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See Also Land and Inhabitants, Capsule History of Benguet Province


Early in the 19th century after the Spanish explorer Guillermo Galvey's report of his expedition, the Spanish government organized the mountain region into six commandancias politico militar", namely: Benguet in 1846, Lepanto in 1852, Bontoc in 1859, Amburayan in 1889, and Kayapa and Cabugaoan in 1891. The Province of Benguet, as now constituted, has portions which were parts of the Districts of Lepanto, Bontoc and Amburayan.

The early commandancias were divided into rancherias. The commandancia of Benguet was divided into 41 rancherias, with La Trinidad as the capital. It was named in honor of Don Galvey's wife Trinidad. The first "Kapitan" of Benguet was Pulito of Kafagway, now Baguio City, which was then a minor rancheria of about 20 houses.

As of 1899, the Katipunan came to Benguet and united the Igorots into establishing Benguet under the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. This was short lived for in the early 1900's, the American colonizers took over.

Under American Rule, local civil government were established on November 22, 1900 under Act No. 48 in the following townships of Benguet: Baguio, La Trinidad, Galiano, Itogon, Tublay, Atok, Kapangan, Balakbak, Palina, Ampusongan, Loo, Kabayan, Buguias, Adaoay, Bokod, Daclan, Sablan, Kibungan and Ambuklao. Under the same Act, the Provincial Government of Benguet was officially established.

When Act No. 1876 was passed on August 13, 1908, Benguet Province became a sub-province of Mountain Province. Under this Act, the sub-provinces embraced by Mountain Province were Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto. In the course of time, the original 19 townships of Benguet as embodied in Act No. 48 were reduced to 13 municipalities. The township of Baguio became a chartered city in 1909, creating in its place the township of Tuba. The townships of Ambuklao, Adaoay, Balakbak, Galiano, Palina and Loo were abolished under Executive Orders issued by the Governor-General of the Philippines.
Finally, under Republic Act No. 4695 enacted on June 18, 1966, Mountain Province was divided into four new Provinces, namely: Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao, and Ifugao. Under this Act, Dennis Molintas, Sr. of Bokod became the first appointed Governor with Mayor Ben Palispis (1968-1986), Bantas Suanding (Officer-in-Charge, 1986-1988), Andres Bugnosen (1988-1992), Jaime Paul Panganiban (1992-1995), Raul M. Molintas (1995-2004), Borromeo P. Melchor ( 2004-2007) and Nestor B. Fongwan (2007 to present).

At present, Benguet is composed of 13 municipalities and 140 barangays. The province's municipalities are: Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay. According to the number of barangays, the capital town of La Trinidad has the most with 16 while Bakun and Kibungan have the least with 7 each.

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Land and Inhabitants

The province now known as Benguet was inhabited by the ancestral Ibalois and Kankanaeys believed to be of Malay descent before the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Trade and commerce between these people and lowland groups such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses had been conducted on a regular basis.

There were early attempts by Spanish explorers to conquer the highlands, drawn by the fabled rich gold mines of the Igorots. In 1620, the first major Spanish incursion into the La Trinidad Valley took brief hold of some gold mines, but this endeavor was abandoned six years later. The Benguet people were left unconquered for much of the Spanish period.

In the 19th century, Spaniards began sending expeditions into Benguet to subjugate the Igorots. The first expedition, under Colonel Guillermo Galvey, succeeded in establishing Spanish presence in the La Trinidad Valley.

In 1846, the area of Benguet became a district of the newly organized province of La Union. In 1854, the district became a separate comandancia politico-militar. Parts of the present province were also established as component territory of other comandancias such as Lepanto, and Amburayan. The American established civil government in Benguet by 1900. On August 13, 1908, Benguet became a sub-province of the Mountain Province together with Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto. During the 1930s, mining companies began massive operations to work the gold mines in the area. This attracted many lowlanders to work and settle in the area, especially in towns surrounding the mines, including Itogon.

