Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Businesses come and go. But not for these Kapampangan enterprises founded by visionaries who poured in blood, sweat and tears to build these commercial establishments that have--with a dash of luck--become icons of economic success in the province's business landscape. Let's see some of these businesses that are still in existence and continue to endure to this very day.
The oldest-known bakery in Pampanga-- “Apung Diung”-- is still in existence in Plaza Burgos, Guagua, after over 120 years of operation. Founded by Aurelio Diyco , the panaderia still uses oldtime recipes and traditional baking methods to come up with special pastries and treats. Apung Diung is credited with popularizing ‘masa podrida” (Nancy Balls brand), the local  version of shortbread biscuits , perfect with coffee or tea. The circular cookie literally means “rotten dough”, but the taste is anything but that. Rich-tasting with a crisp, crumbly texture, masa podrida cookies are made from butter, flour and sugar. Known today as “Apung Diung Pan Plaza Bakery”, the business is now owned and operated by Diyco descendants, and continues to bring to treats like cheese rolls, sampaguitas, egg pies, pan de salitos and other breads to sweet-toothed Kapampangans.

LA MODERNA BAKERY (late 1800s)
La Moderna had its roots  in the late 1800’s when couple Ignacio and Maria Lansang Narciso opend a sweets shop in Sta. Rita. In 1947, son Pablo Narciso and his wife Narcisa Carlos relocated the candy company to  Guagua, which soon evolved into a bakery, La Moderna.   Its wood-fired ovens or pugon  churned out baked treats that were sold  as far north as Dagupan, and in Divisoria, Manila. All 10 Narciso kids all helped in managing La Moderna, which employed over 150 employees working in shifts daily, to meet the growing demands. The second and third children, Toto Narciso and Butchie N. Lagman took over La Moderna  in the early 80’s, and the bakery came to be known for both its traditional and new product innovations: gorgoryas, mamon tostado, sampaguitas, masa podrida and turrones. Not even the eruption of Pinatubo could bring the business down as La Moderna found a loyal Manila market via the Salcedo weekend market. After over 70 years,  La Moderna Bakery continues to operate in Guagua today, right in Plaza Burgos, proof that once a favorite, always a favorite!

R. T. Paras Haute Couture is perhaps the most notable fashion house established by a Kapampangan--Roberta Tablante Paras, a woman of extraordinary talent and character. Roberta was one of the daughters of Modesto Paras, a former juez de paz (justice of the peace) of Angeles. Her dressmaking skills were recognized early. But a liaison with a married doctor caused her to be disowned; she fled to Manila and open a small dressmaking shop in Binondo in 1902 and in Quiapo in 1912. She single-handedly operated her  business, building a client list that would include the First Lady Aurora Aragon Quezon. Roberta’s daughter, Josefina, acquired her mother’s skills and business acumen, and turned R. T. Paras as one of the country’s most popular couture shops in the 40s and 50s. Her son, former design head of Jean Patou,  Froilan “Roy” Gonzales would eventually return home to head R.T.Paras Haute Couture which has become a name synonymous with excellence in the domain of high quality wedding gowns, corporate attire, suits and formal wear.

Along A. Consunji Street, on the side of the San Fernando Cathedral still stands the Pampanga Hotel and Panciteria, now operating under the name Pampanga Lodge and Restaurant. The famed hotel cum restaurant was put up in  the spacious Buison Building, which in 1908, started housing Pampanga High School. The building then came into the possession of the Eusebio family, and became the residence of Andres Eusebio, who married Asuncion Santos, daughter of Don Teodoro Santos, Sr. (Dorong Tola). The school vacated the premises when the new Pampanga High School was erected in 1912. Harvardian Colleges, founded in 1955, also used the building for its classes. Pampanga Hotel and Panciteria took over its use, providing affordable lodgings and meals to San Fernando visitors  through the 50s- 60s. The establishment still operates in the same town plaza location.

Angeles City’s main power provider, the Angeles Electric Corp., began as Angeles Electric Light and Power Plant on July 10, 1923, a project of Don Juan Nepomuceno and wife, Nena Gomez. The couple—who already had an ice plant, and would go on to found other ventures like Holy Angel Academy, a softdrinks factory, a subdivicion and a commercial shopping complex---thought that bringing  power to a community, including light to the church—was a great idea. With a 2,000 pesos down payment on a Php 72,000 power plant machines—the Nepomucenos set forth to establish the electric company that would serve Angeles continuously, except during the dark days of the war. It was incorporated in 1959 as Angeles Electric Corp. and the institution continues to provide power service, efficiently and competently-- not only to the city but also to nearby areas, today.

