Traveling North of the Philippines means that you get to pass by Clark and Bataan, but they’re mostly treated as stopovers rather than destinations. Clark is known for being the old US base, while Bataan marks a tragic part of our history with the Death March. But there really is so much more to this region than just its colonial past. We took a trip to find out what else you could do at Clark and Bataan. 1. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Las Casas is home to multiple restored Spanish-inspired Filipino houses (casas). This is a project by the Acuzar family of San Jose Builders. It’s as if we were transported back to Old Manila, with the cobblestones and kalesas. My favorite part was the short cruise through Escolta de Binondo. While it’s no longer the wisest housing choice given our current weather patterns, it’s great that there are families like the Acuzars who put in the effort to preserve these old houses to give future generations a chance to marvel at and appreciate their beauty and history. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Brgy. Ibaba, Bagac, Bataan 2107, Philippines Direct Lines: +63 332 5286/+63 332 5338/+63 8774503 Mobile No.: +63 917 832 9361 Email: email@example.com Facebook: Las Casas Bataan Instagram: @lascasasfilipinasdeacuzar Website: https://www.lascasasfilipinas.com 2. Vista Tala Vista Tala is situated in one of the higher areas of Orani, Bataan. Its weather is comparable to that of Tagaytay. Vista Tala is both a resort and a recreational park. To distract yourself from the cold, why not try wall climbing or rappelling? A 15-minute trek will take you to Bataan National Park, which has a great view of the whole of Bataan. They also have accommodations with a pool that provide a great view of the lush mountains. Vista Tala Resort 2112 Brgy. Tala, Orani, Bataan Facebook: Vista Tala Resort Phone: +63 (047) 633 4581 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 3. Aqua Planet Aqua Planet is a massive waterpark located right at the Clark Freeport Zone. It is home to 20+ attractions, including a vertical drop slide, closed tube slides, a Flowrider, and what they call The Vortex. There’s also a 600-meter lazy river. An ambitious project almost 3 years in the making, Aqua Planet hopes to open its doors to the public this summer. Follow their Facebook page for updates on their opening date and rates. Aqua Planet Clark Freeport, Mabalacat, Pampanga Phone: +63 (045) 308 8888 E-mail: email@example.com Facebook: Aqua Planet PH Website: http://www.aquaplanet.ph 4. Nayong Pilipino As a kid, I never really got the chance to visit Nayong Pilipino in Manila as it closed down the year we were supposed to have an educational field trip, so I don’t have a good basis for comparison. The replica of the Ifugao Houses, the Barasoain Church and its plaza, and the daily cultural performances all make Nayong Pilipino a dynamic and interactive source of knowledge. The cultural performance starts at 2PM daily. Nayong Pilipino Clark Centennial Road, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga Operating Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm, Tuesday to Sunday Phone: +63 45 499 3239 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: @nayongpilipinoofficial 5. Matam-ih Restaurant Pampanga is known for having great cooks and flavorful cuisine, so a trip would not be complete without visiting at least one Kapampangan restaurant. Matam-ih means delicious in the Aeta language. I liked their Pinakbet stewed in anchovy sauce–it’s not a common ingredient in our household. Matam-ih Authentic Kapampangan Cuisine Lot 1-D, M.A., Manuel A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga Operating Hours: 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM Mobile: +63 939 988 2382 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matamihresto/ E-mail: email@example.com 6. Clark Museum 4D Theater Situated inside the Clark Freeport Zone is a hub of knowledge and history of Pampanga. The Clark Museum includes artifacts from the Aeta culture, the Pinatubo explosion, the American occupation, and bits of life from the Kapampangan culture like pottery and parols. There’s even an interactive diorama of Mt. Pinatubo. A short movie called “Risen from the Ashes” featuring the history of Pampanga, Pinatubo, and the story of how Clark got its name is played in the 4D Theater. I found it to be a great refresher for history and I also learned some facts that were never taught in school. Clark Museum and 4D Theater Clark Freeport, Mabalacat, Pampanga Operating Hours: 9:00AM to 3:30PM Phone: +6345 599 2854 7. Hansa Creation Did you know that there’s a toy factory in the Philippines that makes lifelike stuffed animals for movies? Hansa Creation has done work for franchises like Harry Potter (Aragog and Hedwig) and Charlotte’s Web. It’s also great to learn that they recycle plastic and turn it into stuffing for the toys. They accept tours for a minimum of 25pax. Details can be requested through firstname.lastname@example.org Hansa Creation Inc. Hansa Building, A. Soriano Street, Clark Freeport, Clarkfield, Angeles City, 2010, Pampanga Phone: +6345 599 3333 Overall, we loved revisiting and discovering new places to explore in Clark and Bataan. Being able to immerse ourselves in Old Manila, exploring a portion of the Philippines through Nayong Filipino, and trying out Kapampangan cuisine was, all in all, a remarkable experience. Clark is just a few hours away from Manila so you can spend a full day checking all the spots at Clark Freeport before checking into a hotel and spending the next day in Bataan. Live an Awesome Life, MONIQUE of TEAM OUR AWESOME PLANET Disclaimer: Our trip was courtesy of Department of Tourism Region 3. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. The Department of Tourism has an ongoing campaign called Bring Home A Friend. Both sponsors and invitees can get a chance to win awesome prizes, including a condominium ticket or a roundtrip international ticket! Win-win, right? You can read all the mechanics on the Bring Home A Friend Website.