Friday, July 22, 2011

Region 3 - Central Luzon (Part 3)

Region 3 - Central Luzon

Continuation of Region 3 - Central Luzon (Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac & Zambalez)

Tarlac - Melting Pot Of Central Luzon

        Tarlac is the most multicultural of the Central Luzon provinces. A mixture of four district 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 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 of the places to visit in Central Luzon.


        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 Chuch in the Philippines.

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

        During the 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 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.

        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 o the south, and Zambales on the west. Approximately 75% of the province is plain while the rest is hilly to mountainous.

Political Subdivision

Tarlac is divided into three congressional districts with 17 towns and 1 city (510 barangays).

  1. ·         Anao
  2. ·         Bamban
  3. ·         Camiling
  4. ·         Capas
  5. ·         Concepcion
  6. ·         Gerona
  7. ·         La Paz
  8. ·         Mayantoc
  9. ·         Moncada
  10. ·         Paniqui
  11. ·         Pura
  12. ·         Ramos
  13. ·         San Clemente
  14. ·         San Jose
  15. ·         San Manuel
  16. ·         Santa Ignacia
  17. ·         Victoria
  18. ·         Tarlac City

        Ilocano is spoken by half of the population followed by Pampango spoken by 41%. Everybody understands the Tagalog language.

Major Industries
        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.

Tourist attractions:

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.  

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.

Hacienda Luisita  -  (Tarlac, Tarlac) The Cojuangco-owned hacienda in Tarlac City houses the famous Tarlac Industrial Park where a 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.

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 at hole 17.

Tarlac Provincial Capitol and Maria Cristina Park (Tarlac City)  -  An imposing historical landmark in the province is the seat of 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, Ms. Philippines1952.

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.

Aquino Center  -  (Tarlac, Tarlac) The Aquino Center offers modern conference facilities, spacious functions rooms, convention hall, 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 memorial 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 Museum  -  (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 stages 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.

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.

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-Sientifico 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 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 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.  

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.


Mt. Pinatubo  -  Made famous by its catastrophic eruption in 1991, now a source of travel and study among tourists and travelers visiting Central Luzon.

Other Attractions & Landmark:

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.

Accolalao (Paniqui)  -  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Special Interest:

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.


Zambales - Wreck Diving Capital Of The Philippines
        Zambales has been gifted with the natural beauty of its surroundings. It has been touched by civilization yet has maintained its rustic glory and beauty. The Zambales coastline is most famous for its sandy beaches and deep blue sea teeming with coral reefs.

        The province is historical. Located here is the ancestral house of the most beloved Philippine President, Ramon Magsaysay, situated at Castillejos. Mt. Pinatubo, world-famous for its 1991 catastrophic eruption, can be found in the vicinity.

        Zambales is perfectly suited for visitors seeking an authentic view of the Philippines without going too far from the national capital, Manila. It is located at the western part of Luzon, 210 kilometers or approximately a three-hour drive from Manila.


        The name of the province is derived from its earliest inhabitants, the Zambals, whom the Spanish found worshipping spirits called anitos. They were referred to as “Sambali,” from the Malay word samba, meaning “to worship.” The term was later Hisparicized to “Zambal.”

        When Juan de Salcedo came to explore the area in 1572, he landed at Cape Bolinao, then a part of Zambales. The Spaniards drove a group of Chinese pirates off the coast of Bolinao thereby earning the good will of the natives.

        Zambales was one of the earliest provinces created during the Spanish rule. As founded in the 16th century, it was composed of the area extending from Cape Bolinao in the north to Subic on the south. Due to their inaccessibility from the capital, seven towns in the northern portion of Zambales - from Bolinao to Infanta and including Alaminos - were later ceded to Pangasinan, forming that province’s western part.

        Zambales is the home province of the seventh president of the Philippine Republic, Ramon Magsaysay, who hailed from Castillejos.


        The province has a few lowlands along the narrow coast where the town centers are located. The northern part is basically swampy. Mountain ranges containing most mineral deposits as well as some volcanoes are found in the eastern portion.

