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Ancient Pampanga's territorial area used to include portions of the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales in the big Island of Luzon of the Philippine Archipelago. The province derived its name from the Kapampangan words "Pangpang ilog" meaning "riverside" where the early Malayan settlements were concentrated along the Rio Grande de la Pampanga (Great Pampanga River) until such time the adventurous Malayan settlers expanded their domain into the hinterlands of the Kapampangan region.

Pampanga was the first province in the island of Luzon inaugurated by the Spaniards. It was founded on December 11, 1571 in the same year the City of Manila was established by Spanish Governor Miguel Lopez de Legaspi as the seat of national government. For governmental control and taxation purposes, the Spanish authorities subdivided the province into towns (pueblos), which were further subdivided into districts (barrios) and in some cases into royal and private estates.

In a report of Philippine encomiendas on June 20, 1591, Spanish Governor Gomez Perez Dasmarinas reported to the King of Spain that La Pampanga's encomiendas were Batan, Bitis y Lubao, Macabebe, Candava, Apali, Calompit, Malolos, Binto, Guiguinto, Caluya, Bulacan and Mecabayan. The encomiendas of La Pampanga at that time had eighteen thousand six hundred and eighty whole tributes, or seventy-four thousand seven hundred and twenty souls.

Pampanga is now about 850 square miles (2,181 square kilometers) in land area and inhabited by about 1,636,000 people (per the 1995 Philippine National Census). As other Luzon provinces were created due to increases in population, some well-established Pampanga towns were lost to new emerging provinces in Central Luzon.

The historic province of Bataan, which was founded in 1754 under the administration of Spanish Governor General Pedro Manuel Arandia, absorbed from the province of Pampanga the municipalities of Abucay, Balanga, Dinalupihan, Llana Hermosa, Orani, Orion, Pilar, and Samal. The old Pampanga towns of Aliaga, Cabiao, Gapan, San Antonio and San Isidro were ceded to the province of Nueva Ecija in 1848 during the term of Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua. Claveria was best remembered for issuing memorable decrees during his incumbency. One of Claveria's history-making decrees was issued on August 16, 1844, which ordered that Tuesday, December 31, 1844 should be officially considered as Wednesday, January 1, 1845 thus eliminating December 31, 1844 from the Philippine calendar. There were neither births nor deaths officially registered in the Philippines on that date.

On November 11, 1849, Claveria issued a decree to systematize the selection and registration of names of the Filipino people. The decree called for Filipinos to have first names and surnames. It should be recalled that the early Filipinos usually have only one name like Lakandula, Soliman, Lapulapu, Humabon. The decree included a list of Spanish surnames, which were adopted by some Filipinos while others opted for Filipino last names instead. Today, many Filipinos have Spanish family names like Arnedo, Bonifacio, David, Escaler, Fausto, Gonzalez, Gutierrez, Hernandez, Ibarra, Inventor, Joven, Lopez, Lorenzo, Marquez, Mercado, Navarro, Pineda, Regala, Reyes, Rodriguez, Ronquillo, Ventura, Simon, Torres, Vargas, Vergara, Zuniga, etc.

The municipality of San Miguel de Mayumo of Pampanga was yielded to the province of Bulacan in the same provincial boundary configuration in 1848.

In 1860, the northern towns of Bamban, Capas, Concepcion, Victoria, Tarlac, Mabalacat, Magalang, Porac and Floridablanca were separated from Pampanga and were placed under the jurisdiction of a military command called Comandancia Militar de Tarlac. However, in 1873, the four latter towns were returned to Pampanga and the other five towns became municipalities of the newly created Province of Tarlac.

The Kapampangan People

Based on the findings of modern-day linguistic researchers and archeologists, the ancestors of original Kapampangans came from China via Taiwan. However, the old traditional belief that early Kapampangans have started migrating to the Kapampangan region as early as 300 to 400 A.D, and many of them arrived in the 11th to the 12th century is still carried on from generation to generation.

