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





As early as the 13th century, Mankayan was a thickly forested area wherein hunters from other places frequented in search of wild game. Legend has it that two hunters from “Awa” Buguias pursued a deer into this forest. The deer harassed by the hunters and their dog fell into a ravine. Tired and weary, the hunters made camp for the night right on the spot where they recovered the deer. They skinned, rousted and feasted on their game the whole night leaving their fire burning through. The following morning they found that the rocks by their campfire was malleable and could easily be molded. They brought home samples of their discovery and fashioned tools and other artifacts. Thereafter, the natives searched the area for this mineral ore. Products fashioned from their finds were bartered with much needed commodities from the lowland. Rich Spanish businessmen from the Ilocos coast took notice of these products and asked the traders their source of copper. The natives simply replied “nangkayang” meaning “way up the eastern mountains “Nangkayang” eventually became MANKAYAN, the name adopted by the area up to the present.


Mankayan then was only a barrio (rancheria) of the province of Lepanto, with Cervantes as the provincial capital. A.J. Cleveland’s translation of the Spanish records revealed the names of the governadorcillos of the different rancherias in the area, some of whom are Tibaldo of Mankayan, Mendoza of Tubo, Lancungan of Balili, Bauaqui of Data, Tambana of Bulalacao, Paduan of Tabbac and Bagnagan of Patpat (Eveland 1905).

During the early years of the American regime, Mankayan became part of Lepanto - Bontoc Province in 1903.

In 1913, Mankayan was established as a municipal district in the sub-province of Benguet and with such came the official recognition of its first local government executives.

On June 16, 1950, pursuant to Republic Act 1302, Mankayan district was converted into a regular municipality, making it one of the 13 municipalities of Benguet at present.


The legend of Mankayan’s origin shows a close link to the development of the mines in the area. Resident natives referred to the area as “Magambang”, the native term for the soil. In the early 1800’s due to the presence of artifacts and implements made out of copper in great abundance, those interested in the mining industry, both in the Philippines and Spain made attempts to pinpoint the source. In February 3, 1850, Engineer D. Antonio Hernandez with 71 troops and 250 highland cargo bearers started an expedition to this area. Mankayan then was only a rancheria (barrio) of the province of Lepanto with Cervantes as the provincial capital. There were two routes taken namely the northern route from Candon on the coast via Salcedo, Conception, Tirad Pass, Anggaqui and Cervantes to Mankayan. The other route is from the south, Baguio via Trinidad, Ambuklao, Daclan, Adaway, Kabayan and Buguias, vice versa. Both routes were taken by horse trail.

The expedition of Hernandez took the northern route and reached this area in seventeen days and made his report. His account yielded highly interesting information about the area and the crude processes practiced by the natives in extraction, smelting and rousting of the ore. From this he reported that some of the copper was sold partly in cakes, some were used to manufacture pots and boilers, and some were converted to metal bars, tongs and pipes for smoking.

In 1856, Seņor Tomas Balbas y Castro applied for the demarcation of the properties and in 1865, reached an agreement with the different rancherias paying an amount of five hundred pesos (0) and also guaranteed employment of natives in the mines at regular fixed rates. Such an agreement, approved by the government led to the creation of a stock company called “Sociedad Minero-Metalurgica Cantabro-Filipino de Mancayan”, headed by Seņor Balbas. Prior to the operation of the mines by the Cantabro-Filipino Company, estimated production in the area for 1840-1855 was approximately 40250 lbs of copper per annum with a total of P 117,000.00. With the Cantabro – Filipino Company’s first actual production in 1860 to 1861, 146,470 arrobas (25 lbs) of mineral were produced. Records from the operations during 1860 – 1874 showed the company’s total production of copper to be 2,500,000 lbs. In 1875 the company came to an end. Natives and Chinese independently worked in the area mining the ore. On January 1900 after the Spanish – American war, an American party of eight reached Mankayan and saw the rich copper. One of these was Leonard Lelhbech who conducted an estimation of the area and its ores. This venture was later made successful by John Muller and Victor Lednicky. The year 1933 marked the beginning of the mining boom in the Philippines. This year ushered in the fusion of all local prospectors and claim owners and led to the formation of two corporations in the Mankayan area. Suyoc mines was incorporated in September, 1933 and Lepanto mines on September 21, 1936. For sometime during the second world war, mining operations of Lepanto mines were taken over by the Japanese forces under the Mitsui Company of Japan. After the war, however, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company resumed operations and started rehabilitation works on the mine.

