Saturday, August 25, 2018


Books written about Pampanga, its people and culture, including its language, literature, history. Some of these books were written by foreigners, others by local writers, in Spanish, in English, and in Kapampangan— great reading essentials to know more about our province. Here are the first 12:

1. VIDA DEL GLORIOSO S. NICOLAS, TRADUCIDA EN YDIOMA PAMPANGO, por el P.R Phelipe Tallada, del orden N.P.S. Agustin, el año de 1614. (Life of the Glorious Saint Nicolas, Translated in the Pampango Language by Rev. Fr. Felipe Tallada, of the order of St. Augustine, in the year 1614).
Significance: This is the first ever book published in Kapampangan, in 1614. It is a biography of the life of St. Nicholas, with prayers and reflections.

2. ARTE Y REGLA DE LA LENGUA PAMPANGA, Compuesto por el Padre Predicador  Fray Francisco Coronel y prior misionero del Convento de Macabebe, 1621. (Kapampangan Grammar and Rules, by Fr. Francisco Coronel, prior of Macabebe, ca, 1621)
Significance: The earliest Kapampangan grammar and rule book in existence.  In 2005, it also became the first Kapampangan grammar book from that period to be transcribed, translated  and annotated in English, by Fr. Edilberto V. Santos. The book still contains the original text with a parallel English translation.

3. VOCABULARIO DE PAMPANGO EN ROMANCE Y DICCIONARIO DE ROMANCE EN PAMPANGO, by Fray Diego Bergaño, first published in 1732, reprinted 1860, 1916.
Significance: This Kapampangan dictionary and glossary book of over 5,177 Kapampangan word entries by the Augustinian priest Bergaño represent not just one of the earliest extant studies of our language, but also probably, the most scholarly and comprehensive. A translated English version was published by the Center for Kapampangan Studies in 2007, along with a Bergaño’s companion grammar book, “Arte de la Lengua Pampanga”, first published in 1729.

4. EJERCISIO COTIDIANO, by Dña. Luisa Gonzaga de Leon, ca. 1844.
(Book of Daily Devotions)
Significance:  Ejercisio Cotidiano (Daily Devotions) is a book of prayers, meditations and reflections, written by Bacolor-born Luisa Gonzaga de Leon (b.1805/d.1843),  printed in Spanish in 1844. This makes her the first Filipino woman to publish a book. In 1910, the book was translated into Kapampangan.

5. ING MACUYAD A PAMAGSALITA DIQUIL QÑG BIE NANG DELANAN AT PANĞATIMAUAN NING METUNG A MEBIJAG. By Fernando Garcia OSA. Published 1900. Imprenta del Colegio de Sto. Tomas. (Translated as “An Epistle of a Friar-Prisoner”, by Lino L. Dizon, 2007).
Significance: A rare account of the captivity of an Augustinian priest, P. Fernando Garcia OSA, written by the Spaniard himself in Kapampangan,  during during the Philippine revolution. It includes accounts of his “sorties from town to town and provinces” as prisoner and missionary at the turn of the century. His observations were critical of the treatment religious received from the revolucionarios. He escaped in Bontoc, reached Manila to write about his trials and tribulations as a POW.

6. GONZALO DE CORDOBA, Comedia Heroica de la Conquista de Granada o sea Vida de Don Gonzalo de Cordova, Llamado el Gran Capitan. By Fr. Anselmo Jorge Fajardo, ca. 1830s. published 1912, by Cornelio Pabalán y Byron. (Heroic Comedy of the Conquest of Granada or The Life of Don Gonzalo de Cordova, Called the Great Captain)
Significance: The longest comedia (also called “moro-moro”) in Philippine literature, the play about the exploits of Capt. Cordoba took seven nights to perform, as the lines alone numbered 31,000. When published, the book was 832 pages long. No wonder, it was only published once, over a century ago.

