The Province of Pampanga and Its People
by Alejandro S. Camiling, CPA
Some modern-day linguistic researchers and archeologists claim that Filipinos including Kapampangans originated from China via Taiwan. However, based on oral traditions, it is believed that the early Kapampangan settlers along the river banks of the Rio Grande de la Pampanga in the Island of Luzon of the Philippine Archipelago were descendants of Malayan pioneers from the Malay Peninsula and from Singarak Lake of West Sumatra. These Malayan adventurers brought their advanced civilzation, their unique culture, their traditions and a language of their own and founded their dynasty based on the social foundations of freedom and economic prosperity.
The Spaniards organized Pampanga as a province in 1571, initially to meet the needs of pacifying, taxing, converting, and adjusting to Spanish ways the Pampangan natives. Pampangans who brought their own advanced civilization, unique customs, traditions and a language of their own called Capampangan were described by an Augustinian priest in 1720 as "very different because they are truthful, love their honor, very brave, inclined to work hard, more civil and have better customs, and have a nobleness of mind".
Pampanga which is about 850 square miles in area and presently inhabited by more than 1.5 million people, had its present borders drawn in 1873. During the Spanish regime it was one of the richest Philippine provinces. Manila and its surrounding region were then primarily dependent on Pampangan agricultural, fishery, and forestry products as well as on the supply of skilled workers.
Apalit which derived its name from the Philippine national tree, Narra or Apalit in Capampangan and renowned for its weaving, metal industries and for its colorful fluvial parade in honor of St. Peter produced famous Filipinos like Panday Pira, Don Joaquin Arnedo Cruz, the distinguished host to foreign dignitaries, four-term Governor Macario Arnedo, Secretary of Justice Jose Escaler, Don Joaquin and Bienvenido Gonzalez, former presidents of the University of the Philippines, Brother Andrew Gonzalez, Secretary of Education under the Estrada administration and former Head of De La Salle University, Generals Narciso Cabrera and Edgar D. Torres and Consul General to Seattle Hermenigildo Garcia.
Arayat, a tourist spot all year round is nestled on the foothills of Mt. Arayat, the legendary home of the beautiful fairy, Mariang Sinukuan. It was once the location of President Quezon's presidential retreat and recreation area. Spanish revolutionary hero, General Jose Alejandrino and Casto Alejandrino, the "brain" of the Socialist Movement in the Philippines originated from this place. Ambassador Amelito Mutuc and Presidential Press Secretary Leo Parungao are natives of Arayat.
Bacolor was the capital of the Philippines during the British occupation of Manila in 1762-63 when the Spaniards under Simon de Anda retreated in this town. It was also the provincial capital for almost three hundred years. The Spaniards founded the oldest Philippine trade school in Bacolor. General Mamerto Natividad, Senator and Governor Pablo A. David, Governors Francisco Liongson, Ceferino Joven, Tiburcio Hilario, Honorio Ventura and playwright Crisostomo Soto were eminent sons of this town. Solicitor General/Governor Estelito Mendoza, Undersecretary of Defense Emerito de Jesus, Education Secretary Jose de Jesus, Brigadier General Virgilio David, Lieutenant General Gregorio Camiling, Jr. and his younger brother, Col. Joselito M. Camiling are also from Bacolor.
Candaba is cited for its rich farmlands where sweet watermelons are grown and for its wide and scenic swamps, the habitat of huge mudfish and gigantic catfish. Citizens of this locality make use of Candaba swamps as fishponds during the rainy season and watermelon and rice fields during the dry season. General Marcos Soliman, a former cabinet member and superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy was raised in Candaba.
Floridablanca, noted for its sugar farms, is the locus of Pampanga Sugar Mills, Inc. and Basa Air Base of the Philippine Air Force.
Guagua, a major commercial center, begot the first Philippine Cardinal in the holy person of Rufino Cardinal Santos, Senator Gil J. Puyat, Secretary of Public Works Brigido Valencia, movie action star Jess Lapid and internationally known poet, professor and Congressman Amado Yuzon.
Lubao is the cradle of several Philippine movie industry personalities who distinguished themselves as leading artists, directors, producers, writers and cinematographers, such as movie director Gregorio Fernandez, Senator and actor Rogelio de la Rosa, Jaime de la Rosa, Africa de la Rosa, Rudy Fernandez, and Letty Alonzo. Famous political figures like BIR/Customs Commisioner and Governor Jose B. Lingad, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice Governor Cielo Macapagal-Salgado have their roots from Lubao. Poet-laureate and educator Delfin Quiboloy, an awardee on the propagation of the Capampangan dialect comes from Santa Catalina, Lubao where an Augustinian church was built in 1572.
Mabalacat where a long-time mayor, Dr. Catalino Domingo is also a medical doctor, had within its area the US Post Exchange capital of the Philippines in barrio Dau . The Japanese Kamikaze Memorial and the Kameso Museum and Library are located in this town.
Macabebe is known for its cloth traders throughout the Archipelago and for the bravery of its soldiers under Rajah Soliman. It was also the home depot of La Mallorca-Pambusco Transportation Co. controlled by Vice Governor Gerry Enriquez and his family. Executive Secretary Juan Cancio and Reparations Commissioner Eduardo Lagman had their heritage from this community.
Magalang prides itself of having one of the oldest agricultural school, a weather observatory and research station established by the Spaniards in the late nineteenth century. Honorable Governor Bren Guiao was a native of Magalang.
