The name "Pampanga" comes from the word pangpang meaning
riverbank, a fitting name for a flat country crisscrossed by a hundred
small branches of the Pampanga River. The province lies in the southern
portion of the central plains of Luzon. It is bounded on the east
and southeast by Bulacan, on the north by Tarlac and Nueva Ecija,
on the west by Zambales and on the southwest by Bataan. Towards
the south, Pampanga opens up to Manila Bay. The terrain is flat
except for some hills in the northwest, which form part of the Zambales
Range, and for Mount Arayat in the northeast while along the bay
are extensive swamplands. The climate is very distinct with the
rainy season from May to October and the dry season from November
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It has been popularly believed and theorized that the Kampampangans,
linguistically distinct from the Tagalogs who surround them, are
descended from migrants from the Malang Region in Central Java sometime
in the distant past. Whether or not they did come from Java, thriving
settlements existed along the marshy banks of the coast and the
rivers when Spanish conquistadors came in 1571.
When the Spaniards did come in that year, the Pampangans initially
refused to submit to the conquerors and chose to resist them. Martin
de Goiti was sent to reduce the recalcitrant people of Pampanga.
After conquest was finally achieved, the province of Pampanga was
established shortly thereafter. Originally, Pampanga comprised the
whole of the Central Luzon region. The subsequent creation of other
provinces like Bataan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac, reduced the size
of the province.
During the Spanish period, Pampanga was an important source of
food, forced labor and lumber for the Spanish colony. Rice, which
was produced in great abundance, was levied as tribute. In the 17th
century, there were two great disturbances that rocked the province.
In 1645, Francisco Maniago led a revolt against the tribute payments
being exacted by the colonial officials. In 1660, the forces of
Melchor de Vera, under the orders of Andres Malong of Pangasinan,
tried to incorporate Pampanga into a Pangasinan-based kingdom but
were thwarted at Magalang. Pampanga was one of the first provinces
to join the revolution of 1896 and San Fernando served as a temporary
capital of the Philippine Republic in 1899.
During the American period, Clark Air Base, one of the largest
bases outside continental United States, was erected in northern
Pampanga. This base provided the United States an important front
position in East Asia and even after Philippine independence in
1946, it was retained because of its strategic importance.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the province was a hotbed of the armed
socialist movement called the Hukbalahaps. The movement fed on agrarian
problems resulting from the concentration of land in the hands of
a few families. To address this problem, the national government
embarked on an agrarian reform program, which was implemented during
the time of President Diosdado Macapagal, a Pampango. The province
was one of the earliest areas placed under agrarian reform.
In 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted causing widespread destruction
in northwestern Pampanga and continued threats by destructive lahar
flows on low-lying towns. The Clark Air Base was abandoned by the
United States as a result of the eruption. The biggest single project,
the Mega Dike, was erected in Pampanga to contain the lahar and
save the towns of the province. Clark Air Base, on the other hand,
was rehabilitated and was converted into a special economic zone.
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PEOPLE, CULTURE AND
The Pampangos share the general culture and traditions of the lowland
Christian Filipinos, especially of their Tagalog neighbors to the
east and south. However, they speak a distinct language, which is
a source of ethnic pride. Spanish chroniclers and early anthropologists
have remarked on the distinctiveness of that language and they have
proposed theories that the Pampangos may have come to the Philippines
from Java or elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
The Pampangos apply themselves to the same industries as the Tagalogs
but are renowned for certain crafts for which they excel. They are
exceptional jewelers and goldsmiths, as well as furniture makers
and woodcarvers. Antique jewelry and furniture from Pampanga are
considered valuable heirlooms by Filipino families and as priced
possessions by antique collectors.
Pampangos are renowned throughout the archipelagos as excellent
cooks. They have ingeniously incorporated indigenous, Spanish and
Chinese elements into their cuisine that have made the Pampanga
food preparation and culinary arts both exotic and sumptious. Among
the more known specialities of the Pampangos include buro, which
is meat, fish or vegetables preserved in brine or fermented with
rice, tapa, or dried beef or venison, tocino, or cured pork, longaniza
or spiced pork sausages, aligi, or crab fat, and sisig, or sizzling
The province of Pampanga had been held under the influence of the
Catholic Church since the beginning of Spanish colonization. Some
of the most colorful and interesting observances are connected with
Christian holidays. During Good Friday, several towns in Pampanga
hold atonement rites. Masked flagellants parade in the streets of
beating their bare backs with whips and kneel before the church.
Others are "crucified" onto wooden crosses in passion
plays that mark the important Christian day.
Every year, during Christmas time, Pampanga becomes the hub of
a thriving industry centered on the making of colored lanterns alit
with blinking patterns of light. On the 24th of December, the provincial
capital, San Fernando becomes the focal point of the Giant Lantern
Festival. A kaleidoscope of lights and tinsel from giant lanterns
come together to compete and showcase the ingenuity of the Pampango.
The province also boasts of some of the most beautiful examples
of colonial church architecture in the Philippines. The churches
of Betis , Apalit, Bacolor, and Angeles stand out because of the
designs and embellishments that were used in adorning the Christian
houses of worship.
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TRADE AND INVESTMENTS
Pampanga is taking center stage as the country shifts into industrial
high gear. With 2,181 square kilometers of mostly rich arable land,
the province has always been a net exporter of food products like
rice, sugar, vegetables and fruits as well as poultry, livestock
and inland fish products. It is also richly blessed with a highly
skilled and highly educated resource pool of manpower, with a population
(1995) of 1,500,000 who have a tradition of industrial pursuit especially
in the fields of woodcraft, food processing, ceramics, metalworking
and decorative crafts.
An excellent network of good roads covers the entire province and
connects to the main arterial highway to Manila and Olongapo City.
An international airport is located within the Clark Special Economic
Zone, while other utilities such as power, telecommunications and
potable and irrigated water extensively cover the entire province
and are readily available for industries and businesses.
In spite of the destruction caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo
in 1991 and the continuous threat of lahar over vast swathes of
the province, agriculture remains a viable area of opportunity.
With ready and accessible markets capable of absorbing production,
shifting to high value crops and agricultural production is promising.
Vegetable, fruit and cut flower production are some of the potential
fields of development. The province also boasts of a tradition of
food preparation and with a good source of raw materials, food processing
will thrive within the province.
The old agricultural landscape of Pampanga is also fast changing
in the face of rapid industrialization. The province is set midway
between the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area and Metro Manila and there
are large tracts of land that can accommodate industrial expansion.
Manufacturing, light and heavy industry can take advantage of Pampanga's
excellent location, developed infrastructure and highly skilled
manpower. The Clark Special Economic Zone answers the need to provide
adequate facilities to potential investors. Investments in aviation-related
industries, electronics, semi-conductor and light to medium technology
based industries are highly encouraged.
Tourism is also fast becoming a major industry in Pampanga. The
province is a convenient center to explore and enjoy the entire
Central Luzon region. Clark is focal to this developing sector,
with the operation of first rate hotels, resorts, gaming establishments
and golf courses. Further investments in tourism-related activities
and support services are necessary to meet the ever-increasing demands
of local and foreign tourists.
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Farming and fishing , sugarcane, rice, corn rootcrops, vegetables
and fruit trees, bangus, carps, shrimps, crabs and other marine
Clay, gravel, sand, copper, agricultural lands, wetlands
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