I found it difficult to write this post. Not for lack of things to say but more because I don’t know where to start. It has been overwhelmingly fun and enriching – the kind that made me cry early this morning. I was engulfed with gratefulness and fond memories, and the realization that I am indeed blessed to be gifted with the opportunity to meet and spend time with loving and generous people. Life is short and I choose to make every moment count.
On the first day of our tour, I only had an hour of sleep. After receiving the news from Mai on Thursday that our tour was pushing through on Tuesday, I had to rearrange my schedule and move everything to the following Monday. 8 calls, yo!
When I woke up Tuesday morning, everything was in slow motion. So many uncertainties and emotions that I didn’t know which one to entertain. I haven’t packed my bags yet. I was so sleepy. And, an introvert that I am, meeting new people always makes me jittery.
Traveling from Mandaluyong to QC was not so bad at 6.00 a.m. While traffic was slowly getting heavy, I enjoyed watching the cars in EDSA and people going about their lives. Having been working from home for the last 3 years or so, this is something I am not used to doing anymore. QC seems like a province that I’d have to prepare myself for as a destination. But, hey, it is now a good one at that. I’m going to see a friend I haven’t spent time with for 2 years and will meet some who I’ve only followed on social media. I hope I won’t act too much of a fan. LOL.
I arrived at Microtel UP Technohub at 6.30 a.m., with the fear that I was the last one to get there. But, I was just so happy that I wasn’t haha. Budget Biyahera Mai and Billy of Galaero Escape Travels were already there. I quickly had my breakfast and, while waiting for the rest to arrive, updated Mai about the recent happenings in my life. It’s been a while since we last saw each other so there was a lot of catching up to do <3
One by one, Celine of Celineism, Claire of Traveling Light, and Allan of Utopian Wanderer arrived. Prior to meeting them on this day, the first time I’ve heard from and about them was when Mai created the chat group for this tour. While I didn’t participate in the conversation, I remember telling my friend that I could sense that this is a fun group. I can’t wait for what would happen next :)
What to do in Tarlac
As we left Manila a bit later than scheduled, we had to run to our planned destinations soon after we arrived in Tarlac. While Tarlac is not usually a top-of-mind province to visit when you think of places of interest in the Philippines, it was a pleasant surprise that our two (2) days in Tarlac was filled to the brim with experiences – the kind that will make anyone who is looking for a good mixture of history, adventure, or some peace and quiet, like me, enjoy.
Monasterio de Tarlac
When I first heard about this tour, I shared with my Dad that I was going to Monasterio de Tarlac. As he is also someone who loves road trippin’ with his friends from high school, we have this unspoken contest on who visited first places in the Philippines. While I have my fair share of traveling around the Philippines, it has been a while since I last visited new places in the country. A pity, I know. But, that’s the way it is. :)
Monasterio de Tarlac is a popular pilgrimage site in the Philippines. Situated on top of Mount Resurrection, you will see a 30-ft statue of Jesus Christ, that provides a beautiful view of Zambales Mountain Range. If you want some peace and quiet and time to reflect and pray, this is a place that you should consider visiting.
Tarlac Recreational Park
From Monasterio de Tarlac, we headed to Tarlac Recreational Park, a destination in Tarlac where each member of your family or group of friends can find something to enjoy.
It has a huge oval track, basketball court, and swimming pool for those who are looking for some fun and outdoor activities.
And, it also has a quiet area by the lagoon, where you can sometimes watch horses grazing grasses or just find some peace and write on your journal or draw on your sketch pad.
For us who recognize a picture-worthy spot anywhere, we took pleasure in finding our own spaces and taking photos of each other – with our subjects aware or otherwise.
