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Puaben, PhilGrace T.

BSED-3A
Beliefs and Practices
Just like the other ethnolinguistic groups, the Kapampangans have rich customs and traditions governing
the rites of passage. Some of these practices are still being observed nowadays.

Birth Practices. In one of the barrios of Guagua, Pampanga, close relatives of a woman who is about to
deliver a child, together with their neighbor, make noise like shouting, beating tin cans and exploding
firecrackers in order to help expel the fetus faster.

Baptismal Rites Practices. In many Kapampangan houses, the baby’s baptismal dress serves as a souvenir
and decoration for the sala. It is put on a frame and hung in the sala like a picture.

Courtship and Marriage. The only prevalent form of courtship now is the pamanhikan, where the male,
with the permission of the parents, is to visit the girl in the latter’s house. When the agreement is reached
between the boy and the girl, the marriage ceremony is arranged. At present, pamanhikan is being
practiced when the parents of the boy confer with their balae (parent of the bride-to-be) regarding marriage
plans of the children.

MAL A ALDO. Pampanga is one of the provinces of the Philippines with really colorful (and at times
bloody) Holy Week practices and rituals. It's quite close to Manila too. Which is why it's a good place to
experience Holy Week, Mahal na Araw or Mal a Aldo.

HOLY WEDNESDAY. The highlight of the day would be the Holy Wednesday Processions. Several towns
have very elaborate carrozas, particularly Bacolor, Sasmuan, Guagua, Santa Rita, Betis and San Fernando.

HOLY THURSDAY. Pampanga is quite (in) famous for Holy Week flagellation. And this usually peaks
on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There are other traditions including Dakit Cordero in Mabalacat (2:30
p.m.) and Santo Tomas (4 p.m.). And the Pasyon Serenata in Brgy. San Basilio, Santa Riat (8 p.m. to 12
midnight) and Sitio Maligaya in San Basilio (also 8 p.m. to 12 midnight).

LUBENAS. Lubenas came from the word novena, which means nine days, referring to the nine-day
simbang gabi. But while the rest of the country was content with attending dawn masses for nine
consecutive days, Kapampangans went a step farther by holding a procession on the eve of every simbang
gabi, i.e., they had a procession after dinner, which means they slept late, and then woke up before dawn
for the simbang gabi (or simbang bengi in Kapampangan).

Death and Burial. The wake (makipaglame) lasts for at least three days and two nights after which
everybody participates in the libing (interment).

As part of the ritual, vigil is observed till the ninth day after the death of the deceased known as
pasiyam(day).

On the first death anniversary, lukas paldas (literally the removing of the dress for mourning) is practiced
with a grandiose meal. The pangadi (prayer observance) is an important part of the ritual.
On Beliefs. Some of the beliefs which have survived to this day are the following:
Nunu the old men who reside in mounds
Mangkukulam flesh and blood men/women possessing dreadful evil power
Tianaka evil spirits who inhabit forests and bamboo thickets
Dwende spirit that assume the form of man
Kapre nocturnal giants
Magkukutud beings endowed with supernatural powers to separate their heads from their bodies

Significant Features
PAMPANGA. Pampanga is well-known for two things: food and the Christmas parol (lanterns).
Travelers who pass by Pampanga encounter all sorts of rice cakes, sweets, snacks and delicatessen. To
name a few, theturones de casoy and sans rival of Sta Rita; the tamales and puto seco of Bacolor; pastillas
de leche of Magalang. Pampanga takes pride also in its other food products like burong babi, taba ng
talangka and camaro.

San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga is famous for some of the most unique star lanterns in shapes, colors
and sizes made from all kinds of material. The town becomes the center of Christmas activities by parading
its giant lanterns (measuring 18 ft in diameter) made from hand by the skillful parol makers of every town
and city in Pampanga.

TARLAC. Tarlac is well known as the Melting Pot of Central Luzon due to the presence of the
following four major ehtnolinguistic groups: Pampangos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs and Pangasinenses. Amidst
cultural diversities the people have learned to live as one and at peace with one another. Thus, Tarlac served
as the cradle of great men and women in every field of endeavor.

Foremost figures were the late Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., the country’s latter-day hero and Carlos P. Romulo,
the former Secretary General of the United Nations. Another notable figure was Leonor Rivera of Camiling,
Tarlac, Jose Rizal’s beloved and better known as “Maria Clara” in his novel Noli Me Tangere.