Like other communities with mining operations within their localities, the town of Mankayan and grew developed alongside these two companies. Projects were initiated such as the opening of roads, installation of electric power and telephone lines, construction of a water reservoir, footbridges linking the different barrios to the poblacion, a public market, animal breeding station, a municipal guest house as well as a concrete municipal town hall to serve the multi-faceted needs of the residents of Mankayan.


Mankayan is a 4th class municipality with an average annual income of P29.2 million. Only about 23.7 of the town’s potential labor force are reported to be either gainfully employed or self-employed. Agriculture and employment in the mines constitute the two major sources of livelihood. A large number of households are engaged in vegetable farming. Traditional methods like bench terracing and kaingin (slash and burn) agriculture are highly practiced. The major industry is mining which have been dominated by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company since the early 1900s. The existence of a few other mining companies is a recent development. Small scale miners are also numerous, this having been a traditional activity of the native population even before corporate mining started.

Agro-forestry activities are actively engaged in but regulation is weak. A large patch of the area of Mankayan is within the Mt. Data National Park and reservation areas for schools and communal forest declared to be forest preservation areas. Protection area of 18 degree slopes is highly denuded due to the unplanned land use. Mankayan ranks among the oldest communities in northern Benguet in the formulation of Kankanaey society is reconstructed from accounts about population movements and the establishment of early settlements. It is generally believed by the oldest families among the present population that movement of the early inhabitants came from three directions; from Bontoc and Gonogon (in the northeast) and from Banao – Namiligan area (in the northwest) to Nangkayang. Before the 13th century subsequent shifts could be traced also from Namiligan southwards to Ampontoc, Deccan, Panat and Bag-ongan. Based on family history data, the original sites that the first settlers from Namiligan occupied were therefore Panat, Bag-ongan, Deccan and Ampontoc. Panat and Bag-ongan are located in the southern side of Mankayan about 15 kilometers by road in a level area close to the river. Deccan meanwhile is a wide level area located in the present day barrio of Balili about 4 kilometers to the east of Mankayan. Ampontoc is located in the present day barangay of Colalo, about 11 kilometers to the north of Mankayan. The natives apparently settled here because of its water supply from the river sourced by the Deccan waterfalls and the river originating from Lepanto. The settlers decided to stay permanently in Panat because of the discovery of gold in the 14th century. They left their farming activities inside and shifted to gold washing. Similarly the discovery of copper between the 14th and 17th centuries led people to extend the settled area to the Kamangga-an section. Later, more people came in because of the attraction of trade, only to be dispersed later with the occurrence of an epidemic. Those from Panat and Bagongan went to Lap-angan, Palasaan, Payew, Kamanggaan following the southward and westward direction and some, following the Guinaoang river, reached Bakun. Those from Deccan settled in Sesecan and Baguyos, while some went back to Namiligan. Those from Ampontoc moved northward to Camay, Comillas and Quirino. While the occurrence of an epidemic is used to explain the spread of this growing population out of the existing settlements, it is possible to consider as another factor the incursions of Gimbaoan from Palatang into Mankayan, or the activities of the Bontoc people who like the Palatang people, survived the hard times by means of rampant stealing and headhunting. In this period even Ampontoc was to take part in the encroachment of the people in Mankayan. It appears from folk stories that the incidence of headhunting activities and stealing became more rampant from the mid-1700s up to as late as mid-1800s. In Mankayan, however, unlike in Bakun, the people who were considered the “busol” (enemy) were not the Bontocs but the raiders from Buguias, for the Bontocs were overshadowed by the Palatang people led by Gimbaoan and later by Pendemen.


