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The History of the Valley of La Trinidad

The valley of La Trinidad during pre-Spanish times was then called "Benget". It is believed that it was named after Guillermo Galley's wife.

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Oct 14, 2017

The History of the Valley of La Trinidad

The valley of La Trinidad during pre-Spanish times was then called "Benget", meaning, a marshy land(and the placid smell coming from it). Its original settlers were the Ibalois, who cultivated rice, kamoteng kahoy, camote, gabi, and sugar cane in their farms along the hillsides, and rice terraces along the mountain slopes, lake and rivers. Power and wealth was measured by one's ownership of land and cattle, and it was redistributed by holding the prestigious feast of "peshit".

Ibalois, the original settlers of the province of Benguet. Ca. 1920's
Ibalois, the original settlers of the province of Benguet. Ca. 1920's

For centuries, the whole Gran Cordillera was undiscovered, until the Spaniards heard about Igorots trading with lowlanders displaying their gold ornaments. It was also the same time, that the Igorots were hurting the tobacco monopoly of northern Luzon. The Spanish discovery or attack of La Trinidad was as early as 1829 by Lt. Col. Guillermo Galvey.

The District of Benguet was established in La Trinidad by 1846. But due to Spanish cruelty, the shy and hardworking Ibalois left the valley towards the town's outskirts, where they could enjoy their much wanted freedom in their cultural ways and mores.

Mt. Kalugong, La Trinidad, Benguet
Mt. Kalugong, La Trinidad, Benguet

It was in April 21, 1874, under Commandant Manuel Scheidnagel that Valle de Benguet was renamed as La Trinidad.(Scott 1975). Despite popular belief that it was renamed as "a fitting tribute to its discoverer's wife, Doña Trinidad de Galvey", Scheidnagel "must have been inspired by the area's three small visible hills (in effect, a trinity) overlooking the Poblacion church, where the seat of the Cabecera was established and change the name, Valle de Benguet to La Trinidad. (Paw, 2015)

After the Revolutionary period between 1899-1900, the Americans carved Baguio City out of Tuba, and La Trinidad became their supplier of American vegetables via the Trinidad Farm School (now the Benguet State University). Several socio-economic changes occurred, as freedom of religion was granted, land ownership, education, and elections were introduced. Labor began to be paid and money became an important feature in the economic lives of the people. This time is sweetly remembered by the old folks as "peace time".

The busy La Trinidad trading post.
The busy La Trinidad trading post.

Life was harsh during the Japanese occupation (1941-1945). Many loyal residents were imprisoned and pitilessly tortured. Young men joined the guerilla war and mothers with babies and children fled into the mountains.

La Trinidad, Benguet. April of 1945
La Trinidad, Benguet. April of 1945

Right after the war, people started to rebuild their lives. Highland vegetables and strawberries became the main crops, which were marketed in nearby Baguio City, garnering for itself the title "The Salad Bowl of the Philippines" in the 1950s and "Strawberry Capital of the Philippines" in the 1980's. By the 1980s, farmers were prodded to go into cutflowers. As its nearby towns competed with vegetables, La Trinidad was envisioned to be Benguet's marketing arm, with the establishment of the Trading Post. By the 1990's, many barangays were growing chrysanthemums, roses, and a variety of flowers, and barangay Bahong was named "The Rose Capital of the Philippines".

Roses produced by Bahong, La Trinidad
Roses produced by Bahong, La Trinidad

By the turn of the century, migration and urbanization steadily crept in, bringing with it colorful mix of lowlanders and highlanders.


LaTrinidad valley benget History Benguet

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Last updated May 29, 2019.

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