Pampanga: The Country’s Culinary Capital
The typical Pampanga landscape
Pampanga is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the city of San Fernando, Pampanga. Pampanga is bordered by the provinces of Bataan and Zambales to the west, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija to the north, and Bulacan to the southeast. Pampanga also lies on the northern shore of Manila Bay. Angeles City, although within the geography of Pampanga, is classified as a first-class, highly urbanized city and has a government independent of Pampanga.
The name "La Pampanga" was given by the Spaniards who found the early natives living near the river banks. It also served as the capital of the archipelago for two years from 1762-1764 during the British invasion of Manila. However, history shows evidence of the province of Pampanga itself being a descendant of what was known back then as the Kingdom of Tondo, or the Luzon Empire. The word pampang, from which the province's name originates, means river bank. Its creation in 1571 makes it the first Spanish province in the Philippines. The province of Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines.
Pampanga is served by the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, which is located at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, some 16 kilometers north of the provincial capital.
The province is home to two Philippine Air Force air bases, Basa Air Base in Floridabalanca, and the former U.S. Clark Air Base in Angeles City.
The province of Pampanga is composed of many religious groups but it is predominantly Roman Catholic. Pampanga province is also known to be the main seat of the Members Church of God International known to its religious program in television and radio Ang Dating Daan. Other religious groups are Iglesia Ni Cristo, Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus, Jesus Is Lord Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Evangelicals, Islam, Aglipayan, Jesus Miracle Crusade and many other religious groups.
Farming and fishing are the two main industries of the province. Major products include rice, corn, sugar cane, and tilapia. In addition to farming and fishing, the province also supports thriving cottage industries that specialize in wood carving, furniture-making, guitars, and handicrafts. Every year during the Christmas season, the province of Pampanga becomes the center of a thriving industry centered on handcrafted lighted lanterns called “parols” that display a kaleidoscope of light and color.
The province is famous for its sophisticated culinary industry. Kapampangans are well known for their culinary creations. Well known food products range from the ordinary to the exotic. Pampanga's Best and Mekeni Food are among the better known meat brands of the country producing Kapampangan favorites such as pork and chicken tocinos, beef tapa, hot dogs, and longganisas (Philippine-style sausages and cured meats.)
Tourism is a growing industry in the province of Pampanga. Clark Freeport Zone, in Angeles City, is home to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Luzon's second International Airport and designated as the Philippines' future premier gateway site. Within the Clark Special Economic Zone are well established hotels and resorts. Popular tourist destinations in the province include: St. Peter Shrine in Apalit, Mt. Arayat National Park in San Juan Bano, Arayat, the Paskuhan Village in the City of San Fernando, the Casino Filipino in Angeles City, and for Nature and Wildlife "Paradise Ranch and Zoocobia Fun Zoo" in Clark. Well known annual events include the Giant Lantern Festival in December, the annual hot air balloon festival in Clarkfield during the month of February, the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites celebrated two days before Easter and the Aguman Sanduk in Minalin celebrated on the afternoon of New Year's Day.
Other developing economies include a semiconductor industry involved in the manufacturing of electronics and computers mostly located within the Clark Special Economic Zone in Angeles City.
The picturesque landscape and clean environment attract local and foreign vacationers and tourists year-round to the province’s many nature and recreation parks, such as the Arayat National Park and its picnic and swimming facilities, the Candaba swamps for migratory birdwatching, the rugged natural terrains of Porac, and the breathtaking hotspring scenery in Sapangbato, Angeles City.
Pampanga is endowed with modern recreational amenities, for it houses a booming night life and cosmopolitan haunts like world-class hotels, resorts, casinos, duty free shopping, and golf courses. With that, Pampanga proved itself to be a major tourist deatination that amasses to the tourism in the Philippines.
What to See
- City of San Fernando is known for its giant lanterns and it annually holds a Giant Lantern Festival in December. Among legions of Catholics, it is known for its annual re-enactment of Christ's Crucifixion on Good Friday. Also, "Hilaga Philippines" is found here. It is a tourism village where the wealth, character and cultures of the four Northern Regions of Luzon are pooled together to provide every visitor the virtual experience of a visit to the North.
