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Ahead of the pack


kitchen trippin’ DAESIK HAN

Big Tree bears wonder of Widus MUTYA NING ANGELES 2010


Having a Grand Time at

Casino Widus 우리와 함께 여가를 즐기시! Having a grand time with us!

Mempunyai masa grand dengan kami!

thumb nails COVER STO : Having a grand time WidRY us


JEFFREY CRUZ: Ahead of the pack

Where you tee off like a king





(Christmas) Lights out?


MABALACAT: The Next Makati North of Manila



Big Tree bears wonder of Widus



PEPE’S TOP PICKS: Kitchen trippin’





EVENTS: Horsing around at Clark






OR OUR MAIDEN ISSUE, we promise you a good read on some of the most inspiring personalities hereabouts, some of the truly exciting local places to visit, and some interesting stuff to try this Christmas. First, our Cover Story features the newly-crowned Mutya Ning Angeles 2010, Lara Isabelle Dizon. We bring to you our candid interview with Lara where she relates her continuing journey to claim her dream of becoming a beauty queen. Of course, this ‘date’ of yours with Lara comes with a generous serving of her angelic face and heavenly beauty captured through the vivid photography of Borj Meneses. Then get to meet Jeffrey Cruz, who owns and manages Adworks based in Angeles City, and Daesik Han, the main man behind Hotel Vida and Casino Widus inside Clark Freeport Zone. Their true stories share parallels of overcoming great odds, of passionate hard work breeding unending success, and of having a genuine concern and respect for the people they work with. Next, Peter Alagos explores the burning question on the impending fate of Pampanga’s famous Christmas lantern industry. He investigates the true economics behind its existence— or perhaps, its demise. Also, check out this month’s PEPE’s Top Picks. Sab Esguerra takes us through a random sampling of gastronomic delights we may indulge ourselves with this Yuletide Season. Set aside that weight-loss diet for a while and help yourself to Sab Esguerra’s recommended menu of Kapampangan food and delicacies. —JAFP




ahead of the pack W


HEN YOU’RE DOWN, is there anywhere else to go but up? Maybe, but for those who have experienced the extremes of being down— and out— such an optimistic take on life that has hit rock bottom somehow just sound a bit too cliché, a bit too scary, for comfort. Trouble-weary men have been known to take the easy way out, surrendering to their fallen state, no longer willing to renegotiate the tough terrain. Perhaps, but not to men who aren’t made of the lesser stuff. Not to men who aren’t lacking of fi res in their bellies, of passion in their hearts, of vision in their minds. Men exactly like the young Jeffrey Cruz, owner of Adworks, a full-service advertising and digital graphic design agency based in Angeles City. His story is one that is precisely about fire, passion and vision overcoming overwhelming odds, one that quietly adds to that list of inspiring comeback kids zooming ahead of the pack. During our exclusive interview with this dapper entrepreneur, Jeffrey Cruz still vividly recalls the day he is driving around the city, wandering its busy streets with no particular destination in mind, deeply contemplating what to do next, still struggling with the painful reality of his once-booming music store business thinned-out and eventually muted by pirates that plagued the industry. “It was in the mid-nineties, the height of piracy. We stood no chance selling original music CDs and tapes when pirated copies were selling way, way much cheaper. So, even though around that time we had three major branches in and around Angeles with a combined inventory of merchandise worth millions, I was left with no choice but to close shop,” he sadly recounts. Just newlywed and his wife expecting their first born, Jeffrey Cruz begins to worry on how he will be able to provide for his new family. He is deep in debt and his personal savings have all dried up. He realizes the real meaning and feeling of hitting rock bottom. DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP


PEOPLE A CERTIFIED COCA-COLA ADDICT: “I start my day with a Coke and end it with one. I seldom drink water so maybe it is the caffeine that gives me the energy. It’s a good thing though because it makes me aggressive. I sometimes go overboard but good thing Bea is there to tame me.”

Yet, behind all the gloom and doom of his predicament, Jeffrey Cruz musters enough courage to drive home and come clean and honest before his wife. “It was a scene straight from an MMK (Maalaala Mo Kaya?) episode, my wife and I were both crying like it was already the end of the world.” Like the multitudes of Filipinos who have lost confidence in their country, Jeffrey Cruz finds himself pinning his hopes of a better life overseas. He slowly reveals his plan to wife Bea Tayag Ayson. He tells her: “I have to start somewhere even if it means I have to do menial jobs in a foreign land far away from family and friends.” His plan is to live a life far, far differently than what husband and wife, both scions of illustrious and prominent families, have known all their lives. Plans of joining the Pinoy diaspora, however, doesn’t materialize as Jeffrey Cruz gathers his wits and recovers from the initial shock of his first “bankruptcy.” Still in his early thirties, he “braves himself up” (pepatapanganan ke ing sarili ku, he says in the local dialect) to the thought that it is still best to stay home and make a good use of his business experience and education. A business management graduate of San Beda College in Manila, he decides will venture into whatever business his hands can hold onto. On this, he offers himself only two conditions: First, that it must be something he is good at doing and something he enjoys doing. And second, he must sell something he himself creates and not just supplied by any big company— a bitter lesson he takes from his defunct music store empire. Humbling himself even farther for a P50,000 loan from his father-in-law, Jeffrey Cruz wastes no time chasing his vision of establishing the city’s first ever digital ad agency. He fires up his creative energies and comes up with the idea of setting up shop inside a 20-foot steel container van to make up for not having enough funds to rent a decent shop space. Then, husband and wife start pouring dedication and passion into their start-up business,


with him doubling as graphic artist and production staff and her taking on the duty of secretary and accountant. Coming from a long line of artists in Pampanga, Jeffrey Cruz soon finds himself tailored fit to his new line business. While he did encounter the usual run of hassles in setting up a new venture, such as establishing links with suppliers of raw materials and attracting a base of loyal clients, he nonetheless sees his operations running smoothly that in just six months, Adworks relocates to a bigger office space and hires six new personnel to keep up with growing demand. One funny thing Jeffrey Cruz remembers during those early years of Adworks is the time he brings into the Pampanga region its first ever tarpaulin printing machine. “Everyone of my peers in the printing industry called me crazy. The equipment was still new in the (United) States and it was also still very expensive. They all felt that it was not about to replace the traditional method of printing streamers and banners. Everybody was proven wrong, of course,” he says with a wide smile. These days, Jeffrey Cruz still prefers to run his business hands-on even as Adworks has grown by leaps and bounds to become the most sought after advertising agency in the local scene doing just about anything a commercial establishment may need: From the stainless signs that adorned the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport terminal building, to giant billboards and standalone kiosks, from corporate identity collaterals to product designs, menus and packaging. These days, Jeffrey Cruz still runs around tireless and at time even restless. He is still a certified Coca-Cola addict, though. “I start my day with a Coke and end it with one. I seldom drink water so maybe it is the caffeine that gives me the energy. It’s a good thing though because it makes me aggressive. I sometimes go overboard but good thing Bea is there to tame me,” he shares with a chuckle. His untiring approach to work somehow rubs on his employees as well, not the least because he treats all of them as family. He takes pride that he rarely loses his temper or even raises his voice before his workers. Indeed, it warms his heart no end when he receives notes of encouragement and gratitude from his employees (now over 50, from just two in 2001) for being such a good boss and a better person. And it seems Jeffrey Cruz and Adworks are destined to even higher success. Having built an impressive list of clients such as Starbucks, SM Supermalls, BuyMaxx Supermarket, Montevista Villas and CLTV 36, Jeffrey Cruz and Adworks seem ready to take on the international competitions with budding contracts and commissions from Hong Kong and Singapore. Definitely so, after being down, Jepoy goes up! PEP








Lights Out ?

O WHATEVER HAPPENED to the parul sampernandu?

