Sunday, January 25, 2009


CALL OF THE WILD. An American wife of a U.S. military stationed at Camp Stotsenburg enjoys the idyllic views of an unidentified trail near the camp. From a 1925 album.

Part of the excitement of being stationed at the Fort Stotsenburg in Angeles in the 1920s was the opportunity to explore the wild environs of a new country. The officers of Stotsenburg made sure that soldiers, in their spare time, get to do some nature-tripping in the nearby Pinatubo area. A memo issued on 17 January 1925, listed down points of interest for those interested in riding, hiking, or just plain enjoyment of the scenery.

Some of the trails and sites recommended included the following:

FERN CANYON. This canyon offers the finest scenery of its kind. Here, one can see a beautiful array of ferns, wild fowls and smaller birds many of which are bedecked with the brightest of plumage. After entering the canyon, it narrows down into a gorge with rock walls from 75 to 150 feet in height. Huge trees jut out from the walls, refreshing and cooling the air, tinged with the scent of wild flowers.

THREE CRATER TRAIL. This trail forms part of the 24th Field Artillery China Sea Trail. The trail follows along a canyon which opens out frequentlt into circular clearings similar to and which probably are, very old craters. Interesting and unsual geological formations are frequently encountered. The stream which flows through this canyon furnishes a portion of Stotsenburg’s water supply.

LOST CANYON. Lying just south of the larger canyon of the Three Crater Trail is the Lost Canyon, which offers a lot to the seeker of the unusual. The canyon is narrow and overgrown with dense tropical shrubbery, vines and trees. Here, one can find everything in its natural state—from vari-colored birds to air plants and epiphytic orchids that grace the porches of most quarters in the Post. This is a fine place to cool off on hot, tropical days.

DRY RIVER BED TRAIL. An excellent route for beginners. It runs through the sandy river bed, with an easy footing for horses. This trail is also an excellent place to work frisky, nervous horses as the deep sand tends to quiet them down. Tress line the stream bed forming natural barriers on either side.

BANYAN TRAIL. This is an excellent route to take for a short ride. One can leave the Post, cover this trail to where it joins the Dolores road and return in 45 minutes. The trail is taken near the Air Service and then runs through the Banana Grove where the famous Banyan Tree is passed. There is a very dense growth in the Banana Grove and as the sun seldom filters through the thick foliage, it is always cool here.

ARTILLERY TRAIL TO THE CHINA SEA. This trail was constructed by the 24th Filed Artillery and is open from about the 1st of November to the 1st of July for individually mounted parties and pack animals. A 2 and a half hour ride, without one hill, brings one to Camp Three located on the Bamabn River, which is an excellent place for picnics. A good swimming hole lies 200 yards from the Camp. During this ride, you pass through the 4 craters marked with great scenic beauty and marvelous rock formation.

About 30 minutes from the 4th crater, the tropical forest begins and continues to the base of Mount Pinatubo. The beauty and wonders of this forest cannot be appreciated unless seen. There is practically no animal life but abundant flora: giant ferns, air plants, orchids, and other trees 250 feet tall and from 25-30 feet in diameter. Unnamed beautiful flora peculiar to this forest can be found here.

Camp Six offers a cool view of Zambales Pass and the plains of Pampanga at an altitude of 4,000 feet. To the west, one can see coastal mountains and the Capones Islands. Plenty of spring water is available here. A mile away from this Camp is the Pinatubo Crater, which is beyond description with walls rising shear from 500 to 2000 feet.

Today, some of these trails have either been settled on, forgotten or disappeared forever brought about by the Pinatubo eruption. But it is good to know that once, in the not-so-distant past, our fair province had more natural attractions and scenic wonders to offer adventurous souls—to lift tired spirits, enthrall the eye, and provide an unforgettable welcome to visitors from here and far.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

Monday, January 19, 2009


SPARE THE ROD, AND TEACH THE CHILD. Three Guagua teachers ponder on their classroom teaching aids during a tecaher's training program held in that town in the 1920s.

