History of Tarlac
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Calls for the “Filipinization” of the Catholic church took shape during the “Paniqui Assembly,” but later led to schism of Fr. Gregorio Aglipay from the Catholic Church and led to the establishment of the Philippine Independent Church (also called Aglipayan), regarded as the concrete testament to the revolution. The province was once a hotbed of Huk and communist rebellions that helped influence the government ‘s land reform programs. Tarlac is a landlocked province situated in the heart of Central Luzon, known not only for its vast sugar and rice plantations, but is best described for its unique cultural diversity. Its richness in culture and the hospitality of its people make the province one of the best places to visit in Central Luzon. Otherwise known as the “MeltingPot” of the region, it is composed of mixed settlers coming from Pampanga Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pangasinan, the Ilocos Region and to include also the Chinese settlers. The fusion of aditions and culture resulted in a wide array of good food and delicacies, from the simple but mouth-watering “pinakbet” of the Ilocanos, the sisig of the Kapampangans, the Chicharon and “inuruban” rice cakes of the Camilenos, the kinalting buko of Victoria and Gerona to the best cuisines of restaurants which can be found in the province[…]
The Beginnings of Tarlac Province, 1593-1873
The province of Tarlac is situated in the heartland of Luzon, in what is known as the Central Plain and which comprises the provinces of Region III in the Philippines. It is bounded on the north by the province of Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija on the east, Zambales on the west and Pampanga in the southern part. Tarlac covers a total land area of 305,345 hectares. It has 17 towns and one city, Tarlac City, which is also the provincial capital. Early in history, what came to be known as Tarlac today was once a thickly forested area, peopled by roving tribes of nomadic Aetas said to be the aboriginal settlers of the Philippines, and for a lengthy period it was the remaining hinterland of the Central Plain of Luzon. (Pre-ProvincialStage:1593-1858)
A common misnomer first cited by a local historian – Marcos Tañedo and popularized by a historical group (Tarlac Historical Society) in the late 1950s and unfortunately adopted by a recent Tarlac City festival devoid of a historical basis was the derivation of Tarlac from a talahib-like weed called ‘Malatarlac’ by the aboriginal Aetas. An old Spanish-Tagalog dictionary by Pedro Serrano Laktaw in late 1800s already referred to ‘Tarlac’, without the prefix – ‘mala’, as a native sugar cane. Early documents were actually referring to the place as a marshland rather than a plant, which is more feasible as it had its application in other parts of the Philippines. The Tarlac toponym or place-name was first mentioned in written history (1593) as a praesidio or military port that pointed to the need of defending early communities from the frequent lowland raids by Negritos not subjected to reduccion. At that time, 30 soldiers were requested for the Tarlac fort, being a ‘presidios among the Çambales’, together with that of San Andres de Mexico, San Phelippe de Malabuc, and the La Playa Honda. “Throughout the first centuries of Spanish rule the villages of sedentary farmers nearest the mountains were exposed to the headhunters,” as Daniel Doeppers was to contend.
The war against the Zambals and Negritos consisted of a six pronged raid on the Western margin of the plain using a few Spanish soldiers and hundreds of the Pampangans whose villages had been victimized. Tarlac was chosen among the initial base in protecting the established communities from the attacks of the tribes. It was most likely that a number of Kapampangans remained after the counter-attacks were waged, resulting in the peopling of the lands of Upper Pampanga where Negrito and Zambal tribes used to thrive. Tarlac’s embryonic history is also closely intertwined with those of Pampanga and Pangasinan which played maternal roles in its creation. Prior to its elevation as a province in the last quarter of the 19th century, the territory that now comprise Tarlac was formally belonging to the provinces of Pampanga (upper of the northern Pampanga) and Pangasinan (southern Pangasinan). TheEdge
Even with the initialization of the period of evangelization and reduccion of Pampanga in 1571 and Pangasinan a couple of years later, however, most of what was to become the province of Tarlac in the present times, especially the central portion, was for at least two centuries depicted as thickly-forested hinterland, peopled by roving tribes of Aetas or the much dreaded headhunters in early accounts. Emerging out of Pampanga in a mitotic, though curt, pattern northward, the origin of Tarlac is actually the edge or demarcation of what could be called the Kapampangan balean or homeland. In the late 1600s, settlers from the lower Pampanga and Pangasinan began the influx to the hinterland, bringing the initial displacement of Aetas to the Zambales Mountains. At this early stage, enough settlers warranted the establishment of mission centers of various religious congregations that eventually became the site of the pioneering pueblos or townships during the Spanish colonial period.
