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Explore the Wonders of Tarlac

Tarlac is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in Luzon Island. Its capital is Tarlac City. It is a province that is rich both in historical treasures as well as natural wonders, which is why Tarlac has become a destination for the curious and adventurous from all over the Philippines.

by Jhaypee Guia on August 01, 2012
Explore the Wonders of Tarlac

Sitio San Pedro, San Jose, Tarlac

Tarlac is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in Luzon Island. Its capital is Tarlac City. It is a province that is rich both in historical treasures as well as natural wonders, which is why Tarlac has become a destination for the curious and adventurous from all over the Philippines.

Tarlac borders Pampanga to the south, Nueva Ecija to the east, Pangasinan to the north, and Zambales to the west. It is a part of Central Luzon, which is composed of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales.


Tarlac's name is a Hispanized derivation from a talahib weed called "Malatarlak". Tarlac was originally a part of the province of Pampanga and Pangasinan. It was the last Central Luzon province to be organized under the Spanish administration in 1874.

During the Philippine Revolution of 1896, Tarlac was one of the first eight provinces to rise in arms against Spain. It became the new seat of the first Philippine Republic in March 1899 when Emilio Aguinaldo abandoned the former capital, Malolos, Bulacan. This lasted only for a month, as the seat was moved to Nueva Ecija in Aguinaldo's attempt to elude the pursuing Americans.

On October 23, 1899, Gregorio Aglipay, military vicar general of the revolutionary forces, called the Filipino clergy to a conference in Paniqui. There they drafted the constitution of the Philippine Independent Church. They called for the Filipinization of the clergy, which eventually led to a schism in the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.

Tarlac was captured by American forces in November 1899. A civil government was established in the province in 1901.

During World War II, Camp O'Donnell in Capas became the terminal point of the infamous "Bataan Death March", involving Filipino and American soldiers who surrendered in Bataan on April 9, 1942. The camp was so overcrowded that many allied prisoners who survived the grueling march died here of hunger and disease.

In the beginning of 1945, combined American & Filipino military forces with the recognized Aringay Command guerillas liberated Camp O'Donnell. The raid at Capas resulted in the rescue of American, Filipino and other allied prisoners of war.

Physical Features

Eastern Tarlac is a plain, while Western Tarlac is hilly to mountainous. Because of this, the province owns a large portion of mountains like Mt. Telakawa (Straw Hat Mountain), which is the highest mountain in the province located at Capas, Tarlac. Mt. Bueno, Mt. Mor-Asia and Mt. Canouman is located also in Capas as well as Mount Dalin. The other mountains are Mt. Dueg and Mt. Maasin, found in the municipality of San Clemente. Also noted are Mt. Papaac, Bacsay, Cayasan and Birbira of Camiling. The whole of Mayantoc and San Jose are mountainous so it is suitable for the highest natural resources and forest products in the province such as coal, iron, copper, vegetables, fruits, log fires, sand, rocks and forest animals such as wild boar, deer etc. The main water sources for agriculture include the Tarlac River at Tarlac City, the Lungcob and Parua rivers in Concepcion, Tarlac, Sacobia Bamban River in Bamban and the Rio Chico in La Paz.


The economy of Tarlac is dominantly agricultural. The principal crops are rice and sugarcane. Other major crops are corn and coconut; vegetables such as eggplant, garlic, and onion; and fruit trees like mango, banana, and calamansi. It is among the biggest producers of rice and sugarcane, notably grown in Hacienda Luisita in Barangay San Miguel, Tarlac City, which is owned by the Cojuangco Family.

Because the province is landlocked, its fish production is limited to fishponds but it has vast river systems and irrigation which is more than enough to compensate for the need for water. On the boundary with Zambales in the west, forest lands provide timber for the logging industry. Mineral reserves such as manganese and iron can also be found along the western section.

