Capas is a municipality in the southern part of Tarlac. It encompasses a wide area stretching from the rugged foothills of Mount Pinatubo, to the wide and densely populated floodplains surrounding the Tarlac River.
Dubbed the "Tourism Capital of Tarlac", Capas is known as the endpoint of the infamous Death March during World War II, and is the jumping point for treks to Mount Pinatubo, which have its devastating eruption in 1991.
Used to be the homeland of the dominant Kapampangan and the indigenous Aeta tribes, Capas has left its mark on history. Founded as a town in 1711 by the Augustinian friars, Capas has seen one of the most gruesome acts by the Japanese during World War II, the Death March, where surrendered Filipino and American soldiers were brought by train to Camp O'Donnell, an American military camp turned into a concentration camp by the invading Japanese.
While still largely rural, Capas is more close to a small city, and has grown much to overshadow Tarlac City. The rural parts of the municipality near Mount Pinatubo's foothills is the site of New Clark City (NCC), a planned development patterned after Putrajaya in Malaysia and New Songdo City in South Korea. Started in 2016 as Clark Green City, it will become the administrative capital of the Philippines once completed.
Being just along the main corridor between Manila, Ilocos and the Cordilleras, Capas is not hard to reach. While train service has ended in the late 1980s, many bus routes still pass through Capas town.
Capas is easily reached by multiple bus lines emanating out of Manila to northern Luzon. While the completion of the Subic Clark-Tarlac Expressway has largely bypassed the municipality, many buses still exit nearby at Concepcion, stop at Capas, and head north on the MacArthur Highway. Just find "via Capas" on the destination signs on the bus's windshield. If you took those with signs saying "via SCTEX", they would rather bypass the town.
Capas is within 1½-3 hours from Manila, 25 minutes from Tarlac City, and 30 minutes from Angeles.
From Manila or Angeles, take the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and exit at Concepcion, where you turn left to a highway which takes you to Capas town proper.
Since 2019, a spur of SCTEX to New Clark City has been opened, making access to the Death March shrine and the jumping point to Mount Pinatubo more accessible by car.
A road connection from Zambales is being built as of 2020, but much of it is under construction. The road, beginning from the town of Botolan on the Zambales side, will be a scenic route through the foothills of Mount Pinatubo, and will connect with the existing road near the Death March shrine.
Train service has ended since the end of the 1980s, with the tracks torn up (or stolen to build makeshift buildings, benches, and other things) and the station converted into a small museum.
A new railway line being built to serve New Clark City, but as of 2020, only a segment between Manila and Malolos is being built. The line will also connect with the airport at Clark, and a future airport in Bulacan that will replace Ninoy Aquino International Airport by the mid or late 2020s.
New Clark City
- 1 Capas National Shrine, Botolan-Capas Road, Aranguren. A memorial for the soldiers who died at the hands of the Japanese in Camp O'Donnell. It houses a obelisk with a centralbell, and the shrine is built on what was Camp O'Donnell.
- 2 National River Park Corridor (New Clark City River Park). A 1.4-kilometer park along the Cutcut River at New Clark City.
- 3 New Clark City Athletics Stadium. Among the modern sports facilities in the Philippines, the stadium which hosted the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Its architectural design is inspired from the Mount Pinatubo volcano.
- 4 New Clark City Aquatics Center. An open-air water-sports venue which hosted events of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Its structure is based of the baklad, a type of local fish trap.
At the town center is the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish which dating back to Capas's founding in 1776. The church's architecture is rather bland due to it being rebuilt from one destroyed during the war, but the parish's feast day do draws crowds. Other attractions include:
- 5 Santo Domingo Death March Marker, Santo Domingo. A marker in Barangay Santo Domingo dedicated to the victims of the Death March near Capas's abandoned train station.
- 6 Death March Memorial Shrine, MacArthur Highway, Cutcut I (Near the cloverleaf interchange to New Clark City). A monument with an inverted V structure commemorating the tragedy of the Death March as well as dedicated to the heroism of Allied soldiers of World War II.
- 7 Tambo Lake. A secluded lake created after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. It became a fishing ground for the indigenous Aeta people.
- 1 Bueno Hot Springs, Sitio Danum Mapali (Near Capas-Botolan road.). Deep yourself in two natural hot springs which were modified to fill two concrete pools of about 60-91-meter (2-3 ft) of water. Water temparatures ranges from 45-49.5°C (113-121°F) and has a neutral pH level of 5.5.
- 2 New Asia Golf & Spa Resort. A 27 hole, par 108 golf course in Barangay O'Donnell along the river of the same name. The facility also offers Korean-inspired sauna and in-house spa services.
- 3 4x4 vehicle ride to Mt. Pinatubo, Santa Juliana. Book a 4×4 vehicle ride to the Mount Pinatubo volcano at the Tourism Office in Brgy. Santa Julian.
- Mount Telakawa. Mount Telakawa is a hiking destination for travelers opting for a more obscure alternative to Mount Pinatubo. The mountain has an elevation of 630 meters (2066 ft) above the sea level. Its name comes from a local term for a "a pot place upside down" which is a reference to its shape.
- 4 Jumping Wild Boar Ecopark Ranch, Barangay Maruglu. Horseback riding, All-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride, and community immersion at the Jumping Wild Boar Ecopark.
- 5 Armscor Shooting Center Tarlac, Barangay Dolores, firstname.lastname@example.org. Shooting range by local ammunitions manufacturer, Armscor.
The Capas Walking Street in Tizon Drive in Santo Rosario is full of various food stalls selling street food, drinks, and other meals.
In the Philippines, tinapa refers to the process and the product of smoking fish, usually blackfin scad (galunggong) or milkfish (bangus). Barangay Talaga, in Capas is known as the Tinapa Capital of Tarlac due to its Tinapang Talaga a regional specialty created from smoking Tilapia instead of the usual blackfin scad or milkfish. Tinapang Talaga pioneered by the Capaseño family in the 1960s.
- 1 Northern Cup Café, Block 52 Lot 20, Phase 1, Barangay Cristo Rey, email@example.com.
- 1 [formerly dead link] The Farmhouse at EDL, Sitio Dolores, Mangga (Turn left along MacArthur Highway past Tarlac High School, and follow the concrete road from there), ☏ . From ₱2400.
- Mount Pinatubo Tour/B&B Accommodation (Sonia Bognot), O'Donnell/Patling,Capas, Tarlac (Ride the tricycle up to Patling for ₱350), ☏ . Check-in: anytime, check-out: 5PM. This homestay is very near the Mt. Pinatubo registration site. The place offers nice, clean and air-conditioned rooms, relaxing and quiet place. No pets are allowed, but they offer free WiFi.The host is accommodating and serves excellent (full) meals! Tours from ₱1500. Accommodations from ₱1000.
|Routes through Angeles|
|Baguio/Laoag ← Tarlac City ←||N S||→ Bamban → Angeles/Manila|
|END ←||N S||→ Magalang → Angeles/Mabalacat|