March 5, 2024

For decades now, Benguet has been a model for other provinces in the Cordillera, being a beacon of development, sustainability, and resiliency.
On the occasion of its 123rd founding anniversary on Nov. 23 celebrated through the annual Adivay Festival, we commend the past and present leaders of Benguet for laying the cornerstone for a peaceful and progressive province, which has become the envy of other provinces, not only in the Cordillera, but also in the entire country.
More admirably, Benguet, once among the top 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines, eventually emerged as a champion among 77 provinces nationwide for topping the Philippine Human Development Index Report in a monitoring done by the United Nations Development Program, making it a model as a progressive provincial government.
The HDI report, which measures the gains of provinces in terms of income, literacy and life expectancy, is considered a breakthrough in the national government’s campaign for local government units to achieve good governance.
The provincial government, along with some of its 13 towns, is a recipient of the Seal of Local Good Governance, becoming model local government units in terms of high level of compliance with the full disclosure policy of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, particularly in the areas of budget, revenues and procurement, among other criteria.
This year’s foundation day celebration with the theme, “Benguet: Gateway to unforgettable getaways,” is a celebration of the efforts of the people in preserving the natural wonders of the province, being one of sought-after tourist destinations in Northern Luzon.
It was also a celebration for the province that plays a significant role in the nation’s food security, being the top supplier of temperate vegetables, which earned its moniker as the Salad Bowl Capital.
The foundation day was also a reiteration of Benguet’s commendable commitment to environmental conservation. The province has taken proactive measures to preserve its natural resources, implementing policies that promote reforestation, waste management, and biodiversity conservation.
The province though is not without serious challenges despite its achievements. One great concern is the protection and preservation of Mount Pulag now facing serious threats from illegal logging and expansion of commercial farms into its pine and mossy forest covers that must be addressed with a sense of urgency.
This year’s foundation day was also a celebration of the well-preserved cultural practices and traditions of the indigenous peoples belonging to the Kankana-ey, Ibaloy, and Kalanguya, which form the majority ethnic groups in the province. The vibrant sound from rhythmically struck gongs which echoed throughout the Benguet Sports Complex in Wangal, La Trinidad on Nov. 23 made the people proud of their rich cultural heritage passed on through generations.
The festival showcased the diverse traditions and customs that make Benguet truly unique, providing both residents and visitors with an immersive experience into the province’s distinct way of life.
But beneath the revelry and celebration hide the challenges faced by IPs and indigenous cultural communities in the assertion of their rights over their ancestral lands and domains due to threats posed by multinational companies wanting to explore their resources which they have protected since time immemorial and ought to enjoy to this day.
This year’s celebration and the years to come may serve as a poignant reminder of the resilience and determination of the Benguet people who continue to overcome some of the great challenges such as the natural calamities that have claimed lives and damaged properties throughout the decades.
The journey of this province serves as an inspiration for the entire region, showcasing that development can be achieved without compromising the natural beauty, cultural richness, and social fabric that make Benguet truly unique.