Nueva Ecija is nationally known as the Rice Granary of the Philippines
Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province in the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the city of Palayan. Nueva Ecija borders, from the south clockwise, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya and Aurora. The province is nationally known as the Rice Granary of the Philippines, producing the largest rice yield in the country. Tourist attractions are few and far between across its five cities and twenty seven towns, but worry not, there are still places to visit in Nueva Ecija. It may not have any beaches, but it has an abundance of rivers to explore, a few waterfalls and a lot of historical places. Although Palayan City is the provincial capital of Nueva Ecija, Cabanatuan City is the more commonly associated one with the province and is easier to access than the former.
Nueva Ecija was named by the Spanish colonisers after the city of Ecija, Spain. Its indigenous names, such as Pinagpanaan, meaning the place where the arrow hit – defining the precolonial artistry in archery in the area, were abolished and changed by the government during the post-colonial period after World War II, sparking outrage from scholars and indigenous communities. Nevertheless, the name-change of some municipalities into colonial names during the post-colonial period was continued by the national government. How to get there? The province of Nueva Ecija, thru Cabanatuan City, is easily reachable from Metro Manila through numerous bus lines plying the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). Travel time is about three to four hours, depending on the traffic. Most, if not all buses, stop at Cabanatuan City’s central bus terminal, found just a little bit on the outskirts of the downtown area. Currently, there are no commercial airports in Nueva Ecija. Vis bus from metro manila. Numerous bus lines travel to Cabanatuan City on an hourly and daily basis. Most of these are located in Caloocan, Pasay and Quezon City (Cubao). Travel time takes approximately three to four hours, depending on the route your chosen bus takes. Take the ones with the signboard Cabantuan or San Jose Via SCTEX for a shorter journey time. Buses are generally air-conditioned, with an estimate fare of 190 pesos, but there are still ordinary buses if you want to save a bit on expenses. Getting around Nueva Ecija? Cabanatuan is dubbed as the Tricycle Capital of the Philippines. Just go to the area near the public market and you’d understand why. With that, the tricycle is really the preferred mode of transportation, not only in Cabanatuan, but also the other municipalities and cities in Nueva Ecija. Minimum fare is set at 10 pesos. For longer journeys, there are also jeepneys available, but mostly on the city centers only. Where to stay in Nueva Ecija? Most of the accommodations I know in Nueva Ecija are concentrated on Cabanatuan City. While there are inns and hotels around other towns in the province, it is really easier to start your sightseeing tour with Cabanatuan as your base of operation. As of the moment, there are no 5-star hotels in the city, but there are pretty decent lodging houses where you can spend your night in.
Activities in Nueva Ecija? Nueva Ecija is recognized for producing tons and tons of rice but it’s not really known as a tourism hub. You can literally count the number of tourist spots along its almost 6,000 square kilometers of land, but to be fair, one can still get something out of a visit to the province. Besides the earmarked tourism places in the area, one can also enjoy the seemingly never-ending scenes of pastoral rice fields, small brooks and serene rivers that dot the entire province. 1st activity. Visit Minalungao National Park, Located in General Tinio, this natural wonder of Nueva Ecija has gained popularity over the years. It is accessible by public and private transportation and is a viable day trip from Metro Manila. This attraction is characterized by high limestone formations flanking the Penaranda River. Walk around to take pictures and admire the views or you can get on a raft and ride the calm river. There are spots for cliff-jumping as well as sections that aren’t too deep for swimming. A raft ride costs approximately 500 pesos for the day. There is also a small cave you can check out. 2nd activity. Visit the PMP Paradise Farm, Experience rural and village life with a trip to this farm in Nueva Ecija. This destination allows you to detach from the hustle and bustle of city life and the daily grind of a 9 to 5. During your visit you can try several activities such as herding sheep, picking fruits and riding a horse around the property. You can also try your luck catching fish on a floating kubo. Don’t leave without trying the “nilupak” or the “palitaw” both are like sweet rice cakes.
3rd activity. Drop By the NFA Museum, It is only fitting that the NFA Museum is in Nueva Ecija, the rice bowl of the Philippines. Here you will get to learn more about this product. You will see the different farming techniques, tools used and baskets used for storage, and other tidbits about the Filipino staple. 4th activity. Visit Camp Pangatian War Memorial Shrine, This shrine used to be an American camp but became a concentration camp when the Japanese occupied the Philippines for some time during World War II. When the war ended, more than 500 prisoners of war were freed. Today, this shrine commemorates the sacrifice and the heroism of the Filipinos and foreign soldiers who fought the Japanese. You will see memorabilia and monuments displaying the courage of fallen heroes. 5th activity. Make a Trip to PhilRice, The Philippine Rice Institute allows people who want to deepen their knowledge about farming to do so. They have a program called Future Rice – its objective is to make learning about agriculture fun by integrating modern technology. You will then make your way to the fields where you can see the planting and cultivation of rice. 6th activity. Three Kings Parish, Located in Gapan City, this church has a history that spans centuries. The exterior is simple yet beautiful while the interior creates a peaceful ambiance for praying and reflection. The parish is a popular pilgrimage site for devout Catholics. You will find the image of La Virgen Divinia Pastora inside. 7th activity. See the Ancestral Homes in Gapan, Gapan is not just one of the oldest towns in Nueva Ecija, but also in the country. The ancestral homes in town are proof of Gapan’s long history. You’ll find plenty of old colonial houses near the Three Kings Parish. The capiz shell windows, the design of the facade and the wooden materials elicit an undeniable sense of nostalgia. 8th and last activity. Go on a Culinary Adventure, Nueva Ecija not only has a strong cultural and historical heritage, but also delicious delicacies that will make your mouth water. The batutay longganisa in Cabanatuan is a must-eat while in the city. It is made of beef and also has garlic. Try the tilapia ice cream, this is an unusual flavor but still worth tasting. It is sweet and a slight fish taste. Eat the pinapaitang kambing with alibangbang leaves while you are in the province. As the “rice bowl of the Philippines” you can’t leave Nueva Ecija without trying the local kakanin, the two most famous are the nilupak and palitaw.
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