Saturday, November 18, 2017


All Saints’ Day (Todos Los Santos on Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2) used to be 2 distinct observances until somehow, they merged as one. When campo santos (cemeteries) began being built outside of the town, folks found it convenient to divide their pious duties: Nov. 1 was devoted to grave visits while Nov. 2 was reserved for church rites. Death came early for Filipinos in the 19th century; life expectancy was just about 35 years. Life, was indeed precious, which was why, death was considered major rite of passage, with traditional ceremonies and post-mortem practices created around the inevitable.

1.There were certain portents of death that old Kapampangan folks believed in: the appearance of a black moth, a dog digging up the ground for no apparent reason, the dreaming of a loss tooth, combing one’s hair at night. To avoid untimely deaths, one should neither position his bed towards the door nor join a picture-taking session if the number of subjects is either 3 or 13. If the toes of the dead curled inwards, beware of another impending death.

2.As soon as someone died in the neighborhood (indicated by loud wailing), neighbors knew exactly what to do next. Members of the grieving family were not allowed to do any work, and so the neighbors took over. There were no funeral services, no embalming, and so everything that needed to be done must be done quickly, before decomposition set in (burial must take place within 24 hours)

3.Early Filipinos believed in the mystical number 7, representing the 7 holes of the head. Our pre-colonial ancestors thus covered their dead’s faces with a death mask cut out with 7 holes. But Kapampangans also believed that an invisible 8th hole exists at the crown of the head of certain special persons, gifting them with the power to liaise between the dead and the living.

4.The deceased was laid on his bed decorated with hangings (black for an adult, white for a child). If the deceased did not own a bed, he was laid out on a mat (dase or banig) on the floor. A black cloth is draped in front of the house to signify a death in the household.

5.The grieving family would have nothing to do but stay beside the dead to weep (they had less than 24 hours to say their final good-byes). If they had to talk to visitors at all, it should be about the life and legacy of the departed.

6.Meanwhile, the teenagers stayed up all night to keep watch and guard against the magcucutud (or manananggal), the airborne supernatural creatures who stole corpses. They entertained themselves by playing card games like entre siete and pierde y gana or playing the traditional Kapampangan games of caragatan (or bugtungan) and talubangan (or bulaclacan), where the boys played butterflies to the girls' flowers.

7.There are certain no-no’s when a death in the family occurred. The family of the deceased were prohibited from bathing, cleaning the house or getting a haircut. The children of the deceased were not supposed to play; if they did, old folks warned, they'd go crazy. A dead should not be perfumed lest he decomposes faster.

8.Children and infants were carried across the coffin to prevent hauntings by the deceased. Taking out the deathbed through the window is another sure way to ward off ghostly encounters.

9.In Macabebe they still do tagulele, an ancient practice that the Bergaño dictionary defined as "the chant of lamentation during a person's wake or burial, relating the bravery of the deceased."

10.Any form of house cleaning is still prohibited during the wake, or another member of the family might also die. When the coffin is already being carried out of the house, however, it should be followed with sweeping of the floor, to drive away illness and bad spirits.

11.Some relatives must also stay behind and peep out of the windows as the coffin is being taken out. The deceased person's bed must be discarded by taking it out of the house through a window, to ensure his happiness in the next life and to prevent another death in the family.

12.The Church dictated the rituals associated with the dead and the dying. Back then, fees were being collected by unscrupulous frailes for walking the dead to his burial ground or for ringing the church bells a certain number of times. During a funeral procession, prayers were intoned at regular intervals called “posas”.

13.During the funeral procession, everyone (not just the family) should be in black and holding lighted candles. The widow and female relatives should wear sucong (long black veils). Rich families spend more to have a punebre (funeral band) and the parish priest accompanying the dead to the cemetery.

14.In those days when there were still no public cemeteries, the dead were buried in private properties, usually the backyard. A child's corpse was always buried neck-deep while a male adult's corpse only knee-deep, in the belief that the soul of older people needed to get out of this world more quickly.

