Dugong Aso means ‘a race of dogs’ in Tagalog. This ethnic slur against the Kapampangan people can be traced back to the traditional practice of using dogs to hunt wild game (Kap. pámangásu; Tag. pangangaso). Use of the term probably had its roots in the early 1600s when the Spaniards still considered every inhabitants of these islands as salvages or “wild beasts” while making the Kapampangan people their only exception. The Spaniards learned the necessity of treating the Kapampangan people with respect to keep their fledgeling empire in the Far East (Larkin, 1972). At that time, the Dutch who just recently won their independence from Spain, decided to rival the Spaniards by establishing their own empire in Asia. They began harassing Spanish forces and undermine Spanish dominion in the Far East. Severely undermanned, the Spaniards decided to win over the Kapampangan nobility who still managed to maintain their own standing land and naval forces. To secure their allegiance, the Spanish crown allowed the Kapampangan nobility to enrol in the hidalguia, the lowest level of the Spanish aristocracy and wear the titles Don and Doña (Santiago, 1990). They were also granted encomiendas, a privileged reserved only for Spanish military commanders who helped win territories for the Spanish Empire. Of the ten exceptional indios who were granted encomiendas in the more than three hundred years of Spanish rule, six of them were Kapampangans. Three of these six Kapampangans travelled all the way to Spain to received their encomienda personally from the hand of the Spanish king (Santiago, 1990). At a time when the rest of the inhabitants were treated as nothing more than wild animals by the Spanish colonial government, the Kapampangans were considered “honorary Spaniards” as long as they loyally serve the Spanish crown. “Three Kapampangans plus one Castillan equals four Castillans,” wrote one Spanish friar who was known to detest indios (Diaz, 1745 and Corpuz, 1989).
The Kapampangan soldiers of the 16th and 17th century were known to be effective musketeers and harquebusiers who were trained professionally in the various presidios within the Spanish East Indies, particularly in the Moluccas (Henson, 1965, Santiago, 1990 and Borao, 2008). When the Spanish colonial navy, basically a Kapampangan fleet serving under the Spanish flag (Borao, 2008), defeated the Dutch in a naval battle in 1640, Governor General Hurtado de Corcuera petitioned the Spanish king to allow the sons of the Kapampangan nobility to study side by side with the Spaniards in their exclusive schools in Manila. The result was the establishment of the Colegio de San Felipe Asturias (Pastels, 1925-34 and Henson, 1965). In 1645, the Colegio de San Jose also began admitting Kapampangan students (Santiago, 1991a).
As a result of their admission into higher education before any of the other ethnic groups within the archipelago, the Kapampangans began to dominate not just the military but also the religious and civil administration of the Philippine colony. In the mid-1600s, Manila’s first illustrado aristocracy was established by two Kapampangan nobles ~ Lizenciado Don José Celis and Don Nicolas de Herera of Lubao (Santiago, 1991b). It is to be noted that Don Nicolas de Herera traces his ancestry back to Rajah Suliman of Manila and that he was the first indio to be knighted by the Spanish crown and the only native to hold the title of alferez ‘standard bearer’ in a purely Spanish military unit, the Spanish Royal Infantry (Santiago, 1991b). Lizenciado Don José Celis was said to be an unusual Kapampangan gentelman who looked down on incompetent Spanish bureaucrats and encouraged fellow Kapampangans to obtain positions and file lawsuits against them. He later joined the 1660 Kapampangan revolt led by Don Francisco Maniago of Masicu (Mexico).
Soon after, Kapampangans began to swagger all over the islands with their guns and their Spanish uniforms to maintain peace and order in the name of the Spanish crown. They were used to put down every ethnic revolt within the archipelago. Unlike the other native troops who were supervised by Spanish officers, Kapampangan soldiers were trusted with their own native Kapampangan officers (Corpuz, 1989). Looking at these Kapampangan soldiers swagger about arrogantly, the neighbouring Tagalogs probably could not help but ask, “if we are salvages (wild beasts), then what are the Kapampangans?” Their reply was: “Dugong aso” ~ ‘a race of dogs’, for the dog is the only animal that help humans hunt other animals.
Em Esber Blog 2. (Monday, June 14, 2010). Members of the Royal Spanish Army, Filipino Guardia Civil, and the Macabebe troops. http://jibraelangel2blog.blogspot.com/2010/06/members-of-royal-spanish-army-filipino.html
Padeu, Paolo (2008-2010). WATAWAT – Flags and Symbols of the Pearl of the Orient Seas. http://www.watawat.net/
Borao Mateo, José Eugenio (鮑曉鷗). (2008). Filipinos in the Spanish Colonial Army during the Dutch Wars (1600-1648). In Isaac Donoso Jimenéz [ed.]. (2010). More Hispanic than We Admit. Insights in Philippine Cultural History. Quezon City, Philippines: Vibal Foundation. Pp. 74-93.
Corpuz, Onofre D. (1989) The Roots of the Filipino Nation. [vol.2: 127] Quezon City, Philippines: AKLAHI Foundation.
Diaz, Casimiro. (1745). Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas…Parte Segunda. Valladolid, España.
Henson, Mariano A. [4th rev. ed.] (1965) Pampanga and Its Towns: A.D. 1300 – 1965. Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines: Mariano A. Henson.
Larkin, John A. 1972. The Pampangans: Colonial Society in a Philippine Province. 1993 Philippine Edition. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.
Mallat, Jean. (1846). Les Philippines: histoire, geographie, mœurs, agriculture, industrie, commerce des colonies Espagnoles dans l’Oceanie. Paris: Arthus Bertrand. [English ed. 1998] Santillan, P. and Castrence, L. (Transl.), Manila: National Historical Institute.
Pastels, Pablo and Lanza Pedro Torres. (1925-34). Catalogo de los Documentos Relativos a las Islas Filipinas. Vol. 8/9. Pp. 207. [Colegio de San Felipe]
Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1990). The Filipinos Indios Encomenderos [ca. 1620-1711]: Genealogy and Group Identity. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 18, No. 3.
Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1991a). The Beginnings of Higher Education in the Philippines [1601-1772]. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 19, No. 2.
Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1991b). The Brown Knight: The Rise and Fall of Don Nicolas de Herrera (1614-1680). In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, 19:3.
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