La Trinidad has its own interesting contributions to
the colorful history of Benguet and the other mountain provinces.
The very name ”Benguet” was once the name of a limited area of what
is now the La Trinidad Valley. In the course of time Benguet covered
a larger territory to what is at present the Benguet Province. At a
certain time in early history, La Trinidad was relatively the most
developed settlement in the Benguet area. It was the gateway from
the southern lowlands into the mountain region. Due to its
relatively more advance development, La Trinidad served as the
capital of the administrative territory of Benguet during the
Spanish Era, the short lived Philippine Revolutionary government and
the early period of the American Rule. The following in a nutshell
recounts interesting historical events and incidents about La
Trinidad and the Cordilleras as a whole.
Recorded history about La Trinidad begins with Don Q .M. Quirante,
one of the early Spanish explorers who ventured into the mountain
region to search and obtain the precious metal of the indigenous
peoples of the Cordilleras. In 1624, Don Quirante who started up the
Amburayan River came to what is now La Trinidad and found a large
and prosperous community thriving around a lake. The lake was in the
middle of what is now La Trinidad and on account of the ibalois
inhabiting the area. Called the place ”Benguet”.
When Quirante reached La Trinidad, the Principal vegetable of the
people then consisted of kamoteng kahoy, camote, gabi, beans and
tomatoes. Rice was grown only to make “Tapey” or rice wince used for
ceremonial purposes in the cañao.
In the course of time, the Spaniards wanted to convert the “heathen”
Igorots to Christianity. Around 1755 when Don Arandia was
governor-general of the Philippine Islands, the Augustinian friars
became active in converting the indigenous peoples to Christianity.
Six leading Benguet Igorots apparently hoping to get back their
confiscated gold and obtain redress for the grievances agreed to be
baptized. They were taken to Manila where they were baptized at the
Tondo church during a big celebration. The governor-general kissed
the heads of the new Christian Igorots. This kindly act attracted
other Igorots to come down from the mountain and they were baptized
at Agoo, La Union. They asked for a priest and a Padre Vivar was
sent to Benguet. Padre Vivar built a mission in Tanglao (near Tuba,
Benguet) and said the first mass in the mountain region at Cruz, La
Trinidad. However while the people were glad to be baptized. They
refused to give up their own cañao way of worship.
Among other items, the Spaniards brought in corn, coffee and good
tobacco. The ibalois raised large quantities of tobacco. Which they
traded with the lowlands. This trading nearly broke the lucrative
Spanish monopoly in the lowlands. In order to stop this and to bring
the ibalois under tribute, governor-general Arandia ordered the
Alcalde Mayor of Pangasinan to lead a punitive expedition against
the ibalois. The mayor was able to accomplish his mission although
he was ably and bravely opposed by a local named Kidit (ancestor of
the Cariños of Baguio) until the latter was dismayed. Furthermore,
the punitive expedition did not improve the Spanish situation but
instead resulted to the cessation of all Christian work and
disruption of peace and order.
After several military expeditions in the early 19th century,
Commandante Don Guillermo Galvez pacified the Ibalois sometime in
1846 when he returned to La Trinidad and adopted a kindly policy and
gave gifts. The people accepted him and he was able to establish the
Province of Benguet composed of 31 rancherias (political units) with
the “Commandancia” (capital) at Puguis, La Trinidad. He named the
area in honor of his wife. The first “Kapitan”of Benguet was Pulito
of Kafagway (Baguio City) which was then a minor rancheria of about
Numerous other Spanish commanders succeeded Don Galvez who built
trails and started school and churches. Some commanders were kind
but the general picture was of forced labor, beatings cruelties and
REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD. (1899-1900)
Consequently, the indigenous people were of similar sentiments with
other Filipino groups against the Spaniards. The general
insurrection of 1896 against the Spaniards reached Benguet by the
midyear of 1899. The Katipunan came to Benguet, united the Ibalois,
looted and burned Spanish buildings at the Commandancia and
established the Benguet Province under the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines.
In La Trinidad, Miguel Picarte was appointed President. The terms of
the appointed local officials however were cut short upon the
arrival of the Americans in early 1900. Don Juan Cariño and his
officials retreated and later surrendered in May 1900 to Capt.
Robert R. Rudd of the 48th Infantry USV.
AMERICAN PERIOD (1900-1941)
Capt. Rudd established his headquarters at the old convent at
Poblacion and Clemente Laoyan was made President of La Trinidad.
