Conquering Arayat Essay

Thesis Statement: Conquering the town of Arayat is more than just trekking the mighty “Bunduk Alaya” but also discovering their fascinating history, savoring their tasty cuisine, celebrating their unique festivities and most of all learning more about their interesting people. I. A number of historians have proposed varied explanations regarding the etymology of the name “Arayat”. a. Some people believe that Arayat originated from Fernando de Arayat. b. Another historian argues that it came from the Kapampangan word “Dayatan”. c. A different account states it rooted from “Alaya” another Kapamangan term.

d. A present-day researcher claims it obtained its name from the biblical Mt. Ararat. II. The fusses faced by the present day Arayat rooted from its controversial history.

a. The origin of Arayat is still unknown but historical accounts show that it already existed between 1335 and 1380. b. The people of Arayat showed abhorrence to the coming of the Spaniards and other invaders. c. Arayat gained notoriety when it became the hotbed of many rebellious groups after the colonial war.

1. The prominent HUKBALAHAP movement stayed at the town till it faded at early 1950’s. 2. Following the Huks, HMB was established to fight against the US-sponsored Philippine government. 3. The said to be sons of HMB, NPA still continues to reside at the town.

III. Arayat’s culture is a unique blend of its history, geography, customs and traditions. a. The Legend of Mt. Arayat is one of the well-known literatures in the town and in Pampanga. b. When it comes to architecture, Arayat exhibits classic and exemplary designs of its illustrious parish church and memorable national park. c. From the trees of Mt. Arayat, the towns boast of their high quality wood competent for global exportation. d. Its unique halo-halo by Kabigting’s is what makes Arayat a cut above the rest when it comes to Kapampangan desserts. e. Arayat’s major celebration is the feast day of its patroness, St. Catherine of Alexandria, every 25th of November. f. 90% of Arayat’s population is dominated by the devotees of the Roman Catholic religion.

IV. The town of Arayat is not second-rate when it comes to its tourist attractions. a. The most outstanding landmark of Pampanga stands at the heart of Arayat. b. The Mount Arayat National Park offers a historical yet contemporary vacation experience. c. St. Catherine of Alexandria is the 7th oldest parish in Pampanga. d. The Cong. Dadong Dam was built to supply water to seven towns of Pampanga. V. Arayat is a home to several infamous revolutionary personalities, national government officials and Armed Forces of the Philippines generals.



The town of Arayat lies in the northern tip of Pampanga, and is surrounded on the northwest by Magalang, on the northeast by Cabiao (in Nueva Ecija), on the east by Candaba, on the south by Sta. Ana, and on the west by Mexico. Its total land area is 17,694 hectares with a population of 118,312; less than one fourth is forested. Only 19 kilometers away from San Fernando, the capital town of Pampanga, Arayat is about an hour drive from Manila. The town is the biggest in northern Pampanga,

It is composed of 30 barangays/barrios namely: Arenas, Baliti, Batasan, Buensuceso, Camba (Kaledian), Candating, Cupang, Gatiawin, Guemasan, La Paz (Turu), Lacmit, Laquios, Mangga-Cacutud, Mapalad, Matamo, Palinlang, Paralaya, Plazang Luma, Poblacion, San Agustin Norte, San Agustin Sur, San Antonio, San Jose ( Mesulo), San Juan ( Bano), San Mateo, San Nicolas, San Roque (Bitas), Sto. Nino (Tabuan), Suklayin, and Telapayong, not to mention subdivisions that sprout outside the town proper among which are: Fidela, Guemasan, San Nicolas, Aliwalas, Castillo (Bitas), and Leonor Subdivisions.

Arayat is generally a plain or a level land, except the areas where Mt. Arayat stands and its vicinities, with a type I climate and two distinct seasons: dry and wet. The rainy or wet season normally starts in May and runs through October, while the dry season is from November through March of the following year. The Origin of the Name “Arayat”

Some researches state that the name “Arayat” is derived from the name of Spanish encomiendero, Fernando de Arayat, who was first administrator of the town and who most likely came from a village in Spain called Arayat.

