Lakbay Norte 2010: Clark, Pampanga

January 31, 2010. It was in 1903 when the American invaders established “Fort Stotsenburg.” For almost a hundred years later, the fort, which was later renamed to “Clark Air Base” became a major stronghold of the American forces in the Far East. It was considered the largest American military installation on foreign soil.

With the expiration of the base agreement in 1991, the Philippines reclaimed the air base and the government sought to transform the facility into a freeport zone. Clark has been a known as a destination for duty free shopping and leisure estate activities from swimming to golfing. The tourism offices in the area, however, have been promoting more activities for visitors to Clark.

For those who want to get to know more about the air base’s history there are tours onboard airconditioned “Jeep ni Juan” jeepneys provided by Castro Travel Solutions (+63 45 6256608) that you may avail. They also have packages for an afternoon at volcanic hot springs, a trek to Mt. Pinatubo and an even aerial tour of the infamous volcano.

Another new activity for visitors to Clark is horseback riding at El Kabayo Riding Stables (+63 09178122106). You can ride the horses around the compound or you can request for a ride around Clark. If you’re up for it, you can even take the horse for a ride along the Sacobia River to see the lahar canyons created by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

Across the Sacobia River from Clark is a nature and conservation park called Paradise Ranch which features gardens and zoo animals. The park features one of the largest butterfly gardens in the country and a “million-dollar” view of the entire Clark Freeport Zone. The place is more suited for kids and educational field trips. Adults, on the other hand, can hold team building seminars, retreats, camping and weddings in the garden.

With the development and expansion of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Clark is now poised to become one of the country’s major gateways. The master development plan of the freeport zone seeks to transform the former US air base into an airport city and as a globally competitive international service and logistics center in the Asia-Pacific Region. While that has not fully happened, Clark Airport does serve inbound and outbound flights to and from many local and international destinations. It has flights to and from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and even the Middle East.

How to get to Clark? One can drive from Manila by car through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and reach Clark in an hour and a half. Take the NLEX exit at Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga and make a left turn towards Angeles City and a right turn towards Clark. Clark may also be reached via the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). From the NLEX, continue the drive leading to the SCTEX exit. One may use either the Clark North Interchange (Panday Pira access road near Nayong Pilipino) or the Clark South Interchange (near Yokohama and Clark Main Gate) to enter Clark.

One may also take public transportation to Clark. Take a Victory Liner bus bound for Dagupan and alight at the Dau common terminal. Walk a bit towards the highway where jeepneys or tricycles are available that can take you right up to the Clark gate. Philippine Rabbit also has trips to Angeles, Pampanga, via Dau. Partas and Philtranco also has bus trips to Clark.

NAIA Terminal 3

I just got back from Davao a few days ago from a student council congress. I’m not yet in a mood to write exhaustively about the KASAMA sa UP (Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP) Congress, plus I won’t be home for another two days, so I’ll just leave you with some photos of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3).

NAIA 3 is the newest and largest terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Complex, and its most controversial, with all the scandals that erupted from the anomalous contracts. Its opening had been delayed for years, and for now, it’s partially functional as the terminal hub of Cebu Pacific Air and PAL Express. There are a few retail stalls now open, too. I didn’t get to go around a lot since I arrived at the airport just in time for the last boarding call, and upon arriving back from Davao, I just grabbed some grub before heading home.

US Trip ’07: Atlanta to New York

May 27, 2007. It was Memorial Day weekend. My aunt and her family brought us and saw us off from Hartfield Jackson Airport in the morning, a few hours before noon. At the security check, our boarding passes were marked with special markers, and we were brought into these special glass cubicles. It’s “SOP,” I suppose, for suspicious-looking people like us, however subjective their standards are. I don’t know. For certain, most of the other domestic passengers didn’t go through all that hassle.

Anyway. By this time, I’ve come to particularly enjoy loitering around airports while waiting for boarding time. There’s this certain leisure in watching other passengers and looking through the shops.

leaving Atlanta

Our Delta Airlines flight to New York took around five hours. New York and Atlanta are on the same time zone, so there’s no additional jet lag, though I did get to catch a few hours of sleep on the plane.

We arrived at Terminal 3 of the JFK Airport at a few hours past noon. We were stalled for a moment at the baggage claim area apparently because one of our luggages was forcibly opened and inspected. Admittedly, the particular luggage was frozen because it contained boxes and boxes of cold hopia from Binondo in Manila. None of them were missing, thankfully–though, the forced inspection of the luggage deemed it unusable. It was wrapped in meters of packaging tape when we got it.

We were picked up by a transport service that brought us from the airport to our hotel. We passed through Queensborough then across Queens Bridge to Manhattan. We arrived at Edison Hotel, just a few steps from Times Square, after some minutes of traffic through Manhattan’s streets.

After unpacking a bit, we immediately left our hotel and walked to Times Square to look for a place to have lunch. We eventually settled for something familiar, big servings of Italian fast food at Sbarro’s.