Before the term “child stress” was invented, I think I have been experiencing that condition since my grade school years back in the ‘60s. I remember being tense every time I went to my classes, and I faced each day with a certain amount of anxiety, and sometimes, fear. It did not help that I was sickly as a child, and so I became the class runt—small, bright, yes--but always absent. I was so inconsistent that one year I would top the class, and the next, I would be hovering somewhere between 7th and 10th place.

I was such a worrywart, dreading class recitations, especially those involving numbers. In Grade 1, I remember how we were taught to count using a funny-looking abacus. The beads were carved in different shapes—a pink pot, an orange fruit, an eypol —and we were drilled every day by our Arithmetic teacher how to add, multiply and subtract using this strange contraption. I never knew how to work that abacus, either the figures or the instructions confused me.

Music was taught the same way—a student had to identify the notes drawn on the scale by singing them out loud—and this quiz was done individually. Every wrong note merited a whack on your leg with a wooden ruler. I learned how to suffer corporal punishment quietly, and most of the time, the humiliation outlasted the pain for days. Industrial Arts, a subject promoted by Thomasites, was another field where I was a complete and abject failure. In sixth grade, I failed to submit a class project because, once again, I fell sick. Worse, on the day I came back to school, I had no medical certificate to show. My rear was given such a bad wallop with a 2 x 3 stick that my parents threatened the teacher with a lawsuit that forced him to come to our home to personally apologize.

There were certain teaching methods that I just can’t get, especially the ones that involved writing lessons on Manila paper. For some reason, I always found myself in classes that held “school demonstrations”—where ‘new training methods’ were presented by a teacher, with the day's lessons always written on--you guess right-- Manila paper. My printed-in-America Dick and Jane Reader, salvaged by my Dad from the family of his American tenants, were more visually stimulating! I remember a teacher who cajoled me into giving up one of my Dick and Jane books—she wanted to cut out the colorful illustrations and use them for her Manila paper school presentation. I can't even remember why I agreed.

If I couldn’t stand Industrial Arts, I loathed every minute of our P.E. class. Our daily exercise consisted of running around the school courtyard, or doing chin-ups using the scaffolding of the school water tank. There were silly games that we were allowed to play on the stage—like “bending” and “jump-partner-and skippy-domino”, whose mechanics escape me now. The crowning achievement of our P.E. classes is always a field event, where we showed off our robotic calisthenic moves, combining bends, jumps, marches, and using props such as flowered arches, hoops or if there was no budget, ribbons on your fingers.

The few moments that I looked forward to were the periodic visits of Clark Air Base teachers to our elementary school. I remember a Mrs. Davies, a matronly teacher who quizzed us with her strange American accent that was music to my ears. Then there were the feeding programs conducted by the Clark medical staff, as well, where we lined up with our paper cups to get a taste of free “Made in America” milk. Back then, it seemed to taste better and fresher than the diluted Darigold I drank at home.

Then there were the Art Education classes that I really enjoyed. We learned to do paper mosaic, dots-and-dashes, string art, paper folding and skills like spattering and printing using bamboo stalks and Parker Ink. My creations were often posted on the bulletin board to show off as great examples of classroom art. There was a year that my artworks were entered in an inter-school competition, and I remember my teachers gushing at my excellent chances of winning. But I lost, which prompted one teacher to say within my earshot that our entry (meaning me) " had no sense of proportion and he drew everything big". Sour grapes!

The teaching methods of grade school teachers have evolved and changed. Grade schoolers today have individual books which they can read, write on and discard the next year. Why, our books were unblemished as they were meant to be handed down to the next student, the next year. Whatever happened to subjects like Home Economics and Industrial Arts? Do boys still make dust pans out of cooking oil tins? Do girls still practice satin stitch, daisy chain and sewing button holes? I wonder.

