The town of Bacnotan was formally founded in 1599 as a part of Ilocos Sur. In 1785, during the administration of Governor General Jose Basco, Bacnotan become a part of Pangasinan. When La Union was created 1850, Bacnotan was one of the 12 towns that formed the province.
In the past, Bacnotan was only a vast expanse of wilderness inhabited by a band of natives with a crude form of government. There was a time when it was ruled by a despotic chieftain who had absolute control over all his consituents. Disobedience to his directives meant severe flogging of the culprit. After several years under the tyrannic rule of the chieftain, the people successfully overthrew him and gave him a dose of his own medicine. They flogged their chieftain to death. The english word "FLOG" is bakunutan in the dialect. The word "BAKUNUTAN" had become a byword among the inhabitants, hence the name of the town. During the Spanish period, the name of the town was changed from "BAKUNUTAN" to "BACNOTAN" as evidenced by the communications which are still kept intact at the National Archives in Manila. The town's history is linked with the deeds of heroic men who fought bold and died for their own native land. at the turn of the century, during the Spanish - American war, Dumarang (now Quirino) was scene of carnage and plunder.
SOCIO - ECONOMIC - POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
In December 1941, the first organized assistance against the Japanese invaders that landed in the north in their advance southward to manila war Barrio Baroro and Bacsil. It was a painful and pitiful sight for the inexperienced trainees in their early twenties to be massacred by the Japanese soldiers. Despite the superiority of the Japanese soldier both in numbers and in arms and ammunition, the youthful soldier valiantly defended the Baroro Bridge against the advancing enemy forces. Those who fell died a hero's death.
The civilian populace suffered much among the japanese occupation but they never vowed their heads to the arrogant and ruthless invaders. Instead some of them fled to the mountain and there, joined the underground movement. After the war in 1945, Bacnotan became the provisional seat of provincial government, San Fernando was then in ruins, As a consequence of this transfer, the La Union High School was also moved to Bacnotan. When things went back to normal, the provincial government was again moved to San Fernando and the La Union Highschool followed afterwards. The transfer of the Provincial High School in Bacnotan resulted in the establishment of the North Provincial High School (now Bancotan National High School). In 1949, the vast mineral deposits for cement production were discovered in Barangay Dumarang (now Quirino). Within a year, a hugh cement factory, then called CEBU PORTLAND CEMENT (CEPOC) was established. On May 11, 1957, the CEPOC, a government - owned corporation, was turned over to the privately - owned Bacnotan Consolidated, Inc. (BCI). The BCI is the manufacturer of the now Famous "Union Cement" (now HOLCIM CEMENT INC.). On June 18, 1960, by virtue of R.A. 2692 which was sponsored by the Congressman Francisco Ortega, the La Union Agricultural School was established. Nestling cozily at the foot of the mountains in Barangay Sapilang, the agriculture school underwent phenomenal progress and was later named Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU).
In 1965, an attempt was made by the Provincial Board of La Union to create a municipality out of the town of Bacnotan. The President of the Philippines, Diosdado Macapagal in turn acted favorably to the proposal by issuing an executive order on November 29, 1965 which provided that the new municipality was to exist upon the appointment of a mayor, a vice-mayor and councilors. The new municipality was to include the following barrios: Quirino, Ballogo, Ubbog, Paagan, Carcarmay, Nagatiran, Mabanengbeng II and Narra. The sea of the Government was to be in Quirino. However, no appointment of a municipality was created.
Having survived a possible reduction of territory, Bacnotan has emerged as a peaceful and progressive town. It has since then been the site of multi-million peso projects, namely, the Water Impounding Project in Barangay Bussaoit, the Sow Bredding Project in Baroro, the Agro - Forestry Complex donated by the Japanese Government at DMMMSU, Sapilang and the multi - billion cement plant expansion and the 21MW Bunker Fuelled Power Plant CIP II in Barangay Quirino beside the Holcim Philippines cement plant and the on - going construction of 50 Million Irrigation facilities that will cater to 17 farmland barangays of Bacnotan covering 417 hectares.