Pampanga rising to new heights
The province of Pampanga has become a model of a resilient economy, having grown into a thriving center in Central Luzon in the aftermath of the 1991 Mount
Pinatubo eruption.Since that tragic event, Pampanga, home to some 2.6 million people, has turned itself into many things: a culinary capital, home of the famed giant lanterns, and a former military air base turned into an economic zone.
Today, there are about 26,000 businesses registered in Pampanga in 2018, based on the latest Regional Social and Economic Trends report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)—the second highest in the region. Pampanga, however, was still the top employer in Central Luzon, with 50,646 people employed from the P15.7 billion worth of investments poured in two years ago, the same report further showed.
Thriving industries in the province include wholesale and retail trade, motor vehicle repair, manufacturing, accommodation and food service, and other service activities.
What makes Pampanga competitive is its accessibility to Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. It can be reached via North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) as well as MacArthur Highway and Jose Abad Santos Avenue, which traverse through the province’s 19 towns and three cities.
The Clark International Airport, located at the Clark Freeport Zone, services international and domestic flights. But what sets it apart is the new “iconic” passenger terminal dubbed a “keystone” in the economic development in Central Luzon.
The P15-billion Terminal 2, one of the major infrastructure projects under the government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, is expected to triple the Clark airport’s capacity from the current 4.2 million passengers. It was initially slated to be completed in June this year, but the pandemic has pushed back its inauguration. It is 99.14-percent complete, as of last month, according to the Department of Transportation.
The government also plans to build the country’s first “agri-industrial business corridor” (ABC) at the New Clark City in a bid to disperse industries and provide more opportunities to the countryside. The site will include modern agribusiness facilities and a national seed technology park.
ABC is expected to complement the planned Clark Fresh Market, which will rise at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and CEO Vince Dizon had said that “infrastructure projects… create value for properties. It’s true when they say that if you build it, they will come.”
Pampanga has proven this as its potential in the real estate sector continues to grow. Property developers, such as Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and Leonio Land Holdings Inc., have invested in building a 1,800-hectare mixed-use, sustainable estate in Porac town, once a sleepy town devastated by the lahar from the 1991 eruption.
Launched in 2014, Alviera is envisioned to be an urban development, complete with commercial district, business and industrial park, university zones, retail centers, country club and recreational areas.
Alviera’s City Center houses corporate offices, retail and commercial spaces, as well as residential developments such as Ayala Land Premier, Alveo and Avida. Almost 3,000 residential units in Alviera have been sold, according to the website of Alviera.
The sprawling estate also boasts of its natural landscape, with 40 percent of the land alloted to forests and nature trails. It has views of the mountain range and features a river system.
Prior to this biggest Ayala project in Pampanga to date, ALI opened SandBox which offers outdoor activities and adventure courses.
Sources: Inquirer Archives, psa.gov.ph, alviera.ph