I do know that today, grade schoolers are exposed early to technology. Why, they even have lab subjects—actual sessions with a computer. I was surprised to hear my niece rattle off computer parts like mouse, keyboard, monitor--and she was only 5! Amazing how we have made so much progress in our educational system and teaching methods. We only had flash cards back then. And lots of Manila paper.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

Thursday, January 15, 2009

*126. GRACITA DOMINGUEZ: Dolphy's Dearest

GRACITA AS GLO-CO BEAUTY. Actress Gracita Dominguez, of Mabalacat, models for Glo-Co Hollywood soap print ad. From a Sunday Times Magazine tearsheet, 1953.

Gracita Dominguez (b. 193?/d. 2007) comes from an old-time family from Mabalacat which counts a hero (Lt. Emilio Dominguez, a Katipunero) among its members. She, too, was launched as a new heroine of Philippine movies by no less than a noted director—“bagong tuklas ni Manuel Conde”. Conde had produced and starred in the 1950 epic, “Genghis Khan” which took Venice Film festival by storm two years later. Previous to this, Gracita had done stage and bod-a-bil (vaudeville) shows occasionally, and so it was really hitting the big time when she was introduced in “Siete Infantes de Lara”, a costume movie written by Carlos “Botong” Francisco. Our future National Artist was then working as an illustrator for popular comic books. The stars were Eddie Garcia, Mario Montenegro, Johnny Monteiro among others, while the female leads were Luningning and Africa de la Rosa. Gracita had to be content with a supporting role.

A year later, the young ingenue was launched to full stardom, in Fortune Productions Hiwaga ng Langit (Mystery of Heaven) and in 1952, appeared in Carlos Vander Tolosa’s Kalbaryo ni Hesus (Passion of Christ), which featured an American actor, Jennings Sturgeon, as Jesus Christ. Despite these films, Gracita did not quite make the A-List of bankable movie actresses. She continued appearing in occasional stage and opera shows and this is where she met Rodolfo Quizon—Dolphy, today's King of Philippine Comedy. Despite opposition from Gracita's parents, she became Dolphy’s wife and when the kids came along—6 in all: Manny, Freddie, Edgar, Sahlee and Rollie—she decided to quit showbiz altogether to devote her time raising a family, while Dolphy worked abroad as a comedian-performer in Hong Kong.

All six of the Quizon children entered showbiz, and three met with varying degrees of success. Thus, what Gracita failed to accomplish, Manny, Salud (Sahlee) and Rollie did. Manny became the manager of his father’s RVQ Productions and did notable films like “Sino si Boy Urbino” and Andalucia. Convent-bred Sahlee dabbled in showbiz in the 1970s, appearing in song-and-dance teen flicks, but found business success in the U.S. West Coast as distributor of Philippine films. Gracita’s youngest son, Rollie, won the 3rd Metro Manila Filmfest Best Actor Award for the film “Burlesk Queen” opposite Vilma Santos. He was most well known as Dolphy’s son in the long-running TV sitcom “John and Marsha”.

Gracita and Dolphy separated in 1963. They, however, remained in good terms for the rest of her life. She passed away in 2007 after a long illness.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON. The crescent moon serves as a clever prop for a Kapampangan girl to pose in. Circa mid 1920s.

Man has always been fascinated with the Moon—that disc of light that illuminates the heavens without fail, every night. Like the Sun, the Moon has figured in the myths and cultures of people all over the world—from the Greeks who believed it ruled by goddesses Selene and Phoebe, to the Hindus who hold festivals in honor of Chandra, the Moon. In contrast, Mesopotamians and Egyptians worshipped male lunar gods—Sin and Thoth, and many ancient pagan religions centered their activities on the waxing and waning of the moon.

A full moon rising has given rise to the folk belief that this induces bouts of “lunacy “—a term derived from “Luna”, the Roman moon goddess. Another belief, although a more recent one, belief involves werewolves or lycanthropes, who were said to draw their power from the moon.

