A trip to Arayat

I woke up at 5:00 in the morning. It was Good Friday and my fellow Mabuhay Guides and I took a trip up north to Pampanga, the land of A-A-A-A-A.

Pampangos are known for their excellent cooking, Lito Lapid, Sexmoan and Macabebe (the old folks would say: Sex-moan before you Make-a-Beybi), and the disappearance of the letter “H” before a vowel is pronounced. Take for example the Tagalog word “ahas”. This is pronounced as “a-as”.

Thus, Kapampangan laughter in the written word is read as: A-A-A-A-A.

Oh, before you get your Pampangan friends to label me as a racist, let me tell you that I’m a proud Kapampangan. A half-breed though 🙂 My father is Kampampangan. His family hails from Santa Rita, Pampanga. My lola is a native of Betis, a town that has a reputation of producing a lot priests.

Ganda ng lola ko. An old picture of lola in her teenage years.

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The Tagalog and Pampango share the distinction as “The Wicked Accomplices” in keeping the Philippines together from then until now- a claim that may border on arrogance but also a trait that shows how “politicized” these two tribes are.

Our national flag proclaims it. The eight rays in the Philippine sun are the first provinces (Manila, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Batangas,and Cavite) that started the revolution. All of them are in the Tagalog-Pampango realm. The Spaniards sensing a great deal of trouble placed them all under martial law after the battle of San Juan del Monte in Manila.

Why? There is no worse enemy than an alienated friend (The Aquinos of Tarlac by Nick Joaquin, page 19). For centuries, the two tribes were sent in various expeditions to keep the colony together. Both have trained and learned military art under the Spaniards. They know how to beat them and eventually, they did.

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We saw a great view of Mount Arayat as we went to visit the Medina House. It was in this ex-volcano where the revolutionary forces sought its protection as their hideout and headquarters. Arayat was also originally called, Sinukuan from the word “Suko” which means “old and venerable”.

We made a short stop at the Santa Ana Church where we saw a bunch of penitents doing their thing- taunting death to repent.

I bloody heart you. Penitent seems to be loving the pain.

After taking shots and wiping blood off my left arm (I was so damn near the action), we made our way to the Medina House. We met up with other friends from the Mabuhay Guides and had a sweet welcome from Susan Calo-Medina and her husband, Johnny. They treated us to pastillas and yema Pampango-style.

They encouraged us to go out and explore. We strolled around town and visited a church that was sponsored by a Medina with a P20,000 donation (that was a considerable amount back then) to repair the church.

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After acting as tourists, we went back to the house. I had one of the best meals in my life in that house.

Aside from the company that I had going into this trip, I had a great time having a laugh with the descendants of the 1896 Revolution. Their main man was no other than General Jose Alejandrino, Rizal’s roommate in Belgium and the first person who cleverly read the El Filibusterismo.

A blow-up picture proudly displayed in the house shows Filipino ilustrados in Madrid.

Ilustrados in Madrid. I got this picture from this.

I was told by one of the relatives that the original copy was lent to a government agency for the centennial celebration but unfortunately, it was not returned. If you look closely, Jose Alejandrino is the gentleman behind Jose Rizal wearing a top hat.

Stylishly heroic. Our heroes in Rizal’s time were isputing.

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We also met a lady named Leonor. She’s a direct descendant of Leonor Rivera, Rizal’s greatest love. She is the family’s historian because she has an amazing memory. She knows the sons and daughters of each relative together with the stories and juicy stuff that makes our heroes human. Leonor is sought by historians because of what she knows and most probably with the way she tells those stories.