7. NAPUN, NGENI’T BUKAS, by Aurelio Tolentino. “Ing dramang ‘Napun, Ngeni’t Bukas’ kesukul ne ning ginawa at meatulan king apat a kasalanang sedicion, conspiracion, rebellion at insureccion laban king gobierno Americano”. 1914, Limbagang Noli. (The drama Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow caused the writer to be jailed and charged with 4 crimes: sedition, conspiracy, rebellion and insurrection against the American government).
Significance: This is Tolentino’s play first staged to a jampacked crowd in 1903 at Teatro Libertad. A key scene called for one Tagalog performer to bring down the American flag and then trample it, but the actor froze when he saw Americans in the audience. Tolentino ascended the stage and did the act himself. He was found guilty of “scurrilous libel’ for desecrating the Stars and Stripes,  and was imprisoned.

8. A CHILD OF SORROW. A Novel by Zoilo M. Galang. 1921.
Significance: The first novel in English written by a Filipino. The novel-- was made into a movie in 1930. Zoilo Galang of Bacolor, also was an encyclopedist, who put together the 10-vlume “Encyclopedia of the Philippines” published in 1934-36.

9. HISTORIA NING FILIPINAS. By Santiago Mallari. 1933 (History of the Philippines)
Significance: This slim volume is the first comprehensive Philippine history book in the Kapampangan language. It also has an account of the battle exploits and death of Tarik Soliman, the boy warrior of Macabebe. The book also devotes a section on the  Kalantiao code in Kapampangan, which has since been debunked.

10. PAMPANGA DIRECTORY, Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Professional Guidebook of the Province of Pampanga, The Richest Market Outside Manila. Vol.I, by Manuel David, Managing Editor. 1933.
Significance: This limited edition book, published to commemorate the holding of the 1933 Pampanga Carnival and Exposition, gives us a snapshot of the province in the area of agriculture, commerce, and industries, etc.  during the peacetime era.  All 21 municipalities of the province are represented here, including history, key people, geographical info, products,  among others.

11. NINU’T NINU QNG CAPAMPANGAN, Bilungan Dang Bie ding Anac nang Carangalan Ning Lalawigan Capampangan, by Faustino Gutierrez. 1934 , Catimawan Press.(Who's Who in Pampanga.,  A Compendium of the Lives of the Honorable Children of Pampanga Province).
 Significance: The limited edition book contains photos and brief biographical entries of the leading personalities, families, movers and shakers of Pampanga during the Commonwealth years.

12. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF ANGELES (From its Foundation in 1796 A.D. to the Present), and his other Writings. By Mariano A.Henson. 1948, Katiwala Press.
Significance: For decades, this was the only widely-referenced published book on the history of Angeles town (reprinted 2002), written by Angeles’ venerable historian and genealogist. His major opus— “The History of Pampanga and its Towns” (rev. 1965)–remains in typewritten and mimeographed form—and continues to be consulted by Kapampangan scholars.

Singsing Magazine, various issues, Center for Kapampangan Studies, HAU.
Dizon, Lino L. The Epistle of a Friar-Prisoner, as written by F. Fernando Garcia OSA, Center for Kapampangan Studies, HAU.
A Child of Sorrow:
Historia ning Filipinas, Pampanga Directory, Gonzalo de Cordoba, Napun, Ngeni't Bukas: Alex R. Castro Collection

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


An ambassador is, technically, is a career diplomat or political appointee who holds rank of Chief of Mission I or II, nominated and confirmed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary who heads diplomatic missions in Philippine embassies worldwide. (Diplomats of same rank or lower rank who serve as consuls general in embassies or consulates or Chargé d’Affaires in embassies are not included here).

1. H.E. JOSE M. ALEJANDRINO (Arayat). Ambassador to Spain and Italy.
Jose Medina Alejandrino comes from the prominent Alejandrinos of Arayat town that includes his namesake, revolutionist and senator, Gen. Jose Magdangal Alejandrino. A U.P. Law graduate, he placed 10th in the 1934 bar. Alejandrino organized the workers of Pambusco and Pasudeco into labor unions. He was sent as a scholar to the U.S. Department of State and went home to top the foreign service exams in the U.S. Rising through the ranks, he became an ambassador to Spain and Italy. The lawyer-diplomat counts Gen. Charles de Gaulle of France as a close friend.

