Monday, September 18, 2017


The Kapampangan’s natural affinity and talent for music becomes apparent the moment you turn on the TV, where, chances are, you’ll find a Kapampangan singer-contestant belting his heart out in those popular star searches. Here is a list of Kapampangans who sang their way into the hearts of audiences in national and international song competitions through the years.

1.      CENON LAGMAN, Grand Champion, Tawag ng Tanghalan 1959
“Tawag ng Tanghalan” was the first true national talent search conducted in 1954 by manufacturing giant, Philippine Marketing Company, producer of such staple 1950s-60s products like Luto, Perla Soap, Dari Crème, Star Margarine and its banner brand, Purico. The show, which was used by PMC as a promotional platform, spawned nationally famous singers like Pepe Pimentel, Diomedes Maturan, and in later years, Nora Aunor. In 1959,  Cenon Punla Lagman, a high schooler and a  fisherman’s son from Masantol copped the grand title with the kundiman, “Ikaw Lang ang Iibigin Ko”.  Part of his prize included appearances at the Manila Grand Opera House. Lagman also starred in the movie “Maturan and Lagman” along with his successor, Diomedes Maturan. Known as the “Prinsipe ng Kundiman”, he recorded hits like “Pandora”, “Bakas ng Lumipas”, ”Bakit Di Kita Malimot” and “Salamat sa Ala-ala”. He settled in Las Piñas with his family and died on 25 May 2013.

2.      JUN PEÑA, Grand Champion, Tawag ng Tanghalan, Grand Champion 1965
Rosendo “Jun” Peña, the 1965 Grand Champion, is listed in the “Tawag”record books as having represented Northern Luzon at the national finals. Actually, Peña comes from Barangay Batang 2nd, in Sasmuan, Pampanga. It so happened that while he was paying a visit to his girlfriend Helen in Dagupan, the “Tawag” auditions were also being held there. He signed up, won the Dagupan regionals and was whisked off to Manila for the finals. A Bachelor of Arts student at Letran, Peña was also a champion orator and choir soloist.  He sang “Autumn Leaves” during the Gran Finals, and romped off with the top prize, earning a singing engagement at Clover Theater in the process. His soothing voice earned him the monicker, “Johnny Mathis of the Philippines”. Peña still resides in Pangasinan today.

3.      SARAH GERONIMO, Grand Champion, Star for a Night 2002-2003
“Star for a Night”, first staged in 2002, was a local adaptation of the British show of the same title and produced by Viva Television. The popular TV show aired on IBC 13, was hosted by Regine Velasquez. One of the contestants was a 14 year-old singer from Balutu, Concepcion, Tarlac—Sarah Asher Tua Geronimo. During the grand finals, Geronimo—who performed last—sang Celine Dion’s “To Love You More”, and won the judges’ vote, winning over future famous singers as Mark Bautista, Angelique Quinto and Mau Marcelo. She won the 1 million cash prize and a managerial contract under Viva Artists Agency. Geronimo, dubbed as Popstar Royalty, would go on to bigger acclaim as actress-singer, TV celebrity, record producer, songwriter and dancer.

4.      RAYMOND MANALO, 2nd Place,  Search for a Star 2004
Raymond Manaloto Manalo was an artistic scholar of Holy Angel University and was a Financial Accounting junior when he decided to join the “Search for a Star” in 2004. The talent search was a project of Viva Television aired on GMA 7. The homegrown Angeles lad was practically self-taught in music, honed by years of participation in his school’s activities—as an Angelite Musical Ambassador, and as founding president of Holy Angel Music Club. It was no surprise that he became one of the 10 finalists in the nationwide star search. Manalo, who sang “Kailangan Kita”, was pipped in the finals by eventual winner, Rachelle Ann Go, but his second place finish paved the way for a recording career capped by the release of his CD, “Faithfully”. He also managed to finish his business administration degree from the Asian Institute for Distance Education in Makati.

5.      RONNIE LIANG, 3rd Place, Pinoy Dream Academy 2006
Ronnie Liang grew up in Angeles City, the youngest of 7 children. While studying for an Education degree at Holy Angel University, he worked in a fast food restaurant and moonlit as a ramp model--until his manager found out he could carry a tune. Liang was encouraged to join Pinoy Pop Superstar where he became a top contender, but the controversy over his having a manager prompted him to leave the show. His next stop was at “Pinoy Dream Academy” a new talent search on Channel 2 that required contestants to live in an academy for 4 months. Liang qualified as one of the 20 “scholars”—and then made it to the Honor’s List of Six. In the finals, he sang the OPM song “Ngiti”  and placed third behind Jay-R Siaboc and champion, Yeng Constantino. Liang became Department of Education spokesperson for Brigada Eskuwela 2008-2010 that aimed encourage the youth to stay in school and finish their studies. He mae TV and movie appearances, became a mainstay of the Sunday show ASAP 08, and today, continues to perform here and abroad.