One of Pampanga’s leading funeral services was founded way back in 1930 by Pedro Manalili Punzalan who first started Funeraria Punzalan in Arayat town. In the eary 1950s, he bought an old house in San Fernando along Tiomico St., and converted it into another funeral parlor that soon gained patronage in the capital and in nearby towns. In 1959, Funeraria Punzalan opened its Guagua branch, and soon, Punzalan descendants rode on the popularity of the successful memorial and mortuary business by putting up their own branches bearing the same name.  At its peak, Funeraria Punzalan had branches in Candaba, Calumpit and in Nueva Ecija (Jaen and Cabiao). Another Punzalan relative put up parlors in Bataan (Orani, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Balanga, Limay, Samal, Abucay) which are still currently in operation, along with the San Fernando, Arayat and Porac branches.

Ong Sin Siu or simply “Sencio” is the name of the oldest supermarket in Mabalacat. It was founded in 1939 by Chinese couple Ong Sin Siu and wife Apung Achi Ong. The small grocery store was put up along MacArthur Highway, Calumpang, and sold everything from canned goods, softdrinks, cosmetics, toys, school supplies, hardware and other day-to-day essentials. Apung Sencio, who was known for being generous to his patrons (he lent money freely), ran the grocery along with his children.  Through the years, the grocery expanded and continues to enjoy a loyal following from the city, this, despite the rise of hypermarts and similar superstores in the area.

Hizon’s Cakes & Pastries on Bocobo St. in Ermita, Manila was founded by Inocencia Hizon, a widowed single mother working as a department store clerk at Aguinaldo’s, Escolta. The Hizon roots are in Mexico. Family lore has it that the now-famous ensaymada recipe was given to her by an anonymous woman. Inocencia baked dozens of ensaymadas using the recipe, and engaged the help of her sister to peddle the pastries in offices, which, to her surprise, were all sold-out. This encouraged her to put up a bakeshop in 1946 on Raon St, which she named simply as “Hizon’s”. It transferred to its present location in Bocobo in 1963. Today, Hizon’s has branches in Pasay, Greenhills and Makati, run by daughter Milagros Ramos Roasa. The shop, regarded as an institution, (it was the late Dolphy's favorite hang-out place),  is also famous for its taisans, apple pies and ube cakes, but the ensaymada remains a sentimental favorite.

San Fernando’s favorite bakeshop at the Assumpta Building, along the busy Abad Santos St., barrio St. Rosario, was put up by an enterprising couple, Jesusa “Susing” Quiambao and husband Jose “Pitong” Valencia, in 1955. It was named after Susing’s mother, Margarita Quiambao.  As a manager of the post-war “La Satisfacion Bakery, “Apung Gari” earned a reputation as a good cook. Her daughter and son-in-law soon took over the business, renaming it as “Apung Gari Bakery and Kiosk”. For fifty centavos, one can enjoy Pancit Luglug (a best-seller), Arroz Caldo, Chicken Mami, Magnolia Ice Cream and Ice Cream Sundae. Halo-halo, Lumpiang Prito, Magnolia Milk. Assorted cakes and pies could be had for forty centavos. Students from Assumption and other schools, government employees frequented “Apung Gari” for over six decades. Descendants continued the business long after the death of the Valencias, until it was sold to the Santiago family around 2007.  The new owners retained the name owing to its pulling power which evokes simple, but tasty food and good times. Recently, the name was changed to LBS (for Leonila B. Santiago) Bakeshop and Kiosk, and time will tell if the same affinity for the one and only “Apung Gari” will rub off on the newly-rechristened bakeshop.

