Thursday, May 4, 2017

*431. MAY DAYS IN PAMPANGA

‘TWAS IN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY. Kapampangan kids—including the children of Evangelina Hilario-Lacson and Serafin Lacson—dress up as Santacruzan characters, for the annual Maytime procession.

The merry month of May was named after Maia, the  Greek goddess of fertility, a mother figure in mythology. Thus, since the 18th century, it has come to be the month associated with the Virgin Mary, with many special devotions and religious rites taking place in May.

Kapampangans not only hold the traditional Flores de Mayo processions which celebrates the titles of the Virgin listed in the 13th century Loreto litany, but also conduct a different version of Santacruzan. Sabat Santacruzan--which dramatizes the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena-- is different in that the procession is halted several times by costumed actors who challenge the Reyna Elena in a poetic joust and engage her troop in a swordfight derived from yesteryear’s moro-moros.

Along with the Sabat Santacruzan are celebrated the various town fiestas and festivals of this province. Floridablanca, Mexico, Masantol, Sta. Rita, and San  Fernando observe the feast days of their patrons in various days of May. The Sampaguita Festival of Lubao, the Batalla of Masantol and the Pinukpukan Festival of Floridablanca all happen on this sunny month.

The first day of May also marks Labor Day, in celebration of laborers and the working class.  It brings to mind the memory of  the “grand old man of Philippine labor”—Kapampangan Felixberto Olalia Sr. (1903-1983), the first chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) founded in 1980. Much earlier, he had founded the National Federation of Labor Unions, and became a champion of labor causes,  like  Crisanto Evangelista during the Commonwealth years. Olalia  and his family suffered for his work—he was imprisoned several times even in his advanced age;  his own son, KMU lawyer Rolando Olalia met a violent death in 1986, part of  supposed plot to rid the Aquino Cabinet of left-leaning members.

With May upon us, we look back at some of the past events of significance in Pampanga, which transpired on this fifth month of the year.

1 May, 1942. The execution of jurist-martyr-hero, Jose Abad Santos.
There are several conflicting dates of the hero’s death. What is known is, Abad Santos, his son Pepito, and Col. Benito Valeriano were captured by the Japanese on 11 April 1942 in Barili, Cebu. He was ordered executed by Gen. Homma and taken to Malabang, Lanao on 30 April.  Keiji Fukui, the interpreter during Abad Santos's confinement, supported by his diary notes, put 2 May 1942, 2 p.m., as the date of his death by musketry.  But the hero’s biographer, Ramón C. Aquino, claimed that May 7 was the date given by Pepito himself during his testimony at the war trials. Recently, the National Historic Commission of the Philippines, re-set the date to May 1.

1-18 May, 1910. Appearance of Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Comet made its appearance to the world, after approximately 76 years (it last appeared in 1835). People of Pampanga were struck with awe as the spectacular comet lit the skies before sunrise for 18 days.

4 May 1899. Philippine revolucionarios led by Gen. Antonio Luna burns San Fernando Church.
Not only was the church razed to the ground by revolutionary troops, but also the Casa Municipal and several houses to render them useless to the approaching American forces.

6 May, 1933. The Pampanga Carnival ends.
To celebrate the strides made by the province in the last two decades, the Pampanga Carnival Fair and Exposition--“the greatest concourse of people on the island of Luzon”—was held for 2 weeks, beginning on 22 April, 1933. The venue was the 12-hectare Capitol grounds in San Fernando. Appointed as Director General was the Hon. Jose Gutierrez David, Pampanga’s delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Assembly. More than a display of prosperity, the Carnival was also meant to be a concrete expression of local autonomy in keeping with the principles of a truly democratic government.Almost all of the 21 towns of Pampanga came to participate in the fair that was patterned after the national Manila Carnivals. The fair ended with the selection of Miss Pampanga.

7 May, 1866. Birth of Dña. Teodora Salgado, financier of the Revolution
During the Philippine Revolution, Kapampangan women came in full force to aid the revolucionarios. Not only did they activate La Cruz Roja (Red Cross) for the sick and wounded revolucionarios, but also funded the activities of local revolutionary groups.  On such generous financier was Teodora “Dorang” Salgado,  daughter of Joaquin Salgado and Filomena Basilio of San Fernando. The life of the “grand dame of San Fernando” reads like a telenovela: she was twice-widowed, thrice married, childless--yet she surmounted all these trials to emerge as Pampanga's most successful--and richest—businesswoman.

7 May, 1899. Gen. Aguinaldo moves the seat of the government to Angeles.
The revolutionary leader, coming from San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, transferred the seat of his government to Angeles. Mass was held in the town, attended by his soldiers.  Aguinaldo stayed in Angeles until July, when he moved his government to Tarlac.

12 May, 1812. The proposal to make Culiat a self-governing town is vetoed by Spanish friars.
Sixteen years after Don Ángel Pantaleón de Miranda, and wife, Doña Rosalía de Jesús, settled on a new land that grew and prospered to be Culiat, the residents proposed that their new town be given autonomy to organize its own governing body. The proposal was disapproved by friars led by Fray José Pometa.

12 May, 1962. Pres. Diosdado P. Macapagal moves the date of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12.
The United State, through the Treaty of Manila, granted  independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 to coincide with its own Independence Day. In 1962, Pres. Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, which declared June 12 a special public holiday throughout the Philippines, "... in commemoration of our people's declaration of their inherent and inalienable right to freedom and independence".  Republic Act No. 4166 formalized the date by proclaiming  June 12 as "Philippine Independence Day".

20 May, 1897. Insurrectos raid Talimunduc in Angeles.
On this day, a band of insurrectos led by a capitan from Barrio Tibo, Mabalacat raided Talimunduc (now Lourdes Sur) and recruited new members. Local officials managed to pursue and disband them, and 7 men were caught, including Crispulo Punsalana and Cornelio Manalang. They were supposed to be taken to jail in Bacolor, then the capital of the province, but they disappeared; rumors had it that they never got to their final destination and were all killed.

 21 May 1919, Major Harold Clark dies.
Major Harold Clark, the military pilot stationed in the Philippines and who gave his name to Clark Air Base, died in a seaplane crash in the Panama Canal Zone on this day.

28 May, 1870. Birth of Brig.Gen. Maximino Hizon, Pampanga’s  revolutionary hero.
This Mexico native became the caudillo of the Revolution in Pampanga who rallied Kapampangans to fight the Spaniards under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary banner. He ordered the execution of the parish priests of Mexico and San Fernando, Pampanga, and later led attacks against Americans in a foiled attempt to recapture Manila. Hizon was captured by the Americans and exiled to Guam where he died of a heart attack in 1901.

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