Wednesday, October 10, 2018

*437. PAULINE C. LIEB: Wartime Philippines’ “Joan of Arc”

LIEB AND LET DIE. Filipino-American freedom fighter, she joined the resistance movement and fought side-by-side with male soldiers. She was captured in the foothills of Montalban in 1944. 

In 1960, a Filipino-American couple moved into a quiet Angeles neighborhood, then still a town. They were seemingly an ordinary couple—Mr. Eugene Lieb, an engineer, had just accepted a job at Clark Air Base while his wife, a Manileña, appeared to be a typical mother hen to their two daughters. 

But little did their neighbors know, that the life of Pauline C. Lieb was anything but typical. For in their midst was a war heroine, whose largely forgotten role as an underground guerrilla fighter need to be retold, for hers is a story of love, struggle and survival.

Pauline was the daughter of Paz Canovas, of Spanish-Filipino descent, and Edward Costigan, an American. Costigan had arrived in the Philippines in 1898 where he quickly found work as a manager of a cold storage facility in Manila.

Pauline was born on 6 June 1917, and grew up speaking Spanish and English in a multi-cultural household. As a young girl growing up in Manila, the pretty Pauline was squired by handsome swains, that counted the tall and handsome Lubeño, Regidor dela Rosa—who would go on to become the matinee idol, Rogelio dela Rosa. Another admirer was said to be the scion of the La Tondeña Distillery.

The onset of World War II would put on hold the lives of millions of Filipinos—and that of the Costigans would be affected most profoundly. At the height of the war years, Pauline did what she thought was right for her country and joined the underground resistance movement, prodded by Tom Myers, an American shipping magnate who organized the guerrilla group.  She took up a gun, and under  Capt. Myers,  became part of the combat forces which attacked and ambushed Japanese enemy soldiers.

The Japanese military began putting the heat on the American and Filipino guerrilla fighters (Huks)  and waged campaigns to purge them out from the mountains. It was in this way that Pauline and Capt. Myers were captured in the hills of Montalban, Rizal sometime in 1944. The American was beheaded, while Pauline was whisked off and imprisoned at the Bilibid Prison in Manila. A fellow prisoner was Claire Phillips, aka Clara Fuentes, a Filipino-American spy who would write about her war experience in the book, “Manila Espionage”.  ( Her life story later was turned into a Hollywood movie entitled, “I Was an American Spy” in 1951.)

Fortunately, Pauline escaped imminent doom and was freed from incarceration with the bloody liberation of the Philippines. She was sent to the United States to recuperate, and after the dust settled and the rebuilding of the nation went underway, the Costigans started life anew. Eventually,  Pauline found employment as a cashier at the reconstructed Manila Hotel, the country’s premiere hotel. It was here that she would meet a dashing American military personnel from Ohio, Eugene L. Lieb, who was first assigned to the Port of Manila after the war. 

After a short courtship, they got married in Catholic ceremonies in Malate and settled in the new suburb of Makati. Mr. Lieb, a civil engineer, was later tapped to head the Roads and Grounds services division at Clark Air Base in Angeles, Pampanga. This necessitated the Liebs’ move to Angeles in 1960.

Here, in a Balibago neighborhood, the Liebs would raise their two daughters: Pacita (now Vizcarra) and Mary Ann (now del Rosario), now based in the U.S.  Pauline would live a long life, passing away on 24 Febriary 2009, at age 91in her adopted city of Angeles. A U.S. newspaper got wind of Pauline’s wartime exploits after her death and an account of her life and times saw print on an Los Angeles daily which dubbed her as “Joan of Arc” of World War II, a fitting appellation for a freedom fighter who heeded to the calling of her inner voice-- to  put country first, before herself.

CREDITS: Photo and information provided by Mr. Benjamin Canovas, a relative of Pauline Canovas Costigan Lieb

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

*436. COL. MIGUEL T. NICDAO: The Forgotten Story of a Kapampangan Scholar-Soldier

FROM MENTOR TO A MILITARY MAN. Guagua-born Col.Miguel Nicdao, whose family settled in San Fernando, belonged to the first wav of government scholars known as "pensionados". He made a career shift, never looked back, and became a bemedalled officer during the Commonwealth period. Source: Mr. Arnold Nicdao.

