Capital :
 
La Trinidad
Area :
 
2,655 sq km

Municipalities of Benguet Province

 

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.

THE LAND

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 a part.

THE PEOPLE

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 Bontoc dialect.

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 Provinces
 by:Roberto C. Arellano
 This page last revised: March 05, 2004

 

Benguet In Another Perspective:


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.

History

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 Development Objectives

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 region;
  • 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 industries.

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