Ancient Kapampangans too, subscribed too, to the mysteries of the moon, using it to explain complex concepts of time, space and eternity. They believe that the heavens was half of an orb that covered a flat, fixed earth. “All that is contained under the vault of the sky”, they described as “meto a sicluban banua”, or “meto yato” (one earth). On this imagined domelike cover, the sun and moon “pierced the sky”—hence the term for the sky—“sucsucan ning bulan”, a spot where the moon rises and sets daily.

Our ancient forebears also used the Moon to reckon time and periods of the day. “Bulan” denotes a month—the period from full moon to full moon. “Dulum” is used to describe the waning of the moon, same with the more graphic “merunut ya ing bulan”—the moon is worn out. The moon disappears as soon as “muclat sumala”—as the day dawns.

Ancient witnesses to lunar eclipses have also assigned a local term to this dramatic phenomenon in which the Moon passes through the earth’s shadow, causing it to darken: “lauo”. There is now word to describe a solar eclipse, perhaps due to its rare occurrence. (There is an existing Philippine myth that explains eclipses: Bakunawa, a monster deity, was said to swallow whole the many moons created by Bathala, until only one remained. The act of eating the moon causes eclipse.To frighten Bakunawa and prevent him from devouring the moon, people would go out and make noise.)

While the Moon has spawned beliefs that border on fear and mystery, its imagery has also been used by folk poets, musicians and artists to fire up their Muses. A composer was clearly moonstruck when he wrote this romantic song that described a beloved as a “malagung capilas a bulan”, the beautiful half of the moon: Malagung capilas bulan/ Matang mapundat maglalawe /Batwin ca ngening cabengian /Ing pusu cu aslagan me /Ing bie cu macapanaya /Qng caburian mu banding sinta /Queca ya'ing caladua cu /Bandi meng lubus susumpa cu. (My beautiful half of the Moon/ With alluring eyes that stare/ Tonight, you are the Star/ Illuminate my heart/ My life awaits / Whatever you desire you’ll own, my love/ You have my Soul / You will have it all, this I promise you)

My favorite, however, is this old juvenile rhyme, which I used to recite as a kid with my playmates.

Bulan, bulan, (Moon, Moon)
Balduganan mukung palang. (Throw me down a blade)
Nanan me ing palang? (What will you do with a blade?)
Pangutyud keng kwayan. (I’ll use it to cut bamboo)
Nanan me ing kawayan? (What will you do with the bamboo?)
Yang gawan kung bale. (I’ll use them to build a house)
Nanan me ing bale? (What will you do with the house?)
Lulanan keng pale. (I’ll use it to keep my palay).

Clearly, while the Moon makes people do strange things, it makes a beautiful inspiration too!

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

Sunday, January 11, 2009


KALUGURAN DAKA, PALSINTAN DAKA, BURI DAKA. Eloquent expressions of romantic love abound in the Kapampangan language, but the best of course, will always be -- "I do!". Newlyweds Bene and Manda sent this photo to Mr. and Mrs. Candido Lazatin with the dedication: "Tanggapan ye pu ing retratu mi, tanda ning emi pamangalingwan..".

“O Jo, kaluguran daka…kaluguran sobra-sobra…Kasara da reng mata, pantunan daka” (O Jo, i love you..i love you so much. As soon as my eyes close, I search for you), so goes the Kapampangan hit song of 2008, first sang by pulosadors and made immensely popular by the recording of a certain Ara Mura . It is not even an original tune, but one borrowed from Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”, a smash hit in 1978. So widely sang was this song that it was even performed on national TV and spawned a half a dozen versions from Totoy Bato clones. The tune may have been adapted, but it is the sentimental lyrics--of a suitor’s vow of undying love, a love without limits--that hit the right chord in the hearts of the lovstruck and lovelorn.

