With the election of Benigno Aquino III as the 15th president of the Philippines, his home province, Tarlac, is again much in the public eye. This major development has prompted local officials to ride on Aquino's sky-high popularity in promoting Tarlac as one of the best travel destinations in the archipelago of 7,107 islands.
Tarlac, which covers a total land area of 2,736.6 square kilometers, may not be the best place to go if you're planning a white-sand beach holiday. But unlike any other province in the country, Tarlac has witnessed a lot of events that were instrumental in shaping the Philippines the way it is now.
Dubbed as "Melting Pot of Central Luzon," Tarlac was one of the first provinces to revolt against the Spaniards in 1896. It also became the new seat of the republic when the country's first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, abandoned the former capital, Malolos, Bulacan. Tarlac, which is known for its vast sugar and rice plantations, was also the birthplace of the first paper money and coins of the independent regime.
Since Tarlac is only several hours away from Manila, it is easier to explore the beauty and the rich history of the province. Almost all travel guides to Tarlac include the Capas Death March Monument as a must-see attraction in the province. This landmark honors thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who perished in the infamous 97-kilometer march in 1942.
Another interesting attraction in Tarlac is the Maria Clara Museum in Camiling. The site is home to memorabilia of Leonora Rivera, the woman loved by Dr. Jose Rizal. A side-trip in this first-class municipality should include the Camiling Church, where Gen. Pedro Pedroche was executed on rebellion charges.
In the provincial capital of Tarlac City lies an unassuming tourist attraction called the Aquino Museum. Some say a visit to the center is the best way of teaching the young generation about the legacy of the late Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. and his wife, former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Here, you can find books, photos, letters, clothing, and other personal belongings of the Aquinos.
You can also spend time at the Tarlac Museum in Tarlac City to satisfy your cravings for history and arts. Aside from historical documents such as letters of revolutionary personalities, the museum also hosts various exhibits like the different costumes in the region.
If you're an adventure-bound traveler, a trek to the crater of the famous Mt. Pinatubo is a must. The climb, which may be taken via Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas, will allow you to witness spectacular views of towering lahar canyons, cool mountain springs, and cascading waterfalls.
After a tiring trek, you might want to relax and unwind at the Bueno Hot Spring in Tarlac City, Dolores Springs in Capas, and Anao Quina Bundok Creek in Anao.
A great way to end your visit to Tarlac is to check in at beautiful resorts and vacation homes in the province. Microtel Inn and Suites, Central Park Hotel, and Rio Madera are some of the leading accommodations that provide a run for you money.
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Allan Leandro Merin has been writing for a living since 2008. After leaving a career at a daily electronic crew newspaper, he joined a web development outsourcing company and linked up with Local Philippines, the most comprehensive online directory of Philippine destinations, events, and attractions.