[Note: This article was written by Gus Saboy for the Philippine News Service on 23 February 1966, about four months before the implementation of Republic Act No. 5694 (18 June 1966) which divided the Old Mountain Province into four provinces (i.e. Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Kalinga-Apayao). 1988 saw the inclusion of the province of Abra into what is now known as the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Kalinga and Apayao were "divorced" to become full provinces on 14 February 1995 by virtue of RA 7878. It would be interesting to know how far Hungduan has gone in terms of socio-economic development after four decades (cf. article on Sadanga and note Mr. Martin Apopot's comment. - sms]
Each of the five sub-provinces of the Mountain Province has at least one municipality known only for its fame in being the least attended to among the 42 municipalities in the province. These are Bayag of Apayao, Tanudan of Kalinga, Natonin of Bontoc, Bakun of Benguet, and Hungduan of Ifugao.
The last — Hungduan — will be spotlighted this time, it being the municipality which as the brightest chance among the five mentioned above to become one of the most progressive municipalities in the province.
Hungduan is a border municipality on the Benguet-Ifugao subprovincial boundary. It is only more than a half day hike across the heavily forested border mountain of Bad-ayan to the town of Buguias, Benguet.
There are two approaches to the poblacion of Hungduan. It may be reached from Kiangan on the west from Banaue through the barrio of Hapao. The latter route is easier because part of it is reached by a vehicular road under construction to the poblacion.
Like other municipalities in the province still unreached by the modern means of travel, Hungduan has much to pray for from the government. Cited by Mayor Pa-it Buyucan as its top problem is the absence of health officials assigned in the municipality. It has no Rural Health Unit (RHU) physician or nurse although they have one midwife doing the yeoman’s job of looking after the health and sanitation needs of more than 7,000 inhabitants.
But all is not dim for this isolated Ifugao municipality. A road to its poblacion is under construction. And, as the so-called law of compensation makes it, Hungduan is the only municipality of the Mountain Province today which has two emergency airstrips. One of these emergency landing fields is already being used while the other is nearing completion. These airstrips have been reportedly constructed by the people with the aid of the Lutheran Missionaries in the Philippines. Already, this missionary group’s five-seater light plane has been making unscheduled trips to the municipality. Tinoc Airstrip is the one now used while the other airstrip under completion is located in the barrio of Tukukan.
The world will always remember Hungduan. For here was General Tomoyoki Yamashita‘s last holdout before he unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1945. The mountain overlooking the poblacion is called Mt. Napolaoan [sic], the location of Yamashita’s last stand. According to some residents of this municipality, this giant mountain is supposed to be the location of the famous “Treasure of Yamashita” which today is still the object of search by adventurous treasure hunters.
As for its tourism potential, Hungduan could well excel other Ifugao municipalities in breath-taking natural scenes. Joseph Pablito Gadit, former municipal COMELEC registrar of this municipality, told this writer that Hungduan has also its own version of “world-wonder” in the form of its flights of rice terraces which he said are “far better in view than those of Banaue.”
Young Gadit also said that he was awed by the “beautiful sight” of Hungduan’s twin sulphur deposits emitting clouds of smoke every minute. These sulphur deposits are found in the barrio of Tukukan where medicilan hot spring also caters to the needs of the villagers.
Recent geological surveys of the bureau of mines revealed that Hungduan’s bowels is rich with gold and iron. When the road shall have reached this municipality, it expects to bustle with initial prospecting of its mineral deposits.
What the residents hope for is the opening of the proposed Buguias-Hungduan road. This proposed highway will link the two subprovinces through these municipalities. Residents of this municipality are seeking means by which they could convince Congressman Hora and Congressman Cosalan to appropriate government funds form Congress to get their fond dream materialized. Should the Buguias-Hungduan Road be constructed, it is expected to form the main road artery bridging Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya through Ifugao.
This, then, is Hungduan. Today, an unsung primeval Ifugao country but tomorrow, a land of plenty and glory.