Tarlac also takes pride in being home to the First Woman president of the Philippine Republic in the person
of Corazon C. Aquino who hails from Concepcion, Tarlac.

About the Author:


Rosita Muñoz-Mendoza graduated with a Ph.D in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines,
Diliman. She is Professor VI – Director of Gender and Development at Tarlac College of Agriculture,
Camiling, Tarlac.

Here are tips to help you survive the company of this much-admired, much-reviled and much
misunderstood people:
1. Kapampangans talk loud when they’re together. They enjoy listening to themselves and to the sound of
their language. They love their language with a child’s love for his mother, calling it amanung sisuan
(“suckled word”). They’d navigate across a crowded room to find anyone speaking in Kapampangan, and
when they do, they’d gush like long lost friends. They sound like they’re arguing, but they’re actually just
tracing their six degrees of separation in search of a blood relation or a common acquaintance. You can’t
blame them for savoring each other’s company. There are only two million of them left on Earth, compared
with 22 million Tagalogs, 20 million Cebuanos and eight million Ilocanos.

2. Kapampangans are proud of their race. Call them conceited, call them ethnocentric, but they sincerely
believe that they’re the first, the best and the most in everything. Bravest soldiers? Check. First Jesuits?
Check. Best cooks? Check. Prettiest women? Check. Longest literary work, first woman author, first
vernacular zarzuela, first novel in English. Check, check, check, check! Kapampangans are fiercely
patriotic — not to the Filipino nation, but to the Kapampangan Nation, which they claim (correctly) to be
older by a thousand years. Other Filipinos deny their ethnicity, but Kapampangans will announce it even
when no one’s asking! Their attachment to their land of birth compels them to stay, but if they leave at all,
they always look to Mt. Arayat as a sentimental beacon guiding them on their way back.
3. Kapampangans are offended when they’re called dugong aso (dog-blooded). They take it as an attack on
their personal integrity and an affront on the memory of their ancestors. Generations of Kapampangans
have endured humiliation from people carelessly and even maliciously calling them traitors. Who wouldn’t
resent being told that treachery runs in your blood?

The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio Aguinaldo's forces
during the Philippine American War (Source: philippineamericanwar.webs.com)
The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio Aguinaldo's forces
during the Philippine American War (Source: philippineamericanwar.webs.com)

4. Kapampangans can really cook, and Pampanga is really the food capital of the Philippines. You can
contest the other claims, but this one is universally accepted. Other regions are known for single dishes and
desserts; Pampanga has a whole cornucopia of culinary delights, from colonial to folk to exotic. This gift
can be traced back to their access to the friar’s kitchen, their land’s plentiful harvests and the episodes of
floods and famine that have taught them to improvise. Everyone in Pampanga can cook, even the men; woe
to the Kapampangan who can’t cook!

Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)


Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)

Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)


Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)

5. Kapampangans are notorious bashers. You make one small mistake, you won’t hear the end of it. You
cook caldereta (stew) that’s a tad bland, you’ll be the topic for days. State a contrary opinion and you’re
dead. Kapampangans are highly opinionated and contentious, probably the result of pampering by their
colonial masters who gave them access to exclusive schools in Manila and Madrid (while their compatriots
could only attend parochial schools) which in turn made them feel intellectually superior.

6. Kapampangans are deeply religious which, of course, is not the same as spiritual. Their fetish for anitos
(spirit idols) has morphed into an excessive, almost irrational, devotion to anything associated with their
colonizers’ religion. Kapampangans have found their new idols on which to lavish their affections: the
church temple for which they’d spend any amount to build, rebuild and renovate; the retablos and santos
(altars and icons) which they over-decorate, over-dress, and over-process; and of course their priests whom
they over-revere to the point of electing one as governor. Pampanga is home not only to the most devout
Catholics in this country, but also to Eli Soriano’s Ang Dating Daan and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ’s
Apollo Quiboloy plus a host of other churches, sects and cults.

Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his crucifixion as a


form of penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City, Pampanga
Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his crucifixion as a form of
penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City, Pampanga

Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga
Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga

7. Kapampangans love the good life. They can’t last a week without “malling,” movies and mahjong. A
birthday, an anniversary, a promotion—there’s always an excuse to party and a justification for spending
all their savings. This joie de vivre, this utter lack of proportion between work and play, has put them in
stark contrast with the thrifty Ilocanos, whom God has only given a sliver of craggy land to work on while
Kapampangans wallow in fertile fields and rivers teeming with fish. Kapampangans’ devil-may-care
attitude is the reason hospitals, diagnostic clinics and dialysis centers thrive in Pampanga.