“Kaluguran daka” is the typical way to profess one’s love, and it may sound insufficient at first hearing. “Kaluguran” is also the term for a “friend”, and certainly, a loved one is more than just that. But “buri daka” is even more anemic. According to the 18th c. Kapampangan dictionary compiled and annotated by Fr. Diego Bergaño, “buri”, means ‘mere liking it’ (versus “bisa”, which means ‘liking with affection’). But when conjugated, the meaning of “buri” changes: “pangaburi” means ‘affection’ or ‘love’. “Micaburi” refers to those who ‘agree to love each other’, while “makisangburi” refers to the act of ‘persuading parents opposed to a romantic relationship’.

“Lugud” is defined as ‘passion, affection’. Early Kapampangans apparently did not use this word much to refer to romantic feelings. To describe one as “malugud” is to mean ‘one with passion, affection and compassion’. “Caluguran” or ‘queluguran’ is ‘the one loved in this manner’, not necessarily, a sweetheart.

Fray Coronel, in his 1621 grammar book, Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Pampanga, took note of the phrase, “caluguran daca”, which means ‘you are beloved of me’. The other forms of “lugud” though had negative connotations: “malugud” is ‘illicit lover’, and two people engaged in an illicit relationship are “micalugud”. To go around this, early Kapampangan lovers used “buri da ka”, which was safer, even if it is devoid of intensity.

“Sinta” (cinta, in Bahasa Indonesia), on the other hand, means ‘love that always carries the pain and anxiety to enjoy one’s beloved’. Thus, “palsintan daka” means ‘I desire you’ or ‘I have feelings for you’. Its usage is more prevalent among Tagalogs, and if one were to say “palsintan da ka” today, he would be dismissed as old-fashioned and passé.

There are more ways to describe the nuances of love and the objects of one’s affection. A person inflamed by love has a “pusung micacalucu’ (a heart filled with ardent love). It is not uncommon for someone to dedicate a photo of his with the opening line: "Maluca queng bibie queca ing larauan cu.." (It is with ardent feelings that I give you this picture of mine..). Meanwhile, the feelings of a person madly in love emanates from his “busal king lub” (core of his being).

“Liag" is a term of great endearment, hence, when one is ‘meliag’, he is profoundly fascinated by his object of love. “Cuyug” describes an ‘inseparable partner, like a pair of doves’; hence, ‘cacuyug’ means someone with a partner. “Balintatauo” refers to the darling of the eye, while “mipagdiwata’, is the act of worshipping a beloved, in the same manner that one adored idols and anitos.

Perhaps, the best description of true love, is recorded by Bergaño by way of a morbid, but eloquent expression of what a Kapampangan would do in the name of love: “Tadtaran da cu man, ing catadtad a mitalandang, yang maquiasawa queia”: ‘They may cut me into small pieces, but one of these little pieces is enough to marry her!’. Ouch! See what love can do!

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

*123. A Leading Role Lost: DE LA ROSA'S PRESIDENTIAL BID

ROGELIO DE LA ROSA FOR PRESIDENT MOVEMENT. This national movement quickly gained momentum in the provinces and supporters were issued IDs such as this. It came with this pledge: "I do solemnly pledge my full support for Rogelio de la Rosa in his bid for the Presidency of the Philippines and, in furtherance thereof, I shall actively and extensively campaign, to the best of my ability, in order to bring about the fulfillment of the people's hope and desire that he be elected this coming he is the new hope of our Republic".

Rogelio de la Rosa, the top matinee idol of the 1950s, could have been the country’s first actor-president, pre-dating the achievement of actor Ronald Reagan, who became America’s top leader, by 20 years. This Lubao-born personality could be said to have prepared all his life for his biggest leading role ever—that of becoming the country’s head of state in 1961!

