City of San Fernando

IN THIS PAGE:

1. Festivals and Activities
2. Historical Sites & Landmarks
3. Heritage Houses
4. Where to Eat
5. Leisure & Amusement 

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The City of Cities 

Mekeni! Mekeni! (Halika! Halika!)

Are you looking for a great and amazing destination for your next Philippine escapade? This is the perfect time to explore the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, Pampanga! Famed for its delectable Kapampangan cuisine, Pampanga is one of the go-to places for a swift getaway with family or friends. Apart from its outstanding food scene, there are tons of other exciting things to do and see in the province.

Photo by: Ramon FVelasquez

City of San Fernando is an area in the country where all large banking and financial institutions can be found. There are a total of 72 banking institutions located in the City that serve the banking requirements of the business community and 12 financial institutions. In this bustling and growing community, 5 big shopping malls can be found here.

Photo by: Ramon FVelasquez

Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul)

Famous known as the “Home of the Giant Lanterns”, is the City of San Fernando. The City of San Fernando is a home of the world-renowned giant lanterns, brought about by the creativity and craftsmanship of the Fernandinos (People in San Fernando). The vibrant interchange of lights and color that moves within the rhythm of varied music, the enormity of size and their complex designs are what spectators get to marvel at as the giants of San Fernando are potholed against each other on festival night. No one can dispute the fact that the Giant Lantern Festival of San, Fernando is the event the province of Pampanga is known for.

Just about an hour from Manila via North Luzon Expressway, you can easily get to Pampanga’s capital, City of San Fernando. Little do people know that it’s a core for enormous adventures, too! It’s beyond doubt a must-visit province if you want to loosen up and try out something new. One has to pass through the city to be able to go to any provinces from all directions, be it north in Tarlac and Pangasinan, west in Bataan and Zambales, east in Nueva Ecija, and south in Bulacan on to Metro Manila. Thus, it has established its role as the regional growth center, the center of commerce and trade of the region.

Aside from being the Provincial Capital, it is also the Regional Government Center of Central Luzon, where the Regional Development Council III (RDC-III) has set aside a bit of land for the Regional Offices of national agencies operating in the region. This has been a chief influence in the economic development of the city.

Apart from that, City of San Fernando serves as one of the agricultural processing centers of Central Luzon. It is a major rice-producing in the region and an important sugar-producing area. Other manufacturing companies with offices in the city include Universal Robina Corporation, Zuellig Pharma Corporation, Nestlé Philippines, Petrophil, Mondragon Industries, Asia Brewery, and Del Monte Corporation. Major bottling companies such as the San Miguel Corporation Complex, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Cosmos and Metrobottling, Pampanga’s Best Inc. are located within the city.

So, here’s a list of the “things-to-do”, “things-to-see”, ”places-to-go”, and “where-to-eat” in Pampanga in case you’re planning to spend your weekend or holiday in the province:

 

FESTIVAL & ACTIVITIES 

Traditions and customs are part of every nation’s culture. It is through these two that we are defined as a people of a particular country. And since the Philippines has many provinces, each province has its own particular culture that makes them stand out from the rest. San Fernando, Pampanga is known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines because of the lantern production, hence the Paskuhan Village and the Giant Lantern Festival. This has given San Fernando its identity. If you’re planning to party Pinoy style, check out these other festivals that San Fernando celebrates.

