Wednesday, February 25, 2009

*135. HISTORY IN A BOTTLE: Reyna Soft Drinks

QUEEN OF ALL BOTTLES. A rare Reyna softdrink bottle with old ads from the 1930s Pampanga daily, Ing Cabbling.

Now here’s a bottle that’s considered the Holy Grail of local softdrink bottles—Reyna Softdrink, a pre-war softdrink brand concocted and bottled in Angeles by the Nepomucenos. Behind the seeming ordinariness of this bottle is an extraordinary story of family spirit in times of peace—and war.

The Nepomucenos of Angeles, led by the patriarch Juan de Dios Nepomuceno and wife Teresa Gomez, have always been instrumental in charting the progress and growth of Angeles. Their many enterprises—ice and electric plants, a high school that grew into a university, numerous prime residential and commercial developments-- helped defined the future of Angeles by generating long-term livelihood opportunities, drawing students by the thousands from all over Central Luzon and reshaping the town’s layout.

One other homegrown business that they ventured into that is largely unknown is softdrink manufacturing. In 1928, the Nepomucenos opened a softdrinks outlet along Sto. Rosario St., ith 2 brands: the more affordable 2-centavo “Aurora”, (named after one of the couple’s daughter ) and “Reyna”, sold at 5 centavos. The drinks came in Orange, Strawberry, Cream Soda, Lemonade and the all-time favorite, Sarsaparilla. Root beer then was thought of as a health-giving drink, which explains sarsaparilla’s popularity. Family members and household helps capped and paper-labelled the bottle manually. The cases of softdrinks were delivered by trucks to outlets all over Pampanga and in Bataan.

Somehow, “Reyna Softdrinks” wide popular appeal worried the San Miguel Brewery, makers of “Royal Softdrinks”. The giant company filed a suit against the provincial factory, claiming that “Royal” was losing market share in the region because consumers could not distinguish the logos of the Nepomuceno’s “Reyna” from San Miguel’s “Royal”—as both brands started with a capital “R” with a similar curly “y” treatment. The case was amicably settled, with the Nepomucenos agreeing to re-spell their brand to “Reina”.

But the family’s softdrinks business was fated to falter from the start. The bottles alone, imported from Belgium, cost 8 centavos a piece, while with contents—5 centavos. But since the business brought jobs to locals, the Nepomucenos could not bear to close it down.

However, in the early days of the Japanese Occupation, the Nepomucenos evacuated to Tarlac and upon their return, they found their machines destroyed and almost all the bottles smashed. They had no choice but to shut down the business permanently. Apparently, one bottle survived the rampage of Japanese soldiers, and today, this small, greenish bottle with the name “Reyna” in relief, has truly become the “Queen” of bottle collectibles.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

*134. STA. RITA'S GRAND FIESTA OF 1946

MISS PEACE BE WITH YOU. Town beauty, Consuelo "Conching" Mangalus of Barrio San Juan, one of the major winners of the 1946 Sta. Rita Town Fiesta. 22 May 1946.

In 1946, from May 21 to 22, Sta. Rita held its fiesta of all fiestas—a Victory Fiesta to mark not just the feast of their patron, Sta. Rita de Casia, but also to celebrate the independence of the Philippines, finally granted by the United States and scheduled for July 4, less than 2 months away. Pampanga was still rising from the rubbles and ashes of World War II, but with peace in the country, progress was imminent. Sta. Riteños, under their Alcalde Municipal German Galang and their Cura Parroco Rev. P. Pablo Camilo, planned their most lavish fiesta yet, an event now remembered for its pageantry and nationalistic fervor .

A 1946 souvenir fiesta program detailed the activities of the town and its people, starting with the ‘aldo visperas’—May 21. A recitation of the novena to Sta. Rita kicked-off the annual feast day, with a Novena Cantada starting at 4:45 p.m. A little earlier, local bands from San Basilio, Sta Rita and nearby Sasmuan made their entrance to the town at 4 pm. In the evening, the coronation of the major beauty contest winners was held with local color and glamor—Miss Victory (Milagros Dionisio of San Jose), Miss Peace (Consuelo Mangalus of San Juan) and Miss Progress (Lourdes Jingco of Becuran). On hand to crown the royals were Congressman Amado Yuzon, Hon. Zoilo Dizon and the King of Crissotan, Sergio Navarro, who paid poetic tributes to the lovely town belles. A Coronation Ball at midnight capped the first-day festivities.

