Such scenario is the exact description of San Carlos City, Pangasinan, the “Awakened Lion of the North”. In the olden times, San Carlos City was part of the vast kingdom of “Ari Kisikis” along with other provinces: Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, La Union, and Mountain Province. It was formerly known as “Binalatongan” due to the abundance of mung beans along the river banks. Since the Hispanic times, it is the biggest and most popular town of Pangasinan. It was founded in 1587 by Fr. Francisco dela Rama, an Augustinian friar. Its present name was by virtue of RA 4487 sponsored by then Congressman Angel Fernandez on June 19, 1965 and was overwhelmingly ratified on January 1, 1966.
San Carlos City is located in Central Part of Pangasinan, composed of 86 barangays and has a total land area of 169.03 hectares. As of 2017, its total population is 174, 143 and projected to become 183,089 by 2016, with growth rate of 1.26. Geographically speaking, it is bounded in the east by Sta. Barbara and Malasiqui, in the south by Bautista and Urbiztondo, in the west by Aguilar and Bugallon, and in the north by Calasiao, Binmaley and a small portion of Lingayen.
Being an agricultural area, the major industries in the city include: farming, piggery and poultry, rice and corn mill, bamboo handicrafts, poultry, mango production, and in-land fish pond. Among the primary products are:tomato paste, cassava cake, bamboo products, rice, furniture, mangoes and native cakes.
Unlike before, the San Carlenians no longer need to go to Dagupan City for their shopping needs. The rise of shopping centers such as Magic, CSI, Novo, Unitop, Alyca Fashion and San Carlos City Town Center has brought a sense of luxury and convenience for the townspeople. This will be reinforced once the on-going construction of City Mall and Magic Mall is completed. Aside from these malls, resorts and food chains are also available to ease one’s boredom and satisfy one’s craving for foods. The famous resorts include: Golden Castle in Tandoc, Aleman’s Garden and Resort in San Juan, Kabaleyan Cove in Magtaking, Kevin’s Resort and Restaurant in Mamarlao, MG Events Center in Bega, Fairfields Resort and Caoayan Kiling Resort. The popular food chains like Jollibee,McDonalds, Chowking, and Goldilocks are also strategically located in the Central Business District to cater to the needs of the customers. Aside from these, local food shops also abound in the area.
The old saying, “All work and no play make Juan a dull boy” has no room in San Carlos City. Sports and recreation centers are available for the physical fitness needs of the people. VMU Sports Complex, Mandapat Dome, Arenas Resuello and Gymnasium and the City Plaza are the common venues for sports activities. The conduct of the Mango-Bamboo Festival as part of the City Fiesta is also a diversion from the daily routines of the people. It is a way of promoting the city as major trading center of bamboo products and best producer of “carabao” mangoes.
To better serve the people, major local government facilities were established in various locations. Educational and health services of the San Carlenians were ensured by the presence of institutions both public and private for these agencies. On the economic aspect, there are 11 municipalities that serve as potential trade centers. As of 2015, San Carlos City has an annual income of 565, 876,020.63, 3,652 commercial establishments, 18 gas stations, 7 resorts, 13 hotels/lodge inns, and 11 banking and financial institutions aside from the barangay multi-purpose cooperative.
Despite the continuous development projects environmental aspect was not set aside. Solid waste management program is given consideration through the maintenance of Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and dump site. Practice of organic farming was encouraged especially in the public schools in the city. The city government has devised strategies to attain the desired progress. Among them are the expansion and development of Central Business District and decongestion of the Central Business District through expansion of commercial development outside it.
Years of concerted efforts of all concerned agencies and the people bore fruit when San Carlos City received the following awards: 2014 National Quality Corn Achievers Award (Outstanding Cities and Municipalities Category), 2011 Seal of Good Housekeeping, 2015 Seal of Good Local Government and Guinness Book of World Records Largest Mango Pie.
Gone is the time when San Carlos was given the monicker San Car”last” because it was lagging behind or always at the bottom. With all the developments and the progress that it has achieved and is aiming to sustain, San Car”last” is still applicable, but this time it is more on the bright side. San Car”last” because the economic progress and sustainable development that are indeed noticeable will last a lifetime.
The awakened lion has roared and made its presence known. People from various places can feel it and to spread the news, the 2017 Regional Schools Press Conference is a good starting point.