Showing posts with label Angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Angeles. Show all posts

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: 4x4 ride to Puning Hot Spring, Camalig Restaurant & Prado Farms in Pampanga

Now back to Lakbay Norte 3 and this long overdue post on Pampanga and Clark Freeport. From Subic Bay, we motored to Clark Freeport via the SCTEx and proceeded straight to Veranda Restaurant in Mimosa for a dinner hosted by the Clark Development Corporation.

Junior Family Suite at Hotel Vida
Driveway of Hotel Vida
After dinner, we checked-in at the Widus Resort and Casino (Hotel Vida) where we were given spacious and cozy Family Junior Suite rooms, perfect for our last night on Lakbay Norte 3. We were treated to a sumptuous breakfast spread the next day at their restaurant.

Our first activity for Day 8 was a visit to Puning Hot Spring. Mount Pinatubo may have wreaked havoc on Pampanga and Central Luzon. But its effects have become tourist attractions with the Mount Pinatubo trek to the crater lake, 4x4 rides through lahar fields, and spas that use the therapeutic benefits of the heat and sulfur from the volcano.

Puning Hot Spring is a perfect example of that, with therapeutic hot sulfuric water distributed to various pools in the complex, plus an exciting 4x4 ride through lahar canyons and streams to get there. Yes, the 4x4 ride is an attraction in itself. The pick-up point for the Puning Hot Spring experience is at Mini Stop near the Sapang Bato Gate of Clark. From there, it's about 45 minutes to reach the pool complex. But the adrenaline rush driving through steams, narrow canyons and lahar fields will greet you first.

Sulfur sand shower at Puning Hot Spring
After a dip in the warm pools, you hop back on your 4x4s to proceed to another facility for the sulfur sand shower, where you will be buried up to the neck under volcanic sand from Mt. Pinatubo. After 15 to 30 minutes, you take a cold shower and proceed to the lounge chairs for a sulfur mud pack all over your body. After the mud pack, it's another shower and then you're set to go home. Notice that the employees are local Aytas since the spa is actually part of their ancestral domain. And part of the agreement is that manpower will come from the local Aytas.

Doy's Kapampangan Delight at Camalig Restaurant
Back on the bus, we proceeded to the Historic Camalig Restaurant for Armando's Pizza. Of course, on the lunch spread was my favorite Doy's Kapampangan Delight (longganisa, salted eggs and pickle relish), All the Way, and Marco's Three Way.

Pathway between the theater and library (Photo from Prado Farms)
From Camalig, we proceeded back to the SCTEx for our trip to Prado Farms in Lubao, Pampanga. Although there's a Lubao Exit, the most convenient exit is actually Dinalupihan.

Pistou, Longganisang Guagua and Pandesal
Free Range Lechon stuffed with Duck and Herbs
Prado Farms is a former LPG facility that was converted into a bio-dynamic farm and charming activity venue, complete with function halls, a theater, and even its own hotel dormitory. It's perfect for workshops, retreats, reunions and other functions. We had merienda which included some Kapampangan favorites of the Gutierrez family which owns the facility such as Pistou (Ground Pork), Longganisang Guagua and Pandesal (from Apung Diung) and Free Range Lechon stuffed with Duck and Herbs. The duck that was stuffed in the belly of the lechon was used for the Duck Sotanghon Soup that was served later in the day.

Robinsons Starmills Pampanga
Our last stop before proceeding back to Manila was Robinsons Starmills Pampanga for some outlet shopping. Check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 at the Ivan About Town FB page. Also check out the video of LN3 Day 8.

Thank you to Lakbay Norte 3's corporate sponsors: North Philippines Visitors Bureau, Victory Liner, MNTC/NLEX, Department of Tourism, our fuel partner Petron, our bus wrap provider Elite Ads Corporation, creatives from ActivAsia, Blue Cross Insurance, onboard snacks and drinks courtesy of Universal Robina Corporation and Robinsons Land.

