Clark is probably one of my favorite local places to drive to. Not because of its legendary nightlife (read: gambling, bars, etc.) but because of it’s relative peacefulness and American-style surroundings.
Clark in Pampanga (about and hour and a half drive from Manila) was architecturally designed by the Americans at the time there were US bases here. The bases are gone but the place continues to thrive and develop. It is also known to be the area where the famous volacano Mount Pinatubo is located.
Clark is a place that hums with development. It is also reportedly becoming a hub for casino gambling (supposedly already beating the gambling levels of PAGCOR in Manila!). There is also construction work going on in an area reportedly to become a wakeboarding park to rival that of the famous CamSur in Northern part of the country. And with all that there is even talk about a possibility of building a local Disneyland in Clark!
There is always something happening there. I have gone to Clark thrice already in the last 6 months to attend various activities – the much-awaited annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, the Drift Fest event and the annual Fontana Autoshow. All worth visiting!
The Hot Air Balloon event is definitely the biggest activity in Clark every year. There must have been half a million people there this year. The Hot Air Balloons are definitely crowd drawers. And I think the car drifting demo done there was a crowd drawer too!
|The Hot Air Balloon event at Clarkfield, Pampanga|
It’s natural for Clark to have car events all the time given it has what seems to be the most modern race track in the country – Clark Speedway. The Drift Fest event happened at this track and the track can actually accommodate up to 3 events simultaneously in one day!
|At the Clark Speedway for Drift Fest|
Another car show venue is Fontana, with its water theme park and casino, where the entire population of Pampanga seem to flock to during weekends (about P5,000 per villa). The annual Fontana Autoshow is quite the car spectacle. Hopefully people enjoyed the drifting demo done there as well. Of course not everyone goes there for the cars (most men go there for the bikini shows, of course).
|Posing with drift cars at the Fontana Autoshow 2012|
Given all these hot outdoor activities, I usually need to drive out to enjoy the long stretches of road lined with giant trees and also to find an airconditioned spot to rest. I usually end up at the Creamline ice cream house, where you will surely like trying the Mount Pinatubo ice cream specialty (good for sharing with up to 3 people!). And of course SM Clark is just another quick drive away should you wish to cool off before returning to the outdoor events.
|The big Creamline sign greets you upon arrival|
|Try the Banana Split (left) and the famous Mount Pinatubo ice cream dish (right)|
|The Creamline ice cream house|
If you’re planning to go to Clark, I would suggest staying in Hotel Stotsenberg with its wonderful swimming pool (less than P4,000 per night) or at Clark Hostel (less than P2,000 per night) if you’re on a budget. For those who are OK with paying more, go to Holiday Inn (about P8,000 per night) or Hotel Vida (about P7000 per night). Fontana, with its water theme park and casino, is another favorite destination in Clark, but be prepared to check in with Pampanga’s entire population (and half of Manila probably) during weekends
|Poolside of Hotel Stotsenberg|
|Water slide at Hotel Stotsenberg|
|Garden of Hotel Stotesenberg|
|Facade of Hotel Stotsenberg|