Top Historical and Pilgrimage Sites to Visit in Tarlac

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The province of Tarlac is the last province that was organized by Spaniards in Central Luzon but they are certainly not the least in having the best historical and Pilgrimage sites in the Philippines. Other than the delicious foods and extensive sugar and rice plantations which Tarlac has been famous for, it is made up of historical sites and pilgrim churches that are sought after by a lot of tourists, both local and foreign.

Historical Sites and Museums

Visiting these Historical sites and museums should be on top of your checklist on things to do when in Tarlac since more than the fun, they offer both education and helpful reflection which we all need nowadays.

The Aquino Center and Museum

In Tarlac City, one of the most popular educational Tarlac tourist spots is the Aquino Center and Museum. According to the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (previously Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation), they established the Aquino Center and Museum to enshrine and continuously learn from the valuable lessons of our people’s struggle to restore freedom, democracy, and genuine development. It was created by renowned Filipino architect, Francisco Manosa, and was formally inaugurated on August 21, 2001 during the eighteenth anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s martyrdom.

The main feature is the museum as it houses photos and memorabilia of Ninoy and Cory Aquino including a collection of photographs and artifacts which exhibits the contribution of the Aquino family’s past to the history of the Philippines. It also chronicles the proud recent history of the Filipino’s fight to restore democracy and the demonstration of 1986 People Power that inspired the world. The jacket worn by the late Ninoy Aquino when he was shot to death at the terminal of Manila International Airport is one of its famous unique displays. However, the last day of the original exhibit will only be until November 27, 2022 since the Foundation will prepare for the new exhibit to include former President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino III’s section.

The Aquino Center and Museum is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and is located at Luisita Industrial Park Road, Luisita, San Miguel, Tarlac.

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Capas National Shrine

The Capas National Shrine is a historic memorial in Tarlac as it is the final stop of the horrendous Bataan Death March. There is a 70-meter-tall obelisk and three memorial walls with inscriptions including names of Filipino and American troops who died in World War II, poems of peace, and a tally of the total number of persons imprisoned. The Shrine was established and dedicated for the brave men who defied invaders at Bataan and other parts of the Philippines during World War II. Its location, which was once a concentration camp, now serves as a memorial giving honor to the Filipino, American, and other allied troops and soldiers who endured the historical Death March and battled with the Japanese during World War II.

In 2022, Capas National Shrine as one of the province’s premier tourist destinations, has been awarded to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) of the Department of National Defense and given a special patent for the 50-hectare land from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Handog Titulo program. DENR Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. said that this is fundamental in strengthening and sustaining the government’s greening programs, particularly in the conservation of 31,000 trees planted within the Shrine symbolizing 25,000 Filipinos and 6,000 Americans who died in the concentration camp.

Capas National Shrine is located in Capas Shrine Museum, New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac.

Bamban Museum of History

Former migrant worker, Rhonie dela Cruz, used his savings to build the Bamban Museum of History to give honor to his grandfather and other Filipinos who fought the Japanese during World War II. The museum’s strength lies not only in Dela Cruz’s perseverance to keep the endeavor going since 2005 but also because Bamban had a very rich story of how it thrived during the war, from December 1941 to September 1945.

The museum is a popular Tarlac tourist site among young and old Japanese visitors since some of them come to pray for those who died during the war and an altar for such has been placed near a row of flags of the Philippines, USA, and Japan. Some of the displays include military uniforms, guns, helmets, aircraft machine guns, flags, and other artifacts. The museum also showcases a lot of photographs and documents reproduced from the US National Archives and Records Administration and from the relatives of the veterans, including a set of 25 black-and-white pictures collected by Pvt. Joseph Bryant Bedingger of the 11th Cavalry while he was on duty between 1902 and 1903.

The Bamban Museum of History of Tarlac is located at Rizal Avenue (Old MacArthur Highway), Lourdes, Bamban.

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La Sagrada Familia Parish

According to Tarlac City Tourism, this church was built in the year 2017  by the late Rev. Fr. Alex Bautista. La Sagrada Familia Parish in Brgy. Sulipa, Gerona, Tarlac is famous for its details and design but in addition to its aesthetic, the church’s altar also has a notable historical significance. During the visit of Pope Francis in 2015 to the country, he kissed the marble altar which made it more significant in the Philippine Catholic community.

La Sagrada Familia Parish is located at Brilliante – Sta. Lucia – Sulipa Road, Gerona, Tarlac.

San Sebastian Cathedral

San Sebastian Cathedral is also commonly referred to as Tarlac Cathedral since it is the administrative center for the Tarlac Roman Catholic Diocese. In 1868, the church has been built with a Neo-Gothic architectural style famous during the period of post-World War II giving it the captivating appeal to pilgrims due to the old and traditional feels it gives off which compliments the contrast to the developing neighborhood. The cathedral is named after

It is named after Saint Sebastian who is a patron saint of warriors, people with physical disabilities, and those afflicted by the plague. Some devotees gather to pray for repentance and the recovery of their ailing loved ones especially now that the pandemic is still present.

San Sebastian Cathedral is located at F. Tanedo Street, Poblacion, Tarlac City, Tarlac.

Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish

The Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish is a beautiful white church that can be found in Paniqui, Tarlac. It is the first and only basilica in Asia that is dedicated to Saint Faustina Kowalska which also houses a world-class relic of the Polish martyred woman. Saint Faustina initiated the devotion of the Divine Mercy. Pilgrims all aroudn visit the Parish in the hopes of receiving divine intervention in their health since Santa Faustina offered her life after recovering from Tuberculosis in her early years of being a nun.

Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish is located at Brgy. Canan, Paniqui, Tarlac.

Sacred Relic Of The True Cross (Monasterio De Tarlac)

On January 30, 2007, the sacred relic of the Holy Cross was sanctified in the chapel’s altar on the Mountain of Resurrection in San Jose, Tarlac officiated by Archbishop Fernando Filoni who was at the time the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines. The relic is held by a golden arquetta adorned with religious symbols. The relic is accessible for the churchgoers to touch after the mass at 10:30 in the morning daily and 3:00 in the afternoon on Sundays and its exposed veneration is held every January 19 marking its enshrinement anniversary and on September 14 for the church’s foundation anniversary. From the Mountain of Resurrection, the visiting pilgrims can delight in luscious green scenery and a clear view of nature since Monasterio de Tarlac is in a secluded compound surrounded by a piazza inspired by European churches. Its eco-sanctuary complex has many chapels and a 300 foot tall figure of the risen Jesus Christ inspired by the grand monument found in the summit of Mount Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pilgrims from all around visit for the veneration of the “one true cross” and for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Monasterio de Tarlac and the Risen Christ is located at Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac.

How to get there

To reach Monasterio De Tarlac, you can take the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) from Manila to SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway) and exit at Hacienda Luisita. Take the MacArthur Highway to Tarlac City and turn left after Sogo Hotel, before reaching SM Tarlac. Continue to follow the road heading to Brgy. Tibag junction, going to Monasterio de Tarlac at Eco-Tourism Park, San Jose, Tarlac. Whereas, guests coming from the North can head to Tarlac City where they can turn right going to Uniwide Mall. Continue on the service road and make a right turn to Carangian Bridge where you can see markers leading to the monasterio.

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