On the much-awaited fiesta morning of May 22, the church bells rang early in the morning at 4, to announce the start of the day’s events. An hour later, the Misas Rezadas began and at 6 a.m, two Misas Cantadas followed, officiated by Fr. Jose de la Cruz and Fr. Monico Pineda. At 8 a.m, a Misa Dalmatica was held with Fr. Casto Ocampo leading the congregation.

The morning once again saw the musical bands making the rounds of the streets of Sta. Rita, simultaneous with the holding of athletic competitions from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. Then, a spectacular Floral Parade took over the main roads, led by Miss Victory, Miss Peace and Miss Progress, and trailed by the Miss Barrios: Miss Sta. Monica (Bienvenida Zapanta), Miss San Agustin (Francisca Macasias), Miss San Matias (Teresita Ticsay), Miss San Vicente (Lutgarda Guanzon), Miss San Basilio (Tomasa Sangalang), Miss San Isidro (Beatriz Layug) and Miss Dila-Dila (Pilar Amio). Also joining the entourage were Miss Sta. Rita Institute and Miss Sta. Rita Elementary School. The floats bearing the town muses also vied for the “Best Carroza” prize.

In the evening, the century-old image of the town’s titular patron was honored with a candle-lit procession at 8 pm. At 10 pm, a Serenata featuring the bandas de musica gave stirring performances. The winners of the different ligligan (contests) were announced and prizes were given to the deserving participants.

Sta. Rita’s much-talked about 1946 fiesta owes much of its success to the different committee heads and members who discharged their duties with maximum efficacy: Mrs. Irene Pineda for the Funciones Religiosas (Religious Functions),Mr. Alejandro Tayag for the Concurzo de Belleza (Beauty Contest), Mrs. Miguela Lopez for the Decoracion de la Iglesia (Church Décor), Atty. Ramon Miranda for the Decoracion e Iluminacion (Décor and Lights), Mr. Diego Valencia for the Coronacion y Parada (Coronation and Parade), Mr. German Galang for the Juegos Atleticos (Athletic Games) and Mr. Anterio Cruz, who headed the Committee of Manila-based Sta. Riteños. Pulling off the town’s grandest post-war fiesta was certainly a victory for all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

*133. GRADUATION DAY, REVISITED

STA. ANA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, CLASS OF 1926. Dr. Alan C. Derkum, a Thomasite, is shown on the upper left hand side. The pencilled names of the school personnel identified in this graduation photo include: (from top to bottom , L-R), include a certain Mr. P. Gutterrez, Mr. M. Yap, Miss P. Aguas, Miss C. Pabalan and Mr. R. Pangan.

An all-important rite of passage every student undergoes is the graduation ceremony. Graduation is a life-changing moment that means not just fulfilling all academic requirements, but also leaving the comforts of the school, its hallowed halls and classrooms, and the company of classmates-turned-comrades. But before one gets to assume the new responsibilities and challenges of this milestone, one has to go through frenetic months of pre-commencement exercise preparations that can leave one exhilarated and dazed for days.

The attendant rites of a graduation were conceived in Europe, but it took the American teachers to formalize a program here when they helped set up a public system of education for the Philippines—integrating graduation marches, valedictory addresses and honor ribbons to the whole ceremony. Elementary school graduations were not exempt from these mandatory rituals and practices as I recall my very own Class of 1969 graduation from Mabalacat Elementary School.

I knew graduation was fast approaching when I saw my teachers busy sewing ribbons for honor students in their lounge. As our our school simply could not afford medals., simple doilies were sewn instead , on which were attached a short ribbon strip. On this, a teacher would type or write with a felt-tip pen, the name of the student, his class and section, the teacher-in-charge, and the honors earned. Simple and cheap these ribbons may have been, I always swelled with pride every time I receive one or two—never mind if the handwriting was smudged or if the doily was not a perfect circle. I still have most of my elementary medals tucked away inside a desk—fraying badges of honor and symbols of my young life’s accomplishments.

The obligatory class picture also had to be taken moments before the actual commencement event. As early as 1 o’clock on a hot March afternoon, girls would be up and about to have their hair set, make-up applied and dainty graduation dress tried on. Boys had few worries because a typical graduation outfit would be just a white shirt and a dark pair of pants—all readily available from one’s wardrobe. An optional bowtie is easy to find. One just needed to make sure that his black leather shoes are neatly polished.

