A Brief History of Pangasinan: From Salt Beds to a Province

The Province of Pangasinan in the Philippines has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the ancient times. The province was one of the earliest political and administrative units in the country and was officially colonized by D. Martin de Goiti in 1571. On April 5, 1572, Pangasinan was made an encomienda by the Spanish royal crown, which meant that it was organized under one leadership and had an identity before the Spanish royal court. Eight years later, in 1580, Pangasinan was organized into a political unit under an alkalde mayor, who had the authority as the head of the province or the provincial government with judicial functions, making it officially a province.

The name Pangasinan is derived from the words “panag asinan”, which means “where salt is made”. This name is owing to the rich and fine salt beds in the province’s coastal towns, which were the primary source of livelihood for the residents.

In the pre-Spanish period, ancient Malayo-Polynesians of Austronesian stock arrived by boat and established settlements along the Lingayen Gulf. They were proficient in salt-making and referred to their new home as Pangasinan. The residents of Pangasinan traded with India, China, and Japan as early as the 8th century A.D.

In 1572, Juan de Salcedo reached Pangasinan upon the orders of Governor General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to explore and pacify northern Luzon. The province was now under Spanish jurisdiction as an encomienda, and in 1580, Pangasinan was organized as an alcaldia mayor.

During the 17th century, the territorial limits of the province were set, completing the requirements for a viable political subdivision: a defined territory, a set of administrators, and law-abiding subjects. The province, as constituted, now included all the coastal villages called “Pangasinan” and the inner areas called “Caboloan”.

Over the centuries, Pangasinan witnessed several significant events and revolts, including the Malong Revolt led by Andres Malong of Binalatongan in 1660 and the Palaris Revolt led by Juan dela Cruz Palaris in 1762. In 1840, the Casa Real (Royal House) was constructed in Lingayen, which became the provincial seat of government.