Benguet occupies the southern top of the Cordillera Mountain
Range in northern Luzon. It is bounded on the north by Ilocos
Sur and the Mountain Province, on the east by Ifugao and Nueva
Vizcaya, on the west by La
Union, and on the south by Pangasinan. Baguio City, the summer
capital of the Philippines, is located in the south central part
of Benguet. It is highly urbanized city, with an area of 49 sq
km and a population of 183,102.
Benguet is a plateau. At 1,500 m above sea level, it has a
rugged and sloping terrain, dotted with hot springs and cut by
rivers that drain into many valleys. Mountains rise from the
plateau. The second highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,930
m, Mt. Pulog, is here. The Halsema Mountain Highway traverses
the province from south to north and includes the highest point
(2,255 m) of all Philippine highways. Benguet possesses a
pleasantly cool climate. Like the western half of Luzon, Benguet
has wet and dry seasons of equal duration, but experiences heavy
rainfall because of its elevation.
In 1572, Juan de Salcedo led a Spanish expedition into southern
Benguet, but the forced them to retreat. The Igorots fiercely
resisted colonization so the Spaniards loosely "governed" them
for over 200 years from their headquarters in Agoo, La Union. In
1846, Commander Guillermo Galvey, after 45 preliminary
expeditions, established a commandancia in La Trinidad, which he
named after his wife. In 1908, Benguet became one of the
sub-provinces of the newly-created Mountain Province. In 1920,
Benguet absorbed Amburayan and Lepanto.
On June 18, 1966, Republic Act No. 4695 divided the old Mountain
Province into four provinces, one of which was Benguet. On July
15, 1987, as a result of a sipot (peace accord) between the
government and local revolutionaries, Executive Order No. 220
created the Cordillera Administrative Region of which Benguet is
Benguet is the homeland of three tribes, collectively referred
to as Igorots. The Ibaloi live in the southeast, the Kankanai in
the northwest, and the Kalanguya in the east. All three tribes
share common beliefs, such as the existence of unseen beings who
can harm or help mortals. They observe common rituals,
especially the canao which involves animal sacrifice, feasting,
and dancing. They live in single-room houses raised on posts and
topped by a pyramidal thatched roof. They are skilled
wood-carvers, basketmakers, and weavers. The Igorots are divided
by dialect. Ibalois speak Nabaloy, which is similar to
Pangasinense; Kankanais speak Kalkai, which is related to the
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Because of its temperature climate, Benguet's leading
agricultural activity is vegetable production. the province is
know as the "Salad Bowl of the Philippines". Major crops include
white potatoes, Baguio beans, peas, strawberries, cabbage,
lettuce, and carrots. Agri-based business activities include
monggo processing, fruits preservation, peanut brittle
production, broom making, basket weaving, and floriculture.
Benguet is also the country's leading gold producer. Other
deposits are copper, pyrite, and limestone. As of 1991, there
are four mines operating in the province: Philex, Lepanto,
Itogon, and Benguet.
Information gathered from: League of
by:Roberto C. Arellano
This page last revised:
March 05, 2004
Benguet In Another
Benguet is located in the central Cordillera Range of northern Luzon and part of
the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Pangasinan lies immediately south of
the province, while Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya lie to the east, Mountain
Province to the north, Ilocos Sur to the northwest and La Union to the west. The
province completely surrounds Baguio City, which is politically separate, but
interconnected economically and culturally.
The land is mountainous and cut by deep river valleys. The province lies over
2,000 meters above sea level on the average. The elevation keeps temperatures
cool and invigorating. The weather can be quite chilly when the Siberian winds
blow in during December and January.
Forests cover about 75 percent of the land surface area, which totals 2,606
square kilometers. The remainder is cultivated with crops such as vegetables,
fruits, coffee, rice and banana. Benguet is the major source of vegetables in
the Philippines. As in Pangasinan, its wet season extends from June to October;
the dry season from November to May.
The capital of Benguet is La Trinidad, one of 13 municipalities that comprise
the province. The population of the province was projected at 620,289 as of
2000, with a labor force of about 242,000. The common dialect/language of its
peoples is Ilocano, although English also is universal.
Filipino, which is mostly Tagalog, but includes elements of other dialects, has
been taught in the Philippine school system since the 1960's, and now is spoken
by most residents. Benguet's large indigenous communities, however, frequently
regard Ibaloi, Kankana-ey or Kalanguya as their primary language.
The region now known as Benguet was settled by the ancestral Ibalois and
Kankanaeys before the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Trade and commerce
between these peoples 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 peoples 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.
On June 18, 1966, the Mountain Province was divided into four provinces by
virtue of Republic Act. No. 4695. Benguet, along with the Mountain Province,
Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao, became a distinct province.
Benguet is a major source of metallic ore and is home to large mining
concessions that extract gold, copper and silver. Mining remains the province's
premier industry, given the abundant ore reserves, but the world market for
metals has been down for an extended period. Thus, current efforts are geared
towards making the province a regional industrial center and away its tradition
of gold mining and vegetable production.
The province is part of the North Luzon Quadrangle growth area-an initiative to
draw industries into the north by complementing the economies of six provinces.
Baguio City has been identified as a major industrial cog of this initiative.
Several Benguet municipalities are earmarked to decongest this city of
industries and new industrial estates are being developed. Investments in power
generation, private estate development, agro-industries, garment manufacture,
handicrafts and novelty making and light manufacturing are being encouraged.
For example, agricultural pursuits, such as cut-flower and fruit production, and
food processing ventures, such as fruit preservation and jam making, are
increasing. Tourism also is on the upswing, especially as the province now is
promoting eco-tourism. The cool climate, scenic countryside and the unique
culture of Benguet are magnets for tourists from the lowlands.
Specific development objectives include:
Leading regional initiatives promoting the socio-economic growth of the
Becoming an accessible alternative haven for investors;
Fortifying Benguet's position as the educational center of northern Luzon;
Increasing agricultural efficiency, thereby hedging Benguet's position as
an agricultural leader; and
Encouraging a more diversified economy by supporting non-traditional