Long before the Spanish conquest of L?sòng Guo (Luzón: AD 13th – 16th century) in 1571 AD, a collection of sovereign settlements flourished under the huge canopy of a very large and ancient Apálit tree (Pterocarpus indicus) that grew along the western bank of the Indûng Kapampángan River. Folklore has it that this tree was so enormous its foliage blocked out the sun’s rays, giving the western communities along the Uáuâ River a very late morning and the communities to the east of the Indûng Kapampángan River an early evening. Its early settlements included Kapalángan, Kabangbangan, Páli and Sulipán. Kapalangan took its name from the iron-rich black sand whose abundance was a blessing to the local blacksmiths who produced paláng, a blade originally used for fighting and to local potters who lined their clay pots with it. Pangpálung (Ibpa nang Palung) was said to be the first ruler of the sovereign settlement of Kapalangan. He was the son of Gatbuntun and was well known in his youth by the name Makapagal. Tauî, Pangpalung’s sister was the first ruler of Sulipán. They formed an alliance of rulers under the leadership of their elder sister, the priestess of Apálit, Kapitángan, who was the wife of Rajah Baginda. Rajah Baginda is a title that simply means “true king”, most probably referring to Paduka Sri Baginda Maharajah Yang Di Pertuan Bulkiah, the ruler of Brunei who attacked L?sòng Guo before the turn of the 16th century AD.
After the conquest of L?sòng Guo by the Spaniards in 1571 AD, the new order created the Province of Pampanga. It was named after the great Indûng Kapampángan River. From thence, all independent settlements within its established boundaries lost their sovereignty. Their territories were awarded as encomiendas to Spaniards and to the local rulers who cooperated actively with their new masters in their task of “pacification”. More than a decade after fall of L?sòng Guo, the Apálit tree still stood as a powerful icon to the local heroes who resisted the new order. The Spanish authorities needed to demonstrate their power over the native gods by cutting down this tree and thus legitimise their authority over all the land. In his book Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, Gaspar de San Agustin had recorded that in 1597 AD, Friar Pedro Vedoya, OSA was appointed by the Order of Saint Agustin to become the first prior of the church he was commissioned to construct as a reward for his successful conversion of Apálit. Friar Vedoya was highly regarded by his order because of the numerous hardships he faced, including a plague of mosquitoes that are said to “sometimes darken the sky.” The church he constructed was dedicated after his namesake, San Pedro.
By the early part of the 17th century AD, the encomienda system of the new order failed miserably. It was replaced by the pueblo system. The once sovereign settlements were again reorganized “under the bells” of the parish church to form convent towns or pueblos. These later evolved into the municipalities we know today. Thus in 1705 AD, the pueblo of Apálit under Capitan Juan Cudia was inaugurated. As late as the 18th century, Fray Diego Bergaño records in his Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance that the native priests or katulúnan still gave festive offerings to the huge crocodiles, the guardian deities of the Indung Kapampangan River. The Spanish missionaries struggled to eradicate or at best Christianize these ancient festivities. Apálit ’s fluvial festival of Ápûng Irû along the Indûng Kapampángan River might have had its roots in these ancient rituals. In the 20th century, Mariano A. Henson had recorded that the rich and poor of Apálit alike “must sacrifice their fowls, goats, and swine, even if pregnant, for fear that Ápûng Irû (San Pedro) might resent this neglect and thus, their animals die of pest thereof.” The image of Apung Iru has always been under the care of the Arnédo family of Sulipán. The recipes and the feasts hosted by the Arnédos of Sulipán became the stuff of legend that made the people of Apalit famous for their hospitality. José Rizal himself incorporated the legendary feasts of the Arnédos into his story of Doña Geronima that appeared as an anecdote in the first chapter of his novel El Filibusterismo.
Michael Raymon Tayag-Manaloto Pangilinan (Siuálâ ding Meángûbié)
1. Gaspar de San Agustin, Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas; 1565-1615, 1st Bilingual Edition, Intramuros: 1998. 2. Mariano A. Henson, Pampanga and Its Towns (AD 1300-1965), Angeles: 1965.
Barangays (12) Balucuc, Calantipe, Cansinala, Capalangan, Colgante, Paligui, Sampaloc, San Juan, San Vicente, Sucad, Sulipan, Tabuyuc [Source: DOT]
Geography The town of Apalit is located in the southern part of Pampanga bounded in the south by Calumpit, Bulacan, in the north by the town of San Simon and in the west by the municipality of Macabebe. About 72 square kilometers in land area with 12 Barangays. [Source: DOT]
Population Total Population (2000): 78,295 Household Population: 78,290 Number of Households: 15,072 [Source: NSO]
Major Industry Apalitenos are also noted for their cottage industries such as weaving of cloth, mats, hats, pottery and metal working in gold, iron and silver. Many Apalitenos work as tailors in Manila and some of them own and manage their own shops and mens stores such as the late Atty. Amado Carlos of Toppers of Manila, Lorenzo K. Guarin, married to an Apalitena, the founder of L. K. Guarin Tailoring and Mens Wear and Remigio Danganan of Remars Tailoring and Fashion Shop. Apalit is also a farming and fishing town. However, during the last few years, commercial and manufacturing firms have been established in this town. Among these manufacturing corporations are two large alcohol refineries and a big depot of a multi-national oil corporation in sitio Alauli of barrio San Vicente. Several banking institutions, shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets, movie theaters, restaurants are also flourishing in the business area of the town. [Source: Andro Camiling, CPA and Tess Camiling]