Widus Resort and Casino (Hotel Vida)
5400 Manuel A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport, Pampanga
Tel. No. +63 (45) 4991000; Fax No. +63 (45) 4990979

Puning Hot Spring
Sitio Target, Sapang Bato, Angeles City
Tel. No. +63 (45) 4990629, (920) 8664246 or (919) 3392795

Historic Camalig Restaurant
292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City
Tel. No. +63 (45) 3225641 or 8881077

Prado Center for Renewal and Development (Prado Farms)
Gapan-Olongapo Road, Prado Siongco, Lubao, Pampanga
Tel. No. +63 (920) 9030964; E-mail:

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Pampanga: Food trip at Aling Lucing Sisig, Camalig Restaurant, Everybody's Cafe & Nathaniel's

I've decided to start a Food Trip Series with a food trip I had with my students in Pampanga. This is a list of restaurants and dishes we ate in Pampanga in a day (actually one afternoon). I think everyone gave up after the fifth restaurant. We visited the Historic Camalig Restaurant (Armando's Pizza), Aling Lucing Sisig and Halo-Halo sa Corazon in Angeles City; and Everybody's Cafe and Nathaniel's in San Fernando.

Most of the restaurants we visited are decades old. And testament to their iconic status are the many framed newspaper and magazine articles proudly displayed in the restaurant walls.

When at the Historic Camalig Restaurant, make sure you order Doy's Kapampangan (longganisa, salted duck egg (ebun buru), onion and pickle relish; large 13" P397). It may sound like a weird combination; but everyone who has tasted it says it works. Another personal favorite is All The Way (pepperoni, ground beef, green pepper and mushroom; large 13" P397).

Aling Lucing Sisig is a must in any Pampanga food trip. Did you know that sisig as we know it today was born here? Sisig is actually an old Kapampangan dish made from sour unripe fruits, particularly for pregnant women. But it was Aling Lucing who created the modern day sisig from the oversupply of unwanted pig heads from Clark Air Base. She grilled the pig cheeks then minced them, tossed in some minced liver, onions and sili as well, and flavored the dish with kalamansi.

So how did it become so popular? I believe it was Trellis which first introduced sisig to Manila. It obviously took Manila by storm. And the rest is history.

But nothing beats the original! Sisig at Aling Lucing in Angeles City clearly shows the sisig in Manila is only second best. Note that Aling Lucing Sisig has only one branch, that's at Crossing (right by the railroad tracks) in Angeles City. Note that those in malls and elsewhere are not hers.

For dessert, we trooped to Halo-Halo sa Corazon in Nepo Subdivision. Of course we had halo-halo. The Corazon version has beans, halaya or pastillas, macapuno, saging and mais. I'll talk more about halo-halo in another post. There's the Razon's (Guagua) and Kabigting's (Arayat) version as well.

From Angeles, we motored south to San Fernando to visit another iconic restaurant, Everybody's Cafe! Morcon would be their showcase dish. The drippings alone are to die for and is best eaten with rice.

There's actually a lot of traditional Kapampangan food in the display which you just point out. I'd usually have Pako Salad. But there's also the oh so healthy (maybe not), crunchy and chewy Chicharon Bulaklak (deep-fried pig intestine) for starters, perfect when dipped in vinegar.

My students also enjoyed the fear factor dishes. There's Kamaru (sauteed crickets) which some of my students found surprisingly good and perfect beer food, good old Pindang Damulag (tapang kalabaw/pickled carabao meat) and Betute (deep-fried stuffed frog).

To end the tasting session at Everbody's Cafe, we had the Tsokolate Batirul. I was so excited to sip the warm, rich, thick and frothy tsokolate eh, I forgot to take a photo of it!

Our last stop is relatively new, but now the equally famous Nathaniel's along Gapan-Olongapo Road (Jose Abad Santos Highway). To those who've tried the Buko Pandan Juice at Nathaniel's, it's heaven!

