Kibungan is a 4th class municipality in the province of Benguet, Philippines. It is situated 62 kilometers north of Baguio City, near Atok, Kapangan, and La Union. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 15,700 people in 2,949 households. Kibungan is politically subdivided into 7 barangays: Badeo, Lubo, Madaymen, Palina, Poblacion, Sagpat, and Tacadang. The town did not have a name until the American Regime, when Americans, upon reaching the vicinity, asked the natives for the place’s name.
Upon inquiry, a female monkey swung through the stretched vines nearby. The natives, thinking that the American’s question was referring to the monkey, replied kibengen” (the Kankana-ey term for a female monkey). The Americans called it Kibungan as a consequence of the difficulty in pronouncing “kibengen”.
Topographically, Kibungan is popularly known in the province as the “Switzerland of Benguet” because of its pine trees and rocky mountains. Deep ravines and cliffs separate and isolate many of its sitios and some of its seven barangays.
Although some plateaus, hills, and small valleys can be seen in the locality, Kibungan is predominantly mountainous. Aside from its beautiful mountains and century-old rice terraces, Kibungan has many rivers and streams. Waterfalls on high cliffs decorate the mountains, especially on rainy days. Many streams contribute to the formation of three big rivers that join the Amburayan River in Kapangan and eventually drain into the South China Sea. The streams and rivers are rich with shrimp, eels, and other fish that can thrive only in the mountains.
Hot springs are also found at the foot of some mountains. The municipality is located within the cool highland mountainous zone with elevations of more than 2,500 meters above sea level. Generally, the slope is steeper than 18°. During the coolest months of December and January, Barangay Madaymen experiences chilling temperatures of 0° centigrade, causing the famous “Snow of Madaymen.” The wet season is from June to October and the dry months are from November to May.
Available historical records show that the municipality of Kibungan is one of the original thirty-one (31) “Rancherias” of “Distrito de Benguet” during the Spanish Regime. Distrito de Benguet was one of the Mountain Regions organized into six “Commandancias Politico Militar” established by a Spanish Commandant named Don Guillermo de Galvey on November 25, 1864. When the Americans came, the Philippine Commission of the first Philippine Civil Government enacted Commission Act No. 48 on November 22, 1900, which led to the organization of local civil governments in the formerly organized Spanish Rancherias into townships with appointed leaders called “Presidentes.”
From 1945 to 1952, municipal officials were informally elected through a process that assigned names of colors to the candidates. The formal election of municipal officials began in 1953 through secret balloting, and this process continues to the present day. At one time, there were 19 townships that made up the Province of Benguet, when it was still a sub-province of Mountain Province on August 18, 1909. However, the enactment of Commission Act No. 2877 on February 4, 1920 led to the abolition and merging of townships and sub-provinces, resulting in the reduction of the sub-province of Benguet to thirteen (13) towns.
In 1938, the thirteen towns were renamed into thirteen Municipal Districts. About 97% of the inhabitants of Kibungan are Kankana-eys, but other tribes such as Ibalois, Bontocs, Pangasinan, and Tagalogs are now found in the municipality. The people of Kibungan still celebrate the canao” or the butchering of animals for tribal feasts with songs and dances. This practice was observed long before and even after the American Regime started formal education in the country. Sayangan, Lubo, Kibungan.
The Pegpeg clan, the first settlers of the place, called it Lubo due to its muddy characteristics. Lubo” in Kankana-ey dialect describes a piece of land where feet easily trip and get stuck. Some claim that “Lubo” came from the Kankana-ey word “libuo,” meaning fog, due to the foggy nature of the place. Farming was productive in the area, attracting many people to settle in Lubo. Over time, “lubo” became “manlibo,” meaning a lot of people. “Sayangan” in the Kankana-ey dialect means “a place struck by the first rays of the sun.” It earned this name because of its lofty elevation, which allowed it to be the first place reached by sunlight. Sayangan is a collective term for nine sitios: Sayangan Proper, Baybaykan (meaning a place turned into rice fields), Degway (named after an indigenous mountain fruit), Gasal (from a sandy land not suitable for planting), Nagawa (a place where surrounding areas are farmed, leaving the center untilled), Panga, Salipang, Tollibeng, and Tolmod.