Apayao was created as a distinct province from out of Kalinga-Apayao on February 14, 1995 with the passage of Republic Act No. 7878.
The Cordilleras begin as low hills in Apayao's north and rise to peaks as high as 2,500 feet above sea level in a chain that runs from north to south. Apayao is bounded in the north and east by the province of Cagayan. To the west of the province lie Ilocos Norte and Abra while the province of Kalinga lies to the south. The Cordillera dominates the landscape but towards the east, the mountains give way to some lowland swamps.
The climate of the province is perceptively drier in the months between November and April and wet the rest of the year. Rains fall heaviest in the month of September and typhoons occasionally visit between July and October.
It is made up of seven municipalities with 131 barangays and composed of the following municipalities, namely: Calanasan, Conner, Flora, Kabugao, Luna, Pudtol, and Sta. Marcela.
Apayao was among the earliest areas penetrated by the Spaniards in the Cordilleras, but the region remained largely outside Spanish control until late in the 19th century. As early as 1610, the Dominican friars established a mission in what is now the municipality of Pudtol. In 1684, the friars again made vain attempts to convert the people and established a church in what is now Cabugao. The ruins of the early churches in Pudtol and Cabugao still stand as mute testimony to the failed attempts to occupy Apayao. In 1891, the Spaniards established the comandancias of Apayao and Cabugaoan over what are presently eastern and western Apayao. However, colonial hold on the areas was tenuous at best and for most of the Spanish colonial period, the Isnegs remained unencumbered by Spanish colonization.
On August 18, 1908, by virtue of Act No. 1876, the Philippine Legislature created the Mountain Province. Apayao, which had been attached to the province of Cagayan, was made a sub-province of the Mountain Province. The old Mountain Province was divided into four provinces by virtue of Republic Act No. 4695 on June 18, 1966. In 1994, Congressman Elias K. Bulut filed a bill in congress for the possible separation of Kalinga and Apayao which on February 14, 1995, Republic Act No.7878 was signed into law. This Act provides for the conversion of the province of Kalinga-Apayao into regular province to be known as the provinces of Apayao and province of Kalinga, amending Republic Act No.4695.
People, Culture and the Arts
The Isnegs, Ilocanos, and Itawits form the majority of the people living in the province of Apayao.
The Isnegs are the indigenous people of the province and are interchangeably referred as Apayaos. The term “Isneg” was derived from a combination of “is” meaning “recede” and “uneg” meaning “interior”. Thus, it means people who have gone into the interior. The Ilocanos inhabit the river valleys and plains and most migrated into the region in the last fifty years.
Up until recently, the Isnegs were slash and burn agriculturists. They have increasingly abandoned the practice and have adopted intensive rice cultivation in stead. The Isnegs are noted basket and mat weavers and the womenfolk trade their products for cloth, pots and materials from Ilocano traders.
Isneg women have been known to favor colorful garments for their traditional costumes, which consist of both small and large wrap-around pieces of cloth called the aken. The smaller piece is used as everyday wear, while the large one is reserved for ceremonial occasions. They also wear the badio, a short-waisted, long-sleeved blouse, which is either plain or heavily embroidered. Menfolk, on the other hand, are traditionally clothed in dark-colored (often plain blue) G-string called abag, which on special occasions is adorned with an iput – a lavishly colored tail attached to the back end.
Isneg oral tradition is rich with folk riddles. Many of these structurally simple but elegant two liners with a few syllables and rhymed at the end, present a riddle. Some Isnegs possess skills in traditional and oral arts, such as the magpayaw (shouters), the singers of the oggayam, and the debaters who joust with anenas (oral poetry). There are others held in esteem as musicians such as those who display prowess in playing the difficult gorabil, a bamboo violin.
Trade and Investments
Apayao’s development rests upon the foundation of its rich natural resources. Forests cover around 66% of its total land area, and produce timber, rattan and bamboo. About 19% of the province's land area is dedicated to agricultural production. Palay, coffee, corn, root crops and vegetables are the primary crops, while fruits such as citrus, bananas and pineapples are the main commercial crops. The province also raises swine, carabao, cattle, goat, chicken and duck. There are untapped deposits of gold and copper, phosphate, siliceous sand and shale. The total employable work force is numbered at about 43,000.
The provincial capitol, Cabugao, is accessible from Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Kalinga via an 86-kilometer system of roads. The Municipal Telephone Project Office provides international and domestic telephone services. Local power cooperatives distribute power to nearly all the municipalities of the province and water is supplied by communal water systems, deep wells and dug wells. The Land Bank of the Philippines and a rural bank provide credit facilities within the province.
Apayao is anchoring its economy on its resource base but needs investments in key areas like communication, transportation, power generation, banking, and infrastructure. Agriculture remains the province’s main potential. Marketing agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, farm machinery, seeds and feeds offer a profitable opportunity for investors. Agriculture related manufacturing, such as food processing, can make use of the abundance of raw materials since the province produces banana, squash, corn, peanuts, beans, fruits and vegetables. Handicraft manufacture can also take advantage of the availability of forest and mineral resources like rattan, nito, bamboo, wood, marble and gemstones. The mineral resources of the province are also open to small and medium scale mining operations. The province's rivers can also be tapped for bottled water operations since most are classified as A-1 in purity. Apayao’s tourism potential is hardly explored but given the natural beauty of the province, as well as the unique culture and heritage of the people, Apayao can cash in on eco-tourism ventures, adventure sports promotions and cultural tourism. Developing the nascent tourism industry in Apayao will need investments in hotels, restaurants, and tourist support services.
FROM: United Kalinga Apayao Network (UKAN), United Kingdom.