Tarlac is the most multicultural of the Central Luzon provinces. A mixture of four distinct groups, the Pampangos, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, and Tagalogs, share life in the province.
Tarlac is best known for its fine foods and vast sugar and rice plantations. That it has fine cooking to offer is due largely to the fact that it is the melting pot of Central Luzon. It offers some of the best cuisines from the places of the ancestry of its settlers, the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pangasinan, and the Ilocos Region.
Historical sites, fine food, vast plantations, a beautifully landscaped golf course, and so many other attractions – all these make the province of Tarlac one of the best places to visit in Central Luzon.
The province is situated at the center of the Central Plains of Luzon, landlocked by four provinces: Nueva Ecija on the east, Pangasinan on the north, Pampanga in the south, and Zambales on the west. Approximately 75% of the province is plain while the rest is hilly to mountainous.
Tarlac is divided into three congressional districts with 18 towns and an aggregate of 510 barangays.
Tarlac has a population of 859, 222.
Ilocano is spoken by half of the population followed by Pampango spoke by 41%. Everybody understands the Tagalog language.
Like the rest of Central Luzon, the province has two distinct seasons: dry from November to April and wet for the rest of the year.
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.
Because the province is landlocked, its fish production is limited to several fishponds. On the boundary with Zambales in the west, forestlands 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.
Tarlac was originally a part of the provinces of Pangasinan and Pampanga. It was the last Central Luzon province to be organized under the Spanish regime 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, 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 “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 early 1950s, Tarlac was the hotbed of the Huks, a local communist movement. It was suppressed at first but had a
resurgence in 1965.
Tarlac is the home province of former Philippine President Corazon C. Aquino and her husband, Benigno Aquino, whose assassination at the Manila International Airport in 1983 started the protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship, which culminated in the EDSA Revolution of 1986.
Tarlac Is Famous For…
- Capas National Shrine-Located in Capas, it was once a concentration camp subsequently serving as the burial grounds for thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who perished during World War II. The site was the ultimate destination point of the infamous Death March involving Filipino and American soldiers who surrendered in Bataan on April 9, 1942.
- Mt. Pinatubo-The once silent volcano has been made famous today by its catastrophic eruption in 1991 which was heralded the world over as the biggest geologic upheaval of the 20th century. It is now a source of travel and study among tourists visiting Central Luzon.
- Sto. Domingo Death March Marker-The site located in Capas where about 60,000 Filipino soldiers who were camped like sardines in closed boxcars were eventually unloaded to start the second phase of the tragic Death March.
- Capas Death March Monument-The historical monument located in Capas serves as a marker of the legendary concentration camp where nearly 30,000 Filipino and American soldiers who participated in the Death March perished in 1942.
- Maria Clara Museum-Preserved and displayed in this museum located in Camiling are the priceless mementos of Leonora Rivera, the sweetheart of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Leonora Rivera is immortalized as the heroine Maria Clara in the novel of Rizal.
- Dolores Spring-The water from this spring found in Tarlac City is believed to be medicinal.
- Bueno Hot Springs-These springs are located in Capas within the reservation area of Clark Air Base. The surrounding terrain is mountainous thus the site can be reached only by following a trail.
- Luisita Golf Course-Located in Hacienda Luisita, it is one of the finest 18-hole par 72 championship courses in the country. Its most interesting feature is water. Eleven of its 18 holes have well-placed water hazards, the most awesome of which is a hole 17.
Things to Do and see in Tarlac…
Tarlac Provincial Capitol and Maria Cristina Park (Tarlac City)
An imposing historical landmark in the province is the seat of the provincial government, the Capitol building, built-in 1906. Giving more grandeur and beauty to the place is the Maria Cristina Park, fittingly named after a Tarlac beauty queen, Maria Cristina Galang, Miss. Philippines1952.
Capas National Shrine (Capas)
A concentration camp subsequently serving as the burial grounds for thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who perished during WWII. The site was the ultimate destination of the infamous Death March.
Capas Death March Monument (Capas)
The historical marker of the infamous concentration camp where nearly 30,000 Filipino and American soldiers who participated in the Death March perished in 1942.
Sto. Domingo Death March Marker (Capas)
The site where about 60,000 Filipino soldiers camped like sardines in closed boxcars were unloaded to start the second phase of the tragic Death March.
Maria Clara Museum (Camiling)
Preserved and displayed in this museum are the priceless mementos of Leonora Rivera, the sweetheart of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Leonora Rivera is immortalized as the heroine Maria Clara in the novel of Rizal.