For decades, the parul sampernandu or the San Fernando lantern adorned the windows or porches of many Kapampangan homes. Because of its bright, dancing lights and colorful design, even visitors of the province are enticed to bring the parul sampernandu to their own homes. An improved, “hi-tech” version of the traditional parol or the Filipino Christmas lantern, the parul sampernandu is a testament to the artistic and creative skills of Kapampangan artisans. Made out of galvanized wire, Kapampangan parol makers install electric bulbs and one or several “winkers” into the lantern’s frame before wrapping it with colorful Japanese paper – giving it a unique look and design compared to its predecessor, which was usually made out of bamboo sticks wrapped in either Japanese paper or colored cellophane. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? The parul sampernandu is the centerpiece of the City of San Fernando’s One Town, One Product (OTOP) project, which is among Mayor Oscar Rodriguez’s eight-point agenda under the “Industriya at Kalakalan, Sandigan Kaularan” catch phrase. In December of 2006, the parul sampernandu helped Rodriguez bag two awards in the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) search for the best one town, one product project for the Central Luzon region. The mayor brought home the second best OTOP project award for the City of San Fernando Lantern Making Industry and the distinction of being the Most Supportive Local Government Unit in the entire Central Luzon region. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? It was also in December 2006 that City Administrator Fer Caylao, who was Rodriguez’s OTOP focal person, and Councilor Alex Patiu went to the United States for a trade mission to promote the parul sampernandu for export. They have also worked for the accreditation of the parul sampernandu’s electrical components in order to meet international safety standards. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu?

After being hailed as the DTI’s best OTOP for the entire plains of Central Luzon in 2006, the parul sampernandu traveled to many parts of the globe the following year placing the City of San Fernando on the international tourism road map. Under the craftsmanship of lantern maker Ernesto Quiwa and his team, the parul sampernandu paraded the streets of San Francisco, California in Christmas of 2007. For the whole month of December 2007, some 200 parul sampernandu were hung on lampposts along the world-famous Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, France. Also on the same year, 130 parul sampernandu were lit in one of the biggest night markets in Europe – the annual Christkindlmart. According to the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, it commissioned at least 70 parul sampernandu for the event while 60 other lanterns were donated by the City Government and the San Fernando Lantern-Makers Association. The parul sampernandu also competed in an international event held in Dubai in January 2008. They were showcased at the Dubai Shopping Festival where a lighting competition was held in the United Arab Emirates from Jan. 24 to Feb. 24, 2008. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? “E ne usu,” (There’s been a new trend in lantern making) said lantern maker Ronald Mungcal in an interview recently. Instead, Mungcal sells other kinds of lanterns and no longer the parul sampernandu. “Except if it is made to order,” he explicitly said. But he was quick to add: “Although it’s very seldom that somebody would request for a lantern such as the parul sampernandu.” Mungcal, a native of Sitio Sampaloc in Barangay Dolores, has been selling lanterns for 10 years now. He spent four years selling lanterns DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP


in the City of San Fernando but later on moved to Barangay Dau in Mabalacat town after lantern sales declined. He’s been selling lanterns in Mabalacat for the past six years. Mungcal’s father, Freddy, has been making and selling lanterns since he was a young boy. But the younger Mungcal said he and his father have stopped making lanterns and instead, opted to just buy ready-made frames. “We just install the electrical wires and work on the designs. To work on the frames is no longer time and cost efficient,” he said. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? Thirty-five year old Armand Canlas, who also hails from Dolores, doesn’t have time anymore to make the parul sampernandu. Armand is busy trying to beat the deadline for orders placed by other local government units. He is one of the many lantern makers commissioned by LGUs to decorate lamp posts and other outdoor areas of their respective communities. Securing a deal with LGUs is more lucrative usually ranging from a minimum of P100,000 per project, says Armand. The income is better and higher than what they get from their street sales, he added. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? Ryan Cayanan made more than P1 million in lantern sales last year. But not by selling the parul sampernandu. The 30-year old lantern maker merely echoed a familiar reply: “E ne usu.” So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? It has slowly been replaced by more durable materials like plastic rather than Japanese paper which could be easily torn or destroyed by wind or the rains. From plastic, lantern makers opted to use much more durable materials like capiz shells. Prices of capiz lanterns would normally range from P1,400 to as much as P4,000 depending on the size. Another durable material that sealed the fate of the once proud parul sampernandu is the light emitting diode or LED which is inserted into a transparent plastic-like tube called “flexi light.” Indeed, flexi light is flexible; flexible in the sense that it could be wrought into many other designs than just the traditional Christmas star. The most common design for the flexi light is Santa Claus on his sleigh along with his 12 reindeer. Depending on its size and design a flexi light decoration would range from P1,500 to P3,500 or to as high as P18,000 to P20,000 for a 10-foot Christmas star. Other designs for outdoor decorations aside from the traditional Christmas star also vary. But the most common, too, are the snowman, plants, and flowers, which are made out of ordinary colored plastic sheets. So whatever happened to the parul sampernandu? If it isn’t made to order, one or two parul sampernandu can be found hanging in lantern stores amongst its more colorful and durable successors. Only about 1 ½ feet in radius, the parul sampernandu is sold at a measly P600 to P800 only. But every year, just about a week before Christmas day, the parul sampernandu comes back to life – bigger, bolder, louder, and brighter. They are resurrected in the form of towering lanterns, their lights dancing to lovely Christmas songs during the annual Giant Lantern Festival. But after the festivities, the parul sampernandu once again takes the backseat and will have to wait till next year. PEP




Royal Garden Golf & Country Club




Where you tee off like a king



Golf and Country Club opened at the most auspicious moment: On the eighth hour of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year two thousand and eight – that is 8888. Beyond the feng shui and all that Chinese belief in the potency of the number 8, one can’t help but wax poetic beholding the place. Stunning in its magnificence is its gateway – an Arc de Triomphe, memorializing the renowned artistry and craftsmanship of the people of Pampanga, as well as their courage, resiliency and determination to rise and excel from the devastation of the Mount Pinatubo eruptions in 1991. Enter then a green, green rolling sprawl of grass and palms, sinuously swaying to the cool gentle breeze. Beneath the azure skies and clouds of immaculate white, backdropped on the west by the blue-green mountains of the Zambales ranges, now-quiet Pinatubo included. On the east, majestic Arayat rises with the early morning sun, with its promise of a beautiful new day. Nature at its pristine best, still bettered by Graeco-Roman statuary serving as fountains and tee markers. At the lagoon, rising as it were from the depths, Neptune and a nymph on massive horses. All these evoking ancient grandeur as if only recently unearthed. All these inspiring a feeling of a Louvre or Versailles experience, only al fresco. Look for tee houses and find none. Only handcrafted gazebos bespeaking of luxurious refinement. And the piece de resistance -- a magnificent country club straight from the Renaissance: frescoed ceilings intricately carved columns and cornices, period fixtures, furnishings and furniture pieces. That classical elegance fused with the modern amenities of a fine-dining restaurant, a bar and grill, a coffee shop, pro-shop, men’s gym, sauna for men and women, a Jacuzzi, and on its second floor, a corporate boardroom with mini-bar. So what about the course itself? An 18-Hole All-Weather Championship Course. Its expanse meeting the standards of global competitions, making it a must-play for qualifiers to international tournaments. The only golf course in the area soon to be playable even at night. A 320 yard-Driving Range to fully exploit the driving potential of any golfer, both the amateur and the pro.