- Mabalacat, Pampanga has an airfield where the first attacks of the Kamikaze suicide pilots were launched on October 20, 1944 commanded by Vice-Admiral Takjuro Ohnishi in an attempt to destroy hundreds of ships of the Allied Forces in the Pacific Ocean, killing thousands of US soldiers during World War II. "The Memorial and Kamikaze Peace Shrine" marks the site of the old runway and it is frequently visited by tourists, especially Japanese.
- Porac, Pampanga is known for its natural sites such as the Dara and Miyamit Falls, as well as the Porac Highlands. It is equally popular for being a lahar-stricken town brought about by the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption and subsequent flooding of rivers with lahar (a mixture of rainwater and volcanic ash and outfall) that severely eroded river banks and destroyed bridges and low-lying areas. Trekking through Porac is another way to reach Mount Pinatubo's peak, a seven-hour trekking safari to the slopes of Mount Pinatubo via the Pasig-Potrero river in Barangay Mancatian while traversing fast streambeds, prolific waterfalls, and fantastic lahar landscapes.
- Arayat, Pampanga is known for its majestic Mt. Arayat and a natural park complete with exquisite swimming pools, spa, recreational halls, and picnic huts. One would be delighted to experience the cool breeze and natural spring water that falls from the mountain. Have an optional tour of "Mt. Arayat National Park" for a short mountain climb and swimming in natural pools.
- Candaba, Pampanga is known for its "Bird Watching Tour," the staging and wintering area for thousands of birds from October to April of every year, and it offers the only organized bird watching tour in the region. It serves as a bird sanctuary and a haven for migratory birds, such as egrets and wild ducks during winter in China. Indigenous ones like the rare salaksak and batala are to be seen as well. Aside from birdwatching, cruise down the province's river of life, the Pampanga River.
- Guagua, Pampanga takes its pride for having Pampanga's oldest church, "Betis Church," which is a fascinating work of architecture with its classic altar in antique-carved design and decor blending with religious frescoes reminiscent of neoclassic works of European art. Built in 1754, this church has impressive paintings on its ceiling and walls with fine sculpture and paintings in gold dust.
What to Do
- Trek Mt. Pinatubo: Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 but is now open for tourism. It has an elevation of 1485 meters or 4872 feet and a beautiful crater lake where you can swim. This trek can be done on a daytour if you leave very early in the morning.
- Bird watching at Candaba: The best time to go bird watching is in the early morning, around five to seven in the morning when bird activity is at its peak and the heat is not intense. Late afternoons are also a good time for this. Must-brings are hiking footwear and clothes, and a good pair of binoculars or telescopes. The avid bird watcher might also want to bring his or her field notebook, pencil and camera. Expect to pay a fee at the bird sanctuary of at least Php 150. Migratory birds are best seen in the marsh from November to February. Please take note that the marshland gets flooded during the rainy season, usually September and October, when the bird sanctuary becomes submerged and not accessible to visitors.
List of Tourist Attractions
Recreational facilities and leisure parks
- Widus Resort and Casino(Clark Freeport Zone)
- Nabuklod Zipline (Floridablanca)
- Paskuhan sa Basa (Floridablanca)
- The Lakeshore (Mexico)
- Fontana (Clark Field, Pampanga)
- Paskuhan Village (renamed Hilaga) (City of San Fernando)
- Plaza Imeld
- Bren Z. Guiao Sports Complex (City of San Fernando)
- Benigno Aquino Hall (City of San Fernando)
- Federosa Island Resort (Sto. Tomas)
- Sito Palakol Resort (Floridablanca)
- Pagcor Angeles City
- Pagcor Mimosa
- Paradise Ranch (Nature and Conservation Park) Clark
- Bulaon Resettlement Octagonal Park (known as Oval for jogging & aerobics at the Circle) (City of San Fernando)
- Madapdap Resettlement Park (Mabalacat)