Once in a long while, we uncover stories of extraordinary Kapampangans,  who, despite their remarkable lives and achievements, remain unremembered, their memories known only to their family circles. Such is the case of Guagua-born Col. Miguel Nicdao (b. 8 May 1888/d. 1938), whose story came to light courtesy of his grandchildren, who, through their tireless research efforts, managed to piece together the life of Col. Nicdao, their lolo whom they have never seen nor met.

Miguel Nicdao’s father, Jose Bonifacio Nicdao, was originally from Cavite; his mother, Bonifacia Jose Tablante, was a homemaker who tended a sari-sari store on the side. The young Nicdao was home-schooled, but with the coming of the Americans and their introduction of the public school system, education in the country took a turn for the better. This led the Nicdaos, who have resettled in Bacolor, to move again to San Fernando, where the “Thomasites” set up new schools with exacting standards.  

In 1903, the Pensionado Act was passed,  which gave opportunities to Filipino students to study and earn college degrees in America. 15-year old Nicdao took the competitive exams and topped the field with an average of 94.8; kabalen Jose Abad Santos placed third. The teen suddenly found himself  sailing to America on Oct. 9,1903, aboard the Japanese ship Rohilla Maru, as a member of pioneering group of 103 pensionados.

Arriving in November, the pensionados were distributed to different high schools in Southern California to brush up on U.S. history, math and English. A year after, they hied off to their respective colleges. Six Filipinos, Nicdao among them, began their studies at Illinois State Normal University (now Illinois State University).

The young Filipinos quickly made their presence felt in the school, as all six were featured in the school’s weekly paper, “The Vidette,”  in 1904. Nicdao, however, made noise when his article “Religions of the Philippines” saw print in the school organ. Nicdao, a Methodist, assailed the Catholic friars’ intolerance of other religions, warranting a reprimand from the U.S. War Department, after an Illinois priest demanded that the article be censored.

But it was in the classroom that the young Kapampangan showed his brilliance, specifically in the field of Oratory and Debate. His public speaking skills earned him membership with the Wrightonian Society, Oratorical Association, Cicero and the YMCA. He put his voice to a test, when, on Feb. 23, 1907, at the Edwards Oratorical and Declamatory Contest, he won the Gold Medal with his piece “The First Need of the Filipinos”.  In March, he unanimously won the Inter-Normal Contest, with the same piece, trumping Arthur Thompson of Macomb.

His Edwards gold medal earned him the right to represent ISNU at the Inter-State Contest held on May 3, 1907 in Emporia,  Kansas. Those who witnessed the excited 5-school match were effusive with praise for Nicdao’s performance: “His gracefulness, directness and earnestness were pleasing and convincing. There was, of course some peculiarity in his speech but his long, patient labor accomplished remarkable results. Many said they missed no words at all”.  In the end, he placed third, behind the Missouri and Kansas bets, despite having “a concrete and definite subject”. A school observer could only surmise that his “ridiculous ranking” was due to his Philippine-accented English.

By 1907, Nicdao was ready to return to the Philippines after graduating with an Education degree from ISNU—the youngest of the batch at 1907. Once home, he quickly rolled up his sleeves  to start work as Principal of the San Luis Intermediate School in San Luis, Pampanga (Oct. 1,1907-March 31, 1908). He was promoted as Superintendent/ Teacher, and was assigned briefly to Mabalacat Intermediate School from June-Jul. 1908, and then to Apalit Intermediate School from Aug.-Sep. 1908. He stayed for 3 years in his next post, Pampanga High School (Aug. 1908-Aug.1911) in his adapted hometown, San Fernando.

Much as he loved teaching, the young teacher found it frustrating to advance in his career what with Americans well-placed in the educational system.  In 1911, the civil government opened the Camp Henry T. Allen Constabulary School in Baguio (now Philippine Military Academy), envisioned to be a training ground for an all-Filipino constabulary force. Jumping at this chance, Nicdao joined and underwent an intensive 3-month boot camp training.  After completing the program and graduating as 3rd Lieutenant,  the 23 year-old embarked on a new military career.