After all, Rogelio was an early student of the proverbial school of hard knocks. To support his family, he took to the zarzuela and became a star, although he always played villain to Diosdado Macapagal, his brother-in-law, (he was married to his younger sister, Purita) who kept landing heroic roles At one point, he worked as a checker, a time-keeper and a fruit seller in Divisoria, and at age 16, he became a boxer and a Golden Gloves Champion. He excelled in public speaking and debating, and captained his high school team in various competitions in Central Luzon and Manila.

During the War, he held the rank of a Major of the guerilla forces under Edwin P. Ramsay. He later became a chairman of the Committee on Recreations at the Veteran Memorial Hospital. Pres. Ramon Magsaysay named him his adviser on the Philippine movie industry.

In 1957, under the Liberal Party ticket headed by Jose Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal, Rogelio ran and won a Senatorial slot, the first movie personality to occupy an esteemed government position. As a Senator, he advocated the nationalization of local industries such as fishing and agriculture, particularly in his province, Pampanga. He also co-authored a bill that would lead to the creation of the Board of Censors.

This matinee idol had such a compelling presence and magnetic appeal that in the next presidential elections, a ‘Rogelio de la Rosa For President Movement’ was initiated by thousands of supporters. Touted as the “NEW HOPE of our Republic”, de la Rosa responded to the challenge and expressed his bid for the presidency to the delight of his fans and followers.

He could have easily won the 1961 presidential race but he withdrew from the election shortly before the election day, but the real reasons have not always been clear. One version from his Senate biography stated that Rogelio felt that the only way to ensure his rival's defeat was to withdraw, so that his drastic action would call attention to the political corruption of Pres. Garcia. A more popular reason was that his former brother-in-law, Diosdado P. Macapagal, was also in the race for presidency. It was said that Macapagal convinced him to discontinue his bid, so that votes will not be split between them. He gallantly withdrew, and the rest, as they say is history. Macapagal became the country’s 9th president by thwarting the re-election try of Carlos P. Garcia.

Rogelio ran again for the Senate in 1963 but was defeated, and would not be elected to public office again. Instead, he became a respected diplomat, becoming the Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia in 1965, and later, to the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. In his foreign assignments, he made sure to promote Philippine arts and culture until his retirement from the diplomatic corps in the 1980s.

Today, it has become very common for movie stars to use their career as a springboard to politics. Before Eddie Ilarde, Ramon Revilla Sr., Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Lapid (elected senators) and Joseph Estrada (elected President), there was the dashing Rogelio de la Rosa of Lubao, a Kapampangan, who paved the road for them, in their quest for stardom in the government.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

Thursday, January 8, 2009

*122. CARMELING DEL ROSARIO, Miss Mindanao 1935

PAMPANGA'S ADOPTED DAUGHTER. Carnival beauty Carmeling del Rosario, as she appeared as Miss Mindanao 1935. She married Virgilio Hizon Rodriguez, from the prominent Rodriguez Family of San Fernando.

One of the most striking beauties ever to emerge from the legendary Manila Carnivals of the peacetime years was Carmen del Rosario, Miss Mindanao of 1935. Carmen was not born Kapampangan, but her marriage to the scion of San Fernando’s most prominent family and her long-time residence in the capital certainly qualifies her to be claimed as one of Pampanga’s own.

Carmeling, as she was to be known all her life, was born in Manila on 2 July 1916 to Jose del Rosario and the former Carmelita de Leon, one of 9 children. Her paternal grandfather, Anacleto Sales del Rosario (b. 13 July 1860/d.1895) was the country’s leading chemist during the Spanish times and was known even to Jose P. Rizal. His pioneering work on nipa palm and its products won First Prize at the 1881 World’s Fair in Paris. Today, he is known as the Father of Philippine Laboratory Science.