Political Subdivision

Zambales has 13 towns and one city, with Iba as the provincial capital.

  1. *Botolan
  2. *Cabangan
  3. *Candelaria
  4. *Castillejos
  5. *Iba (Iba)
  6. *Masinloc
  7. *Palauig
  8. *San Antonio
  9. *San Felipe
  10. *San Marcelino
  11. *San Narciso
  12. *Santa Cruz
  13. *Subic
  14. *Olongapo City

Language/Dialect  -  Tagalog is the predominant dialect followed by Ilocano and Zambal. English is widely spoken.

Tourist attractions:

Fine Beaches  Definitely the best all-around diving along the coast, Subic Bay in Olongapo also has the best infrastructure and facilities, with the major pull being the wrecks. The star attraction is the USS New York, a battleship scuttled during World War II, to keep her 17in main guns from falling into the hands of the Japanese. A rare, fine example of an 1899 dreadnought, she lies on her port side in 27m of water, cannons intact. 
Another great dive, the El Capitan is a 130m-long, 3000-ton freighter that went down in the mouth of Ilanin Bay. As the top of the wreck is just 12m below the surface, it is an easy dive. Marvel at the incredible array of marine life, and a swim-through amid shafts of light beaming down through gaping holes in the side. 
The San Quentin is the oldest known wreck in Subic. This wooden gunboat was scuttled in the Spanish-American War in 1898 in a futile attempt to prevent the US Navy from entering the channel between the Grande and Chiquita islands. It is one of the more popular dives because of the wreck's historical past. Among the many others worth seeing is the Oryoku Maru, the "Hell Ship" that sunk in an air attack, with more than 1600 American POWs on board. 
Subic also has some good coral dives. Grande Island, formerly an exclusive US military R&R resort, has some worthwhile wall diving, and Triboa Bay has a good coral garden at Nabasan Point. The best time to dive is between February and June. Accommodations are plentiful between Olongapo City and Barrio Barretto, a popular laid-back tourist retreat. Subic has the country’s oldest established recompression chamber, one of only three available to sport divers.


Snake Island (Subic)  -  Offers complete recreational facilities, making it an ideal place of relaxation.

Balon Falls (Subic)  -  A perfect paradise for nature lovers, with crystal-clear water.

Hermana Mayor Island (Sta. Cruz)  -  An island in the middle of the sea popularly known as Ms. Universe Island.

Bucao River (Botolan, Zambales)   -  Now covered with lahar and volcanic materials, this serves as the trekking area towards the foot of Mt. Pinatubo when it is dry

San Salvador Island  -  The abundance of marine resources has made San Salvador Island famous as a scuba diver's paradise in Central Luzon. The island is located in Masinloc.


Mt. Pinatubo   -  Mt. Pinatubo, made famous by its catastrophic eruption in 1991, is now a source of travel and study for tourists and travelers visiting Central Luzon. It is located in San Marcelino.

Grotto of Our Lady of Pardon (Olongapo)  -  Located in Barangay Mabayuan. Catholic devotees pray and pay homage to the Lady of Pardon in this sacred place.

Botolan Church (Botolan)  -  "Old Catholic church built in 1700 out of coral blocks. 
Birthmarker of the Late President Ramon Magsaysay (Iba). The historical place of birth of the most beloved Philippine president on August 31,1907.”

Subic Bay Freeport Zone  -  Once the site of the biggest U.S. naval base in Asia, Olongapo is fast developing into an industrial and tourism destination through the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. An educational tour to the rainforest within the Zone is available, which includes a guided tour of the JEST Forest Trails, a rolling tour of Subic Bay Freeport, and duty free shopping. During the tour, Aeta guides provide an outdoor orientation on basic mountaineering, fire building, trap making, wildlife identification, and other wilderness survival techniques.


Magsaysay Ancestral House (Castillejos)  The old house of the seventh hilippine President, Ramon Magsaysay.