In the succeeding years, Lt. Nicdao undertook assignments in different parts of the country, and got involved in campaigns in Lanao and Cotabato, during the Moro War years (1909-1923).  He learned Arabic, which enabled him to deal more effectively with the Muslim leaders of Mindano, where he would eventually become its District Commander.

By 1917, he had attained the rank of a First Lieutenant of the PC, with missions in Cagayan and Misamis. He was kept busy as ever through the 1930s, leading campaigns against lawless elements, including fighting off the Sakdalistas in Cabuyao, Laguna in May 1935, where 300 rebels took over a church. Under his helm, the revolt was crushed. For his meritorious military accomplishments, Nicdao, now a Colonel, was awarded three medals by Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.

In between his military exploits, the colonel found time to marry Natividad Neri Rivera, whom he met down South, during his Mindanao stint. She had descended from Muslim royalty; her forebear Rajah sa Lansang, was a Christian convert and who assumed the name “Neri”. The two were married on May 22, 1914, and together, they had 7 children: Charito, Napoleon, Abelardo, Antonia, Cleopas, Hortencia, and Benjamin.

In 1938, during a military training exercise in Leyte, Col. Nicdao came down with peritonitis. Unfortunately, no medical supplies were available; they could not even be flown in from Manila due to a typhoon in the island. He passed away at age 50, and was given full military honors during his burial.

For those who say that Pampanga seems to be short of idols and icons, one need only to look at the life and legacy of Col. Nicdao, both a scholar in the classroom and a soldier in the battlefield. He proved that as long as you have the heart to serve and the will to succeed—you could be a jack of several trades, and be a master of all. For that alone, he should never be forgotten.

All photos and information, courtesy of Mr. Arnold Nicdao, grandson of Col., Miguel Nicdao.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

*435. Maestro IRINEO L. MIRANDA, Dean of Philippine Cartoonists

DRAWING FROM EXPERIENCE. Acclaimed artist, painter, water colorist, caricaturist, art director and illustrator, Maestro Irineo Lintag Miranda of San Fernando.

The most accomplished artist who made a lasting mark in the field of cartooning and illustration was born in San Fernando to couple Catalino Miranda and Eustaquia Lintag on 15 Dec. 1896.  Irineo L. Miranda was so talented in drawing that at age 19--while still a student at the U.P. School of Fine Arts-- he was hired as an assistant illustrator with the Bureau of Printing.

A year after graduation, Miranda started worked at the Pacific Commercial Company where he designed product labels and created illustrations for advertisements—thus becoming one of country’s first agency art directors. His involvement in mass media art was looked at as just an extension of an artist’s activity, thus, outputs such as cartoon art were not regarded in the same breadth as painting. Even so, his alma mater believed in his talents; in 1918, Miranda was appointed to the Fine Arts faculty of the state university. The newly named professor taught decorative painting, cartooning and commercial design, an academic career that would last until 1961.

He flourished at the U.P., surrounded by his young, creative students whom he would address as “Ineng” and “Itoy”, as they presented their works for evaluation. He would critique each piece in English, delivered with humor and with a marked Pampango accent. He would count, among his students, future National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Cesar Legaspi and his favorite student who helped out in his illustrations, Carlos Valino Jr.

Meanwhile, he would move to Brown and Roosedel Advertising Co. in 1920, and chartered a different course from his peers like Dominador Castañeda and Fernando Amorsolo by illustrating the covers for Graphic, El Debate and Liwayway Magazines, dabbling in caricatures and working with watercolors. He was known for his theatrical style in painting, emphasizing lighting effects for example, and characterization of faces. His clients in the 1920s-30s included the Pampanga governor, Sotero Baluyot, Jorge Vargas Sr., Alfonso Ongpin and Lope K. Santos.