6.      THIA MEGIA, 11th place, American Idol 2012
In the 10th season of American Idol 2012 , a fifteener, Thia Megia (born Thialorei Lising Megia) , a Fil-Am with Kapampangan roots, barged into the group of 12 finalists.  Megia was born in Hayward, California to parents Cynthia Lising and Loreto Megia, originally from Brgy. Sta. Teresita , Angeles City. The couple had emigrated to America in 1968, where they had their ‘Mejia’ surname, change to “Megia”. Thia has been joining and winning song contests as a kid, and has appeared on TV’s “Kid Star of Tomorrow” before joining American Idol. She eventually placed 11th, with her performance of the Elton John song, “Daniel”.

7.      SASSA DAGDAG, 4th Place, The Voice Kids 2015
The guitar-playing Sassa Dagdag of Angeles City was just 13 when she joined the second season of “The Voice Kids”.  Coached by her father, the Holy Angel grade school student  passed the audition to thunderous acclaim when she sang Sia’s “Chandelier”. Under Bamboo Mañalac’s mentorship, Dagdag reached the final 4 of the contest with her unique vocal styling. In the finals, she sang “Ikaw” (duet with Sharon Cuneta”, “Starships”, and the power ballad “Next in Line”. When all the votes came in, Dagdag found herself in 4th place, behind winner Elha Nympha. Dagdag later moved to Manila to pursue her studies and singing career,

Photo: Sarah Geronimo, the Philippines’  Queen of Pop:
Pinoy Dream Academy:
The Voice Kids Philippines Blind Auditions:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Important Cultural Properties or cultural properties having exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines are determined by the National Museum, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the National Library of the Philippines (NLP), and/or the National Archives of the Philippines (NAP). Pampanga is honored to have in its midst, important cultural properties that are now included in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP),  the repository of all information pertaining to properties in the Philippines deemed significant to our cultural heritage.

The San Agustin Parish Church is considered one of the oldest in Pampanga, having been built in 1572, in Barrio Sta. Catalina. It moved to its present site 30 years later, due to floods. Fray Antonio Herrera undertook the construction using local materials, including sand mixed with egg albumen as binder. It was used as a hospital in 1899 by American forces. Destroyed in the last war, it was restored from 1949-1952, under Fr. Melencio Garcia. It celebrated its 440th founding anniversary in 5 May 2012 with the reception of the relics of St. Augustine and St. Monica. The church was declared by the National Historical Commission as Important Cultural Property on 28 August  2013.

The Holy Rosary Church was built by residents of Culiat and was finished in 1896. Exhibiting a European Romanesque style,  its most distinctive feature are its twin bell towers, which served as watch towers for the revolucionarios from 1898-99. The remains of Angeles founder, Angel Pantaleon de Miranda and his wife, Rosalia de Jesus, are interred at the sides of the altar. During the Philippine-American War, the church served as a military hospital from1899-1904, and was also used by the Japanese army in the 1940s as a motor pool. The adjoining building was a convent that Augustinian nuns turned into the Colegio de la Sagrada Familia.  German Benedictine nuns took ver the school in 1922 and who renamed it Holy Family Academy.

The house of Angel Pantaleon de Miranda, considered the oldest house in the city, was built in 1824, with much of the wood coming from their original 1811 house in Barrio Cutcut reused in the construction. The stately 19th century bahay-na–bato was bequeathed to daughter, Juana de Miranda, who was married to Dr. Mariano Henson, LL.D.  It then passed on to a series of heirs, including son, Don Mariano Vicente Henson, Jose Pedro Henson, and Vicente N. Henson. Vicente’s daughter, Rosalie, married to Mr. Sergio T. Naguiat, Jr., are the current owners of the old house known today as “bale matua”.

The house of Patricia Mercado was built in 1860, paid for by Fray Guillermo Gomez Masnou, then Angeles parish priest, with whom she had 6 children, Upon his death, Mercado took over the domain until her death in 1900. Daughter Maria Teodora “Mariquita” Gomez , who was married to Don Filomeno Santos, inherited the house and rented out the ground floor to American Thomasites John  W. Osborn and Marion Huff. Mariquita’s eldest—Francisco Santos—took possession of the house upon her death in 1954; in 1986 he sold it to Mr. Jose G. Paras who restored the crumbling home to its old glory.  It currently is being used as a function hall for social and community activities.

