April 17, 2024

TO START WITH, Balingway [folks say] was a kind of vine which grew abundantly wild in what is now the Itogon Central (Municipal) area. There were plenty of natural streams there – potable even, ema innom, in the earlier times.

THE CULTURE SEAT of those earliest e-Itokhon (Itogon) was in the Akkupan (now Acupan) peripheries. One reason was that there was gold in there: just ready for Akkup, i.e. “picking by hand-fulls!”

PEOPLE FROM ALL over, frequented Akkupan – for that precious gold metal. To the North, as far as Kabayan, and Northwards more – shi pas – Fasdungan pay. Remember
[THE HISTORICAL, IMMORTAL words of Chamdja – wife of Amkidit, the ancestor of most I-Bagiws? She said: “even the Ifasdungs are my kin”. cf. Bagamspad and Pawid, People’s History of Benguet.).
SO, NOT ONLY the e-Akkupan were engaged in the lucrative handful drawing, pangakkup, of gold dusts or nuggets in the areas aforesaid – [but even]
THE IKULOS (AFU Chamdja’s tribal origin, she was from Ambossi, Kebajan); the Ibokot (Bokod); the Irekdan(Northern Bokod); and of course, the Ehnontogs (Mountain Ibalois) – whose culture area that time was Kafagway (now Baguio City).

UNDENIABLY, OUR FAMILY trees indicate that the Ehnontogs – referred to by Spanish-time historians or chroniclers as ‘Igorrotes of the Baguio gold-mining areas’, were of the same ‘ethnic’ stock as the e-Akkupans.

AKKUPAN (OR ACUPAN this time) grew from an older (?) settlement, which was Virac – located Northwest of there and near Kafagway (or today’s Baguio City).

IT APPEARS NOW to many analysts that “Power, Influence, and Politics” motivated the earlier I-Viracs to welcome foreign rule, as did their Baguio or Ikafagway kin – after those long battles and struggles against foreign domination; you know what we’re saying e.g. the 1759 Battles of Tonglo and Apatut; the later battles in the unwritten heroisms of the e-Lumtangs (against the Spanish; then, the Americans; then, the Japanese). Remember “the Bridge at Irisan” – but local historians now feel not-so confident sometimes to emphasize these in-details – maybe because of Lack of (moral) support(?) – from you and me? Anyway,
THE SEAT OF Government that time was in Virac – so, there were four who first served under Spanish rule: Codeng (or Ko-deng) de Ytogon; then Guirey; then Maingpes, and finally, Shomingkis.

They’re listed in the Title of “el capitan del pueblo de Ytogon;” “(the) captain of the (little) town of Itogon.” But why Itogon and not Balingway? Answer: because Codeng – or Ko-deng, the first capitan. was from Itogon – now a minor settlement of Today’s Suyo, Poblacion. [For this particular Info, I am indebted to key Informant and Elder Benedicto S. Fianza].

UNDERSTANDABLY, BALINGWAY that time was not yet a fully-developed settlement; though later, the officials have to move there, i.e, from Virac – mainly because of the fresher, potable water streams of Balingway. More of these in succeeding issues, when spaces shall allow. Ayo, Ayo, Ino!