1580: The Establishment of Pangasinan as an Alcaldia Mayor – A Milestone in Philippine Provincial Governance

In 1580, Governor General Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñalosa organized the province of Pangasinan as an alcaldia mayor, a politico-civil administrative unit, in the Philippines. This move was significant in the country’s history, as it marked the establishment of a provincial government system that would shape the course of Pangasinan’s development and progress.

At that time, Pangasinan was already an important trading center in the region. It was a hub for commerce and agriculture, with a population of around 30,000 people. However, there was no formal government structure in place, and the region was largely governed by local leaders and chieftains.

The creation of the alcaldia mayor of Pangasinan signaled a shift towards a more centralized form of governance. The position of alcalde mayor was established, and Don Pedro Manrique was appointed as the first to hold the office. As the chief executive of the province, the alcalde mayor was responsible for maintaining law and order, collecting taxes, and overseeing public works.

Under the new system, the province was divided into several towns, each with its own set of officials. The town officials were responsible for carrying out the policies of the alcalde mayor and maintaining order in their respective areas. This division of power helped to decentralize governance, while ensuring that local officials remained accountable to the central government.

The establishment of the alcaldia mayor also had a profound impact on the region’s social and economic development. The provincial government invested in public works projects, such as roads and bridges, which improved transportation and communication networks. This, in turn, helped to boost trade and commerce, and allowed for greater economic integration within the region.

Moreover, the establishment of a formal government structure provided a framework for the resolution of disputes and conflicts. The alcalde mayor’s court became the primary venue for the settlement of legal disputes, and it helped to establish a more consistent and predictable system of justice.