Tarlac has its own rice and corn mills, as well as sawmills and logging outfits. It has three sugar centrals. Other firms service agricultural needs, such as fertilizer. Among its cottage industries, ceramics making has become important because of the abundant supply of clay. Some of the major industries here are the making of chicharon and iniruban in the municipality of Camiling, Ylang Ylang/Ilang-Ilang products of anao and the muscovado sugar products of Victoria. Besides those products, the province also boosts its sugar products in the Philippines. It is next to Negros Occidenta,l which is the nation's sugar capital. Tilapia is also improving in Tarlac and it will soon be the tilapia capital of the Philippines.


Chicharon and Iniruban festival - a.k.a. Tarlac's best. In the town of Camiling. Celebrated during the last week of October for the preparations for All Saints day and a thanksgiving celebration for good harvest particularly (Iniruban) and good quality of meat products particularly the Chicharon or Bagnet. It also features the delicious and TOURIST LOVING Chicharon and the exotic but unique, delicious rice cakes the Ilocano called Iniruban. The fiesta's highlights are the Street dancing competition, Miss Iniruban beauty pageant and the municipality's Agri trade. It is the oldest cultural celebration in the province since 2000.

On January 20, 1945 to August 15, 1945, Tarlac was recaptured by combined Filipino and American troops together with the recognized guerrilla fighters against the Japanese Imperial forces during the liberation.

In the early 1950s, Tarlac was the hotbed of the Hukbalahap, a local communist movement. It was suppressed at first but had a resurgence in 1965.

Notable People

Tarlac is the home province of the Cojuangco and Aquino families, particularly Ninoy and Cory Aquino, as well as their son, President Noynoy Aquino.

TV Host, Actress Kris Aquino also came from the province.

Billiard Champ Francisco Dyango Bustamante came from Brgy. Maliwalo, Tarlac City.

Pulitzer Prize winner General Carlos P. Romulo hails from the town of Camiling. He served as president of the University of the Philippines, Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, president of the General Assembly and chairman of the Security Council.

Former education secretary Onofre D. Corpuz was also from the town of Camiling. Sec. Corpuz also served as president of the University of the Philippines.

Tarlac is also the home province of actress-turned-politician, Vilma Santos, who is the incumbent governor of Batangas province.

Tarlac is also home province of General Paulino Santos (from Camiling), who served as commander of Penal Colonies of South-Western Mindanao. The town of Rajah Buayan was later renamed to General Santos City in his honor.

 Tourist Attractions


Historical Sites

Capas National Shrine , Capas, Tarlac

The shrine, located on a 54-hecatre property in Brgy. O' Donnell, Capas, Tarlac was the first prison camp for the men who survived the "Death March" at the hands of the Japanese during the last world war in 1942. The Camp O' Donnell Memorial Monument was built by the organization known as "The Battling Bastards of Bataan" to honor the Americans and Filipinos who died at Camp O' Donnell, while prisoners of the Japanese. The Cement Cross is a replica of the original cement cross built by the POWs. The monument is adjacent to the memorial for the Philippine Army dead. The "Cross" was built as a memorial to the thousands who died in that camp. It is as much a part of Bataan as the participants in that battle. The inscription on the base of the "Cross" reads "Omnia Pro Patria": All For Country. On the wall behind the "Cross" are inscribed the names of the men who died at Camp O' Donnell. The original "Cement Cross" is now on display in the National Prisoner of War Museum, at the Andersonville National Historic Site, Andersonville, GA. It was brought to this country by Bataan survivors. An outdoor nook features a wall inscribed with the names of the fallen Americans. An adjacent museum called Defender's Hall consists of a modest collection of photos that document the Death March and travails of POWs in prison camps. It has preserved one of the remnants of wartime atrocities - a boxcar that transported survivors of the Death March from San Fernando, Pampanga to Capas. Measuring six feet long, eight feet wide and six feet high, it had once been a freight car of the Manila Railroad Company before the war and could fit only 50-60 people. But Japanese soldiers forcibly squeezed in 150-160 using rifle butts and bayonets. The captives, whose only source of ventilation was a slit on the door, suffocated in the virtual cover under the tropical heat. Many of them died in their upright positions, their bodies giving up on constricted space which had been polluted with excrement, urine and vomit. A 70-meter obelisk, built to offset the grim history of Capas, symbolizes peace among Filipinos, the Japanese and Americans.