2. H.E. LIBRADO CAYCO (Sta. Rita).  Ambassador to the Netherlands.
Ambassador Cayco(b.1912/d.2009), from Sta. Rita, was a Political Advisor with the Philippine Mission to the UN. He later served as Consul of the Philippines at New York and served as the Philippine ambassador to the Netherlands from 1962-1963,  He was the leader of the Philippines delegation to the Ministerial Meeting of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization in 1965.

3. H.E. VICENTE I. SINGIAN (San Fernando). Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg.
In 1964, the Philippine established formal ties with the European community on 12 May 1964. Amb. Vicente Singian, of San Fernando was first assigned as First Secretary and Consul in Great Britain in 1954. Subsequently, he was named as the Head of Mission of Belgium and Luxembourg from 1964 to 1971.

4. H.E. AMELITO R. MUTUC (Arayat). Ambassador to the United States.
Amelito Ramirez Mutuc attended Arayat Institute, then topped his high school in Guagua. He earned his Associate in Arts (valedictorian) and completed his law degree in 1942 at Ateneo de Manila (salutatorian). In 1957, Mutuc caught the eye of then congressman, Diosdado P. Macapagal, who hired him as consultant for his candidacy as VP of the Philippines. Mutuc launched “Macapagal for Vice President Movement”, and from thereon, became the future president’s right hand man. When Macapagal was elected as President in  1962, he named Mutuc as his Executive Secretary.That same year, he was appointed as Ambassador to the United States, serving in Washington D.C. from 1962-1964. He died in 1994.

5. H.E. ROGELIO L. DE LA ROSA (Lubao). Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, The Hague.
The golden boy of Philippine cinema, Regidor La Rosa began his political career when as elected Senator in 1955. He could have been our first movie star president had he continued his run for Presidency in 1961. Dela Rosa withdrew his candidacy to give way to his brother-in-law, Diosdado Macapagal  who eventually was elected Philippine president. De la Rosa was rewarded with an ambassadorial position in Cambodia in 1965. During the Marcos years, de la Rosa was  named ambassador to the The Hague, Netherlands, and to the Soviet bloc countries of Poland, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. His last  post was Sri Lanka. He died on 10 Nov. 1986.

6. H.E. CARLOS J. VALDES (Bacolor). Ambassador to Japan
The distinguished son of Bacolor, Carlos J. Valdes (b. 1919/d. )  finished commerce from La Salle College, and Law from the Far Eastern University in 1949, on scholarships. He also taught at Holy University, in Angeles. Valdes then opened a successful  Law and Accountancy firms with many high profile clients in the business world. Valdes became a member of the Constitutional Assembly in 1971,he served as  ambassador to Japan from 1978-1986.

7. H.E. RAFAELITA HILARIO-SORIANO (Bacolor). Ambassador to Israel.
Dr. Rafaelita Hilario-Soriano’s (b.2 Jul. 1915/d. 1 Jan2007) was the child of  eminent jurist and politician Zoilo J. Hilario of Bacolor  with Trinidad Vasquez. After finishing a political science degree from the Philippine Women’s University in 1936, Soriano won a Barbour Scholarship at the University of Michigan. Returning in 1948, she forayed into another career path—Foreign Affairs. She was named as a Chairman of the Information, Culture, Education and Labor Activities Committee of the SEATO and as Sec.-General of the SEATO Council of Minister’s Meeting in 1970. This led to her being named as an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Israel.

8. H.E. BIENVENIDO L. TAN JR. (Bacolor). Ambassador to Germany,1989
Amb. Tan has roots in Bacolor, being the grandson of Don Gonzalo Arceo Tan, a financier of the Revolution. His parents were Judge Bienvenido Tan, Sr. and Salome Limgenco. Tan became an outstanding public servant and headed the BIR during Pres. Corazon Aquino’s term. In 1989, he was named Ambassador to Germany. The late Sister Mary Christine Tan is his sibling.

