The town of Mabalacat in Pampanga came into being in 1712. It was named after the balacat tree, a source of timber for craftsmen and builders. Therefore, Mabalacat means filled with balacat trees. True enough, the place was a virtual forest of balacats. Prior to 1712, Mabalacat was a barangay of Bambang. The place we now know as Bamban, Tarlac.
In the olden days, Negritos comprise most of the settlers in the area. A chieftain of the name Caragan headed them. Caragan married a certain Laureana Tolentino and he eventually assumed the Tolentino family name. The wife became the first Cabeza de barangay of Mabalacat. This is equivalent to today’s barangay chairperson.
The gradual immigration of lowlander-farmers takes the place of the Negritos. They were driven to the nearby mountains and hills. It was there that they hunted for fowls and wild animals. Most continue to live there nowadays.
In 1853 Mabalacat, Pampanga had a population of 2,611 and four barangays, namely, Babangdapu, Duquit, Malabni, and Paglimbunan. By 1903 its population increased to 7,049 in 19 barangays. These were Bical, Bundagul, Dapdap, Dau, Dolores, Iba, Mabiga, Mamatitang, Mangalit, Matas, Mawaque, Paralayunan, Poblacion, Quitangil (later renamed to San Francisco), San Joaquin, Santa Ines, Santa Maria, Sapang Balen, and Sapang Biabas.
Fast forward to 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon established Camp del Pilar, the first training camp in Dau. It was known as Fort Stotsenberg, which was later renamed as Clark Air Base. In 1948, Mabalacat’s barangays increased to 20 with the addition of Fort Stotsenburg.
U.S. develop the base in Clark with the military investments. Together with its enhancement and expansion, the economic growth of the rest of Mabalacat came with it. This progression, however, came to a brief halt after Mt. Pinatubo’s explosions and devastation in 1991 and succeeding years.
Mabalacat, Pampanga emerged from the ashes more resilient and hopeful. In 2012 it earned its cityhood. It, now, is one of the most promising, dynamic and flourishing cities in Central Luzon.