The founder of Angeles’ early grocery/supermarket  was Amoy-born Johnny Uy whose family migrated to the Philippines and settled in Pampanga. He married Lilia So, who belongs to the well-known clan of Angeles. After their marriage, they put up a mall shop, Johnny’s Grocery Store along Miranda St, which would become the go-to place of Angeles families for their daily, domestic needs, including liquors. The Uys would put up a multi-storey building in Balibago in the early 1970s, which also proved to be very successful, carrying imported goods from American comic books, cigarettes, premiere liquor brands to the latest music records. The Miranda branch was lost in a blaze, but Johnny’s Supermarket in Balibago and at Sto. Rosario Street—housed in a newly-refurbished building, are still going strong. In 2014, “Papa Johnny”as known  by locals, was recognized by the province for his significant contributions to the community and its economy.

The modern V.L. Makabali Memorial Hospital, Inc along Mendoza St., in San Fernando, began as a modest 6-bedroom maternity clinic that Dr. Venancia L. Makabali opened in a house, on Aug. 11, 1957. Dra. Makabali was a 1946 graduate of medicine at the University of Santo Tomas, where she specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She later went to the U.S. to undergo advanced OB-GYNE training. Her reputation as a women’s health doctor soon spread and the single doctor’s career took off. Just a few months after the clinic opened, she added 4 more beds, one operating room, one delivery room, ten nursery bassinets, a laboratory, and an X-ray room. For years, Dra. Makabali ran her famed clinic, which continued to operate long after her death in 1972. The clinic was then made into a family corporation with all the surviving brothers and sisters as incorporators. This led to the construction of a modern hospital complex now known as  V.L. Makabali Memorial Hospital, Inc.

The little bank that could—that’s the Rural Bank of Mabalacat Inc, which after half a century, still operates in the city, an important partner in community progress. The rural bank, established by founding members Concepcion de Leon, Jaime Gomez, Lourdes Dycaico, Benedicto Tiglao  and Angelo Hizon opened  its doors in the Poblacion office on November 4, 1964 . An extension office was put up in Dau on December 8, 1972. However, lahar threats in 1991-1992 from Mount Pinatubo’s eruption prompted the bank to transfer its main office from Mabalacat to Dau, but this did not hamper the bank from expanding its network, opening branches in Magalang (1993), Sindalan, San Fernando (November 1997),  Bamban,Tarlac (November 2002) and another full service branch in Angeles City in 2009. The Rural Bank of Mabalacat Inc, has withstood many challenges like the Asian Economic Crisis, the political upheavals that affected our econmy and financial system in the 1980s, and enjoys continued grwth and stability today.

ANGELES ELECTRIC CORP.:  Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University
APUNG DIUNG: Photos, from Mr. Jorge Hizon FB page,
LA MODERNA BAKERY:  Photos and info from La Modern bakery blog:
PAMPANGA HOTEL: 1960 yearbook, Pampanga High School
FUNERARIA PUZALAN, all photos by Jerry Punzalan Sagmit
ONG SIN SIU: Photo from “Ing Mabalaqueño 2017 Year End issue.
HIZON’S BAKESHOP: Photo of Hizon’s Raon branch, Philippine History & Architecture FB page,
APUNG GARI: Alex Castro Collection
JOHNNY’S GROCERY STORE: Vintage Photo by J. Scott,
Photo of Johnny’s Supermaket-Balibago:
MAKABALI CLINIC: 1959 Pampanga Medical Society Souvenir Program
V. L. Makabali Memorial Hospital FB page

Thursday, March 29, 2018


The ways of  flagellants have always inspired awe and curiosity amongst the faithful during the days of Lent. Pampanga flagellants, however, have a different intent. Bloodied, scourged and caked with dust, magdarames live and act out the passion of the Lord—and the term “dámé”, to sympathize and share one’s grief, to take part in someone else’s suffering-- captures this spirit of oneness, in pain and sorrow. Here are, early images of the “magdarame” in Pampanga,  preserved by the camera from the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s.

Barefooted flagellants from the early 20th century have their backs incised with wounds, drawing blood by whipping their backs with burilyos--bamboo strips tied to a cloth. These magdarame types are called mamalaspas, A distinctive sound is heard when the bamboo strips strike the flesh.

Makeshift chapels of wood, nipa and light materials serve as pitstops for  retinue of magdarames. Here, at these gaily decorated visitas, they pause to say their prayers, before moving on.

A magdarame remains anonymous by covering his face with a black hood or a white cloth, called "capariza", held in place by a crown of vines or twisted branches. These days, the face cover is an option as some modern-day flagellants expose their faces to the world. Instead, a piece of cloth is used to covers their heads, Arab-style.