During World War II, Benguet was the site of fierce battles fought by Igorot guerrillas and American forces to open up the western flank of the Japanese defenders during the final days of liberation in 1945. By authority of the President of the United States, the US Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 49 on November 23, 1900, establishing a civil government for the Province of Benguet. The officers of this government were a provincial governor, provincial secretary and a provincial inspector. All these officers shall reside and have their offices in the township of Baguio, which shall be the capital of the province. The governor shall be the chief executive of the province. Until such time as a treasurer shall be appointed for the province, the governor shall act as provincial treasurer, subject to the provisions of the general law. He shall also make known to the people of his province through proclamations or communications delivered to the presidents of each township, all general laws or governmental orders. Mr. H. P. Whitmarsh, a Canadian Journalist, was appointed civil governor of Benguet and Mr. Sioco Carino the president of the township of Baguio.

On June 29, 1901, a proviso was inserted on Act No. 155, providing that a popular representative be elected by the township presidents on July 4 of the same year. If the people shall at any time feel themselves seriously aggrieved and shall be unable to obtain relief from the provincial governor, the elected popular representative shall directly refer the issue to the Chief Executive of the Insular Government. Mr. Mateo Cariño from the township of Baguio was the first elected representative.

By virtue of Act No. 1876, on August 18, 1908, Benguet became a sub-province of Mountain Province. Other sub-province embraced by Mountain Province were: Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, Lepanto, Apayao and Amburayan. In the course of time, the original 19 townships of Benguet were reduced to 13. The town of Baguio became a chartered city in 1909. Instead, the town of Tuba was created. Comprising the Province of Benguet were the thirteen municipalities of Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.

On June 18, 1966, Republic Act 4695 divided Mt. Province into four distinct provinces, namely: Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao. The elective officials at the time of the division were mandated to serve in the province to which they belong ethnically and the appointive officials and personnel will have to choose where to continue serving. Thus, incumbent Governor Alfredo G. Lamen remained governor of Mountain Province while Vice-Governor Dennis Molintas became the governor of Benguet. The law provides that the remaining assets and liabilities will be divided equitably among the four province.

Benguet's vast natural resources and its unique temperate climate distinguishes the province from all others in the country, having the drawn the interest of both Spanish and American colonizers. At present, Benguet Province is no longer the abode of non-Christian tree dwellers, such as the inland tribal groups of Ibalois, Kankanaeys and Kalanguyas. They have been assimilated as part of the Filipino nation.


"Benguet" originally referred to as the lush valley of La Trinidad, the present capital town of the province. There are two versions of its origin.


Since time remembered, La Trinidad was known as a fertile valley with a wide lake in the center. The shallow part of the lake was planted with Aba (taro) and later with "kintoman" (red rice). At the rim of this valley were herds of water buffalos (Kanuangan) grazing and wallowing on the muddy waters of the deep side of the lake. Besides their produce, the people lived on the bounties of the lake for their food teeming with fishes, woodcocks, birds and other wilds, it had provided them for years of plenty.

During the rainy months of the year, it was cool and foggy. During dry months, the weather is beautiful, invigorating, and the people enjoyed its richness and they called their land "Aponan" meaning, place of convergence, oneness or plenty.

To protect themselves against searing cool winds during Angchap(cold season), the wealthy ones had to cover their heads with red kerchief and the general mass with white sheet of cloth. This head covering in the old Nabaloy dialect is generally called 'benget", meaning a covering from the head down to the neck with a wide opening for the eyes. Other families used hides of "motit" (civet cat) to protect themselves from cold, heat of the sun, and rain which they called "duvong" (hide) and the ones wearing it when seen from a distance are called "nanbengebenget".

When the Spanish expedition under Commandante Guillermo de Galvey first saw the beautiful valley, one of his interpreters, an Indio. Mistook the words of the Spaniards. Thus, the Spaniards pointing in the direction of the farming folks planting "aba" said: "como sellama este lugar? (What's the name of this place?) ("Anya cano ti impotpotipot ti ul-ulo ti tat-tao ditoy?") With no further hesitation, the native elder said, "benget". Not probing any further the cartographer of the expedition wrote "benget" with a European sound "benguet" pronounced as "beng-guet".Thus, from the Spanish colloquial meaning, Benguet got its name to include the present Province of Benguet.


In the early days, the kankana-ey from the north traveled to the south to trade with the lowland brothers. This region before was thickly forested, so that travelers follow one common trail and to reach the lowland, one can not escape to pass by a swampy area, now La Trinidad Valley. This swamp is memorable to the northern travelers, who have not seen a big body of water as they called this lake a sea.

