Rounding off my week long solo trip to the Philippines with a couple of days in Angeles City, right next to Clark International Airport. Not really a destination that comes to mind for most people, but the airport is rising in prominence as a gateway to the rest of the Philippines (including Coron). If you’ve got a day in Angeles City, here are the sights you shouldn’t miss!
I did these stuff over 2 pretty spread out days and have rearranged them into a one day itinerary. If you’ve got another day here, do consider doing a day trip to Mount Pinatubo, more details in my previous post.
Clark Freeport Zone
One of the 3 major areas to check out in a visit to Angeles City, Clark Freeport Zone. It was previously part of Clark Air Base, a US Air Force Facility. After the US Air Force moved out, the area was rezoned and developed. There are a couple of attractions and tourist facilities in the freeport zone. During my visit there the area felt quite deserted though.
Nayong Clark Park (Nayong Pilipino)
Nayong Pilipino is an outdoor theme park showcasing the colorful cultures of the Philippines. Unfortunately when I visited in July 2019 it was closed for renovation. It is slated to reopened, and possibly rebranded, in October 2019. Like most other attractions in the Philippines there seems to be no official website for Nayong Pilipino. Locals in Angeles City also didn’t seem to know much about it, much less know it was closed. From reviews it seems that while having some interesting artifacts, the place was in need of refurbishment. Hope it’ll be better when it opens!
A couple of minutes away by Grab is Clark Museum. It’s 100 PHP to enter, another 100 PHP for the 4D theater next door. Here you can learn about the history of the surrounding regions, cultures and festivals, the air base in Clark, the socioeconomic impact of the air base, as well as development of the surrounding regions in recent years. It felt a little dated and not in the best of conditions, but the hour and a half exploring the museum gave me a better idea of what the city is about, and how it came to be as it is today. Clark Museum is open 9am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on holidays.
Outside the museum are some artifacts from various periods in Philippines history.
Today there isn’t much left of Fort Stosenburg. It’s a nice stroll around the park though, with some old buildings along the roads in that area.
I went only as far as the gateposts to Fort Stosenburg as there didn’t seem to be much beyond.
Angeles City Heritage District
The second major area is in the heart of Angeles City, the heritage district. Here was where it still felt like a nice city to walk in, lots of life and activity going on without getting overbearing. Here are pictures over 2 different trips, as I did half a day of exploring on my first and last day.
Museo Ning Angeles
Museo Ning Angeles is another museum that was under renovation when I visited in July 2019. The building is almost a hundred years old and was originally the Town Hall for Angeles City. Today it showcases some of the history and cultural aspects of Angeles City. It seems to be quite a small museum that can be completed quickly (if open). Entrance fee is 50 PHP.
Holy Rosary Parish Church
Holy Rosary Parish Church was built in 1877 and has seen a fair bit of Filipino history, from the Spanish to the Americans to WWII and modern Philippines. It is a national historical site and is still the center of religious life in the city. Unfortunately this was also under renovation on the day I arrived so here are some pictures from the outside.
Museum of Philippine Social History/ Pamintuan Mansion
Down the road right in front of Holy Rosary Parish Church, a block down, is the Museum of Philippine Social History. This is another museum that briefly describes Filipino history and culture. It was the wedding gift of a rich couple to their son over a hundred years ago, and had also witnessed many key moments in Philippines’ history. In the museum you’d also be able to see how a fancy house in 1880s would have looked like, along with furniture. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am to 4pm, and entrance is free. Not sure why there are so many small museums describing Philippines history and culture, but I was just glad to find something that was not under renovation.
Here’s a look of the beautiful wooden interiors of the Museum of Philippine Social History/ Pamintuan Mansion.
Other than the interiors/ museum exhibit it is also possible to go up the tower for (almost) 360 degree views of the city. At time of visit it does not seem possible for you to go up alone. I checked with the reception and one of the guys working there brought me up. Can’t believe I almost missed this! There’s a beautiful flight of wooden stairs leading to the top.
From the top it’s possible to spot some of the landmarks in the city and beyond. Isn’t a tall tower, but still literally a breath of fresh air.
Other than the tower there’s apparently also a tunnel in the mansion. Unfortunately I didn’t know about it till after the visit and didn’t ask about it. Maybe next time.
Dycaico Ancestral House
Along the road the crosses the front of Holy Rosary Parish Church is an unassuming house from the outside, that houses 2 gems on the inside. Cafe Fleur and 25 Seeds, 2 highly rated restaurants by Chef Sau Del Rosario, are located at the Dycaico Ancestral House. Didn’t have a meal here as it was looking a bit too fancy for me that day, running a little low on cash. It did look like a lovely place on the inside though, and if I were back I’d definitely try it out.
Around the streets of Angeles city heritage district
And just a couple more shots from the streets around. Towards the roundabout to the west are some markets and fast food chains. Was nice just walking around the streets people watching. This area generally felt much safer than the Fields Avenue area, though I’d still suggest walking around with lots of caution.
On the last day I was exploring Angeles City there happened to be a Pacquiao going on, and huge crowds had gathered around every publicly viewable TV screen. For shopkeepers unable to leave their stalls to get to a TV, they were glued to their phones or radios for the latest update. The atmosphere was quite palpable as crowds spilled on to the streets.
Over at the roundabout I almost walked into a protest. We don’t get that over here in Singapore so watching it from a distance was still an experience.
Aling Lucing’s Sisig
Not really near, but just over a kilometer north of the roundabout is the famous Aling Lucing’s Sisig. This is apparently the original sisig so I had to give it a go.
It’s basically a hot plate of fried chopped up pork, with lots of fat, and simmering in more fat. Pretty heavy for 1 person. You can also get other dishes here to share with friends, will definitely make the fat more enjoyable (than overwhelming).
Fields Ave/ Balibago
From Aling Lucing’s Sisig I took the jeepney over to Fields Avenue, to pay the deposit for my Pinatubo trip, and to check out SM Mall. Turns out there’s more than I bargained for. The surrounding areas are very busy and is also the red light district. While crossing the street 2 little boys tried to pickpocket me and ALMOST succeeded. I’d expect crime is pretty high in the surrounding areas so I’d recommend keeping out if possible. Unfortunately it is a major transport center so passing by might be necessary. There might be some good food and bars around, like all good red light districts, but exercise plenty of caution.
SM City Clark is a huge mall where you’d probably be able to find anything and everything. There’s a security point at every entrance so somehow one step in the mall felt way safer than the previous step outside. Bought some local snacks from the supermarket.
Angeles City in 1 day
And that’s a full day in Angeles City! In my humble opinion not somewhere to go out of the way for, but if you’re passing by it isn’t that bad too. Next up, a short weekend trip to somewhere I feel is more worth it going out of the way for, Penang, in Malaysia!