Angeles’s ‘culiat’ vines: Then vanishing, now nurtured

Barangay Chairman Rey Malig ensures that culiat vines are nurtured at his residence in Salapungan, Angeles City. He has grown the once-vanishing vines for over 14 years.

ANGELES CITY—It is the first celebration of the so-called twin fiesta of this city on October 12, and the residents and their visitors will again take note of the name “Culiat.”

The last of the twin celebrations will be held on the last Friday of October.

The celebration, held to honor the city’s patron saint and the holy image of Jesus, has been dubbed over the years as “Fiestang Culiat”.

Culiat are coarse woody vines. The indigenous vines flourished in several areas of the then-barangay of San Fernando that later became the town of Angeles.

Hence, it was called “Barrio Culiat” until it became an independent town on December 8, 1892. Culiat was then the northernmost village of San Fernando.

It was noted during the heyday of Don Angel Pantaleon de Miranda that the area was cleared of culiat vines and became a settlement. Miranda pushed the separation of Culia—or Angeles—from San Fernando.

“In 1796 the town head of San Fernando, Don Angel Panteleon de Miranda, along with some followers, staked out a new settlement, which they named Culiat because of the abundance of vines of that name in the area. The settlers cleared and cultivated the area for rice and sugar cane,” said the history of Angeles City obtained by the BusinessMirror.

“Mariano Henson wrote that the origin of Angeles’s former name is the plant culiat [Gnetum indicum Lour. Merr], a woody vine that abound in the place then. Today this vine is said to be an endangered species. The few surviving culiat can be found in Palawan and in the botanical garden of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. Recent botanical researchers done by the Capampangan Archaeological Volunteers of Holy Angel University show, however, that some of the Gnetum species still thrive in the thin forests of Sapang Bato in Angeles City,” said a recent study by local historians Joel Pabustan Mallari and Arnel D. Garcia, indicating that the culiat vines are vanishing.

In 1994 a group led by the late businessman Tony Angeles formed a chapter of the Rotary Club of Angeles City. It was named Rotary Angeles Culiat.

“We named our Rotary Club from the original name of Angeles City. Our members wear uniforms having the image of the culiat vines,” said Salapungan Barangay Chairman Reynaldo “Rey” Malig, who was a pioneer member of the Rotary Angeles Culiat.

Malig said that he, Angeles and members of the club were curious about the real story behind culiat. Then they found that “culiat were vanishing, and the vines could no longer be found in Angeles.”

Malig said that the Rotary Club and the volunteers decided to save and nurture the culiat vine once they locate it. He added that Aytas based in Sitio Target, Sapang Bato, informed his group that there were culiat vines in a mountain near the village.

“For the Aytas, the mountain was just near Sapang Bato. But it was far because they had to walk to locate the vines,” Malig said. He added that a group of four Aytas and a member of the Rotary found the vines sometime in 1999.

Malig and the Rotary Club later invited then-Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez to witness the “rediscovery of the culiat vines.”

He disclosed that Alvarez had given him P10,000, and the fund will be used to preserve and nurture the vines.

Malig started donating culiat seedlings to public schools in Angeles City beginning in 2000.

Today the culiat vines “are safe and thriving” at the house of Malig in Salapungan. His fence is filled with the old vines, and seedlings are ready for donations to those who are interested to grow it.”

Malig recently planted culiat seedlings on Santo Rosario Street.

Image Credits: Leo Villacarlos

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Joey N. Pavia is a veteran reporter based in Pampanga. Aside from news, he also contributes feature stories and articles about local and international travels. He is also focus on making business news as

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