Thursday, October 27, 2016


YOU BY MY SIDE, THAT'S HOW I SEE US. Dr. Jesus Eusebio, noted opthalmologist from San Fernando, and wife Josefina Buyson of Bacolor, at their fabulous wedding in 1936.

If one wants to see an occasion that best shows the Kapampangan spirit and his all-out lust for life, then one has to go to milestone celebrations of family members—debuts, birthdays, graduations, funerals, and weddings. 

In the glory days of the 1920s and 30s, thanks to the booming sugar industry that made millionaires out of sugar planters and agricultural land owners, Kapampangans could very well hold events that were also virtual displays of affluence, power, social status, pomp and splendor, with a bit of braggadocio and ostentation thrown in.

Such was what characterized the legendary wedding that united the accomplished Dr. Jesus Eusebio of San Fernando and the beautiful Josefina Buyson of Bacolor in 1936, both children of two well-landed Pampanga families.

Dr. Jesus Eusebio was the eldest son of Don Andres Eusebio,  a prominent sugar planter and businessman. The older Eusebio also sat on the board of directors of Pampanga Sugar Development Co. (PASUDECO) and San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. (SFELAPCO). Married to Asuncion Santos, his other sons included Eugenio, Amando, and Alfonso. Jesus, who finished his Associate in Arts at Ateneo,  was already a practicing ophthalmologist when he proposed to his lovely fiancee, Josefina Buyson.

Pitang, as she was called,  was one of the children of Mariano Buyson y Lampa of Bacolor, with his wife Dña. Maria de la Paz Miranda Angeles.  She and her sisters (Carmen, Luz, Emiliana, Asuncion and Pilar) were considered socialites of the town, and they grew up all accomplished—Carmen became an ambassador while Emiliana, a lawyer. But Pitang was the star, especially during the Mancomunidad Pampangueña balls, where her elegant fashion style came to fore—she was always dressed by high society couturier, Ramon Valera.

On April 12, 1936, at the ancient San Guillermo Church of Bacolor,  Jesus and Josefina were united in matrimony by the parish priest, Padre Andres Bituin. The church was decorated with flowers especially brought in a day before by Manila’s foremost florist, Mr. Francisco Hilario.

The bride was resplendent in a wedding gown made by Pacita Longos, the most famous couturier of the era who dressed up Manila’s crème de la crème and Philippine Carnival beauties.

Her  retinue included her sister, Carmen, as her Maid of Honor. Pitang’s close friends,  Rosario Puno, Ester Lazatin, Aurora Hizon, Gloria Dizon and Maria Joven Ramirez, were her Bridesmaids.
Jesus, smartly dressed in a black tailcoat, was attended by his groomsmen, brithers Eugenio, Amando, Alfonso,  brother-in-law Antonino Buyson, and Rodolfo Hizon, future San Fernando mayor.

Standing as principal sponsors were Dña. Mercedes Paras, Dña. Bartola S. de Dizon, along with the bride’s father. Completing the entourage was Master Tomas Dizon, the ring bearer, and Corona Eusebio, flower girl.

Reception followed at the expansive residence of the Buysons in Bacolor, which was dressed up for the occasion. Music and food overflowed, with entertainment provided by Serafin Payawal and Tirso Cruz, Manila’s best big bands.

After their wedding, the couple left on the liner President  Hoover, to honeymoon  in Europe and the U.S. For days, the en grande wedding was the talk of the town, with their wedding pictures splashed on the pages of national magazines. There would be other weddings after that, involving scions and daughters of other rich Kapampangan families, but none was raved and talked about in the same breadth as the Buyson-Eusebio nuptials, held at the height of Pampanga’s age of prosperity and plenty.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


THE NATION'S FINEST. The San Fernando Police Force,provincial winner in 1965, and national champions in 1970, "Best Municipal Police Force of the Year". 

The reputation of the Philippine police force today has been tarnished with front-page news of their alleged participations in extra-judicial killings, drug deals, police brutality, extortion and corruption—the same crimes which they were supposedly sworn to fight.

Of late, even Central Luzon policemen have been revealed to be involved in shady operations. The sacking of the Pampanga CIDG head in March 2014-- for re-selling seized shabu from legitimate raids-- is proof of how serious and entrenched the problem is, happening within the ranks of our so-called protectors and defenders.

There was a time when our Kapampangan policemen were dubbed as “the nation’s finest”, with a spotless reputation for their excellence in upholding law and order in the province. Leading the way is the San Fernando Police Force, which has been winning top awards under police chief Amando R. Cruz since its recognition in 1965 as Pampanga’s best.

 In 1970, now known as the San Fernando Police Department, it first copped Best Police Force in the entire first PC Zone, which qualified them to compete for the national finals. In formal rites at Camp Crame, the San Fernando Police Dept. won the nation’s highest award for police organizations—the Municipal Police Force of the Year—garnering 93 out of 100 points.

Just as successful was the 173rd Philippine Constabulary (PC) of Angeles City, which was adjudged as the Best PC Company of the Year, thus sealing a double victory for Pampanga’s proud men in uniform.

