The ancient town of Macabebe owes its importance to its location along the Rio Grande de la Pampanga (Pampanga River). The river's routes and its northern tributaries provided the pathways to the early major settlements in Pampanga. The English translation of Macabebe, meaning: 'bordering the river banks' describes the historical heritage of the ancient town.
The Macabebe dialect is said to be harsher and louder than others due to how the towns people must have had to communicate across the river.
The Pampanga River is of great importance to Macabebe. Fishing is still a major source of sustenance and income for its residents. A number of fisheries can be found along the river banks.
The province of Pampanga is also the traditional homeland of the Kapampangan people. The Kapampangan of Macabebe have played a dynamic and at times conflicting role in the history of the Philippines. They fought against the Spanish in 1571, but they also defended the last Spanish garrison against revolutionaries in 1898.
In 1901, American General Frederick Funston and his troops captured Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, with the help of some Kapampangans (called the Macabebe Scouts after their home locale) who had joined the Americans' side. The Americans pretended to be captives of the Macabebes, who were dressed in Philippine Army uniforms. Once Funston and his “captors” entered Aguinaldo's camp, they immediately fell upon the guards and quickly overwhelmed them and the weary Aguinaldo.