Based on oral traditions, Kapampangans were descendants of Malayan adventurers from the Malay Peninsula and Singarak Lake in West Sumatra. They settled along the river banks of the Rio Grande de la Pampanga in the Island of Luzon covering a large territory, which extended to the Gulf of Lingayen in the North, to the Zambales mountains in the West, to the Sierra Madre range in the East and to Manila Bay in the South. These Kapampangan-speaking pioneers transplanted their own dynasty based on the social foundations of liberty and economic prosperity. Like their other Malayan brothers who settled in other parts of the world, they belonged to the brown race, of medium height, slim but sturdy in physique, dark brownish eyes, black hair and with almost hairless bodies. They brought their culture and introduced industries such as smelting and manufacture of copper and iron tools and armaments, making of pottery with decorative designs, art of weaving cloth on a hand loom, manufacture of beads, bracelets, necklaces and other ornaments. They resided in houses made of bamboo and wood, with roofs of palm leaves. They wore clothes of woven fabrics and decorated themselves with jewels of gold, beads, pearls and colored stones and glasses. Their armaments included bolos, daggers, swords, bows and arrows, blowguns and spears. Their adaptability and resiliency made it possible for them to adjust themselves to Philippine environmental conditions and amplified their culture - arts, customs, government, law, religion, sciences, society and traditions.

Centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Kapampangans were already in contact with the outside world by trading with Chinese, Japanese and Hindus. The good business relation with these Asian neighbors was not limited to commercial affair because the relationship extended to marital relations with native Kapampangans that is why many Kapampangans nowadays are of mixed Asian ancestry.

Many Chinese immigrants who moved out of Manila decided to settle in neighboring towns and married native women. Many Kapampangans today have family names like Ang, Chan, Cheng, Chingcuangco, Chu, Chua, Go, Goseco, Gosioco, Gueco, Ho, Lau, Lee, Mangio, Ng, Songco, Tan, Tang, Tanhueco, Tanjangco, Tanjuakio, Tanjuangco, Tiongco, Wang, Wong, Yang, Yap, Uy, etc.

The interracial crossing of Chinese and Kapampangans and other ethnic Filipinos produced a mixed breed of descendants capable of accelerating a nation's growth in terms of economy, politics, culture, etc., resulting from the blending of the courage and resiliency of the Malay stock and the frugality and sagacity of the yellow race.

China's influences were primarily economic and social. Kapampangans and other Filipinos in general, learned the Chinese way of roasting pigs, the brewing of tea for drinking and the cooking of such dishes as lumpia, pansit, mami, tsapsoy and ukoy. The use of appetizers like tauri and toyo originated from China and so with the cultivation of certain vegetables such as petsay, upo, bataw, etc.

In 1571, the Spanish conquistadores heard of the Kapampangan progressive civilization when their conquest of the Maynilad (Manila) and Tondo kingdoms was accomplished. The Spaniards came upon the Kapampangan people with a rich culture, literature and an alphabet of their own. The Kapampangans were described then to be the most warlike and prominent ethnic group in the Philippines. To defend themselves from Spanish invasion, they fortified the mouths of the rivers leading to their territories.

Spanish colonialism had for its principal purpose of converting the natives whom they called indios to Christianity. The Christian cross was so powerful in converting the riverside Muslim communities. Kapampangan members of the Roman Catholic Church normally attend official church services such as masses, novenas, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, religious processions and funeral services.

One unifying force that calls for community solidarity is the annual town or barangay fiesta, which is celebrated in honor of a patron saint. Festivities and abundance of food characterize fiestas. A fiesta generally includes a mass, a colorful parade, a lively amateur singing contest, an entertaining stage show, a dinner- dance, crowning of beauty queens and princesses, sports tournaments, cockfights, carnivals, etc. Kapampangans, who are well known for their hospitality and skill in the art of cooking and baking, open their homes during fiestas and entertain their guests.