15.When it was time for the dead to be buried, the coffin, as was the custom in old Mabalacat, was placed on a “lankayan”, a stretcher of bamboos, which was then carried on the shoulders of 4 persons. Shortly before burial, relatives younger than the deceased took turns kissing his hand, while the children were held up and passed to waiting arms across the coffin to prevent hauntings. Taking out the deathbed through the window is another sure way to ward off ghostly encounters.

16.Everyone threw in a handful of soil as the casket was lowered, but only the gravediggers were permitted to look at it. There was also the prevalent practice of burying a rosary with the dead, but it had to be cut first lest the dead became restless. (Death is the end of our physical life, but a rosary, in a chain form, is “endless”, so it also needs to be cut).

17.In the first two nights after burial, family and friends gathered around a makeshift altar inside the house to pray for the deceased, have bread, sweets and tea or coffee (nothing more), followed by merriment (more caragatan and talubangan).

18.On the third night, when the soul was believed to come for a brief visit, a seat would be reserved for him at the dining table where ash, instead of food, was put on his plate and covered with cacaricucha leaves. The soul would be pleased to see this and would reward his loved ones with a passing apparition or even clues to some hidden wealth.

19.From fourth to eighth nights, only bread, sweets and tea/coffee would be served again to those who participated in the prayer vigils, but on the ninth night (the uacas of the pasiyam), a big dinner was served. Groups of visitors took turns praying for the deceased before proceeding to the dinner table.

20.The period of mourning ends after a year—lukas paldas—and on this day, the black clothes worn by the bereaved family are finally replaced and kept in the baul. A pa-misa and a grand salu-salo cap this day, with everyone reminiscing about the past year and of the days with their beloved departed. Tears are wiped, laughter returns. Indeed, to everything, there is a season.

Castro, Alex. Kematen: A Time to Mourn/ Mourning Mortality,

Monday, October 30, 2017


The 1930s was a period of relative peace and prosperity for many Kapampangans, especially for those who made their fortunes from the province’s burgeoning sugar and rice industry. Old colonial homes were refurbished and expanded, modern residences were built,  designer mansions and multi-storey homes were commissioned to be lived in, and to be seen. Here are some of them as they appeared in the halcyon days of the 1930s.
The spacious Don Alfonso de Leon residence was designed by Arch. Fernando H. Ocampo, considEred as the “Father of Modern Architecture”. It was constructed with Rizal Cement and furnished with renowned Puyat Furniture pieces.

The residence of Don Luis Wenceslao Dison and Feliza Hizon Dison is located in brgy. San Jose. It is another creation of Arch. Fernando H. Ocampo, built with Rizal Cement, painted by A.B. Villanueva & Sons, and furnished with Puyat Furniture. The 1930s house, whose main features remain intact,  is now being used as the Archdiocesan Chancery.

Don Benigno Fajardo is one of the founding fathers of Lubao Institute which opened in 1929. The most distinctive part of his multi-level house is the double-roofed upper storey terrace, accessible by a grand central staircase.

A prominent sugar planter of Lubao, Don Ambrosio Gonzales (b.1876/d.1957)  is also a socio-civic leader of the town, having founded the Hormiga de Hierro (Ants of Steel) in 1901. His charming 2-storey house, which is enclosed by a metal grill fence, sits on a lush garden and is typical of the modernized homes in 1930s Pampanga.

The Guanzon house was built in 1932 by Don Felipe Pineda Guanzon for his wife Dona Epifania Alvendia- Guanzon of Sta. Rita. Known today as Villa Epifania, the concrete house has sleek art deco elements, a style in vogue during the Commonwealth years.

Don Leandro Ibarra, an accomplished lawyer, was named Secretary of Interior of the Philippine Revolutionary Government under Emilio Aguinaldo. His capacious  “bahay na bato” residence was still well-kept and in order in the 1930s,

The Angeles home of Don Jose Lazatin, a  well-known businessman and sugar planter was designed by Menem Tayag. The concrete and wood house is furnished with the latest in Puyat Furniture.

