PAMPANGA | Lessons from the Epic Fail Experiences in Pampanga

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Misadventures are part of traveling that sometimes lead to a better and more memorable experience on the road. I have already encountered several mishaps during my trips: heavy rain poured during a trek, waited for two hours for a bus that didn’t arrive, searching for a place to stay at 8 in the evening and more. I just can’t believe that during our participation in the Giant Lantern Festival, we had not only one, but three epic fail experiences in Pampanga.

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Facade of Betis Church in Guagua, Pampanga.

A “Hotel” in Pampanga

After we placed the reservation, we were advised to deposit the payment, in full amount. Just to ensure a place to stay during the festival, we complied. We got a superior room (for three) because twin rooms were already fully booked as per the staff. We agreed. The hotel has a nice website, by the way.

On that day, we were a bit bemused with the hotel. We showed our deposit slip and were checked-in in a breeze. A staff led us to our room. The gut feelings were realized. The room is good; it’s just that we expected more because of their rates and on how the rooms were presented on their website. We also found out that they have vacant twin rooms; yet, they offered us a superior room.

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The pool. Raw photo, no filter applied. Photo credits to Chino of Juanderful Pinoy.

We were dismayed. We decided to check out the swimming pool maybe it can please us. Unfortunately, it is not properly maintained that I can imagine a large croc devouring anyone who will jump in it. The next morning, we were glad that they offered a decent breakfast, except for the meatloaf with a weird smell.

LESSON LEARNED: Before placing hotel reservations, it is better to check some reviews first from friends or websites (such as Tripadvisor) to verify the quality of service being provided.

No Permit to Shoot

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We left the “hotel” around 10AM and took a 45-minute jeepney ride to Guagua, Pampanga to visit the Parish Church of St. James the Apostle known as the Betis Church famous for its ceiling mural done by the prominent painter Simon Flores. After taking a bunch of photos of the facade, I decided to go inside the church via the entrance through the church’s office.

I went inside and discerned the beautiful ceiling of the church and at the same time the retablo at the altar. Chino was still outside so I didn’t manage to snap a shot. I went to him and said that he should check out the interior of the church. We entered the corridor with our cameras on hand.

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Interior of Betis Church. Photo credits to Joel Aldor of Project Kisame.

“Where are you going?” an old man approached us while staring at our cameras. I said inside. He did a follow up question if we will be going to take photos. I said yes. He then advised us to get permission first from the guard on the gate.

The guard asked for our permit. We don’t have any and we didn’t even know that we need to secure a permit for us to take pictures. He said that a permit should be settled with a national agency because they already implemented a system in taking photos of the interior of the church from the time it was declared as a heritage treasure. We said that we don’t have any permit and we just wanted to share the attraction to others.

He didn’t let us take photos and just suggested to photograph the facade. We asked him if we can talk to a staff but said that they’re too busy. We just decided to leave the church and head back to the town proper. With this encounter, our desire to drop by San Guillermo Church in Bacolor wasn’t realized and we just went straight to San Fernando City. It was already late when we passed by the church and regretted we didn’t drop by.

LESSON LEARNED: Research. Don’t just list down the attractions available on your destinations, it’s also helpful to note if some attractions need specific requirements such as permits.

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Restaurant closed on a Sunday

For lunch, we planned to eat at Original Razon’s in San Fernando City. We rode a jeepney going to San Fernando city proper. We were disappointed when we found out that the store is closed during Sundays. A local suggested we try Everybody’s Café but the place is a bit far from the city proper. We found ourselves eating on a food chain instead.

LESSON LEARNED: Check out the operating hours of the desired restaurants (and other establishments) you want to try on your destination. Better to call them beforehand to verify.

The misadventures we had in Pampanga are still simple compared to that of others. Although these are normal, they can still be avoided by carefully planning your trips and anticipating every single detail that may happen on the road. But sometimes, we just want to be carefree and being unprepared makes the trip more exciting. During these circumstances, these misadventures turn into lessons and experiences worth remembering.

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