Sablan is a hilly but a fertile municipality of 8,640 hectares. It is located at the northwestern part of Benguet. The municipality is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Kapangan; on the east by the Municipality of La Trinidad; on the south by the Municipality of Tuba and on the west by Aringay, La Union. About half of the area is used mainly on farming and the rest is covered with forest and for other commercial purposes.
The town’s boundary between Tuba is the beautiful Asin Hot Springs, a tourist resort wherein people coming from different places flock in during holidays especially during summer months. We also have the lovely scenery of the Triple “B”, Bagong, Balluay and Banengbeng which looks like a tripod design, surrounded by mountains, for which to set a big pot. Also the beautiful but undeveloped waterfalls in Kidpol which is below the Poblacion on the eastern side, which is often visited by people who loves adventure such as swimming and fishing.
Likewise, Sablan is composed of eight (8) barangays namely: Poblacion, Kamog, Bagong, Banengbeng, Banangan, Bayabas and Pappa.
Majority of the inhabitants of this municipality are the Ibalois. There are also Ilocanos and some Kankana-eys and Ifugaos.
Sablan is the present name of this municipality. Long time ago, the place was covered with thick forest. This place was said to be the resting place and the passing way of the travelers who traded with the lowlanders in San Fernando. The Poblacion at present bears the resting place of the travelers called “Ap-aponan.” The particular resting place was the residence of Mrs. Moya where there was a big “balite” tree that provided good shade to the resting travelers. It lies along the trail from the lowlands to the town of La Trinidad. All travelers made a stop-over in this sitio to spend the night or to feed their horses which were the means of carriage at that time. “Ap-aponan” was selected as a point of stop-over as it lies almost exactly between the lowlands and the town of La Trinidad, the destination of the highlands. This place was inhabited as early as 1800’s.
The first immigration came from Bantay Dozen, Tuba where one of them was Sohow. Because of prejudices of those who were poor, he thought of moving out to find his luck which happened to be in Sablan. They routed through Gallano River, came up to Bayabas and settled in Tengkay, Pappa. He was known to be the first to introduce swidden farming. He started with a small area which was just enough for one individual to work on. The tools they used were brought from Naguilian like bolos, axes and trowels. It was said that the area farmed before were just a stone throw and this can already support their livelihood. The plants planted were camote, gabi, ube, rice and some kind of bananas such as cantong, decosta, tumoc, dippig, sarayan and balatong (bi-it) are also planted. Swidden farming before was easy to maintain which doesn’t need a continuous weeding. Some of these plants were contributed by the travelers from other municipalities. The travelers ate and rested in the “ap-aponan” where they threw their waste and extra food like camote, tugue, etc. in the surroundings. After a period of time, they discovered that they were sprouting vigorously so they transferred and cultured it in the swidden farm. As they grew well and fruits were produced, the farmers propagated these plants in planted it in their kaingin which were fenced to prevent them from wild animals. The people believed that in the last quarter when you plant fruit, it will be their ‘baon’ when they die, and if they plant during full moon (Pengil), the fruits would be consumed by animals such as rats.
One day, there was a farmer who owned an area of swidden farm. He wondered why his plants were destroyed when he visited it and he was surprised because the fences were not destroyed. One night, he guarded his farm. After a while, he saw a wild bear eating the camote plants. The farmer tossed his spear and aimed at the wild boar. In this sight, the wild boar while moving away, it changed into a man carrying a sack of camote. The farmer was surprised and so he put down his spear and moved near him bravely. He asked him why he was getting the camote without asking permission and the man apologized, and promised not to do it again. After that incident, it never happened again.
It was believed before that in fencing, one must or advised not to eat river food, dog meat and chicken. The reasons were: dog is wise to climb; chicken flies over the fence and river food can’t be fenced because it creeps.
It was a surprise to the farmers, that when they planted rice, fifty (50) bundles (tan-ay) of palay were produced per one hectare of swidden farm, but they don’t even them. They were contented with root crops and tops (leaves) as their viand and the soup of the cooked camote were used for their coffee. They also hunt for wild animals since hunting was a diversified occupation during the early times. It was also a custom for them to make rice wine and sometimes sell them for twenty-five centavos for a medium jar. Rice was only served for their visitors which showed their warm hospitality.
They believed that God was living and can communicate with people, only he appeared in different ways. Old folks said that he came here on earth to judge people and gave luck to those who deserved it.
There was a man named Tomas and a woman named Dugay. Tomas owned a wide area of swidden ricefields and Dugay had a small area. During harvest time, there was an old woman who wanted to work with Tomas but he rejected her because she was weak and besides, he didn’t want to give her an extra share. The old woman went to Dugay, but she said that there’s no need for a helper for it can be done by her alone for it is a small area. But with pity she accepted the old woman. Dugay noticed that the old woman harvested slowly but as she piled the palay, it was plenty. Dugay was surprised and wondered why they harvested more palay than Tomas had gathered.
As the harvest went on, Dugay even hired Tomas and gave him his share more than he did. The old woman took only a hand grasp of palay and left the harvest for them to continue. After the harvest, Dugay became rich and performed a cañao.
The trading center was formerly in San Fernando and later in Naguilian which was nearer to the highlands. The exchange was purely a barter system till there was medium of exchange such as money, rattan, bees wax, dried meat of wild animals which were the ones being brought their products such as dogs, cows, pigs, cloth, etc. which they exchanged with the Igorots.
The wife of Sohow, Shamoning who was from Ambuclao, Bokod, came to Sablan as poor woman. She had chosen Sablan as a place to work as a laborer for it is near San Fernando and she longed to five centavos a day. For a short period of time, they lived together as husband and wife. She was said to be a “manbunong” since she performed the ceremony during their own “peshit”.
