About Guillermo Galvey

About the author: Guillermo Galvey (? — 1839), Lieutenant-Colonel. The Historia organica de las armas de infanteria y caballeria (etc.), Volumes 1-2 says he was dispatched to Pangasinan and Ilocos; later appointed by Governor General Mariano Ricafort as Comandancia General del Pais de los Igorrotes y las Partidas del Norte de Pangasinan in 1826, holding the position until his death in 1839 (Commandant of the Land of the Igorots and Outposts of Northern Pangasinan). He mounted forty-five punitive expeditions between 1829 and 1839. Often said to have named La Trinidad valley after his wife, although in the blog entry Valle de Benguet it says this was not the case:

Despite popular tradition that La Trinidad was named after his supposed wife Dona Trinidad de Galvey, his military records in Madrid revealed that he is in fact unmarried (soltero).

In 1875, one of Galvey’s successors, Commandante Manuel Scheidnagel renamed “Valle de Benguet” to La Trinidad.

An insight into contemporary thinking on the indigenous people in Benguet can be found in A Visit to the Philippine Islands by Sir John Bowring, 1859.

The skulls of animals are frequently used for the decoration of the houses of the Indians. Galvey says he counted in one dwelling, in Capangar, 405 heads of buffaloes and bullocks, and more than a thousand of pigs, causing an intolerable stench.

They use the bark of the Uplay in cases of intermittent fever, and have much knowledge of the curative qualities of certain herbs; they apply hot iron to counteract severe local pain, so that the flesh becomes cauterized; but they almost invariably have recourse to amulets or charms, and sacrifice fowls and animals, which are distributed among the attendants on the sick persons.

Padre Mozo says of the Italons (Luzon) that he has seen them, after murdering an enemy, drink his blood, cut up the lungs, the back of the head, the entrails, and other parts of the body, which they eat raw, avowing that it gave them courage and spirit in war. The skulls are kept in their houses to be exhibited on great occasions. This custom is probably of Bornean origin, for Father Quarteron, the vicar apostolic of that island, told me that he once fell in with a large number of savages who were carrying in procession the human skulls with which their houses were generally adorned, and which they called “giving an airing to their enemies.” The [179]teeth are inserted in the handles of their hangers. After enumerating many more of the barbarous customs of the islands, the good friar Mozo exclaims:—“Fancy our troubles and labours in rescuing such barbarians from the power of the devil!” They sacrifice as many victims as they find fingers opened after death. If the hand be closed, none. They suffer much from cutaneous diseases. The Busaos paint their arms with flowers, and to carry ornaments bore their ears, which are sometimes stretched down to their shoulders. The Ifugaos wear on a necklace pieces of cane denoting the number of enemies they have killed. Galvey says he counted twenty-three worn by one man who fell in an affray with Spanish troops. This tribe frequently attacks travellers in the mountains for the sake of their skulls. The missionaries represent them as the fiercest enemies of Christians. Some of the monks speak of horrible confessions made by Igorrote women after their conversion to Christianity, of their intercourse with monkeys in the woods, and the Padre Lorenzo indulges in long details on the subject, declaring, moreover, that a creature was once brought to him for baptism which “filled him with suspicion.” De Mas reports that a child with long arms, covered with soft hair, and much resembling a monkey, was exhibited by his mother in Viyan, and taught to ask for alms.

De Mas recommends that the Spanish Government should buy the saleable portion of the Mahomedan and pagan tribes, convert them, and employ them [180]in the cultivation of land; and he gives statistics to show that there would be an accumulation of 120 per cent., while their removal would set the Indians together by the ears, who would destroy one another, and relieve the islands from the plague of their presence. This would seem a new chapter in the history of slave-trade experiments. He calculates that there are more than a million pagans and Mahomedans in the islands.

