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


Municipal District of Atok

About these Historical Data

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JUL 15 1953

I - Present name of the town - Atok

II - Popular name of the town - Atok

This municipality is composed of the following barrios:

1. Chunteg (Atok). Chunteg means a dwelling place on the summit of a mountain.

2. Abiang. This barrio is so named because, long ago, people living in Abra were very good in making a native pack called abiang.

3. Caliguing. When this area was yet sparsely populated, a man by the name of Caliguing lived in this barrio and his descendants occupied the surrounding hills. The place was named in his honor.

4. Naguey. Naguey came from the native word paguey, meaning rice. It was said that a couple found rice in this narrow valley, and upon being told that it was called paguey, they named the place where they found the plant Paguey. But time passed and the letter P was altered by letter N, hence, Naguey.

Each of the barrios have several sitios within their boundaries, and each sitio was named according to the peculiarities of the place or the story that is connected with each. Details may be found in the historical life of the barrios in this municipal district. (See attached papers).

III - Date of establishment:

No one in the community can exactly recall the exact date of the establishment but it was said that it was Anuma Po-ol who first organized a monarchial form of government in this community. This was during the latter part of the Spanish regime.

IV - Original families:

Two distinct groups of people immigrated to this municipality, the Inabloi and the Cancaney. The Inablois came from Kabayan and the Cancaneys came from two places; one group from the mining regions of Suyoc and Mankayan and the other from Bugias and Loo.

The Inabaloi tribesmen were farmers and settled in the narrow valleys where they constructed rice terraces and built irrigation ditches. They build permanent homes and raised animals. The Cancaneys that came from Suyoc and Mankayan led by Lec-amen and Bul-odan settled in what is now called Cagui-ing, and having found gold, started gold mining in the region. The other Cancaneys left their homes in Bugias and Loo because of the rampant rustling and settled along a mountain range where the present Mt. Trail is now built. The second group of Cancaneys built no permanent homes but moved from place to place in search for virgin forest to have kaingins. They did not have ricefields as is also true with the mining group. They subsisted mainly on camote and

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animals, especially pigs

V - List of the town's chief executives from the earlies time to date:

The following is the list in chronological order but the dates when they held office cannot be recalled.

Anuma Po-ol
Binunga Anuma
Barollan Bilit
Islao Binunga
Sidumo Mora
Alipio Peso
Makay Ag-agaya
Kilas Palasi
Kintos Moltio
Jose Mencio
Guinalman Velasco
Alban Kating
Alfredo Bayas (Jap occupation)
Mateo Sison
Felipe Tio-tio
Alfredo Alumno
Alfredo Alumno
Aurelio Casinto (Incumbent Mayor)

VI - History of Barrios and Sitios which are now depopulated or extinct:

No place became extinct or depopulated in this municipality, but during the Japanese occupation, there was a temporary depopulation of the sitios along the Mountain Trail because they evacuated or went to the mines to work in the tunnels that were abandoned by the mining companies because of the war.

VII - Data of Historical Sites, Structures, Buildings, Ruins, etc.:

1. Guerrilla Saddle - This place is so-named because the guerrillas, in their attempt to slow down the movement of the enemy troops, blasted this saddle time and again.

2. The part of the Mountain Trail that was built in this municipality was the scene of many and bitter fights between the local guerrillas and Japs.

3. Native stone crushers - These stones were used by the Cancaneys to crush gold ore from the mines. The stones can still be found near the mining region where the Cancaneys still mine for gold.

VIII - Important facts, incidents or events that took place:

No noteworthy incidents worth mentioning occurred during the Spanish regime.

In the latter part of the American-Filpino War, when the forces of Aguinaldo did not yet surrender to the Americans, it is recalled by the old men that Pedro Paterno and some of his men came to this town and were pursued by the Americans, however, the Katipuneros left before the Americans arrived, so no historic event took place.

In World War Two, the able young men of this place joined the guerrillas and began a campaign against the invaders as early as October 1942. Because of the activities of these guerrillas, many of the people were maltreated by the enemy in his effort to have the natives reveal who and where the guerrillas were. Although many suffered inhuman treatments in the hands of the ruthless enemy and many were killed, the people can recall with pride that not one turned traitor. Peaceful and law-abiding, they were formidable soldiers in war. The love of liberty that made them seek these mountains rather

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than [be] slaves when the civilized Malays arrived in the Philippine shores manifested itself during the last war.

