Legends tell us that Aringay was named after a beautiful daughter of a Datu who ruled the southern settlements. The girl called Aring, was the subject of a near tragic courtship by the only son of the Datu from the northern settlement.
One dark night, both the son and daughter met secretly near the riverbank of the Karayan Locsin and made final plan for the elopement. Anticipating that something would go wrong with their plans, Aring wanted to end her life and suddenly jumped into the river. The young man, however, saw what happened and shouted “Aring, Ay, Aring” and quickly dive into the river to save Aring. Several people heard the shouts and helped bring the young man and Aring to the shore.
This incident resulted in the marriage of the daughter of the datu from the southern settlement and the son of the datu from the northern settlement. This union paved the way into the friendship of the two settlements, thus forming the village called “ARINGAY”.
The town of Aringay was formally founded and organized when it had its own (together with Caba) governadorcillo and parish priest, sometime in the year 1741. At that time, the town was under the jurisdiction of the province of Pangasinan and Bishopric of Nueva Segovia. The first governadorcillo was Pablo Vergara. In that year, Aringay had only about 6,564 populations. When the Province of La Union was organized on April 18, 1854, Aringay became a part of the new province.
Aringay’s creation as a town appears in historical records, specifically the “Direccion General Administration Civil Tomo,” issued in Manila, to quote:
“CREACION: (UNION) Data desde 1854, se formo el depuesto en el Real Decreto de 18 Abril del mismo ano agregando a los pueblos de BANGAR, NAMACPACAN (Luna), y BALAOAN de Ilocos Sur, los que comprendia el antiguo partido Pangasinan. Ocupa esta provincia todo el torreno comprendido emtre la costa y la grancordillera occidental de las isla de Luzon. PUEBLOS – (14) AGOO, ARINGAY, BACNOTAN, BANGAR, BALAOAN, BAUANG, CABA, NAMACPACAN, NAGUILIAN, ROSARIO, SAN FERNANDO, SAN JUAN, SANTO TOMAS, Y BENUET. 103,630 almas. SAN FERNANDO CABECERA.”
Inadao ni Leon Balangue Nolasco.
Otherwise translated into the Ilocano dialect, the foregoing citations would read as follows:
NAPARBO: (LA UNION) Nangrugui pay idi taoen 1854 naaramid babaen iti Real decreto idi 18 ti Abril iti dayti met laeng nga taoen, naitipun daguiti il-ili nga BANGAR, NAMACPACAN, QUEN BALAOAN, ti Ilocos Sur, cadaguiti dati tay-tay-ac manipud iguid ti baybay aguingat bacrangna iti laud dayta natayog nga bantay deta, tengnga toy Puro nga Luzon. Il-ili (14) AGOO, ARINGAY, BACNOTAN, BANGAR, BALAOAN, BAUANG, CABA, NAMACPACAN, NAGUILIAN, ROSARIO, SAN FERNANDO, SAN JUAN, SANTO TOMAS, Y BENGUET. 103,630 almas. SAN FERNANDO CABECERA.
American Era: In 1896, Revolution was instigated by Katipunan. Ninety six (96) people were killed and buried at the middle of the town plaza. Houses were burned in Poblacion, while Spaniards (Kastilas) were confined inside the church and convent while fighting was going on.
In 1899, they had Recaptured the town by the (People Power) “Bileg wenno Pigsa Daguiti Tattao” headed by Capt. Hugh Thomason, 48th Volunteers Regiment U.S.A., and Don Crispulo Patajo. Jailed in San Fernando were the leaders of the town, they were Don Jose Pimentel, Juan Baltazar, Anacleto Diaz Carbonell and many others.
Japanese Era: December 08, 1941 was the start of World War II. And the beginning of the 3 years Japanese occupation of the town, Japanese forces bombed Camp John Hay in Baguio City; Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union; North Harbor in Manila; and the Aringay Municipal Building. On the second day Japanese forces landed along the Lingayen Gulf using Agoo, Aringay, Caba and Bauang.
October 10, 1942 was the darkest day of the Town; a Mass Massacre was done and killed were Judge Manuel Carreon, Engr. Martin Pulido, Atty. Ricardo Frigillana, Teachers, Mr. Sixto Estallilia, Tirzo Calub and more than 200 others. Amador Cariño dove into the river, escapes from his death and became the only survivor.
Some people evacuated to the mountains, while some went to other towns and unfortunately many were killed. Japanese made a house to house search for guerillas. Aringay was the center of the guerilla movement. January 09, 1945 with the help coming from the US, Gen. Doughlas McArthur landed in Lingayen and fought the Japanese soldiers in Luzon, including Aringay and made them retreated to the mountains. Many were killed; this was the start of the “Liberation”. Americans bombed the northern portion of Aringay Bridge to prevent the Japanese from escaping the town. The rehabilitation of the town took place from 1945-1947.