History and Government
La Trinidad has its own interesting contributions to the colorful history of Benguet and the rest of Cordillera. The very name “Benguet” was once the name of limited area of what is now the La Trinidad Valley which in the course of time became the name of a larger territory and 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. In a way, it was the gateway from the southern lowlands into the mountain region. Due to its relatively more advanced development, La Trinidad served as capital of the administrative territory of Benguet during the Spanish era, the short lived Philippine Revolutionary government and the early period of American rule.
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 Igorots. 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 people inhabiting its surroundings called the place “Benguet”.
When La Trinidad was reached by Quirante, the principal vegetable of the people then consisted of camoteng cahoy (cassava), camote (sweet potato), gabi, beans, and tomatoes. Rice was raised only to make wine (“tapey”) used at cañaos. Rice was not yet the staple food of the Igorots then.
After several military expeditions in the early 19th century, Commandante Don Guillermo Galvez pacified the Ibalois for sometime and in 1846 he returned to La Trinidad, adopted friendly policy and gave gifts. The people accepted him and he was able to establish the province of Benguet composed of 31 “rancherias” with the “commandancia” at La Trinidad which he named in honor of his wife (the commandancia was at Puguis). The first capitan of Benguet was Pulito of Kafagway (now Baguio City) which was then a minor rancheria of about 20 houses. Among other items, the Spaniards brought in corn, coffee and good tobacco.
Numerous other Spanish commanders succeeded Don Galvez who built trails and started schools and churches. Some commanders were kind but the general picture was forced labor, beatings, cruelties, and exorbitant taxation.
Consequently, the Igorots were of similar sentiments with other Filipino ethnic groups towards the Spaniards such that the general insurrection of 1896 against the Spaniards spread to Benguet. In the midyear of 1899, the Katipunan came to Benguet. The Katipunan united the Igorots who looted and burned the Spanish buildings at the commandancia and established Benguet province under the government of the Republic of the Philippines. In La Trinidad, Miguel Picarte was appointed president. The terms of these local officials were however shortlived for early in 1900 the Americans came. Don Juan Cariño and his officials retreated but later surrendered in May 1900 to Captain Robert R. Rudd of the 48th Infantry U.S.V. Rudd established his headquarters at the old convent. Clemente Laoyan was made president of La Trinidad.
Later in 1901, H.P. Whitmarsh who was appointed civil governor of Benguet moved the capital of Benguet from La Trinidad to Baguio. La Trinidad was made the capital town again in 1909. This was the first provincial civil government to be established anywhere in the Philippines under the American auspices.
The Japanese bombed Camp John Hay on December 8, 1941. On that day and days afterwards, there was chaos and fear in La Trinidad. On October 6, 1942, the merciless execution of four Igorots and one Ilocano triggered the guerilla movement. Numerous Japanese were ambushed and killed. As Japanese atrocities increased through the years, guerilla activities intensified. The liberation of La Trinidad occurred on May 4, 1945 when the joint forces of the Americans and the 66th infantry, USAFFE entered the valley after a brief battle. La Trinidad after the war was devastated.
Reconstruction efforts started immediately after the war. Cipriano Abalos became the first municipal mayor in 1946. On 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 No. 531. On June 18, 1966, La Trinidad was made the capital town of the province of Benguet pursuant to Republic Act No. 4695 sponsored by Congressman Andres Cosalan, Sr.
During the 1980’s, La Trinidad became one of the leading vegetable-producing municipalities in the entire country. This earned for it the distinction as “The Salad Bowl of the Philippines”. 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”.
After the term of Cipriano Abalos, Hilarion Pawid was mayor from 1980-1986. Pawid was succeeded by Edna Tabanda, who held the position from 1988-1998. At present, the municipality is being headed by Mayor Nestor Fongwan.
La Trinidad has at present 16 barangays, the largest in the province, namely: Alapang, Alno, Ambiong, Bahong, Balili, Beckel, Betag, Bineng, Cruz, Lubas, Pico, Poblacion, Puguis, Shilan, Tawang and Wangal.
La Trinidad is located 3 kilometers north of Baguio City and is 256 kilometers north of Manila. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Tublay, on the south by the City of Baguio, on the west by Sablan and Tuba. Its geographical coordinates are 16°21" north latitude 120°35" east longitude.
La Trinidad has a total land area of 8,273.80 has. representing 3.16% of the total provincial land area. Wangal is the largest barangay with an area of 1,115.9642 has. constituting 13.81% of the municipality. Puguis has the second largest land area with 1,021.82 has. or 12.65%. The third largest barangay is Alno with 958.35 has. or 11.86%. The smallest barangay is Cruz with an area of 56.69 has. constituting 0.70% of the municipality.
