070112 - The Urban Tracker (In Pampanga): Unlocking The Backdoor Into Clark

Angeles city eye-popping welcome arch.
t's another day in full swing tracking our path in some untaken directions in Angeles City.

Of course, when in Angeles who cannot resist Clark known for its warehouse of Px goods but an unexpected turn took us in unfamiliar route.

Korean invasion already began with this restaurant in Anunas
From downtown terminal we headed our way to Anunas, Once there, it was already plain to see that Korean invasion had already taken Angeles by storm. Spotting a Korean resto like this one was just a tip of the iceberg. I placed my bet on Koreans taking over spaces inside the Clark Freeport Zone or among the joints in the red-light hub. That's just a flash of an image as I took another jeep ride into Sapangbato.

Sapangbato's crooked pathways
The Jeep got cranky by the time it tackled Sapangbato with its roads getting crooked, elevated and elliptical. We reached the terminal where our walking trail started around the neighborhood. Sapangbato was sitting on the cliffs of the valleys as revealed by a drop before we reached the terminal.

The valley as seen on the bridge crossover in Sapangbato
A foliage reserve came to view off Sapangbato bridge as we tackled our way out for the first lap of our walk. The curving streets were just a part of the obstacle that I realized we're walking on the mountainous part after all. Another valley was revealed as we made another bridge crossover.

Mural walls is the gateway to Clark's backdoor entry via Sapangbato
Despite these, there's a growing neighborhood in Sapangbato among the edge of the cliffs. Winding down, the landscape shifted to an art walk. The walls were awash with mural graffiti with resounding messages against drug abuse. It was an amusing street painting only as far as you could walk across the strip. In the end, there's a way that led us to another territory, of arrangements familiar to the western atmosphere. The uniformed trees were in salute and the backdrop bounced back to tranquility. There's no doubt in our mind we infiltrated a part of a territory - we realized we're inside the Clark Freeport Zone.

Well landscaped spacious lawn inside Clark zone
As silence thickened with only our voices echoing into the air, we had no choice but stood by and waited, prolonged with the thought of the possibility of public transport to reach our spot. There was a signage pointing to Amertron, one of few companies remaining in this so-called Freeport Zone only proving our suspicion that public utility transports still exist here.

Let's talk about old trees and  wide highways aboard a looping Clark PUJ
30 minutes - that's how long we waited when finally a van appeared. Boarding that van was such a saving moment. Looking out from outside, Clark is an organized enclosure of spacious highways and proper zoning. Clark is managed independently by Clark Freeport Zone Authority that I wonder if the Governor of Pampanga has jurisdiction on Clark over taxes and operations.

Puregold built their own Duty-Free shop in Clark
Checking the map, it's questionable to see that Clark area was not part of Angeles map of barangays proving that Clark has a separate governing body. But then over the years, we used to know Clark as a haven for PX goods with its back to back Duty-Free shops. And that's what we were pursuing after all once we got on our first stop along Recto Avenue.

Aetas are given space to sell their wares of bows and arrows
It's good to know there's Puregold Duty-Free here, our first stop along Recto Ave. Inside these bluish green painted center are loads of px goods - from house to food products making it easily a one-stop-shop. But one good thing I realized from a small corner outside Puregold, an Aeta was given a small space and allowed to sell their traditional ware of bows and arrows. It was a welcome sight to see them having special access to level the playing field, I guess.

Landscaped entrance for one condo project along Recto Avenue
Realty development was also evident along Recto Ave as a newly opened condo project came to view. Without a doubt, Clark has a conducive surrounding that attracts investors. But how come some of the remaining Duty-Free shops were closing or phasing out. And most structures along the main highway were abandoned. Clark also has a promising arrangement for a fast-tracked development that looked like its getting to be ready on its oblivion. Hope there's a grand plan cooking up for Clark.

Buy 1 Take 1 Overruns - still, can be found in Clark like these Converse sneakers.
Well for a consolation, there's still some of the remaining Duty-Free where you still find stuff that's affordable compared to the usual market. There's a small shop beside  Parkson Duty Free where I bought this Converse overran for only 500 pesos -  buy one take one. That's an addition to the chocolates and air fresheners I purchased earlier in Parkson's.

Liberty Plaza's clearance sale pitch putting on the ritz
Entering the Liberty Plaza this time was another story. The structure looked unimproved for a long time yet inviting with its 50% SALE pitch. The Duty-Free was not well-lit on the entrance but once in the aisle and shelves, chunks and tons of goods were waiting to get disposed.

Inside Liberty, overran items were overflowing
It's full of items that were mostly overruns but It's just one of the slackening and sloppy days here with few shoppers. I was not hoping that this is evidence of a weakening of Duty-Free enterprise. Anyway, nearby Liberty Plaza I took a sip of my coffee to inhibit myself from the sleepy sensation after hours of open shopping. Albeit, Clark was filled with welcoming air. Walking on its open parks, feeling the breeze as the tree leaves swayed; Clark needed just a little more time to reinvent itself.

An Aeta playing a sound of plea for Clark McDo diners to buy the oboe
Before the sunset arrived, we noticed this aeta boy wallowing time slumped on a seat playing a kind of tune in McDo Clark. He was playing oboe  - his means to attract customers who come and go in a nearby fast food. He was playing a tune over and over again and somehow some entertained customers were impressed to give a small token or buy the oboes in exchange. So I realized the Aetas were hanging for their life here because in a way Clark also had come to recognize them as a part of the whole.
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