Monday, July 30, 2012


 WELCOME TO MY INNER CIRCLE. Members and visitors of "El Circulo Fernandino", the premier social club of San Fernando, Pampanga. Dated 27 July, 1946.

The organization of social clubs flourished during the American regime as Kapampangans gained wealth and prominence in society. These elite clubs provided young people to meet others of equal stature, and soon, joining these uppity groups and participating in their activities and amusements were all the rage among young, upwardly mobile Kapampangans.

The oldest and most well-known among these groups was El Circulo Fernandino, a socio-civic club which celebrated its 92 years of existence in 2012. It was formed around 1920, counting San Fernando’s crème de la crème as its initial members. It actually evolved from an even older group, La Gente Alegre de San Fernando (The Merry Folks of san Fernando).

 While El Circulo Fernandino staged many events to raise funds for its socio-civic projects, it was most well known for its annual balls that were legendary for their opulence and ostentation. Members dressed to the nines to attend the glittery dance affair—with women decked in their best gowns and expensive jewelries while the menfolk came in americanas, dinner jackets and coat tails.

Indeed, the balls of El Circulo Fernandino became the benchmark of other groups such as the Kundiman (Angeles), the Young Generation (Macabebe), Mountainside Club (Magalang), Maligaya (Floridablanca) and Thomasian (Sto. Tomas) which organized the annual Sabado de Gloria ball. The balls were capped by the formal rigodon de honor, with dance pairs chosen from Pampanga’s upper crust.

The fabled balls and receptions of El Circulo Fernandino ceased with the coming of the War, but resumed, albeit with much austerity, immediately after the Liberation. The social dances and activities resumed but in 1987, they came to a sudden stop. The Pinatubo eruption all but erased the remaining interest in social groups such as El Circulo, as the city’s future was thrown into uncertainty by the catastrophic volcanic eruption.

In 1997, under the presidency of Engr. Angelo David and Dr. Leticia Yap, El Circulo Fernandino was revived, only this time, it was re-configured to become a foundation. As a consequence, El Circulo became a more socially-involved group rather than an elitist club, in response to the imperatives of the times. For instance, in the 2012 reception ball under presidents Oscar Rodriguez, Divine Tulio and Coritho Panlilio-Lim, gathered friends and members to help raise funds for its projects like the Php 2.7 million greening of the Jose Abad Avenue, anti-poverty and education enhancement programs. Heroes Hall, the venue for the high profile affair, was renamed as Él Circulo Fernandino Mini-Convention Center in honor of Pampanga’s most esteemed social group.

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