The old camalig (shed or storehouse for grains) along Sto. Rosario St. was built in 1840 by Don Ciriaco de Miranda. A descendant, Capitan Juan Nepomuceno, the town’s first post-colonial mayor, improved on the original wooden structure. The 150-year-old wooden camalig was inherited by descendant  Armando L. Nepomuceno through five generations, who owned a small pizzeria established in 1973. In 1980, he transferred his pizzeria to the camalig Now known as the Historic Camalig Restaurant, it is also billed  as ‘The Home of Armando's Pizza: Ang Pambansang Pizza'." The camalig houses many old family photos and artifacts original to the granary. Armando’s son and his family, Marc Nepomuceno, are the current owners of the place, which stands as a fine example of successful adaptive re-use for business.

This structure—which was meant to be a used as a storage and parking house for carrozas and processional santos, was built in 1899 by Jose Pedro Henson, great grandson of the founder of Angeles. It served as a jail for errant American soldiers during the Philippine-American War. One such prisoner was Pvt. George A. Raymond who was put on trial,found guilty of murder, robbery and rape, and sentenced to death by a U.S. Military Commission. After the last war, it was rented to the U.S. Army 11th Film Exchange. Once again, it was used as a jail by the U.S. military police and 13th U.S. Air Force at various times, from 1947 to 1965. It was converted into the city’s post office building form 1967-1978 and today it houses a Physical Therapy Clinic.

The Nepomuceno Ancestral House  was built in 1840 by Don Ciriaco de Miranda, the first gobernadorcillo of Angeles town, and the younger of two surviving sons of the founders of Angeles, Angel Pantaleon de Miranda and Rosalia de Jesus. He was married to Carlota de Leon. As they were childless, they raised Agustina Henson, the daughter of Mariano Henson and Juan Ildefonso de Miranda, daughter of the founder of Angeles, Angel Pantaleon de Miranda with Rosalia de Jesus. On 25 July 1868, Carlota willed their house of wood, stone and capiz to their foster daughter Agustina, who married Pio Rafael Nepomuceno of Lucban, Quezon. Upon her death on 27 July 1905, her property was passed on to her heirs, children Ysabelo, Juan, Ramona, Nemesia, Maria, and her Dayrit grandchildren, from late daughter Carmen.

Mariano Lacson was a rich haciendero who owned most of Sapang Maisac. He had this house built around late 1930’s, it was said to be the first "architected" house in Angeles. It was commissioned to Arch’t Fernando Hizon Ocampo. During WWII, the Japanese took over the house and made it their garrison. It was occupied by the USO, an agency of the American military in the 1950s. Dr. Amelia Guiao & Dr. Luz Ayson made this house the Mother of Perpetual Help Hospital. It was then used as the site of the first OB Montessori Pre-School in Angeles—whose most famous alumni is international Broadway star, Lea Salonga.Today, this house is owned by a Cebu-based company; it is building a tall structure at the back though they promised to keep the house intact.

Along Sto. Entierro St  stands the old Yutuc House, which once belonged to Rafael Yutuc  Sr., a pharmacist , and his wife Felixberta Dela Cruz. The house, which sits on a spacious 1,647 sq. m. lot, bears traces of its 19th century beginnings. The senior Yutuc died at an early age and a son, Rafael Jr., with wife Carolina Dela Cruz, inherited the house.   Family lore has it that the residence was so beautiful that Juan Luna was moved to make a painting of it. The house has undergone many restorations, including one in 1923. A neighbor put up a funeral parlor business just across the house;  but  as the Yutuc children apparently could not stand having a front view to funeral wakes every day, they sold the house to the Lagunilla family. The new owners solved this problem by putting up a  high wall which unfortunately hides the house—now known as Casa Lagunilla-- from public appreciation.

The heritage town hall of Guagua where the mayor and other elected officials hold office, was built in 1937. It has kept most of its original features, which is remarkable for an 80 year old edifice built in the Commonwealth years. It stands on the grounds fronting Brgy. Plaza Burgos. The old statue of the patriotic writer, Aurelio Tolentino has been moved to the front of the municipal hall.

The first church edifice was constructed in 1587 but was unfortunately razed by fire. The current Church structure was constructed in 1772 under the administration of the Augustinians. The Church was greatly improved in 1862 until 1870. The interiors are simple and the centerpiece attraction is the main altar, a creation of noted local artist Willy Layug. While still simple, the exteriors on the other hand, are marked by massive strength. The Cathedral-type church is located immediately adjacent to the Guagua Municipal Building and houses the Cardinal Santos Catholic Center and the Immaculate Conception Parochial School.