Casa San Miguel (San Antonio, Zambales)  -  Set amidst a mango orchard in a town nestled between the mountains and the sea, Casa San Miguel Center for the Arts was built on the belief that art, in its various forms, can extend beyond its boundaries to create better quality of life to bring about communal, national and global change with Culture as the means to this end. The center is committed to the continued development and support of the Filipino artist and to the development of new artists and audiences for the next generation. Facilities include an artist's residence consisting of 7 bedrooms, a sunken terraced garden designed to offer visitors a meditative retreat while waiting for the beginning of a performance or enjoying a snack and a convenience store where books, postcards, community crafts,
and souvenirs are available. The center is a popular venue for recitals and concerts.

Rizal Triangle (Olongapo)  -  Dedicated to the lasting friendship between the American and Filipino nations. It sits right beside the City Hall where most of the city activities and programs are held.

Marikit Park (Olongapo)  -  Considered to be the main city park, where some of Olongapo’s big activities are staged. Features a playground for children, big shady trees, and an amphitheater-like section for big audiences.

Volunteers Monument (Children of the Sun Returning) (SBMA)  Located along Waterfront Road within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, it signifies the birth of a new Philippines. 

Subic Bay Lighthouse(Subic, Zambales)  This structure stands on a small precipice along the northbound lane of the national highway. It commands a panoramic view of Olongapo City, Subic Bay Freeport Zone and Subic Bay.


Other Attractions & Landmarks:

Volunteers Park (Olongapo)  -  Situated adjacent to the main gate of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, this long, narrow park stretches along the Perimeter Road. It is dedicated to the 8,000 volunteers who established the foundation of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the leadership of founding Chairperson Richard J. Gordon.

Volunteers Wall (Olongapo)  -  Dedicated to the pioneers of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, it is made from granite slabs on which the names of the 8,000 volunteers are engraved.

Fort Paynawen (Botolan)  -  The fortress that was once the most formidable garrison in Central Luzon. Located in Brgy. Parel, its walls are on the bank of Bancal River.

Botolan Resettlement Sites ( Botolan, Zambales)  -  A model resettlement village located in Brgys. Baquilan, Loob-bunga and Taugtug. Baquilan offers a hilltop view of the volcano's crater. It is populated by hundreds of Aeta families who were displaced from their native habitat during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. An optional visit for tourists who would rather engage in social and cultural exchange with the natives.

Special Interest:

Scuba Diving / Snorkeling San Salvador Island (Masinloc)  -  The abundance of marine resources has made the island famous as a scuba diver’s paradise in Central Luzon.

Scuba Diving / Snorkeling Subic Bay (Olongapo City)  -  Enjoy the fine beaches of the island amidst rare aquatic resources.

Scuba Diving / Snorkeling Silaguin Bay (San Antonio)  Endowed with abundant marine resources, it is one of five caves poised to be developed into a fish sanctuary.

Trekking Jungle Tour   -  An educational tour to the rainforest of Subic Bay Freeport with Aeta guides providing an outdoor orientation on basic mountaineering, fire building, trap making, wildlife identification, and other wilderness survival techniques. Tour Inclusions: guided tour of the JEST Forest Trails, rolling tour of Subic Bay Freeport, duty free shopping.

Trekking Mt. Pinatubo (San Marcelino)  -  Mt. Pinatubo, made famous by its catastrophic eruption in 1991, is now a source of travel and study for tourists and travelers visiting Central Luzon.

Trekking Mt. Mabanban (San Antonio)  An ideal setting for summer camping and mountaineering.  

Trekking Sto. Nino Cave (Candelaria)  Carved out of a fissure on the earth’s crust, the cavern measures about 50 by 75 meters. At its central wall sits an altar with the images of the Holy Family.  

Trekking Baloc-Baloc Cave (Sta. Cruz)  -  A brief but arduous trek through a rocky path leads to the magnificent spectacle of a waterfall right inside the cave.

Trekking Sagrada Familia Cave (Sta. Cruz)  -  Found along the cliffside of the Zambales mountain ranges, it is known for the mysterious formation resembling the image of the Holy Family that was caused by a continuous dripping from the apex of the cavern.

Surfing  -  Popular activity in Barangay La Paz at San Narciso. Surfboards and instructions are available.

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