The bulk of what was to become the Kapampangan portion of Tarlac province started out as visitas of the pueblo or township of Porac which was accepted as a convent by the Augustinian Chapter of October 31, 1594 and dedicated to Santa Catalina de Alexandria as the patroness. Inhabited by bellicose people, these were Tarlac, Magala, Garlit, Micavalo, and Paitán, situated along the route to Pangasinan. However, though the mission at Porac was begun before 1600, as Daniel Doeppers noted, it remained for almost 200 years a small rather isolated center concentrating on the conversion and resettlement of the nearby Negrito population. Magalang, the name of the original town, means in most Philippine languages as “respectful and courteous” or “Sp. cortecia” in the olden times. It probably evolved from prefix Ma (many) and the root “galang” or benefaction (ale[Tag.alay]) in offertories. In the Kapampangan dictionary of Diego Bergaño, O.S.A. , however, it also meant “abundance.” An old adage of the Kapampangan goes “Balamu yata eca pa mecapangan pale-Magalang (it seems that you have not yet eaten Magalang-palay)” and it was meant to allay a disrespectful and irreverent person.
It will not be far-fetched that Magalang has something to with a fertile terrain that was then very suitable for rice-farming. Bergaño also cited that galang is bracelet (Sp. pulseras); other Philippine languages, e.g. Maguindanaoan, it is bronze or precious metal; suggesting enormous jewelry entitled one with honor and respect. Until the late 1960s, during the biniag San Nicolas, a pseudo-baptismal rite in honor of this Augustinian ascetic, the pintacasi of baked products, there was brawny, bracelet-shaped bread given to Kapampangan known as galang-galang. In 1984, Fr. Edilberto Santos, in comparing pre-colonial Pampanga with Sumatra and Java in Indonesia, cited the existence of Magalangan (a Sumatran village) and Magelang (a region, a residency, and a capital in Java) as printed in an 1896 almanac of the Dutch East Indies. And there was Minjalin, the northeastern-most island in the Anambas group, Sumatra that could have been similar to the Kapampangan town of Minalin; as well as the other Sumatran islands known as Pora, reminiscent of the Kapampangan town of Porac. These linguistic parallels are interesting and catchy, which make them tempting; however, even if they are suggestive of the affinities of early languages, they should be used with caution.
Magalang was founded in 1605 in an area known as Macapsa, allegedly from Spanish historians like Font and Cavada, among the barrios Almendras, Malabug and Sabanang Tugui. At present, there is a barrio Almendras in Concepcion, yet the toponym was not mentioned by any of the listings of 1800s. Malabug and Sabanang Tugui could not be located at the moment. Malabug, ‘murky or unclear’, suggests that the area could have been adjacent a water system, probably a riverbank. Sabana is actually savanna or tropical grassland and tugui (Cordyline roxburghiana) is bowstring hemp common in thickets and hedges. These were not also cited by Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin in his Conquistas, rather the cronista mentioned that the proto-town of Magala[ng] started out, as already cited, as a visita of Porac together with Garlit, Micavalo, Tarlac and Paitán. The first two would become visitas in the eventual elevation of Magalang as a town. Tarlac, the present capital of the province of the same name, was mentioned as a settlement only in 1686, indicative that it was also a visita of Magalang for some time. Paitán could not be pinpointed yet.
The term could have originated from pait usa, deer tripe or gall (which is made into a steamy but bitter stew, papaitan; this is still a delicacy though it has been replaced by goat innards). If so, it could have meant the vicinity of Capas or Patling which by then was included among ‘cazadores de venados’, the deer-routes. In 1817, the Estados was reporting that in Tarlac area alone, 7,000 deer were butchered ; a fact that was confirmed by Jean Mallat in his 1840s travelogue. The proto-town of Magalang was abandoned in the 1660s due to Malong Rebellion, when a big army of the Pangasinense rebel made an encampment in one of its visitas. This could have been contributory in the elevation of Tarlac as a township two decades later. By 1734, in the relaciones of another historian, Fr.Pedro Murillo Velarde S.J., the town of Magalang was already situated in the barrio of San Bartolome, which is actually adjacent to the barrio of Almendras at present. In 1818, as cited in said Estados of the Ayuntamiento de Manila, the visitas of Magalan[g] had grown only to five; with Bucsit and Matondo added to the original list of Macahalo [Macaualu], Garlit, and the poblacion. Macaualu is the present barrio of Santiago. According to the HDP, it was named after a ferocious reptile believed to maraud in the area.
