There is more to Tarlac than meets the eye. This local destination is worth traveling to given its love for culture, heritage, and religion. By exploring the province, you’ll get the chance to renew your faith at the Monasterio de Tarlac, and even relax and take a breather at the Tarlac Recreational Park.
You can also relearn parts of Philippine history by walking around the Aquino Center and Museum, or be a little bit more active by racing in Kart City Tarlac or hitting some golf balls at the Luisita Golf & Country Club. Get to enjoy these exciting activities only at Tarlac, the ‘Melting Pot of Central Luzon’.
1. Renew your faith at the Monasterio de Tarlac
It’s uplifting to know that Tarlac has its own pilgrimage site: the Monasterio de Tarlac, Church of the Risen Christ. The popular tourist destination is just an hour and fifteen-minute drive from Luisita. The monastery, which offers one of the best seats in the house (you get a gorgeous view of the Zambales Mountain Range), also holds a relic of the True Cross. Best of all, it features a stunning 30-foot white monument of the Risen Christ.
2. Relax and take a breather at the Tarlac Recreational Park
The Tarlac Recreational Park (also known as Jose V. Yap Sports and Recreational Complex) is an all-around public estate. You’ll surely enjoy going around this 78-hectare property, as it offers a great selection of outdoor activities (some for free and others for a minimal fee). You can stay here and delight in a picnic underneath the trees while admiring the tranquil waters from the lagoon nearby. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see some horses grazing close by.
If a more upbeat activity is what you seek, you can swim and do laps in their Olympic-size pool. You can even bike in the vicinity, as TRP offers some of the most challenging uphill and downhill landscapes. You can also do some stretches and runs, as the park provides a well-maintained oval track.
3. Relearn parts of Philippine history by visiting the Aquino Center and Museum
If you’re a history buff, then a stopover at the Aquino Center and Museum should be listed in your itinerary. The gallery highlights one of the most important times in Philippine history, as it holds photographs and mementos from two of the most respected Filipino icons of Democracy: the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., and his late wife, President Corazon “Cory” Aquino. The repository was created as a tribute to both leaders who fought hard for their country.
The museum features some scenes from Ninoy’s life, showing how he progressed into politics (he was the youngest mayor at 22 years old), from being detained at Fort Magsaysay after Martial Law was declared, to being assassinated at the Manila International Airport. While it was overwhelming to see the actual blood-stained clothes of the late senator, you’ll still find hope and strength from the inspiring movement that happened later on–the People Power, which was led by his wife, who was soon elected as the Philippines’ 11th President.
4. Race through the afternoon at the Kart City Tarlac
If you’d like a shot of adrenaline, head out to Kart City Tarlac for a day of go-kart racing. KCT has become a popular hangout for both locals and tourists given its world-class karting facility. They offer a well-constructed racetrack, with European-made go-karts that are well-suited for various age groups.
Kart City Tarlac can still tickle your fancy even if kart racing isn’t your thing, as the recreational complex also has its own in-house restaurants, which offer some of the most delectable eats in Tarlac City.
5. Hit some golf balls at the Luisita Golf & Country Club
Even if you don’t know how to golf, you can still be entertained by admiring the pros at the Luisita Golf & Country Club. It is the only 18-hole championship course in Central Luzon. It’s not called the “finest in the Philippines” for nothing, as the golf course was designed by none other than Robert Trent Jones Sr. (known to have designed and redesigned hundreds of golf courses in the US and other countries).
Where to eat
While there are plenty of restaurants with good food to try in Tarlac, the ones that made a mark on us during our short visit to the city were Victor’s Ihaw-Ihaw and the Gameroom Sports Bar.
Victor’s Barbeque & Lechon (located along MacArthur Highway in San Rafael) may not be the fancy type given its cafeteria-like setting. But don’t be fooled by its appearance, as they serve some of the tastiest local dishes. You should order their Roasted Chicken, Grilled Fish, Smoke-Flavored Pork Sisig (made with pork liver and head), and Grilled Eggplant with slices of onions and tomatoes (also called Ensaladang Talong). Everything on our table went perfectly well with their famous sawsawan (dip)–a combination of soy sauce, lime, red chili, and onions.
The Game Room Sports Bar (located along MacArthur Highway in San Roque), one the of six restaurants in Kart City Tarlac, is a great venue for both sports and food enthusiasts. You can order a good selection of Filipino food while playing billiards or watching sports on TV. You should definitely try their Sizzling Pork Sisig, Kare-Kare, Pork Sinigang, Krispy Pata, Grilled Chicken Salad and Pizza Rolls.
Where to stay
Microtel by Wyndham Tarlac
Hacienda Luisita San Miguel, Tarlac
Phone Number: +63 (45) 985 1770
Tarlac City, Tarlac
+63 45 985 1770
How to get there
You can reach Tarlac City through two major expressways in the Philippines: the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).