Towns and Cities
Brief History
  • The name Benguet is a corruption of the Inabaloi word Bungit which means a “smelly marshland.”
  • Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, the Igorot tribes had a flourishing trade with lowlanders such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses.
  • In 1572, the Spaniards encountered the Ygolotes (Igorots) during their conquest of Pangasinan and Ilocos.
  • Juan de Salcedo led 45 men into the mountains of southern Benguet, but was forced to withdraw by the Igorots.
  • Another expedition in 1576, under de Moriones, also failed.
  • On November 1601, Gov.-Gen. Francisco Tello dispatched an expedition under Capt. Mateo de Aranda to pacify the revolting Igorots.  The rebels were crushed after they killed Augustinian Fr. Esteban Marin.
  • However, for more than 200 years, the Spanish could only loosely “govern” the Igorots from the Comandancia Politico General de Igorotes in Agoo (La Union).
  • In February 1620 a Spanish expedition under Capt. Garcia de Aldaña reached Baoang (now La Trinidad).
  • Some Igorot gold mines were briefly controlled but were later abandoned after a few years.
  • Another expedition, under Carreno de Valdez, was sent in 1623.
  • In 1624, Don Alonso Martin Quirante arrived at the Fianza gold mine in Antamok.
  • After 45 preliminary expeditions including explorations in 1829, 1833 and 1837, Cmdr. Guillermo Galvey pacified the Ibalois and founded a politico-military comandancia at the large flatland of La Trinidad (named after Galvey's wife).  It consisted of six commandancias namely: Benguet (1846), Lepanto (1852), Bontoc (1859), Amburayan (1889), Kayapa (1891) and Cabugaoan (1891).
  • The province of Benguet was established with 31 rancherias with Pulito of Kafagway as Kapitan.
  • In 1846, it became a district of the newly organized province of La Union.
  • La Trinidad was made the capitol in 1848.
  • In 1854, the district became a separate comandancia politico-militar.
  • Parts of it were established as component territory of other comandancias such as Lepanto and Amburayan. The Spaniards built churches, schools and trails and introduced corn, coffee and good tobacco.
  • In 1899, during the revolution, revolutionaries came into Benguet and united the people.
  • Juan Ora Cariño, an Ibaloi tribal head, attacked and burned the La Trinidad comandancia.
  • Cariño was appointed by Aguinaldo as a captain and governor of Benguet with Miguel Picarte as La Trinidad and Baguio's president.
  • The Americans arrived in 1900 and overthrew the Filipino forces in Baguio forcing Gov. Cariño and his officials to retreat.
  • Pedro Paterno, head of Pres. Aguinaldo's cabinet, and his assistant secretary, Julian Gorona, were captured in Tublay on April of 1900.
  • Cariño, who was shot in the leg, managed somehow to escape but was later captured in May of the same year near Bucao, Kabayan by Capt. Robert R. Rudd of the 48th Infantry U.S.V..
  • Rudd established the first government and his quarters at the old convent in La Trinidad. Clemente Laoyan was made president of La Trinidad.
  • On November 22, 1900, Act No. 48 of the Philippine Commission created Baguio City and 19 other townships were also established.  The next day, by virtue of Act No. 49, H. Phelps Whitmarsh, a Canadian journalist, was made the first civil governor of Benguet (the first in the country).
  • On August 18, 1908, Benguet became a sub-province of newly created Mountain Province (includes Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, Amburayan and Lepanto) by virtue of Philippine Legislative Act No. 1876.  Its 19 townships were reduced to 13 municipalities.
  • On February 4, 1920, by virtue of Republic Act 2077, Benguet absorbed the sub-provinces of Amburayan and Lepanto and was merged with Bontoc, Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao to form Mountain Province.
  • In the 1930s, mining companies began massive mining operations to work the area’s gold mines, attracting many lowlanders to work and settle in the area, especially in towns surrounding the mines, such as Itogon.
  • On October 6, 1942, during World War II, the merciless execution of 4 Igorots and 1 Ilocano triggered the guerilla movement. Guerillas under Parker Calvert, Bado Dangwa and Dennis Molintas were active against the Japanese.  Numerous Japanese were ambushed and killed. As Japanese atrocities increased through the years, guerilla activities intensified.
  • During the liberation in World War II, Benguet was the site of fierce battles fought by Igorot guerillas and American forces to open up the western flank of the Japanese defenders.  Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita put up a desperate fight against pursuing U.S.-Filipino forces in the Lo-o Valley (Buguias).
  • On June 18, 1966, the old Mountain Province was divided into four new provinces including Benguet by virtue of Republic Act No. 4695.  Dennis Molintas was the first governor.
  • In 1972, Benguet was included in the Ilocos Region by virtue of Presidential Order No. 1
  • On July 15, 1987, Benguet was included in the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

The province possesses a pleasantly cool and temperate climate, with wet (May-October) and dry (November-April) seasons of equal duration.  Temperature ranges from a low of 8.6° Celsius from December to February to a high of 26 degrees Celsius during the summer months of April and May.  However, because of its elevation, it experiences heavy rainfall.  The average annual rainfall is 4,489 mm. with August, the wettest month, averaging 1,135 mm..   Fog is quite common.