The 19th-century baroque church of Magalang, dedicated to San Bartolome, is located at Brgy. San Nicolas I, Magalang. Around 1725,  the Magalang convent was exempted from paying its dues to the Augustinian province, thus allowing it to save up financial resources for the erection of a more permanent church structure.  The church, as we know it, was built by Fray Ramon Sarrionandia in 1866, with the finishing touches undertaken by Fray Fernando Vasquez, who had 2 bells installed.  In 1891,  Fray Toribio Fanjul renovated the church flooring and sacristy.

The Magalang Municipal Hall is a town landmark located across the Plaza de la Libertad. Its predecessor was the old Spanish era (ca. 1866) Casa Tribunal building built after the transfer of the town from San Bartolome. Made of light materials like nipa and bamboo, it was refurbished in 1875 during the tenure of gobernadorcillo Tereso Manalo, who had military barracks (cuartel) added. More improvements were initiated by Capitan Paulino Gueco in 1896, before the revolucionarios took over who used the municipio to detain  Fr. Pedro Diez Ubierna (the last Spanish priest of Magalang) and two Spaniards. The new edifice was built in 1922 , during the presidency of Antonio Y. Luciano, and was inaugurated 2 years later. The municipal building, which survived the war and other natural calamities, was declared an Important Cultural property in 2015.

The Municipal Hall of Lubao, constructed around 1937 is one of the early concrete structures erected during the Commonwealth years. It was originally a 2-storey building with stairs at the sides that was expanded over the years, eventually acquiring a neo-classic look distinctively characterized by its massive frontal columns and clean, elegant lines. Much of its original features are intact—from its wooden flooring, balustrades to its offices. In march 2016, a new municipal hall costing Php14.7 million is envisioned to rise in an eight-hectare property along Jose Abad Santos Avenue in Brgy. Santa Catalina in an area where the town traces its beginnings.

In Magalang, the remnants of two 20 meter high torre heliografico (heliographic towers)—one in Brgy. San Isidro, the other in Sta. Cruz--were declared as Important Cultural Properties in 2017. Of the two, the Sta. Cruz tower is better preserved—part of a series of more than 10 heliograph towers that were strategically located in Magalang, Mabalacat and Concepcio in Tarlac as stations of communications. Messages are transmitted through flashes of light generated in rapid succession by mirrors that are turned on an axis. Transmission of messages via mirror signaling was known and practiced by North American Indians.

The town hall was constructed during the American regime, in 1922, under mayor Juan D. Nepomuceno, and was built from the original 1840 Casa Tribunal. A detachment of the Spanish Army occupied the Tribunal in 1897, and the Philippine Revolutionary Government took it after the Spaniards fled in 1898. It was in this building that the Americans installed Florentino Pamintuan as the town alcalde. During WWII, the Japanese used the town hall as a jail for American escapees from the Death March prior to their execution. Beginning 1999, the town hall has been converted into a museum, Museo ning Angeles, by the Kuliat Foundation. In June 2012, the Museo ning Angeles was declared an Important Cultural Property of the Philippines, the first  such structure to be given such a distinction.

Mercado-Masnou House: The Officoial Website of Angeles City.
Yutuc House/ Mariano Lacson House/ Yutuc House: Information and pictures c/o Joy L. Cruz
Heliograph Towers: Joel Pabustan Mallari / Louie Bartolo Lacson
Ciriaco de Miranda House: Nepomuceno, Marc: The Nepomucenos of Angeles City
Guagua Municipal Hall: Official website of Guagua, Pampanga,
Magalang Church: Galende, Pedro G. (1996). Angels in Stone: Architecture of Augustinian Churches in the Philippines (2nd ed.). Manila, Philippines: San Agustin Museum. pp. 143–144
Lubao Municipal Hall: 1939 Lubao Town Fiesta souvenir program
Magalang Municipal Hall: Photo: iorbitnews

