Mabalacat, officially the City of Mabalacat, (Kapampangan: Lakanbalen ning Mabalacat; Tagalog: Lungsod ng Mabalacat), or simply referred to as Mabalacat City, is a 3rd class city in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 250,799 people.
The former municipality was officially converted into a city following a referendum on July 21, 2012 and became the third in Pampanga after Angeles City and San Fernando.
The city’s name is derived from indigenous Negrito word mabalacat meaning “forest of balacats”.
Mabalacat has a land area of 83.18 square kilometres (32.12 sq mi). Roughly majority of the Clark Freeport Zone is located in Mabalacat, the rest in nearby Angeles City, where the main gate is located. The Clark International Airport, as well as the numerous hotels, casinos, golf courses, and resorts in Clark Freeport, are mostly situated in Mabalacat City.
The soil is charcoal black and shiny, a sign of fertility, and is suitable for growing rice, sugarcane and other rootcrops. Like the neighbouring cities of Angeles and San Fernando and the towns/municipalities of Porac, Bacolor, Santa Rita, Mexico, Magalang and Arayat, this city rarely gets inundated by floods from heavy rains and typhoons because it is situated on an elevated, well-drained part of the Central Luzon plains known as the “Upper Pampanga”.
Mabalacat is 93 kilometres (58 mi) from Manila, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Angeles, and 27 kilometres (17 mi) from the provincial capital, San Fernando.
Prior to 1712, Mabalacat was a barrio (barangay) of Bambang, now Bamban, Tarlac. It became a town in 1792, and was named after the abundant Balacat tree (Ziziphus talanai), a fourth class timber tree with bark that possess antimicrobial properties. Once a settlement of an Aeta tribe, the area was a virtual forest of balacat trees. “Ma-balacat” in the native Kapampangan language means “full of Balacats.” Mabalacat in Maranao is “Mababaapalaqat” (Palacat), which means “maiksing hagdan” in Tagalog.
In 1853 Mabalacat 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. In 1948, Mabalacat’s barangays increased to 20 with the addition of Fort Stotsenburg.
In 1860 a military command was established by authorities of the Spanish Governor-General due to the lawlessness and depredations perpetrated by the negritos (Aetas, or derogatorily called balugas). The Pampanga towns of Bamban, Capas, Concepcion, Victoria, Tarlac, Magalang, Porac, and Floridablanca and Mabalacat were created into what was called a Commandancia Militar. However, in 1873 the Military Command returned Mabalacat together with the towns of Magalang, Floridablanca, and Porac to the parent province, Pampanga.
Mabalacat is politically subdivided into 27 barangays.
- Macapagal Village
- Marcos Village
- Mawaque (Mauaque)
- San Francisco
- San Joaquin
- Santa Ines
- Santa Maria
- Santo Rosario
- Sapang Balen
- Sapang Biabas
The largest barangay is Dau, which became a barrio in 1936 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1. It is now a business center whose commercial output runs parallel to that of downtown. A former terminus of the North Luzon Expressway, it is the most urban and most populous area in Mabalacat, home to roughly 23% of the city’s population.
San Francisco, the second largest barangay, along with San Joaquin, Santa Ines, Poblacion, Calumpang and other barangays are categorized as urban in view of their proximity to the city proper. Sapang Balen, with a population of 166 persons, is the smallest barangay.