Expo Pilipino in Angeles City - Philippines
Expo Filipino, now Clark Expo, was established in celebration of 100 years of Philippine Independence. Located at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga, the Philippine National Centennial Exposition is a 60-hectare entertainment park that celebrates the history, culture, and accomplishments of the Filipino people during the last 100 years and towards the succeeding millennium.
Expo Filipino is a collaboration of the National Centennial Commission (NCC) and the Philippine Centennial Exposition Corporation (PCEC).
Mired In A Scandal
During its initial phase, the Expo Filipino project was mired in controversy for excessive budgets on some parts of the project. Among the target of criticisms include the Freedom Ring (reportedly over 1.2 billion pesos), the parking lot (111 million pesos), display villages (more than a million pesos worth), artificial river (76 million), and the bridges on the river (32 million pesos).
In 1999, the Expo Filipino project seized its operation during the administration of former President Joseph Estrada after sustaining heavy losses.
The construction of the Philippine National Centennial Commission required an overall funding worth 3.5 billion pesos. Fidel Ramos, who was the President at that time, ordered three government-owned financial institutions namely the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System, and the Land Bank of the Philippines to loan PHP 1.4 billion for the joint venture.
After being mothballed for over five years, Expo Filipino resumed its operations as Clark Expo on December 8, 2005 for the purpose of hosting trade exhibits and showcasing cultural presentations with Clark Development Corporation (CDC) at the forefront. Now operating as a theme park, its reopening was highlighted by concerts, carnival rides, world-class furniture exhibits, and major concerts.
Antonio Ng, President of CDC, bared that the reopening of Expo Filipino had the blessing and support of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through Administrative Order 63 issued February 17, 2003. Aside from the reopening of Expo Filipino as a means of promoting tourism and investment opportunities within the Clark Special Economic Zone, the presidential directive likewise called for the turnover of certain assets and liabilities of National Development Company to Clark Development Corporation.
Aside from concerts and cultural presentations, the reopening of Expo Filipino coincided with the holding of the National Duathlon Championships as well as the yearly district assembly of some 10,000 delegates of Jehovahs Witness in Pampanga and Tarlac.
Clark Development Corporation spent an estimated amount of 2.5 million pesos for the renovation of the replica of Barasoain Church as well as for the construction of an amphitheater, trade halls and convention centers in Expo Filipino.
At present, its amphitheater, which has a capacity of 35,000, is a favorite venue for holding concerts, political rallies, and ecumenical services. Expo Filipino is now the new home of the Nayong Pilipino, a 45-acre complex and theme park that features replicas of some of the attractions in the Philippines as well as its cultural heritage.