Pangasinan is ’a salt country’ as its name denotes in the
vernacular and one of the 77 provinces of the Republic of the
Philippines. Pangasinan is a long, wide, verdant crescent
bounded by the wild Zambales range to the west and to the east
by the Cordilleras -- the formidable mountains that form the
spine of the island of Luzon. To the south, Pangasinan extends
to the rice-and-sugar farmlands of Tarlac, and north to the
crowning glory of Lingayen Gulf and the South China Sea. This
shoreline is a great arc of variegated character: from
fantastically tall, craggy rock roughly chiseled by the surf, to
the mildest of white sand beaches. The coast is fringed by
well-hidden coves and inlets, promontories and caves, forests
and woodland, charming fishing villages, and then the islands.
It faces the Asian mainland, outstretched widely in anticipation
Pre-Hispanic Pangasinan traded actively with the
Chinese. Tang, Sung and Ming dynasty porcelains were excavated
in archeological sites in the province, giving evidence of
strong trade relations with the merchants from the Middle
Kingdom. Most of the region was under the influence of a
powerful political entity called Layug na Caboloan. Pangasinan
meaning ’place of salt’ then used to refer only to the coastal
region where salt-making was and still is being practiced.
Spanish conquest and colonization began in 1571 under Martin de
Goiti, who penetrated the region from Pampanga. A year later,
Juan de Salcedo sailed up the western coast and landed at the
mouth of the Agno River. Governor Gonzalo Ronquillo de Pe๑aloza
made Pangasinan an Alcaldia Mayor in 1580, and in 1611, this
region became a province. At the time, its territory included
the present province of Zambales and parts of La Union and
Tarlac with Lingayen as its capital.
Soon after the Spaniards conquered Pangasinan, it came under
threat of another foreign invasion. Limahong, the Chinese
corsair who failed to take Manila, tried to build a settlement
at Lingayen, in 1574. However, he was also forced out of
Lingayen leaving only the Limahong Channel, a tunnel dug for six
months that served as his escape route as the only lasting
legacy of his failed attempt.
Several disturbances centered in Pangasinan attest to the
Pangasinenses’ struggle for liberty during the Spanish era. In
1660, Andres Malong tried to establish a kingdom over an area
from Ilocos to Pampanga free of Spanish domination. Malong sent
able generals to conquer the region, threatening the hold of
Spanish colonial government over the areas. In 1762, another
Pangasinense leader, Juan de la Cruz Palaris rebelled against
the Spanish imposition of the tribute. For two years Palaris led
the revolt, which spread across Pangasinan and affected other
provinces of northern Luzon.
In the 19th century the province rapidly developed as a result
of the extension of agriculture into the forested interior
regions. The influx of migrants from the provinces of Ilocos
Norte and Ilocos Sur into the western and eastern portions of
the province spurred the transformation of Pangasinan into the
main rice granary of Luzon. By 1855, the port of Sual was opened
to foreign commerce. In 1891, the Manila-Dagupan Railroad was
opened, vastly improving transportation between Pangasinan and
Manila and opening more lands to agriculture.
During the Filipino-American War (1899-1901), Bayambang was a
temporary capital of the Republic. It was in Bayambang that
General Emilio Aguinaldo disbanded the regular Revolutionary
Army and organized guerrilla units to fight the American forces.
The Americans established civil government in Pangasinan in
During the Second World War, Lingayen Gulf was strategically
important in the plans of both Japanese and American forces to
take Luzon. In December 1941, Japanese invasion forces led by
General Masaharu Homma landed at White Beach and began the
Japanese occupation of the Philippines. The Americans also
landed in San Fabian in the Lingayen Gulf in 1945, which
signaled the beginning of the liberation of the island of Luzon
from the Japanese.
LANGUAGE / DIALECT
English and Filipino are widely spoken and the basic
tools of instruction in schools. Pangasinense is spoken in the
central part of the province while Ilocano is spoken mostly by
the people in the western and eastern towns. Bolinao has a
dialect of its own.
Agriculture-based industries remain to be the source
of income of many. Prominent industries are bagoong-making,
handicrafts, gifts, toys and houseware-making.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Luzon, buses and jeepneys to Pangasinan are
available. Average travel time is 4-5 hours, faster by private