The back of a magdarame  is incised with a panabad, a paddle with shards of broken glass or directly with a razor or the sharp tip of a knife, such as the one shown in the photo.

A group of American ladies from nearby Fort Stotsenburg gawk at a cross-bearing magdarame, followed by his aide, who intones prayers. Then, as now, magdarames were strange sights to see for foreigners. Today, the display of unusual practices such as flagellation and crucifixion are part of a 'religious tourism program' propagated by such places led by the City of San Fernando.

A popular type of magdarame is the cross-bearer or mamusan kurus. He either carries a cross or is tied to one. This flagellant carries a cross of bamboo, and he carries its full weight as the cross does not touch the ground. Today's crosses are fashioned from commercial lumber from hardware stores, or fashioned from old electric posts. They are also unusually long, so that the end of the cross touches the ground, thus providing support,

Flagellants often walked country trails and roads, in small packs of 8 to 12. Others go on solitary walks, the better to reflect on his personal mission to be united in suffering with Christ. An American in a white suit follows this group in their walk of faith.

Another kind of magdarame is the sasalibatbat, who fling their bodies to the ground, rolling over sharp rocks and stones in the process. They are followed by a flogger, who whips them when they are on the ground. Their torsos, legs and arms are tied with abaca rope to impair circulation, hence making the experience more torturous.

An ayudante checks on the condition of a magdarame, sprawled on the field under the hot, mid-day sun.  The walk around town begins in the morning, ends by early afternoon and is followed by a dash to the nearest river for a quick, recuperative bath.

A magdarame is symbolically crucified, by having his arms tied on the crossbar.  The first re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion happened in the 1955 "Via Crucis" in San Fernando, but it was only in 1962 that an actual crucifixion was done, with the nailing of Artemio Anoza to the cross in barrio San Pedro Cutud. Anoza believed he could realize his dream to be a faith healer with his crucifixion.

Photos, courtesy of "Old Pampanga" FB Group.
Others: Alex R.castro, 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The Angeles City Hall is located in barangay Pulung Maragul, the Angeles City Hall of Justice, and other government buildings. The original municipio however, was constructed during the American regime, in 1922, under mayor Juan D. Nepomuceno, and was built from the original 1840 Casa Tribunal. It is now a museum.

The municipal hall of Pampanga's Gateway to Manila and The Blacksmith Capital of Pampanga.

The renovated Arayat Municipal Hall is fronted by a monument of its most illustrious son, Gen. Jose Alejandrino, astride his steed.

The municipal building is the former site of the Venturas house, one of Bacolor's most prominent families. On July 8, 1953, the new town hall was completed during the term of Mayor Manuel de Jesus. Its construction was a project of Senator Pablo Angeles David, a native of Bacolor.

Candaba, the ancient town noted for its swamplands, and bird sanctuaries, has a neoclassic-style municipal hall centrally located in the poblacion, Brgy. Paralaya.

The Municipal Hall Building of Floridablanca is on Macabulos St., Brgy. Poblacion, next to the church of Floridablanca.

The heritage town hall of Guagua was built in 1937. The 80 year old Commonwealth-era edifice, which stands on the ground fronting Plaza Burgos,  has  kept most of its original features. The old statue of the patriotic writer, Aurelio Tolentino has been moved to the front of the municipal hall. It  has been declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Historic Commission of the Philippines.

The Lubao Municipal Hall, ca. 1937 is one of the early concrete structures erected during the Commonwealth years. It was originally a 2-storey building with stairs at the sides, eventually acquiring a neo-classic look. Much of its original features are intact. In March 2016, a new municipal hall costing Php14.7 million is envisioned to rise  in Brgy. Santa Catalina in an area where the town traces its beginnings.

The Mabalacat City Hall relocated  to the Xevera Complex of Brgy. Tabun in 2009, from its original site in Poblacion, where the old town hall building still stands next to the elementary school. The old municipio  dates from the American regime, and was improved and expanded in 1951.

The massive Macabebe Municipal Hall is noted for its statue of boy-hero Tarik Soliman, the first native to give up his life for independence at the Battle of Bangkusay, and recognized by the government.