During the war years, the artist continued mentoring students, but resumed illustrating and painting with renewed vigor after the turbulent 40s. A 1953 jeep accident unfortunately sidelined him from painting for years—he fractured his armbone that led to a series of operations, incapacitating him temporarily.

Maestro Irineo Miranda first settled his family in front of the the Bellas Artes at R.Hidalgo St. He would sometimes use his daughter, Irinea, as his model for his paintings and sketches. Other models included Nena Saguil, Abdulmari Imao and the future senator Santanina Rasul who sat for him for the 1951 painting, “Tausug Princess”, which now hangs at the National Gallery of Art. Other well-known works include “Sampaguita Vendor” (1931, U.P. Filipiniana Collection) and “Portrait of Fabian dela Rosa” (1937 watercolor).

The maestro’s wife died young and the artist would never marry again. To while away his leisure hours, he would go and watch movies, which were one of his consuming passions. But he would always be devoted to his art. The acclaimed “Dean of Philippine Cartoonists” died of a heart attack on 21 Mar. 1964.

SOURCE: IRINEO MIRANDA 1896-1964, (c) 1972 Zone-D-Art Publications

Thursday, June 22, 2017


WEDDINGS ARE MADE OF THESE. A home reception...a spread of dishes... wedding cake...and lots of gifts, complete the wedding celebration. ca. early 1950s.

The tradition of giving gifts to couples united in weddings goes back to pre-colonial times. In many ethnic groups, the practice goes even before the actual wedding rites, as in the case of Pinatubo Negritos who pay dowry to the bride’s family in the form of “bandi”—treasured property in the form of bolos, bows and arrows.

In pre-Hispanic society, after the ceremony presided by a babaylan or a tribal priest/priestess is done, a series of gift-exchanging rituals is undertaken by the man and his family to counter the possible negative responses of the bride. Such instances include her refusal to attend the wedding banquet, or even to go into her new bedroom that she would be sharing with her spouse. The bride then is plodded with gifts of gold, jewelry, rich fabrics and animals to ensure that she will fully cooperate.

Kasalans during the Spanish times were comparatively austere affairs; the giving of gifts was encouraged to help start the couple in their new journey together. The superstitious belief that sharp objects—like knives and needles—were not appropriate as wedding gifts came from the Spaniards. In the more prosperous 1920-30s, weddings became more Westernized and larger in scale. Gift-giving became even more lavish and varied, as shops and stores sprouted along Escolta and Avenida, providing more showcases of gift ideas to sponsors, relatives, and invited guests.

One of the post-wedding highlights for the newlyweds is when they open boxes and boxes of gifts to find the surprises of their lives.  For example, when Juana Arnedo,  got hitched with Felipe Buencamino around 1870, her father, Apalit gobernadorcillo Joaquin Arnedo gifted her and his new husband a grand bale a bato. The mansion was built on over a hectare of lot in Capalangan, near Sulipan, Apalit.

In 1936, after Dr. Jesus Eusebio, noted ophthalmologist  from San Fernando, married Josefina Buyson of Bacolor in fabulous rites at San Guillermo Church, Jesus’ father, Don Andres Eusebio, sent them off to honeymoon in the U.S. via luxury liner Pres. Hoover, and then to Europe, all-expenses paid.

By far, however, the wedding gifts received by Doña Consolacion Singian and Don Jose M.Torres , are incomparable in terms of variety and range, enough to furnish a house. The guest list itself consists of politicos and senators, jurists and patriots, affluent hacenderos and business mavens, and the upper tier of Kapampangan high society. After their nuptials on 28 April 1912 in San Fernando, the bride made an inventory of their gifts that she wrote in her personal journal.

From one of their godfathers, Hon. D. Florentino Torres, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, they received a complete set of black Vienna chairs with a marble table, a sofa and four chairs. Dna. Ramona Valenzuela de Goyena contributed more pieces of furniture with her gift of  six European chairs for dining.