Since this swamp is made muddy and smelly by wallowing pigs, carabaos and buffalos, the traveler has to follow the edge of the swamp to reach the other side. The word "edge" means "benget" in kankana-ey and since people traverse this place day in and day out passing by the edge, the swamp was popularized as "benget". Even the people residing around the lake are called "Ibenget".

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History of Benguet Province

Act No. 48, dated November 22, 1900, established local civil governments in the following townships of Benguet, Baguio, La Trinidad, Galiano, Itogon, Tublay, Atok, Kapangan, Balakbak, Palina, Ampusongan, Loo, Kabayan, Buguias, Adaoay, Bokod, Daklan, Sablan, Kibungan and Ambuklao.

Act No.49, dated November 23, 1900, established a civil government for the province of Benguet.

On june 29, 1901, a proviso was inserted in Act No. 155 providing that a popular representative of Benguet province be elected on July 4 of the year.

Act No 1396, dated September 14,1905, repealed Act No.49, dated November 23, 1900. The province of Benguet was then organized under the provisions of Act No.1396, known as “The Special Government Act.”

Act No.1646, dated May 15, 1907, provided for the election of delegates to the constitutional convention to be held on July 13,1907.

With the passage of Act No.1876 on August 13,1908, Benguet province became a subprovince of Mountain Province, the subprovinces embraced by Mountain Provine under the act were: Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto.

By operation of Act No.2877 of February 4,1920, the boundary of Benguet subprovince was amended resulting in the abolition of the subprovinces of Amburayan and Lepanto part of Amburayan was placed under La Union and part of Lepanto was placed under Ilocos Sur.

In the course of time the original 19 towns of Benguet province as embodied in Act No.48, dated November 22, 1900 were reduced to 13. The town of Baguio became a chartered city in 1909. In its place, the town of Tuba was created. The town of Ambuklao, Adaoay, Balakbak, Daklan, Galiano, Palina and Loo were abolished under executive orders issued by the Governor General of the Philippines.

Republic Act No.4695, dated June 18,1966 divided the Mountain Province into the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Provincve, Kalinga-Apayao, and Ifugao. Benguet province consists of the municipalities of Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay with La Trinidad as capital.

The secretary of finance issued an implementing directive to the effect that all the four created provinces shall initially cause the enactment of their respective operational budgets effective April 1, 1967.

The honorable Dennis Molintas, Sr., of Bokod, then vice governor of Mountain Province, was appointed and assumed the position of provincial governor on September 3,1966 of Benguet province pursuant to Republic Act 4695. Other members of the first provincial board were Hon. Ben Palispis of Tuba, Vice Governor; Hon. Andres Fianza of Kapangan, Hon. Calixto Fianza of Itogon and Hon. James D. Guanso of Mankayan, board members. They took their oath before president Ferdinand E. Marcos at San Pascual, Tuba on March 22, 1967. The first board meeting was held at the former Benguet Subprovincial Capitol, La Trinidad, on March 27, 1967.

The first elective provincial board as a result of the regular election on November 12, 1967 consisted of: Hon. Ben Palispis, Governor; Hon. Bantas Suanding of Bokod, Vice Governor; Hon Andres Fianza, Hon. James D. Guanzo and Hon. Larry A. Ogas of La Trinidad, board members.

In the election of November 8, 1971, the following were elected: Hon. Ben Palispis, Governor; Hon. Samuel M. Dangwa of Kapangan, Vice Governor; Hon. Baltazar Fernando of Bokod, Hon. Alfredo B. Alumno of Atok and Hon.Simeon M. Campos of Mankayan, board members.

a. Board Resolution No.894, dated July 22,1968 formally adopted a coat-of-arms for the province of Benguet.

b. Board Resolution No.16, dated January 7, 1969 adopted the “everlasting” as the provincial flower of Benguet.

c. Resolution No 394, dated May 25,1970 adopted “Benguet Highlands,” “Province of Benguet (my own)”and “All hail, Benguet Beloved” as official songs of the province of Benguet to be sung at functions or occasions when deemed appropriate.

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