Pampanga is one of the most accessible provinces in the Philippines. It is just two hours away from Manila — three at most if you will begin your journey from its southern part. People go here because of its unique attractions. For one, Pampanga is known for its culinary delights, some of which are the most unique, like dried and smoked fish being sold along the streets. What’s more, every town in the province has its own offerings. For instance, San Fernando is famed for its parol or Christmas lanterns, earning the moniker “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.”
As soon as the -ber months start rolling in, people would go here to buy the biggest lanterns they can afford. You may join in on the festivities during the Giant Lantern Festival, where you will see hundreds of gigantic, colorful lanterns.
If you embark on a road trip to San Fernando, stop by these places or do these things.
Places to stop by during your San Fernando, Pampanga road trip
1) Explore the colonial districts
San Fernando has a cultural-slash-historical vibe. Once you see the old houses and churches, you will know what we mean. These structures, like the Metropolitan Cathedral and Pampanga Hotel, were built during the colonial period. Another important structure is the Arzobispado De Pampanga, a Catholic church that also accommodates wedding receptions in its halls.
Nonetheless, the ancestral houses lining Consunji Street where the Consunji House is found. Antonio E. Consunji once owned this heritage house. He was the gobernadorcillo of the city in 1982 until he was ousted from office in the same year. He became the presidente municipal of the town during the Philippine Revolution.
A few houses away from Consunji House, you will find the Lazatin House. This is another historic home in Pampanga built in the mid-1920s. It served as a temporary residence of a Japanese general, Masaharu Homma.
If you walk towards Capitol Boulevard, which is 14 minutes of walk away from Consunji Street, you will see the old train station. It was now converted into a museum, housing memorabilia and other artifacts relating to various historical events like photos of the Bataan death march. Prisoners of war stopped by at the train station during the said march. This is also where Jose P. Rizal alighted to meet members and recruits of his organization, La Liga Filipina.
2) Dine at SOUQ Pampanga
About 6 minutes of drive from the museum via Capitol Boulevard and Lazatin Boulevard, you will arrive at SOUQ Pampanga. It is a casual dining restaurant serving Filipino, Italian fusion, and Kapampangan dishes. You will never miss it because it has a wooden door covered with vines and flowers. Outside, the resto appears like an old warehouse. Still, the inside has a rustic industrial vibe, with its high ceilings and metal and wood combination.
SOUQ Pampanga is also an events place. So it is best to call ahead of time to reserve a table, but walk-ins are also accepted for as long as you can wait to be seated. Weekends are specially packed with visitors like you. Also, you can book a room at its boutique hotel if you want to stay for the night.
3) Pick mulberries at Wilson’s Instant Tree Bank
Mulberries were successfully cultivated in the Philippines by a Japanese company. And now comes the first mulberry farm called Wilson’s Instant Tree Bank! Aside from mulberry, the farm also cultivates fig, so you might get lucky to pick any of the two, depending on the season. They come in different varieties too.
There is no entrance fee to the place, but if you want to harvest the fruits, you must pay P50 for a cup. You may also buy seedlings for P150, which come with mineral fertilizer and instructions on how to plant and care for them.
4) Have a relaxing massage at Citronelle Spa and Café
Cap your day with a relaxing massage for an hour for only P200. The face and body treatments and waxing services come with steam room access. Citronelle Spa and Café is open until midnight.
Or, you have a choice to cool down at Villa Alfredo’s Resort, which is also along McArthur Highway. The resort has several swimming pools and slides. However, there are many things to see here, like the botanical gardens, exotic bird sanctuary, and marine aquarium. It will be an afternoon well spent here at the resort.