History and Government
The municipality of Besao is believed to have derived its name from the Ilocano word "Buso" meaning headhunter. The people then of the neighboring towns specifically those from the Ilocos Region believed that the early "Besaos" were headhunters. The word later on evolved as it is now called - Besao.
Besao was originally a part of Bagnen municipality. With the establishment of the old Mountain Province, it was absorbed by the sub-province of Lepanto. It finally attained its status as a separate municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 42 dated June 25, 1963.
The municipal presidents who helped in the development of the municipality in succession were Dabudab (1904-1905), Pedro Piluden (1906-1907), Nicolas Sawadan (1908-1911), Agustin Ambucay (1912-1913), Francisco Ocden (1914-1916), Agustin Ambucay (1916-1919), Luciano Piluden (1919-1922), Agustin Ambucay (1922-1925), Bonifacio Ngalean (1925-1928) and Abundio Gawigawen (1928-1937). The municipal mayors started with Pablo Belinan (1938 to 1940), who was succeeded by Ventura Lanas (1941-1943), Rodolfo Hidalgo (1943-1944), Ventura Lanas (1945-1946), Alipio Bay (1947-1950), Domingo Busacay (1950-1952), Agustin Pecas (acting mayor, 1953), Baltazar Domeyeg (1953-1954), Felipe Lalwet (1954-1955), Rodolfo Dampo (1956-1959), Martin Dangawen, (acting mayor, 1960), Vicente Bugnosen (1960-1963), Martin Dangawen (acting mayor, 1963), Rodolfo Dampo (1964-1967), Francisca Anton (1968-1971), Alfredo Agdaca (1972-1980), Arthur Calixto (1980-1986) and Benjamin Bagano (1986-1995). In 1995, Johnson Bantog was elected mayor of Besao up to the present.
Besao is presently composed of 14 barangays, namely: Agawa, Ambagiw, Banguitan, Besao West, Besao East, Catengan, Gueday, Kin-iway, Lacmaan, Laylaya, Padangan, Payeo, Suquib, and Tamboan.
Besao lies at the westernmost part of Mountain Province. It is bounded on the north by Tubo, Abra, on the south by Tadian, on the east by Sagada and on the west by Quirino, Ilocos Sur. It is 28 kilometers away from Bontoc, the capital town of Mountain Province, and 150 kilometers away from Baguio City.
Based on the records of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources - Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR), the municipality has a total land area of 19,020 hectares, the second smallest municipality in the province, comprising only 4.3% of the total provincial land area. However, records of the municipality based on early cadastral surveys, the land area of the municipality is believed to be 38,265 hectares. The conflict in figures is due to the fact that the boundary dispute between Mountain Province and Abra remains unresolved up to the present time.
According to the DENR, Besao is 100% forest land. Of the 9,020 hectares, 52.02% are classified as forest reserve, 25.95% are timber lands while 22.03% are unclassified forest.
While the DENR's classification did not provide for alienable and disposable land, the existing land use shows that there are built-up areas in the municipality. Data from the Department of Agriculture shows that only 940 hectares representing 10% of the total land area are used for agricultural activities. The rest are grasslands and wooded forests, comprising 88.64% of the total land area of the municipality.
There are two pronounced seasons in the municipality, wet and dry. The dry season normally occurs from January through April while the wet or rainy season lasts from May to December. Typhoons normally visit the area during the months of July, August and September. Due to temperature changes, monsoon rains last for weeks, resulting in damage to crops and properties.
The 1995 Census of Population shows that the municipality has a total population of 9,147 showing an increase of 7% compared to the 8,473 population of 1990. The locality has a total of 1,760 households with an average household size of 5.
Besao is one of the rice producing municipalities with the highest yield per hectare in the province. The municipal agricultural office estimates rice production at an average of 21 cavans or 1,045 kilograms per hectare. Still, the majority of the population are highly dependent on rice imported from other areas. Other agricultural crops produced are citrus fruits, banana, root crops, corn, and coffee.
Livestock popularly raised includes cattle, carabao, swine, chicken, ducks and other domestic animals. These animals are raised primarily for domestic consumption and for social and cultural purposes.
Tourist Attractions and Places of Interest
>The Stone Calendar of Gueday
>The Besao Sunset
>Mt. Mogao View Deck
>Baknad Rice Terraces
>World War II "Fox Holes"
>The Banao Lakes
By: DILG-CAR, Copyright 1999
Vol. I - Local Government Units