The nomenclature is still used for a breed of snakes that is found in the town, though it is not that rapacious as the account alleged. Bergaño cited it as ‘Ualo’; the term could have been drawn from the serpent shaped as the number 8. Other terms that the toponym could be connected would be that of camulalu (Bergaño listed it as camamalu, being ‘culebra ponzoñosa’ [poisonous snake]; this is the Philippine cobra, ulupong in Tagalog), which is more ferocious, and the liwalu (or the climbing perch). The prominent geographical feature of the barrio was its proximity to the Lucung (concave or hollow) River and in the olden times it was a favorite site for the “jira” (picnic) of the people. This place was mentioned in 1660 as an encampment of Melchor de Vera, the aide-de-camp of the rebel Andres Malong (of the Malong Uprising fame), with his army of 6,000 sent to invade Pampanga from the Spaniards. The said barrio could have also been the site of the battle that ensued thereafter between De Vera and the Spanish reconnaissance under General Francisco de Esteybar, during the administration of Governor-General Sabiniano Manrique de Lara.
Gaspar de San Agustin, as stated in the lead paragraph, made a precocious mention about its inhabitants in the 16th century. Garlit, another old barrio whose provenance was believed to be also Negrito, is now officially known as San Agustin and for some time (and still popularly) as Murcia (after a province in Spain). In Garalita ampong Pamisulatmap Kapampangan (Kapampangan Grammar and Orthography), there is also a term for garlit, i.e., apostrophe or the [‘] symbol used to substitute an omission of a letter in a word. It could mean, in politico-geographical parlance, as a detachment from the main territory (e.g., the transformation of a sitio to a barrio) An Augustinian account placed its foundation in 1755, through the intercession of Fray Sebastian Morono, O.S.A. In 1888, Murcia, together with the barrios of Bucsit, San Juan, and San Miguel (of Tarlac), became an independent pueblo from Concepcion. Bucsit, according to the HDP, was named after the Negritos who were the original settlers of the area, is the present barrio of Sta. Rosa. The account of Fr. Antonio Mozo, O.S.A., published in 1753, cited this Zambal village as Bucsi in May of 1702, being site of catechism and baptism done by the Augustinian friars. In Kapampangan, bucsi is the bird’s crop and it is used to describe people who eat voraciously or haphazardly without proper digestion (mamucsi).
However, Bergano identified the Kamp term as a “sige (shell) used for polishing or smoothing,” indicative of the riverine identity of the place and thus a proto-Kapampangan, or ‘settlers by the riverbanks” situs. Another missionary activity cited in the area (this time as Bucsic) was in 1759, under Fray Gonzalo Salazar, O.S.A. The same toponyms were still intact when Fr. Manuel Blanco OSA prepared his Mapa Del Territorio de la Pampanga in 1832. Another early referent on the composition of the town was an 1842 arreglo (listing) of the ‘oficiales de Justicia.’ Magalang, “which served as a vestibule to the provinces of Pangasinan and Ilocos” has 1,270 and ½ tribute-payers (roughly around 5,000 population) with ten barrios (actually 11). Five of the new barrios were to be founded near the poblacion, and would eventually become the present town of Magalang. Except for the poblacion, most of the pioneering visitas were actually on the northern side of the Parua River. And each of them (including the former poblacion on the other side) would become part of Concepcion during the division of the old town. And there was to be only one visita added in the list, Sta. Rita, a foreign toponym that erased the monopoly of pre-colonial ‘Austronesian’ or Kapampangan identities for more than two centuries after the coming of the Spaniards.
Kapampangan terms, mostly obsolete, show traces of the demarcation of Tarlac vicinity with the Kapampangan homeland, or the unknown mental boundary which geographers talk about. In 1732, for example, Fray Diego de Bergaño, the Augustinian lexicographer, explicated the provenance of Kamp. cabalingan, or a very dangerous route, from the root word baling, hedor de orines -stench of urine’. His clear-cut example was the travel to Tarlac by way of its visita of San Miguel. He assumed that the Kapampangan phrase Iti iyan cabalingan was due to the fact that there is the stinking smell of urine in the area due to the nervousness of travelers in fear of being ambushed by the Negritos. Also, in the term pipacdayan, or ‘el lugar espantado’ a very frightening place, described with a hunter’s shriek in killing birds or Negritos’ shout when they make ambushes, the Augustinian used the place between Garlit and San Miguel as an example. This is in consonance with the “persistence of cultural boundaries,” an anthropological phenomenon readily observed by Fredrik Barth and others in certain areas, where “one finds that stable, persisting, and often vitally important social relations are maintained across such borders, and are frequently based precisely on the dichotomized ethnic statuses.”