Plus the usual putting greens, aesthetically, rather than strategically, located around the clubhouse. And the latest model golf carts ranging from two- to eight-seaters. “Aesthetically appealing, physically and mentally challenging, golf— at the Royal Garden Golf & Country— is not just a game. Golf becomes a royal experience.” So went the promise. Raring to get royal? Find the Royal garden Golf and Country Club aastraddle the boundary of Angeles City aand Porac town and accessed through the Circumferential Road in Barangay Cutcut, C Angeles. A Let us get it from the PR collaterals. At eeight meters above the city surface level, the Royal Garden Golf and Country Club is th totally free from floods and water run-offs to aand is abundant with the freshest breeze all yyear round. Centrally located, it is a short five minutes from the Clark Freeport and m the Diosdado Macapagal International th Airport. The Dau Exit of the North Luzon A Expressway is about twenty-five minutes E away. And with the opening of the Subicaw Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the Royal Garden is but a forty-five-minute drive from Subic, and thirty from Tarlac. So there. A joint-venture development project of the Royal Garden Estate, represented by renowned Angeles City master craftsman and industrialist Ruperto Cruz, and South Korea’s Nam Suek Leisure Estate Corp., represented by its president Nam Suek, the Royal garden Golf and Country Club is one magnificent testament to the successful melding of two cultures. PEP DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP



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is a unanimous choice to grace the cover of this maiden issue of Pampanga PEP. Unanimous in the sense that seven out of seven of us behind your soon-tobe-favorite monthly lifestyle and leisure magazine voted for her to be our first ever cover and centerfold girl. And frankly enough, we each have our very own reason for voting her: “She’s the reigning Mutya Ning Angeles (Muse of Angeles City),” starts Jafp. “Well, she is also young and full of life, a good daughter, a performing arts scholar-student, and now a crowned beauty queen. So, Lara’s the perfect face of our promise to feature only the best there is about Pampanga that we all want to share to the rest of the world,” perorates Alex. “Please, I just want my part of the job not to be unnecessarily difficult, and I know Lara projects herself very well in front of the camera,” pleads Borj. “She promised we won’t have to pay her!” haggles Paolo. “Her pretty face..., it’s a rare mix of being both intoxicating and refreshing, that it definitely makes you wanna just keep on staring at it. Hindi nakakasawa. And that will make our first issue a definite keeper,” illumines Jean. “I definitely agree with Jean,” seconds Peter. “I definitely want to marry Lara,” dreams Bing. And so it’s settled. The babe but talented Lara Isabelle Dizon is the perfect front pager. But, where’s the perfect location for the perfect shoot? Ah..., Borj’s and Peter’s friend, Hotel Vida resident manager Cecille Flores-Sanchez, just has the perfect suggestion: The Hotel Vida and Casino Widus inside Clark Freeport Zone here in Pampanga. “We promise you Widus brings you everything you can imagine, and more! At our planned casino-resort complex, with our luxurious hotel rooms, uniquely shaped swimming pool and state-of-the-art gaming facilities, we promise you and Lara that it will be just like working in paradise,” Cecille Flores-Sanchez convinces. So off we go, one bright and sunny Saturday morning, to exciting and relaxing Widus International Resort for this issue’s cover story we tell in clear prose and vivid photography.

Have you always wanted to be a beauty queen? “I did, ever since I was a child of about five or six, I have been dreaming of becoming a beauty queen one day.” And just how did that little child’s dream get started? “Back then, we were always watching beauty pageants on TV at home with my mom and other relatives, and I remember we were all always paying so much attention with how the candidates strike a pose, their graceful walk down the aisle, and the fabulous gowns they wear. That’s when I think I started telling myself I also want to be a beauty queen.” Did you practice being in a beauty contest early on? “Uhmmm, sort of, I guess. After the pageants on TV, me and my playmates would hold a beauty contest right out on the streets. One of our friends, who’s good at drawing in school, would make silly-looking beauty crowns out of cardboards and other things. She’ll make three different crowns for the top three winners, and I was always one of the candidates and I always finished in the top three. Hahaha ..., I was so young then and it was so funny!”


Always the top finisher? “Not really, naman. There were many school pageants I joined that I didn’t finish first, although I was once Ms. Intrams in high school. Then even before my first year in college last year, I was chosen to take part in the annual Reyna Ning Flores De Mayo (Queen of Mayflowers) in the city. But because it was my first serious beauty contest and I didn’t really know what to expect, I was only lucky enough to finish as 2nd Runner Up for Best in Gown designed by Frederick Policarpio. Later, I also joined Mr. and Ms. University where I finished as 4th Runner Up. Even though I didn’t finish first, I am glad for the experience because it has helped me be more prepared for this year’s Mutya Ning Angeles pageant.” Age, college course and school. “I am now 19, taking up BSBA Marketing Management at the Angeles University Foundation.” You’re the kind of girl who... “Who is really just a simple girl who knows how to work properly but still likes to play around. Someone you can either love or hate for being at times jolly but most of the time just quietly observing other people.” And loves to... “Dance and pose before the camera, hahaha!” What sort of books do you read? “Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul.”

Were you nervous when you joined Mutya Ning Angeles 2010? “I honestly didn’t want to join yet this year’s contest because I thought of how tough it must be to compete in a city pageant where there are so many beautiful and talented girls. But a lot of well-meaning people, friends and relatives kept on encouraging me, telling me to believe in myself and rely on my own strengths as a candidate. I finally agreed, since this is my dream after all, and just prayed to God I wouldn’t let down all those who believe in me. And then I won as Mutya Ning Angeles! (LOL)” How did that change you? “I just feel so blessed. My coronation was a magnificent birthday gift because I had just turned 19 on September 28 and the contest finals was on October 2. I was so happy, for myself, my family and all those who supported me. This is a big break for me and I am committed to even work harder to fully realize my dreams.” PEP

AT THE SALT COFFEE SHOP OF HOTEL VIDA, Lara tries one of its wide selection of superb local and international drinks. She also has a blast from a healthful serving of their famous Caesar’s Salad punctuated by its delightfully-crispy Parmesan cheese. The Hotel Vida coffee shop’s airconditioned area can seat up to 110 diners at a time while the trellis area overlooking the uniquely shaped swimming pool can accommodate 45 people. More photos at




INSIDE HOTEL VIDA’S PRESIDENTIAL SUITE, Lara rests like royalty. The only deluxe class hotel in Clark accredited by the Department of Tourism, Hotel Vida’s 1st Tower has a total of 125 rooms consisting of Deluxe, Junior Suite, One Bedroom and, of course, the Presidential Suite. Each room has complete amenities and is designed to provide a relaxing ambience and maximum comfort. Later, Lara checks outs the hotel’s uniquely shaped swimming pool that has areas for both kids and adults. Hotel Vida’s swimming pool is designed to relax both mind and senses with its infinity style pool and beautifully landscaped surroundings.

DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP 21 Check out more photos at

A SLICE OF PARADISE. With the planned casinoresort complex of Widus International Leisure, everyone will always have something to look forward to. Hotel Vida, one of its flagship attractions, offers a romantic get-away for couples in its luxurious hotel rooms, lots of laughter and fun for kids at the water theme park, and enjoyment at the state-of-the-art gaming facility, the Casino Widus. During one’s stay in this little paradise, check out Hotel Vida’s façade which garners compliments for its unique modern tropical theme, emphasized by its earth tone colors and highlighted by abundant water features, lush landscaping crowned with majestic acacia and palm trees. Visually stunning and perfectly planned, Hotel Vida capitalizes on its natural ventilation, space and picture perfect scenery which can be enjoyed at any vantage point. The light and airy environment exudes total relaxation and comfort, qualities which every guest will alwayslook forward to. Indeed, live the life one truly deserves. 22 PAMPANGA PEP | DECEMBER 2010



