Sunday, February 26, 2012

*283. DR. MIGUEL P. MORALES, Mabalacat's 1st Post-War Mayor

THE MORALES MAYORALTY. Dr. Miguel Pantig Morales, first elected mayor of post-war Mabalacat, comes from a long line of politicos who served the town in different capacities, a tradition now being continued by grandson, Marino, current mayor of this first class municpality. Ca. 1933.

The Moraleses are well-known in Mabalacat as a long-standing political clan of the town, a tradition that was started by Quentin Tuazon Morales (b. 1856/d.1928) who became a teniente mayor of barangay Poblacion in the late 19th century. When he moved his family to Sta. Ines, he became a cabeza of that barrio. His youngest son with Paula Cosme Guzman, Atty. Rafael Morales, also was elected as consejal (councilor) in the 1930s.

Feliciano Morales, Quentin’s brother, was also a cabeza of barangay Quitanguil. But it would be his son with Juana Pantig--Dr. Miguel Morales--who would solidify the Moraleses’ reputation as a family of politicos, by being elected as the first mayor of Mabalacat, after the Liberation.

Born on 23 September 1893, Miguel was educated in Mabalacat under Maestro Bartolome Tablante and in Angeles under Maestro Pedro Manankil. For his higher education, he was sent to the Liceo de Manila and Colegio de Ntra. Señora del Rosario. While still a student, Miguel gave vent to his literary pursuits, with many of his prose and poems seeing print on “E Mañgabiran”, a widely circulated newspaper. He wrote under the pen name “M. L. Amores”. Miguel was also an active member of the social club, “Sibul ning Lugud”, which he served as Vice President.

His main ambition though was to pursue a career in medicine, and so in 1915, Miguel enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas for his medical degree which he finished in 1920. After his residency at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, he took the board exams and passed with flying colors.

The young doctor then went back home to Mabalacat to practice his profession and became an established medico-cirujano. During this time, he married his first wife, Jovita Gabriel of Betis, with whom he had five children. A second marriage to Felicidad Carlos would result in three more children.

In 1933, Dr. Morales was appointed as a Medico de Sanidad (head of the health department) of Apalit. He settled his family in Mawaque during the war years but kept his Apalit office. Though times were difficult, he offered his medical services for free, gave food to victims of the war and aided the Americans who participated in the infamous Death March. In 1945, he was finally transferred back to Mabalacat.

A grateful town elected him as its mayor in 1948, the first post-war town head so chosen by local ballot. As mayor, 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.

Today, the Morales name lives on in the political scene with the term of Mayor Marino Morales, his grandson. For two decades now, Mayor Boking, as he is called, has been the chief executive of Mabalacat, the longest serving mayor in the Philippines. By a twist of luck and technicalities, he survived the electoral protests of chief rival Anthony Dee and the challenge posed by his estranged daughter Marjorie Morales-Sambo who ran—and lost—against him in the last election. The elevation of this first class municipality into a city will give Mayor Morales another chance to extend his term as the first city mayor of Mabalacat—that is, if his winning streak continues.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


MISS FIDES 1935-36, Rosario "Charing" Bacani, one of 3 muses of Guagua National Institute (G.N.I.) during the 1935 G.N.I. Day celebration.

Of the province’s premiere centers of education, Pampanga High School may have the longest and most celebrated history, but Guagua National Institute certainly is not far behind. Founded in 1918 by Fr. Nicanor M. Banzali, G.N.I had become the largest institution of learning in Central Luzon by 1933, with recognized courses in Primary, Intermediate and High School and authorized courses in preparatory education.

That is why, when January 1934 came along—the 15th year of G.N.I.’s foundation, school officials planned for the biggest bash ever to mark the institute’s remarkable milestone. The two-day affair was dubbed as G.N.I. Day, and on the first day—January 20—an inter-school sports tournament was held, with various sports like basketball, tennis and other ‘play-round’ games contested by students.

