Apung Susing’s Temple & Burial Grounds, Bale Batu

Hidden at the foot of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga, Philippines lies a large pyramid like compound that looks like it was created in 9-14th centuries by the Hindu and Buddhists of Java. However it wasn’t created by someone from an empire in Java nor is it really that old. The hand made temple was actually built in the course of 4 decades starting from the 1960′s by a Kapampangan artist named Jesus Padilla, or what he was known as by his peers, Apung Susing.

Apung Susing built his temple and burial grounds with his own money and work. According to his wife, Apung Sitang, they would work on Bale Batu for 3 months of the year during the dry seasons and stop once the rainy season arrived. On their 1 hectare land they owned they planted a variety of fruits and crops and harvested them to sell to locals and their neighbors. From the money they earned they would use it to buy all the materials needed for the construction of the temple.

With no prior architectural background or education he drew plans of the temple and created it with pulverized mountain rock and cement in a formula he received from his grandfather. This has actually stood against the forces of time and nature such as earthquakes that happened in the region. You will know you are at the entrance when you see the balete (banyan) tree growing on top of an arch of a stone gate. To me this symbolizes this as very spiritual as the balete is a tree that is found to be a spiritual place in every ethnic group in the Philippines, where it is believed to house spirits and thus it’s disrespectful and stupid to desecrate one or climb one without permission from the spirits as you are inviting them to maliciously harm you. The balete tree on top of the gate symbolizes you entering the temple and burial grounds of Apung Susing who is now with the spirits and ancestors, marking it as a spiritual space.

There are a few stories from those who have visited the temple and burial ground and according to Apung Sitang, signifies that the spirit of her husband is still there. One such event is when those who visit the temple try and take pictures outside or inside the temple and get blank white photos. She says that in order to take photos you must first request the permission of Apung Susing to take them. Others have felt cold chills while passing by the temple.

After decades of hard work and artistic passion, Apung Susing died peacefully in March 2007 at the foot of his temple where he is now buried and his spirit still lives.


Perhaps the oldest film of the Philippines you can find on youtube, this film was taken on March 23, 1900, filmed by American filmmaker Raymond Ackerman, right after the Battle of Mt. Arayat at Pampanga–one of the battles of the Philippine-American War. The film shows the U.S. Twenty-fifth Regiment, formerly led by Lt. William T. Schneck. They fought the Filipino forces who made Mt. Arayat their base. On January 6, 1900, Schneck wrote of an encounter with a Filipino soldier:

“When we got within forty or fifty feet of the top I saw one of the insurgents, and he seemed to locate me at the same time, and let drive, and the bullet went right over me. I yelled at one of the men on my right to kill the ‘hombre,’ and two of the scouts let drive and missed. Then I took a rifle away from one of the men and fired. The bullet struck a root in front of the insurgent and went through, missing him by not more than six inches. I thought I had him sure and crept up a little higher. Then he ran up and I ducked and he landed a bullet between me and Sergeant Lightfoot. A mighty close-shave–worse than the first. I got mad then and dragged out my pistol, handed back the rifle, and crept up on my stomach under a rock, and then raised up and fired a shot at him. This time I was not thirty feet away. My pistol missed fire the second time and I dropped back. The stone protected me and I lay there and looked around to see how many men there were with me. Martin was on my left and Lightfoot on my right with three other men–and that was all we had. So I knew we would have to get some more there or else we were all gone… Just then someone in the rear and then the whole outfit–about seventy men–turned loose. We poor devils on a hill were right in it then. Three bullets hit just below my feet, fired by my own men. The insurgent tried another shot at me, which went high–thanks be to God–and the rock. I curled up like a worm to make a small target for my men, and yelled like a stuck pig to cease firing." 

*Quoted by David Sibley, A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902, p. 130.

Schneck died in an ambush by Filipino forces a few weeks later. 


Puregold Duty Free (Clark, Pampanga)

The day before we finally left the town, we decided to go to duty free (nope, not the ones you see near the airport with the yellow and black logo) where you can find imported and low priced goodies! We did some grocery slash shopping and found a lot of affodable finds (some are available at grocery stores, but way cheaper while some are those hard to find items)

There’s this big-sized Nutella (if you’ve already tasted Ferrero, you would know this one) that only costs around 300 pesos compared to the Manila price. Can you imagine how big you can actually save? I was strolling around the liquor section and found bottles of Barcadi which was only priced around a hundred and ninety nine. I wanted to buy but err, mom wouldn’t allow me to do so. Hahaha, I was planning to share it with my pals on Saturday during my sweet sixteen.

Anyway, I suggest you guys visit the place if ever you happen to come to Pampanga. A great place to shop! (Ootd at the bottom part)


CURRENTLY staying at Prime Asia Hotel, Angeles City Pampanga in celebration for my Sweet Sixteen (in advance) with mom’s friends, overnight!

I looove the place, it’s the best hotel here in Angeles, as written in an article I read online before we went to the place. The travel wasn’t that quite long, it took us less than 2 hours before we arrived in the city. Watching movies right now, and trying to rest. Will check out the rest of the hotel in a while. Ciao! xo