- St. Jude Village Oval-Farm Park (City of San Fernando)
- Bicentennial Park (Clark Field, Pampanga)
- Members Church of God International Ang Dating Daan International Convention Center
- Family History Center
- Xevera Plaza (Calibutbut, Bacolor)
- Feliz Cidade Theme Park Mabalacat Pamapanga
- City of San Fernando Heritage District
- Hizon-Singian House
- Lazatin House
- Dayrit-Cuyugan House
- Henson-Hizon House
- Hacienda Pagyuruan - the Infante Ancestral Home
- San Fernando Train Station
- Death March Marker
- Pampanga Provincial Capitol
- Pampanga High School
- Nicolasa Dayrit Monument and Marker
- Tiburcio Hilario Monument
- Bacolor Historical Sites
- San Guillermo Parish Church (the Sunken Church)
- The Sunken Shrine (Cabetican)
- Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University
- 100th kilometre Bataan Death March Marker
- Mabalacat Historical Site
- Kamikaze Shrine
- Lubao Historical Site
- San Agustin Parish Church, Lubao Old Church
- Pres. Diosdado Macapagal Residence/Library & Museum
- Arayat Historical Sites
- St. Catherine Alexandria Parish Church
- Mt. Arayat
- Cong. Dadong Dam
- Pinatubo Crater Lake
- Mt. Arayat National Park (Arayat)
- Scenic Candaba Swamps and Wild Duck & Birds Sanctuary (Candaba)
- Mt. Pinatubo Crater (Pampanga/Tarlac/Zambales)
- Dara Falls (Porac) - Pampanga’s version of the Pagsanjan Falls of Laguna
- Cong Dadong Dam (Arayat)
- Maruring Falls (Mabalacat)
- Lahar Canyon (Porac & Bacolor)
- Muñoz Park – Minalin
Where to Stay
Here is the list of some of the hotels that can be found in Pampanga that offer good accommodation and service.
- Asiana Green Ville Resort - Jose Abad Santos Ave, Clark
- Clearwater Resort Country Club - Clark Freeport, Pampanga
- Fontana Leisure Parks- CM Recto Highway, Clarkfield
- Holiday Inn Resort Clark Field - Mimosa Drv, Mimosa Leisure Estate
- Hotel Vida in Clark Pampanga - 5414 MA Highway, Clark Freeport Zone
- Hotel Stotsenberg Pampanga - Gil Puyat Ave. Corner A Soriano St
- Hotel Graceline San Fernando - San Agustin, City of San Fernando
- Oasis Hotel Angeles City - Clarkville Compound, Balibago
- Paskuhan Hotel Pampanga - Phil Christmas Village, San Fernando
- Woodlank Park Hotel - Mabalacat, Pampanga
Motorists and commuters will arrive in Pampanga in just 1-½ hours by car or bus from Manila through the North Luzon Expressway exiting via San Fernando, Angeles or Dau Toll Plaza.
All bus lines linking Manila with Baguio, Pangasinan, and Ilocos pass through the province. Philippine Rabbit serves the provincial capital (San Fernando) from Manila. Victory Liner links Angeles City and Olongapo City. Baliwag Transit and E. Jose Transport operates route services from Olongapo City to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija via San Fernando, Pampanga. Arayat Express also serves the San Fernando-Cabanatuan route.
Other buses that pass through the towns of Pampanga include Dagupan Bus Lines, Dangwa Tranco, Five Star Bus Co., Farinas Transit, Franco Federico Lines, Maria De Leon Trans, Partas Trans Co. and Viron Transit.
Also, there are jeepneys and/or mini-buses in each town or city that serve inter-zonal points towards other parts of the province.
The Philippine National Railways line passes through Pampanga. The railroad is idle now, but it will be activated soon once the Manila-Clark service of the NorthRail Project is completed.
Air travelers, on the other hand, may reach Pampanga via the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (formerly called Clark International Airport) inside Clarkfield, near the Angeles-Porac-Mabalacat area. Just outside, visitors may take taxis, shuttles, jeepneys or buses to begin their trip of the province.
To Pampanga, from Pasay:
- Bus lines: Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus, Partas, Saulog
- Travel time: 2 hours
To Pampanga, from Cubao:
- Bus lines: Victory Liner, Partas, Dagupan Bus, Philippine Rabbit, Saulog
- Travel time: 1:30 hours
To Pampanga, from Avenida:
- Bus lines: Philippine Rabbit, RJ Express
- Travel time:1:30 hours
Trips from Manila to Pampanga and vice-versa are available 24-hours a day.