THE PROVINCE OF BENGUET is a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and is bordered by Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya in the south side.
The early settlers of Benguet province were the Ibaloi and the Kankana-ey tribes known as the Igorot. These tribes were believed to be of Malay descent and haslong been trading with the lowlanders even before the Spanish era.
In 1572, the Spanish explorer Juan de Salcedo came into this province. However the natives forced them to retreat. Then in 1620 other Spanish explorers came to La Trinidad Valley and having heard of the gold mines in the mountains they briefly controlled the said mines. In 1800 the Spanish expeditioners established their presence in La Trinidad Valley, and later on the area became a district of La Union province in 1846. Then Benguet became a separate comandancia politico-militar in 1854.
On November 23, 1900 upon the arrival of the Americans, a civil government was established by virtue of Act No. 49. A Canadian journalist was appointed as the first governor of the province. In August 18, 1908 with the enactment of Act No. 1876 Mountain Province was established and Benguet, Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Lepanto became sub-provinces of the Mountain Province.
In the end of World War II in 1945, Igorot guerillas and American forces joined together in their fierce battle with the Japanese soldiers. Then on June 18, 1966, The Mountain Province was split into four provinces: Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao with the enactment of Republic Act No. 4695. On the other hand, Benguet became one of the provinces of the Ilocos Region. It was only on July 15, 1987 that the province became one of the provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The total land area of Benguet province is 261,468 hectares which comprises of 174,740 hectares or 66.78% of forest land, 86,908 hectares or 32.22% alienable and disposable lands, and classified forest land is based on forest or watershed reservation, timberland, national parks, military and civil reservation. Only 6% of the total land area is used for agricultural use.
In terms of population, Benguet already has 330,129 people with an annual growth rate of 1.09%, and 63,123 households with an average household size of 5.2 persons. Most of the residents were Kankana-ey, Ibaloi and Ilocano. Others are Ikalahan and Tagalog population. These people have various languages and dialects such as Ibaloy, Bontoc language, Ilokano, Tagalog, and English for trade and commerce.
The province is classified under the type II climate with wet and dry seasons. The dry season lasts from December to March and the wet season for the remaining months. Benguet has the lowest temperature in the country due to high elevation of the province.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY IN BENGUET
Agriculture, mining, and tourism are the major industries in Benguet. The province is truly an ideal place for producing vegetables, thus it was called the Salad Bowl of the Philippines with major produce such as potatoes, Baguio beans, peas, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce and carrots. The province is also into monggo processing, fruit preservation, peanut brittle manufacturing, broom making, basket weaving, and flower growing.
The province is also a leading gold producer with mining as its other major industry with various mineral deposits such as silver, copper, pyrite, and limestone. The presence of Baguio City in Benguet draws a large number of tourists annually and most of the visitors also explore the province especially the strawberry and vegetable plantations in La Trinidad.
ART AND CULTURAL HERITAGE IN BENGUET
The province is home for the Kankana-eys, Ibalois and the Kalanguyas. They may have a different dialect but these tribes share a similar culture, traditional beliefs and rituals such as Cañao or kanyao which is a ceremony or ritual with offering. A "kanyao" may be performed for thanksgiving for the health of the community, petition for a bountiful harvest, for healing with the use of water and prayer and for a grand entertainment, cultural shows and festivities. The people of Benguet also believe in the existence of unseen beings which are called spirits thought to have power over man and can be manipulated by men to his advantage. Other various rituals are also performed such as offerings of animal, "tapey" or rice wine, food and other prescribed materials. There is also a rite for the fertility of the soil during the month of May.
Traditional Igorot crafts continue to be made by highland craftsmen, as well as ethnic jewelry bearing specific names. Igorot woodcraft is also very popular. Cultural traditions and important relics can also be found in museums in the City of Baguio, Provincial Capitol and in the town of Kabayan, the seat of the Ibaloi culture. In the different municipalities, the mummified remains of the important men have been left in burial caves that dot the mountains surrounding the town. These mummies are considered sacred to the people of Benguet.
Various products can be bought in the province from silver craft or brass wares, woodcraft, loom weaves, handmade paper decors and novelty items, knitted garments, processed strawberry jams, fruit jellies, candies, and preserves.
MUNICIPALITIES OF BENGUET
The province has 13 municipalities, one city and 140 barangays:
CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES
NO. OF BARANGAYS
While Baguio City is not officially part of Benguet, its location provides additional income in form of tourism for the province. Some of the interesting places are, Kennon Road, Binga Hydroelectic Plant, strawberry and flower farms in La Trinidad, Ambuklao Dam, and Palina and Naguey rice terraces:
Ambuklao and Binga Dams
The Dam was built in 1950s and the source of power for major areas in Luzon.
Asin-An Sulfur Springs
Found in Buguias.
Balatoc Mines Tour
The Balatoc Mines are the first ever underground mining tourist attraction in the Philippines.
Used as landing site by the U.S. Airforce during World War II.
This is located in Kapangan and used as a camp by the Infantry Battalion during World War II.
Darew Ancient Ruins of Civilization
The ruins were of the earliest known settlements.
Battleground of the famous Infantry Battalion and guerillas who fought the Japanese Imperial Army.
Hill World War II
This is located in Mankayan and is the site where the 66th Infantry Battalion and guerillas fought to make their way to Besang Pass.
The Burial Rock is almost as big as a regular three-storey building which houses centuries-old mummies. There is also the Timbac Caves and Opdas Cave as one of the biggest burial caves in the municipality. It has 200 skulls and bones neatly piled on ledges reminiscent of the catacombs of Rome.
This is the burial place in Kapangan for British soldiers who came to Benguet in the 15th century.
This is known as Zig-zag Road.
Escape route of then President Sergio Osmena and party who ware escorted by detachment of the 66th Infantry Battalion to Camp Valhalla, Kapangan to San Gabriel, and La Union during WW II.
Located in Kibungan. This is a vegetable growing area known as the "Switzerland of Benguet."
The highest mountain peak in Luzon at 9,640 feet above sea level. It is home to many species of highland flora and fauna, including the dwarf bamboo, which covers its bald peak. Mountain climbing expeditions are being done during the months of December and April.
Tourists can experience picking fresh strawberries from the fields in La Trinidad.
Other places to visit:
MOUNTAIN AND CAVES
FALLS AND LAKES
Apo Anna Cave
Mount Santo Tomas
Bridal Veil Falls
Inodey Water Falls
Towing Water Falls
OTHER HISTORICAL SITES
Badekbek Sulfur Springs
Dalupirip Hot Spring
Benguet Provincial Capitol
Benguet State University
Marker of the Highest Mountain Highway System
Palina Rice Terraces
Benguet is accessible via Asian Spirits with flight schedules every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday to and from Baguio City using the Loakan Airport. There is an airport at Lepanto, Mankayan, used privately by the mining company.
From Manila, it can be approached by land through the Palispis-Aspiras (formerly Marcos), Naguilian or Quirino Highway and through Kennon Road.
On the inter-provincial and municipal travel, transportation is generally provided by buses, jeepneys, trucks and even taxi cabs and vans.