A pregnant woman who was looking for her “sanggap” (trowel) in her farm to clear the farm could not find it. She saw a path of “attoros” and they said: “Oh, see, this is your tool”. The woman gave birth and the “attoros” wanted to eat the baby. The mother begged from them to spare her child and said, “Don’t eat the boy because when he (Pedro) grows big, he will hunt for you.”
Pedro grew older and his mother instructed him not to kill wild boars because one of them was his father. She also told the story of “attoros” and never hunt for them. The “attoros” got tired of waiting so they decided to have Pedro for noon meal and the mother for supper.
Pedro and his mother prepared for them. While the mother stayed at home, Pedro sharpened his bolo and axe for the attack. When the “attoros” chased them, the mother climbed the “balite” tree followed by Pedro. He cut the wild vine before the “attoros” could climb. So the “attoros” called, “if you go home, you’ll have to gather all your tools.” This was why today, there is a cañao where garden tools like trowels, axes, bolos and knives are placed in a “bigao” (wean owner) and offered during the cañao called “Usil or Aspul”. This “Usil of Aspul” is performed by the person who was said to be chased or attacked by an “attoros” and gets sick.
Sohow and his wife were blessed with five children. All of them settled originally in Pappa but some of them moved to other places to seek for a better living. Kulting, the eldest son went to Bayabas and lived there permanently because tax was imposed. He became the leader of the place because he was feared by the Ilocanos and he was brave and knew how to speak Ilocano and can defend himself. However, when he gambled and lost 10.00 (ten pesos), his wife scolded him. He admitted his guilt deeply that he hanged himself.
The disappearance of wild life and the continue making of kaingin resulted in the baldness of mountains and caused the shallow flow of water in the river.
Shadin, also a sister, settled permanently in Bayabas. She was married to Nab-us who originally settled in Loakan. They had swidden farming as usual. All of them (brothers and sisters) performed peshit except Kulting who died early. Shadin and Nab-us were blessed with four children and one of them is Akia who had been a teniente then became a capitan and lastly, a vice-mayor. He was said to be an active politician. He had been acting as a mayor in conferences. He had done things for the benefit of the people. He secured “tulda” as a temporary roof of the destroyed school and made the residence of Mr. James Gamoning, rented for school.
There came also people from Kabayan who settled in Pappa where they met with other tribes. They lived peacefully even though they came from different places.
There was a story that, in the beginning, people were wild. They hid themselves whenever they saw somebody and they never talked to anyone. So God said that people should plant tobacco and use them for smoking. From that time on, people meet and greet each other and ask for light or tobacco to chew or to smoke.
There were four brothers who came from Kabayan and two of them were Kenomes and Semoreng. They settled in Pappa. While they passed by Sablan going to San Fernando, they found Sablan to be a good place to live. One of their brothers, Pohes, settled in Bagulin, La Union.
Kenomes married Kathera who was from Baguio and a sister of Sioco. They hunted for their living and had swidden farm. They stayed in Pappa permanently and they were one of those who were called “namshit”. They had children and their neighbors were Basilio, Pataras and some others. Pappa was then the center of settlement and most of the settlers in this place performed peshit.
One time, a person asked his neighbor to do something like getting firewood and fetch water for him. And the latter would say: “why do you send me, I am also rich.”Nobody like to get stone for the “shakedan” (stone stand), so they used the hoof of animals and instead of firewood, they used fats of animals as fuel. They used blood as water for soup. There’s no need to work hard to obtain such, so God created poor and rich, so there was the “baga-an”, who did the work for the rich.
Cañao was a usual practice and it was here where young and old people met and get acquainted with each other. This occasion was the entertainment among the old folks. The young ones were not allowed to interfere in their conversation. They were just scolded and sent to fetch water.
One time, there was a boy and a girl who are orphans named Kabigat and Baglaw. When there was a cañao and it’s time to eat, the people just place animal fats to the mouth of the two children and say they finished eating. This was done many times. For the third time, the two orphans refused to go to the cañao because they will just get hungry again. Instead, they went to catch fish in the river. When they reached the river, they met an old woman. She asked them where they are going in spite of the cañao. The two orphans told the whole story and the woman said, “let us fight, if you win, I believe that you are telling the truth but if you lost, you are lying.” The two orphans won.
So the old woman said, “Go home and make coop for chickens, second, a pig pen and third, make fence for cows carabaos and horses.” They did what they were told. Then she said, “Get a blanket and cover yourselves. Call first the pigs and say “Yong”. They shouted “Yong” and pigs went inside the pig pens. When they opened the blanket, those that were not able to enter went to the jungle and become wild boars. Next was the carabao, they did the same thing and called “Asin”. The carabaos came and because they were surprised, they looked out of their blanket. Those that were not able to enter, went to the jungle and became wild called the tamaraw. This is done also with the cows using the same procedure. Those that went to the jungle became the “Mahagvas” or the wild deer and so with the horses.
Then the old woman said, “Now that you are rich, butcher a pig and celebrate to satisfy the hunger of your neighbors in order to have your wealth remain.
Kenomes and Simoreng when they died were seated on a chair. Sitting them on a chair after death was believed that their succeeding children will live longer and sit until they become old. This showed that now that it is not done, people die early. The successor of Kenomes and Simoreng grew also in Pappa. One of them was Tomino who was married to his cousin. They were swidden farmers and raised pigs. They also performed peshit.
Their children moved to other places and one of them was Sito who went to Kidpol then to Poblacion. Sito was married to Vicenta from Bineng, La Trinidad. He worked in Baguio where they pulled lumber with the use of carabao. Later, they had swidden farm and raised cattles and carabaos as share system until they were able to raise their own animals which produced as much as 500 cattles.
