A LOOK AT ANGELES CITY
DMIA AIRPORT, CLARK FIELD
Visitors from Thailand are most welcome in the Philippines, just a short 3 to 3.5 hour flight. While one can land in several locations, Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark etc., the real airport of choice for most will be the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at Clark. Clark is the former U.S. Air Force Base which was abandoned in 1992 and is located about an hour north of metro Manila. Angeles City is synonymous with Clark and home of the DMIA airport. Angeles is well known as the entertainment capital of the country with numerous restaurants, night clubs, bars and recreational activities and most often compared to Pattaya. Clark is also just a half-hour from Subic Bay, its alter ego that makes an Angeles-Subic visit a natural for those who want to also have easy access to ocean oriented activities. DMIA is modern and much easier airport to use than Manila and on arrival you are just 15 minutes from your hotel room. DMIA has over 100 flights a week to destinations throughout Southeast Asia, including twice per week between Bangkok and Clark. DMIA is the natural gateway for visitors arriving from Thailand. Everyone will feel quite at home and experience a warm welcome in an environment they have grown accustomed to. Each week, additional information will be shared on the metro Clark area.
THE METRO CLARK AREA
The area known as Metro Clark includes the former U.S. Air Force base and the surrounding communities, including the two bordering cities of Angeles and Mabalacat. The former USAF base at Clark has been transformed into a very successful and vibrant Freeport zone, which is also not only home of the DMIA airport, but also home to many large multi-national businesses and business parks including Texas Instruments, Singapore Airlines, Samsung and Global Gateway Logistics City. The Clark Freeport Zone offers locators many economic incentives for their business activities along with a great quality of life for their employees. Companies can draw on labor pool of some ten million English speaking Filipinos. All of this has fueled an economic boom at Clark and its sister Freeport at Subic Bay, just 30 minutes away by a new expressway. Together they form the heart of Region III’s economic success, making Region III the wealthiest and most affluent region in the Philippines outside of metro Manila which is an hour’s drive minutes south. Angeles City is often considered the bedroom community of Clark and comprises much of the social network including two major shopping malls, numerous restaurants, bars, night clubs, golf courses and much, much more. The entertainment area of metro Clark is located just outside Clark’s main gate in an area referred to as Fields Avenue and is often compared to Pattaya.
METRO CLARK AREA TRANSPORTATION
Getting around metro Clark is relatively easy and inexpensive, however there are some words to the wise that need to be shared. The Philippines grew up around three primary modes of transportation, the trike, a motorcycle with a side-car; a jeepney, left over relics from WWII; and buses. The trike was used for short distances to connect to a jeepney for longer distances and the bus for the long haul between provinces. Of course there are privately owned cars, seemingly too many, and of course the old standby taxi cab. However the Trike and Jeepney form the backbone of transport outside of metro Manila and especially in the metro Clark area. Taxis are generally safe and inexpensive but make sure you know the fare before taking off, a typical fare in and around Angeles will run Php 200 to 400 depending on distance. Trikes and jeepneys are much more ubiquitous, with the cost of a jeepney around Php 7 on scheduled routes. Trikes are negotiable, and generally run around Php 100 to 200 depending on distance and skill of the negotiator. Both trike and jeepney operators are known to take advantage of westerners. There also have been some instances of pick pockets working around transport centers and also of operators trying to extort money. So like travel in all emerging nations, you need to be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables safely guarded. If you stay in the Field entertainment area, you can let your feet do the transporting, everything is within walking distance.