9. H.E. RUPERTO M. DIZON (Magalang). Ambassador to Jordan
When the Philippines reopened ties with Jordan in 1998, Ruperto Dizon became the  Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Hashemite Kingdom.The Philippines also decided to re-open its Embassy in Amman in recognition of the critical role that Jordan continues to play in regional and international affairs, especially in the Middle East Peace Process. Dizon was also tasked with the care and concerns of the growing number of Overseas Filipino Workers in Jordan. Amb. Dizon served as Consul general at the Philippine Consul General in New York. Upon retirement, he was  given the Distinguished Service Award in New York on 27 Sep. 2012.

10. H. E. LEONCIO R. PARUNGAO JR. (Arayat). Ambassador to Palau
Prior to becoming an ambassador, Leoncio Parungao held a corporate job in public relations at the Central Bank. The accomplished Parungao finished Journalism from Far Eastern University in 1952, and was a Ten Outstanding Young Men Awardee for Public Service in 1964. He served as Press Secretary of the first President Macapagal at the very young age of 31. From 1998- 2004, he was the Philippine ambassador to the Republic of Palau. In 2012, he  was conferred the Distinguished Service Award by DFA.

11. H.E. LAURA QUIAMBAO-DEL ROSARIO (Angeles City).  Ambassador to India and Vietnam.
Amb.Laura Del Rosario holds an A.B Litt. Degree from Maryknoll (1968) and her M.A. in Education from the University of the Philippines (1975). She was commissioned as a career Foreign Service Officer in 1979, and was assigned to Singapore.  She was the country’s senior official at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.  She was appointed the Alternate Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, and served as Ambassador to India, Nepal (non-resident) and Vietnam.She retired as Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, one of the highest positions in the Foreign Service.

12. H.E. VESTA R. CUYUGAN (San Fernando). Ambassador to New Zealand
Amb. Vesta Roque Cuyugan was the 4th  Philippine ambassador to New Zealand, serving there from 1993-1996. She was coaxed out of her retirement by the Ramos government to head Philippine foreign affairs office in Taiwan (since the Philippines does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan ) towards the end of the president’s term.

13. H.E. LEONIDA L. VERA (Sasmuan). Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican)
Leonida Laki Vera served as Ambassador of the Philippines to the Holy See (Vatican), replacing Amb. Francisco Alba who retired in 2003. She had previously worked for the United Nations Development Fund for Women and religious organizations, such as Caritas Manila, Council of Laity of Manila, Children Rosary Movement, and Paraclete Foundation. An accounting graduate of UST, Amb.Vera is a recipient of the Dame of the Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester and St. Gregory in 1994 and 1998, respectively. She quit her post in 2008.  She was a Most Outstanding Kapampangan Awardee for Government Service in 2014.

14. H.E.  JERRILL G. SANTOS (San Fernando). Ambassador to Vietnam
Jerril G. Santos of San Fernando is the current Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy in Vietnam which he assumed in 2009. With the Department of Foreign Affairs since the 1980s, Amb. Santos has served several presidents as chief of Presidential Protocol and is now Consul general of the newly opened Philippine Consulate General in Houston. His awards include:  Gawad Mabini, with a rank of Dakilang Kasugo (2007),  the Order of Sikatuna, with a rank of Datu (2009) and honored as among the Outstanding Fernandinos in 2012

15. H.E. MA. CONSUELO PUYAT-REYES (Guagua). Ambassador to Chile.
Consuelo Puyat is the daughter of Deogracias Puyat, a son of industrialist Gonzalo Puyat from Guagua. Her mother is Patria Gil. She served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Chile, based in Santiago. Lito Puyat, a name associated with Philippine basketball, is her brother.

16. H.E. MERCEDES REINARES –ARRASTIA TUASON (Lubao).  Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican)
Maria Mercedes Reinares y Arrastia-Tuason (b. Sep. 27, 1930) is an alumnus of St. Scholastica in Manila. She is known for her work in the Red Cross and her pro-life activism. She was appointed ambassador plenipotentiary to the Holy See in 2009. In May 23, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI awarded Tuason the Grand Cross of Merit for the title Order of Pius IX due to her charitable and diplomatic services to the Catholic Church, a coveted title that was not granted to women until November 1993. She is a 2016 Outstanding Kapampangan Awardee in Government Service.

