Buguias was among the District Municipality created
under Act No. 48 dated November 22, 1900. This act comprising the 19
towns of Benguet among which Loo was separated from Buguias. Later.
Loo and Buguias merged into one district municipality bearing the
name “Buguias” in 1090 under an executive order issued by the
Governor General. Buguias became a regular municipality on June 25,
1963 under the issuance of Executive Order No. 42.
The name of the Municipality of “Buguias” was derived from the word
“BUGAS” meaning “rice” in the local vernacular. “Bugas” refers to
the local cereal purposely used for fermenting wine. Local legend
has it that the term “Bugas” emerged when a certain American soldier
got lost while on his way to Kabayan, a nearby municipality. The
foreigner came upon a group of native women somewhere in the
southern part of the town pounding rice and he consequently asked
the natives of his whereabouts. The natives gratefully answered,
“Bugas” thinking that the foreigner was asking the name of what they
are pounding. The word was naturally Americanized to read and be
pronounced later as Buguias (Bug-yas) and consequently adopted as
the official name of the municipality.
Another local legend claims that Buguias got its name from the
word “BOGEY-YAS,” a popular igorot settlement during the pre-Spanish
time. Through the years, the word evolved as “BUGUIAS” until the
dawn of the colonization period.
Creation of the Municipality.
Buguias was among the District Municipality created under Act No. 48
dated November 22, 1900. This act comprising the 19 towns of Benguet
among which Loo was separated from Buguias. Later. Loo and Buguias
merged into one district municipality bearing the name “Buguias” in
1090 under an executive order issued by the Governor General.
Buguias became a regular municipality on June 25, 1963 under the
issuance of Executive Order No. 42.
The Town’s Historical Roles and Events:
At the turn of the 13th century, inhabitants from neighboring places
such as Cervantes traded salt, bandala (lowland blanket), jars, and
cows in exchanged for wooden pipes, chicken and pigs from the
highland natives. The natives in turn brought their bartered goods
to the hinterlands of Ahin, Tinoc, Hapaw and Hungduan which brought
about the improvement of the living conditions especially in terms
of clothing and dressing.
In the 16th century, an epidemic (bulutong) occurred which reduced
the population. As a result, the people moved further to other
places such as Mankayan, Bakun, Kibungan, Itogon, Ifugao and other
In the 17th century, Buguias was reached by the Spanish Colonizers
(under the Galvez Expedition) and recruited natives to work on
forced labor for the construction of a horsetrail now known as the
“Spanish Trail,” for use to collect taxes for the Spanish rulers.
They also established two (2) tribunal halls for meetings and tax
In 1896, after the defeat of the Spaniards by the Americans
colonizers, the latter issued an Act No. 48 creating
District-Municipalities as well as provinces.
In 1941, the second world war broke out paving the way for the
Japanese occupation in the Philippines until August 1945.
In July 16, 1989, typhoon Goring devastated Buguias destroying
vegetation, farmlands and killing lives.
In July 16, 1990, a killer quake occurred, destroying lives and
properties. Several strong typhoons follow onwards, causing loss of
lives and properties, landslides, floodwaters and isolation of the
town for several months affecting heavily the economic condition of
In the early days, Buguias is a thick-forested area and a hunting
ground for “Makawas” (deer), “bango” (wild pig), “sabag” (wild
chicken) and other wild animals.
Later, hunters got tired of roaming the mountain as the number of
wild animals to be hunted dwindled. They tried to stay in one place
and began to tame wild animals such as dogs, pigs, chicken etc. They
planted “togi,” (sweet potato) for their staple food and planted
native rice for “tapey” (wine) on paddies along creeks, rivers using
traditional and crude method of irrigation.
During the Spanish occupation, Igorot/natives were recruited and
forced to work on a horsetrail coming from Baguio City and
Cervantes, Ilocos Sur bisecting Buguias leading to the province of
Ifugao. The Spanish authorities likewise established tribunals for
tax collection purposes and give some informal education. Though
little, these form part in the improvement of the crude mode of farm
living of the igorots.
The coming of the Americans has the most impact on the economic
development of the natives. With the construction and eventual
opening of a road crisscrossing Benguet and Mountain Province, now
known as the Halsema Highway, named after the American Engineer
Joseph Halsema who started building it in 1920, an opportunity for
trade and commerce was opened thereby affording the igorots the
opportunity to travel and seek for greener pasture. Americans
afforded likewise the first formal education among the early igorot
natives who in turn looked up with high regard to the Americans. The
democratic way of living little by little sipped through the
lifestyle of the local folks which could be claimed as the driving
force behind efforts of igorots to economically improve their lot.
Agriculture, though remained their main source of living.
During the Japanese occupation, the way of farming improved with the
introduction of pechay and other leafy vegetables for planting.
After the second world war, Chinese farmers settled in Loo and
Natubleng on leased paddies consequently converting them into
vegetable plantation. Their coming brought in the new way of modern
farming including root crops particularly the potato.
