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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

The New Provinces of Benguet and Abra

Insurrection on Bohol.--Since the insurrection on Bohol in 1744, when the natives had killed the Jesuit missionaries, a large part of the island had been practically independent under the leader Dagohoy. After the expulsion of the Jesuits, Recollects were placed in special charge of those towns along the seacoast, which had remained loyal to Spain. An effort was made to secure the submission of the rebels by the proclamation of a pardon, but the power of the revolt grew rather than declined, until in 1827 it was determined to reduce the rebellion by force. An expedition of thirty-two hundred men was formed in Cebu, and in April, 1828, the campaign took place, which resulted in the defeat of the rebels and their settlement in the Christian towns.

The New Provinces of Benguet and Abra.--It is proper to notice also the slow advances of Spanish authority, which began to be made about this time among the heathen tribes of northern Luzon. These fierce and powerful tribes occupy the entire range of the Cordillera Central. Missionary effort in the latter half of the eighteenth century had succeeded in partly Christianizing the tribes along the river Magat in Neuva Vizcaya, but the fierce, head-hunting hillmen remained unsubdued and unchristianized.

Between 1823 and 1829 the mission of Pidigan, under an Augustinian friar, Christianized some thousands of the Tinguianes of the river Abra. In 1829 an expedition of about sixty soldiers, under Don Guillermo Galvey, penetrated into the cool, elevated plateau of Benguet. The diary of the leader recounts the difficult march up the river Cagaling from Aringay and their delight upon emerging from the jungle and cogon upon the grassy, pine-timbered slopes of the plateau.

They saw little cultivated valleys and small clusters of houses and splendid herds of cattle, carabaos, and horses, which to this day have continued to enrich the people of these mountains. At times they were surrounded by the yelling bands of Igorrotes, and several times they had to repulse attacks, but they nevertheless succeeded in reaching the beautiful circular depression now known as the valley of La Trinidad.

The Spaniards saw with enthusiasm the carefully separated and walled fields, growing camotes, taro, and sugarcane. The village of about five hundred houses was partly burned by the Spaniards, as the Igorrotes continued hostile. The expedition returned to the coast, having suffered only a few wounds. The commandancia of Benguet was not created until 1846, in which year also Abra was organized as a province.



Progress during the Last Half-Century of Spanish Rule.--We have now come to the last half-century and to the last phase of Spanish rule. In many respects this period was one of economic and social progress, and contained more of promise than any other in the history of the Islands. During this last half-century the Spanish rulers had numerous plans for the development and better administration of the Philippines, and, in spite of a somewhat wavering policy and the continual sore of official peculation, this was a period of wonderful advancement. Revolution and separation from Spain came at last, as revolutions usually do, not because there was no effort nor movement for reform, but because progress was so discouragingly slow and so irritatingly blocked by established interests that desired no change.

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