Japanese-made gifts seemed to be very popular in the early decades of the 20th century as at least 9 guests gave them: D. Joaquín Longos (a very fine Japanese tea service), D. Manuel Gómez (a beautiful Japanese coffee service), Da. Juana vda. de Chuidian ( a pair of elegant and beautiful Japanese earthen jars), Srta. Belen Gómez (a dozen elegant and fine Japanese cups for coffee) , D. Joaquín Zamora, (a pair of capricious lacquered Japanese paintings). D. Vicente Gana ( a complete set of very fine Japanese tea service), D. Joaquín Herrera (elegant Japanese pillows), D. Pío Trinidad ( a pair of beautiful Japanese flowerpots),  and lastly, Fiscal of Pampanga D. Oscar Soriano (very fine and complete Japanese tea service).

The couple also received an astounding six sets of flowerpots with pedestals—led by Pampanga governor, Hon. Dr. Francisco Liongson, and Pampanga judge Hon. Julio Llorente who seemed to have bought the same “pair of elegant flower pots on pedestals” from one store. Curiously, D. José Monroy, Tomas Arguelles and Melecio Aguirre all gave “apple green pedestals with flowerpots”.  Well, at least they were color-coordinated.

Valuable silver--from tableware, coffee service, butter dishes, candy and fruit trays and decanters--were also gifted to the newlyweds. The most impressive was a silver toothpick holder  given by D. Godofredo Rodriguez. Whatever became of these silver gifts that are now antiques?

The practical D. Perfecto Gabriel must be commended for his very native gift—the only one from the bewildering assortment of European, Japanese, American, Chinese thingamajigs. Aside from a pocket watch, he gifted the Torreses an Ilocos blanket.

Today, some things never change when it comes to giving wedding presents.  There are gifts that are functional and practical,  there are many more that are recycled and inutile. The ubiquitous glass punch bowls and sets of glasses are still favorite giveaways, along with rice cookers, flat irons, towels and whistling kettles. That is why couples-to-be now have the derring-do to suggest their desired gift, explicitly written on their wedding invitations: “With all that we have, we’ve been truly blessed/ Your presence and prayers are all that we request./ But if you desire to give nonetheless/Monetary gift is one we suggest.”   With the money may now treat the bride!

Monday, June 12, 2017


DINNER IS SERVED, Students of Domestic Arts practice the art of setting a table using china plates, glassware, cutlery and table napkins. Our pre-colonial ancestors had their own ideas of fine dining on their low, wooden table called 'dulang', filling it up with jars, plates, jugs and pots, of all sorts. ca. 1920s.

When the Spanish missionaries came to our islands in the 16th century, they found a low wooden table in practically every native home called “dulang”. It served primarily as a dining table, around which people sat to partake of the food, eaten with bare hands. Tableware was limited to a few wooden spoons, ladles, food and liquid containers. But contact and trading with Asian traders afforded natives to have quite a wide assortment of jugs and jars, plates and pans, bowls and storage containers for both “dulang” and dwelling.

 Old Pampanga homes may still have, in their kitchens, earthenware containers used for cooking or storage. Balanga was a traditional clay pot used for cooking everyday viands, while a curan—that featured a narrower mouth-- was used for cooking rice.

Storage jars of varying sizes include the gusi, a china jar that can contain anywhere from 6 to 8 gantas (1 ganta is a local unit of measure equivalent to ¼ of a cavan); next to it is the guguling, a medium size jar. Another medium size jar for holding water is the marapatayan, which is smaller than a tapayan, that can hold some 11 gallons of liquid. A large China-made jar was called tui-tui, while a lupay was the name for a small, multi-purpose earthenware jar.

 To deter ants from infesting food, the leftover ulam are kept in bowls, then placed on a shallow, water-filled vessels called lampacan. This serves as a sort of a moat, so the ants would not be able to reach the food. When storage cabinets came into use, its four legs were made to stand on lampacans, to provide the same protection.

 Kapampangans ate with gusto using their hands, as ‘cubiertos’ were still many years away from being introduced. Rice was placed on banana leaves spread on the dulang, but plates were also known from trading with the Chinese, Annamese and the Siamese who brought all kinds of pinggan (plates). A large plate was called tapac, and a porcelain plate for mustard was called suic.

