was formerly called El Abra de Vigan or the 'opening of Vigan' and was an
early encomienda of the Spaniards. As early as 1599, the Augustinian
friars penetrated the valley of the Abra River and established a mission in
Bangued. However, despite its proximity to the administrative center of the
province of Ilocos, very little progress was made in converting the Tinguians or
Itnegs to Catholicism.
the Silang Revolt of 1762-1763, Abra played a significant role as the last stand
of the Ilocano heroine Gabriela Silang who hailed from region. After
Gabriela’s husband, Diego Silang, was assassinated, she and her followers
retreated into Abra and carried on with her husband’s struggle. She was
overpowered by a strong Spanish force and was hanged in Vigan together with her
in the 19th century, missionary activity was resumed in earnest and a
number of towns established to preach to the newly settled and Christianized
Tinguians. In 1846, Abra was separated from the province of Ilocos Sur and
established as a politico-military province. In 1905, the province of Abra was
annexed as a sub-province of Ilocos Sur. However, in March 1917, Abra regained
its status as a separate province through the passage of Act No. 2683.
the 1980s, Abra became the hotbed of communist rebels who fed on the discontent
over the loss of ancestral lands due to the establishment of a large logging
concession. The rebellion peaked in 1985, after which, it dissipated when the
Cordillera People’s Liberation Army broke away from the communist movement and
championed the effort to establish an autonomous Cordilleran government.