MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF SABLAN, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF SABLAN, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data


Municipal District of Sablan

About these Historical Data

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Sablan Municipality


Sablan is the present official name of the municipality. The name "Sablan" was derived from a name of a kind of tree called "Sabdang" that thrived abundantly along the Sablan River, which was found by the early settlers who emigrated to this place. The original settlers are said to have come from distant towns like Kabayan, La Trinidad, Bokod, [unreadable word], and other adjacent towns.

About the middle part of the nineteenth century, sometime in 1846, the plateau of Benguet was subjugated by the Spaniards and was then created as a province. Then, organization of the municipalities followed. The first town organized that included Sablan in its territorial jurisdiction was that organized in "Nangalisan" near Asin. This township [was] organized by the Spaniards as they had found this place inhabited by the natives as early as 1830, when a Spanish expedition under the leadership of Guillermo Galvey marched up the Asin River from Aringay.

After some years, for some reasons unknown, the town site of Disdis was moved to "Libtong," not [now?] a part of Burgos. But this place was visited by Filipino rebels and so was again moved to the sitio of "Cambali." At this period, the town of Disdis was once under the hands of a powerful woman called "Cadmali." The town site was again moved to "Bosiw" for some reasons beyond [the] recollections of the old men, and then moved again to "Pappa." The name "Pappa" was said to have been derived from the word "Santo Pappa," who they claimed to have ascended to that place together with "Santa Maria" to spread Christianity and to baptize the people. It included in its territory the sitios of Salayan, Bangno, Timoy, and Balawid, while the seat of the municipality or municipal government was here in Pappa. The following served as captains: [the] first was Luis Marino, followed by Bato Bentres, who served three terms (1 term in 2 years), then followed by Baldo, Kiret, Bentes, and Kosep.

After some time, some of the old men that included Don Camacho and Pataras, for unknown motives, thought of separating from Disdis and founded the township of Sablan (located at the old Sablan site near the river). The sitios included in this new town are unknown. Garoy was chosen as the first capital of this town.

Not long after the founding of Sablan as a municipality, the Spanish-American War broke out. Sablan became a scene of bloody fights between the American troops that consisted of Negro soldiers, and the Spaniards aided by recruited natives.

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The fight resulted in the defeat of the Spaniards, and all the houses were burned. The terrorized inhabitants fled to different directions and made new settlements which are now formed as sitios, such as Bayabas, Teytey, Salat, Matal-og, Sawili, and some others.

With the defeat of the Spaniards, the Americans became the ruling power of the places. These American then organized the municipal government patterned after their own. Garoy was elected as the first Municipal President under the American regime.

Under the Municipality of Sablan organized by the government, the township of Pappa was merged to Sablan. That ended the township of Pappa. At present, Sablan consists of six barrios, namely: Balluay, Banengbenga, Banangan, Pappa, Bayabas, and Central.

Since the American occupation, the municipal government of Sablan has been under the leadership of the following municipal presidents in their respective order: Garoy (2 terms), Cando (3 terms), Bato Bentres, Ticol, Pacalso, Tino, Don Polon, Camacho, Almacen (2 terms, 1936-1941), Polig (1941), Luis Bosoy (Japanese occupation, 1942-1944), Albert Camacho (1945-1946), Polig (1946-1947), Alfredo Quinacio(1947-49), Fidel Sito (incumbent, 1949 [to] present).

The Japanese occupation, followed by the liberation campaign, had left Sablan a war-torn and shattered municipality. Most of the inhabitants perished due to illness, besides those killed barbarously by the Japs. All the houses along the roadside were either in the postwar days. [This last sentence seems incomplete.]

With the aid extended by the U.S., such as the payment of destroyed properties by the U.S. War Damage Commission, the people were able to reconstruct their homes. The energetic leaderhip of the postwar municipal officials have practically brought [the] town to its stable social and ecomomic condition.


For the preparation and compilation of this data, grateful acknowledgement is made of the following persons for the valuable information and materials they have given:
Mr. Quilacio (one name)
Mr. Saldio (one name)
Mr. Luis Bosoy
Mr. Sito Segundo

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Part Two: Folkways

Courtship and Marriage Customs - When a young man desires to marry a young woman, he needs not go and tell her of his desire. He asks his parents or a third party, preferably [an] orderly [likely meant "elderly"] respected person to see the young woman or her parents to arrange the marriage. This third party, called "Mangalon," proposes marriage to the girl for the young man and [if] the proposal is accepted by the girl, regardless of whether the girl consents to it or not, a pig of regular size is butchered for a single feast as a seal to the bethrotal. The bladder of the pig is also examined and, if found to be big and fresh-looking, it is a good sign that the two will have a good future together.

In some cases, [the] parents of a boy and the parents of a girl bethroth their children in their early childhood. This engagement is called "Kaising." The "Kaising" ends with the marriage of these children when reaching the proper age.

The marriage ceremony is performed in the bride's home. During the course of the wedding feast, the bridegroom and bride are made to sit down to gather amidst a group of the old men and women. One of the oldest in the group, preferably a priest or a priestess, is chosen to officiate the marriage. With a cup of "tapey" (rice wine) in his hand the priest of face [the previous part makes no sense] along the marriage utters a prayer for good health and luck of the couple. After the prayer, the wine is given to the couple to drink. The ceremony ends with the announcement of the marriage and squirting of water over the heads of the newly-wedded couple by the person officiating the marriage, at the same time saying a short prayer which runs like such: "May the good spirit grant thee long lives like the overflowing streams." After this, the old men and women take turns giving advice to the newly-wedded couple.

