A popular legend tells that the name Buguias was given to the place by Americans who came to Central through the Spanish trail to survey the area. When the Americans arrived at Ampatang they came across a group of women who were pounding rice. The foreigners asked for the name of the place and the women, not comprehending what the Americans were saying, answered “Begas” (rice), referring to the grain. From then on the place was referred to as Buguias.
The northeastern most of the towns of Benguet, Buguias is situated at the foot of Mt. Data and is surrounded by two provinces and five municipalities: to the northeast lies Mt. Province; to the east the province of Ifugao; to the west the municipalities of Kibungan and Bakun; to the northwest the municipality of Mankayan and to the south the municipalities of Kabayan and Atok. Buguias is about 85 kilometers by bus travel from Baguio City or two to three-day hiking distance for average hikers. With a total land area of 164.3 square miles, Buguias has a mountainous terrain covered with pine and oak forests. Two of the highest mountain systems are those of Mt. Pulag and Mt. Data in the northeast. Towards the southwest Buguias shares with Ifugao Mt. Manhuyohoy and Mt. Tabayo, the highest in Buguias, while the southeastern most point is Mt. Apanberang. Towards the west to the northwest one finds Mt. Osdong and Mt. Lucong. From these mountains start the river systems of the municipality, the main body of which is the Agno River which starts from Mt. Data and branches off into the rivers of Kitongan, Data and Palatang on the east and the An-no and Dogen on the west. These rivers form the Agno towards the south. At present the Agno River marks the boundaries of some of the barrios.
Buguias is divided into eleven (11) barrios. With their respective sitios the barrios are:
Of these barrios the coldest area is Bot-oan while Amlimay and Central are the warmest areas where rice is planted on a limited scale. Vegetable farming is the source of income of most of the barrios that are variable planted to potatoes, cabbage, carrots, wombok and lettuce – all of which account for some 11,000 hectares of the total area of 16,432 hectares of the municipality. Natubleng alone, with some 4,614 hectares planted to vegetables, is the largest farming barrio, followed in size by Baculongan with 563.29 hectares and Bangao with 530.33 hectares. Because of the importance of commercialized vegetable farming in the municipality the barrio of Abatan has now become the center of business and services as well as of the government offices. Similarly, Loo, Poblacion and Natubleng are also flourishing with business establishments. While the valleys along the Agno River were formerly planted to rice for domestic consumption, these have now been terraced into vegetable farms. Hence, it can be said that only about one-tenth per cent of the Ibaloi and Kalangoya communities depend on rice, while the rest of the culture groups heavily depend on vegetable farming.
In the remotest barrios, however, swidden-farming of gabi and camote as well as animal domestication serve as the most, eastern and southeastern parts of the municipality, these areas being far from the road. Within the periphery of Awa towards Ifugao hunting as well as swidden-farming continue to be the source of food today as it has been since the olden days.
Aside from farming there are about 5,000-8,000 hectares of forest lands that have remained untouched while smaller are of some 70 hectares are relegated as pasture lands.
The municipality of Buguias has a total population of 17,068 as of 1978, the biggest concentrations of which can be found in Baculongan, Loo and Amgalaguey – the farming and service centers. While generally a Kankana-ey-speaking people, the residents of Buguias come from three major culture groups. The barrios of Catlobong and Amlimay are dominated by the Kalangoya-speaking people. Kabuguiasan, on the other hand, is inhabited by Ibalois. The rest of the barrios are people by the Kankana-eys: Baculongan, Kalamagan, Abatan, Bangao, Loo, Buyacaoan, Amgalaguey, and Natubleng. A fourth culture group, although less significant and pronounced as the major groups, can be found in the heart of the municipality – in Poblacion – where the dialect known as Mandec-ey predominates. This dialect carries the combination of the three major dialects, hence the residents of Poblacion can understand any of the three major dialects, hence the residents of Poblacion can understand any of the population of Buguias is Kankana-ey, 15% Kalangoya and some 10% Ibaloi.
