Capas was originally a town of Pampanga. It became one of the seven towns covered by the Politico-Military Commandancia in 1858 and became a town of the newly created province of Tarlac in 1873. At that time, Capas consisted of three barrios, namely: Murcia, Moriones, and O’Donnell.
Early residents of the town were mostly Kapampangans coming from the nearby towns of Pampanga. Later, migrants from Ilocos and Zambales also came to live in Capas
The oldest religious mission in the province was established in Capas as early as 1710. The Recollects must have founded it, judging from its patron saint, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and a friar of the Recollect Order. The Augustinians, in fact, were active in the area since April 27, 1594.
Local government records indicate that Capas was created in 1712 and is among the oldest towns in the province of Tarlac. Its creation was justified by numerous settlements, which were already established in the riverbanks of Cutcut River since the advent of the 18th century. The settlements belonged to the domain of Pagbatuan and Gudya, the two villages unified by Capitan Mariano Capiendo when he founded the municipality. Due to the floods that frequently inundated the Cutcut riverbanks, the town was relocated to the upper area where it is now permanently established.
Etymologically, Capas derived its name from the vine capas capas, whose edible flowers are used as condiment for pinakbet. Another version indicates that the town took its name from a cotton tree, which is called capas (Ceiba pentandra Linn.) among the Ilocanos, bulak or kapok among the Kapampangans
Capas hosts the United States Naval Military Station until the Americans abandoned it during the powerful Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
Similarly, it is the terminal point of the infamous Death March during the Second World War. The Capas Concentration Camp was originally established as Camp O’Donnell in 1940. The camp served as the prison site to more than 40,000 Filipino soldiers and 9,000 American soldiers who were prisoners of war of the Japanese invaders. About 30,000 of these prisoners died of diseases and severe starvation. In this concentration camp, the dead soldiers were simultaneously buried in single and shallow graves. The obelisk of the Capas Shrine entombs the names of the unsung heroes of World War II who died fighting for freedom.
Capas is blessed with natural resources that brim with beauty and splendor. It is the gateway to the sensational Mount Pinatubo that buried the town with thick ashes in 1991. Today, the volcano’s river is a must to see by tourists.
As a tourist destination, Capas offers more than anyone knows: fine golf courses, spa centers, hot springs, mountain trekking, indigenous people, military camps, cuisine, street dancing and more.