Comercio Central: A Lifestyle Market in Pampanga
If you want to attract tourists, you need to strike a unique chord in them. It’s no longer enough to have a pretty or posh place. Good deals are no longer enough to suffice. You need to have something different — even if it’s not exactly a groundbreaking concept.
Clark Pampanga’s newly opened Comercio Central knows this by heart. Come to think of it — weekend markets that offer great deals aren’t exactly new. Neither are social spaces that encourage camaraderie among those present. But combine the two concepts and you have something that stands out, a recipe for a bustling commercial center and tourist attraction!
Last December 1, Comercio Central opened its doors in a grand manner. Its ribbon cutter was no less than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Entertainment was provided by a host of acrobats from Resorts World, and the night was lit up with magnificent fireworks and lantern lighting. The complex was launched with a bang — an amazing feat considering its humble beginnings.
A Landmark’s History
Despite its great potential as a tourist attraction, most people know Clark as a transit point — that alternative international airport where you land, a first stop on your way to your destination. It’s a shame, considering the fact that Pampanga has a very rich culture that deserves to be shared with everyone.
This potential is what a group of travel agents attempts to explore as they launched what eventually became the Comercio Central. The concept was a campaign called “Visit Pampanga 2018”, a drive that CGMA herself pushed for. Lacking the lure of natural wonders, the Kapampangan organizers banked on their unique cultural identity to create their own landmark.
Which is a master stroke — aside from being backed by the former president herself, the project also fell in line with the Department of Tourism’s Bring Home a Friend campaign. The BHAF project aims to entice overseas Filipinos to bring home guests from other countries in time for the long Christmas season. Standing right across other attractions like the Clark Museum and 4D Theater. Comercio Central stands to have a symbiotic relationship with the BHAF project.
Inside Comercio Central
The grand opening night was made even more remarkable by the fact that its current site isn’t even a permanent one! There are plans to move to a new, permanent place in February in order to accommodate more merchants and visitors.
Even now, the place is already busy with food places, stalls that sell various goods, tourism booths, shows and events, and a lot more! It bills itself as a “Lifestyle Market”, combining the novelties of a trading center and an events area. Currently, there are three major areas within the Comercio Central:
Mercado Fresco. Your ideal green market, this place offers fresh and often organic goods. From farm-fresh produce to meats and even seafood, this is where you can both grab ingredients for your next meal and have a fun experience along the way.
Centro Culinaria. If you like your food cooked delicious instead of having to prepare it yourself, this is the place to go. The places here come from both experienced restaurateurs and aspiring newcomers. Of course, as Kapampangans are well-known for their culinary prowess, some of their best chefs are also here to satisfy your cravings.
Avenida De Tiendas. Itching for some shopping? This is Comercio Central’s own retail haven. From clothes to accessories to cosmetics, you’ll surely find something to take home from here.
Perhaps the real charm of the place is that you know it’s not there to leech off money from unsuspecting visitors, unlike many other tourist-oriented destinations. It’s built with a purpose, and that is to share an image of Pampanga while providing a place where you can have fun and take care of your needs at the same time. The organizers are also looking to expand their concept to other parts of the Philippines, in their attempt to do their share for our tourism efforts.
Congresswoman Arroyo mentioned that she wanted 2018 to be “Visit Pampanga Year”, and with the Comercio Central, they are one step closer to achieving that goal. It is to be noted that Pampanga has been progressing by leaps and bounds in all aspects, with many heralding it to be the next important Central Business District in Luzon. The Comercio Central serves just as another step towards this goal.
So when you next land at Clark Airport, don’t be in a rush to head to Manila right away. You’ll surely get hooked by what you see here!