Eventually another particular historian allegedly claims that it was the natives who coined the original vernacular name “Dayat” from their word “dayatan” literally meaning “irrigated seed bed”. Nonetheless, a particular researcher argues that Arayat was earlier known as “Alaya” meaning “east”. Mount Arayat was then called “Bunduc Alaya” or “Eastern Mountain”. The same source states that the Spaniards subsequently made up the word “Arayat” .

However, on a different approach, a contemporary researcher proposes that Mount Arayat is the biblical “Mount Ararat” where Noah’s Ark apparently landed. But the same researcher does not say how the current name evolved; nor does he explain how come there is another Mount Ararat in the Middle East. Pre-Colonial History

The accurate date of the founding of Arayat cannot be determined. However, between 1335 and 1380, historical accounts confirm that it was among the few Pampanga towns already existing. It was allegedly founded by either Prince Balagtas, a monarch of the Madjapahit Empire who came to Luzon, or his son Araw (Lord) Malangsic. It was then called “Bayan ning Pambuit” and situated in the barrio of Panlinlang. The present Poblacion was still a jungle with balugas (aetas) and other pagan tribes as residents.

It was a widespread encomienda consisting of the town as it is known now. At that time, it was an extensive encomienda consisting of the town (present Arayat), and parts of Magalang, Sta. Ana, Candaba, San Miguel de Mayumo (in Suclayin) and Cabiao (in Nueva Ecija). It the present, it is cited in the northern part of Pampanga. It is bounded by the towns of Magalang on the northwest, Cabiao on the northeast, Candaba on the east, Sta. Ana on the south and Mexico on the west, with a total area of 17,694 hectares. The town of Arayat is the biggest in Northern Pampanga Colonial History

By 1571, Arayat had emerged as one of the prosperous settlements in Pampanga. But by 1590 when the first Augustinian mission was established in the town by Fray Juan de Valderama, its population numbered only 100. This can be explained by the fact that many young men had been conscripted into the military service to help the Spaniards contain rebellions and defend the country against foreign invaders like the Dutch, the British and the Chinese. As early as 1660, there existed in Arayat a Spanish military for which figured well in the local revolts.

Truly, Arayateñous shared the Pampango’s reputation for bravery. The town bred such revolutionary personalities as Generals Jose Alejandrino, Mamerto Natividad, Benito Natividad and Ananias Diokno. Arayat was once the hideout of insurrectos. Hacienda Alejandrino in Panlinglang and Arenas (then called Baliti) was in fact attacked and destroyed because the insurrectos were known to be holding out there.

Post Colonial History

After the last group of invaders (the Japanese) left the province particularly the town of Arayat, it remained a nest to rebellious groups like the HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo Laban sa mga Hapon). In the late 1940’s Arayat gained unsavory reputation for being the breeding ground of HUKBALAHAP rebellious movements. At that time, Mount Arayat was often the scene of many military attacks. By early 1950’s the Huk rebellion reached its pinnacle and then diminished and disappeared gradually. This markee the formation of a new revolutionary army the HMB (Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan or People’s Liberation Army). HMB directed its fight against the newly established US-sponsored Philippine puppet republic. The thick forests of Mount Arayat and its hard terrain gave these rebellious groups advantages to lure the military away from tracking them.

