Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Luzon > Central Luzon > Pampanga > Southwest Pampanga
Southwest Pampanga, administratively the 2nd District, is composed of seven municipalities (and their town centers) of the province of Pampanga. They are to the west of San Fernando, the provincial capital.
This article groups together seven municipalities of Pampanga, namely:
- 1 Guagua (117,000) — Not really the largest municipality, but it is the traditional commercial center, divided into four districts, Poblacion, Betis, Locion, and Pangulu. It has a historic town center and Filipino Chinese heritage.
- 2 Bacolor (39,500) — Town center and surrounding area badly devastated by the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
- 3 Floridablanca (125,000) — Home to Basa Air Base, and some heritage structures in its town center.
- 4 Lubao — The hometown of former presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it has the oldest church in Pampanga, and an annual hot-air balloon festival.
- 5 Porac (124,000) — Municipality at the foothills of Mount Pinatubo.
- 6 Santa Rita — An out-of-the-way town, with turrones de casoy being its local delicacy.
- 7 Sasmuan (28,000) — A fishing town, formerly named Sexmoan, which was infamous due to the "sex-" element being associated with English sex, but the name came out from a Spanish-era transcription of a Kapampangan word for "meeting place".
The area's geography is generally flat and low-lying, dominated by rice paddies and fishponds, but the westernmost municipalities have rolling terrain as they encroach Mount Pinatubo. The municipalities along the coast of Manila Bay are mostly alluvial plains formed by the outflow of numerous rivers.
Southwest Pampanga has been settled long before the Spaniards arrived. Many of the town centers date back to the late 16th century, and have streets typically laid out in a rough grid. The barangays forming each municipality vary, many being ribbon developments with side streets emanating from the principal road, while others have street networks, especially those further subdivided into subdivisions or sitios/puroks.
Jose Abad Santos Avenue (Route 3), often shortened into JASA, or also called Olongapo-Gapan Road, is a four to six-lane highway that traverses southwest Pampanga from Bacolor to Lubao, at the boundary with Bataan. Buses from Manila to Bataan or Zambales ply this highway, and stop at the junctions leading into the town centers.
Angeles-Porac-Floridablanca-Dinalupihan Road (Route 217) traverses the other municipalities further inland. There are no buses using this highway, but there are jeepneys from Angeles. Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway parallels the highway to the west, and the only other convenient way to reach Porac and Floridablanca.
Guagua town proper is served by Baliwag and Victory Liner buses from Manila.
Perhaps save for Jose Abad Santos Avenue, most of the area's roads are narrow, and houses and building encroach the sidewalk and shoulder.
The town centers of most municipalities have narrow streets arranged in a grid layout, and are walkable.
Buses ply the heavily traveled JASA, while the minor roads leading to the town centers are served by jeepneys.
- 1 San Guillermo Parish Church (Bacolor Church). A Roman Catholic church which also doubles as a memorial to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. The original church building dates back to 1587 but is destroyed by an earthquake, and the present church is from 1897. During the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991, the church, along with its cemetery became half-buried in lahar, which has since hardened. The church remains a place of worship, but it also a museum housing paintings by local artists of the 1991 eruption.
- 2 Betis Church (Santiago Apostol Parish Church), Purok 1, San Nicolas 2nd, Betis. Baroque church dating back to the 1700s. The original church was built inn 1660, but it was damaged by fires, and was rebuilt in the 1770s. It is declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2001. The church's interior is likened to those inside the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
- 3 Immaculate Conception Church (Guagua Church), Aurelio Tolentino Street, Plaza Burgos, Poblacion. The present barn-style Baroque church and belfry dates to 1772. The original was built in 1587, but destroyed by fire.
- Lopez Mansion, San Nicolas 1st, Poblacion. Built in 1929 as the residence of a sugar magnate, Don Alejandro Lopez, it was considered the first concrete house in Pampanga.
- Diosdado Macapagal Museum and Library. It was built behind the bahay kubo where Diosdado Macapagal, the 9th President of the Philippines, once lived. Inside the museum are historical photographs of Macapagal and other memorabilia, and a replica of the Office of the President's desk.
- 4 San Agustin Church (Lubao Church). The oldest parish church in Pampanga, it has a neoclassical façade and a stone brick structure. The church building and belfry that stands today dates back to 1638. It was declared a National Historical Site in 1952, and an Important Cultural Property in 2013.
- 5 Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church (Porac Church), Ortigas Street, Poblacion (Near the town hall). A Baroque church dating to 1872. It was damaged during World War II, but has survived, and is restored in the 1980s.
- Lubao International Balloon Festival, Pradera Verde, Lubao. First held in 2013, it features over 30 hot-air balloons, including some that are specially shaped. It is held between the end of March and the beginning of April, during the hot season.
- 1 Sandbox, Sapang Uwak, Porac (At the vicinity of SCTEX Porac Exit). 9AM-5PM. Part of the Alviera private development, it has a giant swing and an obstacle course. Being in a relatively dry area near Mount Pinatubo, it can become hot during the months of March to May, so prepare to get sunburned.