REDISCOVERING NUEVA ECIJA: Enjoyable activities in the midst of its serene nature
VOL. 1 NO. 1 DECEMBER 2018
BY: DANNA THEL PULONG
From amazing vegetation to exciting hiking trails, maraming masarap balik-balikan sa Luzon. Kilala ang tahimik na probinsya ng Nueva Ecija bilang Rice Granary of Central Luzon. Indeed, it is so abundant with rice fields, that one might conclude that rice plantations are its sole attraction. In reality, ang dami pang iba't ibang lugar to be discovered such as historical landmarks, rivers, natural rock formations with shrubbery and towering mountains as backdrop. Ma-e-enjoy ng buong pamilya, bata man o matanda, ang mga eco-adventure destinations. Napakaraming mapupuntahan for adventures and new experiences. You just cannot miss them!
Gapan: Footwear Capital of the North
Sa gawing timog ng Nueva Ecija ay ang bayan ng Gapan, mas kilala bilang Footwear Capital of the North. Kung ang Metro Manila ay may Marikina, na kilala bilang Shoe Capital of the Philippines dahil sa masaganang industriya nito ng sapatos, ang Nueva Ecija naman ay may Gapan, though Gapan mainly produces the tsinelas and bakya. The footwear production is such a bustling industry in this city that it traditionally celebrates the annual Tsinelas Festival. Tsinelas makers showcase their handiworks in different stalls and booths at the town plaza. Ginaganap ang Tsinelas Festival tuwing buong buwan ng Agosto, with the main celebration on the 25th, the anniversary when Gapan was declared a city.
Where to Go
Tahimik at munti mang tignan ang bayan ng Gapan, marami naman itong pasyalan na hindi mo makakalimutan. These wonders within the sleepy little town are part of its overall charm that would make you want to visit it every chance you get when you return home.
Three Kings Parish
Nakagawian na nating mga Pilipino ang pagbisita sa simbahan sa iba't ibang probinsya lalo na kung kilalang heritage site ito. Tulad sa ibang lalawigan, Gapan has its own religious heritage that has been existent for an astounding 423 years. The parish is canonically known as Three Kings Parish with the Three Kings as its primary patrons. The church is also known as the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora as it houses the Marian image of the Divina Pastora. While the church was founded in 1595, the image of the Divina Pastora did not arrive in Gapan until the 1700s.
The church itself is finished construction in 1869. It was built from adobe, limestone, and blocks called laryo, which Filipino workers carried and passed onto each other from several blocks away until it reached the construction site. On the ceiling of this baroque church is the dome, also called bobida, which displays a portrait of heaven painted by artist Isidro Samonte. on 26th of April every year, the church celebrates the crowning of the the Divina Pastora, while the celebration for the feast of the Three Kings, otherwise known as Epiphany, is held on the 6th of January. On both occasions, the church holds masses every hour without break and welcomes pilgrims and devotees from different places.
Minalungao National Park
Sa karaig bayan ng Gapan, sa baba ng mga bundok, ay ang General Tinio, home to one of the most famous tourist spots in Nueva Ecija - the Minalungao National Park. Minalungao is a 2,000-hectare protected area and is one of the few natural environments in Luzon. Wala mang malapit na beach resort sa Nueva Ecija, Minalungao makes up for it with the Peñaranda River which runs along the heart of the park. Most of the park's activities engage tourists with the river such as bamboo rafting, kayaking, and swimming among many other activities. The park is surrounded by many rock formations and caves, so visitors can also try trekking and caving. The development of the park over the years made several other activities possible and has spiked up the park's, as well as Nueva Ecija's tourism in general. Now, tourists visit Minalungao to get a view of the river and experience its accommodations firsthand.
Night Market and Plaza
As Minalungao is about an hour away from Gapan, travelling back and forth can be quite tiring, especially because the ride from Gapan to General Tinio is a quiet, non-stop one. Genera Tinio is actually more of a homey neighborhood than a place intended for tourism, while Gapan is a bustling town easily accessible by public transportation. In Gapan, the night market comes to life at sundown and the town plaza is engulfed in dazzling lights. The night market during early evenings opens at about 5 p.m. Majority of food stalls in the plaza would already be open by then.
Bukod sa beach trips sa probinsya o pagpasyal sa mga malls sa Maynila, marami pang mas exciting na pwedeng gawin sa mga tahimik na probinsya sa Pinas. Isa lamang ang Nueva Ecija sa mga halimbawa nito. So the next time you find yourself flying back home to the Philippines, you might want to spend time with your family in these beautiful and awesome places and experience enjoyable bonding moments together. [K]