The Magalang Municipal Hall is a town landmark located across the Plaza de la Libertad. Its predecessor was the old Spanish era Casa Tribunal (ca. 1866). The new edifice was built in 1922 , during the presidency of Antonio Y. Luciano, and was inaugurated 2 years later. The municipal building, which survived the war and other natural calamities, was declared an Important Cultural property in 2015.

In Oct. 2017, groundbreaking activities were held for the renovation of the old flood-prone municipal building that houses different government offices. The improvement calls for the construction of a 3-storey building, to be connected with the executive and legislative building for faster delivery of public service.

Mexico’s 2-storey town hall is right in the town center, across the public market, adjacent to the police station and close to the Sta. Monica parish.

The municipal hall of Minalin is a modernized period building , that includes the Police Station on its grounds.

The Porac Municipal Hall is a large, modern edifice along Gen. Luna St., in the town poblacion.

The City Hall is located in the heritage district of San Fernando, across the street from the Cathedral of San Fernando. It began as a casa municipal in 1755, made out of stone and thatch. It was burned by the Philippine Revolutionary Army on orders of Gen. Antonio Luna, on May 4, 1899. The building was again reconstructed in 1917. Burned down during WWII, the municipio was reconstructed post-war using its original adobe stonework. The municipio, considered a heritage building, was last restored in 2003 by Mayor Rey B. Aquino.

The municipal hall of San Luis is an elongated, fenced-in 2 storey building in the heart of the town.

The municipal hall of this town of over 55,000 people is a contemporary 2-floor building that is in a well-secured location on Punzalan St., Brgy. Tualoc, San Agustin.

The Sta. Ana Municipal Hall is located in the poblacion, next to the church. As the building is small and situated in a traffic area, a plan  to transfer the town hall on a 1.5 hectare lang in brgy. Sto. Domingo was conceived in 2015, by then-outgoing mayor, Rommel Concepcion. It has been built since then, but is not functional.

Sta. Rita Town Hall is a larger, new building built on the site of the old  municipio (built in 1951) that is just a stone’s throw away across the ancient Sta. Rita Church. The town hall is located in brgy. San Jose.

When the municipality of Sto. Tomas was re-inaugurated in 1952, the first town hall was temporarily located at the house of its first mayor, Patricio Gomez. The current modern hall is compact in size, and in 2011, the Donato B. Pangilinan, Sr., an annex, was erected.

The municipal hall of Sasmuan, a contemporary 2-storey concrete building, of Sasmuan is located in brgy. Sta. Lucia.
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Sunday, March 4, 2018


In January 17, 1925, Capt. H.A. Myers of the 26th Cavalry, by order of Col. Cavanaugh, prepared and circulated a guide to provide persons interested in riding, with information concerning the best trails an roads to take when riding out of the Post proper. The Stotsenburg Reservation and nearby country, in general, offers much that is worth exploring, for there is a lot of beautiful scenery and many interesting landmarks to be found there. A list of these trails and scenic spots, in and around Pinatubo, as well as  Bamban, are contained in the memo. Some of the names and locations of these trails have been lost to memory.

This canyon probably offers the finest scenery of its kind around Camp Stotsenburg and should be visited at least once by every person of the garrison. Here, one can see beautiful array of typical shrubbery, particularly ferns, the abundance and variety of which gives the canyon its name.

Wild fowl abound, especially the smaller birds many of which are bedecked with the brightest of plumage. After entering the canyon proper, it narrows down into a gorge only a few feet wide with walls of slid rock on either side varying from 75 to more than 150 feet in height. Huge trees jut out from the walls many feet overhead. Only at midday does the sun ever reach the depths of the canyon and the air is always cool and laden with the fragrance of wild flowers.

This trail, which forms part of the first part of the 24th Field Artillery China Sea Trail, is very much worthwhile. The trail follows along a canyon which opens out frequently into circular clearings similar to and probably are, very old craters. There is a heavy growth of plant life on all sides and birds and animal life abound. Interesting and unusual geological formations are frequently encountered. The stream which flows through this canyon furnishes a portion of Stotsenburg’s water supply and the water line and settling basin are passed shortly after entering the canyon. Here and there are short trails leading up into the surrounding hills. Persons talking this ride should try and follow the trail as far as the Bamban River which is encountered at the end of the canyon about 4 miles from the Post. Due to its being used throughout the year and forming part of the 24th Field Artillery China Sea Trail, this trail is generally in good shape. Take your camera.

