Thirty years of Clark Development Corporation

Looking at Clark now, it’s hard to imagine that the area popularly known as Clark Airbase is just a memory of its former military glory. Back then, we only see American military personnel walking and driving around the base, with their military vehicles and classic cars. Most of the Filipinos working inside are employed for ground maintenance, janitorial works, restaurants and hotel service and low-level administrative work at the different offices or at the Clark hospital.

Every day, we drink our coffee with the deafening sound of fighter planes taking off, landing and doing their practice flight over our airspace. Not everyone is given the privilege of entering the base without proper authorization, even for Filipino government officials like the mayors of Angeles City or Mabalacat. One needs to have a Commander’s special pass just to get access inside Clark.

But then again, business outside the gate and the fence is booming. Angeles City and Dau became famous for the PX goods; shampoo, lotion, soaps, chocolates, coffee, shoes, Hanes T-shirts, even used military uniforms, combat boots and belts. With the American servicemen on their R&R, Fields Ave. is filled with scantily clothed bar girls walking or drinking with drunken Americans. That was Clark then.

It was a totally different story after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Clark was in a shambles buried in volcanic ash and desolate. No more American servicemen. No more fighter planes. No more PX goods.

o more Fields Avenue. Angeles City and the municipalities of Mabalacat and Porac, including Bamban and Capas in Tarlac were hit with a double whammy. Their local economies back then were heavily dependent on the base. Most of their factories, hotels business establishments and entertainment district were totally destroyed and abandoned.

And in April 1993, the late former President Ficel V. Ramos signed Executive Order No. 80, Authorizing the Establishment of Clark Development Corporation as the Implementing Arm of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for Clark Special Economic Zone. That was the birth of Clark Development Corporation.

With a dedicated government corporation that was mandated to develop Clark Freeport Zone as an industrial center, a logistic hub and an international gateway, Clark has shed its militaristic image and has transformed itself as a civilian facility that is the center of economic activity and a major contributor to the national economy.

In its 30 years existence, CDC has made Clark an ideal investment haven and a tourism destination.
It now employs more than 120,000 employees who work in aviation, Information Technology, Business Process Outsourcing, hotels and casinos, manufacturing and more. More than 1,100 locators and investors from all the world have set up their business operations in Clark where they enjoy tax perks and privileges.

The former Military Airlift Command has become Clark International Airport and is now one of the emerging gateways to the rest of the world. The Clark airport terminal has just been expanded and transferred to a new building that could welcome more tourists and service more civilian aircrafts. The barn houses around the parade ground are now used as restaurants and coffee shops. What was once the Base Commander’s Office is now used as CDC’s corporate offices.

Thousands of athletes have participated in various sporting events we hosted, including the ASEAN Games and thousands more have enjoyed the concerts, festivals and MICE events that we hosted. And every Filipino can now come and visit Clark and enjoy the myriads of destinations and attractions, coffee shops and restaurants, hotels and casinos.

CDC is now gearing for better years ahead as it is now focused on maximizing the tourism potential of the Freeport. In order to jumpstart this new positioning, CDC bided and won the hosting of the MICECON 2024 which will put Clark Freeport in the map as a major and ideal venue for MICE events, not only from national but also from international MICE-related activities.

With the National Museum of the Philippines setting up a regional site in Clark and the Banko Sentral Museum in New Clark City plus the Clark Museum and the local museums in the Metro Clark Area, visitors from all over the world will have more options and more places to visit.

Aside from the popular theme parks, world class golf course, high-end hotels and casinos, malls and shopping centers, plus the myriads of international restaurants and coffee shops, everyone has a place to go. And for the athletes and adventurers, various national and internationally sanctioned sports events like marathons, duathlons, swimming, golf, cycling and circuit racing, Clark Freeport has the venue to offer.

Clark has come a long way. And there is more to Clark than meet the eye.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Clark Development Corporation.

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