Life is full of surprises and so is Tarlac. Known for its vast rice fields, the quiet province is often treated as a stopover venue when traveling to more popular destinations like Ilocos and Baguio. If you have some moments to spare, there are actually many things you can do in the place from tasting local delicacies to visiting beautiful churches. Better yet, go on epic road trip with your friends and you’ll discover what you’re missing all this time with the diverse town that is Tarlac.
Tarlac is a landlocked province located in Central Luzon. It is surrounded by Pangasinan (north), Nueva Ecija (east), Pampanga (south), and Zambales (west). Diverse as it is, the province is a mixture of Kapampangans, Pangasinenses, Ilocanos, and Tagalogs. The different municipalities have their own local goods they are proud of like the Ylang-ylang products of Anao. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood and Tarlac is among the top producers of rice and sugarcane in their region.
Exploring Tarlac for more than a day, we were just surprised that we got to do numerous, exciting activities. So the next time you pass by this cool town, make sure to try for yourself the items listed below.
Top Things to Do in Tarlac
1. Go racing at Kart City.
Release your inner adrenaline junkie and go-kart with your buddies at Kart City. The place in fact was started by a group of friends who share the same passion for the sport. With first-class equipment and adequate briefing, the activity is surely safe even for the young ones.
Kart City is not just only about go-kart, it’s an entertainment center with karaoke and game rooms. It also has a number of restaurants where you can just chill and relax. What more can you ask for?
2. Experience Tarlac food trip.
Don’t ever leave Tarlac without going on a food trip, just don’t. Try the crispy Pansit Anao from Kape Agape, your friendly neighborhood coffee shop located at the Ylang-ylang town of Anao. What’s even cooler than Kape Agape’s ambiance is its support for mental health advocacy and the arts.
For ultimate Filipino comfort food, make sure to drop by at Tatuns. One of their bestsellers is Adobong Kambing. I also personally like their Papaitan.
Have you tried pairing barbecue and hot pandesal? Situated next to each other, Bonnette’s BBQ Grill and La Boneteria will let you try the surprisingly good barbecue and pandesal combo.
Get some malunggay pandesal or bonete from La Boneteria and chill at Bonnette’s BBQ Grill. At Bonnette’s, hoard some barbecue and dip it with their homemade vinegar. More interestingly, you can also dip your pandesal in the vinegar.
Betty’s Resto Bar offers the best native cakes in town! Spend an afternoon break in their instagrammable place and eat some Duman.
3. Find important religious relics and visit beautiful churches.
Tarlac also houses important religious relics and has some of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen. St. Faustina Parish, the world’s first and only parish church dedicated to St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland, can be found at the town of Paniqui. It was from St. Faustina’s diary where the expression “Jesus, I trust in you.” was discerned. Her relic, which was said to be a part of her finger, was kept at a small chapel. The chapel is being opened for public viewing every 5th of October, the church’s foundation day.
Two equally beautiful churches can be found in Gerona, Tarlac – St. Josemaria Escriva Parish and La Sagrada Familia Parish. Both were designed by Fr. Alex Bautista who worked as an architect before becoming a priest.
St. Josemaria Escriva Parish is the only parish in Asia built and dedicated to St. Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei. Opus Dei is a Catholic institution aiming to spread the church’s teaching. St. Josemaria Escriva Parish is known for its drive-through facility to visit the Blessed Sacrament located at the back of the main tabernacle of the church.
If you have more time, go inside the church and see the only relic of St. Escriva displayed in Asia (the relic was said to be a part of his tooth).
Beautiful inside out, La Sagrada Familia Parish was inaugurated last October 2017. Notice its altar table made from the marble that was kissed by Pope Francis during his papal visit in the country.
5. Taste the rural life at EDL farm.
In case you need to spend a night in Tarlac, EDL farm is highly recommended. With a homey vibe, the rooms are simple and neat. The best part? They’ve got a really nice pool and a pretty lawn garden. The next best part? You can roam around the farm if you need some sort of breather! I like visiting farms every once in a while because they remind me life’s ought to be simple.
6. Reminisce a portion of history at Aquino Museum.
If you’re a certified history buff, the Aquino Museum can satisfy your curiosity. It was really interesting to see both the memorabilia of Ninoy and Cory Aquino. Some of my favorite finds inside the museum: the musings and writings of Ninoy (especially those sweet letters dedicated to Cory), Ninoy’s vintage camera, and the collection of Cory’s paintings. The museum is beautifully preserved.
7. Buy Ylang-ylang products in Anao.
Did you know that it takes four years for an Ylang-ylang tree to yield flowers? And that a kilo of Ylang-ylang flower can only produce 9ml of oil extract? With inadequate land available to plant more Ylang-ylang trees, Anao can’t meet the huge demand for their ylang-ylang products worldwide especially the oil extract. Other products include perfume and potpourri. South Korea even extended help and sponsorship to the local government to uplift more the town’s Ylang-ylang business. So when in Anao, don’t miss the opportunity to grab the limited Ylang-ylang merchandise.
Do yourself a favor and explore Tarlac. The wide array of things you can do in the place is more than just for a mere stopover. The humble town is just waiting to be discovered.
Photo Credit: All photos by Martin San Diego via North Philipiines Visitors Bureau (NPVB).
Disclosure: This Lakbay Norte trip was organized by North Philippines Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with NLEX Corporation, Bulacan Tourism and Convention Visitors Board (BTCB), Tarlac Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCVB), Ilocos Norte Convention and Visitors Bureau (INCVB), Victory Liner Inc., Department of Tourism Region 1, Department of Tourism Region 3, Jollibee Foods Corporation, and Merrell Philippines. Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization trip aiming to promote Philippine provinces in the north.