Sunday, August 27, 2017


The HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) was born during the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) as a Japanese resistance group. After becoming alienated from the U.S.-Philippine government, the army became HMB (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan), with ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines. Taruc claims that the alliance’s purpose was more organizational, rather than ideological. In any case, HMB became the military arm of this merger. At its peak in the 1950s, HMB had over 11,000 members. Pres. Ramon Magsaysay put the Huk rebellion in control, but their campaigns would surge again in the 1960s, gaining more ground in the ‘70s with the formation of Buscayno’s New People’s Army.  Here is a comprehensive list of “Huk kumanders” from this turbulent era in our history.
Luis Mangalus Taruc (b. 21 June 1913/d. 4 May 2005) was the primary leader of the HUKBALAHAP between 1942 and 1950. His involvement  came after his initiation to the agrarian problems of the peasantry as a student in the early 1930s, joining the "Aguman ding Maldang Tala-pagobra" (AMT) and in 1938, the "Partido Socialista, ". During the war, Taruc led the Hukbalahap in guerrilla operations against the Japanese. Demands for agrarian reforms continued after the Japanese regime. In 1946, Taruc was elected to the Congress, but Roxas prevented him from taking his seat . He was against the parity rights that the U.S. required from the country as its condition for rehabilitation funding. Thus,  Taruc gave up his parliamentary efforts, and took to armed struggle. Negotiations with Pres. Elpidio Quirino in 1948 failed. By the 1950, Huks—now reorganized as HMB, controlled most of central Luzon. When Pres. Magsaysay began a relentless campaign against the Huks, Taruc hid in Arayat. Manuel Manahan and Benigno Aquino  Jr., negotiated for his surrender, which happened on 17 May 1954. Put on trial, he pleaded guilty to rebellion,  and sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. He was also found guilty  for the execution of Tarlac governor Feliciano Gardiner and received four life sentences. Pres. Macapagal disapproved his call for clemency; he was pardoned by Pres. Marcos in 1968. After his release, he continued to work for reforms—from equitable distribution of land to strengthening the legal rights of farm workers. In 2017, on his 104th birthday, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NCHP) affirmed his role in the pursuit of freedom and in the agrarian reform struggle and declared him as a hero.

Coming from a non-peasant background, Casto Alejandrino  (b. 18 Nov. 1911/d.12 Jul. 2005) of Arayat supported the Aguman ding Maldang Talapagobra (AMT) and the Socialist Party because he was fed up with the elite Nacionalistas who were not receptive to instituting reforms. With the 1938 merger of the Communist and Socialist parties, Alejandrino became a key member of the Central Committee of the Partido ng Komunista ng Pilipinas. He was elected Socialist mayor of Arayat in 1940. When the Hukbalahap movement was organized to fight the Japanese, Alejandrino was elected as vice commander to Luis Taruc, Reco 3 leader, and named “Huk governor” of Pampanga.  Alejandrino was arrested and jailed in 1945, but was later released following protests from 40,000 peasants. He carried on the fight when the Communists were outlawed, assuming the leadership left by Taruc when the latter surrendered and sentenced to jail. Alejandrino tried to conduct peace talks with Pres. Magsayasay, but the movement had waned in the late 50s. He was captured in 1960, served 15 years in prison and released in 1975. Alejandrino died 2 months just after Taruc’s passing.

Concepcion-born Cesario Manarang was already a Huk when Casto Alejandrino changed the name of Hukbalahap into HMB. He was a sort of a folk hero to the farming community; peasants regarded him as a sort of a local Robin Hood, giving food and dole-outs, and protecting peasants from oppression.  In 1965, a schism in HMB resulted in the formation of two groups, one loyal to Kumander Alibasbas, the other to Sumulong. Alibasbas, who was head of the HMB military committee, had thrown his support to the candidacy of Diosdado Macapagal for president, whom the Army also favored. Alibasbas, on the other hand, was pro-Marcos, who also enjoyed the confidence of the Philippine Constabulary.  In the end, Kumander Alibasbas, along with three of his children, were massacred in Almendras, a sitio of San Bartolome,  Concepcion, Tarlac on 2 Feb. 1965, paving for Kumander Sumulong’s ascent to power.

KUMANDER BILOG (Rodolfo Salas)
Rodolfo Salas graduated from Holy Angel University in 1964 as the Class Salutatorian. He joined the militant Kabataang Makabayan and later, the Communist Party of the Philippines where his superiors took note of his intellect and intense patriotism. Salas wa named as a regional secretary, in charge of recruitment. He assumed the chairmanship of both the CPP and the NPA following the arrests of Joma Sison and Kumander Dante. Arrested after the EDSA Revolution, he was jailed in Camp Crame for 6 years and released in 1992.

