One Province: A Myriad of Experiences
Staying in a hotel in Clark, Pampanga might not sound exciting at first, but this humble province is chock full of adventure, culture, and history. You’d be surprised at what you’ll find once you go off the beaten tourist path.
Adventure in Every Corner and Every Peak
The 1991 Pinatubo eruption put Pampanga in the international map for all the worst reasons. But what was once a center of disaster and despair is now a source of adventure and thrills.
Take Puning Hot Springs for example, a resort that wouldn’t exist if not for the pyroclastic flow that carved a path to these geothermal springs. If you’re interested in taking a peek at how nature revitalizes itself through destruction, then by all means explore Puning Hot Spring and Sand Spa.
If you want to take it a step further, then why not ascend the active volcano itself? Not for the faint of heart, nor for those who are lacking in stamina, this trekking adventure is definitely worth the risk. After all, at the end of this journey is the world’s largest lahar canyon and a breath-taking view of the volcano’s crater lake.
Culture and History
If you’re staying in a hotel in Clark, Pampanga then you might think that you’re missing out on Manila’s culture and history. The truth is, the culture and history of Pampanga and Manila are deeply intertwined.
Pampanga and Manila used to be warring kingdoms before the Spanish landed on our shores. The denizens of Pampanga are called Kapampangan, or those who live by the bay. While the denizens of Manila are called Tagalog, or those who live by the river.
This ‘river dwellers’ VS ‘bay dwellers’ rivalry has lasted from our age of warring kingdoms, to the Spanish Occupation, and all the way to the age of American pseudo-colonialism.
If you’re interested in learning more about this centuries-old rivalry, head on to the Kapampangan Museum in Holy Angel University which is conveniently located right across the Museo ning Angeles (which you can visit right after).
Remnants of Spanish Influence
On the way to these museums, you’ll find Spanish-era churches that dot the landscape, most of them in pristine condition. Entering these heritage churches is a fascinating experience for religious and secular people alike. Stepping into them is akin to being transported to the time when the Philippines was a Spanish colony.
The Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga
The biggest contribution the Spanish had to the Philippines —aside from being named for King Philipp II— is Christianism. And no one celebrates the Christmas season just like the denizens of San Fernando, Pampanga.
While most people purchase a lantern or two to display on their porch, citizens of the city of San Fernando build 20-foot tall lanterns that contain up to 50,000 light bulbs!
It’s no wonder that this city is called the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. So next time you’re in the Philippines during the Christmas season, be sure to book a hotel in Pampanga.
The Culinary Capital of the Philippines
This isn’t exactly a secret, in fact, if you’re staying in Pampanga, you’ve probably heard several Kapampangans boast about their culinary prowess.
It’s not just about the taste and quality of the food however, Kapampangan cuisine has a certain flavor of ingenuity to it. Take the most popular Kapampangan dish, sisig, which according to Anthony Bourdain is, “possibly the best thing you could ever eat with a cold beer.”
Sisig is a dish passed on to Kapampangans through generations, but the original recipe is far from what’s known as sisig today. Sisig essentially means “to make sour,” so the original recipe wasn’t exactly precise in its instruction.
It was only when a restaurateur named Aling Lucing saw American soldiers throwing away pig heads, that the current incarnation of sisig was born. Mortified at how wasteful these Americans apparently were, she made a deal with them and purchased the pig heads at a token price.
From the cartilage, ears, and meat of pig heads, she fashioned a sisig recipe that is now known all over the world. Aling Lucing’s restaurant still stands today in Angeles City, and is still serving this ingenious and delicious Kapampangan dish.