• GOV. VIC YAP AND HIS TARLAC

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    Located at the heart of Central Luzon, Tarlac is one of the country’s most cultural provinces – a melting pot of Kapampangan, Ilocano, Pangasinenses, and Tagalog people, dialects, cuisines, and artistic traditions.

    Despite its diversity, Tarlac has a history of heroism – it was among the first eight provinces to rise against the Spaniards, was the terminal point of the infamous Death March during World War II, and the home province of two icons of democracy, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and his wife former President Corazon Aquino.

    As Governor of the most multi-cultural province in Central Luzon, Governor Victor A. Yap draws on his remarkable academic background and deep commitment to public service to find the right tools and find the most efficient and effective approaches to deal with its diverse concerns and help lead it to progress.

    The son of former Governor Jose “Aping” Yap, Gov. Vic, as he is fondly called, took up his elementary and high school studies at Ateneo University, finished his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Philippines, and graduated with honors from a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies.

    He was only 23 when he was elected Vice Mayor of his hometown in Victoria, where he served for three terms from 1988-1998. In 1999, a year after his father was elected Governor of Tarlac, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Clark Development Corporation, where he further honed his developmental skills.

    In 2001, he began to serve as Executive Assistant to the Governor, initiating the computerization of the provincial capitol. He also initiated the mapping of Tarlac to further develop its potential in agriculture and industry.

    Elected as Governor in 2007, he has utilized information technology as a tool to bring the province’s diverse people together, give them basic social services, and make them globally competitive. Chosen by his colleagues in the League of Provinces of the Philippines as Deputy Secretary General for Luzon, much of his work has been to make his home province a tourist destination, as well as a globally competitive agricultural center and IT hub.

    Here he takes us around his Tarlac and the SM mall in it.

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    Governor Yap in front of the 35ft statue of the Risen Lord

    “What makes Tarlac endearing to me is its people and history. There is a lot of diversity here, and I think that at this point, when you talk about being better, diverse is better in any interaction, in any group. I think that diversity is what makes Tarlac so different. This is why we are able to produce great leaders in different fields.”

    Gov. Vic in front of the 35 foot statue of the Risen Lord, which stands tall amidst rolling hills and plains leading to the Monasterio de Tarlac.

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    Gov. Vic in front of the chapel of the Monasterio and photo of the altar with the relic

    “If I would bring visitors around my hometown, the Monasterio de Tarlac would be an important stop. The Sacred Relic of the True Cross, which is said to be part of Christ’s Cross discovered by Saint Helena is enshrined here, and is the site of many pilgrimages. How it ended up here is a blessing to Tarlaquenos, who are religious by nature.”

    The Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose, Tarlac is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Central Luzon. Devotees from all over the Philippines and the world come here to venerate the Sacred Relic of the True Cross, which is enshrined in the Monastery’s Church of the Risen Christ.

    The Relic of the True Cross found its way to Tarlac through Father Ronald Thomas Cortez or Father Archie, Prior of the Servants of the Risen Christ, a monastic congregation of brothers who have vowed to lead a contemplative life.

    It was in 2005 when Msgr. Voker Bauer of Germany offered to give Prior Cortez the Sacred Relic during the World Youth Day celebrations. He brought the relic first to Clark and finally to the Monasterio de Tarlac on January 29, 2007.

    The Latin words Ave, Crux, Spes, Unica – Hail the Holy Cross, Our Only Hope – are inscribed atop the altar of the Church of the Risen Christ, where the relic is enshrined. Every September 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the church opens its silver gilt casket for veneration.

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    Bulsa River and Nambalan Rapids

    “I would bring guests to see Tarlac’s natural wonders like San Jose’s Bulsa River and Mayantoc’s Nambalan Rapids.”

    The towns of San Jose and Mayantoc in Tarlac boast of two mighty river systems, the Bulsa River and the Nambalan Rapids, which are fast becoming kayaking destinations. Both kayak trails offer two or three hours of the kayaking experience to beginners and intermediate paddlers, respectively.

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    Lubigan Eco Tourism Park

    “Our province has a lot of eco-tourism potentials, and I would definitely bring guests to the Lubigan Eco-Tourism Park.

    Less than an hour’s drive away from Tarlac City, the Lubigan Eco-Tourism Park in San Jose rises at an altitude of 300 meters above sea level. It is home to 71 species of birds, making it a great place for bird watchers. During the rainy season, the rivers surrounding it are great for rafting and kayaking.

    The park has an activity center where one can do wall climbing, parallel bars, and other obstacle challenges, as well as potentials for cross country and mountain biking.

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    Gov Vic is shown with Park Manager Juanito “Boatman” Almodevar 

    “Although Tarlaquenos speak many dialects, our love for sports is something we can all share in common. This also keeps us fit and healthy. That’s why we encourage the development of sports and recreational parks, where many national competitions have been held.”

    The Jose Yap Tarlac Recreational Park, a sprawling 78 hectare sports and recreational complex in San Jose Tarlac,is the ultimate health buff’s dream. It has an oval track of international standards, an Olympic size swimming pool, two football fields, two baseball fields, two softball fields, two basketball courts, as well as courts for playing volleyball and sepak.

    With its imposing grandstand, it was the site of the 2009 Central Luzon Athletic Association event, where it drew a record crowd of 12,000; as well as the Palarong Pambansa 2010. Gov Vic is shown with Park Manager Juanito “Boatman” Almodevar and by the Olympic size swimming pool.

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    SM City Tarlac

    “SM has been part of the lives of many Filipinos. I practically grew up near the vicinity of SM City North EDSA, so I saw its evolution in terms of design, target market, as well as its service and practically everything that it offers.

    I am happy it has not only brought its shopping, leisure, and entertainment to Tarlac, but has also become a catalyst of business and employment opportunities.”

    SM City Tarlac is becoming a favorite destination of Tarlaquenos.

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    Savory

    “ As a melting pot, Tarlac is a haven for foodies. I love the food in the barrios – inampalayang manok, as well as duck or chicken tinola with lemon grass in the Southern parts, lechon baka. In the Ilocano side, there is pinakbet, and for the more adventurous, there is papaitan, a stew of goat meat and innards, and flavored with bile.

    The restaurants also serve good food – Isdaan has great chicharon bulaklak and tilapia; Coconut grill has pansit sa buko, lumpiang sariwa, morcon, and adobo. Of course, there are many eating out options in the mall.”

    Gov Vic at the Savory Chicken outlet in SM City Tarlac. Photos of Pinakbet from Ikabud and Pancit sa Buko from Azaya.

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    Governor Yap at SM Cinema

    “I – like many Tarlaquenos – like watching movies, and we are happy that there are deluxe cinemas that bring the latest movies to us at SM.”

    Gov. Vic at the Cinema in SM City Tarlac.