Famous Landmarks

Camp O' Donnell, Capas, Tarlac

The camp re-creates in memory the infamous Death March of the Filipino and American soldiers held captive by the Japanese imperial forces during World War II in 1942. Located in Camp O' Donnell, seven kilometers west of Capas, it was the final stage of the tragic death march and a concentration camp with an open field which served as the grave site of nearly 30,000 Filipino and American soldiers who died with debilitating diseases. An obelisk and a museum stand tall to immortalize the memory of the heroes of democracy and freedom.

Diwa ng Tarlak, Tarlac City, Tarlac

A civic and convention center built during the time of Gov. Federico Peralta, it houses a convention hall, ballroom, trade exhibit hall and dining facilities. It is a favorite venue for special functions such as seminars and conferences.

Sto. Domingo Death March Marker, Capas, Tarlac

The site where about 60,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war cramped like sardines in closed box cars were loaded to start the second phase of the tragic Death March. There were already more than 30,000 of these defenders of democracy and freedom who perished from the inhuman treatment they were subjected to during the trip from Abucay and Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. The survivors started their tortuous journey here to Camp O' Donnel.


Local Wonders

Bamban Park, Bamban, Tarlac

The park was carved along the hilly area near the national highway in Tarlac and is quite visible from the road with its imposing grotto of the Virgin Mary pedestalled on a hill. One has to hurdle a 100-step stairway before reaching the grotto. The area is characterized by stretches of roadside mini-restaurants and bonsai farms - all catering to commuters bound for the north. People visit the place to pay homage to the Blessed Mother or do mountain trekking on the side.

Camp General Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Formerly called Camp Ord, named after Lt. Col. James Ord, the place is now the home of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The complex was donated on September 30, 1940 by the Campania General Tabacos de Filipinas to the Commonwealth of the Philippines and was accepted on October 11, 1940, in behalf of the donee, Jorge D. Vargas, the then Secretary to the President. Adding to the historical significance of the place is the Eisenhower tree planted on July 4, 1939 by Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff of Marshall Douglas MacArthur, the military adviser of the Philippine Commonwealth.

Central Azucarera de Tarlac, Tarlac City

The City of Tarlac takes pride in having a large sugar mill called Central Azucarera de Tarlac. This sugar mill helps boost the economy of the province.

Special educational tours may be arranged through their Industrial Relations Office at Tel. No. (63 45) 985-1995 Attn: Angelito Bautista (Industrial Relations Manager) .

Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City, Tarlac

The Cojuangco-owned hacienda in Tarlac City houses the famous Tarlac Industrial Park where a growing list of international export producing companies are located. It boasts of an 18-hole championship golf course, shopping malls, world-class restaurants, hotels, a Beverly Hill - type of residential estate and a vast sugar plantation. Also located in the complex is the Aquino Center and Museum.

Mt. Pinatubo Wellness Spa

Found in Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas,  it is a fascinating oasis amidst a picturesque pastoral environment framed by rolling hills and mountain ranges.  This new product in health tourism offers a first-of-a-kind model in fitness therapy and wellbeing: from a relaxing body wrap on sulfur-laden hot volcanic sand, to a revitalizing dip in a thermal bath and foot spa, and finally to a soothing Shiatzu body work in a 100-pax capacity massage parlor - all made possible after a day's sweltering trek to Mt. Pinatubo. The wellness center also serves Korean/native cuisine cum grillery in a 200-seat capacity open-air restaurant plus a souvenir shop and soda fountain serving health products to the intrepid explorer.