The major spectacle was reserved for the main day—January 21—with an afternoon parade touted as the longest one in the school history. Not only did the students, teaching staff and other G.N.I. personnel join the ‘parada’, but 21 invited private schools from Manila and other Pampanga towns sent their own delegations—marching bands, sports teams and student contingents--to add color to the festivities.

Highlighting the motorcade were the floats of the muses of G.N.I.—Miss Fides, Miss Scientia and Miss Patria--so named in reference to Fr. Banzali's vision to set up an educational center which aimed to inculcate "faith in God, search for knowledge and love of country in the minds of youth". Later in the evening, they were individually crowned by the reigning Miss Philippines of the 1933 Manila Carnival, Engracia Laconico, and her two princesses, Charity Crow (Miss Luzon) and Angelina Biunas (Miss Mindanao).

A ‘concierto musical’ followed as a tribute to the 3 national beauties who took centerstage along with the G.N.I muses. Conducting the orchestra were Prof. Mercedes Matias Ossorio and Prof. Jose Cummins. The unforgettable Foundation Day of Guagua National Institute merited a front cover report on the leading Kapampangan dailies of the day

Today, the institute—now known as Guagua National Colleges, where 'knowledge and learning is at its best" –is still in operations, under the presidency of Atty. Ricardo “Dong” Puno. It recently observed its 94th year on January 2012. With its centennial just six years away, G.N.I. will surely aim to recapture the gloss and grandeur of its 1934 celebration, when the largest private non-sectarian school of the province put on a spectacle unrivalled in scale and unforgettable for years.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


THE FIRST MISS MABALACAT. Pacita Guzman Sese, daughter of the town treasurer, was the the first official Miss Mabalacat and the town bet to the search for the 1933 Queen of the Pampanga Carnival.

Beauty pageants, it seems, have always been our country's favorite national past time. The holding of the first Manila Carnival in 1908 gave Pampanga a chance to show off her 'pekamalagung dalagas' and in 1926, the first Kapampangan Carnival Queen was crowned: Socorro Henson of Angeles. That same year, the national Philippine Free Press proclaimed Rosario H. Panganiban of Macabebe as its own Miss Philippines.

In contemporary times, four Kapampangan beauties have been crowned as Binibining Pilipinas: Myrna Panlilio (San Fernando, 1964), Melanie Marquez (Angeles, 1979), Abbygale Williamson Arenas (Angeles City, 1998) and Carla Gay Balingit (Mexico, 2003)

Mabalacat misses have also contributed to our regional pride by figuring prominently in national and international pageants. The first Mabalaqueña to wear the Miss Mabalacat sash was Pacita Sese, daughter of peacetime town treasurer Andres Sese and Justina Guzman. A graduate of Instituto de Mujeres, Pacita competed for the provincial Miss Pampanga title alongside other town beauties like Luz Sarmiento (Bacolor), Lina Espiritu (Apalit), Belen Gueco (Magalang), Maria Guinto (Masantol) and eventual winner, Corazon Hizon (San Fernando). Pacita later became Mrs. Mauro Feliciano.

The very first Mabalaqueña to figure in a national pageant was Digna Soliman Ramos, who won 1st Runner-Up honors in the Bb. Pilipinas '77, won by Anna Lorraine Kier. Today, she is married to Dr. Mario Romero and lives in Angeles. In 1991, dusky Seniaflor Sanchez, former 1989 Miss Mabalacat, barged into the semifinals at the same prestigious pageant.

The biggest feat ever by a local girl has got to be Marilyn Gozun Maristela of Camatchiles, who won as Mutya ng Pampanga 1996 and the right to represent the province in the Mutya ng Pilipinas 1996 quest. The reigning queen then was fellow Kapampangan Maricel Morales (niece of Mayor Marino Morales ) and many felt that it was unlikely that another Pampanguena would win the crown 2 years in a row. A dark horse at the start of the contest, she won the nod of the judges in the early rounds, earning Best in Gown honors. Ultimately, she edged out finalists Erlinda Mejia, Teresita Legacion, Elaine Miles and Sheryl Santarin for the Mutya ng Pilipinas 1996 title. Marilyn's next acclaim was at the international Miss Asia-Pacific Beauty Pageant 1996 where she placed 2nd to Costa Rica's Gabriella Aguilar.