 Bowls were perhaps the most common tableware found on the native table. The smallest bowl is called sulyao (sulyo, or silyo), which is perfect for a single-serving of soup. Mangcoc is bigger than a sulyao, same with another larger bowl called lampay (or lampe). A banga is a large, narrow-mouthed pitcher, while a siolan is a small flask. A tampayac is a cruet, that was used for both condiments and for ointments. People drank water from coconut half-shells, or used a communal long-handled dipper to scoop out water from a water-filled jar.

 The Spaniards, and later, the Americans are credited for upgrading our table (and table manners, by Western standards) by introducing fork and spoons, complete silver cutlery, demitasse cups, silver table adornments like toothpick holders, lace napkins, and a bewildering array of plates, saucers, cups and glassware. The legendary reception given by the Apalit Arnedos to the Grand Duke of Russia in 1891—marked with the ostentatious display of fine china, silver and table accoutrements—was a testament as to how refined, how sophisticated we had become.

 But truth be told, it takes very little to please a Kapampangan on the dinner table—remove the silver forks and spoons, take away the fancy bone china, give him a plate of sizzling sisig and unli rice---and he will roll up his sleeves and feast away with his hands, like there’s no tomorrow. As one Kapampangan with a hearty appetite declared—“Asbuk mu at gamat ing kailangan! Mangan tana!” (You need only your mouth and hands. Let's eat!)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


DON QUINTIN MORALES, was the first of the Moraleses to hold an important office in Mabalacat. he was elected teniente del barrio of Poblacion. His younger brother, Feliciano, is the great-grandfather of Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales". 

Morales is a top-of-mind name associated with the political history of Mabalacat. And of the Moraleses that have served Mabalacat in different capacities through the years, one name stands out,  not so  much for the quality of leadership but for his longevity of tenure—Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales whose 22 years in office makes him the longest-serving mayor of the Philippines.

But before Mayor Boking, there have been a few Morales forebears who have rendered their services to the municipality of Mabalacat, in different capacities. The Morales clan could trace its beginnings to the patriarch, Mariano Morales who married Agustina Tuazon, possibly in the 1830s. The Morales couple, known members of the town principalia,  begat four children, all boys—Quintin (b.1856/d. 31 Oct. 1928), Feliciano, Valentin and Simeon (b. 4 Jul, 1880/d.24 Oct. 1942).

Quintin, the eldest son, married Paula Guzman y Cosme (b.1851/d. 7 Mar 1943,  and during the Spanish times, became a teniente del barrio (or cabeza de barangay) of Poblacion, where he and his wife settled. Quintin is buried somewhere in the sacristy of the Divine Grace Church. Of the couple’s 5 children, the youngest, Atty. Rafael Morales (b. 24 Oct. 1893/d.1967), would also venture into politics—he was elected as consejal (councilor) for two terms, during the Commonwealth years, under the mayoralties of Dr. Jose T. Garcia (1932-35) and Jose Mendoza (1940-41).

Younger brother Valentin Morales was elected teniente mayor of Sapang Bato, also during the Spanish colonial period; the youngest, Simeon, and his descendants, did not seem to show any political ambitions.

Feliciano’s son with Juana Pantig, Miguel Morales, would bring the Morales political family tradition to a higher, more prominent profile. The U.S.T. medical graduate would rise from being a medico de sanidad (department health head) of Apalit to becoming the first elected mayor of Mabalacat after the Liberation (1948-1951). As chief executive, he was responsible for building the wooden Morales Bridge, which provided the vital link between Sta. Ines and Poblacion. Mayor Morales also organized the first hydroelectric power plant, later operated by the Tiglaos. He was at the forefront of a campaign against the rising Huk movement when he was assassinated in 1951.

But it was his grandson, Marino (son of Ignacio), who would set his name on record books for a much different and unusual accomplishment. First elected mayor in June 1995, Morales began his term while Mabalacat was still reeling from the Pinatubo aftermath. He managed to extend his term through legal technicalities, strange twists of luck and with much help from election law wiz, Atty Romulo Macalintal . Amazingly, Morales would be re-elected in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 elections.