IX - Destruction of lives, properties and institutions during wars:

As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, many people were killed by the enemy and many died of diseases because of their weakened conditions on account of privations. When the people evacuated their sitios because of the presence of enemy troops, some were not able to leave because they were afraid they would starve if they left their kaingins and ricefields, which were their sources of livelihood. The Japanese eventually saw some of these people who refused to evacuate, and it is a known fact that three (3) were eaten by the hungry enemy.


X - Traditions, customs and practices:

1. Birth:

Among the Cancaneys, the woman is usually assisted by a native midwife known as "Bumadang si Umanak." As soon as a child is born, he is baptized by the midwife. She wets her palm with water and rubs it all over the body of the newly born and says, "Mabiag ay kaman danum ay magay ut-doc na." (May you live like the water that flows forever.)

On the first evening after the child is born, the child is brought out and shown to the stars. The father or the mother takes the child and says, "Kamaman kan batakagan ay mankimkimkim od daya." (May you be like the stars that shine in the heavens.)

2. Baptism:

Children are named after their forebears or the circumstance in which they were born. A baby born during a war may be named Guban, meaning war; and likewise, one born while its mother is on her way may be named Chalan, meaning way. An honored man may have many namesakes.

3. Courtship and marriage:

There is no formal courtship and whatever there is, is carried on the sly. Parental agreement is still practiced. The parents of the boy spends for the celebration of the marriage contract, and if it happens that the girl or her parents refuse to have the marriage consummated, then they are made to refund the expenses of the other party; but if the boy's party is the one who refuses to abide by the contract, then their expenses are forfeited. When a young [man], as oftentimes happens, does find a girl he loves and wishes to marry her, he finds a go-between who goes to the girl's parents and tries to get their consent.

During the marriage ceremony, the couple is not allowed to help, but they are kept in the house where old men and women take turns telling them the facts of life. During the wedding night, newly-weds are made to lie down together but are not made to sleep. After three days, the young couple go out to wash or bathe, and on the fifth day, the man goes out to cut wood and the new bride goes to the kaingin to dig camote. After the last rite, they may live like any normal beings.

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4. Death and Burials -

When a man dies, they believe that his soul will join those of his ancestors. They also believe that the kind of welcome his soul will have in the hereafter will depend on the number of animals butchered when a man dies. The rich and prominent families butcher different kinds of animals, often in pairs (male and female), and when a male member dies, a horse should be butchered to carry his soul.

Among the Cancaneys, when the bereft come home from the burial ground, they butcher another pig for the "Lawit." This is an offering to the kabunians in order to make them live longer and richer. The immediate members of the family, from time to time, will refrain from haircuts for 3 to 5 months when an anito is done to drive or send the spirit of the dead person to the destined place. Three pigs are again butchered during this occasion.

5. Causes of Sickness -

It is believed that the bad spirit or spirits of the ancestors make them sick because of the things they need such as a pig, blanket, carabao, or things they forgot to bury with the dead. This is known through the mansip-ok (native priest.)

The mansip-ok has a piece of iron tied at the end of a string. He holds it high and asks the spirit what he needs. If the mansip-ok happens to guess the right thing, the piece of iron swings sidewise. As soon as it is determined, the patient shows a sign of progress for the better, and the person concerned purchases the desired articles and have an anito (special kind of cañiao). This is true among Cancaneys.

6. Cañaos -

When a person is sick, they believe that some ancestor or spirit caused the sickness, so they all call a manbonong to find out what the cause is and the remedy. The manbonong prays, and after some meditation, tells the cause and what the family has to do to pacify the spirits. They may have to butcher a chicken, a pig, or any number of animals the manbonong may tell. Sometimes, when a man begins celebrating a certain kind of cañao he has to do several times in his lifetime, otherwise, he gets sick if he fails. When a cañao is celebrated, every family in the barrio is given a share of the meat. If no member of the family goes to the cañao to bring a share of the family home, the meat is brought to the house, no matter how far, by other people.