Just 2 years after Marilyn's triumph, another Mabalacat resident won the same Mutya crown in the person of Rochelle Ong. A former Miss UST, she represented the National Capital Region in the finals. She went on to compete in the Miss Asia-Pacific 1998 Quest finals held at the Clark Expo grounds, won by Costa Rica's Kisha Alvarado.

It was another feather in Miss Mabalacat's cap when 1999 winner Gizelle Viray, was sent to Canada and copped 2nd runner up honors in a Philippine-Canadian beauty pageant held in August 14 won by Cristina Fandino.

In 2004, Miss Teen Philippines was revived and Kimberly Kate Guevarra, fresh from her Miss Mabalacat triumph, joined the contest and finished in the top 12. Two years later, 14 year old Juliann Angeles Savard of Mabiga captured the 2006 Miss Teen Philippines title in a nationally-televised finals to the delight of her kabalens. Juliann was the youngest of 4 Central Luzon delegates to qualify for the teen-oriented contest that drew 40 contestants. In 2011, Juliann, now an Ateneo graduate, became one of the official delegates of the first Miss World Philippines. She also won a slot as a VJ for the music channel MYX.

Town fiestas were occasions for Miss Mabalacat coronations. First to be crowned was Gracia Hipolito who was elected during the 1950 fiesta. More 1950s Misses Mabalacat winners include Lourdes Guadamor (1955), Candida Galang (now Briones, 195?), Armaflor Quizon (1960). In more recent times, the search for Miss Mabalacat has become a regular fiesta highlight. The winner automatically becomes the town representative to the Mutya ning Kapampangan (Miss Pampanga), held as a centerpiece event of the annual Aldo Ning Kapampangan.

Four Misses Mabiga have won the title in 4 successive years (2002 to 2005), establishing the barangay as the home of the most beautiful Mabalaqueñas. After several runners-up placements, Kimberly Wijangco successfully won the crown for Mabalacat in 2011. It was a significant win as Kimberly was a last minute replacement to the reigning Miss Mabalacat (Aurora Donna Garon) who was abroad and could not go home in time for the pageant. Kimberly was actually Miss Mabalacat 2008, but the Mutya was scrapped that year due to political squabblings.

In 2012, in anticipation of the town's city hood, the first Miss Mabalacat City--Toni Rose T. Reyes of Poblacion--was elected. Whether as a town fiesta queen or as a national beauty titlist, the muses of Mabalacat are truly beacons of Filipina beauty, ready to shine for the pride of their town and people.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


FATHER ALMIGHTY. New priest Fr. Vicente Malig Coronel of Betis, finished his priestly studies at San Carlos Seminary and went on to become a familiar figure in Pampanga's religious scene.

A new priest’s sacerdotal ordination is always a joyous and memorable occasion, a culmination of his seminary studies necessary to fulfill his holy calling. But his first thanksgiving mass takes on an even extraordinary significance for it marks his assumption of a new role--that of God’s chosen apostle-- anointed to preach and spread the good news of His Salvation.

On Easter Monday, 19 April 1954, Fr. Vicente Malig Coronel had the privilege of celebrating his first Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving, and we have his souvenir card to remember that special day in the young priest’s life.

Betis-born Vicente, was one of the children of Gaudencio David Coronel, which also included Rodolfo, Gerardo, Santos and Dominga . His vocation was shaped early by his family and town, which prides itself in having produced the most number of priests than any other Pampanga town. He went to pursue his studies at the San Carlos Seminary, which had quite a sizable number of Kapampangan seminarians who even organized themselves into the Academiang Pampangueña.