KUMANDER BIO (Eusebio Aquino)
In his mid-50s, Kumander Bio was one of the oldest field commanders of Hukbalahap, an “erect, soft-spoken, ramrod-like old man” as described by Luis Taruc. Eusebio “Bio” Aquino was a nephew of Gen. Servillano Aquino, and a cousin of Benigno Aquino Sr., Ninoy’s father. He was a carpenter-blacksmith by trade, so when he joined the Huks, he took the name,”Panday Pira”. As a Huk leader, he was known to champion the causes of peasants by forcing landlords to share their hoard of rice in their warehouses so that the poor, hungry farmers and their families could eat. Kumander Bio  hid in Arayat when the Philippine puppet government under Japan was established. He renounced his relationship with cousin Benigno Aquino Sr. when the latter became a director-general of KALIBAPI (Kapisanan ng Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas). The wise and brave commander is credited with saving American pilot. Col. Gwen G. Atkinson. The colonel defended Kumander Bio before Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who told him, “I don’t care even if they are Communists. I saw how they treated American flyers and I saw how the people followed them”.  

KUMANDER DANTE (Bernabe Buscayno)
Bernabe Buscayno was one of 8 children of poor tenant farmers fom Capas, Tarlac. His father was forced to give up his children for adoption with the death of Bernabe’s mother and sister. Bernabe, a Holy Angel College drop-out, enlisted with the Huks at age 21. By 23, he had risen as Kumander Sumulong’s district commander. A rift with his leader resulted in the foundation of New People’s Army (NPA), which, after joining forces with new Communist Party leader Joma Sison, became its military arm. Dante’s group fought against the Marcos Regime which tagged him as ”the most aggressive Huk commander” in the country. Operation: Scorpio was launched to catch him, so  he moved his NPA base to Isabela.  Captured in January 1977, Dante, age 32, was tried and sentenced to death. He was released after the EDSA revolution, and a year later, ran unsuccessfully for a senatorial slot under Partido ng Bayan. In 1987, Dante escaped an ambush, that left him wounded and two companions dead. Returning to Capas to be a farmer, he founded a cooperative to help peasants, but which floundered due to Pinatubo. Undeterred, Dante set up another cooperative that sought to mechanize farming operations in 2000.

KUMANDER ELY (Dominador Garcia)
Dominador Garcia was the no. 3 man in the HMB during the resurgence of the Communist menace that plagued the Marcos regime. As such, a good price was put on his head and the Philippine Constabulary kept a close watch on him. In March 1967, troops ringed a small house in Mabalacat town for 11 hours, until they cornered Kumander Ely, who surrendered without a fight. The Huks retaliated by deploying an 18-man assassination squad that killed 5 men and kidnapped two others in Pampanga. Over 3,000 government troops were sent to track them down

KUMANDER HIZON (Benjamin Cunanan)
Teen-ager Ben Cunanan joined the Hukbalahap during the Japanese Occupation, and showed such courage in combats that he became a unit commander. He took the nom de guerre “Kumander Hizon” in honor of the brave Kapampangan revolucionario, Gen. Maximino Hizon. At the peak of the movement, he headed Field Command 78, the largest unit of HMB. One of his biggest recuits was Bernabe Buscayno. Kumader Hizon headed the last remaining HMB unit, fighting in the Pampanga-Tarlac area, until his capture by the dreaded Tabak division in 1961—right in his own home. He was known to be the last real Huk commander to fall, as all other Huk captives of the Philippine armed forces were often dubbed as “kumander”. Tried for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, Kumander Hizon stayed in jail for 16 years, longer than any Huk. Luis Taruc offered to arrange a presidential pardon, but Hizon refused to meet Marcos. Upon his release, he attempted to reorganize his comrades into a new rebel army, but  by then, they were too old to fight and carry on the struggle. H died died on 2 Nov. 2010, age 82 in Pasig.

KUMANDER KISLAP (Eugenio Santos)
The commander from Macabebe, Eugenio Santos, served under Fernando Poblete’s Banal Regiment. Kumander Kislap was put in a group that included Lino Dizon and Domindaro Yabut and Mariano de Joya,  charged with recruiting new Huk members, going as far as the southern provinces, like Batangas to look for prospective recruits.

KUMANDER LIGAYA (Manuel Dimatulac)
A native of Concepcion, Tarlac, curly-haired Manuel “Maning” Dimatulac, was a 1st year Far Eastern University student when he joined the Huk cause. He was already 34, married, with children. He joined, he said, because the government had failed to implement the Land Reform Code.  He earned his sobriquet “Ligaya” for the many favors and help done to farmers, which brought them happiness. For example, he passed the hat for them whene they could not pay their financial obligations. He also sought out materials for school buildings and volunteered his services free. However, Dimatulac resisted being called a “kumander” as he had been with the movement for just 6 months when he was captured and arrested for murder in 1970. Placed on Death Row, Dimatulac led a team of political prisoners in digging a tunnel at the Youth Rehabilitation Center (YRC) tunnel as a means of escape. After EDSA, he was released in 1986 after having spent 17 years in prison.