Burial Customs - It has been a general custom among the inhabitants to keep the corpse for some days [and the] honor bestowed depends upon the age, wealth and fame of the deceased. If the deceased is an old person, his body is kept from one to three days only and is not smoked or seated in similar respect with the former. During these days that the body lies in state, the members of the bereaved family as well as the distant relatives take turns in making offerings to the dead. Things offered are usually animals, wine, clothing, tobacco, and many other things as such.

After the animals are offered to the deceased, they are butchered and used for food of the people in the gathering. If is a belief that the soul of the deceased will carry these

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things to the land of the hereafter and will distribute them to the respective souls of the departed relatives who will welcome him in the next world.

During the burial, all the personal belongings of the deceased are buried with the corpse, as it is believed that the spirit may come back to the house time and again to look for them.

Oftentimes, he makes the members of the family sick to punish them for having given the missing belongings.

Birth and Baptism - When a baby is born, the "Mambunong" or priest is called. A pig is butchered and offered to the spirits so that the life of the newly-born baby will be accepted in this world. This ceremony is called "Ta-idiw."

The parents choose the name of the child. Usually, the names given are those suggested by events or circumstances that prevailed during the birth of the child, habits and peculiarities, he is named after him [named after "these?"].

Festivals - Making a caniao is still a tradition among the inhabitants of this town. The caniao is of different kinds, each performed for definite purposes. The "Pesshet," for example, is held for honor's sake. Some others, like the "sedpang," "batbat," "kafi," and "sapnak" are held to gain the favor and generosity of the spirits and make their lives better. Others, like the "bateng" and "palis," are held to heal the sick. "Ilaw" is a small caniao for protection from lightning, for a good harvest, for the safeguard of plants, and many others. After the caniao is finished, the members of the family who performed the caniao confine themselves at home for three or more days. This, they do, because going out just after the caniao will lose the grace that the good spirits have given them.

Crimes and Punishments - Many acts were such as adultery, robbery, stealing, attacking another person, violation of sepulchers, disrespect to old people, insult to women, and may others. The common punishment for an offense committed: in most cases, the offender is punished by requiring him to make a party and have a carabao butchered. A pig will do for slight offenses. Then, amidst a group of old men and women, the offender is made to swear to God and promise not to repeat the wrong deed he committed. In other cases, the offender is required to indemnify the offended party for the damage or injury inflicted.

Superstitions - The people are still greatly influenced by old supersitious beliefs. One of the common superstitions is that when one is on his way and a bird, snake or

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mouse crosses the way in front of the traveller, he is being forewarned of a bad incident to happen. The traveller, then, must not continue to his destination lest something happens to him as usually, this is a very bad omen. In a similar respect, one must not continue to leave for a destination when someone sneezes as one starts to leave.

When one plans for a trip to a certain place and dreams before hand that he was on that same spot, the trip should be discontinued as this is also a bad sign.

When one dreams of having been bitten by a snake, dog, or any animal, or that he was hurt by a sharp tool, he must stay at home the next day as this is a warning of an accident.

Beliefs - It is a strong belief among the people that spirits with supernatural powers live amongst men on earth. It has been proven time and again the existence of agencies of these spirits called "atoros" by their constant appearances to some individuals. The people claim that these spirits appear visibly before any person and in changeable forms. In most instances, they appear before persons and in forms of any kind of animal. It is also believed that these "atoros" feast on human beings. These "atoros" are aided by dogs whose barks are familiar to the people. At night, when the people hear the invisible dogs bark, they build fires around their houses to serve [probably "scare"] him away.

Legends - The origin of mountains and rivers is explained by this story. In the olden times, there were no mountains and rivers. The earth was flat and boundless. Oftentimes, a hunter got lost in his attempts to follow his games as there were no signs or clues for him to follow [on] his way back home.

One day, as God was looking down from His heavenly home, He saw women and children weeping. His tender and merciful heart was touched by the scene that He descended right away to find out what the matter was. Upon learning that their husbands and fathers were lost in a chase for game, He set forth at once to look for them. He found the lost men and brought them back to their respective families. He ascended to heaven and viewed the surface of the earth. From that incident that had happened, He deemed it wise to change the form of the earth's surface. He commanded mountains to rise at different heights and rivers to flow that these may serve as boundaries between places, signs and clues for travellers and hunters. From that time on, travellers and hunters needed not fear of getting lost.

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Here's another folktale. In the olden times, when the world was much younger, the people only knew camote, gabi and some other root crops as good food. Rice was not known to them and was considered as weeds. One day, as God was viewing the earth, He saw some men and women cleaning kaingins. They were pulling out the rice which they thought was useless weeds. Upon seeing the grave mistake of these people, He descended at once to tell these people that rice was edible and, therefore, should be propagated. At first, the people did not believe Him, so he gathered some pannicles [particles?] and commmanded the people to pound these. He then told the people to cook the husked grains. When it was cooked, everyone was told to taste the cooked food and, to their astonishment, they found it better than camote. From that time on, the people planted rice in wide scales.

SONGS - "Bad-iw," as it is called, is the popular song of the people in this town. The "Bad-iw" may be a debate, storytelling, or a discussion of the significanceof the affair or a sort of conversation, but that everything one says is sung to music.

METHODS OF TELLING TIME - The people of this town have never known to devise instruments for measuring time. Just as most other people do, the people here tell time by the positions of the stars, moon and sun, shadows, and the crowing of roosters. Seasons are told or distinguished from one another by the appearance of seasonal spaces [probably "species"] of birds, the appearance of foliage of trees and the storms and typhoons.

Respectfully submitted by:

Roman H. Nerona

Leonor S. Nerona
Elmo L. Sagubo
Sergio L. Almacen
Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Municipal District of Sablan, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. The pagination in this transcription is as they appear in the original document.
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