The imposing Lopez Mansion, built in the grand Greek revival style, is reputed to be the first all-concrete house in Pampanga. It is constructed with APO Cement and furnished with Puyat Furniture. Owner Don Alejandro Lopez was a successful planter, owner of the Lopez Rice Mill, Co., and the Vice President of Pampanga Sugar Mills Planters Association. Together with his wife, Jacinta Limson and his family, Lopez resided and also held office here.

The home of Don Jose Luciano in Magalang was a favorite party place of the town’s elite, and the Lucianos would often host dinners and balls for Manila’s high society families like the Madrigals.  The beautiful house with a wide porch. was specially designed by Arch. Fernando H. Ocampo,  built with Rizal Cement and furnished with Puyat Furniture.

The beautiful home of lawyer  Don Pedro Morales (b.1886/d.1945) and Magdalena Hizon, was designed by his wife’s cousin, Arch. Fernando H. Ocampo in Mabalacat. A typical 30s house, it was furnished with Puyat Furniture. When the couple perished in he 1945 liberation of Manila, their lone surviving child inherited the house, and moved it to Magalang. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the ancestral Morales house.

The house of Don Teodosio Pecson Santos and Josefa Panlilio was another design of the much-in demand architect, Fernando H. Ocampo, and furnished with the usual Puyat Furniture. Located along A. Consunji Street in Barangay San Jose),  it was purchased by the Miranda family, and is now recognized as one of the capital city’s treasured ancestral houses.

Don Emiliano J. Valdes (b. 1876/d.1953), the generous Kapampangan philanthropist who gave his name as well as financial donation to fund Pampanga’s leading TB hospital in Angeles had his grand residence built along Plaridel St. in the mid 30s. The Valdeses had barely enjoyed their new house when his wife died on 20 September 1936.To make matters worse, his house was taken over by the Japanese during the war and turned into a military headquarters. To forget the sad events that transpired in his Angeles home, he sold the house and lot after the war, and the space has since become a commercial area.

Lubao Commemorative Fiesta Program, 1936, for Emiliano Valdes, Lopez Mansion, Pedro Morales House, 

Monday, October 23, 2017


The establishment of a public education system was one of the most important legacies of the American colonial regime in the Philippines. Most school buildings were damaged and lost during the Philippine American War, so the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 268 creating the Bureau of Architecture and Construction of Public Buildings,  with the task of erecting school houses all over the country.

To underscore the importance of this mission, right after the Philippine Assembly was formed in 1907, Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon of Nueva Ecija authored Act No. 1801, known today as Gabaldon Act, which appropriated Php 1 Million between 1907-1915 for the "construction of schoolhouses of strong materials in barrios with guaranteed daily attendance of not less than sixty pupils."

The Gabaldon Act stipulated that each school was to be built at a cost not to exceed Four Thousand Pesos unless the municipality contributed a counterpart sum of not less than fifty percent of the total amount granted. The municipality was authorized to appropriate its own funds, receive voluntary contributions in cash, kind, or in manual labor, for the construction of schoolhouses.

To facilitate the building of the schools, the Bureau of Public Works and Bureau of Education  came up with standardized designs. These were known as "Gabaldon School Buildings" or simply "Gabaldon,".  

Their distinctive features echo the bahay kubo design, with the body of the building elevated on short concrete posts, swinging capiz windows for maximum ventilation, carved fretwork on top of walls to allow air to circulate and a raised roof clad in galvanized iron.

In Pampanga, a few examples of these Gabaldon  School Buildings could still be found, some untouched by time,  while others, though heavily rebuilt, still retain vaguely their distinctive Gabaldon features.