Other chronicles, contemporary of Bergaño and even earlier, divulge much about the feared Tarlac terrain: “Pitiful was the disaster that befell the father definitor, Fray Pedro de Valenzuela, in the year 1648,” thus wrote Gaspar de San Agustin in his succeeding volume of the history of his Order. “Our father provincial, Fray Diego de Ordás, had entrusted to him the annual visitation of the province of Ilocos. If one goes there by land, he must inevitably pass through a stretch of unsettled country for a day’s journey, between the province of Pampanga and that of Pangasinan, from the village of Magalang to that of Malunguey. One cannot pass it with security without an escort of Zambals, who are, like the Pampangos of those elevated villages in that province, a brave people. The reason is that all that unsettled portion is exposed to the incursions of the blacks from the mountains of Playa Honda, who are the cruelest of all that scattered nation ……Many other Spaniards have been killed by their carelessness and great confidence; and consequently, that unsettled stretch is very dangerous.” As cited, the terrain was aggravated with the Malong Revolt of 1660s, when Macaualu was used by the rebels from Pangasinan for their encampment in misfired connivance with the Kapampangan insurrectos of Francisco Maniago.
Out of fear, people abandoned the town until the 1700s when they re-settled adjacent to the Parua River. Thereon, natural calamities and political upheavals, both violent and evolutionary, have largely defined and re-defined that landscape. A big thrush to the redefinition was the parting of ways of two groups of the principalia and other inhabitants of Magalang when a catastrophic flood of 1858 erased their town again. A batch went southwards and the other preferred to be northward bound cañgatba, across the river. The process gave birth to two independent towns, that of Magalang and Concepcion. The other referent of Fr. Gaspar, the village of Malunguey, interestingly, would be forming the eventual Tarlac towns coming from Pangasinan, especially the matriarchal towns of Paniqui and Camiling. The ancient village of Malunguey is in the territory of the present town of Bayambang in Pangasinan. Paniqui has prodigious beginnings. Although mentioned only in the 1686 Actas Capitulares of the Dominicans, it is allegedly the oldest town founded in the whole of Pangasinan. Located then in the southernmost part of the latter, the area nearest to that of Pampanga, “it was probably part of the Pangasinan territory reportedly conquered by Martin de Goiti in 1571, the first part of Pangasinan to be placed under Spanish sovereignty,” as assessed by Rosario Cortes.
Religious houses were already established by the Dominican friars as early as 1686. In the Acceptances that year, there was this citation: 7. Also in the province of Pangasinan we raise into a vicariate our house of St. John Evangelist of Telban, and also accept our houses at Sta. Rosa of Paniqui and St. Joseph of Camiling. And to that Curate, the R.P. Vicar of Telban, we both commit. Telban[g] is another early settlement, also in the vicinity of the present town of Bayambang as that of Malunguey. Paniqui by this year, also in the opinion of Cortes, was already a town, with the presence of a church and a convent dedicated to Sta. Rosa. Other records would be citing 1712 as the founding date of Paniqui, and they must have been referring to a new settlement.
In 1718, Paniqui was already elevated to vicariate, with Paontalon under its charge. By 1723, the Paniqui parish included Camiling and Pantol, aside from Paontalon which later became the town of Baruc or the present-day Gerona. Camiling became a town by 1838. This is the generally accepted date. Though included on the Acta Capitulares of 1686, it was no longer mentioned in the subsequent years, reappearing only in the said year of 1838. It was the opinion of Cortes and others that Camiling is entirely a new town, as that of Paniqui, and that the earlier Camiling settlement might have disappeared because of the growing threats from the Negritos in the early 18th century. The difference in the patron saints [San Jose in 1686 and San Miguel de Arcangel from 1838 to the present] adds to this view. The Fort
Tarlac, as cited, was initially mentioned in written history as a praesidio or military port in 1593. There was no other document attesting this incipient role of Tarlac. One toponym, however, can shed light. Castillo, from the Spanish “castle” is presently a southern barrio of Concepcion on the Nueva Ecija border. An account mentioned that it was so called as such since it was the place for the timalogs (or those who were then fleeing from the law). It could have been derived from ‘cestillo’ or alaula, a native fish-cot, thus suggestive of its riverine setting, washed by the Rio Chico de Pampanga. The name ‘Castillo’ is remindful of the primeval Tarlac as a fort in 1593 to guard other provinces from the depredations of balugas, the tulisanes, and the remontados. But the location should be of interest. For one, the Tarlac praesidio could not have been the present capital city of the province, since it is almost 30 kilometers away. In the Conquista of Fr. Casimiro Diaz OSA, or Part II of the book of Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin, he mentioned the establishment of new priorates of his Order on May 22, 1590, “(a)mong them was that of Arayat, located in the farthest corner of Pampanga.”