That momentous day, I remembered how my white, starched trubenize fitted me like a T, but my pair of pants was a disaster. It was tight at the crotch and was hopelessly kuto (short), a flaw that was highlighted by the white socks I was wearing. It was “grin and bear it”, all the way from the photo shoot to the stage.

Marching in cadence to the taped music of “Pomp and Circumstance”, our batch strode proudly to accept our diplomas as our beaming parents looked at us from their seats. (Years later, in high school, the graduation song of choice was the Beach Boys’ “Graduation Day”, while graduates of the ‘80s marched to the song of Raymond Lauchengco’s “Farewell”, from the Bagets movie).

I remember how disappointed I was when I got my “diploma”—it was just a rolled paper bond tied with a flimsy blue ribbon. The real parchment paper diploma was only released 2 weeks after our graduation march, together with my souvenir class photo, preserving forever an image of me, a 12 year old graduate in ill-fitting pants.

My graduation photo is not unlike this snapshot of the 1926 Graduating Class of Sta. Ana Elementary School, but this one is more creatively rendered and specially designed to pay tribute to Thomasite Dr. Alan C. Derkum, (top left photo) who was once a supervising teacher in Pampanga, particularly in Mexico. Together with his wife, Agnes, Alan Derkum, who hails from Wayne, Indiana, sailed to the Philippines on the transport Thomas and worked tirelessly in the country as an educator and a civil servant. He rose to become a district superintendent in Tarlac in 1918, while his wife taught at the Tarlac High School. After over a decade in the country, the Derkums—with 4 children, all Philippine-born—returned to the United States in 1925.

It is hard not to wax sentimental when one recalls the end of carefree schooldays and the start of a new, but uncharted chapter in our lives. As the song goes, “no matter where our paths may wind, we’ll remember always—graduation day!”. Indeed, the images of our school-age youth—the Gabaldon elementary building that I walked to daily, the faces of classmates and mentors, the scent of crayons, colored paper and library glue—all these are not just preserved in yearbooks, school journals and class photos, but are indelibly etched in the heart.

Friday, February 6, 2009

*132. TO MARKET, TO MARKET

PALENGKE QUEENS. Kampangan market vendors hawking their products at a palengke near Stotsenburg. This could very well be in Angeles, Balibago or Mabalacat. Ca. 1915.

Every town in Pampanga has a market, the local economic hub where the basic commodities of life are sold—agricultural produce, fresh foods, meats and poultry, pots and pans, manufactured and processed goods, not to mention local crafts and handmade products. Everyday, peddlers and vendors, both legal and illegal, hawk their wares, wheeling, dealing and haggling with their customers—mostly women of the house and/or their trusted househelps.


“Dulung ku”, mothers would often say, to mean they are going to market. This term originally meant “to go down from the towns in the upland to those of the lowland”. Another definition of the word “dulung” is to go down the river. After all, in the old days, local selling and trading was done at the most convenient places where merchants and vendors can easily dock and display their goods for sale—either near a river or an accessible area like the lowlands or the town center. It was on these sites that town markets were first established, to be made permanent later.

But there were other reasons that gave impetus to the founding of new town markets. During Pampanga’s sugar boom, towns like Angeles and San Fernando were suddenly transformed into major market centers as they were strategically used as distribution points for the nearby sugar-producing municipalities. The construction of the Manila-Dagupan railroad further boosted the importance of these two towns. San Fernando’s rise came at the expense of Bacolor. The lively commerce of Mexico, which flourished as a market center in the nineteenth century by driving river traffic up and attracting merchants from as far as Malabon and Tarlac, also saw a decline.

When the Americans came to Pampanga to set up Fort Stotsenburg, enterprising Kapampangans saw a new target market. The markets of the town expanded to serve the needs of American soldiers and their dependents. Itinerant peddlers swarmed Sapang Bato where Americans converged, and cashed in on their moneyed customers--plying everything from carabao’s milk, cooked viands, local cigarettes, liquor, fruits, wild flowers, souvenir handicrafts and more. Aetas came down from the mountains of Pinatubo to sell air plants and orchids to American housewives for the gardens of their new domiciles. The Chinese often competed successfully with local peddlers that some were forced to revert back to an agricultural livelihood.