In the Triple “B” side, it was foretold that Cadmili who was from Kibungan came to Balluay in an incident where one time, her “baro” or clothes was taken by an eagle. She followed it until the eagle landed on top so she gathered the people and told them to cut the tree. Wherever the tree points, when it fell down, she will follow the direction. When the tree was cut, the tree pointed toward the west and she followed it until she reached Balluay.
According to the informants, the Ibalois of Triple “B” – Bagong, Balluay and Banengbeng, came from Palaypay and Darow. Also from Betwag, Tuel, Tublay. Balluay was named first and then Banengbeng. It was just in the modern period of the 1960’s that Balluay was divided adding a barrio of Bagong which was formerly a sitio. Triple “B” was once a part of La Union including Kamog and some part of Pappa. When La Union started the paying of taxes, people transferred to Benguet because taxation was cheap. The immigrants came here as hunters which was their way of living.
One day, there was a hunter who shot a big wild boar with a spear which was pricked inside. The boar still managed to run and the hunter followed it to deep well. The hunter asked favor from his companion to tie him and dip him down. To his surprise, there was no deep water but saw an old woman and said, “It’s too bad, and this is my son you speared.” The boar turned into a man. Then the old woman said, “Better go out and if my son dies, you will also die.” The hunter was pulled out by his companions and he told the story. After he related the story, he died.
It was told by the informants that the first inhabitant of Balluay was Kelwagan, who had plenty of cattles and didn’t know the number of cattles he had. This old was not taking a bath. He just went out under the sun and call for his cattles in the morning. He removed his clothes and let the cattles lick his body. What he did was to call for children and gave them call or whatever.
The travelers who passed by the place notice that “Balat” or banana was grown abundantly and fed their horses with “Pauay” (forage) that grew wild along the place. This combining the syllabus of Balat and Pauay makes Balluay.
Alatang was the former name of Banengbeng. There were passers-by who came from distant places going to Naguilian. On their way they always heard the “manbanbanengbeng” because the people from this place usually had cañao so they called the place Banengbeng. Formerly, Banengbeng was a part of La Trinidad which had been pulled by Binay-an, Luis and Nab-us of Bineng.
As a sitio, Bagong was originally settled by Dupog, who was buried in a cave called “Koros” in Bagong.
This was a story of an informant, that long time ago, the whole place was plain which leveled with Mount Pukgong who settled here were confused that whenever they went out of their house, they didn’t know the place they are going because it was almost the same and there were no distinguishing marks. So God decided to change the form of the land. The other half sank and a mountain was created so it was easy for the people to locate the place they are going.
The coming of Spaniards in Sablan contributed less in the progress of the natives but more on disadvantages.
It is written in history that the main purpose of the Spaniards was to spread Christianity. When they came to Sablan, the natives did not willingly accept them so they moved northward where they imposed Christianity so the people in the north of Sablan are more advanced than the natives of the main place.
The Spaniards came from the lowlands. When Sablan was organized, it was first called Disdis which denoted the passing way. They had a trail from Santo Domingo going to Naguilian Roan. When they reached the “Ap-aponan” which was the resting place for travelers located in the old Sablan then to Monglo, formerly called Baukan. From Monglo, the road goes up then to Balon then Banangan up to Yagyagan, which connect in Pinalyoc which lead to La Trinidad. The Spanish expedition under the leadership of Guillermo Galvey marched through Gallano River from Aringay. The trail was continued to Batuan passing through Ampusa then to Yagyagan, Pinalyoc then to Puguis.
Disdis was the name of the resting place which was not much known to the people. The settlers who had a long stay in this place observed that during summer, the “Sabdang” tree grew abundantly particularly along the river. When it blooms, it gives a beautiful red bright color. When the flowers fall down to the river, it caused sore eyes to the swimmers. This unique character of the tree was named after the place now called Sablan. Before, the settlers named it Disdis-Sablan. Later, the name Disdis was removed leaving Sablan as the permanent name which carried up to the present.
In the coming of the Spaniards, they used horses or the natives as Cargadors called the “polectas”. The “polectas” used to carry the Spanish officials, the doñas or señoritas from the boundary then passed to the adjacent place, and they gave them to the “polectas” if they reached the other boundary. The natives did not receive any compensation instead they even received slashes of rattan which was a punishment when they made mistakes.
The Ilocanos from the lowlands were also influenced by the Spaniards. They were also being carried by the natives to the place where they work as employees of Spanish Government. Sometimes horses fall down to the deep ravine because of the narrow and steep trail. The dead horse was not wasted because the natives cook them for their food.
At first, they built the municipal building in Pappa, which composed of Ilocano employees and some Igorot officials. The clothing they used before was G-string but the officials wore additional long sleeves as their upper garment. Igorot officials knew how to speak Spanish. The first capitan was Luis Marino, followed by Bato Bentres who served for three terms (1 term was 2 years) then followed by Kirst and Kosep.
Officials during that time like the Capitan and the secretario were being served by the natives for seven days without compensation. They were called “manbeki”. This was a continuous service. After the first batch, composed of 5 men, another batch will be served again by the natives and this was done on a rotation basis. The natives were slashed with rattan whenever they disobey their officials. They worked from sunrise to sunset and they were not allowed to go home until they finished their term. They guard the farms from wild animals, pastured the animals and planted camote and other crops. They must do whatever the officials instruct or command. It was said that Capitan Gabol was the first one who used Baston during his term.
A church was also built in Pappa which was made of bamboo slats. The priest was a Spaniard. When he visits the place, he had his assistants who were Ilocanos. This church might be the reason why they brought up two big bells from La Union to the old Sablan, with the use of carabaos. It was said that the bells were brought to La Trinidad.
