Ensconced in the heart of the Cordillera Mountain Range framed by the municipalities of Tinglayan, Tanudan, Pasil and the city of Tabuk is the municipality of Lubuagan – Kalinga’s erstwhile commercial and cultural hub and the home of tall, tan-complexioned inhabitants whose prominent facial features are deep-seated eye sockets and high, pointed nose bridges. Anthropologists who made researches on the mountain peoples of Northern Luzon theorize that these Lubuagan Kalingas are the prototype of Indonesians who were among the waves of settlers from the Southeast Asia Region to settle on Northern Luzon. 

It is gleaned from oral traditions that the first inhabitants of Lubuagan are what are now known as Matu-un, Bantay and Pakac. The Uddoc and Banutan, both Lubuagan tribal authorities on early Kalinga culture was said to have recounted that Mabilong was the next settlement. “Mabilong” comes from the word “Bilong” – a sugar cane wine newly-brewed. The early settlers were famous of their “basi” industry.

Other elders like Wacas and former Municipal President Gallamoy had recounted that the present site of Lubuagan was a swampy place where pools of quagmire were popular scenes of wallowing wild hogs and carabaos. These mudholes are termed in the vernacular “Lubuangan” and from which the entire area was named. However, when Lt. Governor Walter Hale of the then sub-province of Kalinga established the sub-provincial seat at Lubuagan, the American politico-military executive was said to have difficulty in pronouncing “Lubuangan” and “Lubuagan” got stuck in his newly-acquired Kalinga vocabulary, the official name which is retained to this day.

There are no available historical documents today of Lubuagan’s history as a political unit before the Americans came, except for its being mentioned in Dr. Scott’s book on the “History of Cordillera” that in 1878, Engineer Emilio Hernaez led an expedition to Lubuagan to recruit labourers for the road construction between Abra and Cagayan.

Dr. Scott also notes in his book, however, that Lubuagan was, for 73 days, the seat of the First Philippine Republic when General Emilio Aguinaldo established his headquarters in his flight to Palanan from March 6, 1900 to May 18, 1900 at Lubuagan.

During the early years of the American Regime in the Philippines from 1901 from 1907, the whole of the Kalinga area together with Apayao was a part of the province of Cagayan. During the period, however, there was actually no organized local government in the area except for the presence in Lubuagan of a company of constabulary men under the command of First Lieutenant Alex H. Gilfilan. This company of constabulary men was not sent to Lubuagan to organize a local government under the United States of America but to handle a hazardous pacification campaign among the so-called untamed aborigines of the hinterland. On March 4, 1907, the Kalinga region became a part of the province of Lepanto-Bontoc which included Cervantes and Tagudin. On the same date, Walter W. Hale, at the time Lieutenant Governor of the sub-province of Amburayan, was ordered by the central office in Manila to transfer to Kalinga.

Arriving at Lubuagan on August 18, 1907, he set himself to organize a local government which comprises three administrative settlements, namely Lubuagan, Pinukpuk and Balbalan. Alunday was appointed first president of the administrative settlement of Lubuagan, succeeded by Pallayoc. This administrative settlement included the present municipalities of Tanudan, Tinglayan and Tabuk.

By operation of Act 1870 of the Philippine Commission on August 18, 1908, the new Mountain Province was created inclusive of the five sub-provinces of Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao. In effect, the law also provided that each of these sub-provinces be politically subdivided into municipal district, each of which will be headed by municipal district presidents.

Jose Alunday, incumbent president of an administrative settlement, was retained as Municipal District President of Lubuagan which still included Tanudan and Pasil. By virtue of the law aforementioned, Lubuagan became the capital of the sub-province of Kalinga and henceforth enjoyed the prestigious status of having been, until very lately, the socio-cultural and commercial center of the entire Kalinga region. Its socio-cultural growth has been boosted since the 1920s, by the establishment of two high schools in the Poblacion – Saint Teresita’s High School of the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1924 and Kalinga Academy of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines founded in 1927.

When the first informal election for municipal district presidents was held in 1934, William Wailan, son of Baggas, municipal district president of Balbalan was elected in a closely contested election.

By Proclamation No. 2918 of Governor General Frank Murphy, in conformity with the desire of local leaders led by a handful of high school and college students, Tanudan separated from Lubuagan in May 1932 as a municipal district. On October 9, 1959, Lubuagan, with the rest the municipal districts of the undivided Mountain Province, was made a 7th class regular municipality.

By operation of Republic Act No. 4741, Pasil was made a separate municipality out of Lubuagan, which at the time was very much reduced in area, population and revenue capabilities. In April of the same year, the Division Bill otherwise known as Republic Act No. 4695 was implemented. Kalinga-Apayao became a new province with Tabuk as the provincial capital. Lubuagan having been previously dismembered by the separation of Tanudan and Pasil ceased being a sub-provincial capital. Despite these circumstances, however, Lubuagan still earned its reclassification from 7th to 5th class municipality and remains consistently the socio-cultural and commercial center of the Upper Kalinga area, presently comprising the Kalinga Special Development Region. 

Lubuagan has a total land area of 32,950 hectares with 7 barangays. It was converted into a regular municipality on June 5, 1963 under Executive Order No. 42. As of the 1980 Census, the total population is composed of 90 percent Kalinga natives with the rest Ilocanos and few Tagalogs. Recently it has been classified as a 5th Class Municipality. Source: CAVRAA ’82 Souvenir Book, Municipalities of Kalinga-Apayao

At present, Lubuagan is a 4th Class Municipality with 9 barangays with the creation of Barangay Antonio Canao and Barangay Western Uma.