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A Brief History of Angeles City

Angeles City: chartered city, central Luzon, Philippines.
Angeles City: chartered city, central Luzon, Philippines.

Angeles City is located in the province of Pampanga within the Central Luzon region of the Philippines about 83 kilometers north of Manila. Currently the population of Angeles City is 318,451 people and Angeles City is classed as a first class, highly urbanized city.

It was in 1796 development of Angeles City begun in an area originally called Culiat. Later the town was given its name Angeles in honor of its founder and the patron saint, Los Santos Angeles Custodios (The Holy Angels). 

In 1899 American forces reached and captured the Angeles City after a 4 month battle with local armed forces. For the next three years the Americans set up camp by the railway station. In 1902 they relocated to the newly built Fort Stotsenburg at the northern edge of Angeles City which was later expanded into the Clark Air Base, the largest air base in the southern hemisphere.

The next historical event that had a considerable direct effect on Angeles City was the Second World War. Within only a few hours of the Japanese’s attack on Pearl Harbor they had attacked the Philippines as well. In December 1942 Fort Stotsenburg in Angeles City was bombed from the air and on New Year’s Day the first Japanese Troops entered the city.  The occupation of Angeles City lasted three years at which point the Japanese where forced to pull out after the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Additionally during the Japanese occupations of Angeles City the infamous “Death March” passed by the town while it was moving north towards Tarlac.

In 1946 the Philippines gained its independence from America. It was agreed that America would retain the Clark Air Base just north of Angeles City and the Subic Naval Base near Olongapo for the next 44 years.

Up until 1964 though Angeles City was so close to the expanding and developing Clark Air Base, Angeles City experienced a very small level of development. It was in 1964 that the town was declared a city resulting in unprecedented progress and development changing the name from just Angeles to Angeles City as we know it today.

Since the arrival of American Forces to Angeles City the number of American and progressively other nationalities expats has dramatically increased much of it centralized in the Balibago, Angeles City area which as of today has the highest level of population in the entire Angeles City.

Angeles City after the Mt. Pinatubo lahar flows overtook the city
Angeles City after the Mt. Pinatubo Eruption.

On June 15, 1991, Nearby Angeles City Mount Pinatubo experienced an ultra-Plinian eruption with over 60,000 people being forced from Angeles City. It was the second largest volcanic eruption (after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta) of the 20th century and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area ever. Approximately 300 people were killed not only in Angeles City by the eruption, mostly by the wet ash caused by the convergence of the about four cubic kilometers of erupted material and the Typhoon Yunya that was approaching Angeles City. Additionally Angeles City was devastated by the pyroclastic flows which blanketed the city and harden like concrete due to all the water brought in by the typhoon. The flows destroyed countless numbers of Angeles City businesses and rendered enormous amounts of farmland infertile around Angeles City.

In 1991 the combination of the eruption and Angeles City policy changes American forces pulled out of the Angeles City Clark Air base and later the Subic Naval Base.

In 1993, the cleanup and removal of volcanic ash deposits from Angeles City began. Clark Air Base was renamed Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ). Angeles City airfield infrastructure was improved and destined to be the premiere airport in the country in the next five years and one of the most modern in Asia. The creation of Angeles City’s Clark Special Economic Zone has helped to offset the loss of income and jobs previously created by the operation of the U.S. base in Angeles City. Today, Angeles City and Clark together form the hub for business, industry, aviation and tourism, as well as the entertainment and gaming center of Central Luzon.

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