Dinuguan (Tidtad) in Pampanga is the best! My students were raving while they were having their share at Nathaniel's. And their Siomai with a twist is also good. Soft and juicy we know. But crunchy inside too?! Nathaniel's siomai has water chestnuts.

Finally, Puto Pao is among Nathaniel's best sellers. The lines that day were long! People going home to Manila passed by for their pasalubong.

That's just the first installment. Watch out for the next food trip!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ultimate Pampanga Culinary & Heritage Tour on October 23, 2010

We're organizing another Ultimate Pampanga Culinary and Heritage Tour on October 23, 2010. As always, we'll be visiting Everybody's Cafe and Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung to savor his 5-ways of eating lechon. To read more about the tour, check out Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung, Everybody's Cafe and more from Pampanga.

The tour fee is Php4,500 per person inclusive of all meals and transportation. For bookings and inquiries, e-mail us at or call (0917) 3291622. For more details, check out the Ultimate Pampanga October 2010 event page of Facebook. Also watch out for our balikbayan edition tours this December. Join Ultimate Philippines on Facebook for our upcoming tours!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Pampanga: Holy Week spectacle at Pampang Road, Angeles City

Pampang Road in Angeles City is another convergence point of Holy Week penitents. The sad part is they've created a circus out of the whole spectacle!

We passed by Pampang early in the evening of Holy Thursday. The whole area was teeming with people. The roads around the crucifixion site and the pabasa were transformed into one big perya sans the rides, but with the games and gambling, tiangge, and the freaks and peculiarities that usually accompany a perya. There were food stalls everywhere and people were drinking. It obviously didn't feel like Holy Week.

It surprised us that this Holy Week subculture of Pampanga had existed under our noses for so long. And yet it was only now that we had discovered it. As we walked towards the pabasa area, we saw more of the action. Street food of all kinds was available. There were different kinds of games and gambling tables, even a pair of Siamese twins selling popcorn.

Then came in the penitents, one by one they entered Pampang Road and proceeded to the pabasa area. We saw a trio of magsalibatbat tied together, crawling their way to the pabasa. Poor souls! The crowd around them was as irreverent as one could think: gawking, giggling, girls shrieking as they took photos of them on their mobile phones, kids running around and blocking their path.

There were flagellants. And then, there were those carrying crosses or mamusan krus, one even accompanied by a bevy of cross-dressers in very short shorts.

What was missing were the kristos who would be nailed the next day. And the cast of magdarame was complete. The hill were the crucifixions were to take place had been wrapped around in banderitas of San Miguel Beer. Indeed, being the center of action, it was prime advertising space! Even worse, I would later find out that the local government sold tickets for prime seats to view the crucifixions!¡Qué horror!

The local government has obviously been cashing in and taking advantage of these annual panatas. The pièce de résistance was a streamer of a local politician trumpeting that Pampang Road was a tourist attraction on Holy Thursday and Good Friday!

Indeed it is an attraction for those who are fans of these peculiarities. I guess this part of Angeles City was simply living up to the city's moniker of Sin City. This chaotic scene must have been similar to that of when Christ cast out the money changers from the Temple. I wonder who, if any, will cast this irreverence out of Pampang Road next Holy Week. While we celebrate the uniqueness of this subculture, I cannot but feel sad that people there have forgotten what Holy Week is all about.

While many may argue that we do celebrate Holy Week in various ways, let's never forget the meaning of Holy Week and the life, death and resurrection of Christ which we commemorate. At the same time, let's not exploit the penitents by earning, especially from corporate funds, out of their panata.

I guess the buzz in Pampang simply mimics what happens at a wake. I was reminded of a book by Renato D. Tayag called The Sinners of Angeles which bravely tackled the political corruption in Angeles in the 1960s. The subculture of Pampang Road is indeed worth writing in another book.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

North Philippines: Best pizza restaurants north of Metro Manila

Pizza is one of my personal favorites. Those who know me should know this fact very well. So I'm compiling a list of my favorite pizza places outside Metro Manila beginning with North Philippines.