  1. El Circulo Fernandino (1st Sunday of May) – It is during this festival that all glamour and class meet, women ramps their bountiful gowns and expensive jewelry and men would look their best in barongs and spend the night dancing. This elite club was created for young men and women to socialize and meet new people. Pampanga’s finest and richest people celebrated this throughout the 19th century all the way to the early 20th century.\
  1. Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul) (2nd week of December) – Every year during the Christmas season, the city becomes the nucleus of a blossoming industry centered on handcrafted lanterns called parols. What distinguish the San Fernando lantern from the ordinary parol are the obscure designs and the false impression of dancing lights, which focuses on the vibrant colors of the lantern. The transfer from Bacolor to the city of San Fernando was August 1904. It went on to be a tradition that has developed as the lantern progressively became larger and larger and more complex each year. Years later, the lantern itself was a symbol for the resident contribution, benefiting their labor. The sole purpose of these lanterns symbolized the unity amongst different neighborhoods.
  1. Pyestang Fernandino (San Fernando Festival) (May 30) the very main celebration of the city is the city fiesta itself. Every 30th of May, Fernandinos gather to celebrate the town’s fiesta in honor of St. Ferdinand, the namesake of the town. It commemorates the Filipino way by a succession of masses and a grand procession. Never straying away from food, native Filipino cuisine is served during this festival as well as Kapampangan goods that really define the province.
  1. San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites- From the name itself, you know that this festival is observed every Lenten season. It is basically known as the Passion of Christ. It’s being practiced every Good Friday, brave men restructure the Passion of Jesus Christ from the curse to the bearing of the cross and the highlight of the event, the crucifixion. And they do it before a crowd of devout Catholics who follow them throughout the bearing. The crucifixion is actual, with nails being hammered into their palms and their feet, their ankles and wrists being tied and the cross being planted on the ground, the men bearing the pain brought about by their previous sufferings, from the self-scourging to the bearing and the heat of the tropical country sun. Blood, tears, and sweats indeed, all for the greater glory of God and the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s death.
  1. Sinukwan Festival(1st-2nd week of December) – Another December festival that is celebrated in San Fernando is the Sinukwan Festival in honor of the ancient mythical god Aring Sinukwan. The Sinukwan Festival remembers the Kapampangan spirit with a week-long calendar of cultural revivals capped by a grand street-dance parade in the streets of San Fernando. It’s annually organized by the Save Pampanga Movement, the festival memorializes Aring Sinukwan (King Sinukwan), god of ancient Kapampangans. This festival is a celebration of everything Kapampangan, from food to culture to dances. This is the festival that truly defines Pampanga because as mentioned, it is a celebration of everything Kapampangan and with all the fusion of cultures, colors, tastes, and sounds, you get to see Pampanga and the best of it all in one festival.
  1. Tugak Festival (Frog Festival) (November)- The City of San Fernando, Pampanga, other than being known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines is also teeming with frogs. Daigdig Pinoy (2007) says that the reason San Fernandinos commemorate the frog is because when Mt. Pinatubo erupted, their city was devastated and became destitute because of the lahar flow. The frogs however were able to survive as well as most of the people in San Fernando. The “Pyestang Tugak” celebration was first organized in 2003 to promote diverse Kapampangan frog traditions. With their abundance in the Kapampangan rice fields, frogs have actually become part of the kapampangan culture especially of the Fernandinos.

 

