If your template has php in it yes you can but I personally think that using file_get_contents() on a template with no php inside is better. Then you can replace tags such as <__username__> <__date__> <__time__> etc using str_replace().
Thats how I do it anyway.
My helpful sig has gone because a mod below the administrator gave me an infraction - despite the administrator personally agreeing to it.
If you need any php tips or tricks you can PM me.