San Fernando, Pampanga, also known as the “Gateway to the North,” is a must-see destination. Pampanga is 81 kilometers from Metro Manila and an hour and twenty-five minutes by car from the city. Pampanga is the Philippines’ Culinary Capital, but it is much more than that.
San Fernando is a first-class, highly urbanized city governed independently by the province, with 19 municipalities and two-component cities. It is made up of a diverse range of industries, in addition to farming and fishing. Pampanga has a long history of supporting the cottage industry, which produces handcrafted woodcrafts such as guitars, furniture, and other items.
As you may be aware, Clark has a thriving tourism industry thanks to its numerous hotels/casinos and resorts, as well as popular tourist attractions such as Paskuhan Village, Dino Island, Insectlandia, Paradise Ranch, and many others. Pampanga is a very fortunate province because it is also known for serving delectable culinary creations such as Sisig, Tocino, Lechon Kawali, Bringhe, San Nicolas Cookies, and many others.
Apart from these undeniably delectable foods, Pampanga is also known for handcrafted lighted lanterns or Parols that are beaming with various colors, making Pampanga yet another Capital for something because every December, people from all over the Philippines flock to Pampanga to witness the Giant Lantern Festival, dubbing Pampanga as the Philippines’ Christmas Capital.
Apart from all of these things that Pampanga is known for, there are still a number of things that visitors to the province may find worthwhile. The City of San Fernando is one of these places, and our list will surely take you on a memory lane of the province’s rich history and cultural heritage.
- Old San Fernando Train Station
The Old San Fernando Train Station was once part of the Manila Railway Company’s Manila-Dagupan Line. On February 23, 1892, it was inaugurated. Jose Rizal is said to have taken this train in 1892 to visit his friends in Bacolor and invite them to write for La Liga Filipina. During the Japanese occupation of Bataan in 1942, the Old San Fernando train witnessed the Bataan Death March. The former train station is now a tourism office and a Bataan Death March Museum.
- Arzobispado De Pampanga
Old Priests and retired Bishops of the Catholic Church reside at Arzobizpado de Pampanga, also known as The Bahay Pari by San Fernando residents. Arzobizapado de Pampanga is a popular wedding venue thanks to its striking facade, the Virgen de los Remedios Repository Chapel, and the Garden of Healing and Peace.
- Monumento Fernandino
The Monumento Fernandino is a sculptural masterpiece that pays homage to San Fernando’s colorful history and cultural heritage. It is located in the city proper of San Fernando and welcomes visitors and motorists alike. It was built in front of the San Fernando Water District on February 4, 2004, by then-Mayor Rey Aquino.
The Girl with the Lantern, which represents the art of Parol or Lantern Making, which is very popular in San Fernando, is part of the Monumento Fernandino, which depicts the various industries and cultures that San Fernando has to offer. The Lady with the Torch, represents life, truth, and power. The Lady with Arms Upwards, as if offering, symbolizes faith, and the Boatman symbolizes San Fernando’s thriving fishing industry.
- Casa Nicolasa
Casa Nicolasa, built during the Spanish colonial period by Gobernadorcillo Saturnino Henson y David, who also served as San Fernando’s first municipal treasurer, is one of the many heritage houses in Pampanga. However, Pablo Panlilio y Dayrit and Dolores Arguelles decided to buy it. During the Filipino-American War, their daughter Nicolasa helped treat wounded Filipino soldiers in this structure, hence the name Casa Nicolasa. A monument to Nicolasa stands beside the Heritage House. Because this is San Fernando, Pampanga’s oldest “bahay-na-bato,” rumors of paranormal activity within its walls abound.
- Metropolitan Cathedral
This Neo-Classical church, formerly known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, was founded in 1754 and is the seat of the Archdiocese of San Fernando. On October 9, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo and his cabinet viewed the Philippine Revolutionary Army from the windows of the convento. General Antonio Luna set fire to the church in 1899. It was destroyed by fire again in 1939 but was restored in 1948 by Fernando Ocampo, a Kapampangan architect. The Cathedral was restored and renovated in 2014 under the direction of Msgr. Reyes, Eugenio
- Calesa Factory and Repair shop
The Calesa factory and repair shop died as a result of all the modernization that occurred in recent years. From thousands of Calesas roaming the streets of Pampanga, the number of Calesas in the province has been reduced to just 70. What matters is that it is still present, allowing the next generation to experience what was once a thriving industry.
- Lantern Factory
Apart from being the Philippines’ Culinary Capital, Pampanga is also known as the Philippines’ Christmas Capital and the Home of the Giant Lanterns. Lantern making is both an industry and a tradition in San Fernando, with hundreds of families actively engaged in the Lantern-making business. Every year, people from all over the Philippines gather in the fields of Pampanga to watch thousands of lights twinkle through the Giant Lanterns.
- PASUDECO (Pampanga Sugar Development Company)
The structure holds a significant place in San Fernando’s cultural heritage as the first local sugar mill ever financed by Filipinos. Honolulu Iron Works constructed the original structure in March of 1921. The Pinatubo eruption destroyed it in 1991, and it was rebuilt in 1995, only to be destroyed again by the lahar. Pasudeco’s operations ended in 2015, but Megaworld Corp. is developing the site where it once stood into a fully functional integrated commercial and business district (CBD) and township lifestyle community in ten years.
Did you find yourself reminiscing as you read? Well, you’re not alone! San Fernando, Pampanga has progressed significantly. The changes that the years have brought to this town are undeniable, from transportation to building construction to businesses and establishments, everything that would indicate urbanization is already present in the city, and it is important that there are still places in the city that have remained the same to remind the current generation of the colorful past that helped to shape the present that they enjoy today.