Nangkayang was thickly forested area for hunting and foraging, animals, honey and root crops. Root crops dug during the period of low food supply because of drought. Gallod, akad, kallayan, while gabi was grown along riverbanks.

The early economic activities of the settlers of Panat and Baggongan consisted of hunting and food gathering from the resources of the thickly forested area they found. They ventured for the wild vine called Gallod, a root crop similar to the cassava but dug from five to ten feet from the ground. Since the gallod could only grow only once in five years, this food did not suffice in the course of time as the population grew. The natives turned to swidden farming. They planted camote, gabi and leafy plants.

When gold was discovered the natives in the 14th century shifted to gold mining and later used gold as the medium of exchange in the trade with the lowlands. The native way of mining gold called the “labon” system using rudimentary digging tools to follow the veins that were visible in the outcropping of surface rocks. The crude mining methods were improved when the first group of Chinese traders arrived in the 16th century. The placer mining and the method to separate gold from the grind ores was intrigued by the Chinese. Separating the gold from the ore was usually the work of women who used a large flat stone as mortar (galidan) across which was rolled with another small flat stone (alidan) to crush the ore to become very fine. The fine particles would then be placed in a wooden separator (sabak) and soaked in the water that was placed in a throng (dayaan). This was done to let the gold settle at the bottom of the separator. This gold is then cooked in an earthenware dish over a charcoal fire. A wooden blower used to keep the heat steady until the particles of gold would melt and be formed into cakes, ready for sale or as a medium of exchange.

Gold mining was the major occupation in Panat and Bagongan then. Meanwhile swiddening developed in about the 1700s with camote, millet, lenga and rice grown only during the rainy season. Swidden farms were cleared during the dry season by cutting back the burning of the vegetative cover and then waiting for the rainy season to come so that the fields could be planted with camote and gabi. Sometimes the inhabitants would just plant gabi near the river, brooks and the spring where there is enough water for the roots to absorb.

Irrigated ricefields were introduced early in Deccan and Ampontoc by the settlers presumably early on, but did not prosper because of the poor quality of the soil. Since the early settlers were immigrants from Namiligan and Banao, they had already learned to exploit their rice fields and had been maintaining these as their means of livelihood. Legends say that rice fields were introduced by the son of the pagan’s supreme God Kabunyan. His son Lumawig introduced rice fields in Kayan. Later rice agriculture was followed by the people of Namiligan and Banao.

Rice fields were worked twice a year during the month equivalent to our present day June and December. Rice was planted on the month of January and July. It was mostly the women who took good care of the rice fields by removing weeds and maintained the flowing of water from the irrigation, while the men were usually out for hunting. Rice agriculture however, was mainly for domestic consumption and was limited to the mentioned areas. Panat, the source of gold, in fact depended on Bakun for her rice. The northern part towards the old Kamanggaan was still a thickly forested are by this time. It was only later when two hunters discovered copper that Kamanggaan gave the direction to historical developments in the rest of Mankayan. The mining method used was crude. Copper ore is collected and the mineral rock was burned with the use of firewood until the copper would be separated from the rock. Copper mining was nonetheless maintained for local use, feeding into Buguias where mineral was used for a vigorous smithing industry. This copper was ready to be molded, then into pots and pipes, and Buguias supplied the needs not only of the Kankanaey area but also reached the rest of Mountain Province. Inter-village exchanges were primarily with the adjacent kankanaey village of Bakun and Buguias. From Bakun came the rice grains that fed Mankayan, while Buguias supplied the forest and smithing products. In exchange Mankayan was the source for copper and gold. This specialization in production among the three towns was sustained from the late 18th century until colonial control under Spain increasingly brought the mine fields under the management of the Spaniards.


As the previous section has revealed, Mankayan was simply a barrio (rancheria) of the province of Lepanto. Spanish records revealed the names of the governadorcillos of the different rancherias in the area, some of whom are Tibaldo of Mankayan, Mendoza of Tubo, Langungan of Balili, Bayaque of Data, Tambana of Bulalacao, Paduan of Tabbac and Banagan of Panat.

