From ylang-ylang oil extraction, animal raising and vegetable farming, to modern churches and classic dishes, TARLAC is truly a feast for the senses. It’s an agricultural province that is often overlooked, yet its offerings can be smelled, seen, felt, and tasted in every town.
Follow your nose
The hint of floral notes wafting in the air welcomes visitors upon arriving at ANAO – the ylang-ylang capital of Tarlac. The place is buzzing with activity, as locals sort out flowers and prepare them for oil extraction.
The first step is harvesting the flowers, which takes place early morning, around 4 am. After they are weighed, they will be air dried for 2 hours to remove their moisture. Next step is sorting— flowers with red marks are perfect for oil extraction, while the rest are used to make potpourri. Only 10 milliliters (ml) of oil can be extracted from a kilo of ylang-ylang flowers, a total of only 200 ml per month.
The extract is exported to countries like Korea which demands 250 ml of oil. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough land in Anao to plant ylang-ylang seedlings.
Ylang-ylang oil is the base ingredient of the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume.
A few minutes walk from the Ylang-ylang center lies a casual spot with delicious and filling meals at friendly prices. Kape Agape serves food using ingredients sourced from local and neighboring farms. It also offers a variety of dishes that can feed a barangay. Just look at the size of the Barangay Fiesta Nachos, a popular choice among the locals.
Feel the Faith
Listen to the touching testimonials of the parishoners at Sta. Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish in CANAN, PAQUIL. St. Faustina Kowalka (of Poland) or “mamang” as she’s called, has a strong presence that fortifies their faith and binds the community together. The parish-goers’ solidarity is even made more powerful by the existence of the Saint’s relic.
In GERONA, TARLACa , modern presence in the middle of the ricefields puts us to a complete halt.
Built in 2011 and finished in 2014, St. Josemaria Escriva Parish broke the traditional design mold and established the template of modern church interiors.
Designed by Fr. Alex Bautista, an architect who worked in Hong Kong and is now part of the diocese of Tarlac, designed this and several other churches in the Philippines.
It’s termite-proof as everything is made of concrete, which was pre-cast and fabricated on site. What also makes this church original is the drive-thru area behind the blessed sacrament, where night travelers can pass through.
Be Awed by its Artistry
The artistry of the city, not only can be seen in its architecture and interior design, but also in the works created by local artists, like the ones exhibited at Museo in TARLAC CITY.
The museum offers a changing display of artworks like paintings and sculptures. It also has regular exhibitions and seasonal events like this showcase of their local products.
Taste your way through Tarlac
Agriculture is a huge part of Tarlac’s identity, so you can’t leave feeling hungry.
At Tatuns, goat meat cooked in different ways is their specialty. They also offer other options like vegetables and seafood.
To appease your sweet tooth, Betty’s is the perfect place to sample local desserts and the best native delicacies.
Know where your food comes from
After a whole day of binging, it’s time to know where your food comes from and see how it is grown. Wear your straw hats and hop on a karitela. It’s time to take a tour of the 29-hectare land that is EDL farm.
Here you get to see how salted egg is made. You can also feed the pigs, milk a cow, see the worms at work, and pick vegetables from the nursery.
From the lingering smell of flowers and the flavorful taste of food, to the modern vision of church architecture and the engaging interaction with the locals—Tarlac truly is a feast for the senses.
*Disclosure: 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 that aims to promote Philippine provinces in the North.
**All images were photographed by the author
Anao Ylang Ylang Center
National Highway, Anao, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac
Telephone: +63 919 837 2105
Poblacion Street, Anao, Tarlac
Operating Hours: 8AM-9PM
Telephone: +63 452 866 5116
Facebook: Kape Agape
Santa Faustina of the Divine Mercy Parish
Brgy. Canan Paniqui Tarlac
Facebook: Santa Faustina Parish
St. Josemaria Escriva Parish
Bgy. Magaspac, Gerona, Tarlac, Tarlac 2302
Telephone: +63 45 491 1878
7051 E Fairlane Rd, Brgy. San Vicente, Tarlac City
Operating Hours: 10AM-2PM, 5PM-9PM
Telephone: +63 (916) 229 4541
Facebook: Tatun’s Kambingan
Betty’s Resto Bar
San Roque, Tarlac
Operating Hours: 6:00AM-6:30PM
Telephone: +63 (045) 982 0465
Facebook: Betty’s Native Cakes
Museo de Tarlac
Romulo Blvd, Tarlac City, 2300 Tarlac
Facebook: Museo de Tarlac
The Farmhouse by EDL
EDL Drive, Sitio Nueve, Brgy. Dolores, Capas Tarlac
Telephone: +63 (917) 7096908
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