8. Kapampangans have fine tastes — another offshoot from early exposure to their colonial masters’ lavish
lifestyles. The rise of feudal lords and wealthy families in the province also nurtured artists and turned
bucolic towns like Bacolor and Guagua into thriving cultural and political centers. Kapampangan writers
like Aurelio Tolentino, Crisostomo Soto, Amado Yuzon and Bienvenido Santos; Kapampangan artists like
Fernando Ocampo Juan Flores, Vicente Manansala and Bencab; and Kapampangan performers like Rogelio
de la Rosa, Cecile Licad, Lea Salonga and Apl.de.ap all raised the bar of Kapampangan aesthetics and
refined Kapampangan tastes.

Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)


Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)

Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)


Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)

Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)


Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)

9. The other side of the carefree nature of Kapampangans is their durability. When Pinatubo erupted in
1991, even the proud scions of genteel families and descendants of poets and warriors had to suffer the
indignity of staying in evacuation centers and the difficulty of starting over in resettlement areas. How the
Kapampangans rose from a depth of despair this low to the economic peak this high is one of the most
spectacular recoveries ever seen in this country. Kapampangans are a hardy people after all. It took a
cataclysmic eruption, followed by four years of pounding by lahars, to bring out their hidden fortitude.

The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)
The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)

10. Kapampangans are risk-takers, almost to a fault. When the “brave youth from Macabebe” unsheathed
his sword to take on a whole Spanish armada in 1571, he began a tradition of brave and bold Kapampangans
who’d fight in battle, see the world, or start a business enterprise with an almost reckless audacity. The
landscape of history is littered with fallen Kapampangans who dared to cross swords with much bigger
enemies, from Maniago’s rebels in the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660 and the Macabebes whose town was
razed to the ground by the revolutionaries, to Taruc’s Huks who fought the Japanese and Dante’s NPAs
who fought the government and even Ninoy Aquino who fought the dictatorship.

So there. The list is by no means complete, and Kapampangans are certainly much more than the sum of
these descriptions. But for starters you can use it as a roadmap to get into the conflicted, unpredictable heart
and mind of Kapampangans.

Kapampangans are hard to understand, and harder to live with. The contradictions that shaped their land
and history — the cycle of feast and famine, the tension between loyalty and rebellion, feudalism and
peasant unrest, Church tradition and folk Catholicism, and the presence of the largest US military base in
the hotbed of Communist insurgency — have made Kapampangans truly unlike any other people in this
country.

First published in SunStar, July 30, 2013


Manite, Hanna Yelena C. BSED-3A

Beliefs and Practices


Just like the other ethnolinguistic groups, the Kapampangans have rich customs and
traditions governing the rites of passage. Some of these practices are still being observed
nowadays.

Birth Practices. In one of the barrios of Guagua, Pampanga, close relatives of a woman
who is about to deliver a child, together with their neighbor, make noise like shouting,
beating tin cans and exploding firecrackers in order to help expel the fetus faster.

Baptismal Rites Practices. In many Kapampangan houses, the baby’s baptismal dress
serves as a souvenir and decoration for the sala. It is put on a frame and hung in the sala
like a picture.

Courtship and Marriage. The only prevalent form of courtship now is the pamanhikan,
where the male, with the permission of the parents, is to visit the girl in the latter’s house.
When the agreement is reached between the boy and the girl, the marriage ceremony
is arranged. At present, pamanhikan is being practiced when the parents of the boy
confer with their balae (parent of the bride-to-be) regarding marriage plans of the
children.

MAL A ALDO. Pampanga is one of the provinces of the Philippines with really colorful
(and at times bloody) Holy Week practices and rituals. It's quite close to Manila too. Which
is why it's a good place to experience Holy Week, Mahal na Araw or Mal a Aldo.

HOLY WEDNESDAY. The highlight of the day would be the Holy Wednesday Processions.
Several towns have very elaborate carrozas, particularly Bacolor, Sasmuan, Guagua,
Santa Rita, Betis and San Fernando.

HOLY THURSDAY. Pampanga is quite (in) famous for Holy Week flagellation. And this
usually peaks on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There are other traditions including Dakit
Cordero in Mabalacat (2:30 p.m.) and Santo Tomas (4 p.m.). And the Pasyon Serenata
in Brgy. San Basilio, Santa Riat (8 p.m. to 12 midnight) and Sitio Maligaya in San Basilio
(also 8 p.m. to 12 midnight).