17. H.E. ELIZABETH P. BUENSUCESO (San Fernando). Norway, Denmark, Iceland , ASEAN
H.E. Elizabeth P. Buensuceso is a  Permanent Representative (PR) of the Philippines to ASEAN, based in Jakarta. Prior to her appointment, Amb. Buensuceso was the Assistant Secretary of the Office of European Affairs-DFA (2011-2013), the Ambassador  to Norway, Denmark, and Iceland (2008-2011), and Lao PDR (2004-2008). She is the third  Philippines’ Permanent Representative to ASEAN. Her mother, a Pineda, is from San Fernando. The ambassador speaks the Kapampangan language.
MANY THANKS TO Acting Asst. for Public Diplomacy-DFA MR. ELMER G. CATO for providing the updates.
Bienvenido l. Tan Jr.: Leo Suryadinata, editor. Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary . Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2012.
Philippine Government Directory, Diplomatic Post Publishing Corporation, 2000      
Rogelio dela Rosa, Rafaelita Hilario, Amelito Mutuc:
Vesta Cuyugan: The Pampangans, by R. Hilario. Info c/o: Mr. Roberto Magat

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Fishing is the lifeblood of many Kapampangans especially those living in towns lining the Gran Rio de la Pampanga. As such, the Kapampangan is acquainted with all kinds of fishes that have become so much a part of his life,  his industry and his culture.
BACOCO (Pacific Sea Bream)
There are quite a few species of fish that are called by the name bacoco here in the Philippines of which the Pacific Sea Bream is one.  This particular species is primarily found in estuaries and even in rivers in brackish water.  They are not a particularly large fish however they are a heavy set fish and make a good food fish.

BALULUNGI (Needlebeak)
A folklorist describes balulungi as “a small fish resembling a swordfish”. It could have been coined by combining “balungus” (mouth/beak) with tungi (sharp stick). According to Kapampangan culinary chef Gene Gonzales, these fish were considered “plebeian fare because of their reputation as surface skimmers that feed on floating waste”. A freshwater variety, the balulungi could be the Rynchorhamphus georgii, a long billed, half beak fish., known as baritos, buging and bugiw in other Philippine languages.

BIA (Goby)
Bia are from the very common fish family Gobiidae (goby fish) , one of the largest in the world.  Most of them are relatively small, typically less than 10 cm (3.9 in) in length. The world’s smallest goby fish, Pandaka Pygmaea, is found in the Philippines. This dwarf goby called “bia” or “tabios” has a size that range only from .9 to 1.5 cm. Bia are commercial edible fishes, found in local Kapampangan fare, cooked by the handful in batter and fried.

BIDBID (Ladyfish)
These long and slender fish from the Elopidae family are characterized by a small, pointed head, large deeply forked tail, as well as big eyes and mouth, lined with sharp, tiny teeth. Bidid also have small, thin scales  The scales are small and thin. The coastal-dwelling bidbid are foun d throughout the tropical regions where they are known as ladyfish, skip jacks and tenpounders.

BUAN-BUAN (Wolf herring)
This predator fish is quite rare and elusive. It has silvery sides, a long sardine shaped body and large fangs. The riverine barangay of Mabuanbuan in Sasmuan got its name from this fish species, which Bergaño describes as “pescado espinoso”--a spiny fish, with white scales, but delicious. 