The 1829 expedition was from January 4-14; another in December, 1831, and another was February 27 to March 13, 1833. Historian William Henry Scott in “An Historian Looks into the Philippine Kaleidoscope,” in Philippine Studies vol. 24, no. 2 (1976):

It was neither gold nor Gospel which finally took the Spaniards back onto the Cordillera in force, however, but tobacco. In 1781 the colonial government declared a monopoly on the production and sale of this crop and put the colony on a paying basis for the first time in 225 years of occupation. The Igorots quickly responded to the challenge and sabotaged the new source of revenue with contraband sales. So the government established a contingent of revenue agents to invade Igorot territory and literally cut the contraband off at its roots. Ten years of destructive expeditions in the 1830s failed to produce the desired results, however, so the Tobacco Monopoly began to buy Igorot crops instead. But they did produce the greatest loss of life and property ever suffered by any one group of Filipinos during the Spanish regime. Their famous –or infamous– commander, Colonel Guillermo Galvey, cut down Igorot crops by the hectares, burned their houses by the hundreds, and decimated their population with smallpox by the thousands. By 1840, La Trinidad’s 500 houses had been reduced to less than a hundred; by 1860, there was no Igorot community of more than 250 persons in the entire Agno Valley; and by 1880 all the rice terraces southwest of Kiangan were abandoned due to disease. Whatever effect these excursions may have had upon the relationships between the hlghland and lowland protagonists involved, they certainly helped the former to become a minority statistically.

About the diary: Originally identified by the Philippine Diary Project by means of a mention in John Bowring:

Galvey’s “Diary of an Expedition to Benguet in January, 1829,” and another to Bacun in December, 1831, are histories of personal adventures, many of a perilous character, in which many lives were lost, and many habitations destroyed. They are interesting as exhibiting the difficulties of subjugating these mountain races. Galvey conducted several other expeditions, and died in 1839.

The version here is the 1829 diary as it was was reproduced in The Naboloi Dialect by Otto Scheerer, Department of the Interior, Ethnological Survey Publications, Volume II, Parts II and III and located within as “The Ibaloi Igorot Seventy-five Years Ago: Account of a Spanish Expedition to Benguet in the year 1829,” with the following explanatory footnote:

The character of this expedition, which was only one of many similar ones undertaken by the intrepid Galvey, will be best understood by the following remark made by Mas in his Informe, chapter “Poblaci6n,” page 11: “These idolaters [the Igorot] cultivate in some regions immense fields of tobacco, which they introduce into the provinces. The consequence is the ruin of the tobacco revenue, the necessity of maintaining guards and troops to check this lawlessness, the extortions which these very officials commit in the towns, and, in short, so many expenses and troubles that it has been necessary more than once to send out special commissioners, and that this has come to l>e a question of arduous solution. In other regions they molest the peaceful Christian towns and render the roads so dangerous that it is not possible to pass over some of them without an escort.”

Another English translation of the diary, “Expedition of Comandante Guillermo Galvey to Baguio in 1829” (A diary translated by William Henry Scott), was published in Unitas XXXV. 1 (March 1962): 128-138. Portions of the diary in the original Spanish were reproduced in Historia general de Filipinas desde el descubrimiento de dichas …, Volume 2. 

Scheerer, in a subsequent paper, On Baguio’s past : chapters from local history and tradition, recounted oral traditions handed down about the expedition:

