Steeped in history and blessed with natural and man-made scenery, Pampanga offers several sightseeing options for visitors. Pampanga has always enjoyed the title, “The Culinary Center of the Philippines.” It is populated by resourceful hardy folk who are justifiably proud of their famous Kapampangan cuisine.
The capital city of San Fernando is world-famous for its annual Easter re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is also famous for the Pampanga Christmas lanterns.
The province has remnants of a long and colorful history. It houses a booming night life and tourist destinations. It is the site of world-class resorts, casinos, duty free shopping, and golf courses.
Pampanga is located in the central part of Central Luzon. It is bounded on the north by Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, Bulacan on the east, on the south by Bataan, and on the west by Zambales. The province’s total land area is 218, 068 hectares or 2, 180.68 square kilometers.
Pampanga is composed of 20 municipalities and two cities, namely: Angeles City and San Fernando City. It is subdivided into four political districts.
Kapampangan, English, and Tagalog are spoken and understood anywhere in the province.
Pampanga is characterized by a wet season and dry season.
Farming and fishing are the main industries. Rice and sugarcane are the major crops. Others are banana, mango, and eggplant. The rivers and fishponds produce fish, shrimps, and crabs.
Pampanga is populated by resourceful hardy folk who are justifiably proud of their famous Kapampangan cuisine. Sisig is pork cheek, grilled to a crunchy perfection, chopped and mixed with chicken liver, onions, calamansi and fresh sili. Kamaru are mole crickets sautéed in garlic and onion. Other must-taste fare are pindang babi or damulag, which is sweet cured pork or carabeef; burung talangka, which comes from the fat of salt-preserved little crabs; buro, or fermented rice with small shrimps; and betute, or stuffed frog.
Every third of December, the City of San Fernando mounts the very popular Giant Lantern Festival. It is a parade of ornate and cleverly illuminated giant lanterns, some of which reach up to 40 feet in diameter and make use of as many as 1,600 light bulbs.
Cutud Lenten Rites
The City of San Fernando is world-famous for the Cutud Lenten Rites, which are held every Good Friday, or the Friday before Easter. The rites are a re-enactment of Christ’s Passion and Death, complete with a passion play, culminating with the actual nailing of at least three flagellants to a wooden cross atop the makeshift Calvary.
Located in Arayat, it is a dormant volcano with an area of 3, 715.28 hectares. Legend says it is the home of Mariang Sinukwan, a fairy who protects the mountain’s vegetation and wildlife. At the foot of the mountain is Mt. Arayat National Park, a picnic site with lush foliage, natural waterfalls, two swimming pools, and a countless variety of unique and interesting flora and fauna.
Mt. Pinatubo / Lahar Area
The world-famous eruption of Mt. Pinatubo was heralded the world over as the biggest geologic upheaval of the 20th century. The Mt. Pinatubo Sky Tour takes visitors to a breathtaking view of the volcano that once ravaged Central Luzon. An annual Pinatubo trek, known as “A March to Peace and Tranquility,” is held every November 30 to commemorate the great eruption. An ecumenical worship highlights the annual sojourn.
Kalinangan (formerly Paskuhan Village)
Envisioned to be the showcase of North Philippines’ history and culture, it boasts of an array of colorful festivals, street performances, indigenous arts and crafts, food and delicacies. Located in the City of San Fernando, Kalinangan is the venue for the region’s cultural exhibits, trading post, and center for culinary arts.
Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ)
It is home to the popular Fontana and Mimosa Leisure Park, Mimosa Casino, duty free shops, and world-class golf courses. The Clark-Arayat Ecoutour is an exciting tour of Clark Ecozone coupled with a nature trip to Arayat National Park, in addition to a tour of Gardens of the World in Pampanga.
Hot Air Balloon Festival
It is an annual tournament of balloonists from various countries held in Clarkfield during the month of February.
Angeles City Aerial Sports
The City of the Angels has long been the principal aviation center of the Philippines, first as the site of the Clark Air Force Base and more recently as home to some exceptional opportunities for personal flights of fancy. The Clark Special Economic Zone hosts one of the largest annual hot-air balloon festivals in Asia, and Angeles is targeted to become an international center for hot-air ballooning. But the real excitement here are the ultralights – tiny, fragile-looking aircraft made of steel tubing, covered with Dacron, and held together with wire. Ultralights are tougher than they look, and have a commendable safety record. What’s more, they put the pilot right out in the open air – you really experience the sensation of flight.
Pampanga was already the site of thriving settlements along riverbanks or “pampang” before the Spaniards came. The inhabitants were referred to as “Kapampangans” or “the people by the river bank.”
Upon exploration by Martin de Goiti, Pampanga was established in 1571. In 1754, a strip from Dinalupihan to Orion was ceded to Bataan. In 1848, the province lost five towns to Nueva Ecija, and San Miguel to Bulacan. By 1860, its northern district was made into a separate comandancia. This district was made a part of Pangasinan in 1874, and the towns of Mabalacat, Magalang, Porac, and Floridablanca were returned to Pampanga.
Since the early 20th century, the province has been a hotbed of agrarian troubles mainly because many of its estates were under powerful landlords. During World War II, Pampanga was the base for a guerilla unit known as “Hukbalahap” which resisted the Japanese. The Huks later formed the nucleus of local communist insurgency after the war but it was suppressed in the early 1950s. These communist insurgents resurfaced as the New People’s Army in the 1960s.
Pampanga was the home province of Diosdado Macapagal, ninth President of the Philippine republic, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, incumbent and 14th President.
How to get there
Pampanga is a mere 1-½ hour ride by car or bus from Manila through the North Luzon Expressway exiting via San Fernando, Angeles or Dau Toll Plaza.
Where to stay