San Fernando, Pampanga which is christened as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, is located at the heart of the province. San Fernando is endowed with the most astonishing places of interest, sites and structures in Philippine history.
Perhaps, we should start our discussion with the Paskuhan Village. The village is essentially a Christmas-themed park, the only one in Asia. The village has star-shaped pavilions as well as crafts shops where souvenirs can be bought.
Every year, Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) is held at the Paskuhan Village. The festival showcases the biggest, most colorful, most innovative and most meaningful lanterns.
Inside the Paskuhan Village are other attractions namely:
- The Secretary’s Garden
- Nature’s Sanctuary
- Rock Climbing
- Poinsettia Hall
It was now called Hilaga Philippines since it features arts and crafts from Central and North Luzon, but the locals are more comfortable with its first name.
Don’t forget to take home a Paril Sampernandu (San Fernando lantern). The lantern is usually made from handmade papers, capiz or fiberglass.
Other places of interest are Monumento Fernandino and Archdiocesan Museum and Archives.
The monument depicts the story of Fernandino, featuring a penitent girl holding a lantern, a lady making an offering, a lady with a torch and a boatman. The monument pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of San Fernando, Pampanga.
Archdiocesan Museum and Archives
The museum houses artifacts, paintings, antiques and treasures. Ecclesiastical artifacts include church bells, reliquaries, monstrances, chalices and vestments that Spanish priests worn. There are also ciborium made up of gold, silver and precious gems that date back to the 17th century.
San Fernando Heritage District
Another important place of interest is San Fernando Heritage District, and it is called such for a culturally-rich reason. The district covers an entire barangay and parts of six more barangays. The district houses cultural and heritage structures.
- Archdiocesan Chancery
- Consunji House
- Dayrit-Cuyugan House
- Henson-Hizon House
- Hizon-Ocampo House
- Hizon-Singian House
- Lazatin House
- Pampanga Hotel
- Santos-Hizon House
- Tabacalera House
- City Hall of San Fernando
- Pampanga Provincial Capitol
- Pampanga High School
- Pampanga Provincial Hospital
- Presidio (Pampanga Provincial Jail)
- Provincial High School Building
- Old St. Scholastica’s Academy
- San Fernando Elementary School
- Virgen de los Remedios Hospital
- Church of San Vicente Ferrer
- Jeosay Shinhongkong Temple
- Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
- Virgen de los Remedios Church
Industrial heritage sites
- Arcaded Shop Buildings of Consunji Street
- Baluyut Bridge
- Calulut Train Station
- Lantern Factories
- PASUDECO (Pampanga Sugar Development Company) Staff Houses and Commissary
- PASUDECO Sugar Central
- San Fernando Train Station
- San Fernando Water Reservoir
- Sugar Pugons
Make sure to bring a map of San Fernando, Pampanga with you. The sites and structures sit close to one another. In fact, majority of the heritage houses lined A. Consunji Street in Barangay Santo Rosario. Visitors are encouraged to take a calesa ride while in the district. The calesa passes through the Capitol Park and Heroes Hall where you can see replicas of the popular Kapampangan heroes. The district journey strategically ends at San Fernando Train Station.
Other parks that you can visit are Macario Arnedo Park, Wood Grove Park and Bayanihan Park. Consider going to Dara Falls as well.
San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites
A discussion of where to go and what to do in San Fernando, Pampanga is not complete without mentioning Maleldo or Mal Al Do for the locals.
Maleldo refers to the reenactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Maleldo was first performed more than 50 years ago almost privately before the crucifixion was publicized in 1962. Today, more than 20 men and women (occasionally) subject themselves to be nailed on the cross in what appears as an improvised Calvary.
Before the crucifixion, covered-faced penitents wear a makeshift crown of thorns. They whip themselves in silent procession heading towards the Calvary.
Again, you might as well bring a map of San Fernando, Pampanga specifically the map of Cutud.
After an incredible cultural and religious journey, might as well visit other attractions in San Fernando, Pampanga. For instance, you may go to Villa Alfredo’s Resort, a waterpark and garden resort. It has six themed swimming pools, a kids’ wading pool with slides and Jacuzzis. What sets it apart from other resorts in San Fernando, Pampanga are its marine aquarium and aviary.
If you got tired of visiting the places, you may spend the rest of the day at Citronnelle Spa & Café. The place can be described in four words: spa, yoga, detox and accommodation. The spa is manned by only the most professional therapists.
Other than the café, you can also go for a gastronomic journey on various places in San Fernando, Pampanga. Famous restaurants:
- Kabigting’s Halo Halo
- Rodizio Rooftop Grill
- The SOUQ Pampanga
- Everybody’s Café
- Denlim’s Kitchen
- Paz’s Kitchen
- Abe’s Farm
- Capampangan Island Grill and Restaurant
- Café Noelle
- Red Penguin Tapsilog
- Gustav Café
Some of these restaurants offer distinct Kapampangan recipes like kamaru (cricket), betuteng tugak (stuffed frog), buru keng mustasa (fermented rice in mustard leaves), sisig babi, etc.
There are also pastry shops like Nathaniel’s, Susie’s and A La Crème.
Best times to visit
Tourists are encouraged to visit San Fernando, Pampanga:
– on Holy Week
– on or before May 30 (St. Ferdinand Feast)
– on October (Piyestang Tugak or Frog Festival)
– on or before the 3rd week of December
What to bring
Bring with you a:
– map of San Fernando, Pampanga
– mosquito repellent
San Fernando takes culture and heritage seriously. Nonetheless, the town is very far from being boring. The play and display of colors at the Paskuhan Village alone is a proof that San Fernando is bursting with enjoyable ventures.