OLD TOWN REEMERGES AS PANTABANGAN DAM DIPS INTO ITS LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 1983

Pantabangan is a former village, situated between the Sierra Madre and Caraballo mountain ranges, discovered by an Augustinian parish priest in the 17th Century.

Before becoming a Municipality in 1900, Pantabangan became a Spanish settlement and was officially included in the Philippine map in 1747.

The enactment of Republic Act 5499, otherwise known as the Upper Pampanga River Project Act, brought about the construction of Pantabangan Dam in 1971, at the behest of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

The completion of the second largest dam in Asia and the second largest hydroelectric reservoir in Southeast Asia in 1971 ushered in the inundation of approximately 8,100 hectares of fertile farmlands including the old town center and seven of its outlying barangays which were then relocated to form the modern-day Pantabangan town. 

Recently, Pantabangan Dam had experienced yet another plunging phenomenon due to rainfall shortage since its inauguration and inundation in the 1970s.

Credit to the owner: Old Augustinian Church in Pantabangan in 1923:

Notably, the drought in 1983 caused the ruins of the old town center, including the old Augustinian Church and cemetery of Pantabangan, to reemerge to its depth after almost a decade of being submerged underwater.

Photo Credit: Kashiee Recio

On the other hand, the 107 meter-tall dam has irrigated roughly 77,000 ha of farmlands in Central Luzon.

Photo Credit: Kashiee Recio

Approximately 1,300 displaced townspeople were relocated and resettled upstream overlooking the dam, which the present Pantabangan town center is situated.

As of press time, the townsfolk have flocked to the area while adhering to social distancing and health and safety protocols. Some become emotional as they reminisce about their old sunken town.

Photo Credit: Kashiee Recio

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