10 Places to Visit in Tarlac #LakbayNorte7

Tarlac is located in Central Luzon and is best known for its vast sugar plantations and its ties to the Cojuangco-Aquino family. On journeys to the North, Tarlac is most often just a pit stop as well. So, what else is there do in Tarlac? This year’s leg of Lakbay Norte 7 brought us to an extensive trip of sight, sense, and smell through Tarlac. Here are the 10 Places to Visit and things to do at Tarlac… Lakbay Norte 7 Series:

1. Ylang-Ylang Center https://flic.kr/p/236s5xa Unknown to most of us, the town of Anao in Tarlac is the only producer of the Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil in the Philippines. https://flic.kr/p/236sgLc Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its uplifting scent. The production of this essential oil is affected by a multitude of very specific factors. https://flic.kr/p/GjZ7Rm The hour and temperature at which they are picked, the drying time, and the length of time it takes to extract the oil all determine the quality of the end-product. https://flic.kr/p/24oMjJL They also produce a variety of products such as mosquito repellents, perfumes, and potpourri. Anao Ylang-Ylang Center National Highway, Anao, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac Telephone: +63 919 837 2105

2. Kape Agape https://flic.kr/p/GjYZ11 A short walk from the Ylang-Ylang center will bring you to Kape Agape, a small community-run cafe by Mr. Alexis Barroga and Dr. Ron Quimando. https://flic.kr/p/21GQVks Stop by for a quick morning snack and some drinks. Try their Pancit Anao and Nachos. Kape Agape Poblacion Street, Anao, Tarlac Operating Hours: 8AM-9PM Telephone: +63 452 866 5116 Facebook: Kape Agape

3. Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish https://flic.kr/p/ENzjXv The world’s first and Asia’s only Parish Church dedicated to St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland can be found at Paniqui, Tarlac. St. Faustina Kowalka devoted her life to the Divine Mercy. https://flic.kr/p/21GQMzs The Parish Church also houses a Holy Relic of her bones. Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish Brgy. Canan Paniqui Tarlac Email: santafaustinaparish@gmail.com Facebook: Santa Faustina Parish

4. St. Josemaria Escriva Parish https://flic.kr/p/23nUsPW Located in Gerona, Tarlac, this Church was built in honor of the Opus Dei Founder. https://flic.kr/p/24oLYBS Resident priest Fr. Alex Bautista once worked as an architect before priesthood, which explains why the church is so beautifully designed from its structure to its interiors. Gone are the plain cream walls we’re accustomed to, and in its place are bold and striking patterns. https://flic.kr/p/236rDag It is Fr. Alex’s belief that if we make the effort to beautify our own homes, we need to exert the same effort for the house of the Lord. St. Josemaria Escriva Parish Bgy. Magaspac, Gerona, Tarlac, Tarlac 2302 Telephone: +63 45 491 1878

5. La Sagrada Familia Parish https://flic.kr/p/236ruAT Another Church designed by Fr. Alex, La Sagrada is peculiar in the sense that it is oddly-located away from the town center and closer to the fields. https://flic.kr/p/236rpCr The La Sagrada Familia Parish makes use of half of the Papal altar from the Pope’s last visit to the Philippines. La Sagrada Familia Parish Brilliante – Sta. Lucia – Sulipa Road, Gerona, Tarlac

6. Tatun’s Kambingan https://flic.kr/p/236rksT Tatun’s Kambingan serves specialty goat dishes that even the pickiest eater can’t resist. https://flic.kr/p/24sJDcD A spread of mostly goat dishes are prepared several ways. There is a chance that you’ll find a new favorite goat dish. https://flic.kr/p/24sJPda My favorite would have to be the Adobong Kambing. The meat was tender and not gamey. Tatun’s Kambingan 7051 E Fairlane Rd, Brgy. San Vicente, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac Operating Hours: 10AM-2PM, 5PM-9PM Telephone: +63 916 229 4541 Facebook: Tatun’s Kambingan

7. Betty’s Resto Bar https://flic.kr/p/236r3bD A favorite among Tarlaqueños, one must not forget a visit to their restaurant even just for the Kakanin. https://flic.kr/p/24sJrWn Duman is a native cake with creamy coconut topping. https://flic.kr/p/24sJtUR Tibok-Tibok is a white pudding similar to maja blanca but makes use of carabao’s milk instead of coconut milk. Betty’s Resto Bar San Roque, Tarlac Operating Hours: 6:00AM-6:30PM Telephone: +63 (045) 982 0465 Facebook: Betty’s Native Cakes

8. Bonnette’s BBQ Grill https://flic.kr/p/23nTYH5 Bonnette’s presents itself with a different way of eating Filipino Barbecue. Their barbecue is served with bonete, a Filipino version of a dinner roll, which is then dipped in vinegar. https://flic.kr/p/23nU1rA I had some hesitation with the idea of dipping bread in vinegar, but it really does work! Bonnette’s BBQ Grill San Sebastian-San Vicente Diversion Rd, Brgy. San Vicente, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac

9. Aquino Center and Museum Lakbay Norte 7 - Day 1 - Martin San Diego- 0318 Photo by Martin San Diego via NPVB Home of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, the province holds a lot of their stories. https://flic.kr/p/24oMBuu The museum houses family heirlooms, letters, election paraphernalia, and installations that reflect the lives of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. https://flic.kr/p/23nVmx5 Political biases aside, I consider museums like this to be essential mediums in storytelling and safeguarding stories of the past. Aquino Center and Museum Luisita Industrial Park Road, San Miguel, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac Operating Hours: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM Telephone: +63 (045) 985 0968 Facebook: Aquino Center and Museum Website: http://www.ninoyaquino.ph

10. Kart City Tarlac https://flic.kr/p/21GRnao What started out as a personal race track among friends has quickly grown into a thriving spot for food and family fun. Lakbay Norte 7 - Day 1 - Martin San Diego- 0339 Photo by Martin San Diego via NPVB After a long day of touring, spend the night speeding through the race tracks for a rush of adrenaline. Kart City Tarlac MacArthur Highway, Tarlac City, Tarlac Operating Hours: 3:00PM – 2:00 AM Telephone: +63 (045) 491 4053 Facebook: Kart City Tarlac

Final Thoughts https://flic.kr/p/24uLkne There truly is much more to see and experience in Tarlac. It’s more than just a view from your window of vast fields and hills and mountains. Include Tarlac as a full stop on your next journey to the North for a glimpse of unique Filipino culture.   Live an Awesome Life, Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet   Disclaimer: The Lakbay Norte trip was organized by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with NLEX Corporation, Tarlac Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCVB), and Victory Liner Inc. Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization trip aiming to promote Philippine provinces in the north. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

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