The place called Pappa was said to have derived its name from the word “Santo Papa” whom they claimed to have ascended in this place together with “Santa Maria”, who spread Christianity and baptized the people. Pappa includes the sitios of Dalayap, Bangao, Timoy and Badawid.
They built a school which was also made up of bamboo and cogon. They also used the houses as a classroom. Most of the teachers were Ilocanos.
Pappa was formerly a part of La Union which was formerly called a “Naguilian View Park” because from here, there is a panoramic view of Naguilian.
The natives cannot bear the abuses they received from the Spaniards, so the natives organized themselves and revolted against the Spaniards. This incident was called “attake”. The Igorots walked by nights and they scared the people who served under the Spaniards by rolling them a ball of fire where they hid themselves. They used a password “camote”. With the continuous trouble in that place, the municipality/office was moved to Libtong, Burgos. But this place was often visited by the rebels, so it was again moved to the sitio Camboli. When peace was restored, the townsite was moved back to Pappa.
This incident was followed by an epidemic, where they felt the symptom of chilling followed by a high fever. So in the afternoon, they were buried and the ones who were not buried on that day will die the following day. This epidemic lasted for one month. This caused the people spread out and moved to other places. Some moved to Amocao, Salat, Monglo and Palali.
When this epidemic vanished, this area was peaceful, and few houses remained in Pappa. Until such time that tax was imposed which amounted to 25 centavos per individual.
Later, some of the old men who were in Bayabas, such as Don Camacho and Pataras, thought of separating Disdis, for unknown motives from Bayabas but the municipality was made into one which they built in Sablan and transferred the municipal building from Pappa.
Garoy was chosen as the first Capitan of this newly created town now called Sablan.
Not long after the foundation of Sablan as a municipality, the Spanish-American war broke out. Sablan became a bloody scene between the American troops, where the Negros or black Americans were the first ones who faced the Spaniards. There was a man-hunting sort of war. They moved from one place to another to hide. The Negros asked for food from the owner of the house they found along the way when they feel hungry. It was said that there were abuses made by the Negros. They chased the Igorot girls even during the war. However, the Negros lost in war. They retreated but when they came back, they had with them the reinforcement with the union of the Black and White Americans.
Even with the help of the recruited natives by the Spaniards, the Americans won in the battle. There was the distribution and burning of all houses. For this reason, the settlers of Disdis (Sablan) moved to Bayabas, Teytey, Salat, Matal-og, Sawili and other places.
When the Americans won, they remained in the territory. The natives were happy and they accepted them. For this reason, the Americans were not hard up in influencing the natives. The Americans bought pigs and fed the natives. They also distributed money and they were praised by the people.
Since the Spaniards were defeated, the Americans became the ruling power of the place. The Americans organized a government in their own form. Garoy was elected as the first municipal president under the American regime.
Under the municipality of Sablan, a government was organized in 1926. There was an incident that happened between Bato and Bentres. They argued about politics and other personal matters. This made Bato and Bentres established another municipality in Libong now in the territory of Burgos. The created municipality has been an office until now which is also at present, a dispute if what province would it belong, either Benguet of La Union.
Most of the employees in offices were Ilocanos. However, most of the policemen consisted of natives. They wore G-string and had a piece of wood (Batuta) as their arm/defense.
Road constructions were the first project done during the American period. The workers were recruited by term in the construction of the Baguio-Naguilian road. Workers were not only from Sablan but also from Bontoc, Kiangan and some from the lowlands, like Mr. Orogo and Mr. Moya, who settled here permanently. The construction started on both ends of Naguilian and Baguio until they met here in Sablan.
The salary of the workers started with the amount of fifteen centavos to twenty centavos. The adults were paid higher wages as shown by their “cedula”. When the “cedula” amounted to fifty centavos, they were paid 1.00 peso. The foremen were the Kastila and the capataz were Ilocanos. In some instances, they hire the Igorots as constructors and most of them were Bontocs wherein the Ibalois were afraid of, to join them.
The Ilocanos settled here not only for employment but also for positions like Mr. Gaona, who was employed as a sanitary inspector. Likewise, the Ilocanos came here because of road construction. Mr. Orogo worked as a Blacksmith for the making of tools for the road construction. The tools were usually kept in the municipal building.
Commisaria was built in Poblacion. It was here where they store the food supplies. The present residence of Mr. Ciano Ticol was the former stable where they kept the horses. The workers were rationed three cans (salmon) of rice and six dried fish per day. The read construction had influenced some people who made rice wine and were sold to the workers during the day. A bottle of two by two was sold for twenty centavos. One of the sellers of rice wine was Mrs. Ulin Sinong.
During the construction of the road, a road tax was implemented which amounted to 2.00 pesos and 1.00 peso for the “cedula”. Those who cannot afford to pay were being forced to work for ten days or sometimes called “Dias Dias”. The total of 3.00 pesos was only good for one year. Municipal officials were exempted from the payment but they were responsible for the recruitment of workers.
The Asin road which was started by the Spaniards which was supposed to be route of the train was continued by the Americans. However, when the money for the construction was being delivered by an American ship, it was bombarded by Aliman. So the proposed plan for Asin reamed uncontinued, but was constructed by men and became only a road.
When the construction was finished, it was only stone filled on the surface. However, these made it easy for the travelers and for the transportation of products. In the year 1914-1916, the first transportation used was the cart (cariton) which was pulled by an animal like horses or carabaos. During night time, the lighted carts were like train heading to Baguio.