METRO CLARK HOTELS
Metro Clark has many fine hotels to chose from. There are two primary alternatives, do you want to stay out in town where the action is, or on Clark where it is more quiet and perhaps more secure. Pros and Cons for each. “On-base”, language going back to the old U.S. Air Force days, means “on Clark”, which has several fine hotels and resorts, including the Holiday Inn, Fontana Resort, Widus and Stotsenburg, each with their own Casino. The drawback to staying “on Clark” is that you will feel more remote and a bit cut off from the action and reliant on taxis, which can run Php 400 – 500 per trip, with the drive from Clark to the entertainment area in Angeles about 15 minutes. The upside is that the hotels tend to be a bit nicer and in line with international services and standards. The “in-town” hotels, the majority of which are in Angeles, are for the most part within walking distance of the entertainment district and include such stalwarts as the Lewis Grand, the ABC Hotel, Wild Orchid, Pacific Breeze etc. There also are many other smaller hotels and condo-like apartelles that you can also stay in, as a quick search of the internet will demonstrate. Room rates can be obtained for as low as Php 1,200, but don’t expect much, to Php 3,500 for an average room to Php 4,500 for a more well appointed room. Rates “on Clark” tend to be a bit more expensive than their counterparts out in town.
METRO CLARK RESTAURANTS
Beyond all the well known and ubiquitous fast food places like McDonalds and KFC, you will find an abundant number of great places to eat. You won’t go hungry. It doesn’t matter if you are German, Italian, Mexican or Australian, you will find a taste of home. The number of westerners living and visiting Metro Clark has created an abundance of good, clean and safe restaurants and the number including two new great places that opened their doors just recently, Phillies, an open air, mist cooled, sports pub in the heart of the entertainment district and a new TGIF in a nearby Mall. Some of the other popular places include Zapatas Mexican and Tequila Reef that will rival any of the best Mexican in the west, along with several great Italian places like Asti, Al Bacio and C’Italian, not to mention Edelweiss and Bavarian Garden German restaurants, or the Swiss Chalet. And Brettos delicatessen is one of the best delis you will ever visit, with a wide assortment of breads, meats and cheeses. There is five star fine dining at the Oasis Hotel or “On Clark” at the Holiday Inn’s Rodizos or Mequeni Grill. Of course there are many pubs and smaller venues all with great food from sandwiches to pizza and you won’t go broke. You easily eat in the metro Clark area from Php 200 to 600 a day depending on your liking for informal or formal dining.
METRO CLARK SHOPPING
Metro Clark is supported by two new large shopping malls, SM and Marquee. SM is adjacent to the Fields Avenue entertainment district and within easy walking distance, while Marquee is a short 10 minute trike ride away. Each has a huge assortment of stores, including Ace and TruValue hardware stores most westerners can’t live without. Both also have large anchor department stores in addition to many electronic and boutique shops with all the typical international chains present. Each also have large food courts, including Starbucks and all the fast foods and cinema theaters with the latest in movie releases. Most all the stores carry stocks of larger size clothing and apparel items for westerners who have larger feet or midsections, to include off the shelf 2XL sizes. The malls are quite popular with the Filipinos, especially on weekends, when the malls are absolutely packed, so many of the experienced foreigners prefer to shop during the week when it is a little bit less hectic. Of course there are many other shopping areas and smaller malls in the area, including open air Filipino markets where you can find many bargains if you have the patience to negotiate and you find the quality was not quite what you expected. Out “on base” on Clark are a number of large Duty Free shops which seem to specialize in American products where you can find Skippy peanut butter, Kraft Miracle Whip mayonnaise, Betty Crocker cake mixes or any of your favorites from home. Prices in the malls for the most part are on par the same as they are worldwide.
WHAT TO DO?
Most of the foreigners think of metro Clark area as one dimensional, the Fields Avenue entertainment district, this is most unfortunate. While there is no question that many foreigners fall in love with Fields Avenue and the entertainment district because of the variety of night life and relatively inexpensive cost of food and drink and companionship one can find, it really offers much, much more. For golfers, the areas has many first rate golf courses, with perhaps the best being the 36 holes at the Mimosa Golf Resort. Beyond golf, there is a first class equestrian center with miles and miles of horseback riding trails, go-cart racing and the Clark Motor Speedway for full scale high speed drag and track racing. There also is the old historic district of Angeles, including the old Spanish Santo Rosario church, the Pamintuan Mansion which served as the first seat of power for the emerging Philippine government, Bale Matua one of the original founding family residences, Camalig restaurant one of the oldest buildings in Angeles and many military tourist sites and museums. Clark is a trekkers paradise with a number of trails including hikes up to Mt. Pinatubo which is now dormant with a beautiful crater lake for those who make it to the top. Bikers will also find many motorcycle clubs and places to rent bikes to make getting around Angeles and Clark even easier and if you are a harrier, there are regularly scheduled hashes you can participate in.