Christmas celebration starts nine days before Christmas. Kapampangan Roman Catholic members attend nine early morning masses (misa de gallo). Lanterns are hanged in homes and Christmas carols are sung. On Christmas eve, a midnight mass is celebrated and after the church service, the families have traditional dinners called "noche buena". The family dinner is followed by the exchange, distribution and opening of Christmas gifts.

In the city of San Fernando, an annual giant lantern contest is held every 24th of December. Multi-colored lanterns as big as 30 feet in diameter and with thousands of electric bulbs are mounted on big trucks and paraded in town main streets accompanied by marching bands. The Philippine Board of Tourism, which sponsors the yearly giant lantern contest, displays the winning entries at the Paskuhan Village, Luneta Park in Manila and sometimes in other foreign countries during the Yuletide season. Christmas day is spent for reunions and visiting. Children pay their respect to their relatives and godparents. Kissing the hands of parents, elder relatives and godparents symbolizes traditional respect, loving and caring.

The Lent season is observed by reading or chanting the Passion of Jesus Christ. A re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is held on Good Friday in barrio San Pedro Cutud of San Fernando. In most Catholic parishes, religious processions along the streets bordering the parish churches are held. Members of religious organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary and Cursillos in Christianity participate in religious processions. Masses are celebrated on Easter Sundays and other religious activities take place such as the burning of the image of Judas and the meeting (salubong) of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The Spanish and American colonizers made also a tremendous impact on the economic, political and family lives of many Kapampangans. It is not uncommon to see many Spanish-American-Kapampangan mestizos in several towns of Pampanga resulting from inter-racial marriages.

Pampangans' Struggle for Freedom

One of the most important character traits of the early settlers in Pampanga was the love of freedom. Such love of freedom has been carried from generation to generation. Kapampangans made great sacrifices to preserve and defend their precious freedom. They proved this in 1571 when hundreds of Kapampangans and Tagalogs from Bulacan and Manila led by Tarik Sulayman, a brave warlord of Macabebe fought the invading Spanish colonizers under the command of Martin de Goiti. Although the courageous Kapampangans were equipped with the powerful cannons made by Panday Pira of Apalit, the Spaniards won in that Battle of Bankusay, the first major recorded battle in Manila Bay. Spanish armament superiority and assistance of hundreds of native soldiers from the Visayas called Pintados who were recruited by the Spaniards were major factors in the victory of the Spaniards. However, the Kapampangans gained respect for their bravery and skill in battle. The Spaniards befriended the Kapampangans and the friendship was reciprocated with loyalty and cooperation on the part of the Kapampangans particularly their leaders who were given certain privileges. Kapampangans became allies of the Spaniards in repulsing Limahong and his Chinese pirates from Philippine territories and in fighting the Dutch and the British when they tried to occupy the Philippines.

In 1583, many Kapampangans were sent by the Spanish authorities to the gold mines of Ilocos and were not allowed to return to their homes for the planting season. Famine followed in 1584 and in 1585, the Kapampangans revolted and defied Spanish domination.

In 1645, after a strong earthquake hit Pampanga, natives of Gapan, a town of Pampanga at that time, initiated an uprising to gain back their freedom by killing Spanish officials and priests. With the help of the Zambals, the Kapampangans seized Spanish arms and burned down the churches in the neighboring villages.

Again in 1660-1661, the Kapampangans who suffered the most from the two Spanish systems of taxation called Polo and Vandala , under the command of a master-of-camp of the King of Spain, Francisco Maniago of Masicu, staged rebellions against Spanish authorities. Thousands of male Kapampangans between the ages of sixteen and sixty were forced to render services to the Spaniards for forty days such as cutting timbers to build galleons for the Manila-Mexico trade. The servitude disrupted the Kapampangan family and economic life. The Kapampangan rebels encouraged the people of Pangasinan and the Ilocos to join them in their revolt against the tribute system. Following the military tactic of divide and conquer, Governor Sabiniano Manrique de Lara befriended the chieftain of Arayat, Don Juan Macapagal who agreed to side with the Spaniards. The alliance of Don Juan Macapagal and Governor Sabiniano Manrique de Lara helped in aborting any move of the Pangasinan and Ilocos rebels to assist the Kapampangan rebels via the foothills of Mt. Arayat.