The difference between the three culture groups, although primarily linguistic can also be discerned in their observed cultural practices and manifest traits. The Kalangoya are also said to be more superstitious in their beliefs; they are the accepted common users of the “semek” (as in the “tage-ro-rot” and “anting-anting”), and the power of witchery (as in the “ben-ngat”, which can make a person sick). In temperament and disposition the Kankana-eys are described as the proudest and egoistic group – vocal, boastful, yet hospitable and sympathetic. Community bias against them as cattle rustlers, liars, and gamblers has stuck to some extent, probably because of the stigma left by the memory of the Buguias version of Robin Hood – Samiklay who comes from Kankana-ey area of Palatang. The Kalangoyas, mostly hunters up to now are a shy and introverted people, hard-working, conservative, and the most adventurous of the culture groups. The Ibalois, on the other hand, are considered proud.
A further discussion of the cultural practices and beliefs of the three major culture groups is done in this research in the process of reconstructing the history of the earliest remembered families of the municipality. Specifically, the family histories on which will be based the municipal history are those of two general groups: the Odan-Ganangan group of Ambanglo and Loo, whose rich though limited genealogy goes back to the mid-1700s, and the Cadyas group of Amlimay and Central, likewise dating from the mid-1700s. Under the Odan-Ganangan group we can find the following families: Calabson of Bot-oan, Toyaoan of Loo, Tinda-an of Loo, and Pago of Bangao. Under the Cadyas group, the branch families are those of Baoag of Amlimay and Alejandro, Cubangay and Tumpap of Central. Also related to the second group, though in lesser degree, are the present-day families of Bay-an, Almora and Butag. Several other families such as those of Buyagan, Kigangan and Gaiwen are included in this history either because they have or had become important in the development of the municipality at specific periods of time, or because their histories provide us with data on instances and motivations surrounding events that took place in the area.
BUGUIAS IN THE OLDEN DAYS
Theories on Peopling and Migration Patterns Based on Myths, Legends and Family History.
A very common story of origin in Buguias nowadays tells that in the beginning the world was round. It kept on turning and turning until one of it became so heavy and fell: the heavy portion has been called Earth; the lighter portion became the Sky.
The Earth was flat in the beginning. Kabunyan thought of creating people and animals to live on it. On the first day He created people; on the second, animals of all kinds; trees were made on the third day; fire was created on the fifth; on the sixth the water creatures were made; then Kabunyan rested on the seventh. There was yet no nighttime then, so people kept on roaming around. When Kabunyan saw this he turned the daytime into nighttime, yet people still kept on roaming around. He thought that this would stop if He divided the day equally into daytime and nighttime so this he did, but people still did not know where to stay put. Failing in this Kabunyan then thought of flooding the earth so all people died. At Mt. Kalawitan, however, a brother and sister sought refuge.
Kabunyan observed that the couple was unhappy, so he came down at Mt. Kalawitan to make them happy. He showed and gave them different animals but still both were unhappy. Next, he gave them all kinds of plants and fruit trees, but still, nothing changed. So Kabunyan, being so wise and good, blessed them to marry each other, and he saw that the couple became happy. When the couple bore many children, the children spread around Mt. Kalawitan. Some went to Banao, Namiligan, Kayan, Bauko, Kiangan, Ifugao, Ahin, Tinek, Buguias, Mankayan, Bakun, Kabayan and other surrounding areas. The children who went to Mankayan, Buguias, Bakun, Banao and Namiligan are now known as the Kankana-ey group. Those who went to Ahin, Tinek, Amlimay and Vizcaya are the Kalangoyas. Those who went to Kabayan, Bokod and Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya are the Ibalois. Of these migrations, Tinek, Ahin and Namiligan, the areas nearest to Mt. Kalawitan, were the places settled in by the earliest generations.
From this mythical story on the beginnings of the mountain people it is believed that the descendants who went to Miligan (Namiligan), Banao, Ahin, Tinek and Vizcaya are the people who migrated farther to Buguias, Mankayan, Bakun, Kabayan, Bokod and the other places nearby. It is furthermore recounted that the major cause of the dispersion of the population towards these areas was the occurrence of small pox epidemic (boltong).
