at Kapangan came. He was Fr. Sauder; a wooden chapel was constructed in 1938 at Decan a short distance away from the New Municipal building at Lomon. The first to be converted to Christianity was Ex. Mayor Mariano Dilla followed by the others.

A prominent member of the community got sick one time. Liwangen Dimas, for almost a year, they tried all kind of rituals to heal him from his sickness but to no avail.

One day, they brought him to a cave where they believed he can be cured but again there was no improvement seen. One morning, a practitioner of Christian Science Warren Brookes from Boston, USA came to visit him and explained one of the verses in the bible. It said: “God created man in his own glory.” After the explanation of the practitioner, he awakened and was healed. He then became the first old folk to be converted to Christian Science in the community and later on many people followed him. After he was cured, they brought his home named him Dangwa after the name of the place where he stayed for many months.

The conversion of Liwangen Dima was followed by many other conversions to Christian Science.

In 1910, pestilence of animals attacked the place and many animals died. This affected the living conditions of the people for many found it hard work in the fields without the help of these working animals. This prompted the government to impose branding of animals to minimize the trading of animals which were not in good health. They also imposed this branding to provide identification of ownership. Branding cost P 0.10 per head. Any person who did not have his animals branded before they reached two years of age was fined P 1.00 per head.

In 1911, Eng. Halsema began surveying the proposed road of Tublay and Kapangan following the Spanish trail constructed by the people. The government forced labor so that every family had to work for them for free. They were paid ten centavos per day if they continued working after rendering the ten days free labor. When wages started to be given, many people became interested to work in the construction of trails. In 1925, the road reached Lomon, Kapangan and at the same time, the first vehicle reached the place. People who have never seen a car in their lifetime were curious to see what it looked like and many came to see it.

In 1921, some Igorots from Kapangan studied in La Trinidad Agricultural School and many of them finished the secondary level. One of them was Bado Dangwa, who later became the governor of Mountain Province. He put up a farm at the same school where he earned a little and the money which he was able to save he used it to buy a pick-up truck sold by the municipal treasurer of La Trinidad. This started his transportation business. When his transportation nearly went bankrupt, he went home to Kapangan and asked the people to cooperate with him by investing their money in it. Hence, his business became a corporation. The Dangwa Tranco Company was the first corporation which was solely owned by the Igorots in Beguet. Foloowing the advice of Mr. Wright, his teacher, the business expanded to different provinces in the Ilocos region and Manila. This corporation became the mother company of many other business ventures like the Dangwa Enterprise, Benguet Development, Rural Bank of La Trinidad and Gobgob Farm in Tabuk, Kalinga. The transportation business covered the entire Mountain Provinces. This proved helpful to the progress of the people in the remote areas for now they were already able to bring their products to the markets in Baguio and even as far as Manila.

Before the war broke out, there were a number of Chinese and Japanese who came to settle in Kapangan. Jo Weng came in 1939, rented a place in Balacbac and put up his sari-sari store. Akun, another Chinese from Baguio married Pul-ing, a native of Balacbac. They later moved to Baguio to put up a restaurant. Wong also from Baguio, married Laginya from Taba-ao where they later put up a sari-sari store.

Kozo Teranishi was from Kyoto, Japan. He arrived in Baguio City in 1921 and worked as an employee of the Japanese Bazaar in Baguio City. One time he was sent to Balacbac farm school to deliver Hardware for construction of a school building. To reach Balacbac he had to cross the river. Unfortunately, the ferry was on the other side of the river and it was getting late. So, he decided to spend the night in Cuba. It was here, he saw Ignay Akhamen and he was charmed by the lady. He promised to return again after he accomplished his task. Finally, in 1924 they got married. But they were childless and so they adopted Ignay’s nephew Amus Palaez. They put up a chain of sari-sari stores in Kapangan and in the municipalities. He introduced the system of hawking wares like canned food and other items. He used the “dagi” (load carrier worn at the back) in going around to selling his wares.

At first the people of the community were apprehensive, but later accepted by them. Aside from his business, he was also engaged in farming.

When war broke out, he was taken to the concentration camp in Baguio. He was later released by the Japanese Imperial forces with the order to cooperate with them to go back to his own town. Under Japanese occupation when there was relative peace he returned to his business of hauling wares. Unfortunately, he was suspected as a spy and in 1942 was shot to death by the guerillas after which they also took the contents of his stores.