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7. Divorce -

The inhabitants of this place may divorce because of the following causes:
a. Adultery by either party.
b. Cruelty or non-support.
c. No children born out of wedlock.

8. Belief in God -

The people believe in one supreme being whom they call Kabunian. They also believe in the sun because, sometimes, when they say an oath, they swear by the sun who they believe sees everything and knows everything.

9. Legends, Myths, etc. -

The Origin of the World

[A] Long, long time ago, the world was flat. The Kabunians, the people, and the snakes lived together. One day, Kabunian got tired of being mixed with the snakes and the people, and he thought of a scheme to separate these baser creatures. He ordered for a flood which was never known before. The flood raged for a month, and when the flood subsided, there were already mountains, rivers, valleys and lakes. The only persons saved during the floods were Kapangan and Limag, a brother and sister. They road on a solibao. Through the course of time, they became the first man and woman.

The Origin of Canyao

Dontogan Bato was a brave but irritable person. One day, he had an altercation with a certain man over land ownership. This resulted into a bolo fight and, consequently, Dontogan Bato won because of his superior strength. Dontogan cut the head of the opponent and hung it on a post. He buried the body in a nearby field. Nobody witnessed the fight too, saw Dontogan kill the dead man, so he kept this a secret.

After some length of time, however, Dontogan became a very sick [man] and almost crazy. In the height of his illness, Dontogan dreamt about the man he murdered. The spirit of the dead man told him if he would not offer the head of a pig for him and dance, he would certainly get crazy or die.

Dontogan fulfilled the dream. He bought some pigs and had these butchered. The head was offered to the spirit and the people and Dontogan danced and danced around the pig's head. Dontogan recovered and the people were astonished. From that time on and whenever somebody gets ill, they offer the head of a pig and celebrate a canyao.

The Unpaid Debt of the People of Balacbac

Milo was noted for his bravery. On incident that de-

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monstrated his valor was when he killed a Balatnek (two-headed snake) that caused much death and fear in the entire community. He put an end to the life of this snake with the help of his intelligent dog who spied on the home of Balatnek. Thus found, Milo went to the sleeping place which was in a different cave at the foot of the mountain. He went during the day because he learned that the Balatnek went out during that time and came home at twilight. Milo placed himself inconspicuously and strategically. He prepared a big stone above the mouth of the cave and waited for the return of the monster.

The Balatnet returned without noticing Milo. As the snake crept toward the mouth of the cave, Milo unloosened the huge stone and crushed the deadly animal. Milo's fame spread like wildfire, and the people of Balacbac had also found a similar problem. This time, it was about a dangerous wild tamarao which harassed the people of Balacbac. Upon knowing of this brave young man, the people made an arrangement with him. The agreement was that if he could kill the wild beast, the people of Balacbac would give him all the animals which he could tie with [a] three-man-load of rope. They were rich with cattle before.

Milo lost no time in preparing and laying [a] plan for killing the ferocious animal. First, he looked for a large balete tree which had many hanging roots. He bore a hole through the trunk of the tree, large enough to allow the entrance of the animal's head and horn. When Milo finished this, he went to look for the animal. After a day, Milo found the wild beast. He showed himself to it. The animal at once pursued him. Milo ran towards the Balete tree. When Milo arrived at the place of the tree, he placed himself cunningly in front of the tree, covering the hole he made with his body. He waited for the charge of the fierce animal. When the animal heard him, it charged with all its might. Milo dodged the animal and the tamarao's head went into the hole and fixed in. With his sharp bolo, Milo gave a hard blow at the back of the neck of the helpless animal and severed his head. He got the tail and the head and showed these to the people.

They were joyous and gave milo the heads of animals he could tie with a man's load first. They told him that they would give him the rest after. Milo pulled behind him almost a hundred heads of cattle.

Some months after, Milo became ill and died. The people of Balacbac forgot all about their debt to Milo.

The Origin of [the] Gold Mine

Togaong and Pali-it were [and] industrious brother and sister. One late afternoon, as they came from their caingin, they perceived in the near distance a flying ball of fire which vaulted up and down alternately. Caught by the sight, they ran for it but [they] could not approach. At last, strange fire attached itself at the side of the precipice. As the brother and sister neared the place, it turned into an animal and buried itself in the loose rock.

