Magalang was one of the major agricultural towns in Pampanga. The economic life of the Magaleños was primarily centered on agriculture. Rice, sugarcane and tobacco as one of the leading products of the town. The peasants are the one of the largest labor groups of Magalang; ranging from the Spanish period until the early Japanese period. Extensive abuses committed by the landlords to their peasants, provoked the peasantry to adopt new ideologies to check the grave abuses of their landlords, to promote their rights and to attain decent living conditions. Their landlords becomes "sources of their food and loans in the event of an emergency or failed crop". Sometimes, their landlords imposed high interests to the loans of their peasants or casamacs, and they will become burdened to their debts. Their debts subsequently pass to their own children until they pay debts to their landlords. Some of the testamentos of the landlords revealed the total debts incurred by their casamacs. The testament of Don Aniceto S. Lacson in 1888 revealed that his thirteen casamacs owed him one thousand eighty nine pesos; while the fourteen casamacs of Don Doroteo S. Lacson owed him six hundred pesos; and the twelve casamacs of Don Faustino P, Tuazon owed him one hundred eighty pesos. 

The poor conditions of the casamacs led to their discontent, and they will resort to mass walkouts and rallies organized by the local peasant groups. In 1934, the Magalang chapter of Aguman ding Maldang Talapagobra founded by Pedro Abad Santos, was established in barrio San Antonio. Eusebio Aquino was appointed as leader of Magalang chapter of AMT. Many of the peasantry joined this group to voiced out their grievances against their landlords. And also, to promote their protection and enjoy their rights. In 1937 and 1940 elections, AMT fielded candidates and Eusebio Aquino was fielded for mayoral seat. He was defeated by the chief of police, Jose M. Navarro. However, a Magaleño gained the mayoralty seat in the socialist nerve of Pampanga; a son of landlord, Vivencio Baron Cuyugan was proclaimed as the first socialist mayor of San Fernando and also first in the Philippines. 

Peasants in Magalang staged mass walkouts and strikes in 1930s. A petition letter signed by Mayor Jose M. Navarro together with one hundred thirty eight prominent personalities in Magalang addressed to the Archbishop of Manila in 1938, to established a socio-religious group, Accion Catolica. In their petition, they stipulated that "the border town of Magalang, it was infested by the communists, socialists and even Sakdalistas". They added that "in the milling month of August, 1937, they staged a general strike and paralyzed the industry". In the year also, eighty casamacs of Don Eustaquio F. Dizon in sitio Mitla, staged a strike. They demanded that the wages of the workers plowing with landlord's carabaos increased from fifty centavos to one peso. Those workers who using their own carabaos were asking to increase their wages from sixty five centavos up to one peso and forty centavos. Aside from strikes, peasants also burned some of sugarcane fields in Magalang. In 1939, a strike was staged again by the peasants, resulting of killing of a migrant worker. In the same year also, sugarcane fields were also burned down. In 1940, a similar strike was also staged by the peasants. 

To counter the spread of communist and socialist ideologies in Magalang, a socio-religious group, Accion Catolica was founded in 1938 by the parish priest, Fr. Sixto Manaloto with the help of prominent sugar planters of Magalang. They attempted to promote the teaching of catechism in public schools to counter the spread of ideas of communism and socialism. They also conducted literacy conferences those who cannot afford formal education. And also, an adult education was launched among illiterate adult learners.   

The peasant unrest continued become more active when the occupation of the Japanese started. And until the formal establishment of Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon, the peasants grew their perseverance to attain their goals to become free from fiefdom. With series of social and economic reforms imposed by the past administrations, their goals gradually attained, and some of them attained decent living conditions. Others they continued their struggle to attain of what the communism and socialism promised to them. 

Photo Credits:



Letter to the Archbishop of Manila dated January 28, 1938, Magalang, Pampanga, 169 signatories. Archdiocese of Manila Archives

Testamento de Don Aniceto S. Lacson, Magalang, Pampanga dated: March 16, 1888

Testamento de Don Doroteo S. Lacson, Magalang, Pampanga dated: December 28, 1885

Testamento de Don Faustino P. Tuazon, Magalang, Pampanga dated: December 9, 1889

Singsing: Bravehearts: Kapampangan Rebels, Radicals and Renegades who Changed Philippine History, Pampanga Burning, page 106.

Larkin, John A., Sugar and the Origins or Modern Philippine Society, (1993) University of California Press pages 222-223. 