Pinatubo Trek:  Trek to the crater of the world-famous Mt. Pinatubo. Spectacular views, towering lahar canyons, cool mountain springs and cascading waterfalls make that trip up the volcano an experience to remember. Drive on board an all-weather vehicle for one hour, disembark and trek for maximum of two hours to the crater, view the tranquil yet majestic 2.5-km crater-lake. Or bathe in any of the six sulfur-filled thermal pools at Sitio Tarukan. Cap your day with a generous fishing expedition at Tambo Lake before proceeding to the wellness spa.

Magsaysay Dam, Mayantok, Tarlac

This dam, named after the late Pres. Ramon Magsaysay, boasts of crystal-clear water from the mountain and a scenic view of surrounding areas.

Plaza Luisita Center, Tarlac City, Tarlac

A modern and masterfully designed commercial and business complex for shopping malls, offices, retail shops, food establishments and recreational centers. It houses such retail food outlets like Max's Restaurant, McDonald's, Jollibee, etc.

San Bartolome Treehouse, Mayantok, Tarlac

Located in Brgy. San Bartolome, this Treehouse, constructed through the initiative of the barangay council in 1973, is one of the most interesting attractions in the province.

Tarlac Provincial Capitol & Park, Tarlac City, Tarlac

An imposing landmark in the province is the seat of the provincial government. Constructed atop a hill, the capitol sets a commanding view of the town of Tarlac and its environs. Giving more grandeur and beauty to the place is the Maria Cristina Park - fittingly named after a Tarlac beauty queen, Maria Cristina Galang, the 1952 Miss Philippines.

Voice of America –Tarlac, Concepcion, Tarlac

This radio transmitting facility was used by the Voice of America, the International Broadcasting Service and the U.S. Information Agency in communicating to the world for over 30 years. Special educational tours may be arranged thru their Admin.

Ylang Ylang Oil, Anao, Tarlac

The transformation of Anao into "Ylangylang Country" began in 1989 when the local government initiated the establishment of plantations of the cash crop to augment the people's meager income from rice and corn, through the Rural Industrialization Can Happen (RICH) Program of the provincial government, then headed by Gov. Mariano Un Ocampo III. The DOST then prepared a project proposal entitled "Establishment of a Village-based Essential Oil Extraction Industry" which they presented to then Pres. Corazon C. Aquino.

In no time, the residents had been planting seedlings in their own backyards and helping care for the trees that the government had planted in public orchards. Initially, 10,000 seedlings were planted along the roads of the entire town. They harvested the first mature blooms five years later. Anao Ylang Ylang Primary Cooperative organized in 1998 which served as the core group in the overall implementation of the ylangylang livelihood program.

To ensure the sustainability and ownership of the program, the Sangguniang Bayan enacted several municipal ordinances. Among them is the prohibition and penalizing the indiscriminate cutting of trees along roads and other government-owned areas; the guaranteeing of ownership of ylangylang planted along roads; requiring all applicants of a municipal permit or license or clearance to purchase and plant ylangylang and adopting "Aroma Anao" as the trademark/brand name of the ylangylang products in the municipality, as registered with the Intellectual Property Office.

The present administration is very diligent in looking for possible marketing strategies for the "Aroma Anao" products and viable agricultural lots for growing ylang-ylang seedlings.



Central Techno Park, Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Light to medium, environmentally compliant, manufacturing companies (with fiber optic backbone within CTP) Total Land Area: 300 hectares.

Luisita Industrial Park, San Miguel, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Light to medium industries Total Land Area: 140 hectares Managed by: property management Group/Luisita Realty Corp.

Maria Cristina Park, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Located near the provincial capitol, named after Maria Cristina Galang, who was crowned Miss Philippines in 1952.

Tarlac Ecotourism Park, Brgy. Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac

In the early months of 2001 under the leadership of Governor Jose "Aping" Yap, a project was launched to find a place in the province where people and nature can co-exist in harmony with each other. Soon after, a 278-ha forested land that would eventually serve as a sanctuary for the environment and nature lovers was established.

