The People in Aringay: Aringay was described by the early Spanish colonizers as an ancient village, freely trading with the Cordillera people with gold as a form of payment for the barter trade and trading also with Chinese with different goods and they use the gold as payment to the Chinese. Aringay was called Alingay then. Aringay was sparsely populated with villages composed of closely related members of a clan. They are headed by a person chosen based on his leadership, age, and ability to lead the village and deal with other villages. They are characterized to have tanned skin, with generally short faces and high skulls, their eyes were characterized to almond-shaped with full lower lip with jaw projecting past plane of the nose and are generally mesorrhine. It has been said that the first Alingayan, is of Austronesian stock. They are a group of people in which their language originated from a common group of language.

If we analyze the waves of migration in the Philippine Islands, it has been said the Melanesian stock (Aetas/Negritos) first came to the islands. They were driven out to inner parts of the islands where the newer waves of Austronesian stock (Polynesians/Asians/Malays) populated the long stretch of Northwestern Luzon, from Pangasinan to the Ilocos. There were two theories being expounded here. First, by historical accounts that Pangasinan is a Kingdom and its coverage extended to the now Ilocos Provinces. This accounts for the very fact that the Ilocano language is spoken in many Pangasinan municipalities. The second theory on the other hand, is the predominance of the Ilocano language in 4 provinces which are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union. It had been said that original Austronesian settlers in these areas, migrated to areas in Pangasinan, hence they carried their language to the area and eventually populated it. Where do we place Aringay in this situation then? The inhabitants of the ancient Alingay, speak Ilocano and this clearly distinguished them from their neighboring villages, Agoo and Sto. Tomas wherein its inhabitants speak a lot of the Pangasinan language. From conjectures therefore, I have the impression that the migration pattern in terms of Aringay is predominantly from the north going to the south and a little of southward to north.
What is apparent now is that the indigenous people of Alingay were of Austronesian stock and were direct migrants to the place or they were Austronesian migrants that came from the Ilocos and some from Pangasinan. They inhabited a stretch of plains and hillsides both in the northern and southern side of the Aringay River. Alingay (Aringay) is bounded by the Montanosa (Benguet) in the East and Pangasinan in the south.

The “Gold Trading” posts in Aringay played a central role in the way of life of the early Aringayenos. Aside from being farmers and hunters, some have specialized to be gold traders with the Ygolots of the Montanosa who followed mountain trails just to barter their goods with lowland Aringayenos. In the same way that to buy goods from the Chinese, the Aringayenos use the gold to buy goods from the Chinese. The Chinese use the sea and sail inwards through the Carayan Lucsin (now Aringay river) to the villages in Aringay to trade with them.

Gold trading disappeared in Aringay because it was centralized by the Spanish colonizers. This caused the loss of one of the traditional ways of life in the community. It has changed drastically when the Spaniards came. The source of living has now become agricultural based and the Alingays of those years will soon find out that their identity will be changed forever through the years.

The Gold Trade: In June 8, 1569, Andres de Mirandaola, a Spanish chronicler and writer wrote the king of Spain, King Felipe II and told him about the gold trading occurring in many parts of the Philippines and specified Alingay as a place in the midway between Pangasinan and the Ilocos where there was a booming gold trading business. The expedition by Capt. Alfonso Quirante was done in 1624 to locate where the gold mines were located. The native Alingayans were subjected to cruelty in order for them to tell who were trading gold with them. Most Alingayans converted to Christianity to avoid persecution due to the gold trade while few others went deeper into the mountain (Cordillera) and established their families.

As a result of the Spaniards taking hold of the gold trade and the source of gold, they have centralized the trading of gold in Manila. The nascent gold trading with the Chinese in the village has stopped.

