ETYMOLOGY (HOW THE TOWN EVOLVED ITS NAME)
The Municipality of Laoac got its present name from Ilocano expression “Nag-la-oa daytoy nga tay-aken”, which, in English, means “How wide this plain is!”
How this happened is a matter of conjecture. Elders have it that when the first wave of Ilocano settlers arrived in the late 1800’s, they were greatly astonished by the immense, flat terrain with lush vegetation, and one of them loudly exclaimed in his native tongue,“Nag’la’oa daytoy nga tay-aken!”
The Ilocano word “laoa” means “wide”; and so, from that day onward, the settlement came to be known as “Laoac”. The name has been retained and now refers to the present Laoac Municipality.
CREATION OF THE MUNICIPALITY
The creation of the municipality had been a long and tedious process, often characterized by group wranglings owing to personal whims and caprices. It all started in the early 1900s, when some prominent political leaders in what was then the biggest and premiere barangay of Manaoag thought of converting Laoac into a distinct and separate municipality. This move was first conceived by the daring local leader named Vicente Gavino and was followed by Don Jacinto Nuñez, the first local leader who became the Vice Mayor of Manaoag. These men, however, did not live to realize their dream.
Another set of leaders, headed by Don Rufino V. Tabayoyong, picked up where their predecessors failed. But they, too, failed to effect the separation of Laoac from its mother town, Manaoag.
Still, the clamor did not die. Unfazed by the initial failures, the emerging young political kingpin who was to become the first Mayor of Manaoag from the barrio, Don Westrimundo Tabayoyong, revived the movement, and in 1970, The Municipal Council of Manaoag, Pangasinan passed Resolution No. 29, series of 1970, seeking the conversion of Laoac and the adjoining 19 barangays into a distinct town.
In 1971, the Provincial Board of Pangasinan, also at the behest of Governor Tito Primicias, approved Manaoag Municipal Council Resolution No. 29 and favorably endorsed it to Congress. Believing in the legitimacy of the clamor of the people as embodied in the resolution, Congressman Antonio P. VIllar, Sr. filed the appropriate bill in Congress in 1972. This bill came to be known as R.A No. 6485 creating the town of Laoac. However, the proclamation of Martial Law in 1972 delayed the implementation of the law.
During the Interim Batasang Pambansa (BP), and through the efforts of a group of Assemblymen from Pangasinan – Hon. Antonio Villar, Hon. Conrado Estrella, Hon. Jeremias Montemayor, Hon Felipe de Vera and Hon. Roque de Guzman- an election was held for the first local officials of Laoac, Pangasinan. The first set of elected municipal officials, led by its first Mayor, the Hon. Westrimundo Tabayoyong, assumed office on March 5, 1980 and formally inaugurated the corporate existence of Laoac, Pangasinan.
All told, Laoac as a municipality is the fruit of bi-partisan efforts and the unwavering resolve of divergent groups of leaders who toiled long and hard to surmount a mountain of difficulties.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS LEADING TO THE PRESENT STATUS OF LAOAC, THE MUNICIPALITY
HISTORICAL ROLES AND EVENTS
The four years immediately preceding the township of Laoac were significant; for it was during these years that then Municipal Mayor, Hon. Westrimundo Tabayoyong, seriously began considering a plan for the multi-sectoral development of the 20 barangays which were to constitute the would-be municipality of Laoac.
While it is true that only a few events took place with far-reaching historical significance; the 1980 local elections, during which Hon. Westrimundo Tabayoyong and his entire Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) ticket ran unopposed, impressed upon the people the leadership qualities that were to guide the newly-founded municipality in its trek towards progress and development.
This political phenomenon – indeed a rare one in democratic elections – received popular mandate and the people rallied solidly behind the new local administration; enabling it to undertake projects without financial assistance from either the provincial or national government, namely:
1. Construction of the Municipal Auditorium amounting to Php180,000.00;
2. Construction of the Municipal Park amounting to Php150,000.00;
3. Construction and establishment of a Telecommunications Office costing Php20,000.00; and
4. Acquisition of the 17-hectare Town Site at Php1.00 per square meter.
The creations of Laoac into a separate town has, naturally, changed the political map of Pangasinan. Not only that, but, the role played by the municipality in the institution of peace and order has helped maintain a semblance of orderliness in the province.
In 1990, after its successful hosting of the celebration of Christ the King in November 1990, Laoac became a citadel in the propagation of Christian principles and concepts of living in the province, much like its mother town, Manaoag.
ETHNIC ORIGINS OF THE RESIDENTS
Ethnologically, the present population is predominantly of Ilocano stock, with around 89% of the original residents coming from the Ilocos Region, notably Ilocos Sur, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Abra.
With the passing of years and in the course of development, many people from other provinces and even from other countries have come to reside in Laoac by virtue of their marriages with local residents.
Because of their ethnic origins, majority of the residents still embrace and practice their ethnic culture of thrift, industry and clannishness. This character of conservatism,however, has slowly been tempered by the influx of modern-day settlers having different cultural orientations.