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
LOOKING BEYOND CLARK – SUBIC
Most visitors to Clark also make a side trip to Subic. With the new Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Subic is a short half hour away which provides a great 1-2 punch for any visit to the Philippines. Subic has always been an alter ego to Clark, as Subic was the home to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. Today it is a bustling Freeport Zone like Clark. Subic offers many hotels, restaurants and tourist activities. One of the favorite beach destinations is Barrio Baretto, home to Blue Rock, Wild Orchid, Harley’s and Sheavens beach side resorts with jet skis, banca boat rides, floating restaurants and typical beach activities. Within the Freeport area there is the Ocean Park dolphin and sea world like shows, Zoobic and its wild animal activities and many dive centers. A trip to Subic would not be complete without a visit and drink at Vasco’s Resort and Museum, the recognized place for expert advice on diving the Philippine waters or Texas Joe’s restaurant with authentic Texas smoked BBQ. The night life is much more laid back and informal than you will find in Angeles, with most of the bars and restaurants located in Baretto along with the best beachside resorts. Further up the coast you can find many other beach resorts on the South China Sea making a trip to Subic rewarding adjunct to your visit to Clark and Angeles.
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
LOOKING BEYOND CLARK – MANILA
Few visitors to Clark and Angeles venture down to Manila, a scant hour to 90 minute drive away depending on where you are headed. While traffic and congestion are as bad as it is in any major city, Manila has a lot to offer to those willing to make the trip. Manila attractions range from the old to new. Intramuros is one of the oldest attractions as it was the original ‘walled’ Spanish settlement and remains popular place to visit while Makati offers some of the newest venues with the latest in discos, fine dining and night life. Other major attractions include Corregidor Island made famous during WWII, all the museums, Manila Bay and all the activities of a major city. Depending on schedules, the Araneta Center, Mall of Asia and Convention Center in Manila hosts major events and concerts ranging from the Beach Boys and Bee Gees to Pussy Cat Dolls and Miss Saigon. Manila also offers night life and entertainment comparable to Angeles along Burgos Street and the International Complex on Edsa near Roxas Blvd. Visitors to Angeles who venture out of town are pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of night life and activities offered in metro Manila. Transportation can easily be arranged by local hotels and will cost about Php3,000 if using a private car and driver to less than Php 500 by bus.
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
LOOKING BEYOND CLARK – 7,107 ISLANDS
The Philippines with 7,107 islands to explore is an endless paradise of places to explore. While Boracay and its white powder-like sand beaches is world-famous there are many, many other attractions. Most destinations can be reached right from Clark, including regularly scheduled flights to top destinations. In addition many land trips can also be easily scheduled, from day trips to overnighters. Certainly no trip to the Philippines should be complete without touring some of its famous beaches such as Boracay, Cebu or Bohol. While in Bohol one can also visit the chocolate hills or see the world’s tiniest primates, the Tarsier. Another island, Palawan, offers one of the top world wonders, the subterranean river of Palawan near Puerta Princesca not to mention some of the world’s best diving. There are many WWII sites for history buffs from MacArthur’s famous “I Shall Return” landing in Leyte to the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay. North of Clark are Pangasinan’s hundred islands and the old Spanish city of Laoag and famous Banaue rice terraces and to the north east, the pristine and virgin province of Aurora with its famous surfing beaches and historic city of Baler. Trips south of Manila are exciting and include Pagsanjan Falls, with an exciting banca boat ride up the river which will enable you to shoot the rapids back or further south to Mayon volcano in the Bicol region, Mayon is one of the Philippines more active volcanoes. So make Clark you home base for visiting some of the country’s other top sites.