More photos at

Big Tree bears wonder of





E BEGIN WITH how the interview ends. I ask him: When do you think you will be able to tell yourself, I am done, I am happy with what I have accomplished in life, I am now happy to retire? He looks at me straight and starts to say: “Do you know the song My Way? I like that song. I don’t think I can sing it (chuckling) as I am dying but I will think of that song at that moment (now in somber tone), and it will be like my own way of saying goodbye by telling everybody that this is what I have done and I am proud of it. Of course, I am a human being and sometimes I make mistakes. But whenever I realize I did something wrong, with the way I deal with my friends, my staff or anybody, I always try my best to make amends and make sure I never commit the same mistakes again. Like in the song, I want to live a full life to the very end. So if you’re asking me when will I tell myself I am done, my answer is that I am not so sure..., but maybe just before I die.” Taking a short break from overseeingg his own $20-million hotel and casino complex inside Clark Freeport Zone heree in Pampanga, forty-one year-old Daesik Han an swears he and his family did not have it easy during his childhood. Under the warmth h of one of the sun-drenched umbrella tabless of his Salt Verandah he recalls the cruel South uth Korean winters their family of four used tto o endure cramped in a small rented apartment ment me nt in a village of the Chungcheongbuk-do province in the country’s central region. “We were one of the poorest families es iin n our village. During winter, we did not have avee av any heating system. What we did to keep p ourselves warm was to burn charcoal right ht inside our apartment. It was bad becausee while it keeps us from freezing to death, itt will probably slowly kill all of us with itss toxic smoke.” Daesik Han explains that his father, though well into his years as a married ma man n with kids, took an extra time to shake off ff tthe he careless nature of youth. “My father, it took him a little whilee longer before he realized he needed to put u ut in a lot of serious effort and hard work to o turn our life around. But once he did, hee did very, very good and became a self-made ade man. The ready-mix and concrete products cts company (Hanil Remicon Company) hee started became one of the most respected d in the industry and he was able to give uss a good life.” Of course, like his father, Daesik Han an n didn’t just move past the irresponsible wander of his young years. He admits of being then unsure of himself and

not having a clear direction in life, and that it is only during his mandatory service in the South Korean military that he virtually went through his own vision quest. “I was about twenty and in the army and I was not supposed to do anything except to learn how to fight and defend our country. But I will get up at three in the morning even though we only need to wake up at six and spend those three extra hours locked up in the comfort room reading vocabulary and grammar books to learn English. I have decided I will go to college abroad.” He says passing TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), usually required from non-native English speakers before admission into English-speaking colleges and universities, is the first step he needs to make in his new found mission in life. But while he passes the language exam easily with flying colors, the next step is a bit more challenging: Getting his father’s blessing. “He surely had his doubts about me because, unlike my younger brother, I was not very good in school and all he has seen so far is my carefree attitude in life. So I decided to make a deal with my father. I told him to just give me five years, no more and no less, and I will finish college in the US. I gave him my word that whatever happens after five years, whether I screw it up and end up a failure for the rest of my life, it will all entirely be my fault.” Daesik Han’s father agrees to the plan. Daesik Han’s mind races to a different plan. “At Western Michigan University, I enrolled in more subjects than I was supposed to. I had to convince my dean who was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle all the academic work I was taking. I did that because I had a different plan than what I told my father. I will finish college and a master’s degree in five years.” And so it goes. Deasik Han gets his

undergraduate degree in Business Administration in just three years, with academic honors, and along the way becoming the president of the Korean Students Association. He digs himself in deeper into writing his final papers for his master’s degree. Just a few months more and he’ll come home with more than what his father had bargained with him. But just about that time, Daesik Han’s mother falls gravely ill. The now dutiful son must come home immediately. Higher education takes the back seat to higher priorities in the Hans household. His mother needs him to help comfort her in pain. His father needs him to help him run the business. “I did not have any regrets. The truth is the time I started getting involved in the family business in 1996 to the time I worked my way up to serve as the vice president, I learned more about how things really worked out in the real world outside of the university.” In 2003, he eventually finishes his master’s degree from Yonsei University in Seoul. After which, he convinces his father it was time to diversify. Not too far off, though, from their entrenched standing in the concrete products business, but just enough to set-up in 2005 a full-pledged Sewoon Construction Company he is to be its president. Little did father and son know that such a decision to diversify a bit leads to a path completely different from what either ever expected— a path that leads to a far away land and a far different venture into the multimillion dollar hotel and casino business.



PEOPLE “We were trying to bag a big contract for our new construction firm and we decided to take our prospective client for a little vacation here at Clark. We heard from friends how easily we can come here through the airport (Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) and how we might actually have a great time around here with all the golf courses and lots of other exciting things to do.” “On my second visit here in 2005, I suddenly got this idea I couldn’t get out of my head. I have fallen in love with the beautiful place, with its kind and accommodating people. So I decided I don’t want to be a visitor at Clark. I decided I want to be an investor at Clark.” It isn’t that easy of course. For Daesik Han didn’t know anybody at Clark, didn’t know anything about the business he has chosen to get himself into. But he knows he has one thing going for him. His being a makulit person (makulit in Filipino means nagging). “I pleaded with the former English tutor of my best friend’s daughter who is a Filipina to let me hire her and help me set up my investment here. I sent her here and she helped me get in touch with CDC (Clark Development Corporation) and sent me documents like laws, regulations and procedures I needed to know about investing in the Philippines.” “Then I came out here myself and rented a villa inside Clark. I started interviewing key personnel I needed. It was a bit awkward because I knew they were very suspicious of me whether I was really serious or even had the money to invest because I was telling

them I’d put up a resort with a casino and all the while my villa doubled as my office. But I was fortunate to find some really good people who most of them are still with us.” Daesik Han still remembers those early days, weeks and months he tirelessly labored to give birth to Widus International Leisure. Where one now finds a modern and cozy hotel room to stay in, Daesik Han himself spends countless hours picking the right color, linen and furniture to put together. Where one now finds fine food, relaxing ambience, exciting entertainment and gaming, Daesik Han himself now continually expends his own time and money to perpetually improve it all not wanting anybody, especially himself, get eventually bored with it all in time. “I do not like a boring life. That is why I like to keep on taking challenges. And I believe if that is how I will run my hotel and casino, I will be able to attract new guests and keep a loyal base of patrons and clients.” Such a throbbing concern for the unforgiving customer finds an equal attention in Daesik Han’s personal philosophy in dealing with his more than 400 dedicated workers. “I know I couldn’t do it all myself. So I must rely and trust my managers, officers and staff and crew members to their job. I believe that it is all about respect. Our respect with one another is best demonstrated by the fact that whenever we discuss what needs to be done to improve our service, it doesn’t matter that I own the business nor that somebody is just a service crew. All that matters is whether you have the right and best idea, and you will be heard and you will be followed.” These days, a typical day for Daesik Han starts with having breakfast at his hotel’s coffee


from the highlands of Scotland. An outlander married to a Filipina. A true-blood Caucasian working in a Koreanowned hotel. What do you get? Well, your guess is as good as mine but one thing’s for sure— if there’s anything Michael Caffrey can do best is cook best. Michael, who is married to Filipina wife, Jocelyn, is a member of the prestigious World Master Chef, which is why food at Hotel Vida’s Salt Restaurant is nothing but world-class. Passion is what drives Michael to cook every meal at Hotel Vida with gusto and perfection. A master chef of such caliber, Michael says cooking good tasting Filipino food is always paramount. “Whatever happens we will always be there for the local market,” assured Michael, who had the opportunity to work in one of the world’s five star hotels— the Dorchester Hotel in London. But aside from perfecting the art of cooking Filipino food, Michael said he also makes sure that foreign guests of the hotel enjoy the international cuisine offered at Salt. Michael is a strict perfectionist inside the kitchen— a fact that the staff of Salt know only too well. “I do not announce my day off to my staff so that I could check on the quality of food and kitchen operations when no one expects me to arrive.” “This keeps them on their toes,” adds Michael, referring to his staff. Michael said Korean guests of Hotel Vida swear by the authenticity of Korean food offered at Salt. “The secret is to hire a Filipino chef who had extensively worked in prominent Korean restaurants,” Michael revealed. Another secret to this is that hotel executives led by Hotel Vida President and CEO Daesik Han and Resident Manager Cecil Flores-Sanchez have taken deep consideration on the growing number of Korean tourists visiting the Philippines, particularly the Pampanga province. Of late, Michael and his staff are busy decorating the lovely ginger bread house at Hotel Vida’s lobby. “Christmas also means eating lots of great food and being merry.” --CONTRIBUTED BY JOEY PAVIA