LUBENAS. Lubenas came from the word novena, which means nine days, referring to the
nine-day simbang gabi. But while the rest of the country was content with attending
dawn masses for nine consecutive days, Kapampangans went a step farther by holding
a procession on the eve of every simbang gabi, i.e., they had a procession after dinner,
which means they slept late, and then woke up before dawn for the simbang gabi (or
simbang bengi in Kapampangan).

Death and Burial. The wake (makipaglame) lasts for at least three days and two nights
after which everybody participates in the libing (interment).
As part of the ritual, vigil is observed till the ninth day after the death of the deceased
known as pasiyam(day).

On the first death anniversary, lukas paldas (literally the removing of the dress for
mourning) is practiced with a grandiose meal. The pangadi (prayer observance) is an
important part of the ritual.
On Beliefs. Some of the beliefs which have survived to this day are the following:
Nunu the old men who reside in mounds
Mangkukulam flesh and blood men/women possessing dreadful evil power
Tianaka evil spirits who inhabit forests and bamboo thickets
Dwende spirit that assume the form of man
Kapre nocturnal giants
Magkukutud beings endowed with supernatural powers to separate their heads from
their bodies
Significant Features

PAMPANGA. Pampanga is well-known for two things: food and the Christmas parol
(lanterns). Travelers who pass by Pampanga encounter all sorts of rice cakes, sweets,
snacks and delicatessen. To name a few, theturones de casoy and sans rival of Sta Rita;
the tamales and puto seco of Bacolor; pastillas de leche of Magalang. Pampanga takes
pride also in its other food products like burong babi, taba ng talangka and camaro.

San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga is famous for some of the most unique star
lanterns in shapes, colors and sizes made from all kinds of material. The town becomes
the center of Christmas activities by parading its giant lanterns (measuring 18 ft in
diameter) made from hand by the skillful parol makers of every town and city in
Pampanga.

TARLAC. Tarlac is well known as the Melting Pot of Central Luzon due to the presence
of the following four major ehtnolinguistic groups: Pampangos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs and
Pangasinenses. Amidst cultural diversities the people have learned to live as one and at
peace with one another. Thus, Tarlac served as the cradle of great men and women in
every field of endeavor.

Foremost figures were the late Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., the country’s latter-day hero and
Carlos P. Romulo, the former Secretary General of the United Nations. Another notable
figure was Leonor Rivera of Camiling, Tarlac, Jose Rizal’s beloved and better known as
“Maria Clara” in his novel Noli Me Tangere.

Tarlac also takes pride in being home to the First Woman president of the Philippine
Republic in the person of Corazon C. Aquino who hails from Concepcion, Tarlac.

About the Author:


Rosita Muñoz-Mendoza graduated with a Ph.D in Anthropology at the University of the
Philippines, Diliman. She is Professor VI – Director of Gender and Development at Tarlac
College of Agriculture, Camiling, Tarlac.
Here are tips to help you survive the company of this much-admired, much-reviled and
much misunderstood people:
1. Kapampangans talk loud when they’re together. They enjoy listening to themselves
and to the sound of their language. They love their language with a child’s love for his
mother, calling it amanung sisuan (“suckled word”). They’d navigate across a crowded
room to find anyone speaking in Kapampangan, and when they do, they’d gush like
long lost friends. They sound like they’re arguing, but they’re actually just tracing their six
degrees of separation in search of a blood relation or a common acquaintance. You
can’t blame them for savoring each other’s company. There are only two million of them
left on Earth, compared with 22 million Tagalogs, 20 million Cebuanos and eight million
Ilocanos.

2. Kapampangans are proud of their race. Call them conceited, call them ethnocentric,
but they sincerely believe that they’re the first, the best and the most in everything.
Bravest soldiers? Check. First Jesuits? Check. Best cooks? Check. Prettiest women? Check.
Longest literary work, first woman author, first vernacular zarzuela, first novel in English.
Check, check, check, check! Kapampangans are fiercely patriotic — not to the Filipino
nation, but to the Kapampangan Nation, which they claim (correctly) to be older by a
thousand years. Other Filipinos deny their ethnicity, but Kapampangans will announce it
even when no one’s asking! Their attachment to their land of birth compels them to stay,
but if they leave at all, they always look to Mt. Arayat as a sentimental beacon guiding
them on their way back.