The pueblo was described of having “goodly population at the beginning, but now the population has dwindled to less than one hundred Indians; for on one side the Zambales, and on the other the conscriptions, have been consuming them, as is seen at present in other districts.” The year was close to the establishment of a praesidio to guard the hinterland which was still then held by the Negritos and the feared Pangasinanes, an area that included the present central Tarlac. Magalang, in the jurisdiction of the present town of Concepcion, was still nonexistent at that time. It should be cited that Magao, which had the jurisdiction of Castillo, was formerly a part of La Paz; in turn, the latter, known then as Cauayan-Bayug, was a mere barrio of Arayat until the 1830s when it became an independent pueblo dedicated to the Nuestra Señora de La Paz y Buen Viaje due to its proximity to the Chico River. Magao was actually a barrio of La Paz during the Spanish Period. It was only during the American Period that it was transferred to Concepcion. Sixty years later, in 1660, praesidios were again requested in Pampanga due to the restlessness caused by the agitations of Francisco Maniago in connivance with the Pangasinense Andres Malong.
The disturbance, as already cited by Diaz, was due to conscriptions (polo y servicios) that depopulated the terrain. “The Pampangos themselves,” as the Augustinian cronista wrote, “demanded that two garrisons be placed in their province, as necessary to their security – one in Lubao, to free themselves from the invasions which in that direction they are continually suffering from the blacks of the hill-country; and the other in Arayat, as a precaution against the fears which arise from the Pangasinans.” The garrisons were headed by Captains Nicolás Coronado for Arayat and Juan Giménez de Escolastica, “soldiers of great valor.” The anticipated revolt did not push through in the area since “an Indian, a native of Magalang, who offered to the messengers to place the letters safely in the hands of Don Francisco Maniago…delivered them to the commandant of the fort at Arayat…who without delay sent them to the governor, who received them on the twentieth of the same month of December (1660).” Anticipating the attack from Malong, particularly the massive contingent headed by the Pangasinense aide-de-camp, Melchor de Vera, the governor of Pampanga, Francisco Gómez Pulido, fortified the Arayat post with the support of Captain Silvestre de Rodas. Of importance in the account was the fact that Magalang was then identified as the farthest village in Pampanga, no longer Arayat.
By this time, Christian settlements were already established a few kilometers from Castillo, especially the barrio of Macaualu where de Vera’s troops made an encampment triggering the depopulation of the town whose inhabitants could have taken refuge in the fort’s vicinity. Another toponym mentioned by the account was of Cambuy, a visita of Arayat, which could have been Lomboy, now a barrio of La Paz, Tarlac. The toponym Castillo is also very interesting. In the HDP of 1950s, the area was still a sitio of the barrio of Magao, allegedly from the owner of the lands. Until the present, however, none of the inhabitants could actually remember a Castillo surname that became prominent in the area. Castillo could have been a fort or a castle, which, as R. Javellana in his Fortress of Empire has distinguished as “ a fortified residence of a feudal lord though that residence may have been large enough to include storehouses, workshops, stables, and quarters for the peasants who sought the safety of the castle walls in time of siege.”
But in the Philippines, as he was to add immediately, “castillo means an elevated lookout and defensive tower” and “baluarte can be translated as bastion or even bulwark; it can also refer to a mass of earth angled to form a polygon, a type of field fortification.” He said that baluarte was used interchangeably with castillo. On the other hand, “a presidio was a military contingent, however, the term was also used for the place where the contingent was garrisoned.” The castillo and baluarte, manned by the community militia, served primarily as a delaying tactic, allowing the townspeople to fly to the safety of the church or fort. Where none was strong or adequate enough, the people fled to the nearby hills or forests. ThePassageway
The importance of Tarlac in the expansion of Spanish colonialism was its being a natural route between southern Luzon and the north. With its being inutile as late as 1619, Hernando delos Rios Coronel lamented that it was “obstruct[ing] the most needed road in the island and occupying the best land. As early as 1574, Conquistador Juan de Salcedo, reported reaching the point where a route, particularly camino, that connected Pangasinan with the pueblos of Candaba (Candaue) began. For Doeppers, camino clearly refer to a pre-Hispanic trail or route rather than to any sort of improved road. Miguel de Loarca, writing almost a decade later in 1582, indicated that from Pangasinan, “one can go by land to Manila, over a very smooth and good road [trail], having to travel only 14 or 15 leagues to arrive at the Capanpanga River.” Jose Felipe Del-Pan was actually talking of the same route as late as 1859. In the famous 1734 map of Fr.Pedro Murillo Velarde, there is a depiction of such route. The distance given, measured from Lingayen, indicates that the route met the Rio Chico de Pampanga somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Canarem, from which the journey was downstream to Manila Bay.