HISTORICAL SITES & LANDMARKS 

  1. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Monument- The bronze monument by sculptor Peter de Guzman commemorates slain former senator and Filipino hero Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino Jr. As one of the leaders in the resistance against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Ninoy disputed the social injustices committed during the martial law years and publicly attacked Marcos’ administration. He was killed in 1983 at the Manila International Airport. His widow, Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino, became part of the movement to regain democracy in 1985, Cory Aquino ran against Marcos in the snap presidential elections. Despite of immense cheating in the polls in favor of Marcos, Cory was on oath as the first female president of the Philippines through a nonviolent People Power Revolution.
  1. Heroes Hall- This Pampanga capital has a Heroes Park, occupying 25% of a 1.7-hectare extension of the City Hall. With statues of 8 national and local heroes, the park is what greet students of the City College of San Fernando behind the Heroes Hall. The park’s central figure is a statue of Dr. Jose Rizal made in 2009 by artist Rene Robles.
  1. Old St. Scholastica Bldg.- The earlier building of Scholastica’s Academy of Pampanga is the third Benedictine school in the Philippines. Previously known as the Assumption Academy, it was recognized in June 1925 in the house of the Singian family. The first high school was eventually added. In March 1930, the first secondary graduates of the Assumption Academy were presented. The Alumni and present students of this school include sons/daughters and granddaughters/son of businessmen, politicians, and prominent figures in Pampanga.
  1. Pampanga High School Building- Fulfilled in 1910, what’s left of the old Pampanga High School Building is its structure. In 1935, the high school was transferred to its present site. It was used as an annex of the school and also served as the site of the University of the Philippines Extension Program in San Fernando until floods hit the city in 1995.
  1. Pampanga Hotel- It is a heritage house in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. The residence of Asuncion Santos, a daughter of Don Teodoro Santos, Sr. (Dorong Tola), who married Andres Eusebio, it was the first site of the Pampanga High School when it first opened. Later became the site of the Harvardian College and the Pampanga Hotel and Panciteria, now Pampanga Lodge and Restaurant.
  1. Pampanga Provincial Capitol- The Pampanga Provincial Capitol is one of the most beautiful civil architectural landmarks in the province. The Pampanga Capitol is the seat of governmentof the province of Pampanga. The original building was constructed shortly after the provincial capital of Pampanga was transferred from Bacolor to San Fernando in 1904. It was the site of a major battle between the Philippine Commonwealth troops and local guerrilla forces and the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.  The original provincial Capitol grounds of Pampanga in San Fernando covered an area of about 12 hectares. The Capitol was erected in 1907-1908. The expansive grounds are flourishing with landscapes, planted with mango and acacia trees, shrubs and flowering plants.
  1. PASUDECO (Pampanga Sugar Development Company)- The Pampanga Sugar Development Company was formally integrated in April 1918. It is the first Filipino financed sugar central which became a channel for the economic growth of San Fernando as the capital of rich sugar-producing province of Pampanga.
  1. San Fernando Heritage District– As we change direction away from NLEX entering San Fernando City, we’ll be welcomed by two enormous malls that stood like sentinels along Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly Olongapo-Gapan Road). As the provincial capital of Pampanga, San Fernando has its contribution in Philippine history. Odds and ends of a long and colorful past are still undamaged.
  1. San Fernando Train Station (Saturn St., City of San Fernando)- San Fernando Train Station looks like it came from a completely different era: and it did. It is no longer functioning today, but it was fully functioning back in the years prior to the early 1900s up until the World War II. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, even stepped foot into this train station when he visited San Fernando and Bacolor. Now, it has a museum with photos, memorabilia and statues commemorating the time when San Fernando Train Station was alive and bustling. Because of its historical significance, San Fernando Train Station was declared a historical landmark by the National Historical Institute – and a must-see attraction by many visitors.
  1. Sotero Baluyut Bridge- Across the Cathedral next to the Municipio is the Baluyot Bridge. Formerly known as Puente Colgante, the iron and stone bridge was destroyed during the Philippine-American War in 1899. An arch bridge of reinforced concrete designed by Sotero Baluyot replaced the old bridge. It was bombed during World War II and has been restored. Today, the bridge is a historic landmark in the city.
  1. The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando– One of the best ways to discover a historical district is to visit its church. On the site of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando, a wood and thatch church was built by the Augustinians in 1755 under the patronage of King Fernando III of Castille. In 1880, the church was rededicated to the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion.  Another fire destroyed the church in 1939. The current church was designed by Fernando H. Ocampo, the same architect of the reconstructed Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. In 1948, it was elevated to a Cathedral when it became the seat of the Diocese of San Fernando.