3. Kapampangans are offended when they’re called dugong aso (dog-blooded). They
take it as an attack on their personal integrity and an affront on the memory of their
ancestors. Generations of Kapampangans have endured humiliation from people
carelessly and even maliciously calling them traitors. Who wouldn’t resent being told that
treachery runs in your blood?

The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio
Aguinaldo's forces during the Philippine American War (Source:
philippineamericanwar.webs.com)
The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio
Aguinaldo's forces during the Philippine American War (Source:
philippineamericanwar.webs.com)

4. Kapampangans can really cook, and Pampanga is really the food capital of the
Philippines. You can contest the other claims, but this one is universally accepted. Other
regions are known for single dishes and desserts; Pampanga has a whole cornucopia of
culinary delights, from colonial to folk to exotic. This gift can be traced back to their
access to the friar’s kitchen, their land’s plentiful harvests and the episodes of floods and
famine that have taught them to improvise. Everyone in Pampanga can cook, even the
men; woe to the Kapampangan who can’t cook!

Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)


Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)

Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)


Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)

5. Kapampangans are notorious bashers. You make one small mistake, you won’t hear
the end of it. You cook caldereta (stew) that’s a tad bland, you’ll be the topic for days.
State a contrary opinion and you’re dead. Kapampangans are highly opinionated and
contentious, probably the result of pampering by their colonial masters who gave them
access to exclusive schools in Manila and Madrid (while their compatriots could only
attend parochial schools) which in turn made them feel intellectually superior.

6. Kapampangans are deeply religious which, of course, is not the same as spiritual. Their
fetish for anitos (spirit idols) has morphed into an excessive, almost irrational, devotion to
anything associated with their colonizers’ religion. Kapampangans have found their new
idols on which to lavish their affections: the church temple for which they’d spend any
amount to build, rebuild and renovate; the retablos and santos (altars and icons) which
they over-decorate, over-dress, and over-process; and of course their priests whom they
over-revere to the point of electing one as governor. Pampanga is home not only to the
most devout Catholics in this country, but also to Eli Soriano’s Ang Dating Daan and the
Kingdom of Jesus Christ’s Apollo Quiboloy plus a host of other churches, sects and cults.

Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his


crucifixion as a form of penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City,
Pampanga
Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his crucifixion as
a form of penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City, Pampanga

Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in


Apalit, Pampanga
Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit,
Pampanga

7. Kapampangans love the good life. They can’t last a week without “malling,” movies
and mahjong. A birthday, an anniversary, a promotion—there’s always an excuse to
party and a justification for spending all their savings. This joie de vivre, this utter lack of
proportion between work and play, has put them in stark contrast with the thrifty Ilocanos,
whom God has only given a sliver of craggy land to work on while Kapampangans
wallow in fertile fields and rivers teeming with fish. Kapampangans’ devil-may-care
attitude is the reason hospitals, diagnostic clinics and dialysis centers thrive in Pampanga.

8. Kapampangans have fine tastes — another offshoot from early exposure to their
colonial masters’ lavish lifestyles. The rise of feudal lords and wealthy families in the
province also nurtured artists and turned bucolic towns like Bacolor and Guagua into
thriving cultural and political centers. Kapampangan writers like Aurelio Tolentino,
Crisostomo Soto, Amado Yuzon and Bienvenido Santos; Kapampangan artists like
Fernando Ocampo Juan Flores, Vicente Manansala and Bencab; and Kapampangan
performers like Rogelio de la Rosa, Cecile Licad, Lea Salonga and Apl.de.ap all raised
the bar of Kapampangan aesthetics and refined Kapampangan tastes.

Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)


Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)

Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)


Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)

Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)


Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)

9. The other side of the carefree nature of Kapampangans is their durability. When
Pinatubo erupted in 1991, even the proud scions of genteel families and descendants of
poets and warriors had to suffer the indignity of staying in evacuation centers and the
difficulty of starting over in resettlement areas. How the Kapampangans rose from a
depth of despair this low to the economic peak this high is one of the most spectacular
recoveries ever seen in this country. Kapampangans are a hardy people after all. It took
a cataclysmic eruption, followed by four years of pounding by lahars, to bring out their
hidden fortitude.

