In 1800, Kibungan was a virgin forest and a sparsely populated area. During those days, the most feared creatures were the so-called “busol” or head hunters. As a result of this head hunting activity, some people of Mankayan, Buguias and Bakun moved southward and settled in the place. Sometime later, an American writer who was fond of adventure went to visit and observe the customs and traditions of the inhabitants. While he was there, he often heard the beautiful sounds of the gongs echoing on the towering rocky mountainsides during cañaos. To him, the sounds gave “kibong-kibong” rhythm. Hence, from the “kibong-kibong” sounds frequently heard, Kibungan’s name was coined.
However, some old folks claim that it was derived from a specie of monkeys called by the natives “kibong” that inhabited the lofty virgin forest several years ago.
Hunting was a major activity during the early days where hunters who reached Kibungan established their home there. More people came in and the population of the place grew.
From 1988 to 1998, the municipality had been led by Mayor Albert Mayamnes. In 1998, however, he ran for a seat in the provincial board and won. Former Vice Mayor Agnawa Contada became mayor in 1998 up to 2001.
Kibungan has seven barangays, namely: Badeo, Lubo, Madaymen, Palina, Poblacion, Sagpat and Tacadang. One hundred fifty-six sitios compose the whole municipality.
Available historical records show that the municipality of Kibungan is one of the original thirty one (31) “Rancherias” of “Distrito de Benguet” during the Spanish Regime. Distrito de Benguet was one of the Mountain Region organized into six “Commandancias Politico Militar” which was established by a Spanish Commandante named Don Guillermo de Galvey in November 25, 1864. When the Americans came, the Philippine Commission of the first Philippine Civil Government enacted Commission Act No. 48 on November 22, 1900, which led to the organization of local civil governments in the formerly organized Spanish Rancherias into townships with appointed leaders called “Presidentes”.
From 1945 to 1952, the municipal officials were informally elected through a process involving names of colors assigned to the candidates. The formal election of municipal officials started in 1953 through secret balloting. This process was carried up to the present.
There were 19 townships that constituted the Province of Benguet up to the time when Benguet was a sub-province of Mountain Province on August 18, 1909. The enactment of Commission Act No. 2877 on February 4, 1920 brought the abolition and merging of townships and sub-provinces plus, reducing the sub-province of Benguet into thirteen (13) towns. In 1938, the thirteen towns were later renamed into thirteen Municipal Districts.
About 97% of the inhabitants of Kibungan are Kankana-eys, but other tribes like Ibalois, Bontocs, Pangasinan, Tagalogs etc. are now found in the municipality. The people of Kibungan still celebrate the “canao” or the butchering of animals for the tribal feastings with songs and dances. This was practiced long before and even after the American Regime started formal education in the country.
In order to promote the uniqueness of the municipality’s ecotourism, the people want the tag “Switzerland of Benguet” removed as of 2007 and Changed to ” The Rocky Wall of Beauties”. The tag was created in good faith as the municipality is a mountainous region and has a cool climate that is associated with Switzerland. However, this gives the wrong impression that the municipality has snow-covered peaks for skiing.
The Municipality of Kibungan is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Bakun, on the east by the Municipality of Buguias, on the south by the Municipalities of Atok and Kapangan, and on the west by the Province of Ilocos Sur.
Kibungan has a total land area of 17,220 hectares. The population is 9,200: Average Annual Income – Php 13,697.72: Class-7th.
Literacy in this municipality is relatively low. The percentage of literacy is 30.4%. To date, there are only thirteen schools manned by 53 teachers. The elementary school population is placed at 1,325 pupils.
The economic development of Kibungan is stagnant. Her primary products are still rice, vegetables and camote. This slow development may be due to a very inadequate road system. However, the infra-structure projects of the municipality may still boost her economy. There are presently four gravity irrigations operating in the municipality. Four more are proposed, the completion of which will mean greater agricultural production. The construction of a proposed airport with hotel facilities will open Kibungan’s breathtaking panorama and invigorating climate to local as well as foreign tourists. This proposed airport together with an improved road system will hasten Kibungan’s economic and social development.
These plans are still on the drawing board. But with the dynamic leadership of its Municipal Officials headed by Mayor Bruno Siadto and the unquenchable desire of the people of Kibungan for the better life, the completion of these plans shall be hastened. In the not too distant future, Kibungan may still become a first class municipality.
Source: Benguet Profile 1970