Lying just south of the the larger and more imposing canyon of the Three Crater Trail, Lost Canyon is very frequently overlooked by equestrians but this oversight is the distinct loss of the latter because Lost Canyon, with its misleading off-shoots and dense growth offers a haven for the seeker of the unusual and uncertain. Entering the canyon, one passes through the gardens of several enlisted men, after which the narrow trail follows along a small stream. The canyon is narrow and overgrown with dense tropical shrubbery, vines and trees. Here, one can find everything in its natural state, there being few evidences of changes made by man. Vari-colored birds flit among the trees and shrubbery, unconscious if intruders, Air plants such as epiphytic orchids grace the front porches of most quarters in the Post and many varieties can be seen as they grow in their natural state. Lost Canyon extends for a considerable distance but for the mounted visitor, only about 1 mile. There are numerous off-shoots from the main trail easily mistaken for the latter, but all finally coming to an end in some inaccessible spot. No doubt, some early pioneer, after struggling to find his way through the canyon, found inspiration for giving it its name. This is a fine place to cool off on hot, tropical days.

Following along the Southern Boundary of the reservation from Camp Stotsenburg to Dau, this trail—which in reality is a second class road—offers an excellent route for person desiring to take a ride of several miles over level country. The dirt road is soft and makes a good footing for horses, particularly if gaits faster than a walk are desired. The trail, after being taken to the outskirts of Tacondo, leads almost directly east to Dau. From this point, persons can either return over the same route or take the main Stotsenburg-Dau road. The country along the entire route is level and if desired, one can ride cross-country or; make us of the numerous small trails which run in every direction.

This is one of the most interesting rides that can be taken around Stotsenburg. Leaving the Post proper, the route leads past the Forage Farm, across Pistil Gulch to the Bamban River. In making the descent to the river, the trail leads down to a long steep bank, somewhat thrilling to ride down, but not at all dangerous if taken slowly. Crossing the river—which is never deep nor dangerous except in the rainy season—the trail leads into a deep cut covered overhead with trees and shrubbery. Following up the cut which is quite steep but accessible, the trail emerges at the top and leads on generally North between, over and around hills, across small streams and through thickets. The scenery here is beautiful. Second River is reached about 1 mile North of the Bamban, and the Third River is a large pool of cool, clear, sparkling water. This is an excellent place for swimming and in years gone by, it was quite the thing to arrange swimming parties here, tents being taken out  of pack mules for dressing rooms. There are any number of excellent sites along the route for staging picnics.

This trail offers an excellent route for beginners as it runs through the sandy river bed, has an easy footing for horses and is about the best place one can find to fall off. This trail is also an excellent place to work frisky, nervous horses as the deep sand tends to quiet them down. Except during rainy weather, this stream bed can be followed to a point south east of Dolores and in very dry weather, even further. Trees line the stream bed forming natural barriers on either side. Beginners who are reluctant to try a trot or gallop should do their first work at increased gaits in this sandy stretch. In going over the trail, one can either ride down as far as a point south of Dolores and then return over the same ground or take the Banyan Trail leading through the Banana Grove and back to the Post via Air Service, Murrayville, etc.

This is an excellent route to take for a short ride. One can leave the Post, cover this trail to where it joins the Dolores Road and return in about three quarters of an hour. The trail is taken near the Air Service then runs through the Banana Grove where the famous Banyan Tree is passed. There is a very dense growth in the Banana Grove and as the sun seldom filters through the thick foliage, it is always cool here. Leaving the Banana Grove, one can either return via the Dry River Bed or take the Dolores Road back to the Post.

The Artillery Trail to the China Sea constructed by the 24th Artillery is open from about the first of November to the first of July for individually-mounted parties and pack animals. A 2 ½ hour ride, without one hill, brings one to Camp 3 located on the Bamban River. An excellent place for a picnic or to camp (plenty of tent poles, benches and firewood always on hand). A good swimming hole about 200 yards from the camp. During this ride, you will pass through th  4 craters and are struck by the scenic beauty and marvelous rock formation, reminders of the Pre-Glacial  Age.

About a half hour’s ride from the fourth crater, the typical forest begins and continues to the base of Mount Pinatubo. The beauty and wonders of this forest cannot be appreciated unless seen. There is practically no animal life but abundant flora; ferns, air plants, orchids, giant fern trees and other tress 250 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet in diameter. Other beautiful flora peculiar to this forest only, and never named.