According to a folk story about the migration of the Namiligan people, Namiligan was located almost in-between Inoday and the Pengeo waterfalls which flow along the Abit River where the people of Bontoc fetched water before the Spanish period. It is told that there was then an epidemic of which many people died so that there was then an epidemic of which many people died so that the residents in the area moved away. Some supposedly went down to Lesseb; a place just below Namiligan, while others went to Mankayan, Buguias, Kapangan, Kabayan, Atok and elsewhere.
The movement of people from Tinek to Ambanglo westwards an informant traces to have occurred before the 1300s. From there, the people migrated towards Amlimay and Ampatang (now Central Buguias) as one direction and towards Awa, Sebang and Palatang as another by ht elate 1600s up to late 1700s. The inhabitants of Palatang are believed to have later intermarried with settlers from the north – Banao – and slowly moved towards south to live in Kalagan. With the gradual increase of population, the Kalagan and Palatang people moved down the range of the mountain, followed the creek towards the west, and settled at the foot of the mountain near the valley of Bang-gan (now Loo) by the second half of the 1700s up to the latter part of the 1800s.
The mythical flood, the smallpox epidemic, the pressure of population growth – these have been commonly held as the causes or factors that accounted for the peopling of Buguias as well as for the movement of its earliest inhabitants. While the inhabitants of Palatang, according to common belief, intermarried with settlers from the north later in the 1700s, there is another story which attributes to conflict between ethnic groups as the cause of the migration of the inhabitants of Palatang to nearby areas. As the story also gives us an idea as to what families, some of them presently existing, moved from what place to elsewhere, here is the story in full:
HOW PEOPLE EMIGRATED LAKDEO, NEAR PALATANG PLACE
One time in Buguias history, the Ebne tribe from Banao used to trade clay pots to the Lakdeo tribe of Buguias. When the Ebenes were benighted on the place they took refuge in one of the house of the Lakdeos. At that time there was a season for frog hunting for the Lakdeo tribe. They had a catch so plentiful that they ran short of containers, so they took the pots being sold by their visitors and filled these wit frogs. When breakfast was ready, they invited their visitors to partake of the meals ahead of their hosts. After meals, the Ebnes traders proceed to take their pots for their journey and were very surprised later to discover that their things were full of live frogs. “Why were these not served on us during our breakfast?” they asked each other. Enraged by such inhospitality, the visitors told their hosts to wait for them in a few days supposedly to call in their fellows from Banao and settle this dispute. But the Lakdeo tribe became very fearful that as soon as the Ebne traders left, each family sought refuge in neighboring towns. Others found themselves to Amlimay, Lut-ac, Batan, Tadeo, Naduklan and other places.
As recounted by Lolong Tinda-an Paksil, five families came to Buguias, specifically to Buyacaoan. These five families were identified as the Kagkagans and the Abags’; and the now Binay-ans’ and the Baliwawas’. The former proceeded to Palina, Kibungan and the latter to Ayosip, Bakun. Meanwhile, the Binay-ans’ and the Baliwawas’ were left behind at Buyacaoan.
Those who went to Bakun begot children in the family of Kilao, a certain wife of Kulop, a certain wife of Sakito, Dogaui, a wife of Odoc but later returned just the same to Kabuguiasan.
The Kagkagan’s son (Palayao is the name of the person) also returned to Buguias. The Binay-ans’ children are now the Paitans descendants, the Ganawads’, Galaps’, Logispis’, Garcias’ and the Yagyagans’, Moises’, Motik and the Towengs’. The Almora, Tilang, Kulap, Damya, Sapa-ay and Kosipas on the other hand, trace their common ancestors to those of the Lakdeo emigrants.
While it is impossible as yet to determine the exact significance of these stories in the early history of the area we can estimate, on the basis of family histories, the remembered beginnings of Buguias from as early as the Oyan family which is assumed to be one of those left after the epidemic which could have occurred in the period between the 1200s to the 1700s.
