Clark Airforce Base was the paradox of love and hate in the heart of the Kapampangan Nation. Kapampangans, especially those from Angeles and Mabalacat, loved it because it gave them jobs, goods, cash, and style; But most Kapampangans hated it because it was an abomination.It was an abomination because it was a mighty alien fortress within a host nation that can not defend itself.
It was an abomination because it was a nest of giant cash-wielding, free-spending kabalat kapáyâ foreign monsters who could afford to have a goodtime amidst the widespread suffering and poverty of its short raddish-skinned host.
It was an abomination because it was an infringement of the Kapampangan’s sovereignty: It was a foreign base on Kapampangan soil!
So, inspite of all the tears shed on lost jobs, lost cash, lost goods, and lost style when the Americans finally pulled out in November of 1992, there was also an equal if not a greater amount of relief and hope for the Pinatubo ravaged Kapampangan: “Salamat at misublî ne quecatámu iñg Clark!” At last, Clark is ours again!
But to which Kapampangan does the “we” in that word “ours” refer to? The old rich families like the Hensons of Angeles and the De Guzmans of Mabalacat who still claim to have titles to the land grabbed by the Americans, or the poor ancient Aita families who swear by Apung Namalyari Kûn Támu that the land was theirs since time immemorial even before the rich Angeles and Mabalacat gentry grabbed them with pieces of paper signed by the court in unintellegible Spanish?
For most Kapampangans however, Clark, with its vast tract of potential agricultural lands and well furnished housing areas, was the perfect resettlement site for all the lahar ravaged Kapampangan Families of Bacolor, Porac, Angeles, Mabalacat, and Bamban. It would have been the ideal womb for the rebirth of a new and prosperous Kapampangan Nation.
That hope was sooner betrayed. Clark was not to be in Kapampangan hands; Not to the old rich Families of Angeles and Mabalacat, not to the ancient Aita families who swear by Mount Pinatúbû, and most especially not to the thousands of lahar ravaged Kapampangans.
While the rest of the Kapampangan region slowly died of hunger, disease and homelessness, Clark was looted, rumours have it, by domestic foreigners in Philippine Airforce uniforms.
While Kapampangans were forced to lived in tents without decent sanitation, water or electricity, these domestic foreigners in uniform lived with their families in the comfort of the US furnished base housing units, with clean water and free electricity.
While thousands of Kapampangan families were forcibly torn from the embrace of their Indûng Tibuan so as to be resettled in the jungles of Bukidnon and Mindoro, these domestic foreigners in uniforms hauled in the rest of their families from the Visayas or the Ilocos to live off Clark.
What Gordon did to Subic, the mayors of Mabalacat and Angeles could not do. When the Tagalog government in Manila put Clark under the management of the Clark Development Corporation [CDC], the Kapampangans, or what is left of them after the forced diaspora, were again promised new hope. The new Clark was to generate new jobs.
The first thing the CDC did however was open up duty free shops which maimed the surviving local economy. As a coup de grace, the next thing it did was import non-Kapampangan labour.
Clark was once a paradox of love and hate in the heart of the Kapampangan Nation. Now, all it could be is a paragon of hate. For Clark remains an abomination. It is not only a symbol of the betrayal of the hopes of the Kapampangan Nation, but all the more, it remains a foreign base within Kapampangan soil.
Keep Kapampangan lands in Kapampangan hands!