These characteristics of the mountain kept these rebellious groups secured and tenable. During the Marcos regime, a new vigilant group emerged, the NPA (New People’s Army) and even up to this time still growing in terms of numbers of members. At present there are still HMB’s and NPA’s residing in the town of Arayat. People there regard HMB’s as “matwa” meaning “older” men and the NPA’s as “anac” meaning “younger” men. The reason behind this is that the NPA is believed to be the younger generation of the HMB. It would be usual for people living in Arayat to see these rebels wandering around town. They learned to share their beloved town to these people. According to some of the people there when it comes to dealing with these rebels, “if you do not bother them, they will not bother you as well”. Literature

Legend of Mt. Arayat (Sinukuan)

There are various legends about the mystical Maria Sinukuan and the mighty Mt. Arayat. Here is one version popular in the town of Arayat: Long Ago, before the invaders came, the mountain of Arayat was alleged to be inhabited by an enthralled woman who was believed to be the fairy god mother of the townspeople. This lady is popularly known as Mariang Sinukuan. Her naturally curled black hair reaches down to her ankles. Her nose is finely chiseled and her eyes are framed with long, black lashes. Her lips were well-formed, her eyebrows were arched and her skin was flawlessly brown. But Mariang Sinukuan was not only known for her physical beauty. She possessed a kind and charitable heart because she always helped those who were in need. It was said that Mt. Arayat was flourished in all kinds of fruit trees.

Aside from the fruit trees, it was said that animals of all kinds once rambled this mountain. The eccentric thing about these fruit trees and animals was that the fruit trees bore unusually big fruits all year round and the animals were owned by no other than Mariang Sinukuan. She used to distribute these fruit trees and animals to the deprived. Poor families often woke up to see fruits and animals for their needs at their doorsteps. They knew it was Mariang Sinukuan who left these foods while they were sleeping. the natives were very thankful to be graced by the enchanting goddess. And to show their appreciation and reverence, they never tried to go to her dwelling place in the mountain. The people considered her abode as a sanctified place. But such was not always the case.

There came a time when the inhabitants were no longer satisfied with what the captivated lady left at their doorsteps. They wanted to get more. One time, some young men decided to go up Mt. Arayat. They wanted to get more of Mariang Sinukuan’s fruits and animals. They started for the mountain early at dawn. They reached the base of the mountain at sunrise. There were guavas bigger than their fists that drooped from the trees. Pomegranate branches almost reached to the ground because of the many and big fruits they bore. Ripe mangoes were just within one’s reach. Fowls of every kind were abundant. Pigs, goats and other animals wandered around. The young men were still viewing this marvel of nature when from nowhere came Mariang Sinukuan.

They were impressed by her radiance. They could not find any words to say to her. It was Mariang Sinukuan who first spoke to them. She welcomed them and said that they could eat as much as they want but they shouldn’t take anything home without her knowledge. After recovering from their astonishment, the young men began to pick up fruits. They ate and ate until they could not eat anymore. Afterwards, one of the men encouraged the others to pick some fruits and fill the sack that he brought. But the other man said that they shouldn’t do that because the lady already warned them. However, the man insisted on getting some more fruits, he said that they’re plentiful and the lady won’t know the difference.

And so the young men started to fill their sacks with as many fruits and animals as they could get hold of. Then they started for home. As they were about to begin their descent they felt their sacks becoming heavier. They didn’t mind this, but they had not gone ten steps farther when they felt that their load was pulling them down. Putting the sacks down, how surprised the young men were to find that the fruits and animals had become big stones. They remembered Mariang Sinukuan’s warning. The young men became horribly terrified. Leaving their sacks behind, they ran as fast as their feet could carry them. But before they reached the base of the mountain, they saw someone blocking their way.

It was Mariang Sinukuan who was very mad. Because of the covetousness of the young men, Mariang Sinukuan punished them. With the wave of her wand, she changed the young men into swine. This was not the last time that people tried to get hold of Mariang Sinukuan’s fruits and animals. Again and again they tried to steal them. At last, fed up with the people’s greediness, Mariang Sinukuan stopped leaving food at their doorsteps. She caused the fruit trees and animals in the mountain to fade away. She no longer showed herself to the people for she was dismayed with their materialism.


St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church

Found in Arayat, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church is the seventh oldest Church in Pampanga. This Church was built in the Spanish era in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The Church, measuring 70 meters long, 16 meters wide and 12 meters high, is known for its classical architecture. The presbytery, ceiling and the main altar have been recently renovated. The original stone facade has been covered with cement and painted white.