In the art of peddling, perhaps no one can compare to the selling skills of the Macabebe cloth vendors. In fact, Macabebe takes pride in being called “Home of the Peddlers”, a reputation built by these native vendors who roamed across the Archipelago, travelling on foot and in groups of two or more, selling the famous ‘Macabebe cloth’—actually, Manila-bought fabrics. These humble, hardworking cloth vendors infused a lot of money into their town and in the 1930s, were largely responsible for pumping up Macabebe’s economy.

Today, not even the rise of state-of-the-art modern malls can obliterate local palengkes--bad smell, crowds, noise and all. Practically all of life’s necessities can be found here—from the trivial to the sublime—at prices everyone can afford. A quick survey of the famous Apo Friday Market in Angeles today yielded not just the usual (clothes, small appliances, fake DVDs), but also the odd, the rare and bizarre (green duman, aluminum ear cleaner, balsa wood thermo stoppers, powdered alum or tawas for underarm odor, recycled softdrink bottle lamps). Vendors try to outdo each other in courting customers—buy 3 plus 1, freebies with every purchase, 50 percent off, free trial, return and exchange. If those do not get your attention, perhaps their singing, dancing and verbal jousts will.

The palengkis of Pampanga offer more than the usual, the perfect place to go to people watch , see the local color while getting real, honest-to-goodness bargains. Going to market has become an adventure in itself, so the next time a Kapampangan asks you what you want to do in his town, just say—“dulung kata!’—and you’ll never have a dull day!

*131. NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOE BUSINESS

IF THE SHOE FITS. A 1936 advertisement for a shoe cum laundry shop, ran by the enterprising Kapampangan proprietor along Azcarraga (now C. M. Recto Ave.), Sta Cruz, Manila.

Marikina may be the enclave of the country’s shoe industry today, but before the war, Pampanga also had a thriving footwear business with name zapaterias that supplied Kapampangan men, women and children—including the fashionable and the well-heeled—with the latest Esco, Ang Tibay and local shoe brands. San Fernando, Angeles and Guagua were the leading towns that manufactured considerable quantities of shoes and slippers during the peacetime years.

In San Fernando, two pioneering shoe stores made their mark as the town’s favorite places to go for made-to-order shoes. First was the Zapateria Moderna, established in 1907 by Adriano Tuazon. In a 1929 ad, the shoe store proudly proclaimed: : “Queti aquit yu ing macatuqui: Zapatos Hike, Esco, botitos Mariquina, cupia, gorra…subucan ya at eco sumisi” (Here you will see the following: Hike shoes, Marikina boots, hats, saddles..try and you won’t regret it.). Zapateria Moderna’s fame rested on its customized shoes, which were accurately measured by the shop’s master shoemakers, cut and crafted in style from the softest, supple leather for the most comfortable, perfect fit.

Nearby was Zapateria La Moda y Bazar, owned and managed by Alejo T. Roque. “Matibe. Mura at Masanting”, states an early ad for the store. “Ing calaganapan da ding gagamit zapatos, corchos ampong chinelas marca “LA MODA” ampon ing maragul ng pañiulung niting zapateria quilub namu ning macuyad a panaun, matibe caustan qñg iting zapateria balu nong tuquian a buri ding suqui na” (The growing number of those wearing shoes, fancy velvet and ordinary slippers with the “LA MODA” mark in just a short time, is strong proof that this shoe store knows what their loyal customers want..”).

Roque and Tuazon were actually relatives, and eventually, Zapateria Moderna merged with La Moda to become the town’s premiere shoe store. A 1910 ad for the merger now says "Zapateria"MODERNA" nang Torres y Roque, San Fernando, Pampanga--"Queti carin la magagaua ding miayaliuang forma at tabas a SAPIN amacapariquil caring lalaqui't babay anac ya o matua yaman; anti murin gagaua lang sia't botas. Ding sapin, macalulan lang caja, agpang qng carin Menila. Ing balat a magagamit masanting at pili; iti manibatan Estados Unidos ampon queti Filipinas. Subucan tala caprovinciano qng bacong magcaman qng lugal na niting Zapateria, tulid ne ning pisamban.."(Here are made the different forms and styles of shows that will fit men, women, children and adults alike; here also are made horse saddles and boots. The shoes--as in those sold in Manila--are in boxes. The leather used is of choice quality; from the Unites States and the Philippines. Try them, provincemates, so you can be familiar with the location of the shoestroe, it's across the church..) . Zapateria Moderna was in operations for around 70 years, the management taken over by the Tuazon heirs, until the business was closed in the 1980s.