The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)
The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)

10. Kapampangans are risk-takers, almost to a fault. When the “brave youth from
Macabebe” unsheathed his sword to take on a whole Spanish armada in 1571, he began
a tradition of brave and bold Kapampangans who’d fight in battle, see the world, or start
a business enterprise with an almost reckless audacity. The landscape of history is littered
with fallen Kapampangans who dared to cross swords with much bigger enemies, from
Maniago’s rebels in the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660 and the Macabebes whose town
was razed to the ground by the revolutionaries, to Taruc’s Huks who fought the Japanese
and Dante’s NPAs who fought the government and even Ninoy Aquino who fought the
dictatorship.

So there. The list is by no means complete, and Kapampangans are certainly much more
than the sum of these descriptions. But for starters you can use it as a roadmap to get
into the conflicted, unpredictable heart and mind of Kapampangans.

Kapampangans are hard to understand, and harder to live with. The contradictions that
shaped their land and history — the cycle of feast and famine, the tension between
loyalty and rebellion, feudalism and peasant unrest, Church tradition and folk
Catholicism, and the presence of the largest US military base in the hotbed of Communist
insurgency — have made Kapampangans truly unlike any other people in this country.

First published in SunStar, July 30, 2013


Duldulao, Sophia L.
BSED-3A

Beliefs and Practices


Just like the other ethnolinguistic groups, the Kapampangans have rich customs and traditions
governing the rites of passage. Some of these practices are still being observed nowadays.

Birth Practices. In one of the barrios of Guagua, Pampanga, close relatives of a woman who is
about to deliver a child, together with their neighbor, make noise like shouting, beating tin cans
and exploding firecrackers in order to help expel the fetus faster.

Baptismal Rites Practices. In many Kapampangan houses, the baby’s baptismal dress serves
as a souvenir and decoration for the sala. It is put on a frame and hung in the sala like a picture.

Courtship and Marriage. The only prevalent form of courtship now is the pamanhikan, where the
male, with the permission of the parents, is to visit the girl in the latter’s house. When the
agreement is reached between the boy and the girl, the marriage ceremony is arranged. At
present, pamanhikan is being practiced when the parents of the boy confer with their balae
(parent of the bride-to-be) regarding marriage plans of the children.

MAL A ALDO. Pampanga is one of the provinces of the Philippines with really colorful (and at
times bloody) Holy Week practices and rituals. It's quite close to Manila too. Which is why it's a
good place to experience Holy Week, Mahal na Araw or Mal a Aldo.

HOLY WEDNESDAY. The highlight of the day would be the Holy Wednesday Processions.
Several towns have very elaborate carrozas, particularly Bacolor, Sasmuan, Guagua, Santa Rita,
Betis and San Fernando.

HOLY THURSDAY. Pampanga is quite (in) famous for Holy Week flagellation. And this usually
peaks on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There are other traditions including Dakit Cordero in
Mabalacat (2:30 p.m.) and Santo Tomas (4 p.m.). And the Pasyon Serenata in Brgy. San Basilio,
Santa Riat (8 p.m. to 12 midnight) and Sitio Maligaya in San Basilio (also 8 p.m. to 12 midnight).

LUBENAS. Lubenas came from the word novena, which means nine days, referring to the nine-
day simbang gabi. But while the rest of the country was content with attending dawn masses for
nine consecutive days, Kapampangans went a step farther by holding a procession on the eve of
every simbang gabi, i.e., they had a procession after dinner, which means they slept late, and
then woke up before dawn for the simbang gabi (or simbang bengi in Kapampangan).

Death and Burial. The wake (makipaglame) lasts for at least three days and two nights after
which everybody participates in the libing (interment).

As part of the ritual, vigil is observed till the ninth day after the death of the deceased known as
pasiyam(day).

On the first death anniversary, lukas paldas (literally the removing of the dress for mourning) is
practiced with a grandiose meal. The pangadi (prayer observance) is an important part of the
ritual.
On Beliefs. Some of the beliefs which have survived to this day are the following:
Nunu the old men who reside in mounds
Mangkukulam flesh and blood men/women possessing dreadful evil power
Tianaka evil spirits who inhabit forests and bamboo thickets
Dwende spirit that assume the form of man
Kapre nocturnal giants
Magkukutud beings endowed with supernatural powers to separate their heads from their
bodies

Significant Features

PAMPANGA. Pampanga is well-known for two things: food and the Christmas parol
(lanterns). Travelers who pass by Pampanga encounter all sorts of rice cakes, sweets, snacks
and delicatessen. To name a few, theturones de casoy and sans rival of Sta Rita; the tamales
and puto seco of Bacolor; pastillas de leche of Magalang. Pampanga takes pride also in its other
food products like burong babi, taba ng talangka and camaro.