Christianity, Encomienda System and Agriculture:

It was said that with the cruel methods of Capt. Alfonso Quirante who lead a team of 1,400 people composed of natives in the islands, Spanish soldiers and Japanese mercenaries, the lowlanders were subjugated and converted to Christianity. The Augustinian friars took advantage of the situation and slowly introduced the catechism among the locals. And they were very successful. They established a “visita” in the village and attached it to the bigger church district which was in Agoo then.

Because the trading system was stopped by the Spaniards, they introduced the encomienda system. The Spanish crown granted a specified number of natives from a specific community. Indigenous leaders were charged with mobilizing the assessed tribute and labor. In turn, encomenderos were to ensure the native people were given instruction in the Christian faith and Spanish language and protect them from warring tribes or pirates. In the case of the Philippines, the encomenderos eventually owned the lands. The economy of the town had become agricultural based. It had established the encomendero-tenant system. The farmers till the land where the produce are given to the encomendero and in turn the encomendero paid tribute to the Church and to the King of Spain. Eventually, the encomendero became the landowner. And up to this time, the landowner-tenant system in agriculture is very prominent in today’s Aringay society.

The Spaniards had also influenced the character of the town. They had planned a pueblo where the center shows the church, the plaza, the municipal building and the schools. The housing establishments surrounded the plaza-church complex.  The plan was called the renaissance plan. In the renaissance plan, all activities were concentrated in the town center complex.

The community of  Alingay which eventually was pronounced as Aringay grew around the river banks and was located on the vast delta north and south of the Aringay river. The central part of the northern river delta became the core location of the municipality. The pueblo was organized into a municipality on December 16, 1741 and officially called Aringay and became part of Pangasinan and the Bishophoric of Nueva Segovia. Its first gobernadoracillo was Pablo Vergara. When the province of La Union was founded, it became part of the new province on April 18, 1854.

The first homes in the area were built following the Renaissance plan of the Spanish government. They were similar in construction akin to the houses in Vigan City. But the earthquake in 1892 destroyed a lot of houses of Spanish influence and a new generation of houses in Aringay came to forth.

The town had to rebuild after the 1892 earthquake. The new church was built in baroque style. The Municipal Building was called “La Presidencia” and the remaining house with Spanish architecture left was the Anacleto Diaz Sr. ancestral house. The main streets surprisingly were about 100 feet wide which was a big comparison to the planning of the streets in Vigan. It might have been due to the optimism of the community’s early residents.

While gold trading was the ancient commerce of Aringay,  agriculture quickly became the primary source of living by the locals. With the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, who taught them modern techniques in agriculture, more lands were tilled and agriculture in the valleys and plains have flourished. Another aspect that flourished was the fishing industry. Fishes like the giant carp which were introduced by the East Asian traders also flourished in the Aringay river and the bounty of the seas can’t be disregarded.

Although the gold trading was stopped by the Spanish colonizers to prosper in the town, a Chinese community was developing in downtown Aringay. Many of these Chinese immigrants probably decided to stay and settle in the pueblo. However, when the economic prospects were not getting better, they moved northward settling in San Fernando and even more northward, settling in the Ilocos towns. Some settled in the neighboring town of Agoo. The families that were left still went into trading agricultural crops and most of them concentrated on trading  tobacco. By the turn of the century, bigger businesses were owned by the Chinese businessmen including groceries, tobacco trading, cement trading and construction. Unfortunately, despite their economic contribution to the town, there was no Chinatown to speak of in the municipality. The development of these historic buildings related to Chinese influence are seen in the provincial capital of San Fernando.

Commercial Development

Agriculture became a major part of life and commerce in Aringay, as it developed early industries around farming, hunting and harvests of forest products. The encomienda system introduced an owner and worker system type. The worker tills and labor the land and the owner comes back to exact the value of the land that the worker had been working with. Till today, this tradition continued.

Aringay has a large and great river but it is a confluence of the many tributaries draining on it. It can’t capitalize on an irrigation project as the tributary rivers come from different municipalities. Large scale irrigation projects were developed in neighboring municipalities but can only supply a few of the agricultural lands in the municipality. The irrigation system can’t guarantee an adequate supply to the municipality and hence, it has to look for other ways to increase agricultural produce in the municipality.