shop or from his own room in his own resort— it is not far from possible that he sleeps in different rooms just to make sure every room is how they are supposed to be. Then he either calls for a staff meeting or just makes a round of the different departments in person. He spends most of the day in the casino, his baby, according to Hotel Vida resident manager Cecille Flores-Sanchez. “We know he is really focusing on the casino because it is only in its first year and it needs a lot of his attention. If it isn’t already, he wants to make it the best there is here at Clark.” Daesik Han’s father, of course, visits his son out here. And he is as proud as a father can be, even if Daesik Han confesses to him: “At the beginning, I knew my father wouldn’t have approved that I will invest more than $5 million dollars out here. So I said there were three of us investors putting in a total of $3 million with two of them owning 30 percent each and me owning 40 percent.” “It was only when he came out here during the opening of my casino that I eventually told him that I didn’t have any partner, that I have so far invested $20 million in this project. Thank God he wasn’t mad at me.” “Later he gave me a gift in a box. I didn’t know what it was. I was surprised to find a gold and diamond Rolex (watch) inside. You see, my father is still a stinge even after he found success in his business that he still wouldn’t usually spend more than P300 for his meal. So I asked him, why are you giving me this? He said, son you now run a hotel and casino, you must dress for it. And that’s when I knew he understood what I am trying to do out here.” It has been little less than three years ago since his Widus International Leisure opened for business. But it has been five years or so since Daesik Han first set foot here at Clark. I didn’t know how to correctly pronounce Widus nor have any idea who Daesik Han is. So sitting at The Salt Coffee Shop, I decide that the interview begins with the question: How do I say Widus and Daesik correctly without offending you? And do they mean anything in Korean? He espies me for a brief fleeting moment. I double up thinking I must have sounded stupid. He goes for a stick of Parliament 1. I fish for my own Marlboro red. We light up. I tell myself, good thing we earlier agreed, with nary a word, to repair from the air-conditioned coffee shop to the open-air Salt Verandah near the resort’s signature swimming pool. Then he catches my stare. Borj Meneses’ cameras start clicking. Daesik Han starts speaking. “Widus is a play on the words with and us. And that is how you must simply say it, with us. Stay Widus, have fun Widus, enjoy life Widus. With my first name Daesik, just remember the word day and seek and you’ve got it right. It is a combination of written Korean characters that quite literally means Big Tree.” And off we go to the rest of the interview. PEP





N THE THROES of death, Recollect Spanish priest Gregorio Bueno uttered a curse against Mabalacat town before he breathed his last in 1898: “Mabalacat will not prosper.” Inflamed by the revolution against the Spanish ‘conquistadores’, a mob dragged Bueno to the town square where he had been executed in front of Mabalaquenos. One hundred and two years had passed, Bueno’s curse had been completely forgotten as the people of that generation passed away in relative obscurity – the curse buried with them in oblivion. Today, the curse is insignificant in the face of the prosperity being experienced by Mabalacat town, a first-class municipality vying for cityhood. The unstoppable development in Mabalacat clashed head on with the inconsequential curse that barely put a dint on the lives of present day Mabalaquenos. In anticipation of the economic boom brought about by the entry of foreign and local businesses in the town and the Clark Freeport, the local government of Mabalacat is currently promoting the area as a prime tourism destination. “We are now improving our tourism program in a bid to attract more tourists into the town and the Metro Clark area,” said Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales who recently formed the Mabalacat Tourism Council. Morales said the town will replicate the success of Thailand in its tourism program. Morales recently led a delegation of Mabalacat officials in Thailand in an WORDS: ARNEL P. SAN PEDRO effort to familiarize the public officials with the vibrant tourism program of the neighboring Asian country. “Mabalacat town is at a crossroads of various development made evident with the influx of foreign and local visitors at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and we are lucky to have the multi-billion peso Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), the rehabilitated North Luzon Expressway and other support facilities,” said Morales. Mabalacat is also the site of the famous Haduan Falls, the Kamikaze Shrine, Captain Colin Kelly Memorial, the commercial district of Dau and the plush Xevera Estate in Barangay Tabun. Morales had earlier planned to establish a “Night Market” in Mabalacat so that visitors and residents can still buy local products late in the night until the wee hours of the morning. Morales stressed that he will use his knowledge and experience in marketing in promoting the town which is now aspiring to become a city.

Mabalacat along with the council will initiate and prioritize tourism developmental programs and projects. He urged visitors to “enjoy the vast wholesome activities in our town and Clark.” “The creation and organization of the council is also meant to direct the municipality in enhancing and exploring the potential of the town in becoming a tourist destination in the near future,” said Morales. He added that “Mabalacat is now focusing in its tourism development as it is strategically exposed to regional counterparts with it available infrastructure in place.

CARAGAN FESTIVAL In 1712, Mabalacat is an Aeta settlement with a chieftain named Caragan. Today, the Aetas have resettled in the uplands amid the advent of modernization. The Caragan Festival is being geared to promote and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Aetas, who lorded over the town then a forested hinterlands covered with Balacat trees, where the name of Mabalacat had been derived. Morales said the Caragan Festival seeks to preserve the Aeta heritage and inculcates in the mind of the new generation the customs and traditions of the Aetas. In 2010, some 50,000 people have joined the 3rd Caragan Festival which culminated the month-long fiesta celebration in Mabalacat town. “It was a monumental success. Every year the annual event surpasses the success of the previous event,” said Mabalacat Fiesta Executive Committee Chairman Diosdado Pangilinan. Pangilinan said thousands foreign and local visitors including students in the town’s schools have joined the street dancing and parade that ended at the plush Xevera Mabalacat Subdivision in Barangay Tabun. Pangilinan said the Caragan Festival aims to give the municipality its identity similar to the Sinulog of Cebu and Maskara of Bacolod. The culture of the town’s first inhabitants headed by Chieftain Caragan will be interpreted during the festival, according to Pangilinan.

Mabalacat: The Next Makati North of Manila

TOURISM COUNCIL To support the tourism-related programs of Mabalacat town, a Tourism Council was formed to highlight the prime destinations in Mabalacat town and the Metro Clark area. Morales, chair of the Mabalacat Tourism Council said the local government of



On the way to Xevera Mabalacat, participants clad in colorful costumes danced their way to the beat of the drum ala Brazil’s Mardi Gras. “This is our country’s version of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, US. This is the mother of all festivals and we will showcase only the best presentations primarily to improve tourism not only in Mabalacat but in the entire country as well,” said Morales. Morales said the Caragan Festival is now being recognized in other countries. He said town fiestas have become a way of life and a tradition for Filipinos during which time various festive activities are undertaken and presented for public viewing.

KAMIKAZE SHRINE One fine morning in October 25, 1944 – Lt. Yukio Seki along with four others climbed their A6M “Zeroes” and took off from a dusty field in Mabalacat, Pampanga for a one-way mission that immortalized them in the annals of war history. From Mabalacat, Seki’s team scoured the waters off Leyte and in an instant came across Admiral Sprague’s battle weary fleet, Taffy 3, which opened fire with its anti-aircraft guns. Of the five suicide missions, only Seki made a direct hit on the flight deck of the carrier St. Lo which sank 30 minutes later while the four others missed their targets and crashed into their watery graves. The U.S. forces were bedevilled with the new kind of warfare being employed by the Japanese forces and the horrific sight of a Zero fighter plane brought fear into the hearts of the Allied forces now closing on in on the final chapters of World War II. The Kamikaze Mabalacat airfield is a mute witness to might of Mt. Pinatubo which swamped Barangays Dolores and Tabun with thick

lahar sediments. Now, the Kamikaze Shrine stands proudly in the face of real estate development in the area such as the plush Xevera Mabalacat, Hausland housing project and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx). Over 60 years ago, Seki, Lt. Akio Otsuka and three others readied themselves at around 7 a.m. and taxied their planes into position. Tears welled in the eyes of ground crews, who trotted along with hands on the wingtips – a final gesture of respect, intense sorrow and farewell. Earlier, Seki read the order from Admiral Onishi: “It is absolutely out of the question for you to return alive. Your mission involves certain death. Your bodies will be dead, but not your spirits. The death of a single one of you will be the birth of millions of others. You must not leave behind you any cause for regret, which would follow you into eternity.” After an hour later off Leyte, only Seki succeeded in crashing his Zero onto the flight deck of U.S. carrier St. Lo and thus officially became the first human bomb. Unknown to Seki and his men, however, they revolutionized a new method of warfare that wrought havoc among U.S. naval vessels in the war theatres of the Philippines and Okinawa. The Kamikazes were inflicting heavy casualties. Every October, a Japanese delegation led by Japanese Bishop Ekan Ikeguchi, the Great Buddhist Bishop of Japan offer prayers for the Kamikaze pilots and the other Japanese soldiers who died in Pampanga province. Morales had fortified its bilateral ties with Japan by creating the Lilly Hill Peace Shrine inside the Clark Freeport Zone. He said the Philippines-Japanese relations are improving more than DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP


FEATURE ever leaving behind the dark chapter of the past, which according to him now serves as a grim reminder of the horrors of war and the beauty of peace. “We have one thing in common and this is peace, peace which shall bring economic prosperity to both our people.”

