“Ibat Candába ne biclas,
Aláyang bunduc a mátas,
Ílug Aráyat ne quildas,
Ning Carguen-Cargong matícas.”
The verse above, taken from an old kurírû narrates how in ancient times, the Kapampángan Sun God and War God Ápûng Sínukûan, who in his incarnation as Carguen-Cargon, lifted the sacred mountain of Aláya from the Candába river valley and transferred it to its present site along the Aráyat River.
The 1,125 meter Bunduk Aláya, the most visible symbol of the Kapampángan Heartland is located at the municipality of Aráyat. According to the book Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas written by Gaspar de San Agustin in the mid 17th century AD, the Spaniards built a fort and a built a convent-without-a-prior in August 29, 1590 at a prosperous settlement along the banks of a strong and bountiful river that flowed down the mountain. The river irrigated and fertilized the surrounding rice fields and was therefore called Aráyat (dáyat was the Kapampángan word for irrigated rice fields) by the inhabitants. The fortified settlement was to serve as a gateway to the frontier province of Pangasinan. According to Mariano A. Henson’s book Pampanga and Its Towns, the early settlement was called Balayan ning Pambuit and was located at Panlinlang.
According to Gaspar de San Agustin, many of the residents claimed descent from the most ancient of families of L?sòng Guo. In 1660 AD for instance, a Kapampángan Master-of-Camp named Don Juan Macapagal, who claimed to be a direct descendant of the Lakandúla of Tondo aided the Spanish Colonial Government suppress the Kapampángan Independence Revolt of Master-of-Camp Don Francisco Maniago. In the same year, Don Juan Macapagal aided the Spanish colonial government in suppressing Don Andress Malong’s Independence Revolt in Pangasinan. At his own expense, he fortified the colonial fort at Aráyat and led a contingency of Kapampángan troops to stop the first wave of invasion from Pangasinan. His loyalty to the Spanish Crown was mentioned in several letters by government and church officials to the King of Spain.
Throughout history, Bunduk Aláya in Aráyat has served as a beacon and sanctuary for freedom fighters opposed to foreign rule. During the last days of the Spanish Colonial Era, Revolutionary General Servillano Aquino made his base at Sitio Camansi along the western slopes of Bunduk Aláya. Its eastern slopes became the sanctuary to the armed anti-colonial religious cult of Ápûng Ipî Salvador. During the Philippine-American War, Bunduk Aláya became the base of General Jose Alejandrino, a native son of Aráyat.
During World War II, Bunduk Aláya served as base to two Communist-led anti-Japanese liberation armies: the HUKBALAHAP (The Peoples Liberation Army against Japan) and the Huaqiao (Philippine-Chinese Peoples Anti-Japanese Liberation Army). After World War II, the HUKBALAHAP redirected its fight against the newly established US-sponsored Philippine puppet republic and called itself HMB (The Peoples Liberation Army) or simply Huk. A distinguished son of Aráyat, Casto Alejandrino or Guan Yek, led the HMB as its commander-in-chief.
Author: Michael Raymon Tayag-Manaloto Pangilinan (Siuálâ ding Meángûbié)
Sources: 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.
Population: Total Population (2000): 101,792; Household Population: 101,772; Number of Households: 18,571 [Source: NSO]
Barangays (32): Arenas, Baliti, Batasan, Buensuceso, Candating, Cupang, Gatiawin, Guemasan, Kaledian, La Paz, Lacmit, Lacquios, Mangga-Cacutud, Mapalad, Matamo, Mesulo, Norte, Panlinlang, Paralaya, Plazang Luma, Poblacion, San Agustin, San Agustin Sur, San Antonio, San Jose, San Juan Bano, San Mateo, San Nicolas, San Roque Bitas, Santo Niño Tabuan, Suclayin, Telapayong [Source: DOT]