San Fernando was clearly the province’s shoe store center as other shops also enjoyed loyal patronage from Kapampangans all over, like Zapateria Popular (put up by Donato Bamba in the early 1930s) and La Fernandina, Chineleria y Zapateria, in Sto. Niño, owned by Paulino P. Cuyugan, whose 1933 ad encouraged San Fernando visitors to “Visit our shoe store—where you can buy shoes and slippers at a very reasonable price!”

Elsewhere, footwear shops that made their mark include Zapateria Miranda in Angeles, established in 1922. El 96, managed by Rufino Yamzon also of Culiat, advertised its footwear-making skill in 1933 –“gagaua keng sapin, botitos, zapatilla, sinelas, botas at aliua pa” (we make soles, shildren’s boots, children’s shoes, slippers, boots and others)—backed by 26 years of leathermaking experience. On 1423 Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto St., Manila), an enterprising Kapampangan, Tomasa A. de Simon, put up La Guagueña, Lavanderia y Chineleria—a unique laundry cum slipper shop.

Now, with many Kapampangans favoring finished contemporary international brands like Bally, Nine West, Hush Puppies and Cole Haan , the tradition of making ready-made shoes in Pampanga has become a vanishing art. The shoe industry in the province may have come to a halt with commercial shoe-making, but its place in our commercial history should not be forgotten, for in its heyday, it not only shod the feet of of Kapampangans with footwear for all his life stages but also provided livelihood, sustained families and livened up Pampanga’s economy for many generations.

Monday, February 2, 2009

*130. PAMPANGA'S MEDICO-CIRUJANOS

CURING THE ILLS OF A TOWN. Dr. Jose Garcia, as a fresh medical graduate of Sto. Tomas University, dated 1917. He was later elected mayor of Mabalacat town in the 1950s.

Medicine, despite its length, cost and degree of difficulty, was one course favored by Kapampangans, ranking alongside Law , Education and Pharmacy. At the University of the Philippines, 14 Kapampangans enrolled in Medicine during the 1918-19 schoolyear, with the enrollment tapering off to 11 in 1924. The popularity of Medicine may be attributed to the emphasis of Americans on public health and services. Pampanga medical personnel ran the public health services of the province, which, in 1912 was divided into 9 sanitary districts, each supervised by a doctor.

Kapampangan doctors were quick to take keen interest in public health and they would often go to Manila to study the latest techniques in health service. It is no wonder that a number of Kapampangan physicians excelled in the medical field.

First on this august list would be Dr. Gregorio T. Singian, regarded as the country’s foremost surgeon. His skills were so well known that he earned the monicker “Mago de los Cirujanos” (Magician Among the Surgeons) and is today known as the father of Philippine surgery. He was one of the original founders of the Pampanga Medical Association, established in the 1930s and is also recognized as the founder of the Philippine College of Surgeons, of which he was the very first president.

Dr. Emigdio C. Cruz of Arayat, director of the Arayat General Hospital, became a personal physician of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. Dr. Rufino Abriol, also of Arayat, was once the president of the Philippine Islands Medical Association and a chairman of the Board of Medical Examiners in the early 1930s. Dr. Galicano Coronel of Porac, a U.S.T. graduate, served as a president of the sanitary Division for Candaba and San Luis during the American regime.

Famous cardiologists include Dr. Mario Alimurung and Dr. Francisco Dizon. Noted Kapampangan pediatricians include Drs. Jesus Gonzalez, Manuel Panlilio and Rolando Songco. The latter founded the Hospital of the Infant Jesus, a children’s hospital, along Dimasalang St., In dentistry, Dr. Tomas L Yuzon was sought after as a dental surgeon, offering the latest in x-ray diagnostics and transillumination.

The honor of becoming the first female Kapampangan doctor belongs to Dra. Francisca Galang. Dr. Angelina Arcilla Latonio was named by Dra. Fe del Mundo as one of the fifteen diamond pediatricians of the country. The daughter of Constitutional Convention delegate Jose Gutierrez David, Perla Gutierrez-Del Rosario is also a physician of note. Today, the attending physician of the First Gentleman, Miguel Arroyo, Dra. Juliet Cervantes of St. Luke’s, is a Kapampangan.

Dr. Conrado Dayrit, besides being an all-around doctor, was also a pharmacologist. A firm believer in the health benefits of virgin coconut oil, he authored a book on the subject. His son, Dr. Manuel Dayrit, became a Secretary of Health. Also occupying an important position in the government is Dr. Regino P. Ragaza, who was the head of the first Tuberculosis Control Division in Manila.

