Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Tour of Pampanga and the Giant Lantern Festival 2012

Being home alone for Christmas, I took the opportunity to see the giant lanterns of San Fernando Pampanga, last December 23, 2012.

Since I have the whole afternoon that Sunday, and the show is not until 7:30 in the evening, I included the places in Pampanaga that I've always wanted to visit but never had the chance.  I was supposed to join the Culinary Tour package of Travelfactor, but was not able to make payment on the allotted time, so I just browsed through the itinerary and chose what I can do for that afternoon.

My first destination was Betis Church in Guagua.  Armed with my Map application, I arrived at the town around 4pm after leaving manila at 2.  I passed by a branch of Razon's (the famous palabok and halo-halo) behind a gas station near San Agustin.  Assuming that Razon's originated from Guagua, what could be more authentic than having it at the same town.  I guess I assumed too much. The halo-halo was great but the Palabok sauce was starchy (It's either they made a mistake on the preparation that day, or the original should really taste like paste. I would'nt know!).

After my merienda, It only took me a few minutes to reach the church.

The exterior of the church gives very little to the treasure hidden inside.
The ceiling and walls were ornately painted, and its very unusual for me to see churches that still has wooden floors.  The massive wooden doors showcases the carving skills of the Betis carvers.  My facebook shoutout was that "this is one of the most beautiful churches I've visited" with the picture above as attachment!

I wish I could have shown more pictures, but most of it were saved on my Samsung S3 which got lost in Cebu (another story).  I am only left with the Instagram pics and those I have posted in my FB account.

The Story of the Betis Church This is a featured page

The baroque-inspired Betis Church was built around 1660 and it was headed by Father Jose de la Cruz. The preliminary structure was made out of light materials which was composed mainly of wood and stucco. Fire broke out within the church several times due to these light materials so it was finally built with concrete materials in 1770.

In the last quarter of 19th century, Father Manuel CamaƱes dug an artesian well on the north-side of the church which served as a source of potable water not only for the Betis townsfolk, but to the other nearby towns as well. On the other hand, the present-day concrete fence with caryatids was built in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century. 
In 1908, the rectory of the church was burned with fire and all the documents about baptism and other historical catalogues of the church turned into ashes.

Beautification of the interior part of the church was extensively done by the last Spanish priest named Father Santiago Blanco in 1939. The ceiling paintings were repainted by a native of San Agustin named Macario Ligon. His assistant named Victor Ramos, who was in his teen years then was also the one who restored these paintings in the 1970s.

During the Spanish-Colonial period, Betis is an independent town which has its own autonomy as a municipality. But due to migration of its inhabitants to the nearby Guagua in the American Period, it was merged to this town in 1904 under the Act 943.

Today, although part of the municipality of Guagua, the Betis church has its own parochial priest and has its patron saint named St. James the Great.
After Betis Church, I was supposed to go to the neighboring Bacolor to visit San Guillermo Church, but it was late in the afternoon and figured the pictures would not register well on my phone cam, so instead I went to Mexico to visit the Kusina ni Atching Lilian Borromeo.

It's included in the Travelfactor Pampanga Foodtrip itinerary, but something you can't do on your own, which I learned after getting stuck in traffic in front of SM and Robinson near San Fernando NLEX exit for almost an hour.

When I reached the house, I was expecting a small restaurant, or a small store selling the San Nicolas cookies.  On that night, it was really quiet, and showed no signs of a buffet station, only a signage that bears the surname Borromeo (I forgot the name), but was for a doctor that supposed to specialize on cancer.  I guess, access to places like this is the advantage of going on group tours.  

I left immediately, and spared myself of the embarrassment of actually entering the property.  Since it's dinner time already, I stopped by Partyland for their buffet which cost 200php with bottomless Iced Tea.  It's located near Dolores Instersection along MacArthur Highway going to Angeles. Included in the station are local Kapampangan dishes, but what stood out for me was the Adobong Balut.

I was busy stuffing myself when I realized I was late for the 7:30 PM Giant Lantern show at the Greenfield District in Sindalan.

When I reached the venue, the first 4 lanterns have already performed.  Fortunately, after witnessing the 6 other giants performed one by one, the next segment was in groups of 3, and the last segment was 5 simultaneously.  The sight of these giants made the trip so worthwhile.  I was so drawn to the lanterns that, I'm literally right in front of them.  I remember reading from other blogs that on the launching day, it's really hard to see the lanterns due to the limited viewing area.  But here, at the Greenfield District, you can even go behind the lanterns to see how they choreograph the lights by rolling drums mounted on huge trucks.  I would also suggest that you schedule your visit on sites other than malls and on dates after the launch.  Again, I regret to inform that my pictures are limited to those I posted on facebook, the rest are in my phone who's now in somebody else's hands in Cebu.