There is also some evidence that at least during the rainy season it was possible the length of the plain by boat, connecting from the Pampanga River system via Lake Canarem to the Tarlac and Agno Rivers. Another route, as cited by Juan de Medina, was established which left the Pampanga River at Arayat and proceeded via Magalang to Malunguey and thence to Binalatongan and Lingayen. It was this route which later became the main axis of communication between north and south. The unsettled territory which this road crossed in the interior of the plain between Magalang and the settlements of Pangasinan was regularly used by the Zambals and Negritos. By 1686, the Augustinians resumed their presence in the area, with the following edict: Por quinto es necesario para la buena administracion de los naturales agregar y desagrerar alguns conventos y crier nuevos prioratos…nombramos por Vicario Prior de Tarlac y Magalán con sus visitas al P. Pedro Flóres, (For as much as it is necessary for the good administration of the natives to add and to disintegrate some convents and to bring up new priories … we name as Vicar Prior of Tarlac and Magalán with their visitas, Father Pedro Flóres )”
Actually, as early as December 19, 1590 and vouched months later on April 20, 1591, the Augustinian provincial, Fr. Juan Valderrama OSA already wrote Governor-General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas regarding the approval of the creation of a township along the Tarlac route. As could be purported, its location of being the link between Manila and the Northern provinces has made Tarlac an important trading center since the earliest times. The town referred to could be that of Magalang, initially called Macapsa, of which Augustinians placed its year of foundation at 1605, with the assignment of Fray Gonzalo Salazar as the primer ministro. But the township of Macapsa was not sustained for long or remained impenetrable, as later accounts would attest. An early mission cited by Fr. Gaspar, Paitan, as already surmised, could have originated from pait usa, deer tripe or gall and it could have meant the vicinity of Capas or Patling which by then was included among ‘cazadores de venados’, the deer-routes.
The usa, unknown to many, is actually the key to the reduccion or the opening of Upper or Alta Pampanga (comprising the northern highlands of the matriz of Pampanga [e.g., Mabalacat, Porac, and Angeles], Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija) to the ‘ways of civilization” by the Spanish colonizers in the 1700s. Though starting out as Augustinian missions, the western portions, of what would become Tarlac Province were former Recoleto (OAR, or Order of the Augustinian Recollects or the Agustinos Descalzados) missions, namely: Capas, Bamban, O’Donnell and Moriones, which are now part of Tarlac Province; and Mabalacat, which presently belongs to Pampanga. Other pioneer Recollect missions in the vicinity, e.g., Talimarin and Dinalupihan, were included in what presently became the province of Bataan. Two other missions, Alupay and Aliuat, could not be located at present because of conflicts in available maps and accounts. Many Recollect accounts, like the Reseña of Fr. Jose de la Concepcion and the Estado-General of 1879, mentioned that actual evangelical work of the congregation within Upper Pampanga took place during the administration of the Count of Lizarraga (1709-1715).
He was Governor-General Martin de Ursua who took possession of the office on August 25, 1709, vice Gov. – Gen. Domingo Zabalburu. Some historians, like Jose de Alcazar, referred to him as Martin de Urena. The Count of Lizarraga was reputed to be a prudent Governor. It was under his tutelage that peace initiatives by the King of Spain were attempted, through an alliance, with the sultans of Mindanao and Jolo, who had besieged Zamboanga with attacks. Though these were not actually achieved and in turn hampered missionary activities in those areas, they opened the eyes of the Spanish administrators on the importance of diplomacy rather than punitive and costly expeditions against the Moslems of Mindanao. One excellent and beneficent, though controversial, result was the christening of Sultan Alimud Din in 1750. The Count of Lizarraga was also responsible for the wine monopoly in 1712. The distilling of coconut and nipa palms was limited to the provinces surrounding Manila, and Upper Pampanga might have been considered for the purpose.
The sale of wine was leased by the government to private individuals for the sum of 50,000 pesos, which was served to augment the income of the depleted treasury of the colonial government. Yet, the more probable commodity that necessitated the haphazard reduccion of Upper Pampanga was that of venison or deer meat. Fr. Martinez de Zuñiga O.S.A., in his Estadismo de las Islas Filipinas en 1800, accounted in the early 19th century that deer was so abundant in this area that it was more than enough to provide for the needs of the hunters and their families. A large portion of deer meat was dried and salted (called tapa or pindang in Kapampangan) and exported to China. Together with the deer tendons, tapa was a delicacy among the Chinese which they believed was a source of strength for ‘carnal delights’ purposes. For such, this commanded a very high price. In the 1800s, this was already sold at 10 pesos per Spanish pico (about 137.5 lbs.). W.H. Scott was to add that deer skin, in turn, was sold in Japan as early as the 16th century for the outfits of the nobility, the daimyos and the samurais. And as reported by J. Mallat:
Its forest nourish such enormous quantity of wild beasts that in 1819, they say that more than 7,000 heads of stags were killed in the single pueblo of Tarlac… During this period, it was only Upper Pampanga that could still abundantly supply this valuable export commodity and it was only the Negritos that had the dexterity of deer-hunting. Another possibility would have been the precarious geographical position of Upper Pampanga. Throughout the Spanish regime, there were representations by prominent political figures for the necessity of pacifying the infieles, as the case of the alcalde-mayor of Pampanga, Don Domingo Sanz y Aranaz, who petitioned for the sending of the missionaries in the area and the drawing of funds from the Royal Treasury (Real Erario) for such. And since the Negrito domain (Upper Pampanga) was in-between Pampanga and the North (most especially the agricultural provinces of Pangasinan and Zambales), vigorous commercial activities were hampered or were not made possible. These might be the underlying reason why missionaries, particularly the Recollects, were hastily instructed by the Spanish government to pacify these infieles. Fr. Martinez de Zuñiga saw something ‘political’ in this: The trade in dried and salted venison is controlled by the provincial governors.
