Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pampanga: Pampanga's pride

Pampanga's pride is indeed its heritage and cuisine. I got a lot of texts yesterday since my blog was mentioned in the article Hit the Road in 2bU in the Inquirer Lifestyle section. And people had been calling the Center for Kapampangan Studies for information. Anyway, the article information was based on entries 9 and 10 of my blog.

Just some corrections, what was mentioned as Furniture Clay (yes we had callers asking about the clay furniture) is actually Furniture City in Mabalacat, Pampanga. This is a complex of world-class furniture factories which export their products worldwide. Before you visit, please call Lisa Samia at (045) 8930092 to 93.

Abe's Farm is actually the Mt. Arayat resthouse of restaurateur Larry Cruz of the LJC Restaurant Group which includes Cafe Adriatico and Cafe Havana among many others. The fabulous resthouse is in Magalang, Pampanga, the hometown of Larry's father, journalist and artist E. Aguilar Cruz. Having lunch at his place requires arrangements made much earlier though (photo of buffet table is on the left). For more information, click here.

Another must try lunch or dinner venue is Claude Tayag's residence Bale Dutung in Villa Gloria, Angeles City. This P1800 per head Kapampangan feast has to be pre-arranged as well and you must have at least 12 persons in your group (photo of Claude's paella is on the right). Claude has a shop in his house where you can buy bottled buro and taba ng talangka but the Claude 9 brand is also available in Pampanga supermarkets such as Essel Supermarket. You can also pass by Tita's or Pampanga's Best along Gapan-Olongapo Road for even more Kapampangan delicacies.

C Italian Restaurant is among the many international offerings that line Fields Avenue and Friendship Highway beside Clark. You can check out Zapata's (Mexican), Salvatore's (Italian), Subdelicious (American), Cottage Kitchen (Cajun), and a host of Japanese and Korean restaurants among many others.

The ensaymadas in San Fernando are made-to-order and you have to call them at least 2 days in advance. But Imang Salud Dayrit's San Fernando ensaymadas are actually available in Manila. These melt-in-your-mouth wonders are six inches in diameter, made with the finest ingredients and topped with a generous serving of queso de bola. You can visit the Legaspi Sunday Market organized by San Lorenzo Village and open every Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind the Corinthian Plaza building. Make sure you look for the Imang Salud booth. Also on sale are atcharang gule, atcharang ubud, balu-balo, tibok-tibok and pickled mangoes. Another signature dessert but made-to-order is plantanilla, sweet egg crepes with latik filing. Yummy! You can call (0920) 9478819 for orders.

But one thing the article was not able to mention (since it wasn't in my blog article) was Everybody's Cafe where Kapampangan food is available everyday in their turo-turo style display. Try out the pako salad, calderetang baka, morcon, chicharon bulaklak, tortang bangus, inihaw na hito or bulalo soup. For the brave, go further and savor the buro with hito (fermented fish paste with catfish), betute (deep-fried stuffed frog), camaru (fried cricket adobo), dumara (wild duck adobo) or pindang damulag (carabeef tapa). They have branches in San Fernando along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Del Pilar, and Angeles City in Nepo Mart.

Other must tries are the Kapampangan halo-halo places. In fact, there are three distinct halo-halo varieties in Pampanga. These are Guagua (Razon’s), Angeles (Corazon’s) and Arayat (Kabigting's and Jurado's) halo-halo. It must also be noted that Kapampangan halo-halo is distinct from the other halo-halo served in the country because it uses only three or four ingredients or sahog. However, the richness of these ingedients more than compensates for the number of types thrown in the glass. Arayat for example is distinct for its pastillas, crushed beans and saging combination; Guagua for its macapuno, saging, and leche flan; while Angeles is distinct for its mais, saging, pastillas and crushed beans combination.

Also check out Aling Lucing's at the Crossing (Henson Street, Angeles City) which is the birthplace of Pampanga sisig and the steakhouses in Marisol Subdivision, Angeles City. Luring's of Guagua (with branches all over Pampanga) serves some of the best barbeque and other grilled meat products. Ikabud (the contracted form of ika kabud which translates as only you) is another restaurant that serves grilled food and is located in Hensonville, Angeles City.

