New Growth Corridor

It was a long time coming.

When the last of the American airmen of the US 13th Air Force left the former US-run Clark Air Base on November 1991 amid a gloomy morning punctuated by the sound of “Taps” and sobbing bargirls – the fate of the biggest US military facility outside the US mainland was left to the Filipinos. Thus, the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), took fledgling steps to convert the former military facility into productive civilian use.

Not before the “cowboys” of Barangay Sapang Bato ransacked the facilities and do away with housing fixtures and what have you.

Amid the backdrop of a still active Mount Pinatubo volcano which had been spewing intermittent pyroclastic materials whenever rainwater comes into contact with the volcanic materials, the state-run Clark Development Corporation thread on with a slew of local and foreign investors who had been brave enough to open businesses in Clark. And the rest was history.

The affable Antonio Henson, the first President and CEO of CDC, had welcomed the first few investors in Clark amid these “secondary explosions” and devastating lahar flows happening in our midst.

Parts of Bamban and Capas, both in Tarlac province, are not simply included in these business upheaval that was happening within CSEZ. Not until former CDC President and CEO Romeo David, the first Sacobia Bridge that will link Bamban and Capas to Clark, was built. But even then, the listless years had come to pass with no investors in the area.

The apparent lack of lands inside the now Clark Freeport Zone, had necessitated the need to develop Bamban and Capas, which are still part of the Clark Special Economic Zone – the “other economic zone” which had been left behind for so many years. It took some 33 years before the P8.28 billion Airport—New Clark City Access Road, was built to link Tarlac province to the Clark International Airport and to all the developments that was happening in Clark.

But, with all the available lands along ANAR – this area is the next growth corridor that would rival the developments inside the Clark Freeport Zone. Freeing up lands within the Clark Freeport just like the eventual transfer of the Philippine Air Force contigent in Clark to the NCC would allow the Bases Conversion and Development Authority to develop another business district inside Clark just like the one at the Bonifacio Global City.

No less than Tarlac Governor Susan Yap was ecstatic thanking President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. profusely and the BCDA for finally linking these developments into the “other economic zone.”

Said Yap: “With ANAR, we will have a remarkable, swift and convenient commute [to and from New Clark City]. This also opens the doors not only for investors but also for all the people who want to enjoy what Tarlac has to offer.” Yap said ANAR will impact developments in Tarlac province which is now connected to the Clark airport and the deep-sea port of Subic. She said ANAR will allow for a seamless travel experience of motorists, livelihood opportunities, tourism development, that would all contribute to Tarlac economy. “I am very grateful to the national government, to the Office of the President, for putting effort and funds to develop this side of town, which is the new growth corridor.”

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