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The Philippine province of PAMPANGA

Capital: San Fernando No. of towns: 22 Land area: 218.067 hectares Date founded: 1571

Location. Pampanga occupies the center of the region and is bounded on the south and southeast by Bulacan, on the north by Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, and on the northeast and westwise by Zambales. Her terrain is relatively flat except for some hills, which belong to Bataan-Zambales range, along Florida Blanca and Porac and except for the majestic Mt. Arayat. An extensive river system snakes in and out of Pampanga. Streams and rivers traversing the land are fed and drained by the Pampanga River, which reaches out to the China Sea. Running along these streams and rivers are fertile farms and productive fishponds and irrigation and flood control systems.

Brief history. The province Pampanga is centrally located in the Central Plain of Luzon hemmed at all sides by all provinces in the region. The name "Pampanga" was given by the Spaniards who found the early natives mostly living near the river banks, "Pangpang" meaning river. Its creation in 1571 made it the oldest among the six provinces.

Ancient Pampanga in fact then comprises the whole of the Central Luzon region. The succeeding creation of provinces and creation of "commandancias" reduced the province to what is now its present size.

Pampangos have a long tradition of bravery extending from Rajah Lakandula and Soliman who fought the Spaniards to Pampanga warriors who defeated the British and the Dutch, the general of the Philippine Revolution and fighters in the last World War.

At present distributed within its two riceland and sugarland districts are 21 towns, the city of Angeles and 230 barangays. San Fernando, a bustling commercial and industrial center is both the provincial and regional capital.

The ancestors of the Kampampangans came from the Madjapahit Empire at the Malang Region in Central Java. They came with the second wave of Malayan migration - the last of the three prehistoric migrations that took place in the Philippines between 300 to 200 B.C.. These immigrants, led by the Prince Balagtas, settled along the costal areas of Luzon. These areas became the nucleus of the so-called Pampanga Empire, established and consolidated from 1335 to 1400 by Prince Balagtas, the first Pampango sovereign. This empire included all areas in Luzon from Manila up to Cagayan in the north. The coming of the Spaniards led to the eventual disintegration and diminution (decrease) of his empire.

Before the Spaniards came, the Kampampangans had a civilization of their own. Oriental civilization was comparable to any civilization existing that time. They practiced irrigated agriculture producing rice and sugar cand. They cultivated fruit trees, fiber and ornamental plants and spices. They knew the art of weaving and they wove attires solorfully - decorated. They knew how to smelt and make tools, weapons, utensils and body ornaments out of metals. They were expert jewelers. They had a syllabary and they knew how to read and write. They had an established government of law.

Principal industries. Farming and fishing are the two main industries. Her fertile plains produce diverse crips from sugarcane to rice, corn rootcrops, vegetables and fruit trees. Her streems and rivers and fishponds abound with bangus, carps, shrimps, crabs and other marine products.

The presence of three big military bases: Clark Air Base; Basa Air Base; Camp Olivas stimulated the establisment of plush subdivisions and commercial complexes. The impact of the American military - now gone - can still be seen. Cottage industries like, wood carving, furniture-making, handicraft and several others boost the province' economy.

Points of interest:
Municipality of Apalit;

Apalit Parochial Church. Located at the town plaza. It was built in the year 1629 - 1630. The painting on the ceilings and dome are famous and worth studying and viewing. Its design is still a source of pride among its people. It was rebuilt by Father Antonio Redondo between the years 1876 - 1880.

Municipal Building and Park. This was donated by Don Augusto Gonzales. The park is now a favorite site for promenaders and venue for civic programs.

The man-made Pampanga River. It begins at barangay Sulipan and crosses the Sulipan Bridge in MacArthur Highway. It was built in 1930, as a measure to control the Pampanga River from its destructive floods.

Municipality of Arayat;

Mt. Arayat National Park. The park at present is under the management of the province of Pampanga by virtue of LOI No. 1172. Located in barrio Bano, the park is ideal site for picnicing, with its quaint environs under cool shades of lush green foliage, mountin breeze, natural falls and 2 standard-sized swimming pools. It is two kilometers away from the town proper of Arayat and about fifteen minutes drive from Angeles City.

