Historically speaking, the exact date of Arayat's foundation is still unknown. Definetely, the town was reported to be one of the thriving settlements of Pampanga between 1335 to 1380. One chronicler alleges that Prince Balagtas or his son Araw (Lord) Malangsic (ruler of the Madjapahit empire) was the founder of Arayat. At that time, it occupied what is today barrio Palinlang and was called Balayan ning Pambuit. Present-day Poblacion or seat of government was then a wilderness inhabited by pagan tribes,especially the balugas (Aetas).
Another account mentions such names as Jose Carlos Garcia,Macapagal,Simbulan,Lapira and Maria Vinas as the early pioneers of Arayat. By 1571, Arayat was one of the eleven most important communities of Pampanga. Because of its strategic location along the Pampanga River, it became a major center of trade and commerce- supplying the rice requirements of Manila, the Capital City.
On August 29,1590, the Augustians were granted permission to establish a mission in Arayat by the Bishop of Manila, Fr.Domingo Salazar. In the same year, the first Augustinian mission in Arayat was founded by Fr. Juan de Valderrama.
By 1600, the parish of Arayat already existed according to one historian of the Augustinian order in the Philippines,Elviro Jorde Perez. Available documents even show that a certain Fr.Contreras was the parish priest of Arayat until 1621. However,it requires further research work to determine whether or not the present church structure is the same as the one originally built by the Augustinians. Also it appears that the first baptism to be recorded at the parish was performed by Fr.Villalobos in 1758.
The renovated Sta.Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church
Similar to other towns in Pampanga,Arayat has agriculture as the main livelihood of its people. When Pampanga cash draft shifted from rice to sugar in the early 1800's,Arayat continued to flourish as a market center with the coming of a group of big investors in the sugar industries. In 1835, the town had a population of 6,912, which increased to 14,000 by 1880 thereby making it sizeable community by the standard of time. The commercial importance of Arayat began to decline with the opening of Manila-Dagupan railroad. Other towns like San Fernando and Angeles rose to prominence as the coming of the railroad made them the central collecting and distributing points for the sugar produce.
Thanks to the people of The Arayat,Pampanga for the providing useful information.