On that fateful day at the same church where he served as an altar boy--the Church of Santiago Apostol of Betis, the neo-presbyter celebrated his own Mass at exactly 8:00 in the morning. Fr. Coronel was assisted by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cosme P. Bituin who would, in the same year, be his superior in Angeles. Serving as Deacon and Subdeacon respectively were Neo-Pbtr. Severino G. Casas and Alejandro O. Ocampo. The assigned Preacher was the Very Rev. Santiago G. Guanlao. In charge with the Thurifer was Minorist Jose C. Guiao. Seminarians from U.S.T. served as Acolytes while the Torchbearers were his schoolmates from San Carlos Seminary. The Mater Boni Consilii Choir provided the music while Very Rev. Fidel M. Dabu hosted the ceremonies.

The sponsors of Fr. Coronel at this Mass were Msgr. Cosme Bituin, Sir Knight German R. Songco and Dña. Carmen Coronel Pecson. Immediately after the Mass, a fraternal reunion was held at the Coronel family residence.

After his ordination, Fr. Coronel was assigned as the Assistant Parish Priest, of Angeles in 1954. Together with Frs. Alfredo Lorenzo and Maximino Manuguid, Fr. Malig helped Msgr. Cosme P. Bituin run the affairs of the Sto. Rosario Church, proving his dedication in serving Angeleños for many years. One highlight of his religious career was his special audience and blessing of His Holiness Pope John XXIII on 29 July 1959, at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in Rome.

From Angeles, he was assigned in Tarlac and also had a stint at Our Lady of Penafrancia in Manila from 1976-1983, Fr. Coronel passed away on 22 June 1998.

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you”—John 6, 16.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

*279. Ing Balen Kang Dr. Jose P. Rizal: RIZAL DAY

QUEEN CORAZON I, RIZAL DAY QUEEN. Corazon Castro, of Sta. Rita, Pampanga, reigned as Miss Rizal Day in the 1936 celebration of Rizal Day in Balatoc Mines, Mountain Province. She later married a Lapid and settled in Baguio. Dated 1936.

Rizal Day commemorates the date of death of our national hero, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal, and is considered as one of our most significant national holidays, held every December 30. First marked in 1898, Rizal Day started as a day of mourning until the Americans transformed it into an affair with a carnival atmosphere, in the tradition of American national heroes days. To the Americans, Rizal, as a Filipino ideal, was a natural choice as he was martyred by Spain, the colonial power that they had ousted from the islands.

Our hero, himself, had some association with the province; he took a train in San Fernando to travel to Bacolor, where he purportedly met and was smitten by Rosario Joven. Rizal was said to have picked up the language easily and even wrote letters in Kapampangan. Finally, there are the Kapampangan Mercados who claim to have some blood ties with Rizal. But whether related or not, Rizal seemed to be everyone’s ubiquitous idol when his cult was popularized.

Every town was enjoined to erect a statue of the National Hero in the poblacion or in the town plaza, and Pampanga boasts some of the finest statues of Rizal, often life-size, dressed in his trademark overcoat and made of cast cement. Macabebe holds the distinction of having the first Rizal monument in Pampanga, put up in 1919. In my town, Mabalacat, for instance, a 70 plus year old statue of Rizal stands guard on the side of our municipio, enshrined in 1940, as a memorial to our great nationalist. Annual traditional Rizal day rites include flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies in his hometown and in Luneta.

Another American-introduced event-- Garden Day-- was sometimes appended to Rizal Day. An important part of the celebration was the selection of Rizal Day muses, of which every town seemed to have one, Kapampangan towns included. Crowns for Rizal Day Beauties were ordered from the Avenida talyer of Maxima Lapera de Guzman which produced them in different shapes and designs. Often bejeweled, they were available from P13.00 to 34.00 each.

Rizal’s sesquicentennial (150th) birth anniversary was recently marked nationwide on 19 June 2011. Pampanga joined the celebrations, led by the Center for Kapampangan Studies of Holy Angel University which created a facebook fan page in collaboration with Rizal’s great grandniece Lisa Tinio-Bayot. The Rizal 150 community page featured 150 Rizal quotations daily and pictures of monuments from around the country, in the hope of generating renewed interest in our national hero, so that, in a special way, every day can be a Rizal Day.