Benguet ((Ibaloi: Probinsya ne Benguet),(Ilocano: Probinsya ti Benguet),, is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and borders, clockwise from the south, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.
Baguio City, a popular tourist destination in the country, is located in the interior of the province, however, the city is independent of the province.
The mountainous area, now covered by Benguet is home to residents which are known as the Igorots. Two of these, the Ibaloi and the Kankanaey, are dominant ethnolinguistic groups of the area. Many of these tribes are believed by Filipino anthropologists to be of Malay descent. Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, these tribes had a flourishing trade with the lowlanders such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses.
When the Spanish arrived, having heard of the rich gold mines in the mountains, they attempted to colonize the highlands, but failed to take control of the entire highlands. In 1572, Juan de Salcedo led a small expedition into the southern part of Benguet, but the natives forced them to retreat. The first major expedition into the mountains occurred in 1620, when Spanish explorers went into the La Trinidad Valley and briefly controlled some Igorot gold mines, which were later abandoned after a few years of control.
In the 1800s, the Spanish colonizers made more serious attempts at conquering the highlands. The first expeditions were done under the leadership of Col. Guillermo Galvey and succeeded in establishing presence in the La Trinidad Valley. La Trinidad is named after Galvey's wife.
This area later became a district of the new province of La Union in 1846. Eight years later, in 1854, Benguet became a separate comandancia politico-militar. Parts of the present province were established as component territories of other comandancias such as Lepanto, and Amburayan.
When the Americans took control of the Philippines, they established local civil governments in many parts of the country. In Benguet, the civil government was established on November 23, 1900 by virtue of Act No. 49. H.P. Whitmarsh, a Canadian journalist, was appointed as the first governor of Benguet.
The Americans then established the Mountain Province on August 18, 1908, with the enactment of Act No. 1876. Benguet, along with Amburayan, Apayao, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Lepanto, became sub-provinces of this new province. Later on, Baguio became a chartered city in 1909. Then in 1920, Benguet absorbed the sub-provinces of Amburayan and Lepanto.
In the 1930s, mining companies were started to mine the gold deposits in the area. This brought it jobs and many lowlanders migrated to Benguet, especially in towns surrounding the mines, such as Itogon.
World War II
During World War II, Igorot guerrillas and the combined Filipino and American forces fought battles with Japanese soldiers during the final days of the war in 1945.
On June 18, 1966, the huge Mountain Province was split into four provinces with the enactment of Republic Act No. 4695. The four provinces were Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao. Benguet became one of the provinces of the Ilocos Region. On July 15, 1987, the Cordillera Administrative Region was established and Benguet was made one of its provinces.