Pampanga is the first province and the richest spoil created by the Spaniards in 1571. It was named after the Indung Kapampangan River, the largest river in the former empire. Ancient Pampanga’s territorial area used to include portions of the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales in the big Island of Luzon of the Philippine Archipelago.Pampanga, one of the richest provinces in the Philippines, was re-organized as a province by the Spaniards on December 11, 1571. For governmental control and taxation purposes, the Spanish authorities subdivided Pampanga into towns (pueblos), which were further subdivided into districts (barrios) and in some cases into royal and private estates (encomiendas).
Due to excessive abuses committed by some grantees of private estates, the King of Spain prohibited in 1574 the awarding of private estates (encomiendas). However, the royal decree was not fully enforced until the year 1620. In a report of Philippine encomiendas on June 20, 1591, Spanish Governor Gomez Perez Dasmarinas reported to the King of Spain that La Pampanga’s encomiendas were Bataan, Betis y Lubao, Macabebe, Candaba, Apalit, Calumpit, Malolos, Binto, Guiguinto, Caluya, Bulacan and Mecabayan. The encomiendas of La Pampanga at that time had eighteen thousand six hundred and eighty whole tributes.
Pampanga which is about 850 square miles (2,200 km2) in area and presently inhabited by more than 1.5 million people, had its present borders drawn in 1873. During the Spanish regime it was one of the richest Philippine provinces. Manila and its surrounding region were then primarily dependent on Pampangan agricultural, fishery, and forestry products as well as on the supply of skilled workers. As other Luzon provinces were created due to increases in population, some well-established Pampanga towns were lost to new emerging provinces in Central Luzon
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