Mt. Arayat National Park

Situated at the base of the well-known Mount Arayat is the Mount Arayat National Park, a major tourist attraction not only in Pampanga, but whole Luzon. It is noted for its swimming pools, refreshing surroundings and its cool water falling from its waterfalls. This Park was originally a project of Dona Aurora A. Quezon, wife of the late Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth, and has been developed into its present state during the post war era.

Arayat Institute

Arayat Institute is one of the oldest schools that offers complete general secondary course and is recognized by the government. Together with new Berline High School these two public high schools are subsidized by the government, on the other hand, Mangga-Cacutud and Camba Public High Schools, schools cater mostly from barrio youth. All baranggays have their own elementary school.

Agriculture and Woodcraft

Arayat croplands cover 7,716.49 hectares or about 60% of the total area. It can be also said that it falls within the category of those with traditional industrial structures as reflected by its lands use, agriculture has the widest area, followed by forest land, swamp and marshed land. Rice and sugarcane are the main staple products of the town, followed by corn, mongo, watermelons, turnips, peanuts, camote and different kinds of vegetables. Fresh fish are abundant in its rivers and swampy areas. The forest land of Mount Arayat is the source of firewood, charcoal and the famous “Teak” wood used in furniture making.


It is not only having the most prominent landmark of Pampanga (Mt. Arayat) situated in its lands that the town of Arayat is proud of, it also boasts of having the best halo-halo in the country – Kabigting’s Halo Halo. It is not your usual halo-halo for it has caramel made from carabao’s milk, cream of corn and beans cooked for a day to acquire a sweet taste. So how did this pride of Arayat came to be? Sometime in 1970 gave rise to this famous delicacy when Geraldine Kabigting suggested to his brother Jacinto Kabigting to add an interesting flavor to the established and traditional tropical fruit flavors of halo-halo and so they added the caramel, cream of corn and beans.

Susan and Johnny Medina who just reside near the Kabigting’s Residence have tasted the newly discovered exotic flavor of halo-halo. Subsequently days after the first taste-test, the group of Travel Time with Susan visited Kabigting’s Residence to savor and introduce their halo-halo on air. Kabigting’s Halo-halo was made popular through that documentary story from Travel Time.

Unexpectedly, foreigners and tourists began to go and dine in the place. Ordinary people from the community, known politicians (Tessie Aquino-Oreta, Lilia Pineda, Dong Gonzales, Monz Laus, etc.) artists (Chesca Garcia, Angel Aquino, etc.) media people (ABS-CBD Crew, Jessica Soho, etc.) and even former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally went there to taste their infamous halo-halo. They also serve special pancit palabok. Kabigting’s residence served as the place to order Kabigting’s Halo-halo which is located at Paralaya, Arayat, Pampanga. It has branches also at Robinson’s San Fernando and Marquee Mall.


Arayat is all the luckier in the facade of recent destructive natural calamities such as the 1990 Killer Earthquake and June 1991 Mt. Pinatubo Eruption, it being phenomenally spared of major damages in lives and properties. The town is blessed to have as its Patroness, St. Catherine of Alexandria, in whose affectionate concern and fortification, brings harmony and serenity among the people reign, despite the diffident livelihood of the people and their diverse political and ideological persuasions and viewpoints, not to mention social differences. By her compassionate intervention, Arayat remains to be on the forefront in so far as tranquility and progress are concerned. The feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria is celebrated every 25th of November. In line with this, 25 other fiestas in small baranggays of Arayat are celebrated in honor of Santa Catalina (St. Catherine of Alexandria).


As with the rest of the town of Pampanga, Roman Catholic remains the dominant religion in Arayat, numbering for more than 90% of the entire population. Iglesia ni Cristo is second followed by the Aglipayan Church, Seventh Day Adventist, Rizalists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Methodist. The people of Arayat, although pre-occupied with different problems, are not negligent in their religious obligations. The Catholics are keeping pace with the demand for more religious facilities and services.

