Tarlac: More Than What Meets The Eye

JSJ Goat Farm Tarlac

Usually, when you hear Tarlac, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s just a stopover for the connecting provinces you want to go to (such as Subic, La Union or Vigan). It really isn’t known for tourism, but there is much more to this place than what meets the eye. I’ve underestimated the thriving culture and history Tarlac has to offer. My boys & I are still on the move in exploring the Philippines, and we were lucky enough to get a day to explore Tarlac’s streets; and see how life goes by in that place. Characterized by endless rice fields, the province of Tarlac in Central Luzon has a lot of tourism potential — it has religious places, museums, adventure parks, nature spots, waterfalls and gastronomic places.

The drive going to Tarlac was pretty quick. It’s about 3 hours from the Metro on a good day. We started a bit late so we were only able to cover several areas, but here’s what you can do if you want to make the most of your day trip with your little tots:

 

JSJ Goat Farm

My best friend recommended this place to me when we were talking about our plans of going to Tarlac. She said that Yñigo might enjoy since he loves animals. So off we go, and made this our first stop! JSJ Goat Farm started from Jeffrey & Kathleen Lim’s hobby of goat farming. After a few years of pursuing his passion, they transformed it into a full time business — having more than 300 heads of breeder goats & sheep occupying 10 hectares of pasture in Gerona, Tarlac!

When you get to the place, it’s not the typical type of kambing & tupa you see on a regular day. They have various breeds of goat such as Saanen, British Alpines, Boer, and Anglo Nubian. They were freakin’ huge! Yñigo was so fond of feeding them with hay, and even went kissing some (oh boy). 

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JSJ GOAT FARM products

As one of the pioneers in modern goat raising, they sell their goats for meat production, and merchandise goat milk and speciality cheeses.

 

Aquino Center & Museum

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To continue our field trip, Bobby drove us all the way to San Miguel, Tarlac to visit the Aquino Center & Museum, where every corner you looked, you will feel history tapping on your shoulder, asking it to be heard.

The center is not government owned, with its funding comes from the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation. You can enter the museum for an entrance fee of P 100.00 for adults, while kids below 7 years old can come in for free.

The place is basically filled with newspaper clippings, photos, written & typewritten notes, and more of the legacy that both Ninoy & Cory have imprinted and solidified in Philippine History. The exhibit hall is divided into two parts, that of Ninoy’s and those of Cory’s. Both are arranged according to what transpired first. It started with Ninoy’s youth, moving on to his stint as a journalist covering the Korean War, then bringing up his rise to politics, up to his tragic passing at the Manila International Airport, and finally seeing what Cory did from there on out.

When you enter, remember that photo/video-taking are not allowed. The old lady who greeted us by the entrance said, “I know you’re creating memories with your son, and you want to treasure these times until when you’re as old as me. So take photos. Just pretend you didn’t know.” How nice of her. HAHA.

With the Aquino’s impact to the lives of the Filipinos [whether it was good or bad], our visit to the center didn’t just opened our eyes to their lives outside what historians wrote of, or what was painted  by the influence of traditional and digital media. Instead, it also revealed a side of the Aquinos that felt more human.

My mind fancied on the fact that they were actual and normal human beings — not gods, not criminals, no labels whatsoever. Stepping inside the Aquino Center & Museum humanized the Aquinos [at least] for me. I may not be as knowledgeable in politics, or what truly transpired during the times of Martial Law. All I knew was that the Aquinos tried to establish a normal life. It just so happens that they were adamant in fighting for what the Filipinos deserved.

 

Aquino Ancestral Home

Aquino Ancestral Home

Balé Aquino is the lasting umbilical cord of the Aquino family with their hometown of Concepcion, Tarlac. Standing paternally and adjunct the plaza complex, this Euro-inspired structure redefined the municipality’s landscape with its neo-classical columns, ornate garden, hardwood, fruit bearing trees and vast square area. The house was completed in 1938, at the peak of Apung Ignu’s (or Don Benigno) career. He was appointed the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce of the Philippine Commonwealth [at the time].

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FUN FACT.

As mentioned by Inquirer a few years back, the National Historical Commission declared the Aquino house as a historical site in 1987 because of its significance as the home of patriots from the Aquino family.

Sadly, it was closed for viewing. We just took photos and observed the home’s structure from the outside. We were hesitant to go in because another party was going on, and the caretaker wasn’t there to assist. So we made our way to our next stop.

 

Concepcion Town Square

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Since Concepcion Town Square was a short walk from Balé Aquino, we also checked it out. We got there and all Bobby & I could think about was “Why don’t we have these in Manila?”. The place was not as crowded as we expected — but then again, it was a Sunday and we figured that the locals [might] take their rest day seriously.

A few meters from us was a basketball court where we saw the town folks playing a game. Yñigo wanted to run to the court and play (intense, noh?). Instead, we took out his soccer ball (which he loves so much) and played a game of kick with him. There was also a nearby playground. It wasn’t the cleanest, but kids enjoy anything they can explore and get their hands dirty on. He met a few local kids who were asking him to go on the slide with him — but he still ended up doing his own thing (he took after Bobby).

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YNIGO ENJOYING SOME PEOPLE PLAYING BASKETBALL!

We were hungry at this point, so we went to the nearest tindahan and bought melon juice, the one you put in a plastic) for P 10.00! That brought back so many childhood memories and we haven’t encountered this drink for so long already. The first sip made us weak; transporting us back to a time where we felt life was simpler… and where you were free to do anything you want. I’ll stop with the senti stuff. We also ordered bananaques (the really sulit ones) for about P 15.00 a stick. Yñigo enjoyed our food finds.

 

The Verdict

There really is more to Tarlac than what meets the eye.

We got to immerse Yñigo with something he takes interest in, and even gave him a history field trip — something we’ve been wanting to do with him for the longest time. Even Bobby and I learned a (new) thing or two, and we couldn’t be any happier.

For our next trip, we plan on trying their their local delicacies, take part in more adventurous activities, or discover its serene and picturesque nature spots.  We weren’t able to talk to the locals there, but the experience waiting for you there is worth bringing your kids to. Our day trip to Tarlac is one that we’ll never forget.

 

INFORMATION ON THE PLACES WE WENT TO:

 

The Aquino Center & Museum
Luisita Industrial Park Road, San Miguel, Tarlac
(045) 985-0968
aquinocenter@ncaf.ph

JSJ Goat Farm
Barangay Caturay, Gerona, Tarlac
(63) 918-908-0488
JSJFarm@yahoo.com
www.jsjgoatfarm.com

 

Ninoy Aquino Ancestral Home
A. Luna St., cor. Timbol St., Concepcion, Tarlac
(045) 923 1149