From Camp 3 to Camp 4 is about a 1 hour ride following the Bamban River over a practically level trail. Camp 4 is a good halfway camp if going to Pinatubo. Animals should be rested and packs removed before going up out of Bamban as at this point, the only difficult climb begins. The trail follows a gorge out of the Canyon of the Bamban and reaches the divide between the Bamban and Dry Pasig valleys. After following the divide for about four miles, you make a slight descent coming out of the forestand by a slight climb into Zambales Pass and Camp 6. The altitude of Camp 6 is about 4,000 feet The cool climate and invigorating atmosphere rivals Baguio. It is an excellent place to camp with plenty of good spring water available.

The view from Zambales Pass is incomparable with anything in the Philippine Islands. Looking back to the east, the plains of Pampanga are visible for scores of miles and to the West, the mountains of the coast and over them,the China Sea and the Capones islands. From Camp 6, you should ride about a mile further to the north and view Pnatubo Crater. It is beyond description with its walls rising from 500 to 2,000 feet. Parties should not attempt to go beyond this pint unless prepared to stay out sometime. Also, parties going beynd Camp 3 should consist of at least 5 persons, and should be armed.

This trail requires about 4 hours to cover but is very worthwhile, and should be taken at least once by everyone. It runs from the Post proper to Sapang Bato Ridge, and then southwest through numerous cultivated areas, a hacienda, a large coconut grove, the latter the only one near the Stotsenburg reservation. Several pretty canyons are crossed and the country in general, offers much in scenic beauty. The trail terminates at what is known as Dry Pasig, a stream bed usually having little, if any, water but deriving its name from the fact that the head waters of the Pasig River originate in this area. The trail, of course, continues on further from this point, but persons coming from Camp Stotsenburg will hardly care to ride beyond.

The ride to the summit of Griffiths Peak is one of the nicest that can be taken in or around Stotsenburg. The climb up the Peak is steep but not difficult, and once at the top, one can get a very excellent vew of the country for miles around. On clear days, the Central Luzon Valley stretches out to the east and is plainly visible as far as the mountain ranges that run North and South along the Pacific coast of Luzon. Angeles, San Fernando, San Pedro Magalang, and in fact, all of the towns and barrios to the east and South can be seen on clear days. If one cares to take the ride, there is a rail running down the northwestern slope of Griffiths Peak that leads to a point on the Bamban River just above the Intake Station, the latter being where Stotsenburg secures its water supply. The trail from the high South bank of Bamban, down to the stream bed where the Station is located is too steep to be attempted by a horse. However, persons can go down dismounted with no difficulty and should do so as the spot where the Station is located is picturesque. At one point near is a long tunnel where the water line runs under a high hill. This tunnel is large enough for a person to walk through and offers an interesting diversion for persons desiring to explore . This trip should best be taken after the grass has been pruned off and only in dry weather.

This hill is reached by so many trails that any attempt to describe them all is difficult and unnecessary. It is possible to approach the hill from most any direction and encounter a trail or several of them. However, there are a few general routes over and around the hill which offer the best footing and are therefore the most advisable ones to follow. First, there is a trail which runs West along the crest of a ridge that begins back of the T line. This trail goes over the Reservoir Hill and on along the ridge, turns North and then  goes to a point on the South side of Top ‘O the World. From here, one can go up to the uppermost point on the Top ‘O the World or else proceed on West along the south side of the hill, and then northwest along the ridge that runs along the Top ‘O the World to Griffiths Peak. From the highest point of Top ‘O the World, there is a trail that running dwn the crest of the ridge in a northeasterly direction. This is called the “Knife’s Edge” . The trail is very narrow with steep slopes on either side. None but the very experienced rider who has confidence in his horse should ride over this portion of the trail. The view from Top ‘O the World is excellent. Persons desiring to cover a formidable but safe hill trail should take one of the several trails leading up and around Top ‘O the World, as they are all in good condition, well-travelled and offer no onstacle which the average rider on the average horse should not be able to negotiate.

NOTE: While most of these photos are Stotsenburg photos, some are representational.
Banyan Forest picture (representation only):, posted by Alel, 30 Sep. 2009