The Oyan family came in the late 1600s as swidden farmers and hunters from Ahin, Tinek – their origin being Namiligan moved towards the southwest, and settled in Ambanglo where they continued planting camote, gabi and millet. Oyan himself resided in Pacawan, it being near his hunting ground. His son Angdew was also a hunter like his father, and took to swidden-farming and domestication of pigs and chickens. It was he who transferred to Ambanglo where he died of old age. The next generation in the Oyan family is distinguished in the history of the earliest settlement area of Ambanglo precisely because it is the generation of the oldest remaining ancestral coffins and burial caves of the area. Talagen, for instance, who was Angdew’s eldest son, is remembered for having been the most intelligent of the children. He was also the one who brought the carabao and the coli into the area in the course of his trade activities with Cervantes. Another son of Angdew, Tocotoc, slowly moved farther down from Ambanglo towards Amlimay and Ambuse, also as a swidden-farmer and a trader. Tocotoc is more known to the people of Amlimay who, today, are taking care of the big jar which he brought from Suyoc as his burial place. Oyan’s great grandson, Ganagan, brought the family line northwards to Sebang, Palatang, Pago and to Banggan where he is remembered for having been a mambonong. In Bang-gan Ganagan also raised pigs and chickens, took to hunting and was also a swidden-farmer.
After the first set of migration form Namiligan came those from Banao in the period between the 1700s and 1800s. A certain Keddagan from Bang-gan who traded with the Banao people got married there but came back to Bang-gan with his family. He brought with him the culture of rice which he learned in Banao, and thus came about the first rice fields in Bang-gan. Later, trade relations of Buguias extended to as far as Mankayan, Bakun, Cervantes, Ilocos, Ahin and Kabayan hence was hastened the movements of people into and out of the area. Buguias, for instance, bartered animals, honey, ginger, tobacco, chicken, pigs, clay pipes and copper pots for those items from the Ilocos such as salt, sugar and blankets which are brought to Buguias via Mankayan and Bakun. Honey and ginger came mainly from Ahin, while Suyoc was the source for gold ornaments. From all these developments, therefore, it was much faster now for people to look for better places to live in, and more settlement areas arose in Buguias.
Towards the end of the 1700s a third factor hastened the process of migration when the “busol” form the northeast – from Palatang – became active and caused the evacuation of the people to as far as Kapangan, Bakun, Palina, Kibungan and even Vizcaya. The prevalence of the activities of the “busol” has always been identified with the period of Gimboan who married into the line of Oyan’s descendants in Kalagan and who settled in Palatang. Gimboan is assumed to be the ancestor of Samiklay who is nowadays more remembered than the former because his generation is more recent. While the story about Gimboan is commonly accepted nowadays as a credible factor for the dispersal of nearby communities towards other areas, no accounts from the family histories, however, could establish the exact significance of the “busol” menace from Palatang. There is an old story, however, that is known to the Buguias people to explain a possible origin of the busol “menace” which runs like this:
THE STORY ABOUT BUSOL AND REVENGE
There was a man from Banao whose name was Cabisang who married in Lub-ong (Lubon, Tadian). He settled there with his wife and they were blessed with three or five children (informant was not sure of the number of children). When the wife died, he went back to Banao with his children. There was famine (betel) all over the land and the brothers-in-law of Cabisang asked him to go to Lubon to take some palay so that he can feed him to go to Lubon to take come palay so that he can feed his children. Upon learning about it, he waited for the day he would be told to go, when it came, he immediately took his “gimata” (two big baskets suspended on both ends of a wood) and proceeded to Lubon. When he reached Lubon, his brothers-in-law met him, inform him that they were having their “pakde” (a thanksgiving ritual for harvest) and so they could not give him any palay since it is against their customs and traditions, so they sent him back and asked him to return on the day they told him to. When Cabisang started for home, his brothers-in-law ordered some men ahead to wait Cabisang on the way so as to kill him. When Cabisang rested while he was cleaning the clothe lices in his garment it so happened that he returned his back and he saw somebody holding a sharp thing ready to attack him. Because of fear that they will kill him, he ran until he reached Tadian. He entered the house of Balucan, a rich man of the place but when Balucan noticed him, he took the two steel bars to prevent Cabisang from entering.