The Aquino Center & Museum
Visiting The Aquino Center & Museum was one of the highlights of this tour for me. Having been always interested in politics, governance, and nationalism, every bit of information gathered during the tour, as headed by Ms. Karen Nina Lacsamana-Carrera, manager of the Aquino Center, rekindled my love for my country. I am a Public Administration graduate and worked with the House of Representatives and an NGO that focused on linking democratic politics, good governance, and development outcomes. After leaving the NGO and experiencing a heartbreak during the last national elections, I intentionally avoided reading the news and getting myself updated about what’s happening, because it brings about emotions that I did not want to entertain. However, learning again about Ninoy Aquino and Cory Aquino and how much they sacrificed for the country brought back my interest in being involved. I will still not be as vocal as most of my former colleagues are on social media about this. But, I know that I will definitely speak up more now when conversations on politics happen in my circle.
Kart City Tarlac
When I learned about the possibility of trying karting out, I was so excited. I am not so much into adventure-type of activities but this one caught my attention. It was just a pity that the race track was flooded on the evening that we visited so we didn’t get to try this one out. But, from the looks of it, anyone who would be able to would enjoy it, as far as my imagination could go.
Luisita Golf and Country Club
Located in Hacienda Luisita, Luisita Golf and Country Club is another destination in Tarlac. If you wish to hit some balls and exercise those muscles, head to this place. The greenery and the exclusivity of the location will afford you concentration and focus. I totally enjoyed watching the golfers do their thing during the short while that we stopped here.
Where to eat in Tarlac
As we ran from one place to another under the scorching heat of the sun, all of us looked forward to experiencing Tarlac cuisine. While I am not a very picky eater, I am also a square-ish type of person and I am not super adventurous in trying out dishes offered by the places I visit. I remember, when we backpacked Saigon, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, I only ordered nasi goreng all throughout – I didn’t regret. :D
If you like grilled food, this is a place you can go. I particularly enjoyed its chicken, eggplant, and tilapia – and the sauce that is originally Victor’s Ihaw-Ihaw.
A tip if you do not want to wear sisig scent after eating here, eat outside and not in their airconditioned room.
The Gameroom Sports Bar
The Gameroom Sports Bar is not just a place to eat but also a spot where you can enjoy time with your friends and family.
In between your game of billiards, you can also enjoy the delicious food that you can order from them.
Where to stay in Tarlac: Microtel by Wyndham Luisita Tarlac
Exhausted after a day of travel and touring Tarlac, I was looking forward to spending the night at Microtel by Wyndham Luisita Tarlac. Microtel Tarlac is one of Microtel’s prime properties and the first ever Microtel in the Philippines.
It is located at the heart of Hacienda Luisita and provides that rustic and comfortable feel of being in the province.
Having lived in Metro Manila for all of my life, going to provinces has always been an experience for me. While I can rough it up (when needed), I am also a city girl by heart. And, doing an overnight stay at provinces always require me to do my bit of research to make sure that my stay will be an enjoyable one.
And, Microtel Tarlac didn’t disappoint. The chiropractic-approved beds, clean rooms, clean toilet and bath with hot and cold shower, and hospitable staff made the first day and night of this tour as comfortable as we could get.
Whether it is for business or just to enjoy your time off, Microtel Tarlac is indeed a great option for when you are in Tarlac.
Microtel by Wyndham – Luisita Tarlac
Address: Hacienda Luisita San Miguel, Tarlac 2301 Philippines
Check-in Time: 2.00 p.m.
Check-out Time: 12.00 p.m.
Contact Number: +63.45.985.1770
Email address: email@example.com
Website: http://www.microtelphilippines.com/, http://www.microtel-tarlac.com/
As moments passed by, I started to warm up to the group. The jitters that I had in the morning slowly disappeared. Everyone was so welcoming and genuinely happy people – the kind that you would like to be around with all the time. Mai shared that she was a bit hesitant pairing me up with Celine – for fear that I won’t warm up quickly. But, well, she would already be as updated as Mai in my life events as early as the first day. Allan, as it would turn out, would be our first guest every day, and his voice in the morning is like an alarm set on your phone that won’t snooze. LOL. Billy and Claire, I’ve yet to talk to. But, I’m pretty sure that, by the end of this tour, we would all know each other as if we’ve been friends for a long time.
Next stop: Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija <3
- A Sweet Surprise: Microtel by Wyndham – UP Technohub
- A Sweet Surprise: Microtel by Wyndham – Acropolis, QC
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