The City of San Fernando is the capital of Pampanga Province and the regional center of Central Luzon. The city is known for its giant lanterns and it is also popularly known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” One has to pass through the city to be able to go to any provinces from all directions, be it north in Tarlac and Pangasinan, west in Bataan and Zambales, east in Nueva Ecija and south in Bulacan on to Metro Manila. Thus, it has established its role as the regional growth center, the center of commerce and trade of the region. The province is also a vital component of the industrial corridor of the region, playing host to the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), a major investment anchor of the region. The commercial/business center of the city goes as far as the stretch of City of San Fernando proper to barangay Sindalan, about 8 kilometers in length and the Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo (GSO) Road from barangay Magliman to the Mexico boundary where the SM Department Store and Robinsons Department Store are located. Aside from being the provincial capital, it is also the Regional Government Center of Central Luzon, where the Regional Development Council III (RDC-III) has set aside a portion of land for the Regional Offices of national agencies operating in the region. This has been a major influence in the economic development of the city.
The popular delicacies that make the city and its restaurants widely known are the adobong kamaru (mole crickets) and betuteng tugak (stuffed frog) of Everybody’s Cafe and the famous pancit luglug or palabok, to name a few. Kapampangan are known for their superb culinary expertise. The food ranges from the ordinary to the exotic like the heavenly but caloric tocino, longanisa, tapang damulag, murcon, embutido, kare-kare, sisig baboy, the lechon and its sarsa, bulang-Iang (pork cooked in guava juice) and lechon kawali. Being the food center of the province, with around 83 restaurants the City of San Fernando boasts of the best restaurants that cater to the gustatory tastes of people from all walks of life, particularly those of discerning palate. For a place for stay for local and foreign travelers and guests, whether doing business or for leisure, the city has 9 existing hotels. More hotels need to be established though.
The more requested training facility in the city is the Ephata Training Center, owned by the Archdiocese of San Fernando and managed by the Social Action Center of Pampanga. There are training rooms of various sizes, as well as dormitories for live in seminars/trainings. The City Government has a training center as well and is on the way to construct its own little theater and convention center in a 2 Has. Property along the Lazatin Blvd. For livelihood trainings, the city has its City of San Fernando Livelihood and Training Center that offers short-term training courses for the residents of the city to start their self employment income generating projects. For vocational and technical trainings, the Training Center facility of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is also located in the city.
Tycoons Henry Sy and John Gokongwei saw the economic potentials of the City of San Fernando when they both decided to pour huge investment and constructed ouijets of their flagship store, SM Department Store and Robinsons Department Store, one after the other in the city. It is a manifestation of the attractiveness of the city in terms of business growth, particularly of its strategic location and high skilled manpower. The City of San Fernando joins the big cities in the south outside of Metro Manila, which is Cebu City, Davao City, Iloilo City, and Cagayan De Oro City in hosting both big department stores. Likewise there are two existing public markets in the City of San Fernando, the old public market, which will be rehabilitated this year, is within the Poblacion area, and the San Fernando Public Market, which is located at barangay Del Pilar, a few meters from the Mc Arthur Highway. The old public market is open the whole day while the new public market has ,its busy hours from 3:00 am to 11:00 am. These two public markets serve as the core of trading in the city particularly the C and D market segment.
The SM City Pampanga and Robinsons Starmills are now the famous landmarks in the city being frequently visited for shopping, leisure and dining by shoppers not only from the province but Central Luzon. All major retail outlets and fastfood chain can be found in both department stores.
Another flourishing business undertaking in the City of San Fernando is car dealership, where almost all local car assemblers in the country, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Kia, and even BMW have dealership outiets in the city. The presence of so many banking institutions’ consumer lending unit in the city, which is into auto and home loans, has further strengthened the viability of these businesses.