Located at an altitude of 308 meters above sea level, 30 kilometers from Tarlac City, the said place boasts of perfect climatic condition with natural ecosystem of plants, disterocarp trees, convenient habitat for native and migratory birds and wild animals. The place is a perfect place for camping holidays.

On April 12, 2004, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 602 officially declaring the Tarlac Ecotourism Park as "ecotourism park and campsite." Vic Yap, in-charge of Special Projects Office, facilitated the construction of concrete roads, electricity, water system, eco-park buildings and other amenities for the campsite.


Natural Wonders

Anao Quinabutok Creek, Anao, Tarlac,

Rich in aquatic resources, picnickers, excursionists usually visit the place for fishing and swimming

Bueno Hot Spring, Capas, Tarlac

Located in Sitio Danum Mapali, Brgy Bueno, the natural hot spring is impounded in two concrete pools - about 2 to 3 feet in height. One pool has a temperature of 45 degrees centigrade and neutral pH level of 5.5. Its flow rate was recorded at 1/2 gal/min. The other pool has a temperature of 49.5 degrees centigrade with a pH level of 5.5. The place may be reached through the Capas-Botolan Road. A perfect haven for local excursionists.

Dolores Spring Well, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Some seven kms. from Tarlac town, this spring is a favorite spot among local excursionists. The spring water is said to be medicinal. An imposing grotto of the image of the Virgin de Lorosa marks the religious character of this natural wonder.

Mt. Pinatubo Trek and Spa Town, Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac

What to See: Spectacular views, towering lahar canyons, thermal springs, cool mountain springs and cascading waterfalls along O' Donnell streambed.

Drive on board an all-weather vehicle for one hour, disembark in Sitio Dapili and trek for a maximum of two hours to the crater, view the tranquil yet majestic 2.5-km crater-lake located in Botolan, Zambales which is 30 kms away from Sta. Juliana. Or optionally bathe yourself in any of the six sulfur-filled thermal pools at Sitio Tarukan. Cap your day with a generous fishing expedition at Tambo Lake before proceeding to the Korean-owned wellness spa.

What to bring: Whether traveling on a day trip or overnight, always bring with you your backpack. For a day tour, bring an extra shirt, three liters of water or health juice, a pair of sturdy walking shoes plus strapped sandals, light meal and a pair of strong legs. For overnight guests, bring your own tent, sleeping bag, a warm jacket, cooking equipment and a full meal in addition to the above.

Pinatubo Spa Town

A fascinating oasis amidst a picturesque pastoral environment framed by rolling hills and mountain ranges, this new product in health tourism offers a first-of-a-kind model in fitness therapy and well-being: from a relaxing body wrap on sulfur-laden hot volcanic sand, to a revitalizing dip in a thermal bath and foot spa, and finally to a soothing Shiatzu body work in a 100-pax capacity massage parlor - all made possible after a day's sweltering trek to Mt. Pinatubo. The wellness center also serves Korean/native cuisine cum grillery in a 150-seat capacity open-air restaurant plus a souvenir shop and soda fountain serving health drinks to the intrepid explorer.

Maamot Hot Spring, San Jose, Tarlac

Located approximately 10 kms from the Capas-Botolan Road, Maamot Hot Spring has a temperature of 45 degrees centigrade and pH level at 6. The place is located at the river bank of Moriones river. The property is owned by the municipal government of San Jose. One has to cross the Moriones river - waist deep - to reach the manifestation site though.

Paradise Island, Concepcion, Tarlac

A half-hectare island in the middle of a five-hectare man-made lake in Hacienda Tinang

Timangguyob Waterfalls, San Clemente, Tarlac

A magnificent fall tucked in the middle of nowhere. This natural wonder is quite unique that the water flows down on an extraordinarily vast boulder carved and shaped by nature - like a basin - through many years of exposure to the continuous flow of water pouring from atop at 50 feet in height. The basin-like solid foundation, where the water is generously maintained at maximum of 5 feet is in essence indigenous but beautifully crafted swimming pool. The journey offers an invigorating experience, giving a luxurious, healthful escapade to the people brave enough to find their way to the majestic Timangguyob.



