Benguet is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and borders, clockwise from the south, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.
Baguio, a popular tourist destination in the country, is located in the interior of the province, however, the city is independent of the province.
People and culture
Cordilleran, is an unofficial and relatively recent term for the people of the hill tribes of Luzon, Philippines, who are residing in the Cordillera region. This term is an attempt at political correctness, since a current term, Igorot, has caused controversy due to its perceived negative stigma.
Based on the May 2000 census, Benguet has a total population of 330,129, which makes it the most populous province in the region. This figure is up by 16,296 from 313,833 persons recorded in the 1995 census, giving an annual growth rate of 1.09% during the 5-year period—much, much lower than the national average of 2.43%. If this growth rate were maintained, Benguet would double its population in approximately 64 years.
The province registered at 63,123 households, an increase of 4,588 households over the 1990 figure. This gave an average household size of 5.2 persons, a little higher than the national average of 4.99.
Benguet is the homeland of several tribes, collectively referred to as the Igorot. Two of them, the Ibaloi in the southeast and the Kankana-ey in the northwest, are the dominant tribes of Benguet. 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%).
Most of the tribes in Benguet have their own languages. The Ibaloi tribe speak Ibaloy, which is similar to Pangasinan. The Kankana-ey tribe speak have their own language, which is related to the Bontoc language. Many inhabitants also speak Ilocano, Tagalog, and English for trade and commerce.
The SIL Ethnologue database http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=92519 classifies the languages under the South-Central Cordilleran branch. Nabaloy (named in the database as Ibaloi) is part of the Southern Cordilleran branch which also includes Pangasinense. The Kankana-ey language (named in the database as Kankanaey) is under the Central Cordilleran branch, which also includes Bontoc and Ifugao.
Agriculture, mining, and tourism are the major industries in Benguet. Because of its temperate climate and high altitude, Benguet is an ideal place for producing vegetables. Benguet is often called the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. During February 2007, Benguet suffered crop damage due to freezing temperatures in the area, reaching as low as 5 Celsius and even lower in some areas, and important crops like cabbages were damaged. Major crops include potatoes, Baguio beans, peas, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, and carrots. Other agricultural-related activities are monggo processing, fruit preservation, peanut brittle manufacturing, broom making, basket weaving, and flower growing. Apisang (scientific name: Pittosporum resiniferum), a plant endemic to the Philippines, is also being grown in Kapangan and Kibungan towns as a potential alternative source of fuel and energy, rivaling the overhyped jatropha biofuel plant.
Mining is another major industry of Benguet, which is one of the country's leading gold producers. The Benguet Corporation one of the Philippines largest diversified conglomerates was founded to exploit mines in Benguet Province. Other mineral deposits are silver, copper, pyrite, and limestone. Silversmithing is a large industry in Benguet, and many entrepreneurs sell silver works at lower prices in Baguio City, compared to Manila. In 2006 alone revenues from mining reached a stunning four billion pesos, and yet this figure comes from just two-Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation and Philex Mines- of the many mining firms operating in the province. Nevertheless, the province's mining vigor has never translated into better quality of life of the Benguet people, simply because a bulk of the mining firm's taxes are not paid directly to the province. The two mining corporations, like many others around the country, have principal offices in the City of Makati, a set-up that makes Makati the prime mining tax beneficiary.
The presence of Baguio City in Benguet draws a large number of tourists from the lowlands. Often, people who go to Baguio also explore the province, especially the strawberry and vegetable plantations in La Trinidad. (See also the Tourist Attractions section below.)
