Kapangan is situated on the northern part of Benguet, twenty-nine kilometers from the capital town of La Trinidad to the new municipal hall at Lomon, Kapangan. It takes two and one-half hours ride from the city of Baguio to reach the place. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Kibungan, on the east by the municipality of Atok, on the west by the province of La Union and on the south by the municipalities of Tublay and Sablan.
She has a land area of 12,950 hectares with a population of 12,793 as recorded from the latest census conducted in 1975. Kapangan existed as an organized town as early as the Spanish regime. When the Americans took over, all existing towns were re-organized. Under Act Nos. 48 and 2877 series of 1900, Kapangan was formally recognized as one of the thirteen municipalities of the sub-provinces of Benguet now the province of Benguet pursuant to RA 4695 otherwise known as the Division Law.
Kapangan is now composed of twelve barrios namely: Central, Datakan, Pongayan, Gasweling, Sagubo, Gadang, Paykek, Pudong, Tab-ao, Cuba, Balacbac and Boklaoan.
*Balacbac is fourteen kilometers away north of the Poblacion. The following sitios of Balacbac:
Leg-leg – the place is called Leg-leg because of the kind of soil which used to wash hair that is found in the place called by this name.
Calew – is the southern sitio of Balacbac at the foot of the mountain. Years ago, when birds were plentiful, there were big birds living in the mountain called calew. These birds shout “Calew! calew!” They are called the clock of the mountain because they make sounds at o’clock and o’clock every day. After these birds the place was named Calew.
Tagpaya – is about half a kilometer north of Calew.
Catampan – is found on the eastern pasrt of Balacbac and just half a kilometer north of Tagpaya.
Abellon – is on the eastern part of Balacbac.
Manga – is just above Leg-leg.
Buyot – is aboveManga on the western side.
Amionget – is above Buyot on the northern side.
Tawang – is five kilometers away from Amionget on the north.
Beleng – is on the northeastern part of Balacbac.
Cuba is twelve kilometers away from the Poblacion and is two kilometers away from the road. This place is found just below a mountain. The following stories are told how Cuba got its name:
Once upon a time, a dragon lived near a certainvillage. This dragon had been victimizing the vilagers from time to time. The villagers, knowing that they were decreasing in number, set aside a cow to be given to any men who will volunteer to kill the dragon.
One day, a young man by the name of Cuba volunteered to go and kill the dragon. The started to the mountains where the dragon lived with a bolo for his weapon. When he reached the dragon’s den, it was yet asleep. Moving slowly and quietly toward the hungry monster, he unsheathed his bolo and killed the dragon. After killing the dragon, he returned to the village to get his reward. When he asked the old man to give his reward, the old man scoffed at him and did not give him the cow. When the other villagers heard about this, they pitied Cuba, that when he died, they named the village Cuba in honor of him.
Another story is told regarding the origin of the place’s name:
Long ago, many trees whose barks were made into g-strings grew in this place. Cuba is the native term of g-string. So the place was named Cuba.
The sitios of Cuba are the following: 1) Cabelisan Bacatey 2) Toplac 3) Belis 4) Nalbengan – Nalbengan is a small sitio on a mountainside just above Amburayan river. In this place grows a lot of coconuts and pineapples.
Taba-ao is seven kilometers away from the Poblacion. The people are mostly engaged in gardening. In this place was built the Amburayan bridge about forty meters long. It is comprised of the sitios namely: 1) Boklacan 2) Melegaw 3) Aponan 4) Abiyangand 5) Ligawe.
Paykek is the barrio nearest to the Poblacion. It is about three kilometers from the poblacion. The Anglican Mission built a big church near the school. Here is found wide terraces and a lot of bamboo grooves. In the early times this place was thickly forested. There were a lot of Paykek trees. The early settlers named the place after these big trees.
The sitios are: Lomon, Cadtay, Cayapas.
Sagubo is seven kilometersaway from the Poblacion in the southwestern section of the town. The people named this place Datakan because of the trees by that name that grows abundantly in that area. This tree grows very tall and it is easy to cut down. It is used as talacan, a pipe carved from wood to convey water from the river to the fields.
Kapangan Central or the Poblacion is where the new municipal building was constructed. The sitios are: Salat, Pongayan, Katyawan and Gasweling.
(NB: This portion needs to be updated. Newer barrios out of old sitios are not accorded for)
Kapangan has not alwys been called such. Originally it was referred to as Takdang (meaning people from the east). Later it was known as Amburayan. During the American period the name Kapangan became widely popular. The following are stories related on how Kapangan got its name.
In the olden days, this place was a wilderness and was a favorable hunting ground for the people living in the northern and eastern part of Benguet. Without a name the people called it “the hunting ground of Benguet.” One time a famous hunter by the name Anawan, while hunting found a small level land, and he thought it to be an ideal place to live in. After surveying the place he went home and told his family about his scheme. Anawan’s wife was reluctant because she loved their home in a little village somewhere in the southeast of Benguet, but Anawan was able to convince her, so he and his wife together with their two sons and a daughter packed their handful of belongings and started for the place.