KUMANDER LINDA BIE (Silvestre Liwanag)
Silvestre Liwanag (b.1919) of Concepcion, Lubao trained under the Socialist Party of Jose Abad Santos in 1937 before joining the movement  in 1942, along with wife, Rosita Manuel. The bemoustached young Huk moved up in ranks quickly, and became a commander of squadron 18-B under Abelardo Dabu. Liwanag took the Huk name, “Linda Bie”, meaning ‘beautiful life’. Arrested by the Americans with whom he had fought side by side in fighting the Japanese, he unabashedly wept as he was disarmed and told that he was “an enemy of the U.S. and Philippine governments”. After the war, he succeeded Dabu and reorganized remaining troops nearly decimated in military encounters and merged them with his own squadrons, thus expanding his jurisdiction from Bataan-Zambales to southern Pampanga. Kumander Linda Bie was captured in Orion, Bataan, 3 years after the Communist Party and the HMB were outlawed in 1957.

The Huk kumander that Anthony Alonzo portrayed in the 1981 movie “Dakpin si…Pusa” was born Ben Sanguyu in real life. Known for his cat-like agility in combat and in elduing the military, Kumander Pusa headed one of the most-feared squadrons in Central Luzon. Government forces under Capt. Almazan caught up with him in Bamban, Tarlac where he was finally killed, along with 4 of his men.
KUMANDER SOL (Tomas F. Calma)
Kumander Sol was one of the highest-ranking officers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-Huk hierarchy, who held the position of a Squadron Commander. During the all-out offensive against the Huks initiated by Pres. Ramon Magsaysay, many of the Huk leaders were caught or killed, including Kumander Sol who perished in a skirmish in Candaba. This led to the arrest of CPP head Jesus Lava in Sampaloc in 1964, which dealt a big blow to the communist cause.

KUMANDER SUMULONG (Faustino del Mundo)
The Huk leader who exploited his power position to make lucrative financial gains--Faustino del Mundo --was the Head of the HMB financial committee, while his arch rival, Kumander Alibasbas, headed the military side. Sumulong had wanted to support Marcos’s presidential bid, while Alibasbas was pro-Macapagal. This difference led to the division of HMB into two factions in 1965. The situation was violently resolved with the killing  of Alibasbas. Kumander Sumulong stepped into power, and ran it Mafia-style, using Angeles as his headquarters. By 1967, Sumulong was the most influential Huk leader in central Luzon; mayors, governors and even Marcos sought him out for political support. Major businesses, had to shell out “protection money” which filled the coffers of the Huk movement. Politicians turned against each other, giving rise to liquidation squads,  ‘Beatles’  and ‘Monkees’. Sumulong’s business activities—which strayed from the original cause of the Huk movement, caused disillusionment to Bernabe Buscayno, which spurred him to form the New People’s Army. Sumulong was captured in Brgy, Amsic in September 1970. In 1982, Sumulong was meted a death penalty for the murder and kidnapping committed on barangay captain Marcial Miranda, but due to his age (he was 78), the sentence was commuted to reclusion perpetua.

BONUS! A list of Kumanders from the DANTE/ TARUC Camps.

SINGSING MAGAZINE, 'BRAVEHEARTS: Kapampangan Rebels, Radicals and Renegades Who Changed Philippine History". Center for Kapampangan Studies. Vol. 6, No. 1.
Various SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE issues, 1961-1970

Monday, August 21, 2017


Traditional weapons of primitive Kapampangans, most notably, the Aetas of Pampanga and Tarlac have been produced  through the centuries to meet their survival and personal needs. Weapons and implements like the sulbatana (blowgun),  pandacdac (dagger) , bay at paslo (bow and arrow) are but a few  familiar creations that are slowly coming into disuse with the advent of new technology.  Tribal arrows are often tipped with metal points styled differently for the Negritos’ intended use. Here are few examples of these vanishing primitive gadgetry.

SINGSING MAGAZINE, Folk Arts Issue. vol. 5, no. 1
Dr. Rodrigo Sicat, Disappearing Gadgetry, pp. 77-78

Saturday, August 12, 2017


During the Philippine Revolution, several patriotic kapampangan women helped in different capacities—assisting and nursing wounded revolucionarios, gave contributions and financed the cause. The brave exploits of these women were lauded in the revolutionary newspaper, El Heraldo de la Revolucion.

Felisa P. Dayrit of San Fernando saw action as a nurse during the bloody years of the Philippine Revolution, caring for the sick and tending men wounded in the battlefield. She later married Luis Wenceslao Dison.