 

HERITAGE HOUSES

  1. Cuyugan-Baron House- In Barangay Del Pilar is the Cuyugan-Baron House. Residence of Vivencio Cuyugan y Baron, it was sequestered during the war and served as the Municipal Hall of San Fernando during the Japanese Occupation.
  1. Dizon House- Currently owned by Archdiocese of Pampanga, the Archdiocesan Chancery was the former residence of Luis Wenceslao Dizon and Felisa Hizon. It was designed by architect Fernando H. Ocampo and was completed in the mid-1930s.
  1. Henson-Hizon- The Henson-Hizon House is a Spanish colonial period bahay-na-bato built by the couple Don Saturnino Henson y David, who was gobernadorcillo of San Fernando and first tesorero municipal and Maria Lacson.
  1. Hizon- Ocampo House- Leoncia Hizon inherited the house from parents Anacleto Hizon and Victoria Singian de Miranda. She married Basilio Ocampo, Gobernadorcillo of San Fernando. Among their children was famous architect Fernando H. Ocampo.
  1. Hizon-Singian House (523 Consunji St., City of San Fernando)- The Hizon-Singian House was the second house of couple Don Anacleto Hizon and Victoria Singian de Miranda y de Ocampo. During the 1896 Revolution, the house was occupied by Spanish General Antonio Ruiz Serralde. It was appropriated by the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as a military hospital and barracks from 1943 to 1944. The house also served as headquarters of American General Walter Krueger of the 6thAmerican army during the liberation period until 1945.
  1. House- Next to the Lazatin House is the residence of Don Antonio Consunji, Gobernadorcillo of San Fernando in 1892, who was removed from office by Spanish authorities because of his presence during the visit to San Fernando of Dr. Jose Rizal. Don Antonio became presidente municipal of San Fernando during the Philppine Revolution from 1898 to 1899.
  1. Lazatin House- At the corner of Consunji Street, the Lazatin House stands regal. Built by sugar farmer and former president of SFELAPCO, Don Serafin Lazatin y Ocampo, the ancestral house exemplifies the architecture prevalent during the American Period. During the Second World War, it served as residence of the 14th Army Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army, General Masaharu Homma.
  1. Santos-Hizon House- A distinctly Victorian-style house, the Santos-Hizon House was built by the couple Teodoro Santos and Africa Ventura. It was purchased by Maria Salome Hizon, a volunteer of the Red Cross during the Philippine Revolution. The house is currently owned by the heirs of her brother.
  1. Tabacalera House- The Tabacalera House has been declared as an important heritage edifice of San Fernando City. Built for Don Ramon Lopez, the ground floor housed the offices of the Tabacalera. The house was later purchased by Simeon Ocampo. The Japanese Imperial Army appropriated it to serve as headquarters of the Kempeitai (Japanese Police) from 1943 to 1944.

 

WHERE TO EAT 

Pampanga, yet again, proved itself as one of the best places to eat for its delicious array of local and international food spots. It is, after all, considered the Culinary Capital of the Philippines!

 

Tara! Mangan tamu! (Come! Let’s eat!)

1. Bale Capampangan – It offers authentic Kapampangan dishes in a modern setting. In its open buffet, the delectable dishes are served in uniquely crafted clay jars with modern burners inside to keep them hot. True to its goal of promoting Kapampangan food, the restaurant serves classic Kapampangan favorites like kamaro (fried insects; P252). Meanwhile, there must-try dishes include bibi tim (its version of pata tim, using duck meat; P207), adobong balut (P50/piece) and tapang kalabaw or ‘pindang damulag’ in Kapampangan (P207).

2. Capampangan Island Grill and Restaurant– This restaurant serves the Native Filipino buffet with different kinds of Philippine dishes. Just pay a little amount and you can enjoy its delicious food. Capampangan Island Grill and Restaurant offers a variety of food which you can find in any other region of the Philippines but the taste is very different, as Pampanga is the best producer of tasty and delicious food all over the Philippines. The foods served here were great, from appetizers to main viands to all sorts of deserts – all these appetizing foods will surely adequate your cravings. You’ll love the set-up of this restaurant and the interior designs are just astonishing.