Clark Freeport & Angeles City

C' Italian Dining (1210 Don Juico Avenue, Angeles City; +63 45 8924059) is known for the panizza. C' Italian Dining had already been serving these sumptuous pizzas rolled with arugula and alfalfa long before Yellow Cab came out with Dear Darla. And there's no way you can compare the taste! The C' panizza is the best!

The best sellers are Don Carmelo: spicy chorizo, anchovies, thyme and pecorino cheese; Kristina: bacon, ham, caramelized onion, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms; and Saint Jacques: scallop flakes, shrimp, sun dried tomatoes and chili flakes.

Historic Camalig Restaurant (292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City; +63 45 3225641 or 8881077) is the home of Armando's Pizza. My personal favorite is Doy's Kapampangan: longganisa, ebun buru (salted duck egg), onion & pickle relish. Their newest offering is Marco's 3-Way: sun-dried tomatoes & kesong puti plus a choice of either tuyo, tinapa or chicken adobo. Then there's Mexican Medley: shredded chicken breast (sauteed in hot pepper & pizza sauce), fresh tomato & spring onion. Another personal favorite is the classic Armando's Best: same toppings as All The Way, but with extra peperoni, double ground beef, double green pepper, double mushroom & extra Canadian bacon.

Didi's Pizza (MacArthur Highway, Balibago, Angeles City; + 63 45 8921184) serves a very Filipino-flavored pizza if you know what I mean. My personal favorite is the Combination: mushroom, salami, pepperoni, green pepper and onions.

Salvatore's Ristorante (300 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8920484) serves good Italian pizza as well. Their best seller is Italian De Luxe: salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, green bell pepper, onion, black olives. While the toppings of Italian De Luxe are mixed together, another flavor called Combination has Vegetarian on one side, and Meat Lovers on the other half.

Sub-Delicious (298 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8921999 or 8926667) serves pizzas as large as 28-inches. Flavors include Super Meaty: pepperoni, sausage and hamburger; and Pizza Italiano: pepperoni, ham, and salami.

Subic Bay Freeport & Olongapo City

Xtremely Expresso (1 Dewey Avenue cor. Sta. Rita Street, Subic Bay Freeport; +63 047 2523681) serves the 22-inch Big Ben: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, beef, garlic, onion, peppers, mushrooms, black olives and two kinds of cheese. Other pizzas include Spanish Sardines, Chicken Pesto, Chicken & Peanut, Corned Beef, and Spicy Salmon.

Sam's Pizza (44 Magsaysay Avenue, Olongapo City; +63 47 2223686) is an Olongapo institution. Their best-seller is Sam's Special: pepperoni, Philippine sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, onion, bacon, Italian sausage and cheese. I remember having Chicken Teriyaki before but they no longer have it.

La Union

Olives Restaurant (Thunderbird Resort, Poro Point, La Union; +63 72 8887777) serves delicious wood-fired pizzas. Their best seller is Four Cheese: goat, parmesan, feta and mozzarella cheese. My personal favorite is Quattro Stagioni: kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, parma ham, fresh mushrooms. Also try the Spicy Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Mozarrella & Oregano Pizza or the Smoked Salmon & Mushroom Pizza: smoked salmon, fresh mushrooms, tomato sprinkled with oregano and cheese.

Ilocos Norte

Herencia Cafe (MacArthur Street, Bgy. 14, Sangladan, Paoay; +63 77 6140214) serves the famous Pinakbet Pizza: sitaw (string beans), ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, talong (egg plant), patani (lima beans), kamatis (tomaotes), sili (chili), and labanos (radish). They also serve Bagnet Pizza: bagnet, onions, and basil; and Dinuguan Pizza: dinuguan, crispy pork, and chili.

Saramsam Restaurant (N. Corpuz Building, Rizal cor. Hizon Streets, Barangay 7-A, Laoag City; +63 77 7715825) also serves Ilocano-inspired pizzas. Their specialty is Poque-Poque Pizza which is topped with poque-poque, an Ilocano eggplant dish: eggplant, tomatoes, onions ang egg. They also have the Dinardaraan Pizza: dinuguan topped with green chili peppers; Longaniza Pizza topped with the local Laoag longaniza; and the Carbonara Pizza topped with Currimao oysters.


