The name of the municipality came from the term "Mayisingal," an Ilocano term which means "to be moved." It was applied when the belltower was moved from a previous location to its current site.
Captain Juan de Salcedo had a hand in founding the municipality. But before he reached the current site of the poblacion, he came to a village called Malongon, about one-half kilometer to the south. The leader of the village refused Salcedo's request to establish a municipality there, but suggested that he establish the town a half kilometer north of the village, and the belltower be moved to that site, hence the origin of the town's name.
Itnegs were the original inhabitants of the place when Salcedo arrived. He worked for the conversion of the people to Christianity, but not all accepted the new faith. Those who refused conversion fled the town and settled east of Bantay Bul-lagaw (Bul-lagaw Mountain).