They have their own language with Baybayin Kapampangan, a variation of Alibata, truly a reason why Kapampangans are known to be proud. They have all the reasons to be proud with their rich cultural heritage being promoted at Kuliat Festival 2011 we attended last Sunday at Angeles City, Pampanga.
What we know as the city of angels used to be called Kuliat. They started having the Fiestang Kuliat in honor of the patron saint of Culiat, the Blessed Mary of Rosary after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. A few hours back the tour started at the pick-up point in Manila at 6am. After leaving Trinoma Mall at 720am, we arrived at Angeles City after an hour and a half. The first stop was the Museo ning Angeles (the old municipal building built during the American Colonial Period). Organized by the Angeles City Tourism Office situated at the new city hall in Barangay Pulung Bulu, the festivities started with a performance of the Angeles City National Trade School Drum and Lyre. While dropping jaws at awe of the stellar facade of the church and the marching band performing, we were served the Sukulate Batirol and Putong Babi (Hot choco drink with peanuts and homemade bread with ground pork and melted cheese)
The tour started with a comprehensive introduction of the city's history, culture and famous landmarks inside the Museo ning Angeles. I was so lucky to have joined the tour with Ms. Nancy Reyes of Pinoy Foodie (I've always adored featured in "Unang Hirit" almost every morning), Food Magazine and other media friends. We all followed the guide that led us to the next stop, The Pamintuan Mansion.
The mansion of the Pamintuan Family was built in 1890 by Don Mariano Pamintuan and Valentina Torres for their son Florentino, Mayor of Angeles 1900. It was the same place that housed President Emilio Aguinaldo on the first anniversary of the Philippine Independence. Also occupied by Gen. McArthur in 1901 and served as the home of the Kamikaze pilots in 1944, it was later bought by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in 1981 and was restored in 1983. I love going to old houses in the Spanish period and this house made me want to travel back in time especially after our tour guide "Kim" narrated the story of Doña Masing (Doña Tomasina) shouting at the rooftop how she loved "paksi" (paksiw or fish cooked in vinegar) at the moment where all households will have none of seafoods considering the area. It was an enchanting mansion that's truly worth a visit because of the elaborate Baroque details. After the tour of the Pamintuan mansion featuring the photo exhibits and the historic portraits was the film showing of Independence Day 2011 re-enacting the historic event in the city.
The tour of every room in the mansion made me want to travel back in time and experience what life Doña Masing had with the lavish details of her lifestyle. The picture of her face seemed like any similar actress in the 60s but the mansion spoke of her grandeur.
It was hard to leave the mansion but we had to go to another itinerary which totally surprised me of what I don't know about Pampanga. The Center for Kapampangan Studies located in the Holy Angels University just across the Museo ning Angeles was our next stop. The center that promotes Kapampangan Culture and Heritage housed the wreaths of famous Kapampangan public speakers, their collection of Dalitan, Kapampangan music and Baybayin Kapampangan which I tried translating my own name in their language.
Just when I thought it was fun, I was astonished at the next most amusing video presentation of Kapampangan History. We were led to view the Kapampangan AVP and Singsing featuring the most famous Kapampangan in Philippine History. I really enjoyed and appreciated "Atin Cu Pung Singsing" animated sung by the famous personalities in Philippine politics and history. I left the center in awe at the elaborate AVP made by the Center of Kapampangan Studies.
Finally, the tour led us to the Pamangan Piyestang Kapampangan 2011. We were welcomed by the Kuliat Foundation President, Ms. Anette Tinio followed by a cultural presentation by Sinukwan Performing Arts. The feast of Kapampangan cuisine included the famous indigenous dishes of the city, Bringhe (Pampanga version of Paella)(from Delyn's Fastfood),
Paksing Litsun (Lechon Paksiw)(from Cabalen Restaurant),
Buru at Gule (also called Balao-Balao, a fermented native delicacy made from rice and shrimp)(made by the wife of Mayor Pamintuan, Herminia),
Batute Tugak (deep-fried frogs stuffed with pork ham and veggies)(from 19CopungCopung),
Adobung Kamaru (mole cricket cooked adobo-style)(from Cely's Carinderia),
Pindang Damulag (beef tocino type) (from Ting's Canteen),
Piritung Hito (deep-fried Catfish)(from the Culinarium),
Litson Babi (lechon-baboy or roasted pig)(from Apung Bilyung),
Kari Kari ( Pampanga-style of kare-kare or stewed veggies and pork in peanut sauce)(from Batis Asul Caterer),Adobung Pugu (quails cooked adobo-style)(from Glo-ann's), Lengua with Castañas ( beef tongue stew with roasted chestnuts) (from Howard Dizon's Catering Services) and the unforgettable Sisig Babi (Pork Sisig made especially by the Mayor's wife), and a wide array of desserts;
Tibuk-Tibuk (famous Pampanga corn and coconut flan)(from Susie's Cuisine), Mochi (steamed rice cake stuffed with sweetened beans)(from Susie's Cuisine), Turon with Dip (from Juan Sebastian Catering Services), Lychee Sherbet (from Gill's Ice Cream) and finally the one that I'll never forget because of Mayor Ed Pamintuan, Camuti with Gatas Damulag (sweet potatoes in fresh carabao's milk)(made by his wife).
Mayor Pamintuan was the life of the party in the midst of a humid weather at the Culinarium after that feast of Kapampangan dishes. He was enthusiastic at the stories on the pictures featured at the new coffee table book recently launched and he was inviting having a sip and a bite of the unforgettable Camuti with Gatas Damulag. It was his passion to share stories of why Kapampangans are proud of their cuisine and how elaborate their dishes are made that motivates all of them to strive for perfection and excellence. It was also the same passion that led many famous Kapampangan to world recognition. And it's also the same passion he exuded that made me appreciate sweet potatoes in carabao's milk. I am no lover of sweet potatoes but the way he ate his bowl of dessert was truly inviting and his stories about his ancestors made me appreciate Pampanga more.
The Kapampangans should really be proud of their culture and heritage showcasing a collection of fun facts yet to be written in history books that the Filipino should re-learn, re-live and more importantly, appreciate.
It was truly a memorable cultural/heritage/food appreciation tour everyone should try and the good news is that it isn't over. They still have exciting events you can all participate not just for the month of October.
Museo ning Angeles of Kuliat Foundation holds regular Bisitang Angeles Heritage Guided Tour. They have packages from a guided tour with or without merienda or lunch. Imagine having the same tour like we had last Sunday for only P1000/each lunch and guided tour(min of 10pax)(October 23 and 30, Sunday lunch 10am to 2pm). It will definitely be one unforgettable tour you will all cherish for the rest of your lives.
I am proud to have known the Kapampangans at the Fiestang Kuliat 2011 last Sunday. Now I understand why they have to be proud. They have too many reasons to be proud and I'm very grateful to have learned more than just the history and the cuisine recognized by the famous foodies all over the world.
Have more than just fried frog legs, visit Angeles City and you'll definitely say "Angeles City, I Like!".