As to land use, the municipality has the following classification: agricultural - 4,831.9 has., forest - 2,550.81 has., residential - 307.78 has., roads - 158.26 has., institutional - 135.70 has., agro-forest - 129.07 has., rivers and creeks - 82.74 has., commercial - 43.02 has., industrial - 9.10 has. and other uses - 25.42 has.
The municipality's terrain is generally mountainous with springs, rivers and creeks. La Trinidad's valley floor elevation is at 1,300 meters above sea level. The lowest is at 500 meters above sea level while the highest is at 1,700 meters above sea level.
La Trinidad belongs under the Type I climate by the Coronas System of classification with two distinct seasons: the wet and the dry. The dry season is from November to April while the wet season occurs during the rest of the year. The climate is refreshingly cool with temperatures ranging from 11.7°C during the month of December at its coldest and 23.2°C at its warmest during the months of March, April and May. The average daily temperature is 18.55°C. Wind velocity is 1.43. During the rainiest month of August, the rainfall average is 850.70 mm.
In 1903, La Trinidad had a recorded population of only 267. After fifteen years, its population grew remarkably by more than ten times totaling 3,013. In 1990, the population increased to 49,238 and in 1995, it experienced a population growth rate of 5.5% which roughly translated to 63,089 inhabitants with 12,874 households. Other demographic data based on the 1995 census includes: a female population of 31,702 and a male population of 31,387 establishing a male-female population ratio of 99:100; birth rate of 23.94 per 1,000 persons and a death rate at 2.65 per 1,000 persons; urban-rural population ratio computed at 65:35 with the urban population estimated at 40,743 and the rural population at 22,346; population density at 763 persons per square kilometer with an urban population density of 2,401 persons per square kilometer and a rural population density of 340 persons per square kilometer, and youth dependency ratio estimated at 55.56% while old age dependency ratio estimated at 3.17% having a total dependency ratio of 58.73%. Looking at the population's age structure, the working age bracket comprises the majority of the population, i.e., from 15-64 years old, which accounts for 59.95% of the population (37,822). Children with ages 0 to 14 years old comprise 37.39% (23,841) of the population. While the elderly with ages 65 years and over comprise 2.26% (1,426) of the population.
There is a mixture of several ethnolinguistic groups in the locality. The main groups, however, are the Ibalois and the Kankanaeys, followed by the Ilocanos, Tagalogs and Bontocs. There are several small groups that reside in the municipality coming not only from nearby provinces but from all parts of the country.
Cadastral survey shows that the municipality has 4,718.44 hectares of agricultural land. This represents 58.40% of the land use of the municipality. However, the total area devoted to agriculture is 3,060.00 hectares. This leaves some 1,658.44 of grazing or idle lands. The absence or lack of irrigation systems is the main reason why there are idle agricultural lands. In terms of irrigation, there are 1,198.48 hectares of agricultural lands which are irrigated while rainfed area comprises 3,528.63 hectares.
About 1,690 has. are devoted to vegetable production like leafy vegetables (Chinese cabbage, cabbage, pechay, mustard, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, green onions and broccoli), fruit vegetables (chayote, snap beans, garden peas, cucumber, bell pepper and tomato) and root vegetables (white potato and carrots). Some 380 hectares are devoted to the production of cutflowers like: gladioli, roses, chrysanthemums, statice, ponpon, dahlia, anthurium and baby’s breath. About 40 hectares are devoted to strawberry production and an estimated 122 hectares are devoted to plantation crops. The types of plantation/industrial crops being produced are: coffee, citrus and other fruit trees such as banana and mango.
Poultry and pork production is basically handled by small backyard raisers. Likewise, cattle and carabao raising is purely on a backyard scale. At present, an estimated 10,950 heads of pigs, 48 heads of cattle are disposed of every year. Backyard raisers rely mostly on kitchen leftovers, farm refuse, vegetable trimmings from the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, camote leaves and other indigenous plants that could be mixed with commercial feeds.
Registered business establishments in the municipality include: 283 manufacturing establishments and 1,587 commercial establishments. The manufacturing establishments are divided into 1 industrial plant, 216 agro-industrial and 93 cottage industries. The agro-industrial establishments include production, food processing and trading. The commercial establishments include: 15 banking and other financial facilities and 1,572 services. The 1,572 services are subdivided into: 26 medical, 48 utilities, 43 engineering, 76 repair services, 112 food services, 264 real estate, 765 consumer sales, 155 public markets, 43 recreation and others 40.
Tourist Attractions and Places of Interest
By: DILG-CAR, Copyright 1999
Vol. I - Local Government Units