CAPT. COLLIN KELLY The Mabalacat government has recently established the Capt. Collin P. Kelly Jr. Peace Memorial in a bid to promote goodwill, peace, and friendship. In memory of the gallantry of Capt. Kelly, a 5,000-square meter memorial for the American aviator who is considered the “First American Hero of World War II” had been erected near the former Kelly Theater. Morales said the Mabalacat Tourism Office worked closely with the 600th Air Base Wing of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for the realization of the Kelly Memorial. A life-size statue of Capt. Kelly which is made of fiber glass now stands in the area. A day after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese pilots led by ace pilot Saburo Sakai attacked Clark Field in Pampanga destroying most American aircraft on the ground while refuelling. The only B-17s to survive were those dispersed to a small strip in Mindanao, one of which skippered by Capt. Kelly returned to Clark Field to load bombs. Kelly had only managed to load 600lb bombs aboard when he set out for a mission off the coast of Luzon. Kelly located a Japanese landing force near Aparri and targeted the heavy cruiser Ashigara scoring a direct hit from 22,000 feet. On his return to Clark Field, Kelly was jumped by 10 Japanese Zero fighters. The Japanese attack on Kelly’s B-17 immediately cut down the flight engineer and setting the aircraft on fire. Kelly ordered his crew to bail out before the ill-fated B-17 crashed in Mabalacat’s Barangay Mabiga. Kelly’s heroism was recounted by Robert Altman, one of the surviving crew. Altman was taken prisoner by the Japanese Imperial Forces and incarcerated in Japan for 40 months. The late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt posthumously conferred the Distinguished Service Cross upon Kelly for his bravery and sacrifice.

NEXT MAKATI NORTH OF MANILA Morales, the only Pampanga local executive who graduated from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) noted that Mabalacat town will be the “Next Makati North of Manila.” He anchored his hopes on the presence of the Clark airport and the support facilities like the SCTEx, NLEx and the deepsea port of Subic. Mabalacat is directly linked to the SCTEx via the Dolores and Mabiga Interchanges. The town is currently earning over P140 million in revenues annually and the amount is increasing every year passing all the requisites of the Local Government Code to become a component city. PEP






IS THAT TIME of the year again – the season of hope, joy, giving, and most especially, eating. For this year’s Yuletide Season, Pepe’s top picks has embarked on a journey of gastronomic proportions: Food trip galore in and around Pampanga! Umm…well okay, that’s not entirely accurate; but since we’ve only managed to crash a few kitchens, we’re hoping that our top picks for the most delectable grub and the best places where to get them would leave anyone craving for more.

DUMAN First on our list is the duman, a rice delicacy made famous by the people of Sta. Rita in the province of Pampanga. At first glance, duman seems to be something that had come of out of an Incredible Hulk movie. Duman gets its greenish hue since the rice, usually from the malagkit or lakatan variety that is used to make it is harvested just about the right time it gets ripe. Washed, roasted, and repeatedly pounded to produce milky grains and flavor, duman makes a great rice delicacy with its irresistible fragrance and golden green hue. Usually served with fresh carabao’s milk or suklati di batirol, duman can also be fried or made into kalame or rice cake or a local staple. Members of the Guengco family of Sta. Rita town, who have been known to be making duman since 1945, said that November is the appropriate time to make this rich, sticky rice delicacy – hence, the annual Duman Festival. The Guengco’s sell their duman at P2,500 per salop, which is usually equivalent to a kilo. But despite its illustrious reputation, duman is worth every penny for its unforgettable taste.



kitchen trippin’

pEPE’S TOP PICKS SUKLATI DI BATIRUL Move over Starbucks! Nothing beats the frothy and nutty taste of our next pick this Christmas Season – Sukalti di batirul. Introduced by the Spaniards in the 1700s, suklati di batirul or simply batirul is a warm chocolatedrink which originated from the word batidor— a Spanish kitchen utensil used to froth drinks. Nope. Suklati di batirul is nowhere close to egg nog, which is dairy-based and made with milk or cream, sugar and beaten eggs. Some prefer their egg nog with added ingredients like ground cinnamon and nutmeg. To give it a little kick, egg nog can be taken with various

spirits like brandy, whiskey, or rum. But that’s not the case with our batirul. Unlike its seemingly western counterpart, batirul is made from cacao bean paste, nut paste, and fresh carabao’s milk. Suklati di batirul is a whisked-to-perfection drink with a very appealing aroma and frothy consistency best served with any Kapampangan kakanin. While opinion as to who makes the best suklati di batirul would vary from one grandmother to another, Pepe’s top picks recommends the one from Everybody’s Café over other commercially-available batirul or at least what other stores claim as authentic batirul. Everybody’s Café is along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Del Pilar in the City of San Fernando. It has another branch in Angeles City fronting the busy Nepo Mall.

Batirul like no other only at Everybody’s Cafe.


Guagua Pampanga’s one and only famous ‘Chicharon King’ Marcelo Galan. HALO-HALO From the word itself, halo-halo or mixture mix·ture (m ks’ch r) n. is a mix of fruits, sugar, assorted jelly, ice shavings, and topped with generous servings of milk— truly one of the signature desserts of Pampanga. But in the war of the halo-halo industry, winning the battle means knowing how to play the name game: There’s the well-scattered Razon’s of Guagua town, Corazon’s which is now mostly based in Angeles City, and the understated Kabigting’s of Arayat town. Of course, our top pick is definitely Kabigting’s. Consisting of only a paste of sweetened kidney beans, jalea or carabao’s milk, and creamy corn kernels, Kabigting’s halo-halo is a cut above the rest because of its simplicity and discriminating taste. First served in 1980, Kabigting’s still continues to offer halo-halo at its best for the affordable price of P55. You won’t miss Kabigting’s if you wish to visit Arayat town. Or better yet, Kabigting’s has a branch at the posh Marquee Mall in Angeles City.

To many Filipinos, deep-fried pork rind is probably the best known pulutan or finger food, not only during the Christmas Season, but all-year ‘round. Made of salted, dried, and deep-fried pork rind, chicharon is definitely not for the fainthearted…err…at least not for people who are conscious of their weight or cholesterol intake. But chicharon surely makes one very tasty and crispy snack. For a sample of Pampanga’s best chicharon, a visit to Galan’s in the sleepy barangay of San Roque in Guagua town would do the trick. Boasting a reputation as the oldest chicharon store in town, Galan’s continues to keep their chicharon business crisp and brisk since they started selling it in 1968. For only P50 per pack, Galan’s also offers different varieties of chicharon – even chicharon with reduced fat.

Suklati di batirul is a whisked-to-perfection drink with a very appealing aroma and frothy consistency best served with Kapampangan kakanin.

PASTILLAS DE LECHE Made from the simplest ingredients – fresh milk and sugar, pastillas de leche is one of the very delectable sweets that is common in Pampanga. Among all the pastillas de leche stores in the province, Pabalan’s Delicacies in Magalang town is perfect for Pepe’s top picks. Pabalan’s pastilas de leche truly stands out because of its fresh gatas damulag or carabao’s milk – the main ingredient which makes their pastillas rich in taste and smooth in texture. With more than 70 years of experience in making quality pastillas de leche, Pabalan’s Delicacies continues its tradition of making the best pastillas de leche for only P100 per pack.



pEPE’S TOP PICKS KITCHEN HOPPING The native kakanin or local snacks of Pampanga did not only help the province earn the distinction of being a cot of the country’s finest sweets and delicacies but also as the culinary capital of the Philippines.

