Our Adventures in Pampanga!
Up north, aside from Baguio, one of the most interesting places is Pampanga more so today with its own adventure park. It was Saturday and the sun is so hot when we went to Pampanga. Our – the eight of us – goal is to visit SandBox originally, but it is an open itinerary, giving us more room to explore the bests that Pampanga has to offer. Here’s what transpired during the day.
7:00 am – Assembly
8:00 am – Breakfast
9:00 am – Left Marikina
11:30 am – Arrived at Alviera
2:00 pm – Left Alviera
3:00 pm – Arrived at Everybody’s Café
4:30 pm – Left Everybody’s Café
5:15 pm – Arrived at Museo ning Angeles
6:30 pm – Left Museo ning Angeles
7:00 pm – Arrived at Mila’s Original Tokwa’t Baboy
8:30 pm – Left Mila’s Original Tokwa’t Baboy
10:00 pm – Arrived in Marikina
We had our breakfast at our Boss’s house which is also our meet-up place. At 9:00 am, we departed from Marikina and arrived at Alviera around 11:30 am. We took the SCTEX then, Porac Exit. You will never go wrong once there; you’d know you already in SandBox because a life-sized will greet you pass the parking area. This is a great place to take snapshots, if not for the scorching heat that will burn your skin to death.
Next, we spent at least 15 minutes at the ticket booth buying tickets and signing the waiver. And yes, Alviera prioritizes the safety of the guests. The six of us went for Package A inclusive of all the seven activities. SandBox welcomes walk-ins.
The first two attractions we saw are the Giant Swing (left side) and Aerial Walk (right side). Too bad the Aerial Walk is already full. It can only accommodate a certain number of adventure-seekers at a time. The line at the Giant Swing, on the other hand, is too long we’ve decided to proceed to the Adventure Tower first.
The Adventure Tower is basically a structure with four adventures, one in each side. These are the sides for wall climbing, rappelling, Avatar One and Free Fall. Avatar One is the roller coaster zipline that we cannot resist riding. Love the dips and slopes; not really your usual zipline.
The Free Fall is located at the uppermost deck (there are five decks in total). A harness will be tied to your waist. You will jump straight from the deck to the air. In three seconds, you are at the ground. Mind you, this is the most fearful three seconds of your life.
Before the Free Fall though, we continued with the Giant Swing first (perhaps to gather more strength). At the Giant Swing, there are two swings that can accommodate two riders each (tandem). No one of us dared to go solo. After attaching the harness, we were hoisted up to the highest point possible (10 meters above the ground) just before the staff released the cable. Whoa!
Awkward as it is, the in-house photography provider captured the most awkward of the moment. These snaps will never be Facebook-worthy. Ever.
We finished every activity available by 1:30 pm. We ate snacks at the mini cafeteria near the ticket booth. Some of us also bought souvenir items at a makeshift shop near the snacks area. There are bracelets, necklaces and bags handcrafted by the Aetas, natives of Pampanga.
Leaving SandBox, we headed to San Fernando with the intention of locating and eating at Everybody’s Café. The restaurant is well-celebrated locally and frequently-visited by the tourists. It’s like a complete journey to the Kapampangan cuisine. It serves authentic (and exotic) home-cooked recipes such as adobong kamaro (mole cricket), murcon and kare-kare. Too bad we missed the betuteng tugak (stuffed frog) and pindang tapa (carabao tapa). Gone are those (maybe because it is already 3 pm. The best part is, the bottomless bulalo soup!
We ate to our hearts’ content until it was time to leave. Before that though, we sampled the Café’s sans rival. All of us agreed that this is the best sans rival that we ever tasted. It melts in your mouth. Well, there’s a mini store selling Pampangan delicacies inside the Café where you can already buy your pasalubong.
Our next stop is Museo ning Angeles. It was the old municipal building turned into a museum. It was divided into Balikdan (to look back) that showcases the history of Angeles and Dioramic Scenes of Traditional Life in Pampanga on the first floor and Culinarium where antique Kapampangan kitchen utensils are featured.
It was past 5 pm when we arrived at the museum; already closed. However, the assistant is kind enough to re-open the museum for us. We lounged at the cafeteria (outside the museum) while marveling at the Holy Rosary Parish Church in front of the museum. It was called Pisambang Maragul by the locals which means ‘Big Church’ in English. Some of us went inside the church while some watched the bell-ringer ring a gigantic bell at the tower. It’s 6 pm and a procession was heading the church.
Come dinner time, we went to Mila’s Original Tokwa’t Baboy, a few meters away from the museum if not for the traffic. We arrived at the humble dining place around 7 pm. We went there for the sisig and oh, it tasted unlike any other sisigs that we’ve tried before. We also ordered tokwa’t baboy and chicharon bulaklak. Some also bought leche flan for pasalubong while there. Their version of leche flan is made from duck’s egg that made the flan slightly harder, but custardy enough.
That’s it. We had back to Marikina and called it a day. However, the memories that Pampanga imprinted on our heart and of course, palette will never be forgotten. We even thought of coming back someday soon!