The fest is marked by three feasts—the feast of Santo Angel Custodio, the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval (La Naval Fiesta), and the feast of Our Lord of Mercy (Fiesta ning Apung Mamacalulu or Piyestang Apu).
And one of its many activities is the Kambal Festival or Twin Festival, where twins join the grand street parade.
Selected days in the month of October may be declared a special non working holiday through presidential proclamations (see Proclamation No. 1226 in 2021).
The word Kuliat was the old name of Angeles City.
History of Fiestang Kuliat
Fiestang Kuliat was organized by the local government in 1992. It was established to give the spotlight to the Christian faith of its people and to move forward from the destructive Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
Devotion to Santo Angel Custodio and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval
The devotion to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval began in Manila in the 17th century.
The image of the patroness, who was then called Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, was made by a non-Christian Chinese artist under the supervision of Captain Hernando de los Rios Coronel. It was given as a gift by Governor General Luis Perez de Dasmariñas to the Dominican friars.
The Dominicans installed the image in the new church they built after an earlier one was ruined in 1590.
From 1600 to 1646, the Dutch invaders attempted to overthrow the Spanish colonial government and assume control over the archipelago. They instigated a series of attacks for decades, culminating in five battles waged in 1646. These series of assaults spanned from Pangasinan to Marinduque.
The Dutch, however, were unsuccessful. They were repelled by the combined forces of the Spanish colonizers and the natives, especially the maritime warriors among the Tagalogs and Kapangpangans.
The victory at sea was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Virgin. From that time on, she was called Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario de la Naval.
The devotion to the patroness in Angeles City, which was called Culiat in those times, began in the 18th century. Culiat was founded in 1796 and it was a territory of San Fernando.
Angel Pantaleon de Miranda and his spouse Rosalia de Jesus put forward a plan to erect a church. Their proposal was denied by the friars. In 1812, a similar proposition was not affirmed. It was only ten years later, after a donation of tracts of land for the building of edifices such as school and the church, that another petition was filed.
On December 8, 1829, Culiat was renamed Angeles (in honor of the titular Guardian Angels, San Angel Custodio, and the namesake of the founder Angel Pantaleon de Miranda) and became an independent town.
The town was placed under the advocation of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary de la Naval, as a way to commemorate the historic victory against the Dutch and to honor the patroness of whom Rosalia de Jesus was a fervent devotee. The first fiesta on second Sunday of October was held a year later.
A new church was inaugurated in 1834. It replaced an old house of worship that was built with humble materials. On October 18, 1877, the construction of the present-day, colonial-era stone church began. Commonly called Pisambang Maragul or Big Church, it was completed in 1896 through forced, unpaid labor of natives for forty days each year.
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary de la Naval is regarded as the Queen and Patroness of Angeles City.
Devotion to Apung Mamacalulu
Apung Mamacalulu, translated to Merciful Lord, is a centuries-old wooden image of Jesus Christ in the grave. Hence it is also referred to Christ in the Holy Sepulchre, Santo Entierro, Santo Sepulcro, or Cristo Yacente. Called Apu by devotees, it was made by a woodworker by the name of Buenaventura under the direction of Fr. Macario Paras, the parish priest between 1829 and 1849.
Fr. Paras kept the image in a shrine he built in Talimundoc (presently called Lourdes Sur) in 1834. In 1854, it was entrusted to the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish.
Its devotion grew during the Philippine Revolution. In 1897, pro-Spain loyalists arrived in the town. Tensions mounted as arrests were made against people who were, alleged to be associated with, or suspected to have aided the cause of the Filipino revolutionaries.
To ease the turmoil in the town’s peace and order situation, the parish held a five-day novena in honor of the Five Wounds of Santo Entierro, thus began the Fiestang Apu every last Friday of October. It was around this time that a famous miracle took place.
A devotee by the name of Roman “Duman” Payumu was arrested on accusation that he was a Katipunero (rebel) and given the sentence to die. After his request to visit the image was granted, he prayed hard before the Apung Mamacalulu to be spared from certain death.
On the way to the spot where he was to be executed, the ties that bound his hands loosened. He then broke free and made an escape. He avoided capture and spent the rest of his life in devotion to Apu.
The image was brought to Sapangbato in the course of the revolution for safety, and it was returned to the parish in 1904.
On Good Friday of 1928, Eriberto Navarro and others took the image from church’s premises after the procession. Navarro was the nephew of Alvara Fajardo who claimed to be the owner of the image.
Their claim stated that Fr. Paras left a will and bestowed its ownership to Mariano V. Henson, and that it passed on to Fernanda Sanchez and later to her son Crispulo Bundoc, the husband of Fajardo.
On March 25, 1929, the Supreme Court ordered the image to be returned to the parish.
A new image of Apung Mamacalulu surfaced at the same time and it was enshrined in the chapel in Barangay Lourdes Sur owned by the Paras-Dayrit clan. Conflict arose between Paras-Dayrit family and the church authorities owing from the religious following that sprang in the chapel. Moreover, leases were issued in the chapel grounds to businesses that welcomed pilgrims.
In 1933, Manila Archbishop Miguel O’Doherty declined requests by Clemente Dayrit for masses to be held in the chapel. The archbishop stated that the chapel was not the property of the Roman Catholic Church. So priests belonging to different religious orders were invited and held services until 1984.
Beginning in 1985, San Fernando Archbishop Oscar Cruz prohibited the celebration of masses in the chapel, on the account of the refusal of the clan in allowing the church to administer the chapel. The ban existed for twenty five years until it was lifted on October 11, 2010.
In March 2012, the chapel was declared Archdiocesan Shrine of Apung Mamacalulu by San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto upon the advice of Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
Archbishop Aniceto called the place the Terra Santa of Pampanga, a reference to the site in Jerusalem where the Holy Sepulchre is located and a popular pilgrimage location every Holy Week.
Fiestang Kuliat Activities
A blend of religious and secular observances mark the Fiestang Kuliat. The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels is on October 2, the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary – La Naval is every second Sunday of October, and the Feast of Apung Mamacalulu is every last Friday of October.
The city government takes charge of the non-religious events. The most popular is the Kambal Fiesta (Twin Fiesta) where twin siblings join a grand street parade.
Another is the Tigtigan Terakan Keng Dalan (Music and Dance in the Street). Established in the 1990s, festival-goers enjoy a night of revelry, dancing, and music in the city streets.
Other events include beauty pageant (Mutya ning Angeles), food festival, race, trade fair, cultural presentations, variety show, and sports activities.
How to reach Angeles City, Pampanga
Angeles City is an hour away from Clark International Airport.
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