Casa Napoli (Abad Street, Brgy. Kaychanarianan, Basco; +63 927 7583370) serves pizzas with mozzarella cheese all the way in Batanes. Nothing really fancy about the pizzas but being in Basco, it's a novelty.

I'm sure there are more such as those in Baguio City, so please list them down by commenting below. I'll try to visit them when I can and add to this list.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Pampanga: 1st Annual Clark Freeport Horse Festival Calendar of Events

Pampanga will be full of festivals and events this November and December. And the list keeps on growing! Mark your calendars for Horse Fest 2009: 1st Annual Clark Freeport Horse Festival from November 28 to 29, 2009.

It will be an event-filled weekend (it's a four day long-weekend from November 27 to 30, 2009) for serious horse enthusiasts, families and regular visitors. There will be polo matches and equestrian competitions as well as tilbury races.

Try out the Next Frontier Trail Ride, a 4 to 5-hour horse ride that goes through the Sacobia River and its outlying hills. There will also be carriage rides, magic and puppet shows, family games and contests at the Trade & Food Fair, free lessons on feeding and grooming of horses, and free lessons on basic horse riding (for kids only).

What's more, check out the Great Clark 3-Day Sale happening at various establishments within Clark Freeport and selected establishments outside, from November 28 to 30, 2009. Below is a tentative schedule of major events:

November 28 (Saturday)
9:15 a.m. - Grand Parade (from El Kabayo towards Clark Parade Grounds)
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Trade & Food Fair
1 to 2 p.m. - Polo Competition (Clark Parade Grounds)
3 to 5 p.m. - Equestrian Competition (Clark Picnic Grounds)
8 p.m. - Grand Fireworks Display

November 29 (Sunday)
8 to 10 a.m. - Equestrian Competition (Clark Picnic Grounds)
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Trade & Food Fair
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Tilbury Races (Speedway Venue)
4 to 6 p.m. - Equestrian Competition (Clark Picnic Grounds)

November 30 (Monday)
8:00 a.m. to 12 noon - Trade & Food Fair

This event is hosted by the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Greater Clark Visitors Bureau (GCVB) and the Clark Freeport Tourism Association (CFTA).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pampanga: Things to do in Clark Freeport and Pampanga

Clark Airport has become a major international gateway of the Philippines. Now people are asking, what's there to do in Clark? So I've come up with a list of Top 10 things to do while in Clark Freeport and Pampanga!

1. Eat Kapampangan!
You haven't been to Pampanga if you haven't savored its food. Pampanga's capital San Fernando, just 20 minutes from Clark, is home to Everybody's Cafe where everyday Kapampangan food is as exotic as it can get. Angeles City is the birthplace of sisig and make sure you taste the original at Aling Lucing's. The sisig at Mely's (San Fernando) and Mila's (Angeles) is also worth the visit. At the Historic Camalig Restaurant, Kapampangan pizza is topped with longaniza, salted duck eggs, and pickle relish.

The halo-halo in Pampanga is also suberb! There are three distinct varieties: Guagua (Razon's), Arayat (Kabigting's and Jurado's), and Angeles (Corazon's). There's also a row of kambingans (or goat restaurants) in the Bayanihan Park area (unfortunately, Mila's where Claude Tayag brought Anthony Bourdain, has temporarily closed shop). But Aryln's and its several branches will definitely not disappoint. Also check out the barbeque at Junjun's and Nathaniel's puto pao and buko pandan.

Speaking of Claude Tayag, you might want to bring a group to have lunch at his house Bale Dutung. But it won't be that easy. Finally, if you're willing to drive to the foot of Mt. Arayat, there is Abe's Farm, owned by the LJC Group of Restaurants of the late Larry Cruz.