When Mabalacat became a component city, Morales  filed yet again another certificate of candidacy. He was qualified to run, he said, because the status of Mabalacat had changed from that of a town into a city. Once again, amidst protests, he won the May 2016 elections. But on August 2016,  the disqualification protest filed by losing candidate Pyra Lucas resulted in Comelec First Division’s granting of her petition.  This was finally affirmed on 30 May 2017 by Comelec en banc whch ruled that the First Division’s cancellation of Morales’ certificate of candidacy was valid.

It looks like the incredible political career of Boking Morales---which had withstood charges of corruption, vote-buying and ballot-burning, familial discords, several changes in marital partners, and most recently, inclusion in Duterte’s list of narco-politicians—is finally coming to an end, at least for now. But the pool of Moraleses waiting in the wings to take on his mantle is wide and deep. Possible successors include son Dwight ( a councilor); daughter Marjorie Morales-Sambo (she once declared her bid to unseat her father); and of course, his current wife Nina, whom he initially fielded in the 2016 mayoralty race.

Morales may be down, but not out—not yet. As this article is being written, he can still resort to a few legal remedies--a temporary restraining order is one. Besides, there is still the world-record of Hilmar Moore to beat—the mega-mayor of Richmond, Texas who served his town from 1949 until his death in 2012---an epic run of 63 years! If he does that, Mabalacat may as well be renamed as Morales City, Pampanga. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017


‘TWAS IN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY. Kapampangan kids—including the children of Evangelina Hilario-Lacson and Serafin Lacson—dress up as Santacruzan characters, for the annual Maytime procession.

The merry month of May was named after Maia, the  Greek goddess of fertility, a mother figure in mythology. Thus, since the 18th century, it has come to be the month associated with the Virgin Mary, with many special devotions and religious rites taking place in May.

Kapampangans not only hold the traditional Flores de Mayo processions which celebrates the titles of the Virgin listed in the 13th century Loreto litany, but also conduct a different version of Santacruzan. Sabat Santacruzan--which dramatizes the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena-- is different in that the procession is halted several times by costumed actors who challenge the Reyna Elena in a poetic joust and engage her troop in a swordfight derived from yesteryear’s moro-moros.

Along with the Sabat Santacruzan are celebrated the various town fiestas and festivals of this province. Floridablanca, Mexico, Masantol, Sta. Rita, and San  Fernando observe the feast days of their patrons in various days of May. The Sampaguita Festival of Lubao, the Batalla of Masantol and the Pinukpukan Festival of Floridablanca all happen on this sunny month.

The first day of May also marks Labor Day, in celebration of laborers and the working class.  It brings to mind the memory of  the “grand old man of Philippine labor”—Kapampangan Felixberto Olalia Sr. (1903-1983), the first chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) founded in 1980. Much earlier, he had founded the National Federation of Labor Unions, and became a champion of labor causes,  like  Crisanto Evangelista during the Commonwealth years. Olalia  and his family suffered for his work—he was imprisoned several times even in his advanced age;  his own son, KMU lawyer Rolando Olalia met a violent death in 1986, part of  supposed plot to rid the Aquino Cabinet of left-leaning members.

With May upon us, we look back at some of the past events of significance in Pampanga, which transpired on this fifth month of the year.

1 May, 1942. The execution of jurist-martyr-hero, Jose Abad Santos.
There are several conflicting dates of the hero’s death. What is known is, Abad Santos, his son Pepito, and Col. Benito Valeriano were captured by the Japanese on 11 April 1942 in Barili, Cebu. He was ordered executed by Gen. Homma and taken to Malabang, Lanao on 30 April.  Keiji Fukui, the interpreter during Abad Santos's confinement, supported by his diary notes, put 2 May 1942, 2 p.m., as the date of his death by musketry.  But the hero’s biographer, Ramón C. Aquino, claimed that May 7 was the date given by Pepito himself during his testimony at the war trials. Recently, the National Historic Commission of the Philippines, re-set the date to May 1.

