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jc gaillard
jc gaillard ALMOST TEN years ago I wrote an article titled ‘The two faces of the Kapampangan territory’ (Gaillard, 2002). I then argued that there are significant differences between Kapampangan communities living in the deltas of the Pampanga and Guagua-Pasac rivers and those who have settled within the so-called up- or dry lands of northern Pampanga and Southern Tarlac; the demarcation roughly running along the present Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo Road. Differences allegedly span from the type of settlements to the language, main means of transportation, sense of direction and livelihoods of the different communities. I further stressed that the interactions between the delta and upland communities are slight.

I would still assert that these communities display such differences. However, I will here take the argument forward and challenge the very existence of a single ethnic group called ‘Kapampangan’. I will rather distinguish the Kapampangan, indeed living along the ‘pampang’ of the intrinsic web of rivers draining the Pampanga and Guagua-Pasac deltas, from those communities occupying the uplands or ‘pangulu’, which I will hence call ‘Kapanguluan’. Those we usually call ‘Kapampangan’ may therefore compose two distinct ethnic groups.

The concept of ethnicity is highly controversial (e.g. Jenkins 2008). Ethnic groups are usually assumed to differ from each other by common kinship, language, religion, beliefs, customs, traditions and territory, all of these being often referred to as culture. Most of these distinct features are inherited from ancestors and history. Along that view, sense of ethnicity is thus largely defined by the members of the group themselves. This is the endogenous dimension of ethnicity. Yet, ethnic groups only exist in comparison and most often in interaction with other groups within a larger society (Barth 1969). Inter-group interactions involve economic, social and political contacts and processes which shape the larger society. Inter-group interactions further serve as powerful external forces which compel the member of ethnic groups to constantly reshape their own identity (Nagel 1994).

In the case of the Kapampangan there is a modern but limited endogenous attempt to assert an identity based on a particular culture and history (e.g. Galang, 1940; Lacson, 1984; Dizon, 2000). Yet, the construction of the Kapampangan as a particular ethnic group has largely been exogenous. It dates back to the early Spanish colonial period. Prior to the late 16th century, the Chinese dynasties mentioned the Kingdom of Lusong while the Portuguese in Malacca referred to the Lucões (Suárez, 1999; Pangilinan, 2007). It is only the Spanish conquistadors, upon their arrival, who distinguished in their chronicles the Kapampangan from other neighbouring groups (Blair and Robertson, 1903-07). The Spaniards shortly formalised ethnic differences through the publication of dictionaries and grammars (Coronel, 1621; de Benavente, 1699). They also antagonised the different ethnic groups by providing some, e.g. the Kapampangan, with privileges which were out of reach to others (Larkin, 1993; Santiago, 2002). In that sense, the identification of the Kapampangan as a particular ethnic group is a colonial heritage which reflects the reality of the early Spanish colonial time.

This identity has never been challenged since then. Yet the concept of ethnicity is dynamic and ethnic groups constantly evolve, reshape and sometimes break away to form new groups (Nagel, 1994; Jenkins, 2008). The dispersal of the Austronesian speakers throughout the Pacific is the best example of that process (e.g. Diamond, 1988; Bellwood, 1991). Such has happened too to those Kapampangan communities who used to be clustered within the deltas of the Pampanga and Guagua-Pasac rivers in early Spanish colonial time (Jocano, 1975). These have migrated and settled in the uplands near Mt Pinatubo and Mt Arayat. They have developed new forms of settlements, means of transportation and livelihoods in harmony with a different, drier environment. Their language has also evolved and is still changing. Words describing new resources and patterns of orientation have been required while an increasing number of idioms have been loaned from other neighbouring languages, especially Tagalog. The grammar is also progressively evolving as illustrated by the progressive loss of the cross-reference pronoun, which is the main feature of the Kapampangan language.

kapampangan vs kapanguluan A typical example of Kapanguluan language (omitting the cross-reference pronoun which characterises its Kapampangan root) on a public signboard in Angeles City (Photo by JC Gaillard, 11 Dec. 2011)
Therefore, the communities which have settled in the uplands of the present northern Pampanga and Southern Tarlac have become Kapanguluan, a distinct ethnic group with its particular territory, language, beliefs, traditions and livelihoods – those which characterised the alleged northern face of what I called ten years ago the ‘Kapampangan territory’ (Gaillard, 2002). On the other hand, those communities living in the deltas of the Pampanga and Guagua-Pasac rivers have retrained much of the features which may indeed qualify them to be Kapampangan – those of the alleged southern face of the Kapampangan territory (Gaillard, 2002). Interactions between the Kapampangan and the Kapanguluan remain sparse.