The town’s old catholic church, St. Catherine Parish, which was built in the Spanish era, was the object of the recent major renovations through the collective efforts of mandated organizations. And due to demands of religious services to barangay northwest of the Pampanga River and to bring such services more accessible to people, the St, Isidore Parish (Camba) was established by the Archdiocese of San Fernando. The religion that catches our attention the most is the Rizalist.

Like Mt. Banahaw, Arayat too has a mystical side for it is in her foothills that Rizalist gathers every December to honor the national hero in quiet ceremonies. The cult was brought about by Mariang Sinukuan, the female incarnation of Rizal. This religion negates the concept that Rizal is the reincarnation of Christ because they believe that Christ does not exist. For them, Rizal is God himself, the Alpha and the Omega, the Kristong Kayumanggi and the savior of the Philippines. There may be many different names but He is only one.

Famous Sites


The most popular landmark of not only the town of Arayat but as well as the whole province of Pampanga is the majestic Arayat Mountain or also known as “Bunduk Alaya”. Mount Arayat is an extinct volcano on Luzon Island, Philippines, rising to a height of 1,026 m (3,366 ft) ASL. There is no recorded eruption of the volcano, and its last activity probably dates to the Holocene era. One academic report indicates activity within the last 2000 years, but it is believed that this refers to the volcano’s geothermal activity.

Mount Arayat is equally recognized as “Mount Sinukuan”, entitled after the renowned Goddess and charmed lady, Maria Sinukuan. It has three peaks, the two highest of which the Northern Peak with 1086 meters altitude and the Southern Peak with 984 meters height. Fluttering at the foot of Mt. Arayat is the well-known Pampanga River. One does not have to mount its summit to see its natural beauty, for it is centrally located in the region, so that one will without doubt, take pleasure in its magnificence as he travel along national highways of Central Luzon.


Located at the base of the highly recognized Mount Arayat is the Mount Arayat National Park, a primary tourist attraction not only in Pampanga, but the whole Luzon. It is noted for its swimming pools, natural, revitalizing and lush surroundings and its cool water cascading from its waterfalls. This park initially a project of Doña Aurora A. Quezon, wife of the late Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth, has been refurbished into its present state during the post war era after it has been shattered in the course of the World War II.

It was established on June 27, 1933 to save and preserve the flora and fauna blossoming therein. The 3,564 feet high mountain at Baño, Arayat is an perfect spot for outdoor activities with its picturesque vicinity under cool shades of fertile green trees, mountain wind, natural falls and two standard sized-swimming pools, recreational halls and picnic huts.

The former President Quezon and his wife fell in love with the place when they visited their medical officer, Dr. Egmidio Cruz, a native of Arayat. He really liked the cool breeze of the serene and calm town. He immediately bought farms which later named Caledian & Suclayin, after his properties in his native Tayabas which bore the same names. During the summer he brought other government officials and foreign visitors to Arayat.

Eventually he had several improvements done in the town. He was responsible for the concreting of roads, building of a bridge linking Arayat and Cabiao, as well as the development of recreational facilities at the base of Mount Arayat, with the construction of a swimming pool, dressing headquarters and a nursery. The project was discontinued when the World War II broke out, but resumed afterwards under the supervision of local officials and civil-spirited citizens. It now bears the name Mount Arayat National Park.


The people of Arayat, although preoccupied with economic difficulties are not negligent in their religious obligations. The Catholics are keeping pace with the demand for more religious facilities and services. The town old Catholic church, St. Catherine Parish, which was built in the Spanish era, was the object of the recent major renovations vis-à-vis the church proper, the convent and the church patio, through the collective efforts of mandated organizations.

The church was built in honor of the Patroness of the town, St. Catherine of Alexandria who brings tender concern and safety and preserves serenity and tranquility among the people of Arayat, despite wide-ranging political and ideological points of view and beliefs, not to mention social differences. By her compassionate intervention, Arayat continues to be on the forefront in so far as harmony and advancement are concerned.

