10 Things You Probably Didn’t Think You Could Do in Nueva Ecija

Get to know more about this emerging tourist destination.

nueva ecija
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

(SPOT.ph) Nueva Ecija isn’t exactly top of mind when it comes to weekend getaways or vacation. It’s often associated with expansive rice fields and images of cows and goats munching on grass, we're not going to lie. But over the past years, the local tourism office has been working hard to put Nueva Ecija on the tourist map by highlighting what's been looked over for much too long: the province’s awe-inspiring nature, rich history, and wealth of culinary offerings.

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Here’s a list of things to do and must-see places in Nueva Ecija:

Follow a fun biking trail in Colosboa Hills

Colosboa Hills
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz
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You don’t need to fly to New Zealand or Batanes to find yourself surrounded by lush rolling hills complete with grazing cows. A little under three hours away from Manila is Nueva Ecija’s hidden gem—Colosboa Hills in the town of Cuyapo. Adventure seekers would find so much to enjoy here from biking to hiking, jogging to camping. The bike trails are being further developed to accommodate local and international competitions in the near future. On-site restobar Tambayan ni Berto also serves local favorites like longganisa, pancit, daing na bangus, and tapa so you can enjoy the whole day just taking in the view. 

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Soak in nature’s majesty in Pantabangan 

Pantabangan Dam
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

The municipality of Pantabangan is known as the home of the eponymous dam, one of the largest reservoirs in Southeast Asia and one of the cleanest in the Philippines. Apart from the Pantabangan dam, though, people know little about this sleepy town, so first-time visitors are often surprised by Pantabangan’s majestic scenery. It is blessed with some of the most dramatic landscapes in Central Luzon thanks to its location, giving it commanding views of the convergence of two great mountain ranges—Sierra Madre and Caraballo. A drive or bike around town will surely make you feel nature’s welcoming embrace. For now, the dam is not open to the public but if you’re keen on beholding its grandeur, you can ask permission from the local government unit, which will then coordinate with the National Irrigation Authority.  

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Wake up to breathtaking views at Farm Ridge by Desmond Farm 

Desmond Farm
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

Nestled atop a hill overlooking the Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountain Ranges plus the Pantabangan Lake is Farm Ridge by Desmond Farm. This property is known for its charming cabins that offer unparalleled views of the surrounding lush mountains and placid lake down below. They’re built using natural materials allowing them to seamlessly blend with nature. Rates range from P3,000 to P7,000 a night. The property’s organic farm produces high-quality cacao beans which you can sample in its tiny shop selling different cacao-based products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and assorted nuts. 

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Pose for IG-worthy photos at Forest Garden 

Forest Garden
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

Fond of posting photos on Instagram? Then you’ll love the views at Forest Garden in Pantabangan. This little enclave is blessed with an unobstructed panorama of virgin forests (and a sea of clouds, if you’re lucky); and has several dedicated spots for taking Instagram-worthy snaps. The entrance fee at P50 is worth it as you’ll most certainly come out with dozens of new photos for your IG feed.  

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Kiss your stress goodbye at Argamosa Farm 

Argamosa Farm
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

Along an off-the-beaten path is a most welcome respite for weary souls craving a relaxing weekend. The five-hectare Argamosa Farm is still a work in progress, but there are already Balinese-inspired villas available for booking starting at P5,999.99; a rate good for four people. Aside from its tranquil surroundings, the best thing about Argamosa Farm are the farm-to-table activities. You can pluck herbs and vegetables planted in the compound and have them included in your meals by their chef. 

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Be whisked to an enchanting oasis at Highland Bali 

Highland Bali
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

Have a taste of enchanting Bali a little over three hours away from Manila in Highland Bali Pantabangan. This luxury resort has already made a name among local celebrities and politicians for its inspiring architecture, relaxing amenities, and magnificent scenery with views overlooking Pantabangan Hills and Intang Lake. They also have what is quite possibly the best tasting Spanish bread—soft and velvety, rich and buttery—we’ve never had one quite like it before. 

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Have a relaxing farm experience at The Natividad Farmhouse 

Natividad Farm
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

If you want a simple, straightforward weekend spent lying in bed in a room surrounded by peaceful landscapes, then The Natividad Farmhouse in the town of Guimba is the way to go. The property currently has six rooms available, a pool, koi pond, an events place, and an adorable flock of fluffy sheep that will keep young (and young-at-heart) visitors occupied.

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Get to know more about farming the fun way at Myriad Farms 

Myriad Farm
PHOTO BY Noel Pabalate (Courtesy of Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz)

Nueva Ecija’s Provincial Tourism Office has been promoting farm tourism as a highlight when visiting the province. Leading the way toward this goal is Myriad Farms, a Department of Tourism-accredited farm in the municipality of Guimba that has been into commercial rice production since the early 1980s. More than a tourist spot, it’s first and foremost a working farm so don’t expect a typical well-manicured and landscape resort-farm to greet you. Myriad Farm offers staycations (carabao rides, too!) that include farm training for guests who are interested in knowing more about agriculture and farming.  

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Sample the culinary delights of Cabanatuan City

Hapag Vicenticos
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz

The hot and humid city of Cabanatuan has in recent years ceased to be a mere stopover for those going to Sagada, Baler, Isabela, or Cagayan. It’s now home to homegrown restaurants, which boast must-try local dishes. 

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Any visitor to this bustling city should grab a meal at Hapag Vicenticos, the city’s culinary pride which is highly recommended for its sumptuous all-Filipino spread. The restaurant’s putok-batok fare is a must-try—a decadent medley of chicharon bulaklak, adobong aligue, crispy kare-kare, and crispy binagoongan. For those who prefer a more Western menu, O Quadro’s pizza and pasta offerings will surely satisfy your palate. For desserts, Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet is a must-try with its signature creamy goodness and delectable flavors from classics to more exciting ones like sili, malunggay, kalamansi, champorado at dilis, and mangga at bagoong! Swing by Cabanatuan’s beloved Edna’s Cakeland for a wide variety of cakes and pastries that make for the perfect pasalubong. The 20-year-old bakery’s mamon taisan cupcakes and cheese balls are not to be missed. 

Have a dose of Cabanatuan’s rich history 

cabanatuan freedom park
PHOTO BY Johanna L. Anes-de la Cruz
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History geeks would know the significance of Cabanatuan in many events of our country’s tumultuous history. For one, the city is home to Camp Pangatian Shrine, an American military training camp for 20 years until it was converted to a concentration camp. But perhaps the city is best known for General Antonio Luna’s assassination by Filipino soldiers on June 5, 1899 at the San Nicholas of Tolentino Parish (.k.a. Cabanatuan Cathedral). A monument to the famous general, together with other memorials, can be found at the nearby tree-lined and sprawling Freedom Park. 

For updates and more information, follow NLEX Corporation on Facebook.

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