It was only in 1913 that Mankayan became a municipal district in the sub-province of Benguet and with such came the official recognition of its first local government executives. Following are the names of the local officials and their status of office given in chronological order. From 1913 to 1945, these officials were named municipal district presidents. From 1945 to 1952, post war municipal executives were informally elected by means of colors. From 1953 to the present, officials were elected formally through balloting.


1912 – 1915 Linggoy Ling-eng Informally elected

1915 – 1918 Carlos Totanes Informally elected

1919 – 1921 Nolito Lupiaten Informally elected

1922 – 1924 Teodoro Jimenez Informally elected

1925 – 1927 Calixto Campos Informally elected

1928 – 1930 Pepe Betuagan Informally elected

1931 – 1933 Gapit (one name) Appointed

1934 – 1936 Teodoro Jimenez Informally elected

1937 – 1939 Clement Irving Informally elected

1940 – 1941 Teodoro Jimenez Informally elected

1942 – 1943 Clement Irving Appointed (Japanese Government)

1944 – 1945 Simeon Campos Appointed (Japanese Government)

1947 – 1948 Isidro Bugnosen Appointed for 3 months only Teodoro Jimenez Continued his pre - war term

1948 – 1949 Tomas Sab-it First formally elected Mayor

1950 – 1952 Cayatoc Gayongan Formally elected

1953 – 1963 James D. Guanso Served as Mayor for 3 terms

1964 – 1976 Agosto Santos Served through the Martial Law years

1977 – 1979 Cellong Campos Appointed

1980 – 1986 Agosto Santos Formally elected

1986 – 1988 Serafin Nalicao Appointed

1988 – 1992 Arsenio Sabado Formally elected

1992 – 1995 Materno R. Luspian Formally elected

1995 – 2001 Manalo B. Galuten Formally elected for 2 terms

2001 – present Materno R. Luspian Formally elected

7. SETTLEMENT GROWTH AND URBANIZATION Reconcentration during the Spanish period at the time of the formation of the Comandancia-politico-militar in Lepanto brought the various settlements into rancherias, hence the creation of Mancayan (present day Paco area), Tubo, Lip-atan and Cruz. These rancherias were placed under at first, appointed and then elected “bengyadores” colonial policies implemented from the latter half of the 19th century included the repartimiento or the use of forced labor in the construction of horse trails, as well as the collection of taxes (cedula). Meanwhile, “sanglay” (Chinese) labor was used in the mines under the Sociedad – Minero – Metalurgica Cantabro de Mankayan beginning in 1856, a development which resulted in inter – marriages between the Kankanaey and Chinese as well as the Spanish. This Spanish company operated until the 1870s. A crude method of mining and processing copper was maintained by the Spanish company but the scale of production is believed to have led to forest degradation this early. The burning process used a lot of firewood and this was the reason why the area was gradually deforested, affecting even the cattle grazing which in the 19th century had also become an important livelihood activity of the population. American prospecting at the turn of the 19th century brought an increased interest in mining and, with it, a new wave of inter – marriages. Under the American colonial government Mankayan was considered a township of the Lepanto District by 1900, of the Lepanto sub-province by 1908, and as municipal district under the Benguet sub-province by 1913. Suyoc mines was formally established in 1933, Lepanto mines in 1936. There was limited operation of the copper mines during the WWII years. Operations were resumed only in the post war period, under the re-established company named Lepanto Mining Company and Itogon Suyoc Mines. Since then, the urban growth in Mankayan has been very fast drawing in settlers from not only within Luzon but as far as the Visayas and Mindanao. To date, as many as 26 languages, for instance, are reported to be spoken by the town’s population a clear indication of the character of the municipality as a convergence area of various ethnic groups. In addition to mining, the growth of the service sector (particularly in trading, sales, transportation and the professional fields) has been tremendous, considering the rapid increase in population which stands at an average annual growth rate of 2.31% from 1970 to 1990, the fifth highest in the province. The cultivation of mid latitude temperate crops also became and added feature of the town’s economy after WWII.