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




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.
Historical Background.
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 adjoining places.
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 collection purposes.
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 the population.
Economic Development
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.
Socio-Cultural Development
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 provinces.
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 invisible.
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 Kankana-ey).
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.