Since he knew that the attackers could find him and he would be killed, he pulled his two gold earrings (dinampulay) and put these into his mouth. There were many men who came with their sharp arms and murdered him. The people of Banao heard about the incident and they knew that it was Cabisang, their town mate. Most of his relatives came top claim his body and concluded that it was a conspiracy among the people to kill Cabisang. When the oldest man touched the head of Cabisang saying that he might be destined to that kind of death while touching the head the mouth of dead Cabisang opened his mouth and there came out the two gold earrings (dinampulay). The people watching were so surprised as to why he thought of putting his gold earring into his mouth when he knew he would be killed. While on their way home, they passed by Lubon where they took Atingbayongan, a rich old man, and killed him as their revenge.
Early Society and Culture
Remembered accounts about settled areas in Buguias in the pre-historic period indicate that these were basically agricultural and trading communities. While the generation of Oyan in the late 1600s already consisted of swidden-farming, hunting and animal-raising members especially in Pacawan and Ambanglo, the raising of gabi, millet and camote was the main source of food, with hunting of birds, pigs, chicken and dogs providing for the protein requirements. Hunting of bird particularly near the general area of Awa was an important activity in the olden times for which reason Buguias, unlike the Kankana-ey areas of Bakun and Mankayan, devoted the period approximating September to December as a time for trapping birds in the evening with the use of fire.
Land was initially free for any interested camote, gabi, or millet planter. Rice culture was not yet developed by the 1600s as evidence in the use of corn for making wine that was necessary in the performance of ceremonies in Ambanlong and Awa. It is furthermore recounted that the use of corn wine extended even to Tinek and Ahin until rice wine was introduced in Amlimay whose rice culture is believed to have been acquired form Kabayan through trade. In the process the Buguias natives developed its rice agriculture especially in the area of Amlimay. Rice was planted from the time of the “tigweg” or the sowing of seeds up to the “luya” and “lebteng”.
Meanwhile, the domestication of pigs, chicken and dogs in this early period was already being done, although in a limited scale as yet. The general area of Awa remained a rich hunting ground for deer and birds, while the more adventurous game-seekers reached as far as the forests of present-day Mankayan where, it is believed, copper was discovered one day by two hunters from who pursued a deer. By the 1750s, contemporaneous with the period of the brothers Talagan, Tocatoc and Gatawa, the domestication of animals, especially now of carabao became more intensive particularly among these descendants of Oyan who became cañao holders. Moreso, trade had gradually become an important economic activity in itself, the extent of which reached as far as Cervantes from where had come the first carabao and “oli” jar of Ambanglo. A century later, trade and the domestication of not only carabaos but even cows significantly drew Buguias closer to the surrounding communities, extending to those along the Agno up to Kabayan and Kapangan and, eastwards, up to as far as Tinek, Ahin, and Hungduan.
In the olden days the people of Ahin, Tinek, Tococan and Ambanglo traded with those of Awa, Sebang, Amlimay, Buguias, Tangawan, Loo, Banao, Suyoc and Mankayan and vice versa. Item in the barter trade consisted mainly of animals such as pigs, chicken, carabao, cows and horses, blankets such as the tinoto for the men and the petican for the women, salt, sugar, honey, ginger, clay pipes, copper pots, gold and gold ornaments.
It has been noted that there was no common market then wherein people from all directions could conduct their exchanges. Instead, anybody who wished to barter his goods, especially blankets, for something else went around the settled areas to show samples of his goods among the people. Potential buyers signified their interest with a pronouncement of “Bot-o-an tako” (let’s have a business transaction), and they may make arrangements with the trader as to when and where the actual transaction would take place. In making the arrangements for the actual exchange a system of reckoning days was devised: each of the two parties made on any part on their G-string as many square knots as the days of waiting. For example, if they were to meet three days after initial parting, each of the two parties made three square knots in the G-string. When they both go home to prepare for the meeting then both will just count the knots with the passing of each day, the first knot for the first day, the second for the second day, and the third for the meeting day. On the other hand, those who wished to forego with this arrangement, because of immediate need as in wedding celebrations or death rituals just go around the community where people raised animals as in Buguias, or rice as in Kabayan, or cows as in Cervantes and got the goods right then and there. Nonetheless two areas in Buguias stood out as market centers because they were points of convergence: Abatan for the trade in jars, blankets, gold, carabaos, cows and horses from Cervantes, Mankayan, Banao and Lagod (now Bakun) and Bot-oan for the smaller animals like the pigs and chicken, vinegar, ginger, salt and honey from the Ifugao side.