They arrange with the towns of the elevated portion of Pampanga the paying of tribute for the trade on dried and salted venison. With the pretext that the natives do not pay their tribute they prohibit the export of dried venison to other towns. He also mentioned the consequences of such actions by avaricious officials: The natives suffer because they like this food very much and ask for it even it their sick beds. They say it is a healthful food. Native and even Spanish women who have just delivered eat nothing else, claiming that chicken meat gives them gas pains, that fish induce mucousity and that beef is not palatable and so it is only dried venison that can save them from a kind of hysterical passion locally called subasuba from which ailment very few survive. It is sadly painful that this display of greed by the provincial governors deprives ailing mothers of this comfort. It was also perhaps the promising income of these agricultural pursuits that the Count had attended to the insistence of certain private individuals to start missionary activities in Upper Pampanga. By this time, it was mainly this area within the vicinity of Manila that was largely a hinterland. The Recoletos account was explicit on the fact that it was the superior government, “without summoning the father provincial”, that had drawn the royal acts and decrees that charged the congregation to send missionaries to the “localities of Bamban and Mabalacat.”
And this act was more than enough to change the pristine Upper Pampanga – or Tarlac – landscape forever. Attention to what would eventually become the province of Tarlac could have actually commenced with the economic blueprint of Spanish Governor-Generals of the early 1800s, with the likes of Basco, Cruzat, and others. A 19th century map, around 1832, was actually a proposal to redraw the different provincial boundaries of what would become Central Luzon. Founded in 1801, also from Pampanga, the province of Nueva Ecija, with its capital in Cabanatuan, was basically going to be divided into two provinces and two districts. The southwestern part of Nueva Ecija, together with parts of Pampanga and Bulacan, was going to be part of of a new province that would retain the name Nueva Ecija. The capital of this new Nueva Ecija would be San Isidro. Looking at the map, this new province was supposed to contain San Miguel de Mayumu and a large part of the Candaba Swamp area, among others. The northwestern part of Nueva Ecija, together with parts of Pampanga and Pangasinan, meanwhile, was going to be constituted into another new province, with its capital in Rosales. This province was supposed to be called Nueva Cuenca, and included among others, the towns of Paniqui, Barug (now Gerona), Cuyapo, Guimba, Muñoz, San Jose, Puncan, Lugsit, Umingan and Tayug.
The Pacific coast of Nueva Ecija was going to be divided into two districts. The northeastern district would have its capital in Casiguran, and would annex parts of the province of Nueva Viscaya. The southeastern district would have its capital in Binangonan de Lampon (now Infanta) and would annex parts of the province of La Laguna, which at that time, stretched as far north as Bulacan and as far east as the Pacific Ocean. Of the four new divisions planned, only two would materialize. The province of Nueva Ecija would remain intact until the arrival of the Americans who moved several towns to the province of Pangasinan. The northeastern district would later become the Commandancia Politico-Militar of El Principe, the present day Aurora province, created by Governor Manuel Crespo y Cebrian in 1856, with its capital in Baler. It would remain under the jurisdiction of Nueva Ecija until 1902. While the southeastern district would later became the province of Infanta, with its capital Binangonan being renamed Infanta. Proto-Provincial Stage: 1858-1873
Nueva Cuenca would never be formed, remaining a plan in the drawing-board of the Spanish colonial administration. Instead, what would be formed was Tarlac Province, half-century later. The first step towards the erection of Tarlac into a province was made in 1858, with the creation of a portion of western Pampanga into a military commandancy known as Comandancia-Militar de Tarlac and which included the following towns: Bangbang, Capas, Concepcion, O’Donnell, Tarlac, Victoria, Floridablanca, Mabalacat, Magalang and Porac (the last 4 towns reverted later to their mother province, Pampanga, when Tarlac became a regular province in 1873.) This “comandancia” was the nucleus of what later became the province of Tarlac and of which a couple of towns from southern Pangasinan (Camiling, Gerona, Moncada, and Paniqui) was also integrated.