It was past nine when the show ended.  I went to check in myself at Victoria Court San Fernando also in Sindalan for the night.

Check out the 2012 Ligligan Parul / Giant Lantern Viewing Schedule:

★ Dec 15 · 6:00pm · Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga · COMPETITION DAY!
★ Dec 16 to 21 · 6:30pm · Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga
★ Dec 22 · 7pm · Essel Park, Telabastagan, CSFP
★ Dec 23 · 7pm · Greenfields Subd., Sindalan, CSFP
★ Dec 24 · 11pm · In front of Metropolitan Cathedral/City Hall, City Proper, CSFP
★ Dec 25, 2012 to Jan 3, 2013 · 630pm · Robinsons Starmills
★ Dec 27 · 7pm · Special Lantern Exhibition of 6 giant lanterns at Clark, Pampanga
★ Dec 29-30 · 6pm · Special Lantern Exhibition of 4 giant lanterns at Marquee Mall, Angeles City
The next day, I continued my tour by visiting San Guillermo Church in Bacolor.

Half buried in Lahar after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, also used in the Teleserye, May Bukas Pa
The original facade

Inside San Guillermo, Beside it is a  Museum with Religious artifacts as well as pictures documenting Mt. Pinatubo eruption

San Guillermo Parish Church

From: Wikepedia

San Guillermo Parish Church is named after San Guillermo, the patron saint of Bacolor, Pampanga, the Philippines, where the church is erected. The church was originally constructed by the Agustinian Friars in 1576 – also the town's founding – with Fr. Diego De Ochoa, OSA, as the town's first parish priest.having been installed as such two years after.
In 1880, the church was destroyed by an earthquake only to be rebuilt by Fr. Eugenio Alvarez in 1886. On September 3, 1995, lahar flow from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo which erupted into world notice on June 15, 1991, buried the church at half its 12-m height prompting its more than 50,000 town residents to evacuate to safer grounds in resettlement areas.[1]


After the short trip to Bacolor, I headed for Everybody's Cafe, in San Fernando Town Proper.  On the way I noticed old houses which are worth visiting near the cathedral.  Also, they are setting up the giant lanterns for the Christmas Eve show.

Everybody's Cafe, claims to be the home of authentic Pampanga Cuisine, and the Turo-turo style menu includes exotic dishes like the Kamaru(Crickets) and Stuffed Frogs.  The food here is meant for sharing and would be really be expensive if dining alone.  My meal cost me almost 700php.

After that hefty lunch, I went back to Manila for some Christmas Eve errands and pack for my flight to Cebu on Christmas Day.

Still on my Pampanga wishlist:

Bale Dutung of Claude Tayag

Villa Gloria Subdivision,
Angeles City, Pampanga
Mobile: 09175950218
(02) 6684038, (02) 5024527

Aling Lucing Sisig
Address: Glaciano Valdez Street, Angeles City 
Phone:(045) 888 2317
Transit: Old PNR Station
Mexico, Pampanga 

Proposed Pampanga Culinary Tour DIY Itinerary (Pre-scheduled and reserved) :

Breakfast at Everybody's Cafe, San Fernando
San Guillermo Church, Bacolor 
Betis Church, Guagua
Lunch at Bale Dutung, Angeles
Nayong Pilipino, Clark
Dinner at Aling Lucing, Angeles
Giant Lantern Festival, San Fernando
Check in for overnight accommodation at Hotel Victoria de San Fernando, San Fernando
Breakfast at Kusinang Matua ng Atching Lilian Borromeo, Mexico

Proposed Pampanga Culinary Tour DIY Itinerary (Eat and Run Version) :

Breakfast at Everybody's Cafe, San Fernando
San Fernando Cathedral
San Guillermo Church, Bacolor 
Betis Church, Guagua
Lunch Buffet at Partyplace, San Fernando
Nayong Pilipino, Clark
Merienda at Kabigting's or Razons Halo Halo
Dinner at Aling Lucing, or Camalig Restaurant, Angeles
Giant Lantern Festival, San Fernando or just shop at Marquee Mall if beyond Christmas Season


  1. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was
    just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it's driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

    Feel free to visit my page -

  2. Magpa-pasko nanaman, masarap manood ng giant lanterns sa Clark Pampanga. :)


Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...