Back to Article List


       The Kapampangans  live in the provinces of Pampanga and some border towns of Bataan (Dinalupihan and Hermosa) and Tarlac (Bamban, Capas, Concepcion and Tarlac City).   Pampanga, which etymologically means “Pampang” or riverbank,  is bounded on the north by Tarlac City and Nueva Ecija, on the east by Bulacan, southeast by Manila Bay, on the southwest by Bataan and on the west by Zambales.

The province has a total land area of 218,068 hectares representing 12 percent of Regions III total area.  It is composed of 21 municipalities with 538 barangays and one city.   The total population (as of 1995 census) is 1,635,767.

The province of Tarlac, whose name was derived from a talahib weed called “Malatarlac” is situated at the center of the Central Plains of Luzon Island.   It is landlocked by four provinces of Region III, namely: Nueva Ecija (east), Pangasinan (north), Pampanga (south) and Zambales (west).  It covers a territory of 305,345 hectares.

The population of Tarlac is divided into three congressional districts with 17 towns and one city and an aggregate of 510 barangays.


Pampanga has a total land area of 218,068 hectares. Its production land covers 172,466 hectares divided into: cropland (105,941); production forest (31,541) and fishing grounds (34,984).

The province abounds in skilled labor.  Foremost of these are the woodcarvers of Guagua; red clay potters of Sto. Tomas; blacksmiths of Apalit and giant lantern makers of San Fernando.

The industrial development in the province are marked by industrial estates such as the Angeles Livelihood Village and productivity centers in Porac, Mexico and in resettlement areas such as Mawaque, Madapdap and Camatchile found in Mabalacat, Bulaon and San Fernando.

The Clark Special Economic Zone also provides a fine investment area.  The province has five existing municipal ports utilized mostly as pier for fish cargo.

Tarlac Province has a total forest land resources of 120,370 hectares or 39.42 percent of the province’s total land area.  It is traversed by four major water resources namely: the O’Dannell River in Capas, Tarlac; the Bulsa River in San Jose, Tarlac; the Tarlac River in Tarlac City and the Camiling River in Camiling.

Rice, sugar cane, corn, sweet potato, cassava, mango and vegetables are the major crops of the province.  Aside from the forests which are rich sources of hardwood, there are available metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits.  These are gold, copper, chromite, manganese, clay, pumice stone, limestone, silica quartz, rock aggregate and sand and gravel.

The infrastructure development in Tarlac has given an opportunity for growth to the province.

Beliefs and Practices

Just like the other ethnolinguistic groups, the Kapampangans have rich customs and traditions governing the rites of passage.  Some of these practices are still being observed nowadays.

       Birth Practices.  In one of the barrios of Guagua, Pampanga, close relatives of a woman who is about to deliver a child, together with their neighbor, make noise like shouting, beating tin cans and exploding firecrackers in order to help expel the fetus faster.

       Baptismal Rites Practices.  In many Kapampangan houses, the baby’s baptismal dress serves as a souvenir and decoration for the sala.  It is put on a frame and hung in the sala like a picture.

       Courtship and Marriage.  The only prevalent form of courtship now is the pamanhikan, where the male, with the permission of the parents, is to visit the girl in the latter’s house.  When the agreement is reached between the boy and the girl, the marriage ceremony is arranged.  At present,  pamanhikan  is being practiced when the parents of the boy confer with their balae  (parent of the bride-to-be) regarding marriage plans of the children.

       Death and Burial.  The wake (makipaglame) lasts for at least three days and two nights after which everybody participates in the libing (interment).

As part of the ritual, vigil is observed till the ninth day after the death of the deceased known as pasiyam(day).

       On the first death anniversary, lukas paldas (literally the removing of the dress for mourning) is practiced with a grandiose meal.  The pangadi (prayer observance) is an important part of the ritual.

       On Beliefs.  Some of the beliefs which have survived to this day are the following:


Nunu the old men who reside in mounds
Mangkukulam flesh and blood men/women possessing dreadful evil power
Tianaka evil spirits who inhabit forests and bamboo thickets
Dwende spirit that assume the form of man
Kapre nocturnal giants
Magkukutud beings endowed with supernatural powers to separate their heads from their bodies


Significant Features

       PAMPANGA.  Pampanga is well-known for two things: food and the Christmas parol (lanterns).  Travelers who pass by Pampanga encounter all sorts of rice cakes, sweets, snacks and delicatessen.  To name a few, theturones de casoy and sans rival of Sta Rita; the tamales and puto seco of Bacolor; pastillas de leche of Magalang.  Pampanga takes pride also in its other food products like burong babi, taba ng talangka and camaro.

San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga is famous for some of the most unique star lanterns in shapes, colors and sizes made from all kinds of material.  The town becomes the center of Christmas activities by parading its giant lanterns (measuring 18 ft in diameter) made from hand by the skillful parol makers of every town and city in Pampanga.

       TARLAC.  Tarlac is well known as the Melting Pot of Central Luzon due to the presence of the following four major ehtnolinguistic groups: Pampangos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs and Pangasinenses.  Amidst cultural diversities the people have learned to live as one and at peace with one another.  Thus, Tarlac served as the cradle of great men and women in every field of endeavor.

Foremost figures were the late Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., the country’s latter-day hero and Carlos P. Romulo, the former Secretary General of the United Nations.  Another notable figure was Leonor Rivera of Camiling, Tarlac, Jose Rizal’s beloved and better known as “Maria Clara” in his novel Noli Me Tangere.

Tarlac also takes pride in being home to the First Woman president of the Philippine Republic in the person of Corazon C. Aquino who hails from Concepcion, Tarlac.

About the Author:
Rosita Muñoz-Mendoza graduated with a Ph.D in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She is Professor VI – Director of Gender and Development at Tarlac College of Agriculture, Camiling, Tarlac.