1-18 May, 1910. Appearance of Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Comet made its appearance to the world, after approximately 76 years (it last appeared in 1835). People of Pampanga were struck with awe as the spectacular comet lit the skies before sunrise for 18 days.

4 May 1899. Philippine revolucionarios led by Gen. Antonio Luna burns San Fernando Church.
Not only was the church razed to the ground by revolutionary troops, but also the Casa Municipal and several houses to render them useless to the approaching American forces.

6 May, 1933. The Pampanga Carnival ends.
To celebrate the strides made by the province in the last two decades, the Pampanga Carnival Fair and Exposition--“the greatest concourse of people on the island of Luzon”—was held for 2 weeks, beginning on 22 April, 1933. The venue was the 12-hectare Capitol grounds in San Fernando. Appointed as Director General was the Hon. Jose Gutierrez David, Pampanga’s delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Assembly. More than a display of prosperity, the Carnival was also meant to be a concrete expression of local autonomy in keeping with the principles of a truly democratic government.Almost all of the 21 towns of Pampanga came to participate in the fair that was patterned after the national Manila Carnivals. The fair ended with the selection of Miss Pampanga.

7 May, 1866. Birth of Dña. Teodora Salgado, financier of the Revolution
During the Philippine Revolution, Kapampangan women came in full force to aid the revolucionarios. Not only did they activate La Cruz Roja (Red Cross) for the sick and wounded revolucionarios, but also funded the activities of local revolutionary groups.  On such generous financier was Teodora “Dorang” Salgado,  daughter of Joaquin Salgado and Filomena Basilio of San Fernando. The life of the “grand dame of San Fernando” reads like a telenovela: she was twice-widowed, thrice married, childless--yet she surmounted all these trials to emerge as Pampanga's most successful--and richest—businesswoman.

7 May, 1899. Gen. Aguinaldo moves the seat of the government to Angeles.
The revolutionary leader, coming from San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, transferred the seat of his government to Angeles. Mass was held in the town, attended by his soldiers.  Aguinaldo stayed in Angeles until July, when he moved his government to Tarlac.

12 May, 1812. The proposal to make Culiat a self-governing town is vetoed by Spanish friars.
Sixteen years after Don Ángel Pantaleón de Miranda, and wife, Doña Rosalía de Jesús, settled on a new land that grew and prospered to be Culiat, the residents proposed that their new town be given autonomy to organize its own governing body. The proposal was disapproved by friars led by Fray José Pometa.

12 May, 1962. Pres. Diosdado P. Macapagal moves the date of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12.
The United State, through the Treaty of Manila, granted  independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 to coincide with its own Independence Day. In 1962, Pres. Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, which declared June 12 a special public holiday throughout the Philippines, "... in commemoration of our people's declaration of their inherent and inalienable right to freedom and independence".  Republic Act No. 4166 formalized the date by proclaiming  June 12 as "Philippine Independence Day".

20 May, 1897. Insurrectos raid Talimunduc in Angeles.
On this day, a band of insurrectos led by a capitan from Barrio Tibo, Mabalacat raided Talimunduc (now Lourdes Sur) and recruited new members. Local officials managed to pursue and disband them, and 7 men were caught, including Crispulo Punsalana and Cornelio Manalang. They were supposed to be taken to jail in Bacolor, then the capital of the province, but they disappeared; rumors had it that they never got to their final destination and were all killed.

 21 May 1919, Major Harold Clark dies.
Major Harold Clark, the military pilot stationed in the Philippines and who gave his name to Clark Air Base, died in a seaplane crash in the Panama Canal Zone on this day.

28 May, 1870. Birth of Brig.Gen. Maximino Hizon, Pampanga’s  revolutionary hero.
This Mexico native became the caudillo of the Revolution in Pampanga who rallied Kapampangans to fight the Spaniards under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary banner. He ordered the execution of the parish priests of Mexico and San Fernando, Pampanga, and later led attacks against Americans in a foiled attempt to recapture Manila. Hizon was captured by the Americans and exiled to Guam where he died of a heart attack in 1901.