Pampanga is a province northwest of Manila. The name Pampanga came from the word “pampang” which means river banks because when the Spaniards first saw the natives, they were living beside the Pampanga River. From then on, the province slowly paved its own identity and is now referred to as the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines” and the “Tilapia Capital.” Pampangeños are known to be very meticulous when it comes to preparing their dishes. Their local dishes are prepared from scratch with utmost care.
But, what happens if you were only given 24 hours to explore and experience Pampanga? Well, don’t fret, as you could definitely explore this gem of a city and still leave with a happy heart and full stomach! It’s just a matter of planning on what to do, where to go, and who to be with! FESTIVALS, RACING, and CAR SHOWS We’ve already been to Pampanga several times but it never ceases to amaze us. We love the fact that it has speedways perfect for racing such as Toyota Motor Philippines Vios Cup. And, of course, everyone is always on the lookout for festivals like the HotAir Balloon in Clark and Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival. Aside from being the “Culinary destination,” Pampanga is also the top choice with its ideal geographic location for flying hot air balloons. Having vast lands and an ideal climate to fly hot air balloons, Pampanga holds its annual Hot Air Balloon Festivals in Clark and Lubao. This year’s 5th Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival held at Pradera Verde, Prado Siongco in Lubao was a huge success. A TASTE OF LOCAL CUISINES The Culinary Capital does not disappoint its guests. A restaurant in Bacolor named Apag Marangle offers fresh dishes made from scratch and ingredients marketed on the same day.
A tasteful dish served on a sizzling plate. Spicy crispy pork chunks with onions and chilies. Sisig is a famous Kapampangan dish made from parts of pig head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers. It also means “to snack on something sour” and “salad.”
Nasing Marangle (Fried Rice with Vegetable Medley topped with Lechon Kawali)
All-time Pinoy’s favorite dishes in one plate. The rice is tomato-based with vegetables like ampalaya, talong, kalabasa flavored with bagoong and topped with crispy pork.
The exotic Filipino food with a twist. Flavored garlic, onions, soy sauce, and other seasonings served on a hot sizzling plate.
We got to try Ensaladang manggang bubut and ensaladang pako. It sounds strange but the flavors of green mangoes and fern salad topped with salted eggs were undeniably delectable. For the dessert, we tried Salted Egg Ice Cream; a milky concotion mixed with salted egg. Crazy at it seems, but you got to try it. EXCITING ACTIVITIES Pradera Verde, where the recent Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival was held, offers a lot of exciting activities. One of which is wakeboarding. The wakeboarding site is outside the restaurant, Viewdeck. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, there’s a place for you! There is a straight track and an oval track, as well as ramps, for you to practice on. When I interviewed one of the staff, she said that there’s also a large swimming pool, a classy golf course, just to name a few. Pradera Verde is a huge facility but carts are readily available for you should you want to explore the place EVENTS AND GATHERINGS Food parks are everywhere, and as a culinary capital, Pampanga has their own too: Commercio Central. It is a home to a lot of food stalls, green markets that sell organic vegetables, and farm-fresh produce. Commercio opened its doors to the public last December 1, 2017, with goals to promote the tourism of Pampanga. Pampanga’s rich culture and sumptuous food deserve to be known. The recent Earth Hour was also held there. Earth Hour aims to give back to mother earth by turning off lights for one hour to reduce the carbon production. SWEET ESCAPES Oh, I love sweet escapes, especially, if it’s about staycations! The feeling of satisfaction when you’re welcomed with a genuine smile, comfy pillows, and goosed-down comforters is blissful. What I like about Best Western Bendrix Hotel is it’s right in front of the church and a few meters away from the main road going back to Manila or Clark. To know more about them, follow them on Facebook (Facebook.com/BestWesternBendrixHotel). Over To You According to my Psychologist, traveling and change of scenery – even for a couple of hours – has tremendous benefits mentally, emotionally, and physically. While I am blessed to have the perfect view of Taal Lake every day, immersing to another city is still worth my time. I’m from Down South. I’ve only traveled to South areas like Bicol, Quezon, Batangas, Tagaytay, and Metro South like my old hood, Paranaque. But if there are invitations for us to visit North, you bet my answer is always yes! So, if you’re only given 24 hours to explore, plan it on the months where there are festivals so you could immerse in their culture and lifestyle. Going there either as a couple or as a family, it sparks excitement in everyone.
Thank you, Pampanga, for the enlightening 24-hour trip!
So, where to next?