CLLEX to Boost Eco-Tourism in Central Luzon


Finally, whether coming from the north or south of Luzon, it is easily accessible by land, as it is connected to expressways such as the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and now the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX). 

Read Also: NLEX, SCTEX Stopover Guide

Get out of your comfortable home today and experience an adventure with Central Luzon! Central Luzon which consists of seven (7) provinces: Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales, is an excellent place to visit for scuba diving, trekking, birdwatching, surfing, and food tripping. It boasts a diverse range of landscapes to discover, beaches to rest on, and metropolitan towns to explore. Not to mention the luscious food the provinces offer! All of these are within reach when visited by air, land, as well as sea. BY AIR – It currently has the highly busy Clark International Airport, which is connected to many of the world’s major cities with direct flights to Asia and the Middle East’s major airports. BY SEA – The Subic Bay Freeport Zone has become a focus for cruise tourism, with larger cruise ships such as the Costa Atlantica, Royal Caribbean Cruise, and World Dream slated to call in Subic Port for two (2) days next year. Not to mention the arrival of more cruise ships.

Read Also: Mark Villar vows to push for completion of Central Luzon Link Expressway

The Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) has been partially inaugurated, as you may know, by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It is a new road that aims to make travel around Central Luzon faster, safer, and more convenient. Not only will our drives be better when provinces are visited, but trade and business should be considerably easier as well. It is expected to enhance ecotourism and enable farmers and small and medium enterprises or SMEs to distribute goods more quickly. As part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, this 12.6B project is to connect Tarlac to Nueva Ecija. The CLLEX in Tarlac will begin at the SCTEX and veer off from the Luisita region on its way to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija’s commercial center. Alternatively, without the CLLEX, motorists traveling from Metro Manila to Cabanatuan City would take the route through the national highway passing through Bulacan, or take the SCTEX until Tarlac City. 

While the 30-km CLLEX is still being finished, the first 18 kilometers are now open to the public. This runs from Tarlac city up to Aliaga, Nueva Ecija cutting off a used-to-be one-hour drive to a more or less 20-minute ride. Looking at the bigger picture, this highway will also connect the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and the North Luzon East Expressway (NLEEX), according to the Department of Public Works and Highways. The NLEEX is still under development, but it will link Nueva Ecija to Metro Manila. Driving in and out of Metro Manila will become faster and easier once all of these roads are completed.

Eco-Tourism and Infrastructures

The key to developing a successful tourism location is infrastructure. The tourism business encourages investments in new infrastructure, the majority of which benefits both locals and visitors. According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people,”. Ecotourism, sometimes known as “nature tourism,” aims to reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment. The concept is to use travel to bring conservation, communities, and sustainable development together. 

Activities You Can Explore in Central Luzon

With the construction of CLLEX, there will be more time to explore and enjoy Central Luzon than spending a day or two on the road. Here are some of the things to look forward to in visiting Central Luzon: 

A. Nature and Adventure

Scuba diving and farm-based eco-tours are also popular, in addition to mountain treks. Visitors can go birdwatching, surfing, island hopping, and shopping, to name a few things. Subic Bay has the best-organized diving infrastructure in the Philippines. It includes a bustling resort and a nice beach area near the Freeport, as well as a huge number of sunken WWII Japanese and American warships in the harbor. Divers can visit a variety of colorful reefs along this stretch of shore, which are served by numerous dive outfits.

1. Subic Bay

Subic Bay is one of the province’s most developed resort destinations. There are lovely beach sections with hilly backdrops. It is a convenient beach destination but it can’t compare with some of the Philippines’’ more popular beaches. 

2. Mount Arayat

The majority of the natural areas are found in Central Luzon’s landlocked region, which thrives on ecotourism. They are now more accessible thanks to CLLEX. The picturesque Mount Arayat, a 1,026-meter-high stratovolcano in the heart of Luzon, is one of the region’s most famous attractions. Two pathways lead to the mountain’s summit, each taking three to four hours to complete. It is a mysterious mountain that is said to be home to the fairy Maria Sinukuan, who is said to live at the White rock, or lava dome.

3. Mount Pinatubo

It’s impossible to visit Central Luzon without visiting Zambales to see the magnificent Mount Pinatubo. Its most recent major eruption occurred in 1992, changing the terrain and blanketing the entire region with ash. It is currently idle. The stunning turquoise-blue Lake Pinatubo is located at the peak of Mount Pinatubo, just east of Mount Arayat. This stunning crater lake may be reached by taking a 4WD for slightly over an hour and then trekking for 45 minutes up the mountain crossing through streams and rocky roads.

4. Laguna Caldera

The Laguna Caldera, just southeast of Manila, is easier to reach. The picturesque lake, which stands between Mount Sembrano and Talim Island, is only one meter above sea level. Some of the settlements along the coast have beautiful views and sea breezes, and it’s worth spending a night or day relaxing among the residents with the feeling that you’re in the middle of nowhere.

5. Taal Lake

Taal Lake, which was produced between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago as a result of multiple massive eruptions, is also very impressive. The lake is unique in that it contains Volcano Island in the center, with a spectacular crater lake above it. Tours to the lake are available regularly, and horseback riders can reach the summit of Volcano Island.

6. Aurora Memorial National Park

The protected Aurora Memorial National Park spans 5,676 hectares along Central Luzon’s east coast. With its lush forest and diverse ecology, which includes vultures, lizards, snakes, amphibians, and the endangered Philippine Eagle, it is a popular eco-tourism destination.

7. Monasterio de Tarlac statue

If you’re looking for calmness, go to the top of San Jose Mountain in Tarlac, where you’ll find the “Risen Christ” more popularly known as the Monasterio de Tarlac statue, which towers over spectacular mountain views. This 30 ft. statue is the perfect spot for a relaxing picnic. It is known as the “Brazil of the Philippines”.

