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Located in the great Central Plain of Luzon, Pampanga is considered as one of the country’s major “Rice Bowl”, with its emerald-green ricefields carpeting the entire land. During the 19th century, the province boasted of an elite class that reaped its fortune from the ricefields. The province is now famous for Mount Pinatubo, which erupted in 1991. Its quasi-lunar lahar landscape and Crater Lake have attracted numerous tourists and trekkers. Nearby Mount Arayat is an extinct volcano overlooking the province’s ricefields and home to a nationa1 park. Clark Special Economic Zone is the province’s newest showcase. The former military airbase now boasts of world-class resorts, hotels, golf parks, country clubs, duty-free shopping malls, the Clark Museum and the Museo Kapampangan. The capital of San Fernando is famous for its Lantern Festival during December and its Holy Week penitents who actually have themselves crucified during Good Friday. Bacolor has the lahar-submerged San Guillermo Church. The entire town was virtually entombed during the volcanic catastrophe, but the town is slowly coming back to life. Adjoining Betis is famous for its woodcraft; its Church of St. James has one of the best interiors in the country, with a Baroque altar piece or retablo along with numerous frescoes. Apalit holds its riverine Apo Iro Festival every June 28. Minalin has a charmingly restored church facade and 300-year-old mural map of the province.

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