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PANIQUI: Citadel of Antiquity

Paniqui was originally a part of Pangasinan and thus was listed in the Actas Capitulares as the oldest town founded in 1754 by the Spaniards. It became a parroquia (parish) of the Dominicans in 1686. It was raised into a Vicaria (vicariate) with Fr. Jose Sanchez as its first pastor in 1718.

At first, Paniqui was situated west of Tarlac River. Because of the attacks by Negritos, the Spaniards decided to move the town east of the river. But, because of flooding, it was moved several times until it was settled in acocolao, two kilometers from the present town. Sometime in 1720, Paniqui, as claimed by Raymundo and Miguel Paragas of Dagupan, became a sitio of Dagupan. Led by these two brothers, the sitio was called mangang marikit where bats or paniki swarmed at twilight. Today, mangang marikit is a part of Guimba, Nueva Ecija. It was in sitio acocolao where Sultan Alimudin was baptized in 1750.

The two rivers passing through the town from Nueva Ecija more than likely enriched the plains of Paniqui, enabling the people to raise coconuts, mangoes, and oranges such as cajeles and naranjitas. They also produced abundant rice. Thick forests covered the northern part of the town. They had molave, narra, canala, yakal, and other hardwood, which are good materials for construction and furniture making. Paniqui also had plenty of cotton trees, cacao, and coffee.

The original inhabitants of Paniqui were pure Pangasinenses. They lived near the center of the town, an area reached by the sound of church bells. The rest of the settlers were mostly Ilocanos who came during the 1830’s. Father Ramón Sanchez observed in 1869 that the different ethnic groups did not seem to mix with each other, keeping their languages to themselves (i.e., Ilocano, Pangasinan, Pampango, and Tagalog). Spanish was of course, spoken by the friars and officials of the Spanish government.

Paniqui was a sprawling town that covered a wide area during its early years. Some of the villages which were formerly portions of the town included San Roque now Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija; Barong now Gerona, San Jose de Camiling now Camiling, Bani now Ramos, San Ramon now Moncada, and Anao.

Today, industrious and frugal Ilocano settlers, aggressive yet peaceful Kapampangan immigrants, generous Pangasinenses, and liberty loving Tagalogs people the town. It is a thriving and progressive community with a total population of 78,883 (NSO, 2000). Falling within the belt of the melting pot of Central Luzon, every ordinary citizen of the town speaks with fluency the Ilocano, Kapampangan, Tagalog and Pangasinense languages.

Prominently situated along Mc Arthur Hi-way, Paniqui is a trade and commerce emporium. It hosts educational institutions, commercial and rural banks, a sugar mill, progressive public market, bold and devout people and vibrant culture.

As a citadel of history, Paniqui is a testimony of the past and present. Welded with strong determination and persuasion, these Tarlaquenos of Paniqui are working zealously to bring into it the Capitol of Tarlac government.



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