Togaong and Pali-it started at once digging for the

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animal. They dug and dug, and as they were about to approach the animal, they found a piece of gold. Encouraged by what they found, they continued digging and every time they neared the queer animal, they always found a piece of gold.

Togaong and Pali-it stopped digging only when they could hardly carry the gold which they [had] found. They went home where their parents had been worrying about them. The incident was not told to the people until they could not hide the secret anymore because they had already become very rich.

Thus, Togaong and Pali-it became the first miners, and the people also followed their example.


A long time ago, two hunters went from their village to a distant hunting ground to hunt. While hunting, they came across a large snake. They decided that since they ate the flesh of this reptile, they should try to kill it. They killed the snake, skinned it, and sliced the flesh for drying. One of the hunters went to look for game while the other stayed to guard the camp and the other trophies of the hunt. After sometime, the guard noticed a movement near their camp, and he kept very still. Presently, a big snake crawled out of the bushes and went to lick the drying flesh and skin of the dead snake. The man watched and was horrified to notice that the flesh and skin were moving together and once more assuming the form of the huge reptile it was once. The flesh and skin finally became once more a live snake, and it disappeared into the forest in company with its rescuer.


Kabunian (Supreme God) came down to Earth, courted and married Bañgan (Goddess of [the] Earth). They had only one son whose name was Irus. Bañgan wanted to follow Kabunian to Heaven, but Kabunian said she must remain to lead and tend her flocks. It was agreed, then, that they divide their son Irus. As time passed, the share of Kabunian became a mighty man, but Bañgan's share died and was so odorous that Kabunian was told about it by the wind. He came down to Earth again and told the people that because of the death of the Earth's share of Irus, there would be death and epidemics. Today, when we see the lightning, the old man say that it is the Kabunian's share who became strong. Death and epidemics remind us of the anger of Kabunian.

10. Riddles and Puzzles -

a. Taen di gayang na ata-atayan - Laya
([The] Manure of the crow formed into branches. - ginger)
b. Solibao Buñgan madñges kaili-ili. - Kido
(A drum of Buñgan can be heard in every town. - thunder)
c. No tomocdo ando, no pomica aptic. - Aso
(If it sits, it's tall; if it stands, it is short. - dog)
d. No giwitem tañgaden daka. - gekki
(If you touch it, it will salute you. - crab)

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e. Impotipot, insiclot. - Kebal
(Wind it, knot it. - G-string)
f. Icaspigco kapes, manedjao ibakes. - Baowet
(I throw a string, the monkey dances. - top)
g. Itolchon mo kakon, no goyodmo pecong. - Kurabis
(If you push it, it is a box; pull it, and it is a trough. - matches)
h. Ikoyod mo tubong, no itolchon mo avong. - Payong
(If you pull it, cylinder; push it, it is a house. - umbrella)
i. No man-akad sakey y sidito, no ontuñgao teddoy sidito. - Silbaro
(When walking, it has only one leg; but when it sits, it has three. - wheelbarrow)
j. No onmotok imigdo mattey ommin y to-o. - Davi
(When the nigger comes, all people die. [answer unclear in the original but probably "night"])

11. Some Common Beliefs -

a. When a member of a family is out working, no wine, especially one owned by him should be drunk in his home because it is believed that he will hurt himself if any drinking is done.
b. It is forbidden to laugh or make fun of any animal because it may cause heavy rains and slides.
c. When an earthquake occurs on the day a man is buried, it is bad, so the man should be dug up and buried in another new grave.
d. If an owl hoots near the house and does so while it is facing towards the house, they believe that one of the members of the family or a relative will either be sick or die.

NATIVE SONG (Cancaney)

Pempen ges ka ay dagem
Ta wengweng wengem nan nakem
Ta sak-en di manak weng
Babais ka sik-siken.
Tan nay ay omal*-alweng.
Babalos lallak yen
Ta waday epiksure me
Sanñguanan apo pare
Lumdaang di nakem me
Balbaladang gagayem me,
Adawi ed baba-ey me
Ananus me en mali.
* Not sure about the transcription; typewriter ribbon blurred part of the word.

12. Methods of Measuring Time -

The natives calculate time at night by the stars and by the sun [during daytime].
Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of Atok, 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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