8. Gross Ostrich Farm

As the province’s agricultural heartland, Nueva Ecija is recognized for its eco-friendly farm excursions and other unique trips, such as those to the Gross Ostrich Farm. It also houses the country’s largest agricultural research centers, which are open to the public for tours.

Birdwatchers may choose to go to Candaba, Pampanga, which is noted for its birdwatching excursions. The area is a haven for migratory birds, and the best time to watch them is from October through April. Other rare birds found here include Shrenck’s Bittern, Gadwall, and Great Bittern.

B. Food Trip

Central Luzon is known as the Rice Granary of the Philippines. It produces 1/3 of the country’s total rice production. Most local dishes are paired with rice. In Pampanga, you can try the Philippines’ famous Kapampangan cuisine, which was inspired by Spanish, Malay, and Cantonese cuisines in the past.

  • If you want to try the authentic and famous Sisig, Pampanga has it all started. 
  • Kapampangan Chicken Asado is also a must-try since it emphasizes the natural flavor and spice of the chicken. 
  • Bringhe is also a simpler Filipino version of paella made with locally sourced ingredients.
  • Central Luzon’s version of Adobo with a twist comes in the form of Adobo sa gatâKare-kare, Bistek Tagalog, and a lot more famous dishes and delicacies have come from Central Luzon.

C. Festivals

1. Philippine International Hot Air Ball

The annual Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta near Clark Airbase is one of the most popular. Every year between January and February, the festival takes place, and it is the country’s largest aviation sports event. Over 100 air-balloon pilots from around the world soar into the sky in their brightly colored balloons. Skydiving, coordinated kite flying, freestyle acrobatics, and kite building are all part of the event.

2. Tanduyong Festival

Every year, the Tanduyong Festival is held in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, to praise their crops, which primarily consist of onions, garlic, and rice. It is the province’s most colorful event, with people dancing in native costumes in the streets and music filling the air.

3. Paynauen Duyan Festival

The seven-day Paynauen Duyan Festival, which highlights traditional local arts and crafts, is also held in April. With its sandcastle competition, singing contest, kite flying competition, and cooking event, it is a famous tourist attraction. In Iba, Zambales, the event takes place.

4. Giant Lantern Festival

The annual Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando, which takes place on the Saturday before Christmas, is one of the most popular in the region. It includes a massive large lantern competition, with some of the lanterns costing upwards of $11,000 to build.

5. Obando Fertility Rites

A three-day fiesta commemorating the famous Obando Fertility Rites in honor of the patrons San Pascual, Baylon, and Sta. Nuestra Senora de Salambao and Clara are where childless couples, maidens and bachelors looking for partners, appreciative parents, grateful farmers, and fishermen dance along the streets to pray for children and a healthy crop during this event.

Real Estate Investing Opportunities in Central Luzon

Aside from the nature adventure, festivities, and delicious food that Central Luzon could offer, real estate and property development are emerging in Central Luzon. With the recent CLLEX and other expressways in the north, we can already say that finding a peaceful and affordable Bria Homes is just a few hours away from Metro Manila! 

What is the Impact of CCLEX in Central Luzon’s Eco-Tourism?

Eco-tourism will undoubtedly grow in Central Luzon as a result of this freshly constructed infrastructure, CLLEX. Sustainable ecotourism should be directed by three key guidelines: conservation, communities, and education. 


The most important aspect of ecotourism is conservation, which should provide long-term, sustainable solutions for preserving and protecting biodiversity and nature. This is usually accomplished through financial incentives paid by tourists wanting a nature-based experience, but it can also be accomplished through tourism groups, research, or direct environmental conservation activities.

It safeguards natural ecosystems.

Ecotourism provides one-of-a-kind vacation experiences centered on nature and education, with a focus on sustainability and the conservation of fragile or endangered species. It emphasizes ideas (and operations) that limit negative impacts and expose visitors to unique ecosystems and natural regions, combining conservation with local communities and sustainable travel. When properly managed, ecotourism may help both the traveler and the environment, as most of the money spent on it goes directly to maintaining the natural regions visited.

It has the potential to harm the same natural ecosystems.

Ecotourism, however, can sometimes harm ecosystems as much as it can assist them. Ecotourism can modify animal behavior in ways that put them at risk, according to a study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. If humans influence how animals behave, those changes could leave them more vulnerable to predators or poachers.


Ecotourism has the potential to improve job possibilities and empower local populations, assisting in the battle against global social concerns such as poverty and attaining long-term development.

It has the potential to provide local communities with a long-term source of income.

When it is well-managed can help to alleviate poverty by providing jobs for residents and giving them alternatives to unsustainable livelihoods.

Animals aren’t the only ones in danger. When ecotourism activities grow too popular, new infrastructure may be needed to accommodate more tourists. Similarly, more people means more strain on local resources, more pollution, and a greater risk of soil and plant quality degradation due to erosion. On the social side, these operations may evict Indigenous tribes or local communities from their ancestral grounds, denying them access to tourism’s economic benefits.


The educational component of ecotourism is one of the most underappreciated components of the industry. Yes, we all want to visit these stunning natural wonders, but it’s also beneficial to understand more about them. Conservation is crucial, but raising environmental awareness and encouraging a broader knowledge and respect for nature is probably just as important.

However, ecotourism has its drawbacks. When humans engage with animals or the environment, there is a possibility of human-wildlife conflict or other negative consequences; nevertheless, if done with respect and responsibility, ecotourism can benefit protected areas greatly.

Infrastructures are gateways to ecotourism, and ecotourism provides opportunities for economic improvement, preservation of the cultural heritage, people empowerment, and environmental awareness. 

Written by Ruby Baclid