Altho Beinguet was formally constituted a Comandancia PoliticoMilitar only in 1846, it had already for a number of years been subject to what was called the Comandancia General de Igorrotes, a governmental unit, with office in a coast-town, having as chief duty the general control of the mountain people and the collection of the tribute called reconocimiento de vasallaje from those tribes who recognized the sovereignty of Spain; another important activity of this center was the persecution of the unauthorized planting of tobacco and of the illegal introduction of this commodity into the lowland provinces. Galvey, who in the late twenties was Comandante General de Igorrotes, reported his first expedition to Befiguet as made in January 1829, after he had spent many days in the foothills destroying large fields of tobacco planted by the Ibaloys. This first expedition, consisting of two officers, three sergeants, six corporals, and fifty troopers, accompanied by 200 carriers, had an encounter with the inhabitants of Trinidad valley, in which a number of these were shot, others made prisoners, and some 180 houses burned down. After this military success, Galvey returned to the coast. He finishes his report saying: This expedition, tho short, served me well for those I made later, as the Ig6rots of Beniguet shortly afterwards asked me for peace and have since been my friends. On different expeditions I have passed eight or ten times thru their valley and, far from attacking me, they have treated me with kindness, providing me with rice, cows, and other articles of food. Still, as a consequence of the expedition and of smallpox, this town has been reduced to about a hundred houses. I am, however, doing everything possible to make it flourish again, and my highroad reaches there. [For a full translation of the report see the appendix to my paper on the Nabaloy dialect, Ethn. Surv. Publ., II, 2, Manila 1905.] It appears that Galvey’s second visit to Beinguet was undertaken not long after the one just mentioned, and that it is the one to which the following reminiscences of the old folls at Baguio have reference. * Bigung [the son of Apulog Anas already mentioned above] was a brave and fearless man, familiar with life in the lowlands where, thru his traffic in gold, he had many friends. When he heard of Galvey’s arrival in Agoo, he went to meet him there and accompanied him to Bengut. Upon arrival here, Bigufg assembled the leading men at his house where a head of cattle was slaughtered in honor of the Spanish official. Orders were also given to the townspeople to hunt a deer for their guests. There were not lacking some who were afraid and kept away. The men of better judgment, however, who had been assembled by Bigunfg, stayed and were treated by Galvey to bread and sardines and to cigars of the government monopoly, handed around while Galvey patted the headmen on the back and assured them, thru an Iloko interpreter, of his desire that they now become good friends. When Bigufig was asked by Galvey to a accept an appointment as kapitan of Befguet, he excused himself, since he feared that his acceptance of that post would lead to his being killed by some of the tribesmen who believed that, but for his making friends with Galvey, the latter would not have come up to Befguet. In substitution, Bigufg proposed to Galvey a relative of his in Kafagway, Pulito by name, a man of good character who would probably have no objection to act as kapitan. When Pulito agreed to accept that post Galvey presented him with a fine shirt and a hat; bidding also Pulito to stand up before him, Galvey invested him with the baston, the staff of office, and charged him to take good care of the people of Befiguet. Pulito thereafter remained in office four years. He was an ancestor of the late Kapitan Piraso’s& wife Davifigit. Galvey thereupon invited Bigufig to be his companion in visiting other towns in Befiguet. Bigufig thus conducted Galvey to Kabayan whither they went on horseback, followed by many people. They passed the night there in the house of’ Tempak, a responsible and valiant man. They set about to assemble those men who were known to them as important, but found this very difficult, as the people were afraid and a number of them had left their homes. However, they prevailed upon Tempak to become kapitan and he accepted. He was the great-grandfather of Mildya, first wife of Juan Carinfo Oraa. Upon their return to Befiguet, Galvey had a small house built for himself. He was the first governor of Befiguet. When Pulito had finished his four years of service as kapitan, he was succeeded by Chokorog, grandfather of Kamdas, Piraso’s son-in-law. The way how Chokorog discharged his. dutiesdoes not seem to have been satisfactory to the people, so that already after one year in office he asked the Governor to relieve him from his post for being unable to bear the unruliness of those under his control.


Ken De Bevoise, in his Agents of Apocalypse: Epidemic Disease in the Colonial Philippines, in a footnote mentions there are various diaries of Guillermo Galvey, “on microfilm at SATS.”

n A History of the Philippine Islands by David P. Barrows (1905) the following was included:

Between 1823 and 1829 the mission of Pidigan, under an Augustinian friar, Christianized some thousands of the Tinguianes of the river Abra. In 1829 an expedition of about sixty soldiers, under Don Guillermo Galvey, penetrated into the cool, elevated plateau of Benguet. The diary of the leader recounts the difficult march up the river Cagaling from Aringay and their delight upon emerging [258]from the jungle and cogon upon the grassy, pine-timbered slopes of the plateau.

They saw little cultivated valleys and small clusters of houses and splendid herds of cattle, carabaos, and horses, which to this day have continued to enrich the people of these mountains. At times they were surrounded by the yelling bands of Igorrotes, and several times they had to repulse attacks, but they nevertheless succeeded in reaching the beautiful circular depression now known as the valley of La Trinidad.

The Spaniards saw with enthusiasm the carefully separated and walled fields, growing camotes, taro, and sugarcane. The village of about five hundred houses was partly burned by the Spaniards, as the Igorrotes continued hostile. The expedition returned to the coast, having suffered only a few wounds. The commandancia of Benguet was not created until 1846, in which year also Abra was organized as a province.

A note on the dates: the expedition is cited as having lasted from January 4-14, 1829. But the diary itself begins on January 4, 1829 and has entries from the fifth to the fourteenth days, which suggests a period exceeding the ten days cited. This suggests, if day one encompassed January 4, 1829, that the expedition actually lasted until January 16, 1829.