Apalit, Sulipan Gabaldon, courtesy of  Sta. Maria Minalin Archives
Arayat Gabaldon, iorbit news
Capas Gabaldon, courtesy of Mr. Ivan Henares, Gabaldon Legacy
Floridablanca Gabaldon,
Lubao Gabaldon, wikipedia, Lubao, Pampanga
Mabalacat Gabaldon, courtesy of Mr. Leo Cloma
Magalang Gabaldon, courtesy of Mr. Louie Bartolo Lacson
Mexico Gabaldon, courtesy of Mr. Jonathan Panganiban
San Luis Gabaldon, from san Luis Elementary School FB page
San Simon, Sta. Ana, Sta. Rita Gabaldon,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Clark Air Force Base, straddling parts of Angeles and Mabalacat, is the headquarters of the U.S. Thirteenth Air Force. This modern, fully equipped air base is the nerve center of the Unites States Air Force operations in Southeast Asia. Let's take a look at what's inside Clark, in the 1960s.
The tastefully furnished, air conditioned CAB Officers’ Club holds events like dances, variety shows, game nights, bridge tournaments, buffet and family dinners. The club is famous for its charcoal broiled foods and excellent services available at the downstairs “Rathskeller”. Adjacent to the main building, one can find a barber shop, beauty salon, an outdoor patio and a swimming pool.

Touted as ‘the finest in the air force’, the NCO club has an indoor patio that can seat 1100 persons. It features a beautifully-decorated bandstand manned by a 16-piece dance band which plays 6 times a week, while Western music holds forth the other night. The plush cocktail lounge—"T-Bar-3 Room"—is a fine place to relax and bask in the Western-style atmosphere complete with cattle horn décor and Western rug. The NCO Club also has a Stag Room and an air-conditioned barber shop.

The Airmen’ Open Mess, established in 1954 on Bong Highway,  is a favorite spot of ‘lower four’ airmen. Recently remodeled in the early 1960s, it has a Stag Room, cocktail lounge, TV and game room, an enlarged dining area and a ballroom with a distinctive tropical motif. The club features dancing nightly, Sunday breakfasts, floor shows, game nights, and a weekly “Mr. Big Shot” contest where the winner gets a free all-expense paid weekend in Manila. This facility was later renamed Coconut Grove.

The Silver Wing Service Club is a recreation center, constructed in 1949, that provides a host of activities for personnel and their dependents—from games, pool, billiards, ping pong, shuffleboard, badminton, plus card and games of all types.  The Mars-o-Gram, the base telegraph office, is also housed in this club. The spacious main lounge is equipped with a stage and a superb dance floor. Weekly programs include Sunday morning coffee hours, square dancing, USO Shows, Grand Ole Opry entertainment and Manila specialty attractions. One of the most popular is “Stateside Calling”, where base personnel can send messages and requests to their loved ones via their hometown radio, through the facilities of the Clark radio station.

Clark TV is available on Channel 8, and offers approximately 8 hours of TV enjoyment every day, with special presentations such as sports events, feature movies, and canned popular U.S. TV series, like “Perry Mason” and “Rawhide”. The best in stateside viewing from the 4 major TV networks can be seen daily. In addition, local talent shows, such as Pantomime Teens and others are also shown.  Round the clock radio—1220 on the dial is provided. UPI (United Press Int’l) and AP (Associated Press)  wires and over 250,000 transcribed musical selections offer the best for everyone’s pleasure.

Clark Air Base has 3 base chapels with 8 staff chaplains of different denominations to cater to spiritual needs of Clark servicemen and their families. They are used daily and weekly by members of all religions and for various services (Protestant Sunday service, Sunday School, Episcopal, Christian Science, Jewish Service, etc.). Catholic Mass is said 7 times on Sunday, and twice daily. Baptisms, weddings and other religious ceremonies can also be conducted in the chapels. The Chapel 1, which started as a single standing structure along Dyess Highway (now Recto Ave.), was expanded in the 1960s and installed with air conditioning.  Damaged by the Pinatubo eruption, Chapel 1 underwent a series of rehabilitation and improvements, and is now known as the Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies.