Later, the first machine car was introduced which an iron wheel has lined with rubber. This was owned by Mr. Smith and Mr. Steward who were both black Americans. This car when passing along the road, made much noise and it always jumped due to the rugged road. Along the road, they placed telephone booths. One was in Bolis, Sablan Central, Calot, Irisan then to Baguio. These were operated with the use of batteries and handled by Ilocanos and few Ibalois such as Mr. Bosoy. The purpose of the telephone was to give signal for the incoming and outgoing of cars because the road was narrow, and caution them to meet in a certain place where there is a wider space.
Garoy was elected by the standing of the voters in lined with him, followed by Cando who was elected by color. The candidates before were placed with colored sash and the voters had to pick the color of their choice and drop it in a box.
During the term of Cando, tax was imposed and started in the amount of twenty-five centavos per hectare. The plain area amounted to fifty centavos per hectare. The plain area amounted to fifty centavos per hectare. The registration for cattles was also charged for 1.00 peso per head. This was the reason why the people hated Cando during his term but later, they came to realize the advantage. People from Pappa moved to Bayabas also because of taxation. Besides, the land was unproductive for kaingin so they moved to another place for they said that it’s useless to be paying taxes without a good yield. The measurement of the land was free but the boundary post was paid for 5.00 pesos.
He also bought the land for only 100.00 pesos from Stefa who was an Ilocano. He converted it into a rice field which he learned from Bineng, La Trinidad. They were the first who introduced and started the construction of ricefields together with Quiño and Palaez in Bayabas, while Caslangan in the Triple “B” portion. Cando made use of the natives who cannot pay for the road tax. He let them work in the construction of his rice field and paid for them. The planting of the “kintoman” was first done during wet season.
The officials before used G-string paired with long sleeves. But later, it was their obligation to use long pants called “debontal” with leather placed in the legs and they wore shoes.
There was an ordinance during the American period that the Igorots usually went down to trade with the lowlanders in La Union. Those who wore G-strings were caught and put them in a cell which was the order of Governor Cortez. They were given free underwear for which they had to change their G-strings before they were allowed to go. The G-strings were burned.
Schools were improved in this town as early as 1930’s. On the Triple “B” side, Bagong was in1935, Balluay was in 1937 and Banengbeng was in the 1950’s, so the children from Banengbeng had their schooling in Bineng, La Trinidad. Most of the teachers were Ilocanos like Mr. and Mrs. Dumo, Mrs. Cacdac, Patacsil, Mr. Marzan and Mr. Alfredo Abaco from Pangasinan. The grades were only from Grades one to four in which, everything was given free such as pencils, papers and books. Later, a fee of 2.00 pesos was collected in grade four.
During the term of Ticol as mayor, people were forced to go to school. He was very strict and those who made absences were punished with a whip of meter stick or they’ll be locked in a room in accordance with the absences they made. They were not allowed either to speak in their own dialect. Those who failed to speak in English were fined with fifteen centavos. It was aid that there was also a night class from 6:00 o’clock to 7:00 o’clock in the evening.
During this period, Don Francisco Romero, a Kastila had settled here for good. He bought the land of Mr. Mateo Carias which was measured to be one hundred (100) hectares. When he came here, he named the place Palali in which he derived it from a tree called Palali, a bare fruit tree which bore edible but sour fruits. This place was formerly a forest and the boundary was a very big tree which was marked. However, due to the making of kaingin, it was changed to a block of cement which was engraved. Workers at the start were not hired. They just made kaingins out of the forest and they didn’t share their products. But later, they shared their products for 10% to 30%. No tenant stayed long because the soil produced less.
Mr. Manuel Pacalso was said to be a courageous man as told by a lawyer. He claimed that a part of the Romero land was his own. Mr. Pacalso lost in the case but it didn’t mean the end of the dispute. The other land adjacent to it was demanded by him. However, some part was approved but the other parts are still a dispute up to the present. Likewise, other parts are still a dispute up to the present. Likewise, there is also a trouble about inheritance among the family.
Romero was said to be a former Capitan of the Spanish Army. Since he longed for peace, he resigned and married a Filipina named Adel Aguinaldo from __________________. They bought land and named it to his wife.
Farming was still a diversified occupation among the people during the American period. They were successful in wet-rice farming. Later, new plants were introduced such as coffee, pineapples wherein the spiny pineapple was changed to Hawaiian specie. Also, bananas like lacatan, which is the best quality of all bananas. These were good yielding products and people were influenced to become businessman like Mr. Pacalso, who started the method of buying and selling fruits and vegetables. Later, trucks were used to bring the fruits and vegetable to Manila. This type of business was a success so Mr. Angel and Mr. Quilacio followed and until now, it is a usual practice among the people.
It was told that ten suckers of bananas (lacatan) was brought to Sablan and was propagated and was spread. It was during this time that the height of producing fruits and vegetables resulted in the creation of “Garden Day”, which was a display of different kinds of fruits and vegetables and other kinds of exhibits and prizes were given. An amount of twenty centavos was collected and used for food for the people gathered in this occasion.
Communication was also introduced to the people. The natives who owned property such as land and animals were given a notice through letter. Formerly, people had only one name where two or three have the same names so the address were placed or added with first, second or third in accordance to their ages (Primera, Segunda, Tircera). This made difficulty so it resulted in the forming of sure names which the others had taken Segundo as their surname.
In 1934, a church was established in Sablan Central. Later in December 8, 1941, the first fiesta was celebrated and the Garden Day was replaced.
With the span of time under the American regime, much progress had been accomplished which had elevated this town to the height of civilization now being lived and benefited. This rapid progress under the American leadership was greatly destroyed by the three years of Japanese occupation.