Agriculture, mining and tourism are the major industries in Benguet.  The province has an agricultural land area about 47,750 hectares, 60% of which are cultivated and planted to rice and various crops. Vegetable farming is the traditional source of livelihood in Benguet. Because of its temperate climate high in the mountains, the province is an ideal place for producing vegetables (600,000 metric tons a year). Benguet is often called the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.” The produce (white potatoes, cabbage, Baguio beans, broccoli, beets, peas, lettuce, carrots, green onions and Chinese pechay) is sold in Baguio City, Metro Manila and other urban centers.   Benguet is likewise called the “strawberry country” because it is the only place in the Philippines where strawberries thrive.  The province is also the only area in the country to grow Arabica coffee.  The province is also one of the country’s major sources of cut flowers, with around 16 million dozens of various varieties produced.  Other agricultural-related activities are monggo processing, fruit preservation, broom making, peanut brittle manufacturing and basket weaving. Mining is another major industry of Benguet, which is one of the country´s leading gold (69.2 million metric tons of verified reserves) producers. A gold rush in the 1930s followed the discovery of rich deposits of gold in Benguet and gave birth to several mining communities.  Three large mining companies - Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Mining Company and Philex Mining, operate in Benguet today. They contribute close to 98% of Benguet export revenue.   Other mineral deposits include silver, copper (892.7 million metric tons verified reserves), pyrite and limestone. Silversmithing is a large industry in Benguet, and many entrepreneurs sell silverworks at lower prices in Baguio City, compared to Manila.

Location and Topography

Benguet  lies on the southern portion of the old Mountain Province and is bounded on the north by Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province, on the west by La Union, on the east by Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya and on the south by Pangasinan.  It is a 1,500-m. high plateau with a narrow, rugged and sloping terrain.   The 2,922-m. high Mt. Pulag, the second highest in the country, is found here.  Other high mountains are The 2,810-m. high Mt. Data, the 2,583-m. high Mt. Osdung, Mt. Pack, Mt. Panutoan, the 2,450-m. high Mt. Paoay, the 2,256-m. high Mt. Sto. Tomas, the 2,842-m. high Mt. Tabayok, the 2,688-m. high Mt. Timbac (also called Mt. Singakalsa) and 2,086-m. high Mt. Ugu.  The province is also cut by numerous narrow valleys (Agno, Amburayan, Bued, La Trinidad, Sablan Galiano, Tuboy and Upper Abra) and drained by many rivers and dotted by many hot springs (at least one found in every town).  About 77% of the land is considered forestland and the rest are alienable and disposable land cultivated to crops such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, rice, banana and root crops.

General Information
  • Capital: La Trinidad
  • Area (sq. kms.): 2,826.59 (the 49th largest in the country)
  • Population (2007): 372,533 (the 43rd largest in the country and the most populous province in the region)
  • No. of Barangays: 269
  • Income Class: Second
  • No. of Towns: 13
  • No. of Cities: 1
  • No. of Districts: 2
  • First District: Baguio City
  • Second District: Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.
  • Area Code: 074

Ilocano is spoken by 27.5% of the population.  Most of the tribes in Benguet have their own languages or dialects.  The SIL Ethnologue database classifies the tribal languages under the South-Central Cordilleran branch.  The Kankana-ey language (named in the database as Kankanaey) is Nabaloy (Ibaloi), which is similar to Pangasinense.  It is part of the Southern Cordilleran branch and is spoken by 24.2% of the population.   The Kalkali (Kankanai) dialect, under the Central Cordilleran branch (which also includes the Bontoc and Ifugao dialect), is similar to the Bontoc dialect and is spoken by 25% of the population.  The rest of the population speak the Pangasinanense, Tagalog, Bontoc and Ifugao dialects.


Benguet is the homeland of several tribes, collectively referred to as the Igorot. Two of them, the Ibaloi in the southeast and the Kankanai in the northwest, are the dominant tribes of Benguet. Many of the Igorot tribes are believed, by Filipino anthropologists, to be of Malay descent. Culturally similar in traditional beliefs and rituals, they differ mainly in the dialects spoken.    In the 2000 census, 43% of the household population were Kankana-ey, about 29.2% were Ibaloi and 13.4% were Ilocano. Other ethnic groups included Ikalahan (3.7%) and Tagalog (2.4%).

Tourist Information Center
  • Tourism and Community Affairs Section - Office of the Governor, Provincial Capitol, La Trinidad (tel:  442-2579)

Electricity is 220 volts and 60 cycles and is distributed by BENECO (Benguet Electric Cooperative) based in Brgy. Alapang in La Trinidad.   Tel: 422-5671 to 73, 422-2110 & 422-2000.   Fax: 443-9601 & 422-2848.




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