In 1796, the gobernadorcillo or town head of San Fernando, Don Ángel Pantaleón de Miranda, and his wife, Doña Rosalia de Jesus, 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 new settlers cleared the woodland and cultivated the area for rice and sugar farming. Don Ángel built his first house with light materials at the northwest corner of the intersection of Sapang Balen and the road going towards the town of Porac. It was later donated to the Roman Catholic Church and became a cemetery known as the “Campo Santong Matua,” the site where the Nepomuceno Coliseum is situated. On May 12, 1812, the new settlers tried to make Culiat a self-governing town but the friars resisted the move, led by Fray Jose Pometa. Ten years later, on February 11, 1822, Don Ángel filed a petition for the independent township of Culiat from San Fernando though it was denied. This was followed by another petition within the same year, jointly signed by Don Ángel, his son-in-law, Dr. Mariano Henson, and the latter’s father, Severino Henson. He donated 35 hectares for the construction of the first Catholic Church, a convent and a primary school while Doña Agustina Henson de Nepomuceno, the niece of who would become the first gobernadorcillo of Angeles in 1830, Don Ciriaco de Miranda, gave land for the new public market.
Don Ángel paid the complete amount required by law just for the political separation of Culiat from San Fernando. There were only 160 taxpayers then but the law required that it should have at least 500 taxpayers. Located some 10 miles (16 km) north of the capital town of Pampanga, Culiat became a barrio of San Fernando for 33 years and on December 8, 1829, it finally became a separate municipality, at which time it was renamed “El Pueblo de los Angeles” (The Town of the Angels, in English) in honor of its patron saints, “Los Santos Angeles de los Custodios” (Holy Guardian Angels), and the name of its founder, Don Ángel, coinciding with the rise of new barrios such as Santo Cristo (as the poblacion or town proper), Cutcut, Pampang and Pulong Anunas. The progressive barrios developed some new industries like a sugar mill and a wine distillery. The transition of Angeles from a jungle clearing to a barrio, to a town and finally to a city took 168 years and in all that time, it survived locusts’ infestations, wars, epidemics, volcanic eruptions and typhoons to become one of the fast rising towns in the country. When it received its first official municipal charter, the town contained some 661 people, 151 houses and an area of 38.65 km². On March 17, 1899, General Emilio Aguinaldo transferred the seat of The insurgent Philippine Republic to Angeles.
It then became the site of the first anniversary celebration of the Philippine Independence, which was proclaimed a year earlier in Kawit, Cavite. It was highlighted with a parade, led by the youngest ever Filipino generals, Gregorio del Pilar and Manuel Tinio. It was viewed by General Aguinaldo from the Pamintuan’s residence, which became the Presidential Palace from May to July 1899 (formerly houses the Central Bank of the Philippines in Central Luzon, now transferred ownership to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines). Aguinaldo’s sojourn was short however, for in July of this same year he transferred his government to the province of Tarlac following Angeles’ occupation by the American forces.