2. Shop 'til you drop
There may just be a few of them left. But it's still worth shopping around for the best imported bargains. Lest we forget, Clark was the PX center of the country before imported stuff found its way to our supermarkets and department stores.

3. Go horseback-riding along the Sacobia River
One of the activities in Clark is horseback riding at El Kabayo Riding Stables. While you can take the horse around the area, if you are adventurous and up to the task, why not go for a ride down to the Sacobia River and enjoy the lahar canyons created by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption?

4. Take a dip at Puning Hot Spring
For PHP3,000, you can enjoy a visit to the Puning Hot Spring, complete with treatments. The price includes simple lunch, the 4x4 ride from Garden Restaurant to the hot spring and back, entrance fees to the hot spring and use of the facilities, sand steam (that's where they bury you up to the neck under volcanic sand), body mud pack, and a foot massage.

One of the attractions of the place is a steaming hot waterfall. The water in the stream was close to 90 degrees Celsius. And they divert some of the water into various pools with different temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees Celsius. There are eight hot pools and one cold pool. So if one pool is too hot for you, you can take a dip in the next one.

5. Fly over Mt. Pinatubo
We all know about the trek to Mount Pinatubo via Capas, Tarlac. But have you ever wondered how Mount Pinatubo looks from the sky? Thanks to the Mount Pinatubo Sky Tour of Omni Aviation in Clark Freeport, you can now do that at a very reasonable price.

It's PHP4,500 per head, regardless of the number of people who'll fly. That's because they have different sizes of planes. So if you're just alone, they can send you up on a two-seater Cessna 152 plane which I took.

6. Try the international cuisine along Fields and Don Juico Avenues
I already mentioned local Kapampangan food. But the Clark area is a mecca for international cuisine. And Fields Avenue brings you around the world with its international restaurants. Among my favorites are C' Italian Dining, Zapata's (Mexican), VFW, AC Rumpa and Subdelicious (American), Cottage Kitchen (Cajun/Creole), Red Sea (Lebanese), Hana-mi (Japanese)... the list is endless! There's even a Korea Town along Friendship Highway.

Maranao Grill in Oasis Hotel has the RST Buffet every Friday. RST stands for roast beef, roast lamb, sushi, sashimi and tempura. Inside Clark, Mequeni Cafe in Holiday Inn whips up one mean buffet as well. I tried their lunch buffet once and it's worth more than the price.

Now obviously, you can't eat at all these places in one day since that would be gluttony! So why not stay another day?

7. Do a museum and architectural heritage tour of Pampanga
Clark has a historical core from the days of Fort Stotsenberg and Clark Air Base. You can also start your tour in Angeles City at the Center for Kapampangan Studies in Holy Angel University for an introduction of the province. Then head on over to Museo ning Angeles, the Angeles Church, Pamintuan Mansion and the Founders' House. Take a calesa around old San Fernando, a treasure trove of ancestral mansions. Make sure you also visit the San Fernando Cathedral and the churches of Betis (a National Cultural Treasure), Bacolor, Lubao, Minalin, and San Luis to complete your visita iglesia of the province.

8. Swim in Mount Pinatubo's crater lake
Clark is relatively near Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. So another must do activity when staying in Clark is to trek to the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo to take a dip. Also check out the Pinatubo Spa Town.

9. Play golf at Clark's many golf courses
Take your pick! There are golf courses in Mimosa, Fontana and Clearwater to suit your golf needs.

10. Try your luck at the casino
If you're a high-roller or just looking for some fun, the Clark area has several casinos including Casino Filipino Angeles, Casino Filipino Mimosa, Fontana Casino and Hotel Stotsenberg's Casablanca Casino.

11. Go wakeboarding!
This one is coming soon! But I'm putting it in the list anyway so that we have something to look forward to. No need to drive all the way to Camarines Sur to enjoy world-class wake boarding since the Philippine Tourism Authority is said to be building a wakeboarding facility in Clark.

Here's more to do in Pampanga...
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