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Tabnuan, Mabalacat’s old municipio, to finally open

The Tabnuan Cultural Center in all its glory

The long wait for the opening of the old municipio of Mabalacat is here.

In time for the Balacat Festival, the former municipal hall will be formally opened with its repurposed use as Tabnuan Cultural Center (Tabnuan), a place for arts and cultural displays and exhibits.

This was announced by Arwin Paul Lingat, Mabalacat City Tourism Officer, during the News@Hues media forum of Pampanga Press Club in cooperation with Park Inn by Radisson Clark.

“This is the place where we agree to meet,” Lingat says of the meaning of Tabnuan. Its Kapampangan word is Tabnu, a variant of “Tagpo”, its synonym in Tagalog.

Literally meaning “gathering place” or “meeting place,” Lingat said that this is a project of Mayor Cris Garbo that is geared at preserving the former seat of government of the northernmost town of Pampanga.

Originally built as “Casa Tribunal”  in 1889 during the Spanish Period, it also became the municipal building of the American civil government. It also underwent rebuilding in 1946 after sustaining damage during the Japanese occupation. Other known period of renovation, expansion and improvement took place in 1951, the 1970-1980s. A so-called “modernization” took place in 2005. 

For his part, Garbo said the Tabnuan is a “commitment to safeguarding our local history, culture and  arts  for (the sake of) our Mabalaqueno children.”

Lingat said that in visiting the Tabnuan, visitors would have a background and glimpse of what Mabalacat is all about. He added that an office of the mayor replicating the looks and setup during the American period will also be recreated inside the building.

During its formal opening on February 28, a so-called travelling exhibit of the National Commission for the Culture and Arts will also be on display. It will feature the Order of the National Artists and Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan awardees.

To be highlighted also are the art pieces of 10 local artists with their paintings, sculptures, photographs, abstraction works, fashion pieces and portraitures.

Set on February 26 to March 2, the Balacat Festival will have an agro-industrial fair, the Barangay Pavillions, Miss Mabalacat Coronation Night, all at the Balacat Village along MacArthur Highway in  Mabiga, Mabalacat City. As an added attraction, it will also include the MCG Fun Run.

A “Lubenas” or  parade of lanterns will also be held, with the towns of Magalang, Sto. Tomas and the cities of Angeles and San Fernando joining the traditional  “prusisyon”.

Balacat Festival is in celebration of the roots of the city, having derived its name from Balakat tree (ziziphus talanae), a 4th class lanky hardwood which were aplenty in the place from several decades ago.