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is the world’s 12th most populated country with some 100 million Filipinos. What helps make the country unique is that all Filipinos speak English, with 10 million, 10% of the entire population working overseas, including 2.5 million in the U.S and another 2.5 million in the Middle East, making it one of the most sought after workforces in the world. The Philippines is also the home of Manny Pacquiao, perhaps the best fighter of all time, rivaling Mohammed Ali. Manny has won world records in eight different weight classes, unprecedented in boxing history. Efren “Bata” Reyes is another legend who hails from Angeles is perhaps the greatest billiards player of all time with five world 8-ball championships. The Philippines has many other super stars in the entertainment industry, including many internationally acclaimed lead singers in musical groups, including Lea Salonga who starred in Miss Saigon for many years, in addition to Arnel Pineda (Journey), Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls), Apl de ap (Black Eyed Peas) and the newest wonder, Charice Pempengco. Many of you will remember owning a Duncan yo-yo, the Nike of the yo-you world, but few will know that the commercial yo-you was invented by Pedro Flores, a Filipino who owned the patent on the yo-yo and sold it to Duncan in 1932. On December 2, 1934, Lou Gerhig and Babe Ruth hit the first and second home runs respectively out of the newly built Rizal Stadium in Manila, later in the series a Filipino from Cavite, Armando Oncinian struck the famous Babe Ruth out.
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
CLARK’S GLOBAL GATEWAY LOGISTICS CITY
Global Gateway Logistics City is a $2 billion 177 hectare development adjacent to the DMIA airport in the Clark Freeport Zone. It will include 4.5 million square meters of floor space at build-out and represents the largest foreign direct real estate investment project in the Philippines. It is was conceived and being developed by an American company, Peregrine Development International, to the latest international standards using Kuwait investment funds. GGLC, as it is locally known, has been designed as an eco-friendly business and logistics park with all the amenities to create a fully integrated live-work-play environment. It is comprised of four zones, a Logistics Park for light manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, an Office Park for commercial and business needs, an Aero Park for R&D and technology based activities and the Town Center to provide retail and residential support for the community. GGLC is a master planned fully integrated community, with all utilities, including an all fiber optic network, underground with the latest in Information and Communication Technology. Ground breaking began on the horizontal infrastructure in August 2008 with the first vertical construction of a modern hospital in December 2010. GGLC is the premier park in the Philippines located just an hour north of Manila and adjacent to the DMIA airport, the Philippines premier international gateway and just a half hour from the deep water container port in Subic. GGLC is the country’s first true Aerotropolis (www.gglc.ph).
A LOOK AT THE PHILIPPINES
WHERE TO LIVE
Due to the economic boom in metro Clark and the explosive growth in the local communities of Angeles and Mabalacat, it has become increasingly difficult to locate good housing. Most foreigners live in either a condominium or gated community, either “on Clark” or out in town and either rent or buy. Philippine law however limits foreign ownership of land to 40%, with 60% in the name of a Filipino entity. There are several legal structures that comply with the law while assuring foreign ownership rights. So before buying make sure you engage a reputable law firm to advise you. Security often is a big concern of foreign nationals living in the Philippines, so many westerners prefer the safety of condominiums with 24 x 7 security or gated communities. Home and condo prices vary greatly depending on location and level of amenities being offered. There are many modest single family homes being offered around Php 2.5 million, with nice mid range home communities ranging from Php 4.5 to 8 million with more upscale homes with pools ranging from Php 12 to 14 million upwards. Rents can range from Php 20,000 for a modest two bedroom flat to Php 100,000 upwards for more spacious residences with pools. The choices vary significantly, so find a good real estate firm, NT Realty, with offices both in Thailand and the Philippines is an excellent source at www.nt-realty.com.