In the early 1900’s, the old Antonio Barroga of Dingras, Ilocos Norte braved the perils and uncertainties of his journey to the east through a crude boat in search of a “promised land” . He docked at Abulug, Cagayan which was then a flourishing center of trade and commerce at that time. He befriended Bernardo Arnedo and the two, together with an Aeta guide, surveyed and peered through the dense forests of Macatel. They envisioned the potentials of the place to be transformed into paddies and farmlands since itwas situated at the foot of the mountain. Water supply wouldn’t pose a problem since a river was just a couple of yards away.
At the command of Apo Tumin (Antonio Barroga), clearing followed through the slash-and-burn method (kaingin) with the help of the original settlers, the Aetas or locally known as “pugot”. They built temporary camps after before Apo Tumin fetched his family back home.
Persuaded by the old man’s description of the “promised land”, the second wave of settlers followed suit that included Leon Edrozo, Paulino Edmalin, Tito Ragsac and Magencio Ragsac. With them were their farmhands namely: Sabas Fiesta, Simplicio Cristobal, Crispin Arnedo and Isidro Ramos. More Ilocanos were enticed to establish permanent abode here, they were Teodorico Vicitacion, Diego Pacis, Guillermo Agorilla and Leonor Lizardo followed by Regino Guzman of Abra.
It was a no mean journey for them – long and tedious hiking at the muddy and rocky trails, inevitable shedding pails of sweat under the excruciating heat of the sun, insatiable pangs of hunger – all of these tested their endurance. Determined to establish permanency in this land, the Ilocano settlers brought with them farm equipment and various paraphernalia at home – “ ungot”, “buyuboy” to name a few. Of course, the most important thing that was carried by them was the old Ilocano culture, traces of which are still being practiced by many and the more conservative ones.
With the strong desire of the citizenry headed by the late Antonino Barroga to transform the old Macatel (once a part of the defunct town of Tawit, Mountain Province) into a municipality, they petitioned Governor Claro Lizardo I to work for this cause. On October 16, 1929 Governor General Leonard Wood signed into law Executive Order No. 200 creating the Municipal District of Macatel with Antonino Barroga as the first Municipal District President. Apo Tumin disliked the name Macatel, the term used by Bernardo Arnedo to describe this place because of the itchy water that flowed in the streams and rivers. The then Municipal Secretary Leon Edrozo suggested the name Luna in honor of the Ilocano hero General Antonio Luna to replace Macatel. A resolution was passed to put this into effect. After Apo Tumin’s term, Francisco Llameg and Leon Edrozo succeeded as Municipal District Presidents.
Following the Ilocano pioneer was the first educator Emilio Pulido Sr. who initiated the establishment of the first public elementary school together with Lorenzo Bautista, Felix Ingles, Amado Bargas, Sr., and Bienvenido Verzola, Sr., to cater to the children’s thirst for education.
The fertile soil that brought a bountiful harvest attracted hundreds or even thousands of people here in Luna. About ninety percent traced their roots from Ilocos Norte. They intermarried with the Ybanags, Isnags, and Aetas thus giving birth to a mixture of diverse cultures.
The outbreak of war in the 40’s wreaked havoc among the citizens of Luna who were then living a simple, peaceful, and happy life. The war took its toll – killing hundreds and inflicting tremendous terror in the hearts and minds of the people. Two of the significant places where the citizens sought refuge during the war were Bayugao Hill, now a part of Barangay Turod and Allabang Cave in Zumigui. The two served as evacuation camps while the old house of Celestino Baria was used as a garrison by the Japanese. Juan Lagran, Leon Edrozo and Cayetano Almazan were named military mayors during the war.
The healing process was rather long and difficult. The wound etched in the hearts of the people was rather deep. It took many years before the people gradually forgot the pain caused by the lost of loved ones and properties. Eventually, the operation of the government was back to normal. The post-war Municipal District Mayors were Jose Aloag Sr., Jacinto Bautista, William Pacray and Odon Pacis Sr.
The need for higher education was felt by the citizens, so a junior high school was put and was temporarily housed at Edmalin’s ancestral home situated in Capagaypayan, a part of Luna town proper before. The school eventually transformed into the old Luna Academy with Mr. Jovencio Razalan as the first Principal. The first operation of which was in June 1951.
Luna’s population grew more rapidly brought about by the uninterrupted migrations from Tarlac, Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province to name a few. They settled in the vast jurisdiction Luna covered at that time. One brilliant mind conceived the separation of Pudtol into an independent municipality owing to Luna’s wide land area and a booming population. By virtue of Executive Order No. 217 signed into law by President Ramon Magsaysay on December 3, 1956, the Municipal District of Pudtol was weaned from her mother town Luna. Seven years later, another town was carved out from the municipality of Pudtol through R.A. No. 3672 was signed June 22, 1963. The town was named Flora after Florence Busacay, the wife of the then Congressman Alfredo Lamen. Not long after the creation of Flora another municipality thru R. A. 4974 authored by Congressman Juan M. Duyan came into being. The town got its name Sta. Marcela from a legendary woman who had stayed there for quite a long, long time. Separated from the Municipalities of Luna and Flora, Sta. Marcela began its corporate existence on January 1, 1968.
Then and now, the dominant economic opportunities/activities were agriculture-based, i.e. farming, poultry/livestock raising, and weaving/carpentry/woodworks. The economic development was hampered/interrupted during the 1970-1980’s due to the insurgency problem, especially along the Marag Valley area.
The ethnic inhabitants of Luna were the ‘Itnegs/Negritoes’. The majority of the present population was the descendants of the Ilocano migrants from the Ilocos Region, particularly Ilocos Norte. The first recorded migrants to ‘Macatel’ and the nearby Barangay of Zumigui were: Antonio Barroga, Leon Edrozo, Paulo Edmalin, Tito Ragsac, and Magencio Ragsac. With them were their farmhands, namely Sabas Fiesta, Simplicio Cristobal, Crispin Arnedo, Isidro Ramos, Teodorico Vicitacion, Diego Pacis, Guillermo Agorilla and Leonor Lizardo. These pioneer settlers were then followed by the first educator, Emilio Pulido Sr., who later on became a Municipal Mayor (1969-1971).
History tells that the first settlers of the municipality were Negritoes. Hunting was their major occupation. They had dominated the land for long years. They lived in the mountainous part of the area and eventually cross marriages with Ilocanoes took place.
Political Administration/Fiscal Development
Antonio Barroga, who was one of the first waves of Ilocano migrants, became the first town executive, then called Municipal District President. He and the successive administrators of town leaders/Municipal Mayors contributed a lot to the development of Luna into what it is today. The town executives can be categorized, as follows:
Municipal District Presidents:
Municipal Mayors During World War II:
Post – War Municipal District Mayors:
Odon Pacis Sr.
Claro Bautista (1962-1969)
Emilio Pulido (1969-1975)
George Bargas (1972-1986)
Bienvenido G. Verzola, Jr. – OIC Mayor (1986-1987)
Ranulfo Bautista – OIC Mayor (1987-1988)
Bienvenido G. Verzola, Jr. (1988-1998)
Betty Caluya-Verzola (1998-2007)
Bienvenido G. Verzola, Jr. (2007-2008)
Jovencio T. Bullaoit (2008-2010)
Betty C. Verzola (2010-2013)
Josephine M. Bangsil (2013-PRESENT)