We were back in Angeles City today to visit Mary Ann’s stepfather, who lives in the area on the western fringe of the city known as ‘Friendship’ (after the Fil-Am Friendship Gate, one of the entrances to the old Clark air base.) This is an area that has changed greatly in recent years. For a start, the construction of SCTEx through Clark necessitated the relocation of Friendship Gate a few hundred metres west of its original position.
The other obvious change is the number of business signs in Korean, indicating businesses that are either Korean-owned or are trying to appeal to the Korean community. This continues for some distance south along Friendship Highway and it is clear that quite a bit of money has been put into the area by the Korean business community. The Koreans even fund the ‘Fil-Kor Auxiliary Tourist Police’.
The growth of the Korean presence at Friendship has led to this area being named ‘Korea Town’. I have heard some grumbles that the Korean business community is inward-looking, but the visual improvement to this area cannot be denied. (In the days of the USAF base at Clark, Friendship was a bit of an overspill of the sex tourist bars of Balibago, giving a rather different and unintended twist to ‘Fil-Am Friendship’.)
It is obvious that Friendship Highway, which bypasses Angeles City to the west and south will be, indeed is already, an axis of growth, with new housing developments, schools and colleges (including at least two ‘international schools’), restaurants, shops and churches. My attention was particularly drawn to one new place of worship called the ‘Korean Church of Love’. It seems that these days a different kind of love is an offer in Friendship.