Aquino Center, Tarlac City, Tarlac

The Aquino Museum, located within the Aquino Center, houses a collection of photographs and memorabilia from Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino's early political career, his imprisonment during martial law, his death. This part of the museum showcases the glass-encased bloodied clothes and soiled boots the senator had worn on the day he was assassinated, and a replica of his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio. The second half of the museum is dedicated to the remembrance of the events that followed Ninoy's death: peaceful mass action, his widow's response, People Power and the Aquino Presidency.

Former President Cory Aquino's gifts from heads of state, visiting envoys and diplomats are neatly displayed in glass shelves - a bust of John F. Kennedy, a porcelain egg created by premier porcelain maker Boehm from US President George Bush, a two-dimensional Nativity Scene of carved and pierced mother-of-pearl from Yasser Arafat, among other precious items. For booking, Prior arrangement is required for groups of more than 30 pax, free.  Open on Wednesdays to Sundays at 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays to Tuesdays.

Leonor Rivera Museum, Camiling, Tarlac

This houses personal articles and furnitures owned by Rivera, and letters written by Dr. Jose Rizal for Leonor Rivera whom the national hero immortalized in his novels as Maria Clara.



Camiling Church, Camiling, Tarlac

The site of the execution of General Pedro Pedroche and his men (who were charged with rebellion) by Francisco Makabulos and his revolutionary troops.

San Sebastian Church, Tarlac City, Tarlac

Located in front of the Municipal Hall, the church was the site of the revolutionary congress. The demolished Tarlac Catholic convent had become the highest Filipino seat of learning when the Literario-Sientifico Universidad of Malolos, Bulacan was transferred to Tarlac on March 31, 1889. The first graduation ceremonies on Sept. 29, 1890 were held in the Catholic Convent premises. Diplomas then were signed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

St. Rose of Lima Church, Paniqui, Tarlac

Built during the Spanish colonization, and one of the oldest in the country, this structure underwent extensive reconstruction in the early 1970s.


Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake

Capas National Shrine

Monastery at San Jose, Tarlac

Ninoy Aquino Ancestral House

Camp O'Donnel (Capas, Tarlac)

Leonor Rivera House

Where to Stay

  • Gran Prix Express Inn Tarlac - VLI Compound San Roque Junction, Tarlac City
  • Central Park Hotel -  Luisita Business Park, Hacienda Luisita, San Miguel
  • Microtel Inn and Suites - Luisita Estate, Tarlac City,
  • Asianten Hotel - San Sebastian Village, Tarlac City
  • La Majarica Hotel - McArthur Highway, Tarlac City
  • Microtel Inn and Suites - Luisita, Tarlac City
  • Mr. Blue Hotel - Capas, Tarlac
  • Sun Garden Hotel - Aquino Subd. Tarlac City

Where to Eat

  • Antigua Restaurant - F. Tanedo St., Poblacion, Tarlac City
  • Cindy’s Bakery & Restaurant - F. Tanedo St., Poblacion, Tarlac City
  • Coco Express Grill - Brgy. Cut-Cut 1st
  • Dencio’s - Luisita, San Miguel
  • Fat-Fat Restaurant - Brgy. Maliwalo
  • Honkee Tea House - San Sebastian, Mc Arthur Highway
  • KB Group of Restaurants - Espinosa St., beside Plazuela
  • Tessie’s Grills & Roasters - San Sebastian, McArthur Highway
  • Vilmar Restaurant - San Sebastian, McArthur Highway

Getting There

From Manila, Tarlac is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours away by car or bus. Take the North Luzon Expressway to the far end and exit at the Sta, Ines Tollgate. Take the Mabalacat Road and turn right onto MacArthur Highway, then right again at the Luisita Industrial Park.

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