On 1572, Juan de Salcedo, fresh from his conquest of Southern Luzon, was ordered by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to explore the Northern Luzon and “pacify the people in it” (this is according to Mendoza-Corte in the book Pangasinan: 1572-1800). The area then was a dynamic trading center especially of gold for the Japanese and Chinese merchants. On June of that year, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed at Atuley (now known as Bauang) before he headed to Purao (now Balaoan). He found the natives friendly but did not establish settlements. It was the Augustinian friars that built towns along the coast and converted the residents to Christians. The region became a base for the Spanish colonizers to exploit the gold mines in the uplands.
Bauang was a pre-colonial settlement in the country that became one of the first missions organized by the Augustinians in Northern Luzon. It used to belong to the federation of towns and settlements jointly known as “Baratao, Buratao and Balitao”. In 1587, Bauang became the center of the “ministerio” of Baratao and was first placed under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul. Fr. Miguel Sano, an Augustinian missionary, was the first priest of the Parish of the Chair of St. Peter which was later on reverted to its historical titular Saints Peter and Paul.
426 years ago, on January 5 year 1586, the Parish of Bauang under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul was created according to the accounts of Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin, an Augustinian Chronicler. It was also of the same year that our town was accepted “as a house of the Order” and was later on confirmed in 1590 according to Fr. Pedro Galende, O.S.A. in Libro de Gobierno del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas at the Augustinian Archives in Spain.
It was officially recognized as a town in 1765 as part of the province of Pangasinan with Don Francisco delos Reyes as its first gobernadorcillo.
There are a few versions of how our town got its name. First, from “bua” or betel nut which was in abundance at the site (now Barangay Nagrebcan) where the old Spanish Church was built. Another and more popular is the Ilocano term for garlic that was also in abundance when the Spaniards came. The third version came from the word “buang” which means “river split into two,” before flowing into the sea. As it is, the Bauang is split into two by a delta.
Like other towns in the province, Bauang also had its share in the devastating invasions of Moro pirates. In the stillness of the night, they would swoop upon the town without any warning, killing people and kidnapping women and children only to be sold into slavery. They stole cattle, looted the town and broke into the church and robbed it of its silver and gold.
These invasions gave rise to the construction of watchtowers, locally known as balaurte, by then Gobernadorcillo Don Juan Mallare along the coast and at the mouth of the Bauang River. These watchtowers served as fortress against the invading pirates. It was also utilized as a refuge for the inhabitants who had no time to flee to the hills whenever the pirates were sighted.
Bauang was part of the dozen towns that originally formed La Union which includes Sto. Tomas, Agoo, Aringay, Caba, Naguilian, San Fernando, San Juan, and Bacnotan from the province of Pangasinan and Purao (now Bangar), Namacpacan (now Luna) and Balaoan from Ilocos Sur in 1850.
During the later part of 1890, Bauang residents succeeded in wrestling the town from the tyrannical administration of the Spaniards after fierce and bloody encounters between the “cazadores” (Spanish soldiers) and the “revolucionarios” (Filipinos). The revolucionarios were led separately by Remigio Patacsil and Mauro Ortiz.
In 1913, some barrios of Bauang were assigned to San Fernando namely: Pagudpud, Pagdalagan, Sevilla, Bungro, Tanquigan, and Siboan-Otong.
During the Japanese occupation, many unknown and unsung sons of Bauang fought gallantly and spilled their precious blood on the beaches of the town, Lingayen Gulf, Bataan, and Corregidor in defense of freedom. Majority of the youth joined the underground movement. They enlisted in various regiments of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines (USFIP-NL) without any promise of reward or remuneration. Among the many who were executed by the Japanese were Manuel Arguilla, a poet and journalist, and Major Alberto Fenit of the USAFFE. They met their death at the dungeons of Fort Santiago.
Many continued the fight with gallantry and valor in the mountains of Bessang Pass until the country was liberated from the Japanese oppressors.
In the early 70’s Bauang earned the appelation as the Beach Capital of the Philippines because of the calm water, fine sand and languidly swaying coconut trees along shoreline of Baccuit Sur to Pagdalagan Sur.
Bauang is also famous for its grapes and guapples grown in barangays Payocpoc Sur, Santiago, Bagbag and Urayong. The grapes industry is an additional income for farmers among the residents in these barangay until imported varieties came in.