Santa Catalina de Alexandria (St. Catherine of Alexandria) is the 7th oldest parish in Pampanga built in 1590. CONG. DADONG DAM

The P3.4-billion Cong. Dadong Dam, also known as DELTA to the natives was designed to irrigate 10,270 hectares of farms in seven eastern towns of Pampanga. Recently, there are controversies that emerged regarding the discontinued use of the well-recognized dam.


Like other towns in Pampanga, Arayat has bred some prominent and outstanding national figures from the Spanish era to the present. Noteworthy to mention are: Generals Jose Alejandrino, who is a contemporary of Jose Rizal, Mamerto Natividad, his brother Banito, Ananias Diokno, and Dr. Egmidio Cruz, the medical officer of foremer President Manuel Quezon and his wife

Former executive secretary and Ambassador Amelito R. Mutuc and Press Secretary Leoncio R. Parungao, both of the Macapagal administration, also came from Arayat. Not to mention military figures that made their marks in the high echelon of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, namely: Commodore Lodogovildo L. Gantioqui of the Philippine Nave, Col. (Ret.) Vicente A. Pascual, former Deputy Judge Advocate General, Major General Rene R. Cruz, former RaCom V. Commander and PC-INP Deputy Commander for Administration.

[ 2 ]. Arayat Map, JPG, [ 3 ]. Holy Angel Univeristy Center for Kapampangan Studies, History of Arayat (Angeles City, Pampanga, n.d.), p. 1. [ 4 ]. Den Mar, “Arayat – Our Ancestral Home,”
Arayat,http://arayat2012.tripod. com/ index2.htm (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 5 ]. Holy Angel Univeristy Center for Kapampangan Studies, loc.cit. [ 6 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

[ 7 ]. Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, loc.cit. [ 8 ]. Ibid.
[ 9 ]. Ibid., p.2.
[ 10 ]. Michael Raymon Pangilinan, “Arayat,” Kapampangan Online, (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 11 ]. Dugdale Pointon, “Insurgency in the Philippines,” Insurgency in the Philippines, http:// (accessed Decmeber 30, 2010). [ 12 ]. Mariang Sinukuan, GIF, [ 13 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

[ 14 ]. Ibid.
[ 15 ]. Holy Angel Univeristy Center for Kapampangan Studies, loc.cit. [ 16 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.
[ 17 ]. Ibid.
[ 18 ]. Teak, JPG, [ 19 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.
[ 20 ]. Kabigting, JPG,
[ 21 ]. Pampanga Directory, “Pride of Pampanga”, http://pampanga (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 22 ]. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, JPG,[email protected] N00 /favorites/page36/. [ 23 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

[ 24 ]. Rizalistas, JPG, [ 25 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.
[ 26 ]. Alex Castro, “Mountain of Myths”, Indung Kapampangan, http://kapampangan.word (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 27 ]. Dennis Villegas, “The Second Coming of Rizal”, Philippine Online Chronicles, (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 28 ]. Mount Arayat, JPG, [ 29 ]. WikiMapia, “Mount Arayat,” (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 30 ]. Mount Arayat National Park, JPG, /Pampanga/blog-7999.html. [ 31 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

[ 32 ]. Jheng Arceo, “Things to do and see: Natural Parks and View Sites,” Jheng’s Blog, http: //jhengarceo Demcember 30, 2010). [ 33 ]. Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, loc.cit. [ 34 ]. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, JPG, /arayat_church.htm. [ 35 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

[ 36 ]. Cong. Dadong Dam, JPG, 66344/#/. [ 37 ]. Tonette Orejas, “Pampanga dam with abundant water underused,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 8, 2007, 20070808-81413 (accessed December 30, 2010). [ 38 ]. Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, loc.cit. [ 39 ]. General Jose Alejandrino, JPG, [ 40 ]. Den Mar, loc.cit.

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