SUSIE’S Known to have been serving the best kakanin in the province since 1971 is Susie’s Cuisine – a gallery of native delights freshly cooked everyday and sold at budget friendly prices. At P5 each, Susie’s famous mochi in white sauce is truly mouth-watering and a must-try. It also sells other native products in generous quantities like the delectable sapin-sapin pegged at P350 and tibok-tibok for P400 per bilao.

NATHANIEL’S This restaurant is both a one-stop-shop for a variety of pasalubongs and a haven for mouth-watering desserts like buko pandan – a creamy dessert made from a mix of pandan jelly, buko shreads, milk, and ice shavings. Priced at P210 per container, customers indulge in the goodness of this sweet treat. Among the best sellers at Nathaniel’s include a tasty bread aptly named “tasty” which is sold at P70 for 10 pieces. They also sell their version of the delicious puto pao – soft bread with siopao fillings usually asado topped with rich ebun buru or salted eggs.

DE PAOLO’S Fine dining experience that doesn’t hurt your pocket earned De Paolo’s its place in Pepe’s top picks. This restaurant in Angeles City offers the finest in food, service, and deluxe dining ambience sans the expensive charges. For only P80, you can already enjoy their must-try, pork escalope – a gourmet dish reinvented by owner and proprietor Jun Pangan. Jun uses ham and cheese that is sandwiched in pork instead of beef then served with creamy mushroom sauce, lumpia and corn kernels. De Paolo’s version of the rib eye steak is also a best-seller for its lemon butter sauce, or brown sauce croquette (fried rolls of mashed potatoes) and corn kernels served at only P180. Customers also can also enjoy its rustic design and interior which exudes a romantic atmosphere which made De Paolo’s an all-time favorite restaurant. PEP




tourism-related event inside the Clark Freeport that traces back to the roots and origin of this former United States military installation – that would be the annual Clark Horse Fest. Usually held every last week of November, this yearly event is still in its fledgling stages. But despite being formally staged just last year, El Kabayo Stables owner and Horse Fest organizer Gabby La O said they’re hoping that the event would be able to replicate the international appeal of another major crowed-drawer to this Freeport – the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.


HISTORY IN BRIEF The annual Horse Fest could be considered as a tribute to the roots and origin of Clark because if not for military horses that were looking for lush grazing areas, soldiers of the U.S. Cavalry stationed in nearby Angeles City would not be able to discover what is now the bustling Clark Freeport. Today, the event dubbed the “2nd Annual Clark Horse Festival” drew various participants from all over the country, including horse owners and enthusiasts from as far as South East Asia.

HORSEPLAY As early as Nov. 20, horse fest organizers held eliminations, races, and several horse and carriage parades at the Marquee Mall, SM Clark, and at the Clark Centennial Road to drumbeat the event. On Nov. 27 – day one of the horse fest, simultaneous activities were held in different venues at the Clark Freeport. These events included the grand parade of horses and carriages and floats from El Kabayo; opening ceremonies at the Parade Grounds; horse exhibition; polo match; complimentary seminars on horse nutrition, breeding and care; trade, carnival and food Fair at El Kabayo; MADDOG Poker Run Starting Point and Finish at El Kabayo, among others. Meanwhile, on the last day of the event, Nov. 28, participants were treated to more activities such as, rodeo exhibition, various horse-mounted competitions like the abbreviated cross country timed-ride; tilbury/tiburin/harness races at the Centennial Road; horse and tact auction at El Kabayo; and the awarding ceremonies, prizes and camaraderie affairs.

HOLD YOUR HORSES! What also made the event extra special was the staging of a cooking demo and a cooking competition aptly dubbed “The Taste of Modern Cowboy Recipes.” But mind you, no horses were killed nor cooked during the event. PEP

A celebration of skills and talent


Season inside the sprawling Clark Freeport is nowhere synonymous to grand celebrations or unabashed merry making but rather a showcase of skill, talent, culture, and heritage. The much-awaited “Pasko sa Clark” of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) is expected to showcase the culinary and handicraftmaking skills of the Kapampangan people. Noemi Garcia, manager of the CDC Tourism Promotions Department, said among the grand activities included in Pasko sa Clark is the “Apag Pasku— The Suman Making Challenge.” Garcia noted that Pampanga is known for its suman or rice cake, which is a popular kakanin or

snack during the Yuletide Season. She said Apag Pasku will be held on Friday, Dec. 17, 4 p.m. at the Clark Parade Grounds. Also, Garcia said Pasko sa Clark will also feature a Belen-making Contest and a colorful and lively Giant Lantern Exhibition courtesy of artisans from the City of San Fernando. Judging night for the Belen-making contest, Garcia said is set on Dec. 16 during Pasko sa Clark’s opening program while the lantern exhibition will be held on Sunday, Dec. 19. All events for Pasko sa Clark will be held at the Parade Grounds, Garcia said. She added that the other activities for this Christmas event include a chorale competition, launching of the “Pasko sa Clark Super Sale,”

lighting of the Clark Freeport Giant Christmas Tree, fireworks display, and live band performances, all to be held on Dec. 16. December 17 will also be highlighted by a jobs fair starting 10 a.m., modern dance competition at 6 p.m., whole day Christmas bazaar, live band, and a grand fireworks display in the evening. Saturday, Dec. 18, will feature a car and motor bike show at 10 a.m., Clark Idol Quest finals night, whole day Christmas bazaar, live bands, and fireworks. The culmination of the event will be highlighted by the awarding ceremonies for the car and motor bike show, finals night for the modern dance competition, live bands, whole day Christmas bazaar, and fireworks display. PEP DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP


Peeps behindpep chairman Alex is a self-made man who literally rose from the ranks to become one of Angeles City’s most prominent public servants. He served two full terms as City Council from 1998 to 2004. As the current EVP of Clark Int’l. Airport Corp., he helped bring DMIA to greater heights, serving as a regular member of the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel.


marketing director The proverbial rose among the thorns is Jean, financial comptroller of Angeles International Travel Center. She is the first lady president of JC Angeles City Culiat Jaycees in 2007 and is active in the Association of Travel Agencies of Pampanga and the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce & Industries. Loving wife to Michael and super mom to kids Aisha Simone and Matteo Bruce.


editor Peter Cruz Alagos wears many hats – an editor, writer, photojournalist, and journalism professor rolled into one. He edits the business paper Central Luzon Business Week, the first of its kind in the region. At the same time, Peter writes for the public relations department of the Clark Development Corporation.


editor Jafp is part-time media practitioner who dabbles into desktop designing. His day job is as the assistant manager of CIAC’s marketing department. Keeps himself Sober, and a huge fan of Nick Joaquin, Nick Cave, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Quentin Tarantino, New York Yankees, LA Lakers, Day-OldChicks, and what have you. Will soon start his own band.


graphics director J ABELARDO F PUNZALAN

webmaster From his own paolofeliciano. com, Paolo describes himself as “a photographer born and raised in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines.” Married with kids, he still loves to ‘do weddings’— take photos and videos, that is. He doubles as college professor at the University of the Philippines inside Clark Freeport Zone. He also runs his own DTW Studio based in Angeles City.




Business management graduate from the UP, Bing left his niche in college by founding two major ‘orgs’: the UP Tau Gamma Phi and the UP Business Management Society. In between being a full-time lover, Bing continues to make a name for himself in the business community as: Proprietor, CNC Blue Gems Money Changer; Director, Blue Gems Pawnshop; Director, Four Leaf International Gaming Corp.; President, Batang Calle Food Mfg Corp.; Director, Angeles City Site.