3. Denlim’s Kitchen (Maharlika St. Sindalan. City of San Fernando)- It is not actually a restaurant; it is the private kitchen of Dennis Lim – and it shows with its quirky décor composed of wood, brick, and kitchen utensils. It only caters to one large group every night and it’s booked months in advance. The kitchen offers customizable menus based on the guests preferences and all dishes are mouthwatering.

4. Everybody’s Café  – It started as a neutral ground during liberation times in Philippine history. Anyone from Filipino, Japanese, and American could enjoy the café’s simple menu of Pancit Luglug (glass noodles with coconut milk sauce flavored with annatto and shrimp) or Mami (egg noodles with shredded meat and broth). Little by little they began adding local specialties and treasured family recipes to the menu. After more than 50 years later, Everybody’s Café still stands as one of the most resilient and authentically Kapampangan establishments to date.

5. Fat Joe’s Diner (Maligaya 168 Building, McArthur Highway, Dolores, City of San Fernando)- For foodies, Fat Joe’s Diner may hit two birds with one stone: American food fit for the Pinoy palate plus big servings fit for the budget. The diner was a fulfillment of the long-time dreams of its owner who wanted: 1) a diner-themed restaurant; and 2) big servings of food offered at affordable prices. One of Fat Joe’s bestsellers include the New York Cheesedog (P198), which uses Angus-beef hotdog and is stuffed with chili con carne, all cooked in home-made goodness.

6. Holidayland Restaurant (Olongapo-Gapan Road, Jose Abad Santos Avenue, City of San Fernando)- This has been serving Filipino and Kapampangan food for over 25 years. If you are looking for low-priced authentic Kapampangan dishes, this is the place you have to visit. They offer a wide selection of choices when it comes to food. This restaurant has been running for a very long time, and the taste has been preserved.

7. Jun Jun’s Bibingka & Barbecue (Dolores Homesite, Mc Arthur Highway, City of San Fernando)- They have been serving their signature bibingka, barbecue, and sisigsince the 1960s. The sisig is an authentic Kapampangan recipe, made from pig’s ears and snout, joint with lots of onions. The barbecue and its secret sauce is a favorite among locals and tourists. Their specialties will keep you coming back for many times more.

8. Moderno Food Park (McArthur Highway, Telabastagan, City of San Fernando)- Proudly the pioneer of food parks in Pampanga, Moderno Food Park is an effort to become an substitute destination for customers and tenants, to shift away from the ‘mall culture’ and try a different kind of food environment. The stalls are varied with different choices and specialties. The food is priced reasonably. There chicken, beef, sandwiches and pizza choices. Foods are tasty and delicious although servings are on the small side. Good place to get good, cheap fast food inside a clean and safe situation.

9. Pipanganan Capampangan (McArthur Highway, Dolores, City of San Fernando)- This restaurant offers great food, and buffet is very reasonably priced. They have an excellent and great service. The owner is also very hands-on in the restaurant and makes sure the replenishments are properly manned. Home-made Filipino goodness from Appetizers, Main course to desserts. The P185 peso-buffet (approx. US$4) will fill your stomach with popular filipino and kapampangan dishes like sisig, kare-kare,lengua, longanisa, pritong lumpia, and many more. On the side you can have buro and atsara to further enhance your dining experience. There are fruits and make-your-own halo-halo to sweeten your meal. The space is enough to accommodate big groups.

10. Rainforest Kichene (Pope Building Greenfields Commercial Complex, City of San Fernando)- The only food destination with a clear advocacy at honoring mother nature. Verdant scenery to welcome and greet guests at its entrance, indeed a refreshing spot to take a group or selfie photo. Plenty of indoor plants inside that recreates a rainforest ambiance. Refreshing blue tea as a welcome drink and after taking your orders, the staff will present you a scrapbook of infographics aimed at respecting the environment. And of course the food! I personally recommend the salmon focaccia, black paella, salmon con pesto pasta and for the piece de resistance, their USDA certified Angus steaks. Try the tomahawk steak, a gastronomic feast! Undoubtedly, this is a culinary destination in Pampanga.