Municipality of Bacolor;

Malig Residence. Located in Cabambangan, Bacolor, is believed to be the oldest house of its type in the town, built by the Spaniards who came first to the Philippines. It was the home of the friars who established the church in the town.

Crissot Monument. Juan Crisostomo Soto, the distinguished Pampanga poet, dramatist and newspaperman (1867 - 1918).

Camel Backbridge. Located at the Olea Creek in Sta. Ines, this was used as the principal link between the western and eastern sitios of the barrios. Under this bridge passed large bancas from the other parts of Pampanga, said to be the landing place of Simon de Anda y Salazar when they retreated from the English invaders who established Bacolor as the seat of the Spanish government and the capital of the Philippines in 1762.

San Guillermo Parish Chruch. Located in Cabambangan, it is one of the oldest and largest churches in Pampanga. It was constructd by the Agustinian friars in 1576 on the lot of Don Guillermo Banabat, a rich landlord and believed to be the founder of Bacolor.

Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades. Formerly the Excuela de Artes y Officios de Bacalor, it is the oldest vocational school in the Far East. It was founded in November 4, 1861 by Rev. Fr. Juan P. Zita and Don Felino Gil.

Municipal Building of Bacolor. Former site of the house of one of Bacolor's most illustrious families, the venturas. Construction was completed in July 8, 1953, under the then Mayor Manuel de Jesus, a project of Sen. Pablo Angeles David, another favorite son of Bacolor.

Ricardo P. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital. A unique community project of civic-spirited Bacolorenos and the municipal government.

Municipality of Candaba;

Suspension Bridge. A miniature San Francisco-like bridge is one of the town's top tourist attractions.

Scenic Candaba Swamps. The place profiles the Central Plains of Luzon, with farming and fishing as the main livelihood of the populace. During the summertime melons and water melons abound in the area making the market area a bee-hive of activities with several carts filled with this kind of fruits.

Wild Duck Sanctuary. Hundreds of thousands of wild ducks from China make their home during the winter season. An ideal site for bird watchers.

Quaint Spanish Houses. Centuries-old Spanish houses filled with relics and antiques, like paintings by Simeon Flores and Malantic.

Municipality of Florida Blanca

Florida Blanca Park. A favorite recreational place for children and adults. It is also a popular place for political and civic activities.

Sitio Palakol. Located in the northeastern part of Florida Blanca, about 8 kms. from the town proper of 31 kms. from San Fernando. Sitio Palakol known as "Summer Place" along the Gumain River, has the potential of continuous crystal clear water that does not drain even in dry season. The source comes from Mount Abu atop the Zambales mountain believed to have a big natural water reservoir.

Municipality of Guagua.;

Kamikaze East Airfield. A memorial marker to remember the first Kamikaze pilots who took off for their last mission as official human bombs on Oct. 24, 1944.

Marcos Santos Residence. Headquarters of the Kamikaze pilots.

Marcos Village. An authentic Negrito village complete with their tribal rituals and customs.

Dau Shopping Center. A favorite shopping place for imported goods ranging from chocolates to appliances. People from Manila and far flung places come to shop.

Angeles Casino. Located in Dau, for people who enjoy playing the games of chance.

Municipality of Magalang;

Pampanga Agricultural College. A state-owned college ideally located at the scenic foot hills of Mount Arayat.

Magalang Church. One of the oldest churches buit of classic architecture.

Municipality of Porac;

Dara Falls. An ideal place for picnickers. Its waterfall basin has a depth of 100 feet.

Villa Sta. Catalina. A three hectare resort complete of bowling lanes, theater, cockpit arena, swimming pool, picnic rounds, barbecue plaza and lodges.

Municipality of San Fernando;

Death March Marker. The start of the horrendous train ride of "Death March" marchers enroute to Capas, Tarlac. Site of the Marker is now the railroad station.

Camp Olivas. Home of the 1st PC Zone.

Capitol Building. Seat of the provincial government. Fronting the Capitol building is a mini-park frequented by promenaders.