If you want to try out everything, go for Smorgasbord, the buffet Kapampangan lunch and dinner offered at Partyland (MacArthur Highway and SM City Pampanga) and Holidayland (Gapan-Olongapo Road) both in San Fernando.

Visiting Pampanga has now been made easier and carefree with a tour entiled Pampanga's Pride offered through the Island Caravan. Visit their website for more information or e-mail

The tour includes a visit to...

  • Bacolor Church - this is the half-buried San Guillermo Church in Bacolor. Entering what was once the largest church in Pampanga, visitors enter the church through the choirloft windows, and are greeted inside by beautifully restored retablos dug up from several feet of lahar. The citizens of Bacolor take pride in their rich heritage which is why they painstakingly excavated the ornately carved wooden main and side altars which are now back to their pristine condition;
  • Betis Church - a must visit church in Pampanga, the centuries-old Betis Church in Guagua is nicknamed the "Sistine chapel of the Philippines" because of its wall ceiling murals. It is the second oldest church in Pampanga and one of the 26 churches declared by the National Museum as national cultural treasures;
  • Archdiocesan Museum and Archives - savor the grandeur and elegance of religious art in Pampanga with a visit to the repository of Pampanga's church treasures housed inside the University of the Assumption; and
  • Center for Kapampangan Studies - a museum, archives, library, research center and theater rolled into one, the Center for Kapampangan Studies was put up by Holy Angel University in 2002 to preserve, study and promote Kapampangan history and culture
Lunch is at Everybody's Cafe while afternoon snacks includes halo-halo at Corazon's. There are also optional visits to any of the following: Pampanga's Best Factory (for big groups), Lantern Factory, Minalin and Apalit Churches, or the pottery area in Sto. Tomas.

For those who could afford to splurge, go for the overnight tour package which includes dinner at Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung, lunch the next day at Abe's Farm of Larry Cruz, and overnight accomodations at King's Royal Hotel and Resort.

Above are some photos of the natural heritage of Pampanga which I took way back in college in 2001 and 2002.


  1. i recently went on a trip to pampanga yet it seems that i missed out a lot! i was able to sample everybody's cafe (loved the murcon) and dropped by susie's cusine for some pasalubong (esp tibok-tibok).

    i guess this calls for another visit.

  2. Im a Kapampangan pero I haven't been to all those in your list. Kakahiya, someone even e-mailed me to ask about our place & I wasn't able to help him. Buti na lang you have this post kaya I told him to visit your blog na lang.
    tnx for linking me!

  3. No problem! There's still more in Pampanga. They've just "re-discovered" two waterfalls in Porac. The Porac Highlands as a hiking destination is another new attraction in the list.

  4. Anonymous2.5.06

    reading your blog made me miss pampanga... i was there for a year and visited the majority of restaurants you mentioned especially IKABUD! my favorite restaurant, well in addition to everybody's cafe in san fernando.. but salamat for the post...

  5. Anonymous3.8.06

    Do you know the names of the two waterfalls in Porac?

  6. Dara and Miyamit Falls

  7. Anonymous4.8.06

    Oh, ok. What are the plans for these falls? I heard Dara used to be very deep but has become shallow after the eruption.

  8. Anonymous10.11.06

    hi nice topic :)

  9. Anonymous20.12.06

    My parents are both from Pampanga--Sta. Rita and San Fernando. Have been living in Canada for the past 20 years and will be visiting home in January.

    Definitely interested in visiting the places you have mentioned about Pampanga. Particularly interested in the outlets (handicrafts and furniture) that you have noted. Are these places open for retail sales or just wholesale?

  10. hi ivan; i think we know each other from grade school. it's nice to see someone appreciating tourist destinations in the country. your pampanga entry reminds me of a lot of summers spent in apalit where most of my dad's siblings are based. the apalit church is actually a 2minute walk from our ancestral house. i'm sure you know about the annual fluvial parade at the end of june; you should get to ride in one of those boats =)

  11. Hi Andre, riding those boats during the Apu Iro festivities are fun. I did it twice already in 2002 and 2003.

  12. Anonymous30.1.07

    Thanks Ivan for posting and creating this blog for all of us abroad to enjoy!! I'm a kapampangan living in mid-Missouri for the past 20 years. What great pleasure to see so many pictures and tell my husband, look! see what I've been trying to tell you? Thank you, your work is high quality and gets the message out that the Philippines is a beautiful place indeed! God bless. Em

  13. Anonymous20.3.07

    a proud kapampangan from bacolor...