San Sebastian Cathedral (Tarlac City)
The site of the revolutionary congress. The demolished Tarlac Catholic Convert had once become the highest Filipino seat of learning when the Literario Sciantifico Universidad was transferred from Malolos, Bulacan to Tarlac on March 31, 1889.
It was in this old townsite of Paniqui where Ali Madin, deposed Sultan of Sulu, formally embraced the Christian faith on April 29, 1750, and assumed the name, Don Fernando Ali Mudin I.
Camiling Church (Camiling)
Its convent was the place of death of General Pedro Pedroche and his men in the hands of General Francisco Makabalos and his revolutionary troops upon the order of General Antonio Luna on charges of rebellion.
(Tarlac, Tarlac) The Aquino Center offers modern conference facilities, spacious function rooms, convention hall, a library containing books and memorabilia of former President Corazon Aquino and the late Senator and patriot Benigno Aquino, Jr. The museum offers a vivid display of the life and works of the late Senator with a mini-theater depicting in visual drama his illustrious life. Tour of Tarlac is never complete without a memorable visit to the center.
Carlos P. Romulo Memorial Library
(Tarlac, Tarlac) Established on May 9, 1952, during the administration of Governor Antonio E. Lopez, this institution was originally named after the late President Manuel A. Roxas and was later renamed in 1990 after the prominent statesman.
(Tarlac, Tarlac) Tarlac Museum has an extensive collection of official documents of the different revolutionary personalities like the letters of Francisco Makabulos and Gen. Servillano Aquino. This museum stage exhibits every 45 days such as the National Costume of Luzon and many other themes that depict the history and life in the province of Tarlac.
Made famous by its catastrophic eruption in 1991, now a source of travel and study among tourists and travelers visiting Central Luzon.
Bueno Hot Springs (Capas)
Located within the reservation area of Clark Air Base. The terrain is mountainous and the place can be reached only by trail.
Dolores Spring (Tarlac City)
Its water is believed to be medicinal.
Anao Quinabutok Creek (Anao)
Rich with aquatic resources and a favorite site of picnic-goers and excursionists for fishing and swimming.
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.
San Sebastian Church
(Tarlac, 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-Cientifico Universidad of Malolos, Bulacan was transferred to Tarlac on March 31, 1889. The first graduation ceremonies on Sept. 29, 1890, were held inside the Catholic Convent premises. Diplomas then were signed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
(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 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.
Tinang Site Voice of America
(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.
(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.
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 Sugar Mills
(Paniqui, Tarlac) The province of Tarlac takes pride in having two large sugar mills, namely CAT Sugar Mills in Tarlac City and Paniqui Sugar Mills in Paniqui town. These sugar mills help boost the economy of the province.
Diwa ng Tarlak
(Tarlac, 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.
(Tarlac, Tarlac) The Cojuangco-owned hacienda in Tarlac City houses the famous Tarlac Industrial Park where growing lists 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.
Luisita Golf and Country Club
(Tarlac, Tarlac) Located within a sugar plantation owned by the Cojuangco family. Designed by the world-renowned Robert Trent, this place is a magnificent landscape of verdant slopes and restful lagoons.
Plaza Luisita Center
(Tarlac, 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, Pancake House, Greenwich, Cindy’s, Travieza and Chow King
Mt. Pinatubo Trek (30 November 2004)
(Capas, Tarlac) An annual trekking event is held every November 30 to commemorate the world-famous eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Hundreds of local and foreign visitors on board all-weather vehicles drive for one hour along the rocky and watery streambed in O’ Donnell, Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac only to take on a 2-hour walk to the crater of the volcano to witness the tranquility and peacefulness of Mother Nature. Participants join the annual event to contribute part of their resources for the benefit of the conservation and local infrastructure development projects of the host community of Sta. Juliana. The event is participated in by the Angeles City Four Wheelers Club with support from other motoring groups. The project is organized by the Department of Tourism – Region III as part of their mission to “build a better quality of lives thru travel and tourism.”
Conquer Mt. Pinatubo
Trek to the crater of the world-famous Mt. Pinatubo. Spectacular views, towering lahar canyons, cool mountain springs, and cascading waterfalls make the trip up the volcano an experience to remember. The tour may be taken via Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.
How to Get There
All buses from Manila going to the Ilocos Region and Baguio City pass through Tarlac. Most of these buses make rest stops along the highway at the town’s many restaurants. Philippine Rabbit in Manila has buses that leave for Tarlac every 10 to 30 minutes.