As a traveler, I always allocate a time on my itinerary for a walking tour around the commercial thoroughfares of the destinations I visit. It is a chance for me to know and get an intimate look at the landmarks, establishments, and food houses while huddling with the locals. I didn’t quite expect that just around the loop of Tarlac City proper, I can already have a brief background of the rich and prominent history of the town and the province.
The city tour started in-front of San Sebastian Cathedral that was once a site of the Revolutionary Congress in the late 1800’s. The church having a dainty appearance served as the highest Filipino seat of learning when the Literario-Scientifico Universidad of Malolos was transferred to Tarlac on March 31, 1889. Main road and considered as Tarlac’s EDSA is the F. Tanedo Street where establishments that are proud to be Tarlac can be found.
Going north led us to Macapinlac Cakehouse and Shoe Store. It was my first time to encounter a place where shoes and cakes are being sold in a single booth. The shoe shop started in 1960’s and still continues to offer custom hand-made shoes. The cake house, on the other hand, is known for their homemade chocolate, mocha, and prune cakes. We were able to sample their selection of hopia: ube, kamote and buko pandan.
Nearby shops include Cervantes Press & Store, the first school, office supplies and bookstore in Tarlac and His Tailoring which has been actively operating since the 70’s. Our next stop was King Burger, known as a local food chain in Tarlac having affordable sizzler and merienda items that are both satisfying and economical. They’re known for their yummy burger sandwich with their homemade patty.
The newly renovated plazuela located at the center of the city serves as the recreational area for Tarlaqueños who wish to play basketball, volleyball, badminton, and skateboarding. Across the Rizal Street is the Tarlac City Hall with its recently modernized façade.
A short walk from the city hall is a great ambiance being offered by Paseo de Hilario Grill and Restaurant. They were the first restaurant to introduce affordable buffet dining in Tarlac and specializes in Tarlaqueño’s comfort food, continental meals, and merienda. We were already bloated but Urdu prepared their signature specialties for us to try. It is one of the oldest and still operational establishments in Tarlac and known for their Chicken Barbeque. They also offer chocolate cakes, revel bars, blueberry cheesecakes and a lot more.
The wander around the main streets of Tarlac was ended with a visit to Cory Aquino’s monument located at their rotunda. The tribute, which was inaugurated during the Liberal Party’s proclamation rally on February 10, 2010, was made by Toym Imao, a multimedia visual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and film maker.
The city proper of Tarlac is not located along the National Highway so travelers exploring the city don’t get the opportunity to wander around its busy streets and stumble on these establishments that play a role in the daily life of the Tarlaqueños. So next time you’re in Tarlac, don’t forget to drop by the city proper.
This walking and food tour around the city of Tarlac was part of Tara Quing Tarlac (Tara sa Tarlac) initiated by Microtel Luisita and Tarlac Convention and Visitors Bureau held last February 27 to March 1, 2014.