During the Japanese occupation, as the visitor wants to do, the Japanese government partly destroyed all American influence on political, economic and educational aspects to rejuvenate the Filipino minds and to rule their own ways and likes. They hardly carried out their own ways and likes. They hardly carried out their anti-American program by deceiving and imposing other methods.
On December 8, 1941, the celebration of the town fiesta was answered by the bombardment of Camp John Hay. After that, the Japanese now came through Naguilian then put up their garden in Sablan. Other Japanese forces searched the area and combed over the hills. People ran for their lives so they evacuated to other places where the Japanese soldiers cannot reach them. People walked by day and night without using any light in order not to show their presence and for their own safety. They only brought with them the important materials and food supplies for them to cook if ever they had a chance to rest. They did these even during the wet season.
Terina, an informant and who experienced the hardship during the war had welcomed and entertained anyone to her house in Kamog. Whoever came to her house, either the Japanese or Filipino guerillas were fed but the Filipino guerillas had more preference. The best food had been served only for the guerillas while camote only for the Japanese soldiers. Some of the guerillas like Lt. James Gamoning, Daniel Akia and others, after eating went out and searched for their enemies. The Japanese forces going to Bagong are usually dropping by Kamog. There was a group under the leadership of a captain (informant forgot the name), was drowned when they crossed a river and was found dead. They brought the corpse back to Sablan and burned him in a stable.
Some of the residents did not evacuate like Luis Bosoy and Mr. Quilacio. Luis Bosoy was reached by the Japanese forces and they were to blame Luis Bosoy if ever the Japanese had found them. During his term, he required the people to bring bananas for the Japanese soldiers to show in disguise that they were not enemies.
Mr. Quilacio, who was not accepted by the Japanese confidence, was locked in Monglo and was brought to Baguio for interrogation. There he met his Japanese friends: Nematsu, who managed a grocery in Baguio and Negatome, who was a contractor, were Japanese Military officers. They were freed with the help of Mr. Quilacio so they had given him and his wife the privilege to sell Japanese goods to the civilians. The goods were rationed weekly with the amount depending upon the number of the family. Mr. Quilacio supplied Kamog, Pappa, Bagong and Balluay while Pacio Rimando in Bayabas side. The commodities were canned goods, sugar which were measured by cups and also soap and rice. These were paid in Japanese money or yen. With their help extended, the guerillas were given supplies without the knowledge of the Japanese forces.
All people who passed by the place were searched and interrogated and if they were presumed to be innocent, they were given “calibad” which served as their pass or identification card, like Mr. Albert Camacho who was detained for two days for interrogation. Others were tortured where one of them was utong. They tied him and placed a lighted tobacco inside his G-string. Likewise, a woman died because the Japanese soldiers placed a lighted tobacco in her organ. Those who had relatives who joined the guerillas were also maltreated and one of them was Akis. When the Japanese soldiers learned that he had a son who was a guerilla, they forced him to drink water with the use of a funnel.
There were also scattered hideouts of the guerilla soldiers and headquarters. One of the headquarters was located in Bayabas, where food stuffs such as bananas, rice and camote had been stored. Another was in Pappa, Salat and Bagong. When the Japanese forces headed for the area of their hideouts, a messenger was sent to warn them, with the help of Mayor Empiso Caiso who was before, a chief of police. When the Japanese men came, he hosted them and asked one of his men to get chicken but purposely, to warn the people and to hold the Japanese men in order to give time for the guerillas to hide. The guerillas were not all known to them so they mingled with the Japanese men, which was one way of getting news. Mr. Marcelino Guzman acted as an interpreter and Mr. Sergio Almacan had a dual purpose that serving the Japanese will be for the benefit of the guerillas soldiers.
As war went on, Igorot cañaos also continued. Since the people were peaceful, a Japanese captain (informant doesn’t know the name), who was assigned here had a good understanding with the plight of civilian populace. He did not bring much trouble to the people. He joined alone in any feast celebrated by the people and he even removed his arms/guns. So Lt. James Gamoning ordered the people not to harm him and so with the garrison.
However, there was almost a trouble between Company “E” and 121st Infantry division which composed mostly of Ilocanos. They ambushed the Japanese soldiers in La Union and they showered themselves coming up to Sablan. So the Japanese men in return for their retaliation combed the area. This resulted to the establishment of the area of jurisdiction which was agreed by both parties.
The place was also the passage of the evacuation of Mr. Gerry Roxas prior to his presidency. He was escorted by the Company “E” under the leadership of Lt. James Gamoning. From Baguio, they moved down to Asin road which led towards Tuba, then to Tubao. Next to be escorted was Mrs. Osmeña again from Baguio down to Irisan to Balluay until Bagong. They carried her in an “amaka” (improvised carrier made up of bamboo).
When they heard of the coming of the Americans, many of the natives came out from their hiding places. The guerilla soldiers recruited more of the natives and many of them volunteered bravely. They even went to the extent of adding their age just to reach eighteen which was the qualified or allowed age for the guerilla. They were supplied with artillaries shifted by an American plane, which they used in the destruction of the Japanese garrison.
The Japanese soldiers learned of the coming/arrival of the Americans and again, with the last bid of Mayor Luis Bosoy for the Japanese man, he asked his people to get wood which had been used for the fox-hole for the Japanese soldiers. In short period of time, an American plane bombers hit Sablan while the American soldiers were advancing towards this place. They started putting up their headquarters in Palali. They also brought with them three war tannins wherein the Japanese had also three but two were already disabled. When Camp John Hay was cleared, they kept on advancing until they reached the place.