Angeles City.;

Clark Air Base. This former American facility was the biggest military installation outside the United States. The area occupied by the bases, which extends from Pampanga to Tarlac is composed of flat, rolling rugged and even mountainous lands. Clark Air Base was the home of the US 13th Air Force and the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing whose peace-keeping responsibility covers the entire Pacific area.

Astro Park. Located in front of Clark Air Base Main gate, is a beehive of activities everyday from basketball, and other sports and recreational activities.

Don Juan Nepomuceno Residence. This is the oldest building constructed in 1824 by the founder of Angeles, Don Angeles Pantaleon de Miranda, with his wife Doņa Rosalia de Jesus.

Kamikaze Museum. Located at the residence of the noted Pampango artist, Dan H. Dizon, President of the Kamikaze Memorial Society of the Philippines (KAMESO). World War II mementos, particularly those of Kamikaze pilots of Japan, are on display. Other interesting facets of the museum are the different helmets used by the Axis and Allied powers of World War II.

Bale Matua. The residence of the founders of Angeles City, Don Angel Panteleon de Miranda and his wife Doņa Rosalia de Jesus was constructed in 1824. The highlight of which is a high stone wall with an ornate gate. This house nostalgically symbolizes the glorious past of Angeles amidst the overwhelming onslaughts of modernization.

Post Office. This concrete building was utilized by the US Army as a jail for recalcitrants USV troops in 1899 - 1910. It was also used as the headquarters of the 11th Film Exchange US Army in 1946 - 47. This building was constructed in 1899 for the purpose of depositing religious statues, and carriages, hence the name "Depositor. On February 6, 1967, the City Post Office moved to this building.

Holy Rosary Cathedral. This edifice was used as a military hospital by the US Army from August 1899 to December 1900. It was constructed by the "Polos y Servicious" labor system, a kind of forced labor imposed on Filipino peasants by the Spanish Colonial Government. During 1896 - 98, the backyard of the church was the execution grounds to the Spanish forces in shooting down Filipino rebels and suspects.

City Hall Annex Building. This building served as the central headquarters of Maj. Gen. Mc Arthur in May 1899. It served as the seat of the First Philippine Revolutionary Army under General Emilio Aguinaldo, President and Commander-In-Chief. It was bought by the Central Bank of the Philippines and has undergone renovation.

Holy Family Building. The US Army used this building from 1889 to October 1902 as a Military Hospital and later as Troop Barracks, Officer's Quarters and Arsenal by the Japanese Imperial Military Forces in the early part of 1942.

Paskuhan Village. A first of its kind in Asia, the Paskuhan Village is a tribute to Filipino craftsmen particularly the famous lantern makers of Pampanga as expressed by the star-shaped pavilion at the center of the village. Around it are stalls that display and sell the best locally-made products from all over the Philippines, thus providing a nationwide dispersion of livelihood and income. Described as "Asia's star attraction" the Paskuhan Village is in the tour operator's list of major destinations in the country. Its attractions include replica of typical Filipino village celebrating Christmas, lifesize wooden Filipino Belen (Nativity scene), Christmas ornaments and Lanterns of the World Museum, basket museum, crafts-making demonstrations, Pampanga giant lanterns, sculptures showing Philippine Christmas practices, orchidarium and herbal garden, carnival and fair gronds, antiques, calesa and tiburin rides, jeepney tela display, among others. On the other hand, it offers services like money exchange center, tele-communications, photocopy center, post office, press/audio-visual room, medical clinic, and lost and found section / tourism information office.

Festivals:

Giant Lantern Festival (San Fernando) December 24-25. Among the highlights of Christmas in the country is the Giant Lantern festival held in San Fernando, Pampanga. The kaleidoscope of lights and tinsels from these giant lanterns showcasing Filipino ingenuity brightens Christmas. The Giant Lantern Festival attracts droves of people not only from Pampanga, but also from nearby provinces and Manila. As brighttinsel and strobes light up for the parade, so do the hearths of those who watch in awe and wonderment at the spectacle.

How to get there. San Fernando is 66 kilometers from Manila, approximately an hour and half away. Buses go to San Fernando direct, leaving every hour.

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