BUNDAQUI (Mudfish)
Bundaqui is another old term for “bulig” or mudfish, a big fish that is also known in many Southeast Asian countries. The stages of the bulig’s growth are chronicled by Bergaño—the yellow-striped fingerlings are called “bundalag”,  the grow to their intermediate size called “bundaqui”. The fully grown fish is called “dalag”. French historian Jean Mallat write about this fish during the rainy season: “ It is more or less during this period that they catch in this lake (Candaba Swamp) a great quantity of dalacs, a fish which the Indios are extremely fond of, and which is in fact, delicious. The dalac resembles a very large and very short short eel, and its way of swimming makes it prefer muddy places”.
Dulungan or balanak (mullet, banak in Tagalog) is one of the more expensive fishes in the Philippines, common in the Cagayan River, but also in Pampang rivers and estuaries. They are a challenge to catch, and as such, are served during special occasions—as quenelles (creamed fish,  combined with breadcrumbs and egg, then cooked) or served with mayonnaise.

LICAUC (Silver Perch)
This is a small bangus-like fish that teems in ponds after flood or rain, preferred for their small roes (puga). Its Tagalog name is ayungin or silver perch. In the dictionary complied by Fray Bergaño, it is properly termed as lucauc, or pececillos.

LIWALU (Climbing Perch)
This common fish--Liwalu--also gave its name to such places as Maliwalu (in Bacolor and Tarlac City) and Caluluan (Ca-liwalu-wan, in Concepcion). Incidentally, the Historical Data Papers of Concepcion call it archer fish, but American inchthyologist Albert William Herre, who called it “lawalo” classified it as a Climbing Perch, Ananas testudineus (Bloch). This fish is known for prolonged living without water hence the name “liwalu”, meaning “luwal” or outside (the waters).

PACUT (Young river crab)
Pacut is a small-crab like crustacean, which when fully grown, is called talangka, Philippines shore crabs, still smaller than alimasag and ema.

PALAS-SAN (Swordfish)
Bergaño collected a unique Kapampangan term for a swordfish -- “palas-san”. Its Tagalog counterpart, now also rarely used is “tag-gan”. Of course, there is a flat, narrow-bodied fish that we also call “ispada” (beltfish), but this is obviously different from the bigger, predatory swordfish that take its name for its long, flat bill.

Fray Bergaño was very sparse with his description of “palimanoc”—he just noted that it is “a certain kind of fish, a ray fish”). Rays are a distinctive, cartilaginous marine fishes, noted for their flat, disc-like bodies, broad, wing-like pectoral fins that are fused to the head, and gill slits that are placed on their ventral surfaces. Their tails have venomous spines that can cause injuries.  Their nearest relatives are the sharks.

SAPSAP (Toothpony Fish)
The fish (Gazza mintua, Bloch), also called sapsap in Tagalog, is commonly available in Philippine markets.  It is often used as main ingredient in cooking Filipino favorite fish stews like paksi and pangat.

TABANGOGO (Manila Sea Catfish)
Tabangongo or kanduli (Arius manillensis) is a species of commercial marine catfish endemic to the island of Luzon. First described by the French zoologist Achille Valenciennes in 1840,  the fish inhabits marine, brackish, and freshwater habitats. Compared to the black-skinned “itu”,  the tabangongo has shiny silvery gray skin with a big head, and is delicious as adobo or as sinigang.

The fish with a religious name –tagan birhen (Virgin’s Leftover, solea humilis) is a member of the sole family of fishes (Soleidae). It is sometimes called "tagan ginu" (the Lord's leftover). The flat fish, to imaginative Kapampangans, has the silhouette of the Virgin, with the tail forming the crowned head. It is prized in many restaurants, although some soles are poisonous.

There is a talang fish (Queenfish) that is endemic in the Philippines, but this short-headed, skinny, silvery fish does not conform to the description of Bergaño’S Kapampangan talang-talang, which he simply calls a “goldfish”. Its name may have come from “talang”, the round mabolo fruit (velvet apple) which can come in red or golden yellow color. The color, plus the plump shape certainly mimc that of the common aquarium goldfish, which is native to east Asia.

Dizon, Lino L. , “Fish in the Life of Kapampangan”. Singsing Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2 issue.
F. Diego Bergano Dictionary, tramslated by Fr. Venancio Samson, CKS, Holy Angel University

BACOCO (Pacific Sea Bream):
SAPSAP (Toothpony Fish):
TABANGOGO (Manila Sea Catfish):