Dr. Rafael Hizon, a pharmacist, established the Hizon Laboratories. In Angeles, the leading doctor in the 1930s was Dr. Clemente Dayrit. Doctors who were also successful sugar planters include Dr. Esteban Arroyo Sadie of Candaba (co-founder of the Arayat Central) and Dr. Salvador Gomez of Angeles. Two accomplished doctors became mayors of Mabalacat—Dr. Jose Garcia and Dr. Catalino Domingo. From Sta. Rita, Dr. Victorino P. Calilong offered his services in a 1933 ad: “manuluya qng sakit kilub ning Catawan, Sakit a lihim at caring anac.”

Today, the country continues to run out of medical doctors, what with new graduates opting to work abroad for the proverbial greener pastures, making one wonder if there is still a cure for this acute sickness called brain drain. Gone, too, are the days when doctors made house calls and regular follow-ups. No one takes payment in kind anymore—just fees in cash. But at one point in our history, our medical institutions were staffed by Kapampangan medical professionals—doctors, pediatricians, nurses, dentists, pathologists, obstetricians and specialists-- who put the health and healing of their countrymen first, before anything else.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

*129. SONGS OUR FATHERS TAUGHT US

STRUMMING MY PAIN WITH HIS FINGERS. Kapampangan matinee idol Jaime de la Rosa serenades the object of his affection, Rosa del Rosario (herself, part Kapampangan) in this publicity shot from a postwar movie.

The love of music is inherent in Filipinos and leading the way are Kapampangan singers who have won national singing tilts and earned international plaudits for their talents through the years: Tawag ng Tanghalan champion Cenon Lagman, Flor de Jesus “Joni James of the Philippines”, classical pianist Cecile Licad and Broadway and West End Star Lea Salonga, just to name a few. I wouldn’t be surprised if these premiere artists learned their first songs on the knees of their parents, who in turn, learned them from tradition.

Indeed, Kapampangan music is rich with songs that cover almost all life themes and human emotions—from paeans to a beloved, odes to heroes, laments of hopes lost to the exuberant tunes celebrating the joys and follies of youth. Our ancestors knew how to work hard and play hard—and this is reflected in the first folk songs they composed—the ‘basultu’—often with a comic or allegorical theme. Early examples include “O Caca, O Caca” and the quintessential Kapampangan song, “Atin Ku Pung Singsing”. Basultus often engage the listener by directly addressing him with his name. Of late, basultus are being popularized by Kapampangan folk minstrels led by the late Ruth Lobo, Pusoy Dos and Totoy Bato.

Occupational songs were sung to ease the drudgery of hard work. Most were about farming, the primary livelihood of Kapampangans. “Tatanam e Bibiru” (local version of “Magtanim ay di Biro”), “Ortelanung Alang Pansin” (A Farmer Ignored) are examples. Not just songs but dances were performed during harvest season. “Katlu” is a ritual dance done to the rhythm of pounding pestles and mortars.

Juvenile songs are the fun, innocent songs of childhood. Sung or chanted, they were made to accompany a game (“Sisingle, sisingle, dakal lang anak single..”), or to just while away the hours (“One-two, batu, three-four, bapor..”). Cumulative songs and nonsense rhymes fall into this category.

When evening falls, Mothers lull their babes to sleep by singing ‘tumayla’ or a ‘bingkayu’—a lullaby. It is also at this time of the day that enamored swains take out their guitars to serenade their loved ones—‘arana’—lyrical songs of romance. The gentle kundiman is a favorite arana song, what with its flowing rhythm and poetic lyrics that extoll the virtues of a beloved or that describe the intensity of one’s passion.

Another song type has more recent origins. Revolutionary and patriotic songs came to fore during the rise of the Huk Movement in the 1950s. These protest songs addressed various social and political issues—from inequality, poverty to the presence of military bases in the country. Stirring, bold and controversial, they were often penned by anonymous composers. In contrast, ‘lawiwing pambalen’ or town anthems were designed to instill a sense of local pride and identity. San Fernando, Mabalacat and Minalin are but a few towns with their own ‘imnu’ (hymn).

Today, our forebears’ musical legacy lives on in these ditties that we still sing today. These songs will always strike a chord in our Kapampangan hearts—every time we sing them in school, on stage or even in a karaoke bar.