  14. Anonymous23.3.07

    Thanks for that wonderful trip report about Pampanga. One question: Who should I contact if I want to do the overnight tour package you mentioned in your report. Many Thanks.

  15. Regarding the tour, please e-mail me at for details.

  16. I just read your nice report about our home town Pampanga. Do you know any other tourist spots of Pampanga wherein we could organize a 3-day tour?

    Actually, we've been there last Wednesday at Mt. Arayat, a very nice place, in fact, we are planning to have an ocular visits with the famous places there this coming Sunday, but the problem is, am not familiar with these places. Will it be fine if you could tell me some of them including the contact person, contact nos. & even their addresses? Hope you could help me. Thanks....

    God bless you always!

  17. i'm a capampangan but i have read a lot of things i didn't know about..although i have made a lot of trips around the province, i have just been able to appreciate a few good things about it. For our thesis, we studied about the booming furniture industry. The firms really offer world-class furniture! it will be a great help for them as u feature their amazing craft.

  18. Anonymous7.1.08

    Hi Ivan,

    Just heard this morning that Nurture Spa has a branch in Magalang, Pampanga located at Abe's Farm. I'm from Magalang. My parents and grandparents are still living in magalang. Our place is very near the Magalang church, along the main road. I just asked my father if he's familiar with Abe's Farm. Unfortunately he's not. Would you be kind enough to tell me where exactly in Ayala is Abe's Farm. How far is it from PAC (Pampanga Agricultural College) ? Sketch would be a great help. Thank you very much :)

    Bing Quiambao-Manio

  19. It's in Barangay Ayala. At the entrance of PAC, turn left. Then ask around nalang.

    Here's my latest post on Abe's Farm:

  20. Anonymous8.1.09

    Hi Ivan,
    Thank you so much for making us tour Pampanga via your website. It's good to know that someone is having the time and pride to let people know that Philippines is still the best. :)
    Anyways, I will be coming home to Pampanga next month with my Muslim husband and I want to know if there are Halal or Muslim Restaurants that you know of there?
    Appreciate your help.

  21. Hi ivan!
    ur blog bout pampanga just made me proud 2 b one! D fud here are realy dlicious and tel's stories on how these fuds are made based from their fud hauz dat i can stil share wid u is d great barbeque of jun-jun's resto in dolores,just nearby partyland.u must try it! Likewise,d turones n mamon tostado of sta.rita,and sasmuan dlicasies! Yup!pampanga's best products truly d best! n pampanga's salted egg! Thanks 4 enjoying ur trip in pampanga.

  22. Anonymous22.12.09

    kekayu ngan sasabing Kapampagan kayu, o taga Pampanga kayu, ot eko man sinulat king Kapampangan ne? And you say you are proud to be one? Tsk, tsk, e yata hustu ita....

    *hungs head in shame...*

  23. Another purist! How do you expect to promote Pampanga to non-Kapampangans if Kapampangans like you criticize Kapampangans who write about Pampanga or comment here in English? It's a stupid proposition to force people to write in Kapampangan in a general travel website like this since only Kapampangans will understand it! Are you sure you're Kapampangan? Ing balu ku, atin lang isip at mimisip la reng Kapampangan.

  24. cynthia navarro9.12.11

    hi proud to be a capampangan.dito sa milan italy may isang sikat na restaurant na ang may ari ay capampangan...CABALEN RESTAURANT... sa pangalan pa lang tutuong MEKENI ang may ari. he was my classmate at the jose abad santos high school mr.david vergara from bacolor pampanga

  25. who in pampanga remembers summer place in florida blanca?

  26. arvin23.3.13

    oh really ? is there anyone who can promote those falls?


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