Nestled on a plateau, surrounded by mountains, on the north bounded by the province of Mountain Province and on the west, the municipality of Aguinaldo, Ifugao, the Magat River winding on the South, the lowland plains of Isabela on the east and at the foot of the huge Cordillera Mountains lays the municipality of Lista. With its proximity to the province of Isabela one can be misled that it is a part of the province.
In the earlier times, the place was the hunting ground of the people of Mayoyao and Bunhian because of its abundant wild animals in its open and forestlands and fishes in its rivers. The place was sometimes called by the people of Mayoyao as” Mun-o-o-pag” which means bubbles. This is because its rivers oftentimes have plenty of bubbles of foam along its banks. Sometimes it is also called “Putiyak” which is referred to the sound when flowers in the area open their pods and crack or the sound of firewood used when it is burned, it is in the latter however that the name Potia was coined.
During the Spanish regime, Mayoyao was a part of the jurisdiction of the Commandancia of Isabela while the rest of the areas in Ifugao were under the Commandancia of Nueva Vizcaya. However, Mayoyao seemingly remained untouched by Spanish explorers. After the defeat of the Spaniards by the Americans, Ifugao was incorporated in the established civil government of Nueva Vizcaya under the supervision of its governor general in 1902 until August 18, 1908 when Mountain Province was officially created which incorporated the sub-province of Ifugao including Mayoyao. The whole of Ifugao was pacified from its headhunting ways during the American period. By this time, they had learned the importance of law and came to realize that justice must not be taken into one’s own hands but secured through the legal process. That, as a member of the
community, one has duties to perform as well as rights to uphold. Thus, they started interacting and traded businesses with other tribes and the lowland people. Mayoyao people on the other hand, traded with the lowland people particularly in Isabela and distant provinces in the Northeast.
The mode of business of the Mayoyao people was to bring their local products to the lowlands for barter with other goods, some are animals which they bring home. It is for this reason during the American period that in order to regulate and protect the spread of animal diseases a quarantine post manned by constabulary soldiers were established at “Chul-lowog” (now barangay Dolowog, a Mayoyao dialect which means the sound of wild carabaos which abounds near the river of Dolowog) which is now a Sitio called Quarentinas. Col. William E. Dosser then Lt. Governor of the Sub-province of Ifugao also made this as a trading post some time in 1923.
Some lowlanders were able to explore these areas because do no longer fear of being hurt or harassed by the native Ifugaos. Slowly the Ilocanos started occupying grasslands as pastures for their cattle while planting corn, tobacco and other agricultural products on areas near the rivers they called “murong”. They lived not far from the early inhabitants of the place called Ga’dang whose culture and tradition are different from the lowland Ga’dang. Today, they have finally settled in barangays Ngileb (some of these tribes are found in Bananao, Paracelis, Mt. Province), Laya and part of Barangay San Quintin specifically in Sitio Cabuloan.
One of the earliest lowland settler was Alfonso Lista, an Ilocano who settled earlier in Sinamar, Isabela whose roots are from Vintar, Ilocos Norte. He saw the place when he crossed the Magat River to hun on the otherside. He saw that the place was good and not long afterwards occupied a wide track of land which was later called “Mun-o-o-pag” (now barangay Potia). He was followed by the families of Julio Gangani and Flaviano Concepcion who also settled on the southern portion called “Surong” now Barangay Nammama. And later, by the families of Ignacio Gabayan, Julian Julian and the Cudiamats where they later established a community of farmers toiling the land and taking care of cattle which became abundant later on. Some other settlers followed and established in other far places. To the North, went the others who even made peace pact or “Pudon” with the natives of Natonin who claims the land as their hunting ground.
Despite the distances that separate them, they were always in contact with each other so that a number of years before the war with the leadership of Alfonso Lista and other settlers like Juan Butac, Flavian Concepcion, Tito Salvador and others, they petitioned the authority of Mayoyao to be recognized as a barrio in the east. The petition was granted sometime in the late 1930’s and the new barrio was named Potia (Mun-o-o-pag”). Alfonso Lista was appointed as its first barrio lieutenant serving until World War 2 broke out and assumed again as Barrio Lieutenant after the war.
These first settlers rebuild their community from the ravages of war. In 1946 the first Primary School was established in Barrio Potia with Pilar Nebre as its Grade One teacher having a total number of thirty pupils (one of them is Mr. Leoncio Gabayan who later became a teacher and principal) followed later by Sergio Gopeng. At the same time, a Primary School at Sitio Namillangan was established with Francisco Gabriel as its first teacher. Both schools were under the supervision of District Supervisor Benito Reyes of the District of Mayoyao.
In 1948, as settlers increase on the north of Barrio Potia, Barrio Dolowog was created which formerly includes Barangay Santa Maria and Barangay Busilac. Its first appointed Tiniente Del Barrio was Emilio Andres. After one year, its primary school was also established at the place which is now Brgay. Busilac and its first teacher was Bonaparte Bumattan. The same time of the creation of the municipality, Dolowog was divided into three Barrios which are now Dolowog, Sta. Maria and Busilac having its own established primary schools.Because of the increasing population of Barrio Potia and its nearby places, Alfonso Lista represented these lowland settlers in the Municipal Council of Mayoyao. He was designated as the representative of the lowland constituents until the year 1955 when it was created as municipality. He was succeeded by Engracio Gabayan as Barrio Lieutenant, who was then his vice Lieutenant.
In 1946, President Sergio Osmena signed an Executive Order creating Marasat Grande as the Municipality of San Mateo and it included territories of Barrio Potia. Because of this issue, the leaders of Mountain Province went for a mission to negotiate for the settlement of the boundary led by Congressman Gabriel Dunuan, Governor Jose Mencio, and Board member Santiago Balajo. The elders of Mayoyao and the elders of Natonin led by Basibasen (Rafael) to Isabela, which led to the recognition of the Magat River as the natural boundary. There was even a tale told by the people that in order to settle the boundary a match of strength against strength should be done so a challenge for a wrestling match between “Chuchun” who was then Mayor of Mayoyao and Cadelina, Mayor of San Mateo. The match ended by Chuchun throwing Cadelina to the ground. According to stories Mayor Cadelinia was not able to attend the dialogue because he became sick, thus forfeited the claim.
Although Potia was included by San Mateo by paper it did not, however, exercised control upon the people because of the difficulty of crossing the natural boundary which is the Magat river. In fact, all taxes were paid to Mayoyao. Later as the people were in great difficulty going to Mayoyao which was very far, a request was made to establish a Tax Collection branch office in Potia so that it would be easier for them to transact their business. In order not to delay the construction of the building, Alfonso Lista donated a portion of his land and asked the people for “bataris” a bayanihan work. They did not only give free work but also contributed all the materials needed. Among the leaders of the sitios who worked were Roberto Farinas of Pinto, Vicente Taclan of Busilac, Doroteo Prudenciano and Emilio Andres of Dolowog, Tito Salvador of Namillangan, Flaviano Concepcion of Namnama, Cipriano Pascual of Cabicalan (now Santo Domingo) and others.