In the development of trade as an important economic activity blanket, jars and the bigger animals were sold only among the wealthier families for use in the performance of ceremonies. Initially as it is remembered, the men, rich and poor alike commonly used the tinoto from the bark of a tree for their G-string, while the woman wore the petican-anadong, also from’ the bark of a tree, to cover just the most important parts of the body. Blankets were not used for clothing purposes except during the observance of rituals. Later, when the surrounding places like Mankayan, Bakun, Banao, Ifugao and Kabayan traded more intensively with Buguias, the bandala (Ilocano woven blanket) was gradually used for clothing purposes, yet this was still limited to the babacnang who had the animals to exchange with the blanket. Meanwhile, the poor continued to wear the tinoto and the petican.
1. At a time when animals became the most important trade item around the early 1800s the exchange value of goods could be shown in the following examples: one big-sized male pig (one otic) and one big-sized female pig (one ca-ong) plus the worth of 5.00 pesos could buy one regular-sized cow or one horse, while one working carabao could be purchased with one otic, one ca-ong, and a third regular-sized pig, either male or female.
2. From the cows, carabaos and horses traded by the lowlanders with the highlanders began the large-scale domestication of these animals in Buguias and, related to it, the practice of solbeg in animal-raising. In the first decades of the 1800s Dacale (Oyan’s descendant) and Bayangan are said to have owned most of the animals that could be found in the cattle ranch at Mangkew. The period of Dacale is well-remembered by the people of Buguias not only because it was the time when most of the villagers, especially Dacale’s neighbors, came to acquire animals of their own through the solbeg, or animal-sharing which Dacale resorted to so as to share his good fortune with others.
3. The solbeg is the sharing system in animal-raising. It had been a common practice among Kankana-eys, Kalangoyas and Ibalois alike since traditional times in Buguias. Through it the poor people are allowed the chance of improving their economic life. Through it, too, the animal-lenders could further their wealth. On other occasions the poor people were forced by circumstance to borrow animals for use during wedding and death ceremonies. There were several ways by which the solbeg was done:
While Dacale’s sons Siclongen and Basilio as well as his grandson Dangol Cubangay, inherited the cattle in the Mangkew ranch it was Meyengmeng, Dacale’s grandson-in-law, who stood out among this baknang clan as the most kadangyan, as he was regarded by the people from Amlimay, Gueweng and Central Buguias. It has been noted that the line of his cows, when being driven home from Saclaran to Gueweng, measured approximately four kilometers long. Mayengmeng’s highest cañao, as remembered by the people of Amlimay and Buguias, was twenty-five pigs and cows. Meyengmeng it was, too, whose burial ceremonies together with his wife Koyat’s lasted for some eight months in Gueweng, or starting from the time when the same were as big as the mother – as the old folks say it. While cows are believed to have arrived in Buguias much earlier than this period, it was during Mayengmeng’s time, however, when ownership of great number of cattle became the measure of one’s baknang status is society.
It would seem like becoming a baknang was not all together a hard process for the parents themselves shared their animals with their children for propagation and even provided for the animals needed in their initial cañaos. With the solbeg, becoming a baknang could begin from having three to four beg, becoming a baknang could begin from having three to four pigs. After two to three years of conscientious work a baknang could even become a kadangyan, as was the case with Talagen and Tocotoc, Cadyas, Pal-lay, Dacsoy, Dacale and Siclongen.
Buguias by mid-1800s had definitely developed clear class distinctions between the poor and the rich, with animal ownership as the primarily distinguishing economic factor, decisive as it is in assuring for the rich and respected family the community distinction of being able to affirm leadership through cañao celebrations. When further encouraged, by increased trade and the practice of solbeg, animal ownership became a gauge for prestige and respect in the community.