Today, vegetable plantations abound be it along creeks, slopes or
mountain plateaus. Buguias has emerged as the highland vegetable
capital of the country producing vegetables that finds its way at
the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post and marketed to Manila and
other urban centers of the country.
In the early 1930’s, logging concession was established in Sinipsip
and Bad-ayan. Forest resources were also taken for commercial
purposes from Natubleng, Lengaoan and nearby places. Later, Km. 102
Logging was established simultaneously with the opening of the ACME
mines in Nabalicong hiring natives for manpower.
In the beginning “KABUNYAN” created the first couple Bangan and
Bugan who started the first family after the great flood at Mt.
Kalawitan, the highest mountain north of Benguet. Their decendants
went and settled on the northwest to Gonogon and Bontoc following
the Chico river, others went southward to Ahin, Tococan, Ambanglo,
Tinok, Awa, Palatong, Amlimay, Man-atong, Bogeyas, Tanggawan, Labay,
Amgaleygey, Togtogyon and farther to Embusy, Batan, Kabayan and
Bokod, and rest went westward to Mankayan, Bakun and Kibungan who
later migrated to Kapangan.
In the 13th century, in Ambanglo east of Bot-oan lived a settler by
the name Talgen who begot eight sons who spread out in search for
greener pastures. Odan, the eldest, went to Hapaw, Kiangan, Baglaw,
the second son, a hunter and a trader roamed around the place and
later settled at Mangkew, southern part of Buguias, while Mantac,
the third went to Lubon, Tadian. Kitongan, the fourth son, went to
Tad-ew and farmed at a mountain which is now Mt. Kitongan above the
Loo Valley. Malawmaw, the fifth son settled at Sanil near Tococan.
Belka, a trader, went to Bauko and lived there. Padyog, the seventh
brother went to Benalian (now Nueva Viscaya).
On the later part, some of the settlers of the different places of
Buguias again grouped themselves and settled and raised vegetables &
animals at Palatang, the northern part of Buguias where they cooked
asin (Salt) which they bartered and sold in other places.
The people worship “Kabunyan’’ as their God and creator. They
perform “Sida’’(Canao), caon(Wedding), pidet/pudan and perform other
rituals for good luck.
In the early 19th century, there was a great thief named “Samiklay’’
also now known as the “Robinhood of Buguias’’. They also called him
“Buzo’’, but not the connotation of a head hunter which the people
of Mt. Province calls one. He’s a descendent of Tagen. Everyday w/
his goons, he went to Palatang and other nearby places to steal and
take all that he wanted from the natives w/o their permission. With
these, the once close-knit settlers broke apart, some went back to
the original settlement of their forebears, some went to Ifugao, to
Mt. Province, to La Union, to Nueva Viscaya and to other nearby
As the years passed by, people from far places arrived for various
reasons ranging from trade and commerce, greener pasture and simply
fate. They had joined the growing community and later intermarriages
between them and the settlers brought forth varied languages and
customs. The fusion of different cultures as well as the isolations
of various villages created several ethnic tribes, viz: the
Kankanaeys, Ibalois, Kalanguyas, etc. all of which are called
Igorots. Buguias populace largely belong to the Kankanaey tribe
while a little percentage belongs to the Kalanguya tribe.
People in the municipality lies in the interstice of three
linguistic or cultural groups; two if these, the ibaloi and the
southern kankana-ey, are now recognized ethnologically, but the
third, the Kalanguya (or Kalahan), remains virtually ethnologically
Residents today are most related genealogically to the Kalanguya,
the village (called Mandek-ey or ibugiyas) while containing elements
of all three neighboring tongues, is also most close affiliated with
kalanguya. Over the past 60 years, however, Kankana-ey has
penetrated Southward into the village and today, the Mandek-ey
survives only in the Southern most hamlets of Buguias. As a result,
outsiders generally classify Buguias as a Southern Kankana-ey
community as distinguished from the Lepanto Igorot (Northern
The people of Buguias belong to the indigenous inhabitants of the
Cordillera collectively referred to as Igorots, a word which comes
from a combination of the Tagalog rootword “Golot” (Mountain Chain)
and a prefix “I”(dweller in or people of).
The Buguias people has a unique culture which is distinct from other
fellow igorots in as much as Buguias has its own system i.e.,
aesthetics, child rearing, economics and everything people must in
order to survive.
Buguias is accessible by land transport routes. If one travels from
Baguio via the Baguio-Bontoc-Banawe Road, the town center at Abatan
can be reached by three to four (3-4) hours. This route is the main
access for the transport of farm products as well as for human
transport. Alternate routes are via the Buguias-Kabayan-Bokod Road;
the Mankayan-Cervantes-Tagudin National Road and the Bontoc-Vizcaya
Road. These alternate routes are usually resorted to in cases the
Halsema National Highway is intermittently closed due to natural
calamities when massive landslides occur during rainy seasons.