Let’s face it. If destinations have personalities, Nueva Ecija would be that stunning, mysterious, reflective, demure type who would want to be discovered but stands too quiet among the quaint corners of Pinas. Given this, there exist a few people who would dare to get to know her, but once they do, they’ll fall in love with her all at once. She’s the best kept secret our country has to offer. She’s phenomenal.
So If you think that Nueva Ecija is just about “palayan” (rice fields), think again! The province has surprisingly picturesque lakes, brilliant turquoise waters of rivers, the best 50peso zipline, a very interesting hanging bridge best for adrenaline junkies, a series of stunning waterfalls, gorgeous limestones, and yes, I heard, thermal pools too! (That, we need to find out more soon)
Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province located in Central Luzon. It is also considered as the main rice growing province here in the country and that is why it is often referred to as “The Rice Granary of the Philippines.”
However, unknown to many, the beautiful Nueva Ecija holds one of the most stunning park our country has to offer. Located in General Tinio (also known as Papaya), is Minalungao National Park, a 2,018-hectare protected landscape with brilliant turquoise waters of the Penaranda river flowing in between towering limestones of roughly 16-meter high.
A place where you can eat lunch on a floating bamboo raft or swim in crystal clear turquoise waters while admiring towering limestones has got to be magical right? How about trying out the cheapest yet safest zipline for only 50pesos? Or accept the challenge of walking across a badass hanging bridge suspended above a river? Or better yet, go cliff diving and give your fresh water jump a go. There are even varying spots with different heights and water depths. You have the best options, you crazy kids!
The Great Minalungao National Park is quite a spectacle that people hardly know existed, but once they visit, they probably won’t stop talking about it. I’m not calling it “great” for nothing.
To reach the park, it’ll take a few long trips on the road and on mostly tricky turns, but the magnificence that awaits you is worth it. Just don’t hesitate to ask a local once you found yourself on the roads of General Tinio. The best way to see Minalungao is during weekdays where there are a few tourists around. It’s also worth noting that the turquoise waters at the park can only be seen during summer; water is not clear during rainy seasons. You can hire a guide for a tour and also, to be informed about the specific places to go cliff diving. The guides are mostly kids, by the way. Support them so they can use the money for school.
There’s a 40 pesos entrance fee, 50 per vehicle. You can rent bamboo rafts for 500 pesos good for a maximum of 10 pax. Life jackets can be rented for only 20php.
Nueva Ecija is the kind of province that leaves you searching for the right words to describe its exquisiteness. And adding to its allure is the Great Pantabangan Dam and Pantabangan Lake. It’s Damn beautiful!
Pantabangan Dam is a multi-purpose dam that provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation located in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. Pantabangan Lake, on the other hand, is a reservoir, and is considered as one of the cleanest reservoirs in the Philippines. The scenic views of Pantabangan Lake is probably everybody’s dream to post on their Instagram accounts. This is a no-filter-needed kind of place. Just sitting and lake-gazing will give you a whole year supply of inspiration.
The gorgeous lake is best seen during sunsets where it is saturated with shades of pink, lavender, turquoise, and tangerine with wild flowers surrounding its beauty. It’s completely breathtaking!
Nueva Ecija is indeed one hell of a place to visit. There are even other amazing places you need to see including the Gabaldon Falls, Gen. Luna Falls, Diamond Park, the hundred-step stair that leads to a church at Mt. Olivete, the Palaspas Falls, Gapintalan, and the Living Fish Museum. There’s definitely a lot to choose from!
Anyway, ogling on these amazing wonders is just what you need to start planning your trip. So go now, dear explorer! Choose Philippines!