Center and Periods of Growth
The community of Aringay remained agricultural and fishery in character.  By December 16, 1741, the villages were incorporated together as a town and was under Pangasinan. This was a boost to the development of Aringay. A European renaissance plan (urban design, planning and urbanization) was in the works. Houses surrounding the plaza were made of bricks, the church was made of bricks and we have a centralized plaza where everyone can congregate. It took many years for the evolution of the plan into reality.
Bricks were produced in a local brickyard and wood for construction were processed in a local lumberyard and sawmill. It is apparent that the encomendero’s houses were made of bricks, concrete or stone and the second floor, consisted of few wooden structures. The streets were made up of cobblestones. The Poblacion served as the center of all municipal activities. During this time of Aringay’s history, its face and look was shaped by the ruling colonizers.

The community of Aringay was struck by a great earthquake on August 16, 1892 and almost decimated  the town. Recovery was slow because the Katipunero rebels heightened their resistance against the Spanish colonizers. On June 16, 1898, the war with the Katipuneros heightened and the plaza was the arena of the bloody fight where 96 Katipuneros died in their hope to emancipate the town and the country.

The Independence from Spain was short-lived and the Americans took over. There was a railway project by the Spanish colonizers which was aimed to augur growth in the countryside and decrease the people’s clamor for independence. It was called Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan. During the American colonial period, it became the Manila Railroad Company. The train line reached Aringay in 1912. A train line from Aringay to Baguio was also being made and the Aringay segment was finished in 1913 but was later on abandoned by the Manila Railroad Company because of financial problems. The tunnel in the Aringay portion served as a mute testimony to this event as it is 105 years to this day. In the construction of  the railway from Manila to San, Fernando, La Union, a railway bridge was constructed between Sta. Rita West and Poblacion in Aringay. The establishment of an efficient railway served to augur commercial activities among the people as the train station in Manila was in Tutuban, just right in the heart and soul of the bustling metropolitan Manila.

With the establishment of cooperatives by the Americans, public health and educational systems and the efficiency of the railway system as a mode of transportation, Aringay, is now veering towards commercial success. Dry and wet goods trading started to flourish. Aside from the usual grocery stores, tailoring and dressmaking shops started to sprout. Eateries in the market appeared and bakeries started to serve the bread needs of the community. Houses started to be built the way the Americans envisioned them. Wood was used in most houses as the Philippines is located in a tropical area.
The boom period came to an end at the start of 1940 as World War II was very eminent and there was chaos brought by the war. There was so much destruction around and loss of lives as a result of the cruel war. Commercial activity slowed down and there was scarcity of almost everything as there was a barricade done by the Japanese. Harvests were poor and people relied on granary stocks rather than plant as they were confiscated to benefit the invading forces. Many houses were destroyed. Houses of people who were thought to be sympathizers to the guerilla movement were razed on fire. The town had to pick up the pieces of itself once again when the United States liberated the Philippines from the Japanese forces. On July 4, 1946, the United States gave the Philippines its independence. With the whole country charting its future, the municipality reeling from the devastation of the war had no way but to move forward.


Community Services
Community members who identified needs and answered those needs with their own time and commitment initiated early community services. Schooling, which also had informal beginnings in the community was given by the Augustinian missionaries and nuns. It was formally established by the Americans when they established the Philippine Public School system.

The Americans established a Public Health System. There was dispensary to look into minor medical cases. For more difficult cases, the patients were taken to the infirmary at the capital town of San Fernando, or to Pangasinan in Dagupan City or they were taken to Manila.

There were no hotels in the community not even boarding houses. The beaches had thatched houses where in people would visit and had picnics.