Other sources, as that of Francisco Baranera, mention of the erection of the Commandancia de Porac in September of 1862, along the Zambales mountains (specifically Mts. Abo and Pinatubo) along the Zambales-Pampanga border, to counter banditry. With 18,000 inhabitants, it was “embellished with good climate and excellent water-forms” and a supposedly promising agricultural site. Ilokano migration was also predominant in the Upper Pampanga area, but it must have happened much later, between 1850 and 1900, as the study of Marshall McLennan revealed. In Martinez de Zuñiga’s Estadismo, in the 1800s, the Augustinian stated that in those places (specifically Patling, or O’Donnell) there were “several natives who are descendants of the Pangasinanes” and “the rest of the inhabitants of those parts are Negritos.” During the time of the Recollect chronicler, Fr. Juan de la Concepcion, the statistics for the whole of Pampanga under the charge of Recollects were only 74 tribute-payers. The Aftermath
Tarlac was the last province in Central Luzon to be created by the Spanish colonial government in 1873. During its initial decade as a regular province, additional pueblos were created, including Pura, Mayantoc, San Manuel, Murcia, La Paz, Moriones and San Clemente. Though by then still a young alcaldia, particularly a Politico-Military province headed by a military man, Tarlac was among the first provinces to rise up in arms against the Spaniards in 1896. During the Philippine Revolution, a few months after General Emilio Aguinaldo abandoned Malolos, Bulacan in the subsequent Philippine-American War, the town of Tarlac became the seat of the Aguinaldo government, from June 21 – November 10, 1899. Likewise, Tarlac Cathedral was the site of the Philippine Revolutionary Congress. When the Americans took the Tarlac capital on November 10, 1899, this signaled the collapse of the Aguinaldo government. The American Period in Tarlac officially started in 1901 with establishment of a civil government. The first decade of the new century brought about the reversion of some towns to barrio status, particularly O’Donnel, Murcia and Moriones, which never regained their former status as municipalities.
In 1920, the town of Ramos was created, making the number of towns to 17. It was only in 1988 when the number was increased, with the creation of the municipality of San Jose in western Tarlac. The province figured prominently also during the Second World War with the infamous Death march which started from Bataan and ended in Capas. On January 20, 1945, the feast day of St. Sebastian, Tarlac was finally liberated from the Japanese hold. Tarlac’s history is not complete without mentioning its foremost asset – the people. Its location of being the link between Manila and the Northern provinces has made Tarlac an important trading center since the earliest times. This strategic locale caused the province to become the hub and destination of the migrations of various people, especially during the 18th – 19th centuries. For this, Tarlac is also known as the “Melting Pot Province” for it is home to different cultures and ethno-linguistic groups. Kapampangan, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, Tagalogs, Visayans and Aetas live together in harmony and in peace. Indeed, this amalgam of tongues and cultures has given Tarlac its uniqueness and vibrancy.
Lino L. Dizon is Professor of Philippine Studies and History, Tarlac State University and the Director of its Center for Tarlaqueño Studies. He holds a Ph.D.(Philippine Studies) from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Prof. Dizon has already written more than a dozen books on Philippine local history and culture and is the co-author of a number of publications including Gloria: Roman Leoncio’s Kapampangan Translation of Huseng Batute’s Verse Novel, Lost and Found, which won the 2004 Philippines’ National Book Awards for Translation. He is also the editor of ALAYA, the Kapampangan Research Journal of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University. He is the recipient of the 2011 UPAA Distinguished Alumni Award in Educational Innovation of the University of the Philippines. In 2000, he was awarded by his home province of Tarlac as Outstanding Tarlaqueño in Arts, Letters and Culture and his hometown of Concepcion in 2007, through the Ding Masibucan Club, as its outstanding citizen in the field of Education and Culture.
A former historical consultant for the Philippine Department of Education and the Baguio Teachers’ Camp centenary, he assisted in putting up the BTC Museum and centennial book. A University Scholar of the University of the Philippines, Diliman from 2005-2007, Prof. Dizon is Vice- President of KABANSA, Inc.- the Association of Local Studies Centers in the Philippines and a former EXECON-Member of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts’ Committee for Historical Research. Recipient of many national and international scholarship grants as those from the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation, American Association of the Philippines, Nihon University – Mishima and the Research Forum on Philippine-Japan Relations, he is a Fulbright Research Fellow for 2010-2011 of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.