Casa Real, the Spanish-built fortress made of bricks which still stand today in mute testimony to the once-upon-a-time glory and splendor of Bucay during the Spanish Era thus signifying stability.
Figures with Inscriptions Atop the Fortress, like a Roman tower, a lion and a crown signifies stability and prowess (tower), peace, order, security, justice and integrity (lion) and power for then Spanish friars (crown).
Eagle Grasping a Branch and Arrow with a Ribbon in Its Beak, signifying peace and order and strength. The eagle carries her the symbol of progress through peace, order and security, justice and integrity.
The first inhabitants of Bucay are the Tingguians, commonly known as Itnegs. The Itnegs noted for their handwork and resourcefulness, are jungle-dwelling, with their daily activities preoccupied with crude agriculture, hunting and fishing. The rolling and terraced rice fields in the hilly areas of the municipality attest to the Itnegs hard work and resourcefulness in agriculture. Aside form agriculture, fishing and hunting, the Itnegs also are noted for their quality woven cloths, moulded bamboo crafts and pottery items.
History records show that sometime in 1846, an expedition of Spanish conquistador led by Fr. Jesus Blanco arrived at a settlement in Bucay, now barangay Labon. The Spaniards found natives unbelligerent and submissive because they were afflicted with an epidemic close to Malaria. Fr. Blanco purportedly established rapport with them by initiating a cure for the epidemic. From out of a boiled juice of a vine called”makabuhay” a panacea was connected and afflicted natives were made to drink it for their recovery. It was said that the name “Bucay” is a corruption of the word “makabuhay”.
The influx of Ilocanos followed Fr. Blanco’s expedition and very soon, settlements grew, usually along the rivers and creeks. One suitable area where the Poblacion is now located is a wide strip of flat land immediately west of the Abra River.
The Spanish authorities at the same time saw it suitable for development and proclaimed Bucay on October 29, 1946 the first capital town of Abra. Poblacion streets wereconstructted in a nice criss-crosing pattern that residential blocks and institutional blocks were cut out almost identical ti one another. Like all other early Spanish settlements, the church, townhall and plaza were successively put up including footpaths leading nearby settlements with provisions of deterrent structures against the hostile headhunting tribes from nearby settlements. Oneevidenceof such structure is the presence of the Casa Real façade in the municipality.
Bucay maintained its stature as Abra’s capital for 13 years, from 1846 to 1861. The Spanish Military Governor. Don Jooaquin de Pratt, convinced of the greater potential and accessibility of Bangued decreed the transfer of the capital of Abra to Bangued sometime in 1862. Bucay was then left in the stewardship of its local leaders. The first Gobernadorcillo of Bucay was Don Esteban Alzate was followed by 12 other rich and educated persons who served as Gobernadorcillo up to 1893. All that the officials can do at that time was to maintain peace and order and initiate the cultivation and development of agricultural lands. The vast prime agricultural lands west of the Poblacion, terracing up to the foot of the mountains, may have been owned by the few that at the time that it is now the site of the Bucay Corporate Farm, known in Abra as the showcase of the modern rice farming.
With the coming of the Americans, the educational system was improved and the first attempt to link Bucay with the other municipalities that came into existence was made. The attempt saw socio-cultural enrichment of the town until World War II broke out.
The Japanese invading forces proved to be the exact opposite of what the Spaniards and Americans did to the town. The former set up their own educational system, side by side with their hostility and abuses causing the residents to evacuate and take refuge in the mountains.
Then came liberation. People became conscious of the government thus development and reconstruction began. Various settlements grew in a desperate pattern consisting of the municipality’s 21 barangays namely: Abang, Bangbangcag, Bangcagan, Banglolao, Bugbog, Calao, Dugong, Labon, Layugan, Madalipay, North Poblacion, Pagala, Pakiling, Palaquio, Patoc, Quimloong, Salnec, San Miguel, Siblong, South Poblacion and Tabiog.
Nestling on the western side of the Cordillera ranges, approximately 17km. southeast of Bangued and approximately 20◦75” latitude and 40◦longitude,Bucay is bounded on the north by the municipalities of Tayum and Lagangilang, on the east by the municipalities of Licuan-Baay and Sallapadan, on the south by the municipality of Manabo, and on the west by the municipalities of Villaviciosa, San Isidro, Peñarrubia and Bangued. Bucay’s deep valleys, wide plains and sloping hills are shut off by rugged mountains, except on the northern side where Abra River meanders towards the coastal plains of Ilocos Sur.
Topographically, Bucay is bounded on the eastern and western regions with secondary mountain ranges and with two rivers- the Baay River on the north and the Ikmin River on the south. It is dotted with moderately rolling hills with the barangays commonly situated on the available plains, usually near creeks and other water bodies.
The only mineral found in the municipality is limestone which is a basic ingredient in the manufacture of cement. The mineral was temporarily quarried by the Cellophil Corporation during its short existence in the municipality.
The people of Bucay originated from the western lowland tribes of southern Ilocos Norte who are also referred to as Ilaud Itnegs or Western Tingguians. They were the first settlers of Bucay. However, 95.53% of the municipality’s population speak Ilocano while only 3.80% speak Tingguian with the remaining 0.67% speaking other dialects.
On religious affiliations, 96.23% of the populace belong to the Roman Catholic Church with Iglesia ni Cristo having a 2.32% following and other religious sects comprising the remaining 1.45%.