Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pampanga Food and Heritage Tour

The province of Pampanga, aka the "Culinary Capital of the Philippines", has been my school's (both elementary and high school) top favorite field trip destination. If my memory serves me right, we had our field trip in this province when I was in 6th grade, 1st and 3rd year. I can even recall where our bus would usually stop for lunch - Double Happiness Restaurant.

Anyways... I was just here last Saturday for yet another field trip. I was with Culture Shock Ph this time and our tour focuses on what the Kapampangans are really known for - food.

Saturday - December 15, 2012

It was around noon time when our tour group reached the Borromeo House, our first stop for this day's tour. Here, Atching Lillian, the carrier of her family's culinary flame, served us with traditional Kapampangan dishes (aaahh, sobrang sarap lang), which are heirloom recipes. All food are exceptionally good, flavors were not overpowering each other, tamang-tama lang ang timpla.

Bringhe, sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, it has chicken and egg toppings. Tastes like arrozcaldo but a dry version.    
Paksing Demonyo, pickled vagetables that tastes like atchara. I love this one.
Buro, fermented soft rice that is usually partnered to many other dishes. Smells awful, but has an interesting taste 
Tidtad, the Kapampangan version of dinuguan, it is unique as it uses whole blood cubes instead of blood soup. 
Sisig, probably the most famous Kapampangan Dish, it's made of chopped pig ears, brain, stomach and other internal organs. Works well with beer.
Cooking demo by Atching Lillian herself followed our buffet lunch. She showed us how to prepare San Nicolas Cookies. These cookies might look and taste very simple, but hey, the story behind it and the mold used to prepare it tickled the history-lover in me.

Atching Lillian as she prepares the cooking demo for everyone. She'll be making Panecillos de San Nicolas. By the way, this woman is one of the most outsanding Kapampangan of 2012. Awesome!
cookies on the making.
each cookie mold has a unique and intricate pattern.
and here's the finished product, Penecillos de San Nicolas
At around 2PM, we left Atching Lillian with bloated tummies and carried on with our tour. San Guillermo Church in Bacolor was our next stop. This half-buried church is a true testament of how ferocious Mother Nature can be.

For those who do not know, especially the younger generation who weren't born yet when the tragedy struck Central Luzon, the Province of Pampanga was one of the three Luzon Provinces (Tarlac and Zambales are the other two) that were badly devastated by the lahar that followed Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Major towns in Pampanga were sunk in lahar, including the town of Bacolor which for a brief time during the Spanish Colonial Period, served as the capital of the Philippines.

San Guillermo Parish, the doorway you can see in the photo used to be the window of the choir on the second floor.
This church was the one used in the famous teleserye, May Bukas Pa.
There was a wedding ceremony when we reached San Guillermo Church, hence we were not able to roam around freely inside the church. Instead, we just checked out the church's museum and cemetery at the back.

Half of the church was eaten by the lahar
At the back of the church is a cemetery..

of course it was also eaten by the lahar
Not too far from the San Guillermo Church, is the Betis Crafts, the third stop in our itinerary. Betis Crafts actually shows how great and creative the people of Betis in woodcarving. We were toured by Sir John into different showrooms which showcased world-class, high-end and overwhelmingly great craftsmanship. Honestly speaking, my jaw dropped upon seeing their work.

Betis is known for woodcarving
some of their work
creative and intricate
world-class and high-end export products
By 4:30PM we're done touring the Betis Crafts, but before we left the place and head to our next destination, we had a delicious turon mirienda partnered with a refreshing lemon grass juice, yum yum!     

turon for mirienda, yummy!
We visited next the Betis Church, or St. James the Apostle Parish. Others call this church "the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines" because of its amazing hand-painted walls and ceiling that depicts stories from the bible. This church, by the way, was the parish of former Pampanga governor Fr. Ed Panlilio, the priest who had a calling in the world of politics.

they say it's the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines
Betis Church of Guagua
We spent only about 20 minutes at Betis Church and headed next to Everybody's Cafe for an early dinner. This resto served us exotic dishes, i.e. crickets, stuffed frog and tapang kalabaw. These food might seem unpalatable, but contrary to that, each food tastes great, at least for a person with curious taste buds like me.

Everybody's Cafe for your exotic food cravings
Pako Salad, young fern head mixed with salted egg and tomato slices
Kamaru, or mole crickets. It has an interesting taste and texture, but I like it.
Back in college, I was dissecting these little insects.  
Betute, or stuffed frog. Frogs taste like chicken they say.
Still,  I was dissecting these animals back in college.

Our day tour did not end yet. After the early dinner, we proceeded to the site of the Giant Parol Festival - I'll be creating a separate post for this one.  


My big thanks to Culture Shock for letting me experience the food and heritage of Pampanga.

Exploring the Philippines is worth the shock. Visit Culture Shock Ph and book a trip now! 


  1. malakas ako mag-control ng envy pero kainggit itong lakad mo ah! natikman ko na lahat ito (except for that interesting cookie) pero yung mga pictures mo para akong inosente uli sa lasa nun, gaganda ng mga kuha mo ha!

    BTW, salamat sa pag-picture nung gawaan ng cookies, nakaka-proud maging Pinoy

  2. paksing demonyo, petute,kamaro, at buro..sounds pretty interesting. hmmmm..really wanna visit pampanga soon..

    yung church parang yung kay Santino setting.

  3. Namasyal din kami ng Pampanga last year with matching food trip at ang masasabi ko sa Pampanga ay magaganda ang mga tourists spot at ang pagkain nila, napakasarap! :)

  4. Madami talagang magagandang place sa Pampanga, mga heritage churches, waterparks, cafe's, etc. Lalong lalo na sa may San Fernando Pampanga na may magaganda ding tourists spot.



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