- The Benguet State University (BSU) is the only university in Benguet and is located in La Trinidad, Benguet. The university has eight colleges (Including the Graduate School). The eight Colleges are:
- The College of Agriculture
- The College of Arts and Sciences
- The College of Engineering and Applied Technology
- The College of Forestry
- The College of Home Economics and Technology
- The College of Nursing
- The College of Teacher Education
- The College of Veterinary Medicine
Post Graduate Studies
- Open University
- The Graduate School
- Institute of Public Administration (IPA)
- Institute of Physical Education and Sports (IPES)
- BSU-Main Campus, La Trinidad, Benguet
- BSU-Buguias Campus, Loo, Buguias, Benguet
- BSU Bokod Campus, Ambangeg, Bokod, Benguet
Benguet also is home to the Cordillera Regional Science High School National University is also operated here since 2004 the branch of NU manila
Benguet is subdivided into 13 municipalities, and some of these municipalities surrounds Baguio City. Baguio City used to be part of the province but became independent when the city's charter was enacted in 1909. However, for statistical convenience, Baguio City is informally considered a part of Benguet, especially in census data or when the city is chosen as a location for Benguet provincial offices for convenience and practicality.
While Baguio City is not officially part of Benguet, it is a Chartered City. Its location provides additional income in form of tourism for the province. Some of the interesting places are, Kennon Road, Binga Hydroelectic Plant, strawberry and flower farms in La Trinidad, the Ambuklao Dam in Bokod, and the Palina and Naguey rice terraces in Atok. Aside from these, Tuba and Tublay hotsprings are usually flocked by local tourists from the neighboring provinces. A good view of vegetable terraces can be observed when traveling the Halsema high way, especially during the growing stages of vegetables. Remote Buguias hotsprings can also be reached now, and the "Man-asok" river can be appreciated early in the morning because of the "smoking like" but in reality it's the vapor that rises up.
Early History. The mountainous area, now covered by Benguet is home to several native tribes which are collectively known as the Igorots. Two of these, the Ibaloi and the Kankana-ey, are dominant tribes of the area. Many of these tribes are believed by Filipino anthropologists to be of Malay descent. Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, these tribes had a flourishing trade with the lowlanders such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses.
Spanish Period. When the Spanish arrived, having heard of the rich gold mines in the mountains, they attempted to colonize the highlands, but failed to take control of the entire highlands. In 1572, Juan de Salcedo led a small expedition into the southern part of Benguet, but the natives forced them to retreat. The first major expedition into the mountains occurred in 1620, when Spanish explorers went into the La Trinidad Valley and briefly controlled some Igorot gold mines, which were later abandoned after a few years of control.
In the 1800s, the Spanish colonizers made more serious attempts at conquering the highlands. The first expeditions were done under the leadership of Col. Guillermo Galvey and succeeded in establishing presence in the La Trinidad Valley. La Trinidad is named after Galvey's wife.
This area later became a district of the new province of La Union in 1846. Eight years later, in 1854, Benguet became a separate comandancia politico-militar. Parts of the present province were established as component territories of other comandancias such as Lepanto, and Amburayan.
American Period. When the Americans took control of the Philippines, they established local civil governments in many parts of the country. In Benguet, the civil government was established on November 23, 1900 by virtue of Act No. 49. H.P. Whitmarsh, a Canadian journalist, was appointed as the first governor of Benguet.
The Americans then established the Mountain Province on August 18, 1908, with the enactment of Act No. 1876. Benguet, along with Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Lepanto, became sub-provinces of this new province. Later on, Baguio became a chartered city in 1909. Then in 1920, Benguet absorbed the sub-provinces of Amburayan and Lepanto.
In the 1930s, mining companies were started to mine the gold deposits in the area. This brought it jobs and many lowlanders migrated to Benguet, especially in towns surrounding the mines, such as Itogon.
World War II. During World War II, Igorot guerrillas and the combined Filipino and American forces fought battles with Japanese soldiers during the final days of the war in 1945.
Post-war Era. On June 18, 1966, The huge Mountain Province was split into four provinces with the enactment of Republic Act No. 4695. The four provinces were Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao. Benguet became one of the provinces of the Ilocos Region.
On July 15, 1987, the Cordillera Administrative Region was established and Benguet was made one of its provinces.
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