The most remembered incident was the Japanese navy ship san by the American troops in Naguilian. The Japanese navy which ranged around 1,500 men was driven by the Americans toward Sablan as they followed the river. When the guerillas knew they are coming, they waited for them in Beshing River. When the Japanese men got tired, hungry and most of them were young, they were attacked like dummies. Few of them had guns and the guerillas even used only pieces of wood in fighting them.
Some navy Japanese men were able to escape. However, many of them had died and only a few remained. Few of the Japanese navy remained when the Americans troops came from behind then cease-fired. They took them as decent prisoners of war so they were able to save medicines and food. The dead were buried, placed them together in one big hole.
On August 15, 1945, victory was on the air and was over. However, the native guerillas and civilians, with their hatred uncontented due to the previous Japanese atrociousness, they took advantage to the surrendering Japanese. They even went to the extent of killing them while on delivery cars being brought to Manila.
Almost half of the population, mostly the younger people perished in their struggle against various diseases. Many of them were killed by the barbarious Japanese soldiers. Food and animals were forged by the cruel Japanese soldiers, from palay, carabao, cattle, to the last thing they could find among the civilians. After the war, what could only be seen was what remained unburned and those left by bomb shells? Few houses in the nearby sitios remained and the household equipments were ransacked by the Japanese soldiers. The survivors returned to the site of their homes and built temporary dwellings. Most of the people were sickly. They were supplied by the Americans with medicines and food was rationed continuously and distributed to the people until they became strong enough to work for their living.
Just after the war, reconstruction of roads and buildings followed. The corpses of the dead left by the war were buried in one pit. People collected all the useful materials and made used for their temporary houses. The rapid rehabilitation of this town was greatly due to the help extended by the United States Government. The aid extended enabled or dispensary and the municipal building.
At this period, Mayor Albert Camacho was appointed as the leader of the town which lasted for a year. In his willingness to do well for his town, he donated the area where they built up the church. Later, it was moved down to Poblacion. Then came also the establishment of school in Balluay in the mid-1930’s which led the children back to school.
Livelihood for some people tried luck to hunt for treasure that had been buried by Japanese and other hidden wealth. They also opened the unexploded bombs and got the powder that remained. By doing this, they could earn money amounting to 50.00 pesos a day. However, this is a dangerous job because some of them met accident like the father of the popular singer named Mr. Guiniguin in Baguio. Hunting of treasures was really difficult because they need to have special instrument such as detector. Besides, they favored to dig at night. This was led lately by the Americans and some Japanese. Like Mr. Daniel Akia, a Filipino soldier during the war, turned to be a treasure hunter. He took men with him and when they had a prospect, they used to butcher pigs for the offer and for their food in digging.
This form of treasure hunting did not last and the search was lessened because the prospects were misled by the detector. At present, it is still believed that treasure still exists in the place and this could be one of the reasons shy many foreigners usually come to visit here.
The first migration of Kiangan came to Sablan. Late 1945, Mr. Pasadot and Dinab-anan were welcomed and accepted here to construct rice fields as laborers.
Later, swidden farming was resumed as the form of their livelihood and wet rice was continued and constructed. Likewise, they buy and sell type of business was maintained. The products were brought to Manila but most of the farmers preferred to sell their products in Baguio especially when roads were improved and commuter increased. Inspite of these, life was said to be scarce. Only camotes and other root crops were still the most available food. Lately, rice had increased gradually and became the staple food up to the present. Camote were being sold and they bought it for rice. In those times, eating canned goods such as sardines was something to be proud of.
In 1945-1951, Mr. Alfredo Quilacio became the mayor. At this time, the temporary school which was formerly made up of “tulda” was changed to GI sheets. Likewise, the school ground has expanded when the owner, Mr. Bato Bentres, donated some part of his land to the government. There was one time when there was a quarrel about a certain land but Mayor Quilacio tried his best in the settlement of the case and influenced both parties until the area became a government property and it is where the dispensary stands.
Mayor Alfredo Quilacio was elected when people were not yet educated so the system used was color voting. Voters used to select their candidate through a colored sash they used to select the colored ribbon of his choice and cast it in a box. This system was changed to secret balloting when the next term was succeeded by Mayor Fidel Sito.
Mayor Fidel Sito succeeded as mayor in 1952 to 1955. He was able to manage a business in which he owned a freight used in bringing the bananas to Manila. As a business minded person, he built the bridge connecting the barrio of Bagong and Pappa.
Now came the Kankanaeys and the first who came here was the former Miss Merenciana Adolfo, who was adopted by Mr. Alabanza, an Ilocano. He bought land from Mr. Abuan also an Ilocano. Merenciana stayed in Sablan particularly in Monglo where she was assigned by Mr. Alabanza to take care of his property. Later, she was followed by her town mates and relatives from Palina, Kibungan, whom Mr. Francisco Lawan accompanied, to help watch over the land. Later, many of them settled here as a clan and worked as farmers and tenants. They shared their products to Mr. Alabanza.
It was during this time the officials awaked when the area became populated. The municipality of Tuba formerly occupied a wide part of Sablan particularly Ampusa, Asin and some part of Yagyagan, but Sablan had enough evidences that they owned the particular area. This case was solved and it turned to be Sablan as the competent owner. This was bounding the Asin Hot Spring which about fifteen kilometers away from Baguio City. It got its name from its salted water and is actually famous because of its medicinal effect containing sulfur. People usually go to have their bath in either hot or cold temperature of water depending on their desire in the bath house and a swimming pool. At present, it was improved and is now one of the tourist spot.
In 1952, “El Paraiso” located in Yagyagan, was named by Mr. Cacho, a Spaniard who owned the area. “El Paraiso” was a wide coffee plantation and was managed by Mr. Manuelito Araneta. In 1965, a trucking company was built and is now the L T C along Naguilian road beside “El Paraiso”.