San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga is famous for some of the most unique star lanterns in
shapes, colors and sizes made from all kinds of material. The town becomes the center of
Christmas activities by parading its giant lanterns (measuring 18 ft in diameter) made from hand
by the skillful parol makers of every town and city in Pampanga.

TARLAC. Tarlac is well known as the Melting Pot of Central Luzon due to the presence of
the following four major ehtnolinguistic groups: Pampangos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs and
Pangasinenses. Amidst cultural diversities the people have learned to live as one and at peace
with one another. Thus, Tarlac served as the cradle of great men and women in every field of
endeavor.

Foremost figures were the late Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., the country’s latter-day hero and Carlos P.
Romulo, the former Secretary General of the United Nations. Another notable figure was Leonor
Rivera of Camiling, Tarlac, Jose Rizal’s beloved and better known as “Maria Clara” in his novel
Noli Me Tangere.

Tarlac also takes pride in being home to the First Woman president of the Philippine Republic in
the person of Corazon C. Aquino who hails from Concepcion, Tarlac.

About the Author:


Rosita Muñoz-Mendoza graduated with a Ph.D in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines,
Diliman. She is Professor VI – Director of Gender and Development at Tarlac College of
Agriculture, Camiling, Tarlac.

Here are tips to help you survive the company of this much-admired, much-reviled and much
misunderstood people:
1. Kapampangans talk loud when they’re together. They enjoy listening to themselves and to the
sound of their language. They love their language with a child’s love for his mother, calling it
amanung sisuan (“suckled word”). They’d navigate across a crowded room to find anyone
speaking in Kapampangan, and when they do, they’d gush like long lost friends. They sound like
they’re arguing, but they’re actually just tracing their six degrees of separation in search of a blood
relation or a common acquaintance. You can’t blame them for savoring each other’s company.
There are only two million of them left on Earth, compared with 22 million Tagalogs, 20 million
Cebuanos and eight million Ilocanos.

2. Kapampangans are proud of their race. Call them conceited, call them ethnocentric, but they
sincerely believe that they’re the first, the best and the most in everything. Bravest soldiers?
Check. First Jesuits? Check. Best cooks? Check. Prettiest women? Check. Longest literary work,
first woman author, first vernacular zarzuela, first novel in English. Check, check, check, check!
Kapampangans are fiercely patriotic — not to the Filipino nation, but to the Kapampangan Nation,
which they claim (correctly) to be older by a thousand years. Other Filipinos deny their ethnicity,
but Kapampangans will announce it even when no one’s asking! Their attachment to their land of
birth compels them to stay, but if they leave at all, they always look to Mt. Arayat as a sentimental
beacon guiding them on their way back.

3. Kapampangans are offended when they’re called dugong aso (dog-blooded). They take it as
an attack on their personal integrity and an affront on the memory of their ancestors. Generations
of Kapampangans have endured humiliation from people carelessly and even maliciously calling
them traitors. Who wouldn’t resent being told that treachery runs in your blood?

The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio Aguinaldo's
forces during the Philippine American War (Source: philippineamericanwar.webs.com)
The Macabebe Scouts, who allied themselves with the United States versus Emilio Aguinaldo's
forces during the Philippine American War (Source: philippineamericanwar.webs.com)

4. Kapampangans can really cook, and Pampanga is really the food capital of the Philippines.
You can contest the other claims, but this one is universally accepted. Other regions are known
for single dishes and desserts; Pampanga has a whole cornucopia of culinary delights, from
colonial to folk to exotic. This gift can be traced back to their access to the friar’s kitchen, their
land’s plentiful harvests and the episodes of floods and famine that have taught them to improvise.
Everyone in Pampanga can cook, even the men; woe to the Kapampangan who can’t cook!

Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)


Sisig, a popular kapampangan dish (Source: clarkisit.com)

Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)


Morcon, another Pampanga classic (Source: delmonte.ph)

5. Kapampangans are notorious bashers. You make one small mistake, you won’t hear the end
of it. You cook caldereta (stew) that’s a tad bland, you’ll be the topic for days. State a contrary
opinion and you’re dead. Kapampangans are highly opinionated and contentious, probably the
result of pampering by their colonial masters who gave them access to exclusive schools in Manila
and Madrid (while their compatriots could only attend parochial schools) which in turn made them
feel intellectually superior.

