Lingayen / Dagupan

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 and welcome.

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 1901.

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.

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.

From Luzon, buses and jeepneys to Pangasinan are available. Average travel time is 4-5 hours, faster by private car.

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  Information provided by Department of Tourism. Government of Philippines.


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