11. Tabehoudai Buffet (McArthur Highway, San Agustin City of San Fernando) – Even if the name sounds Japanese, this buffet restaurant offers more than that. There are still filipino dishes served like sisig, adobo, lechon. Also, there are Italian and American foods such as pizza, pasta, salads, etc. Of course, they have Japanese support-dishes like sushi, maki, ebi tempura, etc. For desserts and drinks, they also have a lot of choices. They also serve variety ofseafood choices for those who do not eat meat and chicken.

12. Tage (Lazatin Blvd, City of San Fernando)- If one wants to unwind, this is one of the perfect places to go. There’s a soft-listening music from you can still chat and talk, commonly served with wine and beers of your choice with a TV as an added attraction. No other more, it has a good ambiance. The best spot is in the hallway. However, it is for small group only with limited seats good for four or two. Distinct about the place is that, it has an air conditioned room and an open air room. The rustic feel will always be there.

13. Tio Julian’s Restaurant (MacArthur Highway, San Isidro, City of San Fernando)- It was named after the father of its owner, Tio Julian, who was once a home cook-for-hire in their place. Tio Julian’s offers homemade goodness of variety of foods. Traditional Filipino comfort food from Tio Julian’s very own recipes comprises the dishes served in this restaurant.

14. The Orange Bucket (Era-Zone Square, Kalahi Industrial Road, San Isidro, City of San Fernando)- It is a Cajun-inspired restaurant which specializes on exquisitely-flavored seafood, juxtaposed with fusion of cuisine that tempts the soul. This is a picnic- style boodle fight where you eat on the tabletop lined with wax paper. You are, however, provided with a bib & plastic gloves, in case you don’t want to eat with your bare hands or get your clothes messed up. They served seafood in a bag & orange bucket. There is a choice of cajun sauce or butter garlic sauce. Inside were really fat female crabs, shrimps, mussels & yellow corn. The sauce is finger-licking good & addicting that will make you eat a lot. The set comes with a country-style fried chicken, garden salad, rice & lemonade. Price is definitely reasonable.

15. The SOUQ Pampanga (Lazatin Blvd, Dolores, City of San Fernando)- The name meaning “marketplace” in Arabic, Souq offers a rich variety of food choices, may it be Arabian, Filipino, Korean or Vietnamese. It also prides its beautiful furniture pieces from the owner’s furniture business in Betis, which customers can actually order or buy on-site. Among its diverse food choices, bestsellers from Souq are mostly Filipino dishes, including boiling seafood in aligue (P450), mepirito or fried adobo (P290), balut in sambal (P100), pasta aligue (P290) and roasted rosemary chicken (P450).

16. U-R.A.C.K Bar-BQ & Wings (The Orchid Gardens, Lazatin Blvd., City of San Fernando)- established in 2016 by a young couple based in Pampanga  in a middle-class neighborhood. U-R.A.C.K is defined as a main stream casual dining restaurant with an integrated gaming experience, which means, you can PLAY different board games while you wait for your food to be served. U-R.A.C.K provides quality customer service in a relaxed environment. It can accommodate up to a maximum of 85 persons.  The concept was simply to create a pleasant yet classy environment that is well-suited to have great conversations; to bond with your families and friends, to serve quality freshly cooked meals and to offer great tasting barbecues and chicken wings. Barbecues and chicken wings are the restaurant’s flagship items.

 

LEISURE AND AMUSEMENT

  1. Jump Yard Indoor Trampoline Park- Paseo Las Palmas, Jose Abad Santos Ave., Dolores, City of San Fernando
  2. Sky Ranch San Fernando– Jose Abad Santos Avenue, SM City San Fernando

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3. Heritage Houses
4. Where to Eat
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