6. Kapampangans are deeply religious which, of course, is not the same as spiritual. Their fetish
for anitos (spirit idols) has morphed into an excessive, almost irrational, devotion to anything
associated with their colonizers’ religion. Kapampangans have found their new idols on which to
lavish their affections: the church temple for which they’d spend any amount to build, rebuild and
renovate; the retablos and santos (altars and icons) which they over-decorate, over-dress, and
over-process; and of course their priests whom they over-revere to the point of electing one as
governor. Pampanga is home not only to the most devout Catholics in this country, but also to Eli
Soriano’s Ang Dating Daan and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ’s Apollo Quiboloy plus a host of
other churches, sects and cults.

Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his


crucifixion as a form of penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City, Pampanga
Catholic devotees flagellate themselves and re-enact Christ's journey to his crucifixion as a form
of penitence during the Lenten activities in Angeles City, Pampanga

Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit,


Pampanga
Members Church of God International's Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga

7. Kapampangans love the good life. They can’t last a week without “malling,” movies and
mahjong. A birthday, an anniversary, a promotion—there’s always an excuse to party and a
justification for spending all their savings. This joie de vivre, this utter lack of proportion between
work and play, has put them in stark contrast with the thrifty Ilocanos, whom God has only given
a sliver of craggy land to work on while Kapampangans wallow in fertile fields and rivers teeming
with fish. Kapampangans’ devil-may-care attitude is the reason hospitals, diagnostic clinics and
dialysis centers thrive in Pampanga.

8. Kapampangans have fine tastes — another offshoot from early exposure to their colonial
masters’ lavish lifestyles. The rise of feudal lords and wealthy families in the province also
nurtured artists and turned bucolic towns like Bacolor and Guagua into thriving cultural and
political centers. Kapampangan writers like Aurelio Tolentino, Crisostomo Soto, Amado Yuzon
and Bienvenido Santos; Kapampangan artists like Fernando Ocampo Juan Flores, Vicente
Manansala and Bencab; and Kapampangan performers like Rogelio de la Rosa, Cecile Licad,
Lea Salonga and Apl.de.ap all raised the bar of Kapampangan aesthetics and refined
Kapampangan tastes.

Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)


Playwright Aurelio Tolentino (Source: wikipedia.org)

Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)


Painter Vicente S. Manansala (Source: filinvesthavila.com)

Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)


Singer Lea Salonga (Source: disney.wikia.org)

9. The other side of the carefree nature of Kapampangans is their durability. When Pinatubo
erupted in 1991, even the proud scions of genteel families and descendants of poets and warriors
had to suffer the indignity of staying in evacuation centers and the difficulty of starting over in
resettlement areas. How the Kapampangans rose from a depth of despair this low to the economic
peak this high is one of the most spectacular recoveries ever seen in this country. Kapampangans
are a hardy people after all. It took a cataclysmic eruption, followed by four years of pounding by
lahars, to bring out their hidden fortitude.

The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)
The volcanic ash cloud when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 (Source: usgs.gov)

10. Kapampangans are risk-takers, almost to a fault. When the “brave youth from Macabebe”
unsheathed his sword to take on a whole Spanish armada in 1571, he began a tradition of brave
and bold Kapampangans who’d fight in battle, see the world, or start a business enterprise with
an almost reckless audacity. The landscape of history is littered with fallen Kapampangans who
dared to cross swords with much bigger enemies, from Maniago’s rebels in the Kapampangan
Revolt of 1660 and the Macabebes whose town was razed to the ground by the revolutionaries,
to Taruc’s Huks who fought the Japanese and Dante’s NPAs who fought the government and
even Ninoy Aquino who fought the dictatorship.

So there. The list is by no means complete, and Kapampangans are certainly much more than
the sum of these descriptions. But for starters you can use it as a roadmap to get into the conflicted,
unpredictable heart and mind of Kapampangans.

Kapampangans are hard to understand, and harder to live with. The contradictions that shaped
their land and history — the cycle of feast and famine, the tension between loyalty and rebellion,
feudalism and peasant unrest, Church tradition and folk Catholicism, and the presence of the
largest US military base in the hotbed of Communist insurgency — have made Kapampangans
truly unlike any other people in this country.

First published in SunStar, July 30, 2013