Carmeling was a standout campus beauty of Centro Escolar de Señoritas where she spent her college years. An editor of La Vanguardia newspaper—and a close friend of her father—had been beseeching him to allow the paper to sponsor her candidacy in the search for the queen of the 1935 Manila Carnival. Carmeling’s parents did not really approve of such beauty shows, but after much persuasion, and perhaps thinking that her chances of winning were slim, her father relented. One stipulation of the agreement however was that should Carmeling win, she would have to quickly relinquish her title.

As luck would have it, 19 year old Carmeling was one of the top vote-getters of the 1935 Carnival, eventually garnering the Miss Mindanao crown, just 3 steps away from the eventual winner, socialite Conchita Sunico. But for her family, there was no real cause for rejoicing. Her victory had already been reported in national papers together with Catalina Zabala (Miss Luzon) and Julieta Abad (Miss Visayas, who had a Kapampangan escort from Tarlac, Jose Feliciano, later to be a Secretary of Agriculture under Pres. Diosdado Macapagal’s term), when she announced that she was giving up her title. Her conviction to stand by her decision in fulfillment of her father’s wish ruffled quite a few feathers among the carnival officials and participants who now believed her to be a nuisance candidate. Thus, 4th placer Celia Araullo was elevated to the court as Miss Mindanao.

But her short-lived carnival days were not without wonderful moments. That same year, she met Virgilio H. Rodriguez, son of sugar baron Don Godofredo Rodriguez and Doña Victoria Hizon of San Fernando. On 26 June 1935, Carmeling and Virgilio were married in spectacular rites at the Sto. Domingo Church, on 26 June 1935, a talk-of-the-town wedding that merited coverage in the Pampanga Social Register 1936, which chronicled Pampanga’s alta sociedad events. The couple settled in San Fernando, where Carmeling quickly learned to speak in Kapampangan. They had 5 children: Victoria, Godofredo, Gorgonia, Ana Marie and Jo Anne. Although in delicate health, 93 year old Carmeling, Pampanga’s adopted beauty, is settled in San Lorenzo Village, Makati today with an unmarried daughter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


TIME TO EAT. Mealtime for many of our Kapampangan forebears was dictated by their labors in the field and by their hunger pangs, more than the chiming of clocks.

"To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven."

--A Chinese proverb

It would seem now strange that Kapampangans – noted for their fine culinary skills—didn’t bother much with their breakfast back in the days of yore. They must either have been so hardworking that they skipped breakfast altogether to till their fields, or that they found preparing meals so early too cumbersome. Which is why, there is no term for “breakfast” in the Kapampangan language. “Almusal” as Kapampangans term their breakfast today, was derived from the Spanish ‘almuerzo”, which may mean lunch, brunch or breakfast. Apparently, the more exact Spanish word for breakfast, “desayuno”, did not catch on among the mekenis.

But ancient Kapampangans did have a term for an early lunch—abacan—taken between 9 to 10 in the morning (Abacan River in Balibago, Angeles City is named as such because traders and travelers leaving Mexico town sailed in the once-navigable river and reached Culiat around lunchtime.).

Today, Kapampangans use the word “ugtu” to mean lunch. “Maugtu tana!” is a friendly invitation to partake of the heavy noontime fare. However, Fr. Diego Bergaños’s 18th c. Kapampangan dictionary defines “maogto” as “to eat lunch late, after mid-day, about 2 p.m.”, a time closer to the Spanish afternoon snack known as “merienda”.

Dinner for Kapampangans had to be early, too. “Apunan” was timed with the roosting hours of their birds and fowls, which was late afternoon (gatpanapun). The day’s toil had to be finished before darkness overtook them—and that included taking supper.

Odd eating hours notwithstanding, our Kapampangan ancestors ate when they were hungry, not when the clock said so (if there were clocks then!). But when they did eat, they ate with relish and abandon—eating with their hands, guzzling their tuba and enjoying “anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven”-- proof, indeed, that the Kapampangan knew how to get most out of life!

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes". The author wishes to thank Singsing Magazine for most of the information needed for this article)