Nicolasa Dayrit y Pamintuan (b. 10 Sep. 1874) of San Fernando played an active role in preventing a schism between Gen. Antonio Luna and Gen. Tomas Mascardo from turning into an all-out war. She and other Bacolor women met Gen. Luna, on his way to attack Gen. Mascardo’s forces in Guagua. Luna was appeased and the Revolution did not break apart.

Praxedes Fajardo y Puno (b. 21 Jul. 1874/d.10 Aug. 1928)  from Bacolor, was one of the few women who risked their lives in actively supporting the cause of the Philippine evolution against Spain. She headed the Pampanga chapter of the Philippine Red Cross.

Adriana Hilario y Sangalang had no formal education; she learned by eavesdropping on her brother’s tutorial lessons. She became the second wife of Gov. Tiburcio Hilario. She helped  the cause by distributing propaganda materials during the Revolution and was said to have contributed much of her money to the movement, that led to her penury.

Felisa Hizon of San Fernando was a member of an active group of concerned and patriotic Kapampangan women who supported the Revolution through their philanthropic works. She later married Serafin Lazatin y Ocampo.

Marcelina Nepomuceno y Paras (b. 9 Aug. 1881/d.16 Apr. 1959)  of Angeles, pursued a nursing course first offered at the Escuela de Enfermeras of the Philippine General Hospital.  She was part of the earliest batches of nursing graduates. At the time of the Revolution, the Kapampangan Florence Nightingale joined the Asosiacion de Damas de la Cruz Roja de Angeles (Red Cross), and became its auditor.

Teodora Salgado (b. 7 May 1866) of San Fernando was the eldest of 5 children of Joaquin Salgado and Filomena Basilio. She developed her business acumen early, earning her fortune from vast agricultural lands,  jewelry and department stores. As she amassed more wealth, she also felt the stirrings of nationalism as the Revolution raged on. She became a silent financier of the Philippine cause, a role that she would embrace for years only to end with the coming of the Americans.

Consolacion  Singian y Torres of San Fernando,  was the daughter of Cristino and Angela Torres. The Kapampangan Betsy Ross sewed the flag of the Pampango Batallion of the Philippine revolutionary forces in December 1898, together with her sister Encarnacion.

Encarnacion Singian y Torres of San Fernando, along with sister Consolacion,  sewed and embroidered the flag of the Pampango Batallion of the Philippine revolutionary forces in December 1898. She is the sister of the Dr. Gregorio Singian, a renowned surgeon.

Mateo Sioco y Rodriguez of Apalit  was the greatest financier of the Hilario patriotic efforts during the Philippine Revolution. She married the wealthy Jose Sioco, a widower who was actually after her sister Maria, who had been betrothed to another man. She was said to be so rich that she buried her gold and money in the ground. After her husband died, she married Jose Arnedo Cruz.

SINGSING Magazine, "A Tale of Two Cities: San Fernando & Angeles", "99 Memorable Kapampangans".  Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University.
Soriano, Rafaelita Hilario. A Shaft of Light. 1991.

Friday, August 4, 2017



Cigar and cigarette manufacturing in our islands officially began in 1782, under the tobacco monopoly introduced by Gov. Jose Basco y Vargas. Under the system, the government had complete control of tobacco cultivation  and only only select provinces like Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga and Ilocos provinces were authorized to grow the plant. Turn-of-the-century cigarrillos were often packaged in batches of 24s-30s, in wrappers with detailed graphics such as these examples from Pampanga. Local backyard entrepreneurs bought processed cigar leaves from growers in the North and engaged  workers to roll and wrap cigarettes in attractive packages in color, carrying assorted visual themes, often irrelevant to the product, ranging from the patriotic to the mythical and romantic.

 LA ASAMBLEA FILIPINA. (The Philippine Assembly), Betis, Pampanga

 LA FUERZA (The Force), Sto. Nino, Guagua, Pampanga


 LA REINA FILIPINA, (Philippine Queen, Purita Villanueva), Betis, Pampanga

 BANDA NANG ANGELES/BETIS. The band from Angeles won first place in the
1909 Manila Carnival Band Contest. Angeles, Pampanga

Angeles, Pampanga


 EL COSECHERO DE SINUCUAN. (The Harvester of Sinukuan)
PASCUALA FLORES. Arayat, Pampanga



 LAS DOS HERMANAS. Bacolor, Pampanga

 VIVA SAN MIGUEL. Sto. Cristo, Guagua, Pampanga


SINUKUAN. Plaza Sto. Tomas, Pampanga

 KALAYAAN. Plaza Sto. Tomas, Pampanga


ALL CIGARETTE WRAPPERS, Alex R. Castro Collection
"patriotism in a Puff",