town of Bani, founded on March 18, 1769, used
to be a part of the province of Zambales.
In May 1903, it was transferred to Pangasinan
together with the towns of Agno, Alaminos,
Anda, Bolinao, Burgos, Dasol, Infanta and
Mabini because the provincial capital then,
Iba, was very far and transportation was difficult.
The original name of the town was San Simon.
Historical records show that the townsite
was transferred from Namagbagan to sitio Almacin
in 1859 due to conditions harmful to the health
of the residents because of the terrain of
the site and for convenience.
The transfer of the Poblacion from its old
site at Namagbagan to the present site, Almacin,
was also influenced by the following popular
belief which has been passed from generation
to generation by word of mouth:
Legend has it that the image of the Immaculate
Conception, the Patron Saint of the town,
then called San Simon, disappeared from the
church altar. Searching by the people and
Spanish authorities yielded the statue on
top of the tall Bani tree located in the vicinity
of the present Roman Catholic Church. The
image was brought back to the church at Namagbagan,
but it was continuously lost and found in
the same manner. The people were then convinced
to leave their homes at Namagbagan and to
settle at the present site. The town was later
named Bani after the tree where the image
of the Patroness was found.
The territory is divided into two regions
by the tail of the Zambales mountains. From
Bogtong in the south, it cuts across it northward
to Malimpec then sharply bends at Pintor towards
Simmilia, Sobor and Zigzag, and onwards until
it reaches Tambac Bay in the northwest corner
of the town where it abruptly ends. South
and east of this mountain range are the lowlands;
north and west of it are the uplands, the
region known then as the Wild West.
When Bani was still a virgin and unexplored
territory, certain historical events were
happening in the neighboring provinces that
led to its later exploration and settlement.
(1) There was the bloody border dispute between
the province of Pangasinan and Ilocos which
led to the formation, in 1763, of the Province
of La Union from territories carved out from
both provinces. Before that time the Province
of Pangasinan extended up to Pindangan (later
to become San Fernando) and included the port
of Agoo. The people of these communities spoke
the Pangasinan dialect until they were Ilocanized.
(2) The occupation of Manila and Cavite by
the British emboldened the Filipinos to revolt.
Among the most serious of these revolts were
those led by Diego Silang in Vigan who secured
a large following and gained control of the
Ilocos Region for a time, and the revolt,
in November, 1762 of the people of Binalatongan
(Pangasinan) led by Juan de la Cruz Palaris
which gained headway in the important towns
of Pangasinan and was not subdued until 1765.
(3) The Muslim attacks which continued "partly
due to the capture of Manila by the British
and partly to the many other disturbances
occurring elsewhere in the Philippines. The
Spaniards were helpless, and the people lived
in perennial terror". And, (4) "to
escape persecution through forced labor and
excessive tributes, very many Filipinos abandoned
their villages and escaped either to the mountain
or to regions beyond the control of the Spaniards".
Many of these intrepid northern people who
sought to escape to "regions beyond the
control of the Spaniards" and there live
in peace and freedom, took to the sea in small
sailboats and sampans. When they chanced to
come upon the mouth of the Bani River and
Tambac Bay which was barred by a shallow sandbar
knee-deep at low tide, their daring and bravado
pushed them farther and farther inward and
westward until they reached the rapids of
Don Cayo and they could go no farther. Leaving
their boats to explore the raw terrain, they
tested the cool and invigorating water of
the stream and saw the schools of fish playing
in the water and the wildlife peeping from
the nearby forest, the easily available materials
with which to build their future homes, and
the fertile lands that would yield their golden
harvest. This was the land they were looking
for. They saw, they explored and they stayed.
These, then, were the first inhabitants of
Bani; the Pangasinenses coming from the strife-torn
communities that bordered the province of
Ilocos, and the Ilocanos. In 1769, when the
Governor of Zambales came to make an ocular
inspection of the sitio, the residents of
whom were petitioning to become a town, he
mentioned the fact that the persons who gathered
before him were of the Pangasinan and Ilocano
clan and numbered about "300 souls"
according to Fr. Mains de Lamberto who likewise
came in connection with the desire of the
residents for the erection of a "visita"
in Bani. Their settlements around the banks
of Don Cayo became the nucleus of the town.
By 1762, these settlements had became a sitio,
with local officials headed by Don Francisco
Baltazar as "Tiniente Absolute".