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Besao, officially the Municipality of Besao is a 5th class municipality in the province of Mountain Province, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 7,040 people.[3]

Municipality of Besao
Cordillera Central mountains in Besao
Cordillera Central mountains in Besao
Official seal of Besao
Map of Mountain Province with Besao highlighted
Map of Mountain Province with Besao highlighted
Besao is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 17°06′N 120°49′E / 17.1°N 120.82°E / 17.1; 120.82Coordinates: 17°06′N 120°49′E / 17.1°N 120.82°E / 17.1; 120.82
Country Philippines
RegionCordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
ProvinceMountain Province
DistrictLone District
Barangays14 (see Barangays)
 • TypeSangguniang Bayan
 • MayorJohnson D. Bantog II
 • Vice MayorJune T. Lopsoten
 • CongressmanMaximo Y. Dalog Jr.
 • Electorate5,118 voters (2019)
 • Total173.62 km2 (67.04 sq mi)
 (2015 census)[3]
 • Total7,040
 • Density41/km2 (110/sq mi)
 • Income class5th municipal income class
 • Poverty incidence23.17% (2015)[4]
 • Revenue (₱)58,849,629.20 (2016)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)74
Climate typetropical rainforest climate
Native languagesKankanaey language

The municipality of Besao is believed to have derived its name from the Ilocano word ”Buso”, meaning headhunter. The people then of the neighboring towns specifically those from the Ilocos Region believed that the early ”Besaos” were headhunters. The word later on evolved as it is now called – Besao.

The town is known for the Agawa people's Agricultural Stone Calendar of Gueday. The stone calendar is one of the most enigmatic artifact in the Cordillera mountains. It is a testimony to the accurate scientific outlook of the ancient Agawa people in the cycle of weathers, agriculture, and heavenly bodies.[5]


Besao is politically subdivided into 14 barangays.

  • Agawa
  • Ambagiw
  • Banguitan
  • Besao East
  • Besao West
  • Catengan
  • Gueday
  • Lacmaan
  • Laylaya
  • Padangaan
  • Payeo
  • Suquib
  • Tamboan
  • Kin-iway (Poblacion.)


The population of the town has been decreasing due to younger generations migrating to cities seeking for work.

YearPop.±% p.a.
1918 4,642—    
1939 5,144+0.49%
1948 5,799+1.34%
1960 8,174+2.90%
1970 9,286+1.28%
1975 7,051−5.37%
1980 9,093+5.22%
1990 8,473−0.70%
1995 9,147+1.44%
2000 9,875+1.66%
2007 7,295−4.09%
2010 7,818+2.55%
2015 7,040−1.98%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][6][7][8]


Besao's main religion is animism.[citation needed] The town is one of the few animist towns in the southern Cordillera mountains. Much of its ancestral worship intangible heritage has been preserved by the older generations. However, the younger generations have been migrating to cities, making the animist religions of Besao in great danger in the long-term. Christian groups have been surfacing in the town since the younger generations have been moving into cities.


  1. ^ "Municipality". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Province: Mountain Province". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Census of Population (2015). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  4. ^ "PSA releases the 2015 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates". Quezon City, Philippines. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  7. ^ Censuses of Population (1903–2007). "Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)". Table 1. Population Enumerated in Various Censuses by Province/Highly Urbanized City: 1903 to 2007. NSO.
  8. ^ "Province of Mountain Province". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.

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