The Eye Behind The Lens, Borj regularly shoots for FHM— yes, that steamy magz quite as popular as PEP. He often complains: “Nakakapagod ikwento yung mga bagay na dapat sana e nasa isip ko lang.” Just the same, according to his boss, he devotes at least five percent of his professional time as the Graphics Artist of the Public Relations Department of Clark Development Corporation.


INALLY, A DOUBLY EFFECTIVE and truly credible multi-media powerhouse comes to Angeles City and Pampanga Province to offer a most viable option to reach out to your various stakeholders, potential markets, customers and grow your business. Welcome the launch of PAMPANGA PEP, the first and only monthly lifestyle and leisure magazine published both in print and in cyberspace to feature the best that this city and this province offer in terms of inspiring personalities to acquaint with, exhilarating events to indulge in, and exciting places to witness firsthand. With thousands of copies of its printed version distributed in and around Angeles and Pampanga and other selected regions in the country, along with its 24/7 online and interactive edition wired to the rest of world wide web, PAMPANGA PEP promises to be a most powerful tool for anyone wanting to expand their market base, create brand awareness, or promote public support for social and economic development programs. Our ability to deliver on this promise is premised on a number of factors that make PAMPANGA PEP the most competitive medium in launching an effective information and communications campaign. Among others, our first-rate and highly informative media content— fascinating feature articles and thought provoking commentaries bolstered by eye-popping photography and graphic arts— will surely spawn a strong and loyal readership. Secondly, our designated strategic distribution points among major business outlets, hotel lobbies and restaurant lounges, as well as at the arrival and departure areas of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, assure you that your message is delivered across a wide spectrum of the local and international community. Then, on top of it all, both our print and online editions can be availed of and accessed by the reading and surfing public ABSOLUTELY FREE! So whether you’re building a buzz for that important marketing event, offering professional services to prospective clients, or creating a support base for a critical socio-economic agenda, PAMPANGA PEP is here to be your most valuable partner for the success of your endeavors.


This little airline just got bigger... P

ULLING THE TRIGGER ahead of its rivals, South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) zoomed ahead with its planned expansion to service international destinations made possible with its recent partnership with one of the region’s top budget carriers, Tiger Airways. Previously limited to flying routes to popular local tourist destinations like Boracay, Batanes, and the Clark Freeport Zone, SEAIR will start flying regularly from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark to the Changi Airport in Singapore on December 16. Not only has SEAIR gone global, but this little airline just got bigger with the arrival of its new Airbus – the 144-seater A319 spearheading its growing fleet.

With the arrival of its latest aircraft, SEAIR President Avelino Zapanta said the airline projects monthly air passenger traffic to increase by more than 60 percent, or an additional 200,000 passengers annually. There’s no kidding SEAIR with the launching of the A319, whose blessing was graced by no less than President Benigno Aquino III at the airline’s hangar inside the Clark International Airport Corporation’s Aviation Complex. And SEAIR’s not stopping there. According to Zapanta, the company will be adding another Airbus in early 2011. He added that “The introduction of these new flights will create a welcome boost to the Philippine tourism industry and create more high-caliber local jobs,” said Zapanta.

SEAIR is the first airline locator at the Clark Freeport Zone and the second firm to put its trust and confidence in the Clark Development Corp. It is also the first Tiger Airways Partner Airline that will market and distribute its seats using its established internet booking system, tigerairways. com. The airline was founded in 1995 with an initial investment of P2 million and two nineseater planes. Through the years, it has helped develop and brought travelers to some of the most breathtaking destinations in the country including Batanes, Palawan, and Boracay. It has the longest history of uninterrupted flights to Caticlan, having served the Clark gateway to one of the world’s top beach destinations, Boracay, for almost 16 years. —GERALD CECILIO

...while this Freeport just got healthier. H

ERE’S WHAT WOULD seem to be a potential pet peeve at the Clark Freeport today: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Why? Well, because President Benigno Aquino III wants doctors in Clark. And hospitals, too. Hence, more doctors as well as a variety of staff from the medical and health services industry are expected to flock to the Clark Freeport sooner than later following the bullishness of President Aquino towards the provision of basic services to the average Filipino. At the groundbreaking rites of The Medical City (TMC) held on December 7 at the Clark Freeport, President Aquino announced that he wants the average Filipino, especially the poor, to have access to quality healthcare. “The establishment of a second hospital here in Clark will allow people in Pampanga and

other parts of Central Luzon easier access to the excellent care that Medical City is known for. It is my dream that someday hospitals all over the country can provide the level of quality care that you do at the Medical City,” he said. But providing quality healthcare to Juan Dela Cruz is one of the colossal challenges his administration is facing today. The President stressed that access to adequate healthcare is one of the key elements in reducing poverty – a promise he made to the Filipino people. “Providing access to basic services such as education and health would improve the opportunities for a better life for the 4.6 million Filipino families considered the poorest of the poor,” the President said. “This is the challenge my administration is trying to address. We have targeted programs for

those who need them most,” he added. But challenge or no challenge, according to President Aquino, the establishment of the TMC is a vote of confidence in the economic prospects for the Philippines. “Together with the Medical City and its partners, we are witnessing the dawning of a bright new day for the Philippines. A day where we face the future with optimism and confidence that all of us, not just a few, will reap the benefits of our hard and honest work,” the President said. The Medical City is a 120-bed world class tertiary hospital is expected to be fully operational by 2013 at the sprawling $1.025 billion Global Gateway Logistics City (GGLC). Under the terms of agreement, GGLC will construct the hospital according to TMC’s specifications. TMC will then lease, equip, and operate the facility. —GERALD CECILIO DECEMBER 2010 | PAMPANGA PEP



A million passengers in 2011 OPTIMISM RUNS HIGH for the newly-refurbished Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) inside Clark Freeport Zone to soon hit its one-year-one-million-arrivals mark. This after South Korean budget airline Jin Air commenced its fivetimes-a-week regular direct flights from Incheon International Airport to DMIA-Clark airport. While welcoming Jin Air as the newest member of DMIA growing fleet of international airlines, CIAC president Victor Jose Luciano likewise announced that more global carriers will soon start flying in and out of DMIA-Clark airport. Jin Air, a full subsidiary of mammoth Korean Airlines, is the sixth international airline now buzzing the skies above the Freeport. Jin Air also brings to two the number of South Korean airlines with regular flights from Incheon to DMIA-Clark after Asiana Airlines that started servicing the route in October 2003. “Jin Air’s regular flights will not only bring in more Korean tourists to Clark but will also give the people of Northern Luzon the opportunity to visit Korea and other countries,” Luciano said, pointing out that local travellers can easily take advantage of Jin Air’s and Korean Air’s vast network of international destinations, including to North America and Europe. Other airlines currently operating at DMIA include local carrier Cebu Pacific Air (Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Bangkok, and Cebu), Spirit of Manila Airlines (Taipei), South East Asian Airlines (Boracay via Caticlan, and soon to Singapore), and Air Asia (Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu). PEP

A billion pesos in investments INSIDE THE SPRAWLING 2,367 hectare Clark Civil Aviation Complex, SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) will also soon start building the second of its five masterplanned hangars for of its aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility. This next phase of SIAEC’s MRO project at Clark will cost around P1 billion and directly employ some 300 workers, according to Victor Jose Luciano, president of the Clark International Airport Corporation which manages the aviation complex. “SIAEC will be building a bigger hangar to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft such as the Boeing 747


and 777. Operations would commence by end of 2012,” Luciano said. The Singaporean aviation company currently operates a smaller maintenance hangar for Airbus A320s and A319s. As the engineering unit of giant Singapore Airlines, SIAEC is among the world’s leading MRO companies with 24 joint ventures and subsidiaries in nine countries. It specializes in providing complete MRO services in from airframe, component and engine repairs, to aircraft conversions and modifications. SIAEC’s presence inside Clark, a joint venture with local Cebu Pacific Airlines, Inc., is an added incentive for influx of more international airlines at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. The DMIA is being primed as the Philippines’ next premier international gateway. PEP

Pampanga PEP - December 2010