Moniker: The Culinary Capital of the Philippines
Capital: San Fernando City
Foundation: December 11, 1571
Land area: 2,062.47 km2 (796.32 sq. mi)
Area rank: 59th out of 80
Population: 2,014,019 (or 2,340,355 including Angeles City)
Population rank: 9th out of 80
Divisions: 505 barangays, 1 independent city (Angeles City), 2 component cities (San Fernando and Mabalacat), 20 municipalities and 4 districts
Language: Kapampangan (6th most spoken native language)
Religion: Roman Catholic and Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)
Climate: Wet (May to October) and dry (November to April)
Major industries: Farming, fishing and handicraft (parol-making)
Major products: Rice, corn, sugarcane, bangus, crabs and tilapia
Natural resources: Wetlands, swamplands, agricultural lands, clay, gravel, sand and copper
Pampanga’s creation in 1571 made it the first Spanish province in Luzon. Cebu was the first province in Visayas founded in 1565. Also, La Pampanga served as the archipelago’s capital from 1762 to 1754 during the British invasion of Manila.
Pampanga is bordered by the province of Nueva Ecija on the northern part, Bataan and Zambales on the southwestern and western parts, respectively, and Bulacan on the eastern and southeastern parts. Pampanga opens up to Manila Bay.
Pampanga serves a home to two Philippine Air Force bases namely Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base in Angeles City and Floridablanca, respectively. Angeles City is geographically within Pampanga province, but it has an independent government being a highly urbanized and first-class city.
Clark International Airport (formerly Diosdado Macapagal International Airport), which is found in Clark Freeport Zone, serves Pampanga. Clark International Airport is the 2nd international airport in Luzon.
Located in Central Luzon, it was the Spaniards who gave Pampanga its name La Pampanga upon discovering natives living near the riverbanks of the largest river during that time, Indung Kapampangan River. Its name originates from the term pangpang or pampang which means riverbank. Nothing is more suitable than its name since Pampanga is a flat province that is crisscrossed by hundreds of small lakes flowing and leading to the Pampanga River.
Pampanga is composed of 20 municipalities and 3 cities (2 component cities and 1 independent, highly urbanized city). Here is a political map of Pampanga, Philippines.
Map of Pampanga (by Municipality)
Physically, Pampanga’s total land mass is 206,247 hectares. Pampanga, Philippines has a relatively flat terrain save for its rivers and mountains in the northeastern and northwestern sides. Among the municipalities, Porac has the largest land mass (314 km2) followed by Candaba (176 km2) and Floridablanca (175 km2). Santo Tomas has the smallest land mass (21 km2).
The wet season begins in May and ends in October, and the rest is considered dry season. The warmest months are March and April while the coolest months are December, January and February.
Based on National Statistics Office (NSO) 2010 census, the total population is 2,014,019 excluding Angeles City. If included, the total population is 2,340,355. The locals are referred to as Kapampangans, Pampangueños or Pampangos.
Pampangos speak a native dialect called Kapampangan.
Pampangueños are well-known for their chivalry and leadership abilities while the Pampangueñas are popular for their beauty and culinary skills.
Some of the most notable Kapampangans are:
Local residents are predominantly Roman Catholic although other religious groups thrive in Pampanga, Philippines. These congregations are Iglesia ni Cristo (largest minority religion), Ang Dating Daan, United Methodist, Jehova’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jesus is Lord Church, Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventist, Muslim, Aglipayan, Jesus Miracle Crusade, etc.
The entire Pampanga was placed under the influences of the Catholic Church during the Spanish colonization. Majority of the festivals and observances are somehow connected with Catholicism. The influence is even more pronounced during the Lenten season.
Pampanga’s main industries are farming and fishing. The major products are rice, corn, sugarcane and tilapia.
Other cottage industries such as wood carving, furniture-making, guitar-making and handicraft are thriving in Pampanga. Specifically, the province is best known for its handcrafted lighted lanterns (parols). Gradually, Pampanga, Philippines is also becoming popular for its casket and all-purpose vehicle manufacturing industries.
Pampanga’s culinary industry deserves a category of its own. Pampanga is also a home for some of the most popular culinary creations. Such creations include specialty foods and native delicacies, ranging from ordinary to exotic such as betute tugak (stuffed frog) and adobong kamaru (mole crickets).
Not to mention, the place is also the go-to destination for processed meat cravings, two of the well-loved brands nationwide are Pampanga’s Best and Mekeni Food. They are famous for their tocinos, tapas, hotdogs and longganisas (Philippine-style sausage).
Other developing industries are found in the Clark Freeport. An example of these industries is the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Other budding investments focus on aviation-related industries and light to medium technologies.
Foreign direct investments are also encourage in Clark Special Economic Zone. Utilities including telecommunication, water, electricity and transportation extensively cover the entire Pampanga province. These are readily available and accessible for businesses and industries.
In Pampanga, Philippines, there are 17 international schools, 66 colleges and universities and more than a hundred primary and secondary schools. Some of the well-known schools are University of the Assumption, Don Bosco Academy, Chevalier School, Mary Help of Christian School and Republic Central Colleges.
There are also technical and vocational schools and trade learning centers.
Pampangueños are known for specific crafts. They are superb goldsmiths and jewelers. There are also highly-skilled woodcarvers and furniture-makers. Filipino families buy and keep antique jewelries and furniture pieces as heirlooms.
Nationwide, the Kapampangans are known for their excellent cooking skills. The Pampangan cuisine is both sumptuous and exotic.
Tourism is an ever-growing industry especially after the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. The tourist spots include heritage churches and shrines, historical landmarks and natural parks.
Of these, St. James the Apostle Church and Sta. Monica Church are considered as national cultural treasures. San Agustin Church, which also happens to be the oldest church in Pampanga, Philippines is regarded as a national historical landmark. Churches in Angeles, Apalit, Bacolor and Betis are known for their colonial church architecture.
In Angeles City
In San Fernando
Equally important tourist destinations in Pampanga, Philippines include Sandbox in Alviera, the Paskuhan Village, Zoocobia Fun Zoo (Paradise Ranch), Casino Filipino, Nayong Pilipino sa Clark, Clark Museum and Museong Kapampangan, Dinosaurs Island, El Kabayo Riding Stables & Cowboy Western Town and Clark Eagle Shooting Range.
In Pampanga, Philippines, all months feature a festival or more. For one, each of the city/municipality celebrates a fiesta in honor of its patron saint.
Further, the Department of Tourism lists down some of the notable annual events in Pampanga, Philippines. These are Aguman Sanduk (Fellowship of the Ladle) in Minalin; Caragan Festival in Mabalacat; Ibon-Ebon Festival in Candaba; Philippine International Hot-Air Baloon Festival in Clark; Cutud Lenten Rites, Pyestang Tugak (Frog Festival), Giant Lantern Festival and Sinukwan Festival in San Fernando; Apung Iru Fluvial Parade in Apalit; Fiestang Culiat and Tigtigan Terakan Queng Dalan (Pampangan Mardi Gras) in Angeles; and Duman Festival in Sta. Rita.