Social Life and Community Fabric
Religious services were conducted by the Roman Catholic priests. There were catechists that teach children about the Catholic faith. When the Americans came, Protestantism increased  in activity in the Philippines. The United Church of Christ in the Philippines were the first Protestant group to take hold in the town. Although the Philippine Independent Church was also established in relation to the uprising against Spain, it did not take roots in the municipality, instead, it had taken more roots in a newly created town Caba. Religion continues to play an important role in the shaping the lives of its citizens.

Aringay’s early citizens also took a keen interest in social gatherings and events. Even during its ancient beginnings, the people of Aringay would have gatherings for weddings, deaths and births. They offer the deities thanksgiving offerings. When the Spaniards came and they were Christianized, they celebrated the Patron Saint birthday as their fiesta. The village would host  social gatherings as well as church services. There were singing, dancing, luncheon and dinners. They also have the annual fiesta celebration in honor of the Patronal Saints. All these can still be seen in the contemporary times but just a different flair. The Christmas and the New Year celebrations are always festive among the people of Aringay.

Aringay and War
Aringay is not bereft of heroes. Diego Silang who rebelled against Spanish rule was born in the Caba portion of what was then part of Aringay. Born in 1730 , he grew up with the injustice of the Spanish colonial rulers. Married to Gabriela Silang from Vigan, he wanted to establish an Ilocano nation until he was assassinated in 1763.

Aringay had been the site of a bloody war between the Katipuneros and the Spaniards. The Municipal Plaza was the site of the June 16, 1898 skirmish between the advancing Katipuneros and the Spaniards. Aringay became another focal point of resistance during World War II. The railway bridge connecting Sta. Rita West and Poblacion was the site of the bloody carnage as part of the atrocities of the Japanese army during World War II. Many perished during that incident for being suspected as part or sympathizers of guerillas fighting the Japanese in that war. Many Aringayenos were lined up at the Aringay railway bridge. Bayoneted and thrown to the Aringayriver and considered dead. Some managed to survive and tell the horror stories of World War II. The horror of that war added up to the horror of the 1990 earthquake that destroyed the railway bridge. Another horror that was added to the historic bridge in the mid-2000s was the fact the it was vandalized and the iron parts were sold to a big sum of money. Now it is only the memory that is left but it will soon be forgotten if municipal leaders will not look kindly with history and heritage.
Many known and unsung heroes came to fore during the wars that the townspeople got involved in. Their heroism will always be remembered by its people.

Recent History and Contemporary Context
From the major earthquake of 1892, followed by a war for the independence, then the American colonization, Aringay’s economic growth could not have an upward growth as it was affected by World War II. After World War II, the municipality  started to flourish with new businesses. Houses were built along the central district. As the population grew, there is an outward development away from the center. Most houses built post-war were still made up of wood and cement. Forty-four years (June 16, 1990) after, a strong earthquake massively tore down the municipality. The baroque church which was reconstructed from the last earthquake was toppled to the ground, only the Anacleto Diaz Sr. ancestral house was left as a reminder of the past Spanish colonial period. Other structures that stood that earthquake were the centennial tunnel and the PNR Aringay Station which is now 105 and 106 years old respectively.

Thus, the municipality was faced with how to emerge from the destruction and make the economic life of the inhabitants more bearable. In the face of these challenges, the past administrations concern was for the people to stand up strongly against the natural aggressors. Soon, with climate change a reality, the town had been a recipient of destructions due to malevolent typhoons.

Today, the municipality is trying to balance the need to provide a good future for its inhabitants while we try to preserve our past. The wealth of heritage reflects the distinctiveness of what Aringay went through. Aringay takes pride in its past, and that pride is illustrated by the way in which the community’s history is researched and promoted, and in the active manner the municipality identifies and pursues ways to preserve and protect their built heritage. These factors we hope will contribute to the culture of heritage celebration, and that, combined with the municipality’s commercial, educational, and cultural strengths, will ensure that Aringay’s proud history will inspire its future growth.