Your summer getaway spots in Clark
Military bases, imported goods and hackneyed educational tour destinations from my image of Clark.Where it is exactly has also been a source of great confusion to me.
I’ve often used it interchangeably with Subic, and once thought that it was a town in Pampanga. But that says more about my knowledge of geography than anything else.
It turns out Clark is in Pampanga, but also in Tarlac. The Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, as it is officially known, spans the towns of Angeles, Mabalacat and Porac in the former, and Capas and Bamban in the latter.
It was once a US military reservation base until the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, a.k.a. RA 7227, made it a hub for businesses and other industries. Clark now has an international airport, several aviation establishments, shopping districts and a slew of tourist spots.
Trying out the Octopus Racers with some friends, El Kabayo’s glamping is perfect for barkadas and The Pamintuan Mansion is one of the highlights of the Angeles Heritage Park.
In the city of Angeles, for instance, one would learn about history and culture. Birthed by a not-so favorable comment on an online article, the Heritage Park is a modern marvel.
Just like any city in the country, electrical wires and cables ran like cat’s cradle across Angeles’s airscape—not a good thing when you want people to appreciate the architecture. But by getting telcos on board, the lines were rerouted, and in 2014, the Plaza was free of unsightly wires. It made way for better appreciation of key structures like the Holy Rosary Church—one of the country’s most important landmarks as cited by the National Museum.
Another prominent building in the city is the Museo ng Kasaysayan ng Panlipunan ng Pilipinas, a.k.a. the Pamintuan Mansion. A former office of General Arthur MacArthur and General Antonio Luna, the house best showcases the architectural style of the period. It also contains cultural articles like pieces of indigenous clothing and traditional household implements.
Agricultural hot spot
Meanwhile, when you venture into the fringes of Angeles, you’ll find Tibby’s Farm—the only EAT (Education, Accommodation and Tourism) facility this side of Clark. Featuring aquaponic facilities, organic gardens and farm-to-table dining, the place promotes sustainable farming and serves as a venue for learning.
Tibby’s Farm is the brainchild of Atty. Angelo Valencia who believes that the country’s future lies in the countryside. By educating individuals and groups about proper land management, and linking them to each other, the place encourages inclusive growth and cooperation in all sectors.
Year-round water fun
Clark is also home to the Philippines’s largest water park: Aqua Planet. After taking some time off to polish its operations, the place is back with bigger and better services. It’s located in the town of Mabalacat and is open daily until 5 p.m.
With a total land area of 10 hectares, the park has roughly 40 slides along with a slew of amenities that would make for a fun, adrenaline-filled day out. There’s the rainbow-colored Octopus Racers. The Sky Shuttle where you and three of your friends will be blasted off at an alarmingly steep platform. There’s also the Flow Rider where you can experience how it feels to surf a wave. But perhaps the most intense of all the rides is the Aqua Loop, which features a 90-degree drop! Be warned: There’s a slight chance of getting stuck in one of the loops. Trust me, I am speaking from experience. Not to worry though, the place is ready for such things, and you’ll be safely hauled out of the slide in no time.
If these rides are too much, you can always grab a buoy and laze your way across the “river.” There are also many food options to choose from inside the premises. Cabanas are available for rent, while the many tables and chairs around the park are free to use.
I’ve never considered Clark as an “outdoor” destination, but you can certainly have such an experience here. In El Kabayo Stables, one can rough it out without sacrificing modern comforts.
Popular for its Western-themed facilities, El Kabayo offers glamorous camping, a.k.a. “glamping.” You get to stay in a tent, sleep under the stars, but still have access to a proper toilet and have a sumptuous meal. The setup includes a roomy tent with mattresses, beddings and toiletries. There’s also a “grazing table” whose spread can be customized based on your preferences. Archery and horseback riding can also be included.
El Kabayo’s glamping is perfect for big barkada or groups looking for some time to spend outdoors but don’t want to make the “full commitment” to actual camping. Should you be interested, you’d need to make an arrangement at least one week before your preferred date to allow for ample prep time. Check out elkabayostables.com for more information.
Clark may be best known as a former US military base and has gotten a bad rap in the past, but while you’d think the place is littered with decommissioned tanks and US expats, it’s variety of tourist destinations surprise you with a number of unique experiences.
From historical walks to good ol’ swimming pools, Clark is definitely worth knowing better.