History and Government
Prior to the creation of the town of Villaviciosa, the barrios of Tamac, Bollilising, Tuquib, Cal-lao, Calao (Poblacion), Ap-apaya and Lumaba were said to have long been established as independent settlements. Each settlement was governed by a chieftain then known as “Lakay”. Lakay ruled over his constituents with absolute authority under the customs and beliefs of the people.
When the Spanish authorities came sometime during the last few decades of the 19th century, they discovered the existing settlements. While the Spaniards recognized the independence of each settlement, they deemed it worthwhile to change the nature of how these settlements was governed by giving the status of barrio to each settlement. Each barrio was to be governed by a qualified native given the title of Capitan. The Capitan was to rule in accordance with the laws that must have been enacted for the benefit of the people instead of in accordance with the beliefs and customs as previously practiced. On the other hand, the Spanish missionaries discovered that the native inhabitants belonged to a tribe of non-Christians and called them Tinguians, a name derived from an old ecological term "Tingi", or men of the hills. Seeing the inhabitant non-Christians, the missionaries believed it propitious to establish a mission in the area. In the year 1884, a parish was established to be used as a pivot area for the spread of the Christian gospel. The parish was called the Parish of Villaviciosa, centered at Barangay Calao owing to its strategic location. The name of the parish was adopted from the name of a medieval city in Southern Spain particularly situated at the bank of a river known as the Rio de Villaviciosa. The parish, which had 3,900 people, had as its patron saint Saint Lawrence. The parish was listed as one of the parishes of the Prelature of Bangued, Abra. However, it was included within the jurisdiction of the Pueblo de Lumaba, a newly organized municipality temporarily centered in Lumaba barrio, particularly at Sitio, Naguilan at the west bank of the Sialang River west of the barrio proper. The pueblo was under the newly baptized Tinguian named Madagyem as the gobernadorcillo.
In the year 1885, the Pueblo de Lumaba became Poblacion del Pilar with the center of the town moving to Cagutongan further west of Lumaba barrio. Meanwhile, the parish of Villaviciosa remained a subsidary of the Parish of Pilar under Fr. Jose Prada. Suddenly, the work of the mission was interrupted during the revolution against the Spaniards.
The Americans occupied Villaviciosa and the municipality of Pilar in 1901. In 1902, peace was declared between the Americans and the Filipinos. The Americans started their administration of the municipality in 1903 by ordering a census of the inhabitants of the barrios of Villaviciosa if the number is enough to form a town. So the leaders at the time adopted and signed a resolution drafted by Lorenzo Anioay of Poblacion, Villaviciosa who was a former municipal president of Poblacion del Pilar, for the creation of a new town by reviving the former parish and recognizing it as a political unit. The leaders who adopted and signed the resolution included Malmalan of Tamac, Capitan Layao of Bollilising, Sad-ang of Tuquib, Mangadsil of Cal-lao, Capitan Culangan of Calao ( Poblacion), Mamerto Paderes of Ap-apaya and Capitan Balanay of Lumaba. In 1904, as a result of the movement, the town of Villaviciosa was created. The first center of Villaviciosa was at the former seat of the Pueblo de Lumaba, at sitio Naguilian. Later, in 1908, the center was transferred to its present site at Barangay Calao which, until now, is the Poblacion.
In 1917, under the Commonwealth, the township status of Villaviciosa was changed into a regular municipality. Villaviciosa was among other townships of Abra who changed status to municipality when the province ceased as a sub-province of Ilocos Sur and became a regular province. With the addition of sitio Lagaosian, formerly a part of Luba, and Mabilong, formerly a part of San Isidro, the land area of Villaviciosa changed.
With the coming of the Japanese in 1942, soldiers were sent to a detachment at the town to capture American and Filipino soldiers who, instead of surrendering, resorted to guerilla tactics. In 1943, the Japanese soldiers returned to Bangued where they burned the Poblacion including Barrio Lumaba in retaliation to the killing of some of their members by the guerillas. At the end of 1943, guerilla soldiers occupied Villaviciosa. They ordered the inhabitants to come out of hiding and return to rebuild their homes. They also ordered the available local officials to rebuild the town hall and to reconstruct the records of the town. However, they took time in rounding up some civilians whom they suspected of having collaborated with the Japanese and had them executed. Among those executed were Domingo Pescozo, former municipal president; Angel Banes, ex-teacher; Primitivo Nanangan, and; Tomas Banes.
With the expulsion of the Japanese in 1945, restoration of the municipality began. The first work of the municipal officials was to complete the reconstruction of the burned town hall and to put order to reconstituted records of the municipal office.
Among those who became chief executives of the municipality were: Capitan Balanay (Lakay of Lumaba), Capitan Culangen (Lakay of Poblacion), Catalino Valera, Cenon Balbuena, Lorenzo Anioay, Capitan Balanay (1904-1906), Capitan Malana (1906-1908), Lorenzo Anloay (1908-1910), Alfredo Culangen (1910-1913), Abayon (1913-1916), Layogan (1916-1919), Severo Agsaoay (1919-1922), Agaid (1922-1925), Ongloy (1925-1928), Domingo Pescozo (1928-1936), Segundo Manglibo (1936-1939), Juanzo Baoanta (1939-1941), Moises Kabanday (1941), Jose Viloria (1944), Moisese Kabanday (1945-1954), Angel Dumalig (1954-1957), Geronimo Balicao (1957-1965), Alejo Ruega (1965-1968), Benjamin Gumanab (1968-1971), Anacleto Fontanilla Jr. (1971-1986), Rodolfo Paderes (1987-1988) and Floro Fontanilla (1988 to 1998). At present, the municipality is headed by mayor Jose Lagen, Jr.
The municipality is politically subdivided into 8 barangays, namely: Ap-apaya, Bollilising, Callao, Lap-lapog, Lumaba, Poblacion, Tamac and Tuquib.
The municipality of Villaviciosa is situated 26.43 km. south of the capital town of Bangued. It is bounded on the north by San Isidro, on the east by Manabo and Bucay, on the south by Pilar and the province of Ilocos Sur and on the west again by Ilocos Sur.
With the municipality's total land area of 8,837 has., its widely dispersed 8 barangays are generally hilly making the place relatively cool. Topography is categorized by sloping mountains and hills with valleys nestling in-between. It is also endowed with brooks, creeks and lakes which are tributaries to the Sinalang River.
In 1980, Villaviciosa had a population of 3,933 and a population growth rate of 1.690%. In 1990, population increased to 4,612 with a population growth rate decreasing slightly to 1.6%. During the same year, the total number of households was 874. In the latest Population Census in 1995, Villaviciosa's population increased to 4,634. The total number of households also increased to 888 with an average household size of 5.22. The population growth rate went down to 0.09% covering the year 1990-1995. Among the barangays, Tuquib had the most number of population with 712 and the most number of households with 152. The barangay with the least number of population is Bollilising with 225 and the least number of households with 43.
Villaviciosa is an agricultural municipality with palay as its main crop. Of the municipality's total agricultural land area of 2,180 has., only 593 has. are cultivated. Aside from farming, livestocks are also being raised, among them: carabao, cattle, horse, swine, goats and poultry. Other sources of livelihood include fisheries and cottage industries. Cottage industries make use of raw materials such as bamboo, wood, wild vines and maguey. Business establishments found in the municipality include a rural bank, rice mills, sari-sari stores and the like.
Tourist Attractions and Places of Interest