The province of Pampanga in Central Luzon is a beneficiary of the agreement with the United States to maintain military bases in Philippine territory, thanks to the Clark Air Base in Angeles City , but unlike the neighboring province of Zambales , it seems to have resisted tourist trampling and unchecked exploitation of its natural resources. Nonetheless, Pampanga has plenty of attractions and experiences to offer any traveller, both due to a colorful history and a fervor by its native folk for both food and religion. Renowned as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines , this province s cuisine has enthralled the palates of Filipinos everywhere.
History buffs will delight at the many landmarks in the province that commemorate significant Philippine events, such as the Old Pamintuan Residence in Angeles City, the venue of the celebration of the First Anniversary of Philippine Independence, and the seat of the pre-American Philippine Republic. The Kamikaze East Airfield was the site from which the first Japanese suicide fighter pilots took off in October of 1944 to fly their final mission. Other tidbits of history, culture and tradition of Pampanga are preserved in museums like the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies, the Museo Ning Angeles, and the Archdiocesan Museum and Archives. These locations maintain antiques, works of art and other materials for those who wish to know more about the province s heritage.
Religion plays a major role in Pampanga, with the province having attained world fame, or notoriety, for its very faithful re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ every time Holy Week rolls around. Pampanga is also a region filled with churches, many of which are just as renowned for their classical architecture as they are for the droves of the faithful who flock towards them to worship. Examples of some of these churches are the Apu Chapel, which supposedly plays host to a miracle-working image of Jesus Christ, the Holy Rosary Cathedral, which was utilized as a military hospital once by the United States army, and the Betis Catholic Church, whose simple exterior conceals the splendor and amazing ornate decorations that reside within. This last church has been declared as a National Treasure because of the rare preserved beauty that lies inside.
If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Pampanga, it would be prudent for you to check out the woodcarving and furniture industries of the region, whose towns and villages have become popular among tourists for their excellent selections of world-class rattan and wrought-iron household adornments. Another decent place for culture is the Hilaga Cultural Village in San Fernando , the capital of the province, which acts as a showcase for various arts and crafts, and features convention and exhibit halls for large-scale events.
No trip to Pampanga is complete without sampling the local food. Sisig, a dish made of finely chopped pork ears in pepper and vinegar, is much more delicious than it sounds. Other great meals can be had with Lechon Kawali, a roasted pork treat, and Tocino, a cured pork delicacy. This can be followed by some tasty dessert treats made from rice and sugarcane, called Marzipan, Turrones and Meringue but very different from their European counterparts. Lastly, munch down some Tiboktibok corn cake, to cap off what promises to be a wonderful Pampanga excursion.