The Kapanguluan ethnic group is still emerging and shaping its own identity away from the Kapampangan. In the future, the distinction between Kapanguluan and Kapampangan is likely to be growing quickly as the Kapanguluan maintain stronger interactions with other ethnic groups, especially the Tagalog. In that context, the contemporary evolution of the Kapampangan culture, especially its language, should not be portrayed as a step towards extinction or assimilation (Tayag, 1985; Pangilinan, 2009). It should rather be seen as the materialisation of a new culture, that of the Kapanguluan.

Obviously, much has yet to be conceptualised, hopefully from an endogenous perspective, to fully affirm the identity of the Kapanguluan as a distinct ethnic group. Its history has to be written by historians, its language has to be formalised by linguists and the contours of its culture has to be delineated by anthropologists. In parallel, the existence of the Kapanguluan as an ethnic entity has to be recognised by other groups in the vicinity. Ultimately, it has to gain social and political visibility. In that context, we might someday celebrate an ‘Aldo ning Kapanguluan’ as we nowadays commemorate an ‘Aldo na ning Kapampangan’.

–Barth F. ed. (1969) Ethnic groups and boundaries: the social organization of culture difference. Little Brown and Company, Boston.
–Bellwood P. (1991) The Austronesian dispersal and the origin of languages. Scientific American 265(1):70-75.
–Blair E.H., Robertson J.A. eds. (1903-07) The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898. 55 volumes. A.H. Clark, Cleveland.
–Coronel F. (1621, republished 2005) Arte y reglas de la lengua Pampanga. English edition. Center for Kapampangan Studies, Angeles City.
–de Benavente A. (1699, republished 2007) Arte de lengua Pampanga. English edition. Center for Kapampangan Studies, Angeles City.
–Diamond J.M. (1988) Express train to Polynesia. Nature 336: 307-308.
–Dizon L.L. (2000) Amlat: Kapampangan local history contour in Tarlac and Pampanga. Center for Tarlaqueño Studies, Tarlac City.
–Gaillard J.C. (2002) The two faces of the Kapampangan territory. K Magazine 8: 38.
–Galang R.E. (1940) Ethnographic study of the Pampangans. The National History Museum Division, Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Manila.
–Jenkins R. (2008) Rethinking ethnicity: arguments and explorations. 2nd edition. Sage, London.
–Jocano F.L. (1975) The Philippines at the Spanish contact: some major accounts of early Filipino society and culture. MSC Enterprises, Manila.
–Lacson E.H. (1984) Kapampangan writing: a selected compendium and critique. National Historical Institute, Manila.
–Larkin J.A. (1993) The Pampangans: colonial society in a Philippine province. New Day Publishers, Quezon City.
–Nagel J. (1994) Constructing ethnicity: creating and recreating ethnic identity and culture. Social Problems 41(1): 152-176.
–Pangilinan M.R.M. (2007) Luzon Empire: Kapampangan history based on pre-Hispanic Chinese records. Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon lecture series, Nov. 2007, Baler, Philippines.
–Pangilinan M.R.M. (2009) Kapampangan lexical borrowing from Tagalog: endangerment rather than enrichment. 11th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, 21-25 June 2009, Aussois, France.
–Santiago L.P.R. (2002) Laying the foundations: Kapampangan pioneers in the Philippine church, 1592-2001. Center for Kapampangan Studies, Angeles City.
–Suárez T. (1999) Early mapping of Southeast Asia. Periplus, Hong Kong.
–Tayag K. (1985) Recollections & digressions. Philnabank Club, Manila.

[About the author. JC Gaillard, PhD, is Senior Lecturer at theSchool of Environment of The University of Auckland in New Zealand and former academic staff of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. His teaching, research and practice focus on disaster risk reduction in Asia and the Pacific. He is also interested in Kapampangan studies and the geography of Pinoy rock music. More available from: http://web.env.auckland.ac.nz/people_profiles/gaillard_j/]

-Posted: 2:22 PM 1/12/12 | More of this author on eK!