Masantol which used to be called San Miguel and part of Macabebe is a fishing town and a major monthly recipient of American dollars because of the thousands of Masantolenos who served in the Philippine and United States Armed Services. Masantol is fortunate to have reared General Jesus Castro and General Gaudencio Gaddi and so with the first lawyer from Masantol to have graduated from an American law school in the person of Atty. Manuel Fajardo, Sr. who had served also as town mayor and father of the present chief of the Public Defender's Office of the Philippines, Atty. Reynold S. Fajardo.
Masicu which was re-named as Mexico by the Spaniards procreated the revolutionary hero, General Maximino Hizon and General Rafael Maniago of the modern Philippine Army. Sweet chico fruits abound in this town.
Minalin, a farming locality is noted for its "Belles of Minalin " New Year's parade of men dressed as beauty queens. Don Cristino Lagman, a Katipunan officer , former mayor and municipal judge had his roots from Minalin and so with Justice Roberto Lagman of Sandigan Bayan, former Undersecretary of Finance Ruben Macapinlac and Honorable former Tarlac Governor Mariano Ocampo.
Porac, a mineral stamping ground and primary source of granite is the hometown of Governor and movie actor Lito Lapid and Congresswoman Juanita Lumanlan Nepomuceno who sponsored the first Philippine Land Reform Law during the early sixties.
San Fernando, founded on August 15, 1754 and the capital since 1904, is the domicile of giant lanterns and the place of the annual re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Philippine Christmas Village, the Philippine National Sports Center and the Pampanga Sugar Development Co, Inc. are located in this town. Congressman Pedro Abad Santos, founder of the Socialist Party, Governor Urbano Dizon and Secretary of the Interior Sotero Baluyot were Fernandinos. General Romeo Soliman David of the Philippine Air Force, Commodore Armando Q. Madamba of the Philippine Navy, Gerry H. Rodriguez, nationally known industrial executive and prominent rice and sugar magnate, Mayor Armando Biliwang, a renown and fearless anti-communist leader, and popular mayor Atty. Paterno Guevarra were raised in this municipality. San Fernando became a component city on February 4, 2001.
San Luis was founded in 1761 but set on fire by Captain Mariano Carlos on orders of General Luna in May, 1899. Its diligent people rebuilt their town from the ashes. Former Huk Supremo and Congressman Luis Taruc is a local hero from this township.
San Simon, is the hometown of Honorable Cicero J. Punsalan, top-notch lawyer, former vice governor and acting governor.
Santa Ana, a farming area, is proud to have reared Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of the Catholic Archdiocese of Pampanga, Congressman Emilio Cortez, Assemblyman Jose Fausto, and Brigadier General Leonardo Sangalang.
Santa Rita, popular for a delicacy called "turones de casoy" was founded by Rev. Father Eustaquio Polina in 1770. Ritenans are proud of their famous sons, Ambassador Librado Cayco and Philippine Art Museum Director Galo B. Ocampo.
Sasmuan, home of a great politician at the turn of the century, Congressman Monico Mercado, is one of the oldest communities and the site of the first church in the province built by Augustinian priests. The popular musical band "Banda 31" owned by Don Pepe Baltazar and his wife, Temang Mangio , and the famous orchestra of Abe and Rizal Panlaqui were based in this town.
Santo Tomas, which used to be a portion of San Fernando, had its Catholic Church erected in 1767. It is known for its pottery industry, its beautiful women, the delicious food they prepare and for their joyful "Sabado de Gloria" Celebration.
Pampangans are peace loving and God-fearing people who care so much of their fellowmen. They have an exquisite taste for Oriental and European cuisine. They also follow the dynamic change in technology and have an impeccable patronage of good clothes and the arts. They always rise to the occasion either to maintain civil order or protect democracy. They fought the Chinese, Dutch, British, Spaniards, Japanese, Americans and other foreign invaders.
Pampanga bestowed the Philippines the first Filipino initiated to the Society of Jesus, Brother Martin (Sanchez) Sancho who was admitted to the Society in 1593. To practice democracy, it gifted the country, President Diosdado Macapagal of Lubao, to preserve democracy, it presented the motherland, Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos of San Fernando, and to topple dictatorship in order to restore democracy, it gave the nation, Senator Benigno Aquino and thousands of Pampangans who dedicated their lives during the Philippine revolution and during the last two world wars.
Although the province was heavily devastated by volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes and other calamities, its courageous, creative and industrious citizens wherever they are, have the positive attitude to put the province on the right direction for economic recovery and will always play a major role in the economic development and industrialization of the Philippines.
About the Authors:
Andro and Tess Z. Camiling are conscientious researchers and writers of Kapampangan history, language and culture. They wrote “Pampanga: History and Culture", "Pampanga: Towns and Barangays", "The Province of Pampanga and Its People” and other articles including “Malay Relation With Kapampangan Language and Culture”, "Spanish Relation With Kapampangan Language and Culture", biographies of eighteen (18) famous Kapampangans and the history of the towns of Apalit, Lubao, Masantol, Mexico, Minalin, San Fernando, San Luis, San Simon and Santo Tomas of the Province of Pampanga, Philippines. Andro is a true-blue Kapampangan based in California USA where he was employed and retired as an accounting/financial director at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and practiced his CPA profession as a management and tax consultant. He is a Pampanga High School Centennial Awardee as an Outstanding Alumnus in the Field of Accountancy and a recipient of the City of San Fernando’s 2011 Outstanding Fernandino Award for Culture. His wife and co-author of the aforementioned articles, the former Teresita Manalansan Zuniga of Lubao, Pampanga, Philippines is a retired public school teacher in Pasadena, California. She was honored and awarded with Certificates of Recognition by the California State Assembly and the California State Senate for her outstanding dedication to teaching when she retired in 2003. Andro and Tess are dedicated socio-civic-religious leaders in their community and served as long-term presidents of their town non-profit charitable organizations in the USA.