The “fightingest police force" from San Fernando, led by Chief of Police Pablo Mañago, were cited for having no single administrative case against them; they also have the highest percentage of crimes solved. They also received merits for their military discipline and courtesy.

 On the other hand, the 173rd PC of Angeles scored an amazing 914 points out of the 1000 perfect score. This is the first award for a PC contingent coming from Pampanga, considering the questionable image of the Philippine Constabulary in the region’s NPA hotbed. The company maintained its record of discipline and courtesy, with no reports of abuses and no court-martial charges against its members.

Under Maj. Teotimo Tangonan, the 173rd Company commander, the scope of their duties cover Angeles, Mabalacat, Porac and Magalang—which are considered Pampanga’s “hotspots”, prone to Huk attacks and violence. Back then, to see how efficient Pampanga’s police organizations were in keeping law and order, people just have to go to the capital town to watch the patrolmen in action—manning traffic and keeping things under control.

It is a different story for our police force now, who are getting a beating by the bad press they get every day. It will take more than feeble image-building efforts like “Gwapulis” and police pageant and talent winners to put the sheen back on the tarnished badges of our men in uniform. “Change is coming ”, the new administration promised, so let change come from within, starting with our young police cadets. Then perhaps, we will get our “nation’s finest” back. .

Monday, October 3, 2016


BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER. A Kapampangan girl holds a fake dove ("pati pati"), a painted flock of which are shown flying or resting on the steps as part of the studio scenography. Our feathered friends have always been an important part of our culture, traditional beliefs, everyday livelihood and folklore. ca. 1917.

They have always been a source of jokes for my Tagalog-speaking friends—these soundalike words “ayup-hayop” and “ibon-ebon” that hold different, but related meanings. “Ibon” is the Tagalog term for “bird”, but its near-homophone –“ebun”—is but an egg in Kapampangan. Similarly, that which Tagalogs call “hayop” (animal), is a mere ‘bird’ (ayup) in Kapampangan.

 In the days of yore, however, the secondary definition of “ayop”, as noted in Bergaño’s compilation of Kapampangan words, included brute animals such as cows and carabaos, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Today, “ayup” is a word solely used for our fine-feathered friends.

 The wetlands of Candaba are famed for being bird sanctuaries, where migratory birds from other lands leave their original habitat temporarily to escape harsh weather conditions and seek food in the environs of our marshlands.

Birdwatchers from all over the Philippines and around the world have started to discover Candaba’s bird sanctuary, which is being developed as a tourist destination. A collateral event—the Ibon-Ebun (Bird-Egg) Festival is celebrated annually, from Feb. 1-2, to honor not only the town patron, the pugo (quail)-carrying San Nicolas, but also to promote eco-tourism using its varied species of birds as attraction.

 Aside from Candaba, there was a time in the 1950s when the sleepy town of San Luis came alive with birdhunters coming in droves to hunt for jack snipes, locally known as “pasdan”. The season for snipes begin in September, when the chill of the northern countries send these birds southbound, with millions finding refuge in Pampanga and Tarlac.

“Pasdans” are prized for their tasty meat, so they are avidly hunted by locals as well as hobbysts from nearby Clark Air Base. The birds often perched on trees that fringed the vast rice paddies and marshes of Pampanga; in fact, they could be found all the way to Concepcion, Tarlac. The small birds are easy to spot by their sheer number. A bigger and more colorful variety—the “pakubo”—is rarer and more elusive. In 1955, the gaming limit for “pasdan” was limited to 50 birds per person.

“Pasdans” are either grilled or cooked adobo-style, a delicacy seldom seen on Pampanga tables today. Our province was once blessed with an abundance of birds of the most bewildering assortment—we even had local names for them.

We had eagles, falcons, hawks (agila, alibasbas, balawe), parrot varieties (katala loru, abukai or Philippine cockatoo, kilakil or white parrot, kulasisi), doves and pigeons ( pati-pati, batubato, the white-eared alimukun ), sparrows (denas paking, denas costa, denas bale, maya) and swallows (layang-layang, sibad, timpapalis). There were marsh birds ( patirik-tirik, uis, dumara), pelicans (kasili, pagala), long-legged herons and egrets (tagak, tikling, kandungangu, bako).

Then, there were birds noted for their colorful and unusual plumage (kuliawan or oriole, luklak or yellow vented bulbul, kansusuit or lyre bird, pabo real or peacock, silingsilingan or pied fantail) and for the cacophony of sounds they create (pipit, siabukut or Philippine coucal, tarat, martinis).

Much of our natural environment have changed irrevocably—caused by years of thoughtless land developments and conversions, illegal logging and deforestation, and of course, global warming. The devastating effects of the Pinatubo eruption also had far-reaching effects on our bird habitats, such that these creatures are no longer familiar to today’s generations, for they are rarely heard or sighted.

Their important roles in our culture and folklore are remembered in myths of old, as in the case of that sacred blue kingfisher from the marshlands of Pampanga, whose appearance foreshadowed events of profound significance--either gainful or grim—to humankind. This revered bird was called “batala”, who gave his name to the mightiest of ancient gods—Bathala.