The alcalde mayor of Pampanga, Don Juan Gomez de Payva and Governor Sabiniano Manrique de Lara sent delegations led by friendly Spanish friars such as Fray Andres Salazar, Fray Juan de Abarca, Fray Joseph de la Anunciacion, Fray Juan de San Diego and Fray Carlos de Jesus to pacify the Kapampangan rebels. A settlement was agreed upon wherein the rebels were given their back pay, 14,000 pesos were paid out of the 200,000 pesos demanded, their houses were repaired, Spanish captive officials were released and governmental affairs were put in order.

It was reported later that the rebel leader, Don Francisco Maniago who was taken as hostage during the negotiation, and his brother, Don Cristobal were executed without the benefit of a court trial.

More than two centuries later, the Kapampangans joined the revolution against Spain and against the United States of America. Pampanga was one of the first eight Philippine provinces that initiated the Philippine Revolution against Spain. The rebels organized a provincial government with Don Tiburcio Hilario as revolutionary governor. Monetary contributions were collected from wealthy Kapampangans. Don Manuel Escaler of Apalit was one of the biggest financial contributors to the treasury of the Philippine Revolution.

Famous Kapampangan generals Jose Alejandrino, Servillano Aquino, Maximino Hizon, Francisco Makabulos and Mamerto Natividad played major roles in the struggles to gain Philippine independence. For their active involvement and leadership in the movement for freedom, many prominent Kapampangans were arrested by the Spanish authorities in the late 19th century and became victims of the Spanish reign of terror.

In World War II, the Kapampangans answered the call of duty to their motherland and with their Filipino brothers and American allies, they fought the Japanese Imperial Forces in Bataan and in Corregidor. After the temporary defeat of the Allied Forces in the Philippines, an armed resistance group called Hukbalahap (Nation's Army Against Japan) was organized by Pampanga peasant leaders led by Luis Taruc and Casto Alejandrino in order to fight the Japanese Imperial Forces until the liberation of the Philippines by the Allied Forces led by General Douglas MacArthur who made good his famous promise, "I shall return" when he escaped to Australia before the invading Japanese Imperial Forces set foot on Philippine soil.

The Marcos dictatorial government in the '70s through the early '80s saw again the Kapampangans in the struggle to dismantle martial law until President Ferdinand Marcos, his family and some of his cronies were forced to flee the country and sought refuge in Hawaii and in other foreign lands. The conciliatory administrations of President Cory C. Aquino, widow of Martial Law famous victim and national hero, Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. , and President Fidel Ramos made it possible for the Marcos family and their cronies returned to the Philippines. President Joseph Estrada not only continued the conciliatory policy of his two predecessors but he also welcome some of the former supporters of President Marcos to assist his administration in helping the poor, reducing or eliminating crimes and improving the national economy.

In late 2000, President Joseph Estrada was accused by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson of graft and corruption by taking bribes and kickbacks from illegal gambling and tobacco excise tax intended for the tobacco producing provinces. The accusation led to President Estrada's impeachment. When the Philippine Senate stopped the impeachment trial after the pro-Administration senators voted not to open an exhibit envelop containing legal and banking documents linking President Estrada to multi-million peso banking transactions under an alleged fictitious name, he lost the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and many of his cabinet members resigned from their positions in January, 2001. He was forced to vacate the presidential position at the height of the citizens' protests and demonstrations at EDSA.

On January 20, 2001, another outstanding Kapampangan, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn-in as the 14th President of the Republic of the Philippines by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Hilario Davide, Jr., in the presence of her family and before the cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands of heroes and heroines of People Power II.

(SOURCE: http://www.andropampanga.com/history.htm Accessed: 7 January 2018)

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