Most of us who have lived in Subic for a while, before SCTEX opened, remember taking the old Olongapo-Gapan highway. Much of that road stretches through the town of Lubao, Pampanga. The town is not much too look at but it actually has a few things that make it worth of a day trip.
If you take SCTEX from Subic to the Dinalupihan exit and turn at the sign stating San Fernando, that will put you on the road to Lubao. Here is a day trip itinerary:
Drive to Lubao town center, which involves driving along the national highway until you see the Lubao sign. Usually, if you were going to San Fernando or onto Manila, you would veer left. Instead veer right. Drive about 10 minutes and you will come to “downtown Lubao” with a small town square.
In the center of town is the Lubao church. Built in 1572, this is the oldest church in Luzon and the second oldest church in the Philippines. It blew my kids minds that the church was 440 years old. (That's nearly twice as old as the United States!) The church is a stately old structure that is a well-preserved functioning church.
The high-walled house beside the church, with the brown wooden gates, is the home of the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose is well-loved in the area.
About a block from the church is the President Diosdado Macapagal museum. A reproduction of the nipa hut in which the president was raised is in front of the museum and the museum itself is small but interesting. It offers a glimpse of the Philippines when it was relatively prosperous, before it fell into decades of unrest.
You might want to pack a lunch or snack, which can be enjoyed on the benches in the town square or better yet in the church's adjacent plaza area. There are only small restaurants, such as Burger Machine around, so dining options are very limited.
On the drive back to Subic, Lubao's famous roadside gardeners can be seen. This is definitely worth a stop. A wide range of plants, flowers, seeds, soil and other garden supplies can be purchased. (This includes a wide variety of colorful garden gnomes!) On our visit, we gave the kids a small budget for them to pick out some plants to start their own personal garden at home. This was a lot of fun as they agonized over which plant or seedling to buy. This turned out to be the funnest part of the day trip.
A visit to Lubao isn’t exactly a super-charged outing but it’s a fun, interesting and affordable day trip if you live in Subic or Angeles.