Later in 1901, H.P. Whitmarsh who was appointed Civil Governor of
Benguet. He move the capital town from La Trinidad to Baguio. La
Trinidad was made capital town again in 1909. This was the first
provincial government to be established anywhere in the Philippines
under the American auspices.
During this period, the Americans introduced many social changes. In
1905, the Americans built a school at Poblacion. Since agriculture
was the main source of livelihood, the school closed due to lack of
students. The parents of the students did not comprehend the
importance of education and sending them to school meant pulling
away their children from the farm.
In 1910, the Americans established an experimental farm school at
the site of the present day Benguet State University. American
vegetables were introduced into the farming system of the early
inhabitants of La Trinidad. The Americans also constructed wider
roads from the lowlands to Benguet. The Balili River outlet at Cruz
was also widened.
Aside from education, several social changes occurred during the
American period. Freedom of religion was granted to the indigenous
people of La Trinidad. This enabled them to enjoy their old customs
and traditions without any inhibitions. They were granted suffrage
and slavery was abolished. Introduction of iron tools improved
farming. Private property was introduced. Political organizations
among the residents began to be organized. Labor began to be paid
wages and money became an important feature in the economic lives of
The Americans ushered in capitalism into the area, which led to many
changes in the lifestyles and throughways of the people. These
abrupt social changes left the native people confused and uncertain
how to confront the new ways of life.
JAPANESE OCCUPATION (1941 – 1945)
The Japanese bombed Camp John Hay in December 8, 1941. On that day
and days afterwards there were chaos and fear in La Trinidad. The
local officials headed by Herman Chamus evacuated to farther places.
Almost immediately upon occupation, the Japanese started their
atrocities “Kempetai” where many loyal Filipinos were imprisoned and
In October 6, 1942, the merciless execution of four Igorots and one
Ilocano triggered the formation of the guerilla movement. Numerous
Japanese were ambushed and killed. As Japanese atrocities increase
through the years, guerilla activities intensified. The liberation
of La Trinidad occurred in May 4, 1945 when the joint forces of
Americans and the 66th infantry, USAFFE entered the valley after a
brief battle. La Trinidad after the war was devastated. Roads had
craterized hole, houses and forest were burned and farms became
CONTEMPORARY PERIOD (1946 –PRESENT DAY)
Reconstruction efforts started immediately after the war. Cipriano
Abalos became the first Municipal District Mayor in 1946. In June
16, 1950, La Trinidad was converted from a municipal district of the
sub-province of Benguet, into a regular municipality by the
implementation of Republic Act 531. In June 18, 1966, La Trinidad
was made the capital town of the Province of Benguet by the
implementation of Sec. 6 of House Bill No. 1526.
Large-scale vegetable farming became evident during the 1960’s. La
Trinidad became one of the leading vegetable-producing
municipalities in the entire country. This earned for its
distinction as “ The Salad Bowl of the Philippines” in the 1980’s.
Toward the end of the decade, farmers began to shift from vegetable
production to strawberry and cutflower production. To this day, La
Trinidad is recognized as “The Strawberry Fields of the
Philippines”. In 1998, the barangay of Bahong was declared ”the Rose
Capital of the Philippines”.
Aside from these distinctions, La Trinidad is also known as a
traders’ marketing center if not for the province but also in the
Cordilleras. La Trinidad remains to be an agricultural area with
urbanization fast creeping in the valley area.
Moreover, La Trinidad performs the role of the educational center in
the Cordilleras with the Benguet State University as its center of
educational excellence. As the capital town of Benguet, the
municipality is the seat of several regional and provincial offices
La Trinidad has its own interesting contributions to the colorful
history of the Cordilleras. The very name “Benguet” was once limited
to the area of what is now the La Trinidad Valley. Its name La
Trinidad is the namesake of her discoverer, Don Q.M. Quirante’s
beloved and beautiful wife. At a certain time in the late 1800’s and
early 1900’s, La Trinidad was relatively the most developed
settlement in the Benguet area. It likewise served as the capital of
the administrative territory of Benguet during the Spanish era, the
short-lived Philippine Revolutionary government and the early part
of the American Rule. In June 16, 1950, La Trinidad became a regular
municipality by virtue of RA #531.
The commercialization of the vegetable industry of the Province of
Benguet rendered La Trinidad as the center of marketing activities
during the mid 80’s. This spurred socio-economic growth for the
Today, with signs of near cityhood, La Trinidad continues to have an
agriculturally-based economy boasting of its strawberry and flower