History of the Balunsat's of Solano

Written by Craig Balunsat. Posted in Historical Research

An Interesting Note

That fact that Spain had no direct route to the Philippines during colonial times leaves us with some interesting food for thought. All communication and trade with Spain was accomplished via land crossing across Mexico to the galleon trade via Acapulco. In light of this, I came stumbled across an interesting fact. The succeeding line of governors priests and conquistadores culminating in the Philippines were primarily Mexicans. That is to say, Mexican born Spaniards and

Early Balansat origins in Ibiza

This family traces their origins to a town called Puerto San Miquel de Balansat, in the north coast of the Island of Ibiza of the Archipelago of the Balearic Island group (Spain). This Island was colonized by the Carthaginians and then by Greeks. In the 11th and 12th century the Catalans found a family of Balansat's living there. According to in the 14th century family history, the Balansat family was reported to have received an apparition from the Archangel Michael. They were instructed to build a church-temple/fortress, in an attempt to protect the island from the onslaught of Moorish invasions. The church-temple/fortress called San Miquel de Balansat still stands today and is a site for tourist attractions.

their meztiso offspring, the more adventure oriented of which, set out to seek their fame and fortune in the Philippines. Upon further research one can conclude that for all practical purposes, the Philippines were a sub colony of Mexico.

Surname Origins

Interestingly enough, there was as a family of Balanzat's living in Mexico and Latin America during colonial times. According to family tradition, the early Balunsat's were mestizos of Spanish descent. Since we know that there is another branch of the Balunsat and or Balunzat family also from Isabela, it is reasonable to assume that Balunzat is a variation of Balunsat. And, since we find Balanzat's in the Phillipines from the earily 1800's, we may also assume that Balanzat, Balunzat, Balansat and Balunsat are all variations of the same name. Incidentally, Balanzat and/or Balansat is a little known Spanish surname originating from 12th century Ibiza. Read more abou this at Surname Origins.

The Solano Region

The Solano region (formerly known as the Gaddang province) is located in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. This area was first discovered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Letters to Spain from early explorers describe the area inhabited by the native Gaddang tribe of head hunter fame and were fearful of their savage and warlike appearance, subsequently, finding this a place they would just as soon avoid.

This place was later discovered by missionaries in 1740.

The Invasion
Spanish cowboys
Historians are at awe that they would try to have cattle ranches in this area.
The indigenous people were certainly not cowboys. We can only suppose the idea came from Spanish Catalans who brought this culture to the new world, and while they faired well in cattle ranching in Mexico and other Latin American countries, they utterly failed in Solano.

In 1864 the territory was explored by three vaqueros (Hispanic cowboys) named Francisco Panganiban, Jacinto Loggan, and Vicente Danguilan, who found the area suitable for their cattle. They obtained permission from the politico-military governor to conquer the area and were given grazing rights. They were also granted permission to give the Solano pastures to Ilocan immigrants to convert into rice fields, no doubt an incentive for these Ilocanos to assist them in conquering the area. They transferred their cattle to the newly found town of Diadi and brought with them six Ilocan families; several of which took care of their cattle pasture. The area was then divided among the three conquistadores, planting mangoes, santol, nangca and other fruit trees on pasture lands, many of which may still be seen flourishing today. Francisco Panganiban and Jacinto Loggan occupied Diadi, Nalangan, Nappindangan, Damarup, Limbo, Bunnay, and Tufta. Vicente Danguilan occupied the localities of Manga, Bruno, Inadanan, the foot of the other mountain of Namamparang and the road to Abungul.


Spanish Missionaries
 Early Missionaries

Spanish missionaries have been recorded wandering the area as early as 1609 attempting to settle the area, but with little apparent success among the upper mountain tribes.Early missionary accounts tell of their failed attempts at converting the natives.

Shortly after, they were followed by Friar Julian Malumbres from Isabella, the region north of Solano. He settled in Diadi in 1867 along with immigrants he brought from Calanusian.. Then he proceeded southward to conquer the people of Bagaba, Lumaband, Bayombong, and Bambang. With this new influx of settlers, they were able to establish a town in the municipality of Diadi. The three cowboys, Francisco Panganiban, Jacinto Loggan, and Vicente Danguilan, contributed five head of cattle each to the missionary who helped them organize the town, and fifty cavans of rice to the immigrants to be used as seedlings.

The First Balunsat's

According to history passed down to us by way of family traditions, the Balunsat's first became known to this area beginning with a Francisco Balunsat found living circa the early 1700's. He is recorded as Alcalde of Bayombong around 1768. There was a gold rush in this area around this time and people came from various parts of the world seeking their fortune. Many Spaniards came as well. We suppose that Francisco is a decendant of one as the surname seems to come from Ibiza. Mauricio Balunsat was the son of Francisco. He married Rosa Panganiban, no doubt, a relative of Francisco Panganiban

The Second Generation

Mauricio and Rosa then had a son named Miguel who married Fermina Logan Ludan Danguilan, a descendent of Vicente Danguilan and Jacinto Loggan.

The Third Generation

Don Miguel and Fermina, had a son, Antonio Justo born: 17 Aug 1888, Solano. Antonio married Maria Gadduang Padilla Abt 1920, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. A more complete genealogy record may by found in the genealogy section of this site.

Antonio BalunsatAntonio Balunsat

Antonio Balunsat was the Comptroller or Chief Accountant for the Philippine headquarters of The Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company. This was burnt down by the Japanese after 1941. From 1910-1916 huge quantities of Philippine cigars were imported to the United States. Favorable tax rulings, no doubt, helped contribute to this lucrative trade. Not only were they highly prized in Asia, but Philippine cigars were what the Kennedy brothers smoked.

Maria Balunsat PadillaMaria Padilla Balunsat

At this time Antonio Balunsat had moved his family to Pasay City in the City of Manila, and suburbs (Greater Manila". His wife, Maria Balunsat Padilla, was a prominent mid wife to the area. After 1941 Maria Balunsat Padilla, wife of Antonio Balunsat, had a dream. The next morning, she took her children to her native province, and hid in the mountains. She most certainly saved her family by following the prompting of her dream, since, the next day; the Japanese invaded the town, killing most of the inhabitants. They were zoned by a zealous Japanese admiral, who took it upon himself to defend Manila, and brought his ships cannons to line the parameter in preparation for the arrival of the American Liberation Forces 

*Article by Craig Balunsat

1. Daniel, Edgar; Bernaro Bayle, Lope Padilla, Dominica Rosario, Ch. 19, "Municipality of Diadi",
Nueva Vizcaya Beckons, 2000.
Ch. 2, Op. Cit., "This is Nueva Vizcaya".
2. Baptismal Records, Balunsats, Church of San Luis Beltran, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.
3. Personal Accounts of my Father, Alexis P. Balunsat, b. Manila, Phil, 1939.