The city of Tarlac has had a colorful and significant history. Its story may very well be the story of Tarlac province itself, which came into being only in 1873-74, eighty six years after Tarlac town was formally founded in 1788.
Tarlac town may be the earliest native settlement occupied by the Spanish military force, this side of Pampanga. Based on records, Tarlac was organized into praesido (fort) as early as 1593. It was one among several forts set up to maintain Spanish sovereignty in the area. The fort was located in a sitio called Porac.
By 1686, Tarlac was raised to a Spanish pueblo. That same year, it became an ecclesiastical town but still dependent on Porac for civil administration. Priests from Magalang, Pampanga administered it.
In 1788, Tarlac was raised to a civil town independent of Porac while remaining a town of Pampanga province. Tarlac town regained its civil town status when it became one of the towns of the newly created province of Tarlac in 1873. Thus, its population steadily grew. From 900 souls in 1732, it rose to 2,273 with 1,230 paying tributes. By 1855, Tarlac had 7,920 inhabitants (12 Europeans and 7,908 indigents). They spoke Pampango, Ilocano, Tagalog, Pangasinan, Español, and Zambal. This number increased to 12,340 in 1890.
Since then, the magnitude of its population has enormously increased. The 2000 actual census on population conducted by National Statistics Office, Region III, shows that Tarlac town (now Tarlac City) has a population of 262, 481. Based on the 1995 census conducted by the NSO with in Tarlac City, the Kapampangan language represents 75.22% as spoken by the people, Tagalog (14.58%), Ilocano (8.55%) and other ethnic languages (1.65%), respectively.
Its early settlers came from Bacolor, Pampanga, among them were Don Carlos Miguel and Don Narciso Castaneda, who before 1788, with their families and followers trekked through the forests and hills of Porac and Bamban until they finally reached and settled down in what is today called Tarlac City. They cleared the forest and tilled the fertile soil until a settlement emerged along the riverbank, which flowed across the town.
The community rapidly grew with settlers coming from Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and elsewhere. The kapampangan language became the lengua francain the community, as it was part of Pampanga province in those days. The two leaders, Miguel and Castaneda succeeded in carrying out their pioneering venture through benevolent leadership, which elicited the cooperation of their followers. Thus, roads were built; barrios were established without monetary expenditure, only through the common efforts of everyone. It also marked the beginnings of Tarlac as a melting pot ofCentral Luzon, with a mixture of divergent people working decidedly for the common good.
Later, it was unanimously agreed by the growing populace to request the authorities in Manila to convert the community into a town. Don Carlos Miguel prepared the needed resolution and forwarded it to the Spanish authorities. In 1788, a decree was issued by Captain General Don Felix Berenguer de Marquina, proclaiming Tarlac as town under the territorial jurisdiction of Pampanga, whose capital then was Bacolor.
The first gobernadorcillo (later called municipal) was Don Carlos Miguel in 1788. Together with Don Narciso Castaneda, he established the foundation of Tarlac town. Don Luis Briones in 1789 followed him. It was during his term as the second gobernadorcillo that the Legend of San Sebastian started. It is said that sometime that year, an armed band of tulisanes were stopped from marauding the town by the young boy who turned out to be no less than San Sebastian himself.
Tarlac is represented prominently in the eight rays of the Philippine flag because it was among the first provinces to join the revolution in 1986. The K.K.K of Andres Bonifacio found early adherents among Tarlaquenos, headed by Don Francisco Tanedo, after whom the town’s principal thoroughfare was named. Don Francisco Tanedo was killed in the encounter with the Spanish guardia civil at the outset of the revolution. His early death inflamed the citizenry and his relatives. Followers were bent on capturing the town by any means, but were dissuaded by Don Eusebio Tanedo Iro,who volunteered to see his friend, General Monet (former politico-military) governor of Tarlac and at that time, the highest military official in Pampanga. Denying that the Tarlaquenos at that time were involved in the revolution, Don Eusebio was able to obtain orders from General Monet to stop military operations in Tarlac. However, peace did not reign long in Tarlac because Generals Francisco Macabulos and Jose Alejandrino already started their offensive against the Spanish forces .On June 25, 1898, Spanish soldiers surrendered in Tarlac.
The Miguels, descendants of one the pioneers of the town, Don Carlos Miguel, changed their family name to Tanedo in 1872 upon the promulgation of the Claveria decree on surnames. It is said that the Miguel preferred the masculine version of Castaneda, and Tanedo was also in compliance with the designated starting letter for all Tarlac surnames. It is therefore, not surprising that many Tarlaquenos to this day bear such surnames as Taala, Taar, Tabamo, Taban, Tabaquero, Tamayo, Tamondong, to name a few.
President Emilio Aguinaldo proudly proclaimed the Philippine Republic onJanuary 23, 1899in Malolos, Bulacan. Assemblance of an independent government was formed, with a law making body, Malolos Congress, a cabinet headed by Apolinario Mabini (who was foreign affaires minister), a judiciary, and of course, an army led by General Antonio Luna. A state university, the Universidad Literaria de Filipinas, was also opened.
By July 1899, with the tides of war turning against Aguinaldo, Tarlac became the last capital of the short-lived republic which was then on the run. Among the deputies who were in Tarlac to attend sessions of Congress included Fernando Ma. Guerrero of Manila, representing Leyte; Daniel Tirona of Cavite, representing Batanes; Tomas Mascarado of Batangas, representing Sorsogon; Servillano Aquino of Tarlac, representing Samar; and Fransisco Macabulos of Tarlac representing Cebu.
Since 1788, the town has significantly progressed making it the nucleus of Tarlac province. It has encountered countless hardships in the course of its existence. Through the years, Tarlac has survived natural and political crises among others, yet, has proven itself as a fast emerging cosmopolitan in the region.
Proclaimed as a component city on April 19, 1998 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8593 to be known as the City of Tarlac, Tarlac City is bustling with economy, industry, commerce, tourism, culture, ethnicity and spirituality.
As a cosmopolitan city, it nestles a great future of wealth and prosperity. With the emergence of mega-structures along its periphery, Tarlac City is in the road map of economic boom and miracles. Undoubtedly, its cosmopolitanism makes itself as the next terminal of progress and development.