Saturday, September 3, 2016

Bits of History in Pampanga

With the half–hour delay and the half–hour it took for all of us passengers to be expelled from the bowels of the plane, it was already 1030AM when I stepped off Bay 7 of NAIA Terminal 3 and into my good friend's car. We were already late for our road trip to Pampanga.

Municipality of Guagua

Neneng's Kamayan
Jose Abad Santos Ave, San Matias, Guagua
(045) 405 0544

Two hours later and with the help of Waze, we found our first stop: Neneng's Kamayan in Guagua, Pampanga, a restaurant recommended by my friend's friend. Our quick lunch of dynamite sticks, paco salad, and pork sisig fueled our bodies and left us raring to explore.

Jose Abad Santos Ave, San Matias, Guagua
(045) 901 0809

The Original Razon's is just half a kilometer from Neneng's Kamayan. Razon's is known for its halo–halo, but Neneng's Kamayan had already taken up all the space in our stomachs.

St. James the Apostle Parish Church (Betis Church)
Brgy. San Nicolas, Betis, Guagua

St. James the Apostle Church was built in 1660, but the church doesn't look its age. That is because the original church was mainly built with wood and had burned down a number of times.

To my untrained eye, the faded pink exterior didn't look all that interesting. It was the church's interiors that I was in awe of: its wooden floor and its beautifully painted ceiling. To learn about the church and its paintings, read the information posted on the hallway just outside the Betis Museum (on the left side of the church).

In 2001, the National Museum and the Commission for Culture and Arts declared St. James the Apostle Church or Betis Church a National Cultural Treasure.

Note: No shorts and sleeveless shirts allowed inside the church. The museum guard has a basketful of sarongs for the ladies (and maybe the men if you can dare wear a colorful sarong) to borrow.

Municipality of Bacolor

San Guillermo Parish Church
Cabambangan, Bacolor

San Guillermo Parish Church was constructed in 1576, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1880, and then rebuilt in 1886. It was not its age nor its design (which I know nothing about) that fascinated me, it was its size—it looked a bit too small. And the door was way too narrow—not the usual imposing, gaping church doors I have been through. Stepping inside, I found the roof too low.

Its smallness was thanks to Mt Pinatubo. Although Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it was on October 1995 when San Guillermo Parish Church was reduced to half its size when lahar flow from Mt Pinatubo buried 18 out of 21 barangays of Bacolor.

Because a wedding ceremony was about to start, we just wandered around the convent off the side of the church. The convent had been turned into a museum/art gallery and that is where I found a painting of the church in its full height. Indeed, San Guillermo Parish Church is now just half its height.

City of Angeles

Holy Rosary Parish Church
Santo Rosario Street, Angeles City

This is the little bit of information I found on the internet regarding the Holy Rosary Parish Church: It was built from 1877 to 1896 by Filipino peasants through "polo y servicio," a labor system imposed by the Spanish colonial government, wherein Filipino males between the ages of 16 to 65 were required to work for free for a period of 40 days.

And this is the little bit of information I found on a historical marker hanging on a corner inside Holy Rosary Parish Church: On January 1945, an American Bomber went down and plowed through the roof of Holy Rosary Parish Church leaving a gaping hole. The bomber burst into a fireball near the church killing its entire crew.

Museo Ning Angeles
Santo Rosario Street corner Santo Entierro Street, Angeles City
Monday to Saturday 9AM to 5PM

We did not visit this museum but saw it from across Holy Rosary Parish Church, so I thought I'd just include it here, in case you came by this blog looking for places to visit in Pampanga. A little research told me that the building where Museo Ning Angeles is was built in 1922 and served as Angeles' City Hall until 1998. It was turned into Museo Ning Angeles in 1999.

Museo ng Kasaysayang Panlipunan ng Pilipinas / Museum of Philippine Social History
(The Pamintuan Mansion)
Santo Entierro Street corner Miranda Street, Angeles City
Tuesday to Sunday 8AM to 4PM

The Pamintuan Mansion was built in 1890 by Mariano Pamintuan and his wife Valentina Torres as a wedding gift for their son, Florentino (who became the mayor of Angeles in 1900). The house underwent many a historical event. It served as General Antonio Luna's headquarters in  April 1899 and, the following month, briefly served as the seat of the Philippine Republic (occupied by General Emilio Aguinaldo and his staff). In June 1899, it served as a venue for the celebration of the first anniversary of the Philippine Independence. When the Americans occupied Angeles, the mansion served as General MacArthur's headquarters. During World War II, Japanese kamikaze pilots were housed in the mansion. The mansion later served as a club house, then a hotel, then a city hall, then an office.

In 2015 the Pamintuan Mansion was turned into the Museum of Philippine Social History with nine galleries telling about the history of the mansion, displaying Philippine textiles, clothing styles, architectural styles, home furnishing, Filipino music, and Filipino games.

We spent four hours on the road (two hours to get there and two hours to get home) and an equal amount of time to go back hundreds of years through the churches and historical buildings of Guagua, Bacolor, and Angeles City.



  1. Gusto ko to! Didn't know Pampanga have these magnificent churches! Been to Angeles and that is all I know about Pampanga. Glad you shared this. I might plan a quick trip to Pampanga. :)

    1. Hi Pepe! Go! Go! I found the paintings on the ceiling of Betis Church absolutely breathtaking and the church in Guagua amazing. Our trip was only four hours short so this is all I could share. If you find anything else interesting on your trip, do share :)

  2. And here I thought Pampanga is just known for Razons. :)

  3. Pampanga is not only known as culinary capital in the Philippines, but also in its historical places. San Guillermo Parish Church is one of the places in Pampanga that I love.