Ensconced in the heart of the Cordillera Mountain Range and 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 newly-brewed sugar cane wine. 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 as “Lubuangan” and from which the entire area was named. However, when Lieutenant Governor Walter F. Hale of the then Subprovince of Kalinga established the subprovincial 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 of the place which is retained to date.
There are no available documents today of Lubuagan’s history as a political unit before the Americans came, except for its being mentioned in Dr. William Henry Scott’s book on the “History of Cordillera” that in 1878, Engineer Emilio Hernaez led an expedition to Lubuagan to recruit laborers for the road construction between Abra and Cagayan.
Dr. Scott also noted in his book that Lubuagan was the seat of the First Philippine Republic when General Emilio Aguinaldo established his headquarters at Lubuagan for 73 days from 6 March 1900 to 18 May 1900.
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. Earlier in 1907, the Kalinga Region became a part of the Province of Lepanto-Bontoc. On 14 May 1907, Lt. Gov. Hale was appointed as Lieutenant Governor of the Subprovince of Kalinga.
Arriving at Lubuagan, he set himself to organize a local government which comprises three (3) 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 1876 of the Philippine Commission on 18 August 1908, Mountain Province was created inclusive of the seven (7) Subprovinces of Benguet, Amburayan, Lepanto, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao.
By virtue of Executive Order No. 107 of Governor General James F. Smith on 25 November 1908, Lubuagan as a settlement was designated as the capital of the Subprovince of Kalinga instead and in place of the settlement of Tabuc (now Tabuk). Henceforth, Lubuagan 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 (2) high schools in the Poblacion – Saint Theresita’s School of the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1924 and Kalinga Academy of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines founded in 1927. Lubuagan became capital of Kalinga for 86 years, 2 months and 20 days.
On 25 June 1963, Lubuagan as a municipal district was declared as a 5th class municipality with other municipal districts in the country.
By operation of Republic Act No. 4741 on 18 June 1966, Pasil was made a separate municipality out of Lubuagan which at the time was very much reduced in area, population and revenue capabilities. On the same day, the Provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao and Kalinga-Apayao were created by virtue of Republic Act No. 4695. Lubuagan having been previously dismembered by the separation of Tanudan and Pasil ceased being a subprovincial capital. Tabuk became the provincial capital of the Province of Kalinga-Apayao. Despite these circumstances, however, Lubuagan remained consistently the socio-cultural and commercial center of the Upper Kalinga area, comprising the Kalinga Special Development Region constituted with the municipalities of Lubuagan, Tanudan, Tinglayan and Pasil.
“…I have created the Kalinga Special Development Region as an instrument of change with the end in view to improving the quality of the lives of the Kalingas and in keeping with my declared policy to foster and accelerate the growth and development of the region by implementing socio-economic development programs, mobilizing the resources of the government to assist the Kalinga people, encouraging self-help projects, providing improved educational facilities, and stimulating the development of their own leaders…” said then President Ferdinand Marcos when he gave the raison de etre for the establishment of the Kalinga Special Development Region on 12 December 1975 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 848.
At present, Lubuagan is a 4th Class Municipality with 9 barangays.