Anawan built a comfortable home and he made kaingin and produced enough food for the family. Anawan’s family lived there in contentment. Later on, as they were the only family living in the place, Anawan thought of building a fence around his house for protection against intruders. This kind of enclosure was called codel.
After five years, some friends and relatives of Anawan who heard that he was living happily in his new home came one after the other to pay him a visit. As Anawan’s place had no name, his first visitor, seeing that this was the only place with a fence, told the other friends of Anawan who wanted to know the name of the place, that it was called Codel. So this name was spread and the friends of Anawan who went to visit him began calling the place Codal for many years.
As time went by, trade began.
The trade was so good that the natives were inspired to trade with the lowlanders. The best way to the lowlands was Codal, the home of Anawan. the people of Benguet passed this way taking their products and gold to the lowlands. In return, they brought up animals, salt and merchandise in exchange for their gold. The news of the business was spread that rich man named Walwalto in a remote place in the northern part of Benguet wanted to be in the business. When the time became favorable, Walwalto took his gold and went to the lowlands passing through Codal. Walwalto showed his gold to the lowlanders and they were so attracted that for a piece of gold he got six heads of carabaos. He was overjoyed and with a singing heart he started away with his carabaos. Slowly, he went from mountain to mountain toward Codal for the carabaos would not travel fast, especially in the heat of the sun. On his way, he met traders like him who asked how much he paid for the carabaos. In reply, he said that he got them for three pieces of gold which made them envy him.
On the tenth day of his travel from the lowlands, he arrived at Codal. On that day, a storm arose and Walwalto could not continue his journey for the storm became stronger and stronger every hour, so he went to the house of Anawan and begged him to let him stay for the night. Anawan was an Ibaloi. But inspite of this, he understood what Walwalto said. Being a very hospitable man, he received Walwalto in his house and even told him to stay until the storm would cease. Walwalto was gladdened and he stayed there. With the aid of his friend Anawan, the carabaos were placed in a shed. In the house he found out that Anawan was living only with his wife and a beautiful girl, his granddaughter, for his three children got married and they were living in separate homes. In the evening, while he was sitting alone in one of the rooms of Anawan’s house, listening to the whistling of the strong wind and the sound of the falling rain, he was in deep thought of how he could cross the Amburayan river lying across his way, if the water gets high..when another thought popped out of his head. He wanted to know the name of the place. Just when, supper was ready so Anawan sent his granddaughter to call Walwalto. Walwalto asked the girl in Kankanaey: “Nagan nan ili ay nay?” The girl who did not understand Kankanaey said in Ibaloi: “Ka pangan.” (go to eat) Walwaldo who didn’t also understand Ibaloi, thought his is the response to his question and said to himself “so this is Kapangan.” Anawan went after his granddaughter and called Walwalto for supper. While eating Walwalto did not bother to ask again the name of the place because he was satisfied with the girl’s answer. Instead, they talked about trade and his journey to the lowlands.
The next day the storm ceased. Walwalto then prepared and continued his journey bidding Anawan good-bye. On the way, he met traders going to the lowlands. They asked him where he stayed during the storm, and he answered them saying he stayed in Kapangan, the home of Anawan. All the people believed that the place was called Kapangan, after Walwalto told them the story iof how he got to know the place. From that time on, Kapangan became the more popular name of that place.
A later version on how Kapangan got its name is told as follows:
One time an American soldier came to this place. He asked the people how the place was called. The people not understanding him prepared food and called the American soldier to eat saying: “Kayo pangan.” The American soldier brought out pencil and paper from his pocket and wrote down the newly learned word: Kapangan. When the American set up their local government the town was named Kapangan.
Kapangan is a hilly and mountainous place. A lot of the mountains are nameless. The following are some of the significant ones:
The Labueg Hill is one of the best place for viewing the houses in the Central as well as the eastern prts of the town.
The Salat Hill is a pathway up the Bileng mountains where many people made their kaingin because of the fertile soil; moist cool and very black, which is fitted for root crops especially sweet potatoes. In fact, most of the camote gathered here are exhibited during fiestas. Orchids are plenty in the thickly forested part.
The Sagubo mountain is one of the highest mountains in the central section of Kapangan.
The towering hills of Camp Utopia overlook Tagudin, Ilocos and the view of La Union and all of Kapangan can be seen on a clear morning. the beautiful rice terraces on the eastern part of Sagubo can be seen from this point.
Most of the mountains are high and crowned with trees except Dakiwagan mountain the second highest mountain in Kapangan which has very few trees because it is always burned every year.
The eastern and western sections of Kapangan are mountainous with rugged cliffs. The central part, however, is slopy and hilly fitted for rice planting and gardening.
The deepest part of the municipality is the Amburayan river flowing down westward to the Ilocos province. The Amburayan river bisects the barrios of Cuba and Balacbac on the southern part of the town. It is the source of water for irrigation as well as the source of livelihood like fishing and gold panning.