To redirect the government’s focus, another decree was issued in 1871, establishing the Agricultural School of Manila, but this too, failed. “Real Sociedad”, however, succeeded in establishing an experimental station on the slopes of Mt. Arayat, where Manuel Sota demonstrated the value of attention to scientific methods and the advantages to be derived from irrigation. Thus, this simple outpost became the precursor of Pampanga’s agricultural schools which sought to advance the cause of agriculture through education, training and the use of science.
In 1885, the “Granja Modelo”, a pilot agricultural school, was opened by the Spaniards in Magalang. The well-equipped school was subsequently renamed “Estacion Pecuaria”, until 1898. Thereafter. It remained idle, until an American Thomasite, Kilmer O. Moe, and Assemblyman Andres Luciano from Magalang initiated its reconstruction in 1917. Finally realizing the value of the school, the Bureau of Education threw its support behind its reopening. Gov. Honorio Ventura, himself a supporter of the Bacolor School of Arts and Trade, donated more funds to aid the project. Thus, the Magalang Farm School was born.
In 1921, the school offered a curriculum with a strong agricultural orientation for intermediate and high school students. The subjects were mostly non-academic, and were more aligned to the province’s economic activities. Students underwent manual training in the fields and learned proper usage of fertilizers, and new farming techniques using modern machinery. They also were exposed to the use of science and technology in creating better sugarcane breeds as well as practical pest control and the delights of horticulture.
In 1954 Magalang Farm School became Pampanga National Agriculture School, and was hailed as a worthy contribution to education—but not to Pampanga economics. More than 100 squatter families were allowed by the local government to farm free on the best irrigated soil of the school, which hampered the school operations. Eventually, the school regained not only its grounds and the impetus it lost, and continued on its mission to promote excellence in education and improvement of agricultural and rural development in Pampanga and the whole Central Luzon region.
In September 1974, it became a state college and was renamed Pampanga Agricultural College. Today, PAC, as it is known, offers over 13 undergraduate courses, with an expanded curriculum that include computer courses, agricultural technology, veterinary science and veterinary nursing—a first in the Philippines. Its campus, which occupies over 700 hectares of agricultural lands also houses a Vet med hospital, student dormitories, an audio-visual center, various sports facilities, a radio station, tissue culture and feed laboratories and an internet café. With its rich history that spans more than a hundred years, Pampanga Agricultural College—once known as Magalang Farm School—stands as one of the finest institutions of agricultural learning in the country, a beacon of excellence at the forefront of countryside development now on the brink of universityhood.