For the longest time, Kapampangans have speculated that there must be gold waiting to be mined in Pampanga. Our ancestors had words like dulang, which old Kapampangan dictionaries define as “to search for gold by scouring or washing away the sand or diligently sifting it with water,” lapang, which means “a vein of gold, or gold as it is found in the mines” and of course guinto which refers to the “gold, jewelry, to be worn as ornament.” So the early Kapampangans differentiated unmined gold (lapang) from mined and processed gold (guinto). There are also places like Sapang Gintu in Mexico town and Guiguinto in Bulacan, which used to be part of Pampanga.

The answer finally came in 1934, when a group of gold prospectors (led by Q. Abadilla, chief of the Division of Mines of the Office of Sciences), accompanied by a team of geologists and engineers (Messrs. Frost, Goodyear, Broomell and Uewaki) climbed up Mt. Mananliwas in Floridablanca, an “entirely unspoiled” place that was “well protected by the Aetas.” There they found at least 10 old tunnels, which confirmed their theory that earlier explorations, probably in the Spanish colonial period, had been made in that part of Floridablanca. They made initial diggings on the same spot, some reaching a depth of 250 ft., and by 1936, the Pampanga Gold Mines had been incorporated with office address at 53 Iznart, Iloilo, Iloilo with the following members: Emilio Montilla of Iloilo (board chairman), Paciano Dizon of Manila (vice-chair), C.M. Dizon of Porac, Eduardo Esteban of Negros Occidental, Rosario Santaromana of Iloilo, and Jose Soriano of Negros Occidental. They had raised an initial capital of P500,000.00 (huge amount at the time) and then published an invitation to investors, claiming that “this mine offers an excellent opportunity” and that “one engineer can be wrong, but three or more mining engineers making the same recommendation cannot be wrong.”

During their return visits to Floridablanca, they identified and evaluated more promising tunnels which they named Mabical, Salangsang, Lubao, Angeles, Malugpuk, Lagnaya and Malati which “shows a very visible 5-foot wide vein, resembling that of the Antamok mine of the Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., and there is the possibility that there is a higher value than that of Antamok.” They concluded that “based on the similarity of the geology and nature of the veins, the mine can be classified as of the Benguet type. The geology of the land is favorable to profitable gold mining. It is advised that the explorations continue even in rainy season.” One mining engineer and geologist named T. Uewaki even added, ”Because of its high future value, I would not let go of said mine even for P850,000.00 if it were mine, and if I had the capital available to exploit it.”

Their words sounded more like a marketing effort than an objective report, because the project fizzled out—maybe because of the onset of World War II and the insurgency that followed it. We don’t know why it never resumed, especially since the final report of the Philippine Engineering Corporation reported dated June 23, 1936, signed by M. Sutherland, clearly stated that the explorations in Floridablanca yielded not just gold but traces of silver as well. This report can be found in Prospecto de la Pampanga Gold Mines Inc. (1936), a copy of which was obtained by the HAU Center for Kapampangan Studies.

Today the only minerals being mined in Pampanga are non-metallic (clay, sand, gravel) since Pampanga surface ground is 54% sand, 21% silt and 25% clay (thanks to Pinatubo). Government agencies do mention in their online sites that gold and silver are (or were) explored, extracted and developed from the porphyritic quartz-bearing andesite in Sitio La Kalyusan, Pabanlag, Floridablanca, and that copper is or was explored in Pio and Planas, both in Porac. And then, of course, there are still fortune hunters who dig for Yamashita’s gold in places around Pampanga. (Rogelio Domingo Roxas, alleged discoverer of the fabled Golden Buddha in Baguio City, stayed in Porac in later years, according to folks in the town.)