As population increased, more schools were built from urban to rural areas such as Talete, Bulluay and Bagong which were formerly made up of bamboo and cogon are now changed to wood and GI sheets. In 1955 to 1958 these were done when Mayor Juanito Polon was incumbent.
When the next election came, Mayor Luis Bosoy won in the election as mayor in 1959 to 1964. He spent less of his time in his cattle ranch and provided more of his attention with his people. With the willingness of the residents of Bayabas, they had exerted efforts and actions in providing of waterworks in Amocao, Bayabas where each house was provided with water pipes. By that time the people need not to go down the streams to fetch water. The establishment of water pipes was not only for household use but also irrigation for wet rice and was connected to the rice fields in Calamay, Bayabas.
Likewise, the road going to the municipal hall was cemented but did not last for long period of time. It was also during his term when the school in Banagan was built.
As the officials were changed, there were also many changes made under the mayorship of Mr. Michael Angel from 1965-1971. Segregation of some barrios were made like in the case of Bagong which was formerly a sitio of Balluay but now a barrio. Also Kamog became a barrio which was a former sitio of Pappa. This made up 8 barrios namely: Poblacion, Banangan, Bayabas, Kamog, Pappa, Bagong, Balluay and Banengbeng. Later, feeder roads were established which encouraged the people plant more products. Then came the wide plantations of fruits, vegetables and tiger grasses are now diversified.
The old municipal hall was changed into a more attractive building which is often visited especially when the dispensary was built beside it which extends great help to the willing people. A market was also built and is a great help to the people. They don’t need to go to Baguio to buy their needs especially during Wednesdays which was the market day in Sablan. The lowlanders and the natives used to sell their goods. It is not intended only for business purposes but also a means of diversion among the people. Other project made was the laying out of water pipes to the houses and for public use.
Road along Palali was formerly popped with housed wherein people squat themselves. The owner of the area, Mr. Romero wanted to settle this case and requested them to move out of the area since it is illegal. However, the officials made an arrangement with him and the settlers were allowed an area where they built their houses and they could even operate a business since Palali is also a stop-over of cars and buses going to and coming from the lowlands and Baguio City.
The former Catholic Church on top of the hill was moved to Poblacion. They made it bigger and adjoined the Saint Louis High School founded by Reverend Father Henry Mampay. A Crusaders’ church was also built in the place of Mr. Leonardo Pacalso. Also a Kingdom Hall, a Jehovah witness in Monglo.
On September 1971, Mayor Michael Angel resigned as mayor and his vice-mayor, Renato Garambas took place which lasted for a few months.
During the liberation, a place in Yagyagan was owned by a Turkish named Jordan Hadad. He built a hotel and under it is a recreation. At present it is now renovated but no more recreation. Beside it was the grand canyon which was their dwellings, but they sold it now to an American who married a Filipina.
In 1972, Mayor Empiso Caiso succeeded in the election as mayor. The projects unfinished were completed such as the extension of the municipal hall and the continuation of feeder roads. The dilapidated and undesirable school buildings were renovated as in Banengbeng, Poblacion, and other schools were concreted. Other equipment for office use were provided to cope up with the increasing services extended to the people.
The officials also realized that the youth are the future leaders and they must have a sound body and mind, so a wide plaza was built and a basketball court was established for sports. Ornamental trees were planted around which made the municipal view more attractive and cool and the visitors are pleased. Likewise, a sidewalk going to the school is provided for the children and other people for the purpose of insuring their safety.
On December, 1977, electric lights were made along the national road and houses were provided with electricity. This made a distinguishing change to the people such as owning of electrical appliances. This has made them do some extra job during night thus, adding more to their income and has increased in their standard of living.
This time, the municipal officials had thought of having evidence regarding the dispute about the boundary between Sablan and Burgos, La Union. However, the case was not yet settled so it brought to the higher competent authorities.
So far, Sablan is a fifth class municipality. With the help extended by the government, livelihood has improved a higher step to the leader. Sablan is named as the “Fruit Basket of Benguet” and it derived this as shown by its products, the quality of fruits of various kinds are best produced in the place. Also the adaptability of Durian which is popularly grown in Davao, was brought here and cultured by Mr. Alejandro Mendoza (Kagawad). The production of wet rice and other crops also increased.
The people of Sablan are also known for their creative handicrafts. Woodcarving was introduced as early as 1950 by a Kiangan named Mr. Alipio. These carvings are popularly displayed in the roads going to Asin and along Naguilian road which attracts more tourists. Bamboos are also made into various kinds of crafts. Sablan is also known for its broom weaving especially Triple “B” – Bagong, Balluay and Banengbeng. Most of the businessman from Manila come to Sablan and buy brooms in trucks, since this product is seasonal and thereby always in demand. Besides, it is the quality and durability that counts when it comes to the crafts and brooms.
Since Sablan is known for its good climate and location and it influenced the people to put up their business along the road. There are two piggeries in Palali and one in Calot. These commercial farms are owned by Mr. Agana and Mr. Faroland while the piggery in Calot is owned by Chinese merchant. There is also an orchard in Calot owned by an American, which is planted with American Lemon. The Garden of Eden can also be seen in Yagyagan, planted with different beautiful flowers.
Sablan is not only rich with its agricultural resources but also in natural resources. It was discovered that the whole mountain of Bagong contains gold mine and other traced minerals. The residents of the place were surprised to know that they are stepping on a mountain of gold. However, they rejected the offer that it is to be exploited because of the danger that might bring to the agricultural crops especially to the settlers.
A quarry in Monglo is one of the benefited mountain of stone in Sablan. This place is called “Pitpitan”.