One of the most prosperous provinces in the Philippines serves up more fascinating facts, and these aren’t just about language and food
HOT AIR, COOL SHADES. The annual Hot Air Balloon Festival is held every February on the grounds ofand abovethe former airbase.
Sure, you know Pampanga as the culinary capital of the Philippines, and the Kapampangans are particularly proud of their talents inside and around the kitchen. But the province is so much more than its famed sisig, tapa and tocino.
Read on, to better appreciate the land of your “cabalen.”
01 Pampanga was the capital of the Philippines for two years during the British invasion of Manila from 1762-1764. In fact, during the Spanish regime, Pampanga was doing so well economically that Manila and its surrounding regions were then primarily dependent on Pampangan agricultural, fishery, and forestry products, as well as on the supply of skilled workers.
02 The name “La Pampanga” was given by the Spaniards who found the early natives living near the banks of the Indung Kapampangan River, the largest river in what was then a much larger Pampanga province.
03 Pampanga was the first province created by the Spaniards in 1571, and it encompassed the areas of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Zambales. Pampanga is also one of the 8 rays of the sun depicted in the Philippine flag, representing the provinces that joined the armed revolt against Spain in the late 19th century.
04 The province has produced two Philippine Presidents (Diosdado Macapagal, and his daughter Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), a chief justice (Jose Abad Santos), a Senate president (Gil J. Puyat, from 1967-1972), and the first Filipino Cardinal (Rufino Cardinal Santos, from 1953 to 1973). They are in the company of such well-known and renowned Kapampangan celebrities and artists Cecille Licad, Donita Rose, Lea Salonga, apl.de.ap, Jacklyn Jose, Rogelio de la Rosa, and Melanie Marquez, to name a few.
05 The Kapampangan language is distinct, and carries little similarity with the Tagalog language, despite the close proximity of the province to Manila. Early anthropologists even believe that the language may have originated from Java in Indonesia.
06 Kapampangans take their faith to the extreme. It is from the province that flagellants and actual crucifixion of devotees during Holy Week originated.
07 The province observes at least 17 festivals, celebrating a wide range of themes, religious, commercial, or culinary. Among the more famous are the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (held in February at Clark Field), the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites (every Good Friday in March or April), the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando (December) and the Sisig Festival (Sadsaran Qng Angeles) held at SM Clark in Angeles City every December.
08 Farming and fishing are the two main industries of Pampanga. The province also harbors a healthy woodcraft industry, which produces fi ne furniture, handicraft, and guitars. The ubiquitous “parol” (Christmas lantern) also has its grand home in the Paskuhan Village (now renamed HILAGA Village) in San Fernando City, where, you guessed it, Christmas is celebrated year-round.
09 Look up, and Candaba is a bird-watcher’s paradise, where migrant wild ducks and various other winged species turn the swampland into their temporary home while their usual haunts in China and Siberia are draped in winter. Look down, and its marshes are also fertile ground for growing rice and sweet watermelon during the dry season.
10 San Fernando may be the capital city of Pampanga, but nearby Angeles can be considered the city with the most variety of lifestyle choices, what with the proximity to the international gateway Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and the Clark Special Economic Zone. In 2008, Angeles was ranked 15th in a MoneySense Magazine survey of the “Best Places to Live in the Philippines.”
Mt. Pinatubo crater and lake
Photos by Patrick Pulumbarit, Carmelo Bayarcal, and Pancit Canton Media