Opening its doors in December 1964, the new, $5 million Clark Air Base Hospital was built over a period of 4 years to answer the primary health care of U.S. military personnel and their dependents stationed not only in the Philippines, but all over Southeast Asia. It was equipped with the most modern facilities for almost all kinds of medical care , except heart surgery and neurosurgery. It had a Laboratory, X-ray facilities, a Pharmacy, and an efficient Emergency Room open 24/7. The hospital personnel is mostly American, including its nursing staff. Interestingly, the hospital also offers specialized training services to Filipino medical residents in the fields of veterinary medicine, sanitation, immunization and public health care. Now in ruins, the hospital was featured by the US TV show, “Ghost Hunters” for supposed paranormal activities happening in there.

The base hobby center, along Marrat Highway,  comes complete with equipment and instructors, plus many departments that cater to every type of major hobby: Woodworking, Leathercraft, Photography, Ceramics, Graphic and Fine Arts, Hi-Fi and Electronics, Lapidary, Model Building and even Automotive. Two hobby stores are maintained at the center for arts and crafts supplies. The model center has all the materials and tools needed to build models of just about everything, with a flying circle for model airplanes and a model car track.

The Base Exchange facilities in Clark includes a spacious main building and surrounding support buildings that contain every solution to almost every shopping problem. In the main store alone, on O’Leary Avenue, 10,000 items are offered. There are 7 BX branches scattered around the base for shopping convenience, all carrying many imported items as well as standard stateside purchases. The main BX is surrounded with fresh vegetables stores , jewelry and watch repair shop, shoe store, travel agency, radio-TV shops, tailors, barbers and beauty salons. Also in operation is a modern service station that offers standard services as well as motor,  scooter and U.S. spare parts sales. Adjacent to the BX is the local commissary with food stocks, frozen meats, canned goods, fresh produce, egg and poultry. A bakery, milk and ice cream plant are also on the BX grounds to supply bread, cakes and dairy products  of ” stateside quality”. A new Base Commissary along Dyess Highway was opened in April 1984, containing state-of-the-art equipment and marketing concepts, built at a total cost of $6.2 million.  At the time of its construction, it was the largest in the world.

Housing in Clark began in 1919 with the creation of dormitories for servicemen. Modern in-base housing in the 60s already included buildings like this 2-storey, permanent airmen’s quarters, designed to make the most of the tropical breeze. These are furnished with the most essential items of furniture. Married officers and eligible civilians can plan on a 9-month delay in getting government quarters. The majority of the people obtain housing off-base until government housing becomes available.

Bachelor-type quarters are available for single officers an those awaiting their families. Generally, these consist of a furnished room complete with refrigerator and bathroom facilities. They are designed for tropical living, with louvres and very little glass to allow unhindered ventilation. The Bachelors Officers Quarters are in the hill area, near the club annex, and are equipped with carport areas beneath them.

Elementary, secondary, vocational and college level courses are conducted in on-duty and off-duty classes at the base. The Wurtsmith Memorial School (1954), a modern school designed for “tropical teaching and learning”, is tuition-free to school-age dependents of military and civilian personnel at Clark. All textbooks, work books and other supplies are furnished to the students free of charge; papers and pencils are issued on regular schedules to meet their needs. Wurtsmith would be renamed Wagner High School in 1962. A decade earlier, in 1953, a branch of the University of the Philippines was established as a base residence program leading to a liberal arts degree.

Complete sports facilities include the Meyer Levin Gymnasium (built in 1955), just east of the Parade Ground, with courts for handball, squash, basketball and volleyball. A brand new football stadium called “Bamboo Bowl” and a well-lighted baseball diamond  are also available for use. The  sprawling Clark Golf Club with a challenging 18-hole course, practice green, driving range an club house is a must-stop fpr golf enthusiasts. There are 3 swimming pools in the base, where swimming classes are conducted regularly. A year-round program of sporting events have been developed to appeal to active athletes and spectators alike: from King Football, Little League baseball, Interservice League competitions, Powder Puff softball, basketball, volleyball and golf tournaments to boxing bouts, target shooting, horseback riding, diving exhibitions.

Welcome to Clark Air Base Philippines booklet, ca. 1965