Sunday, March 27, 2005


In the Churning of the Milky Ocean story, the battle between the Devas and Asuras produces many wondrous things that appear from the frothy sea. This war, which I have suggested was a clash between Nusantao trading clans, would indeed have set off a chain of wondrous historical events starting after the 4th millennium BC Pinatubo eruption.

When the Spanish came into the region many thousands of years later, the mountainous region that I believe was the model for many legends, was inhabited and surrounded by various peoples. They spoke different languages including Kapampangan, Ayta and Sambal which may have descended from a single ancestor known as Proto-Central Luzon. The likely point of divergence of these languages would have been the foothills of Pinatubo itself. These peoples were remnants of the old Lusung kingdom.

Traces of this kingdom could be found from the province of Pangasinan in the north of the island to the Calabarzon region in the south, an area that presently hosts the bulk of Luzon's 43 million people.

Many of the largest population centers in the Philippines at the time were located downriver from Pinatubo in the delta areas adjacent to the northern part of Manila Bay. Included among these towns was Betis with 7,000 males of fighting age in 1582 -- probably translating to a total population of about 28,000 to 30,000. In comparison, London in 1575 had 180,000 people.

Many of these settlements may have been formed after the pre-1991 eruption of Pinatubo some five to seven centuries ago. This was a major event of probably around magnitude 5 level that filled up large parts of what was then the Manila Bay. Consequently the region around Pinatubo itself was sparsely populated when the Spanish arrived. The riverine communities, though, were still conducting long-range trade and had come under minimal Muslim influence.

Slowly, after colonization, the area around Pinatubo became the target of increased development culminating in the founding of Angeles City, probably appropriately named, in the 19th century. Angeles, or the "City of Angels" was formed from the small community known as Kuliat.

When the Americans came to colonize the Philippines, which had briefly won its independence from Spain, Angeles was the location of a major battle for Central Luzon. A U.S. army camp was established there that later was shifted to the present location of Clark Field, northwest of the city.

Aerial flight map showing Clark Air Base, now Clark Field, between Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Arayat, and northwest of Angeles City.

The base was located at or very near what I consider the prime Neolithic location. One of the names for Mt. Arayat is Paralaya, meaning to the East. You can see from the map above that Mt. Arayat is indeed nearly due east of Clark Field, and it is located nearly exactly between Pinatubo and Arayat. It was said that this location was chosen because it provided better grazing areas for U.S. army horses.

On the other side of Mt. Pinatubo, in Subic Bay, a naval base was constructed near the location of an ancient Ayta village.

Pinatubo and Arayat were always inhabited especially by the "guardians" who still exist today, although there existence has probably been informal if not secretive since Spanish times. The eruptions change this only temporarily.

In 1991, a massive magnitude 6 eruption caused both bases to be evacuated. They were later converted into government-managed zones for commercial and tourist activity. Duty-free stores, expos, golf courses, country clubs, tourist hotels and the like have been set up in these former military bases. Clark Field is also the location of an international airport constructed from the old air force flight line that was used extensively during the Vietnam War.

Paul Kekai Manansala