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, a planned city patterned after Putrajaya in Malaysia. Started in 2016, it will become the administrative capital of the Philippines.
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.