Atok Town, Benguet Province, Cordillera Autonomous Region, Luzon Islands, Philippines


The word “ATOK” is basically derived from the word “ naypatok shi chontog” which means “ on the mountain top”. It carried this name even during Spanish colonial Government when the place was the seat of government headed by an official called “ Presidente” or “ Kapitan”1.2 Creation of the Municipality Under Act No. 48 dated November 22, 1900, the local civil government in the townships of Benguet were established. There were nineteen (19) namely Baguio, La Trinidad, Galiano, Itogon, Tublay, Atok, Kapangan, Balakbak, Palina, Ampusongan, Loo Kabayan, Buguias, Adaoay, Bokod, Daklan, Sablan, Kibungan and Ambuklao.
  In 1909, the town of Baguio became a chartered city and the number of towns of Benguet was reduced. Atok still stood as one.
Executive Order No. 42 dated June 25, 1963 converted eight (8) of the thirteen (13) towns into a regular municipality. Atok again was among them
When Republic Act No. 4695 in June 18, 1966 divided the Mountain Province into four (4) provinces, the Thirteen (13) towns of Benguet were retained up to present time.
  1.3  Major Significant Events/Situation Leading to the Present Condition of the Municipality
  Historical Roles and Event
The Amburayan river whose main source originates from this town is the source of life along its path to the sea. It waters the fields from Barangays Pasdong, Naguey and part of Poblacion of this town. Part of Kapangan municipality down to some municipalities of La Union until it finally exit into the China Sea. Some tributaries of the Agno River also originates from this town such as barangays of Paoay, Cattubo, Topdac and Caliking and helps water the Ambuclao dam which generates electricity for Northern Luzon.
Oral tradition states that along the Amburayan, on its banks were early settlement with interesting stories like the two-headed snake named “balatek” pestilence, banditry and cattle rustling. These stories affected not only the people in the neighboring towns in the east, north and west. The two-headed snake, which had killed several people in some parts of Kapangan municipality was killed by a residents of Atok by the use of “vat and fire” as well as the leader of the bandit-rustlers named Chamikday was also killed which put an end to banditry and lawlessness.
During the World War II, Atok was one of the scene of fierce pitch battles between the guerilla forces of the 66th Infantry battalion and the Japanese Imperial Army particularly at Km. 26, Saddle, Caliking, Atok. This was so because of the terrain along Halsema road, which was conveniently situated as an ideal place for the guerillas to hide and wait for their prey. Due to the obstruction activities of the guerillas and resulted casualties to the men of General Yamashita, the 66th Infantry was again called to reinforce the Filipino soldiers at Bessang Pass at Cervantes Ilocos Sur and inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy.
Because of this courageous role, Atok is hence named the “ Vanguard of Freedom”.
November 22, 1900, the day Atok became a municipality is the event most historical to the Local Government Unit. It is their Foundation Day.
Economic Development
The early settlers of Atok originated from two (2) settlers, the first was identified as the agriculturists since they lived along the rivers/creeks banks and raised rice, camote, root crops and vegetables. The second settlers were the miners but later shifted to agriculture. The Spaniards who came up north introduced coffee productions. This (agriculture) was later intensified with the arrival of the Americans.
After World War II, the Chinese businessmen introduced large-scale farming at Barangay Paoay. This has enticed the farmers because of its economic returns.
Of economic value among the rice-producing Barangays is the sweet-aromatic red rice named, “kintoman”. There are sold twice to thrice the price of the ordinary commercial rice.
Confronting the vegetable industry today is the “leaf-miner pestilence” spreading towards or from the neighboring town of Buguias. These pests attacks potatoes, celery etc. which may (God forbid) doom our vegetable production.
One economic opportunity among our people are the business establishments particularly restaurants and eateries along the Halsema Highway. A forty-kilometer stretch of Halsema Highway runs within Atok’s jurisdiction. Cut-flower production and indoor cacti production gives additional income to our families.
An upcoming commercial area is sitio Sayangan (km. 50) of Barangay Paoay. Found herein are the Atok District Hospital, the St. Paul’s Academy high school, the Celo Haight Elementary School, various private establishments, and the Municipal building where the sit of government is located.
Socio-Cultural Development :
Igorots particularly the Ibalois and the Kankana-eys inhabit the municipality. The former mostly settled in the low-lying Barangays of Pasdong, Naguey, Poblacion, Lower Abiang and Caliking. The latter tribe settled at the high elevated Barangays of Cattubo, Paoay, and Uppers Abiang and Topdac. The Ibalois were migrants from Kabayan municipality (the seat of Ibaloi culture) while the Kankana-eys came from Buguias, Bakun, and Mankayan municipalities. These three municipalities are all kankana-ey towns.
  This explains why the Atok people can speak both the two dialects.
One thing to note is that Benguet homes/houses are built far apart and are not in cluster. One’s neighbor is at the other side of the ridge. This is the evidence that there were no tribal wars, no enemy to attack. This too speaks of their simplicity, shyness, privacy and independence. In short, the peace they uphold up to these times.
  Our forefathers have practiced this culture. Strictly, there was no paganism as they had a God named “Kabunian” with all the attributes the Christians of today believe in.
  The “canaos” of yesteryears were social gatherings. It is celebrated when one had the blessing, material or otherwise.
  People, far and near, come together. They make acquaintances, dance to the gongs and solibao and share in the banquet. In addition, the bounty or blessing extends to those left at home when those attending (the party) brings home-butchered meat known as “vat-vat” or “wat-wat”.
  Nowadays, canaos are seemingly taken over by clan reunions. However, the canaos are practiced at Barangays where th ethnicity and originality are preserved.