Timberman, David G. A Changeless Land, Continuity and Change in Philippine Politics 


A Buffalo Soldier circa 1890

When the Americans successfully captured Magalang in November 5, 1899, there are different military units of United States Army stationed in Magalang. Their headquarters was located in the convent of San Bartolome Church. In 1900, the 25th Infantry composed of Black American units of US Army replaced the 17th Infantry. These units garnered their nickname as the Buffalo Soldiers. However, when they arrived in Magalang, they inflicted abuses on the natives, and one of these incidents caught the attention of the United States Senate is the Julius Arnold case. Julius Arnold is a military musician of Company M, 25th Infantry. He was assigned in Magalang in 1900. According to the book, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, on January 15, 1900, Arnold forced a married woman, Leonora Salas of Magalang to have sexual intercourse with him. Salas resisted Arnold on his rape attempt, and she was shot by Arnold using his service pistol. Salas died on the same day due to gunshot wound. Arnold was eventually arrested and he was "dishonorably discharged from the service of the United States, forfeiting all pay allowances due him, and to be confined at hard labor, at such penitentiary as the reviewing authority may direct, for the remainder of his natural life" by the court martial. When the hearing of his case was ongoing, he was temporarily jailed in the old Bilibid Prisons. On April 25, 1900, a final verdict of the case was promulgated, the court martial sentenced him to death, "and the court manifested undeserved leniency". He served his remaining jail terms in the old Bilibid prisons and later, he was executed. 

Photo Credits:

Buffalo soldier in the 9th Cavalry, 1890, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_soldier: Retrieved: April 18, 2017


Affairs in the Philippine Islands, Hearings Before the Committee on the Philippines of the United States Senate, 1902, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. pages 2113-2114.     


Dakit Cordero during Maundy Thursday with Rev. Fr. Pedro N. Magtoto
 with the 12 apostolados circa April 18, 1957.
Magaleños are so very religious in different celebrations especially to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. During the observance of the Holy Week in Magalang, these are the unforgettable moments in pertaining to the sacred celebration of Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection:

PABASA- this is one of the most popular scenes that Magalang can offer during Holy Week. During my childhood days, the pabasa was officially started in Ash Wednesday and it will end on early morning of Maundy Thursday. Barrio or sitio chapels or the bisitas will be converted into puni is where the pabasa will be held. The elders and even the young ladies in each barrios and sitios were reading the pasyun by chanting. Nowadays, the church authorities imposed restrictions on pabasa to celebrate the paschal mystery on theological aspect. Thus, they reduced the annual pabasa days up to only three days, from Holy Monday until the dawn of Maundy Thursday. Before, one of the best examples of pabasas is the puni of my great-grandaunt, Eusebia Dayrit Cabrera (1910-1989) or fondly known as Apung Biang. When the Ash Wednesday was near, she will make a small makeshift puni on their house yard in sitio Mapaco in barrio San Francisco in which the pabasa will be held. She had the old pasyun book written by a certain Leoncio Layug; which the elders will be use in chanting the pasyun. During Spanish period, my great great grandfather, Eulalio Sarmiento Mamangun (1868-1900) of Apalit, who was employed as escribano (secretary) of tribunal (municipal hall) of Magalang that time; he is one of the known pasyun writers in Magalang due to his beautiful penmanship. 

MANDARAME or MAGSALIBATBAT- we couldn't forget these scenes in Magalang during Holy Week. This ritual is practiced mostly by men. A group of flagellants will gather in a remote place in their barrios to wound themselves by using blades and they will cover their faces by a cloth. After they wound themselves, they will further wound their lacerations by striking their back of their body by using burilyo. Others, they will carrying a heavy cross made of hard wood or banana planks. They will walk within the highways and they will make every stopovers in every puni to pray for their personal intentions and to repent their sins. The church authorities discouraged this ritual nowadays, however, many of some of our folks are still practicing this ritual especially to the present young generations.

DOMINGGU NING PALASPAS or DOMINGO DE RAMOS- this is the annual commemoration of triumphal entry of Jesus in the gates of Jerusalem during Palm Sunday. Magaleños will gather in a certain place to meet the parish priest who will acting as the Jesus Christ. Then, the priest will bless the palm leaves or palaspas until they will march into the main road until they will enter into the main doors of the church, with the choirs singing alleluia. The blessed palm leaves or palaspas which is believed that it will used to prevent Satan to enter our households.

DAKIT CORDERO- this ritual is held annually during Maundy Thursday. The parish priest together with the twelve apostles will get the cordero from the assigned caretakers. Then, the priest together with the apostles will conduct prayers and they will held a small banquet. The cordero will be carry to the church to offer to the mass of the Last Supper. During the mass, the priest will wash the feet of the apostles or so called pamanos bitis. Then, after the mass, a vigilia king santissimo will be held until the church doors will be close on 12 midnight.

VIERNES SANTO LAME- after the stations of the cross was held, a procession of original Viernes Santo images will be taken place on afternoon. The original image of Santo Entierro owned by Gueco family will be processioned together with the other images like of Mater Dolorosa (formerly owned by Luciano-Tecson family, but later, it was transferred to the care of the church) Veronica (originally owned by David family, but it was passed to Lacson family), and Maria Magdalena (owned by Gueco family). The processionals will be wearing white or black colored clothes and they walk barefoot.    

SALUBUNG- this is the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus from the death. A procession will be held when the image of Mary, wearing a black cloth will be eventually meet the resurrected Christ in front of the church. Then, a young angel will remove the black cloth of Mary; signaling the sorrow and grief is eventually over. A joyous alleluia will be sing by the church choir.

Photo Credit:

Dakit Cordero provided by Dr. Ignacio P. Morales circa April 18, 1957.