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March 31, 2017

LAKBAY NORTE 6: A Road Trip to Nueva Ecija and Cagayan Valley!

March 31, 2017

LAKBAY NORTE 6: A Road Trip to Nueva Ecija and Cagayan Valley!





 by CK Santos

Lakbay Norte(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Lakbay Norte is an annual media tour brought by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) - a non-stock profit membership umbrella organization of Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB's) that's sponsored by the Manila North Tollways Corp (NLEX-SCTEX) - which aims to promote tourism in the north Luzon.

For its 6th installation, the itinerary involved a five-day trip to the North, specifically in Nueva Ecija and Cagayan Valley.





NUEVA ECIJA

Lakbay Norte

Going around Nueva Ecija meant experiencing the farm life, as it is known as biggest rice producer of Central Luzon; hence, the name "Rice Bowl of the Philippines."

 

Lakbay Norte

A visit to Philrice gave us a deeper understanding of the farmer's life. In fact, we were exposed to their campaign called "Be Riceponsible," which aims to encourage farmers, policy makers, and the public to help improve the rice industry of the Philippines. 

 

PMP Paradise Farm

We also visited a farm called PMP Paradise Farm; a 250-hectare farm that is located at the base of Sierra Madre Mountains. "PMP" stands for the owner's name: Pablo M. Pagtalunan. The farm is a manifestation of his great vision of cultivation of the place as it is slowly turning into reality.

 

PMP Paradise Farm
Rice paddies, man-made and natural bodies of water are home to a diverse collection of plants and animals, making it a perfect place to reconnect with nature and one's self.

 

 PMP Paradise Farm

More than your average farm tour, where you only get to observe the kind of lifestyle that the community lives, PMP Paradise farm lets you experience everything first hand - from fishing on a floating bahay-kubo, sheep herding to making your own merienda (palitaw sa linga and nilupak).

 PMP Paradise Farm

(This is Nilupak na Kamoteng Kahoy - a Filipino snack made from mashed Cassava. It is made by pounding boiled cassava root, along with the rest of ingredients, in a big stone mortar and pestle)

 

PMP Paradise Farm

(This is Palitaw - another Filipino snack made from rice. It involves a similar process, as it requires crushing rice with this traditional device, in which it turns the rice into liquid substance that is then dried and used as the base of your palitaw)

 Lakbay Norte

 More than the farm visits, we encountered a different side of Nueva Ecija seen in Minalungao National Park.

 

Lakbay Norte

It's a recreational place where you can do several activities, like trekking to the Cross of 1000 steps and bamboo rafting.

Other than that, we also got a taste of the different local delicacies that ranged from locally made ice cream to tiniim na manok (Chicken Tiim) and kalderetang kambing.

 

Lakbay Norte(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Not only rich in cream, but also in its history; Puno's Ice cream is a very well loved local brand in the vicinity of Nueva Ecija. It was founded by Atanacio and Simeona Puno and has been passed down for almost 5 generations.

With that, they have perfected the taste and quality that the natives have been looking for in a cold sweet treat such as ice cream. Their best-sellers are buko sherbet with lychees and cheese casoy macapuno, but they also have flavors like ube macapuno, fruit salad, and cookies and cream.

 

 Lakbay Norte Day 1-076-06771
(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Tiniim na Manok is a native dish in Nueva Ecija. It is called as such because of the way it is cooked - a pineapple marinade chicken slow cooked.

 

Lakbay Norte
(Photo by Martin San Diego)

This is similar to your typical kaldereta, except the meat used is kambing (goat); hence, its name, Kalderetang Kambing.

 

CAGAYAN VALLEY

We had a similar experience in Cagayan Valley, but instead of farms, we encountered churches.

Lakbay Norte
The Basilica Minore De Nuestra Senora De Minora - a part of the Twelve Minor Basilica in the Philippines. 

 

Lakbay Norte

This church exudes a certain uniqueness, as its entrance arch is located at the back of the church.

 

Lakbay Norte

The St. Peter Metropolitan Cathedral can also be found in the city of Tuguegarao. It is one of the largest Spanish built churches in Cagayan Valley.

 

Lakbay Norte

Seen in the extravagant ornamentation that the church had - from its awe-striking door to its beautiful ceiling - it was apparent that this church is from the Baroque era.

 

IGUIG

Other than this, a municipality, namely Iguig, is known for two things: pottery center of the north and the Holy Land of the North.

Iguig: pottery center of Cagayan Valley

Iguig was found during the pre-war days, and has ultimately outlived the damaged brought upon the World War 2 due to its ceramic production; hence, its name "pottery center of Cagayan Valley."

 

Iguig: pottery center of Cagayan Valley

Bricks and pots produced here are also considered as One Town One Product Commodity - a government project that aims to promote goods and products of various Filipino towns.

 

Iguig: pottery center of Cagayan Valley

Their products, pottery, and bricks, are a true testament to each and everyone's hard work. Its quality leaves me wondering how a set of hands can create such a delicate piece of art such as these.

 

Lakbay Norte

It is dubbed as the Holy Land of the North mainly because of Calvary Hills.

 

Lakbay Norte

It's 11 hectares of hills where you can find life-size figures depicting each of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which makes it the go-to place for the pilgrimage done every Holy Week.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

More than the evident religious upbringing of the place, we came across the beautiful Palaui Island - home to many things such as the Lagunzad trail, Leonardo's trail, Siwangag Trail, Cape Engaño and the Survivor series.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

More than these, a mangrove forest around it serves as a breeding ground for different marine lives and migratory birds.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

A lighthouse is situated in the northern part of the island, which is a 20-30 minute walk going up to Cape Engaño.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

True to its name, engaño roughly translated to English means "enticing," the view of the island gets better every step of the way.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

The Cape Engaño lighthouse, also known as Faro de Cabo Engaño, is one of the four lighthouses that the Spaniards built during their occupation. It was made to serve international sea vessels passing the Babuyan Channel and the Pacific Ocean. 

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

The lighthouse is over a hundred years old, which implies that it isn't as strong as it used to be; hence, only four people can only go up at a time. Despite this, climbing it is still worthwhile as it provides you a beautiful scene of the Dos Hermanos Island.

 

Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

Other than the lighthouse, you will have an amazing view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Babuyan Islands.

More than the captivating scenic landscapes in this area, we were also captivated by the food the area has to offer.

 

Lakbay Norte Day 5 - Martin San Diego-071-1481(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Here, we got familiar with the different seafood dishes such as fresh fish, lobsters, and seaweed. 

 

Lakbay Norte Day 4 - Martin San Diego-099-08127
(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Cagayan Valley, specifically in Tuguegarao, is also known for its local grub called, Batil - Patong. It's a noodle dish served dry, but is eaten with an egg drop soup.

 

Lakbay Norte
And of course, the Chicharabao. This is very similar to the popular pulutan of Filipinos called chicharon, but instead of using pork, they used carabao skin.

 

Lakbay Norte Day 1-002-06651(Photo by Martin San Diego)

Overall, the feel of the tour was memorable. Having to live in a bus with people who share the same passion (writing and traveling) made the ungodly long drive more bearable. Conversations with them meant talking about different (must-sees) destinations and (must-dos) experiences around the Philippines. Through their perspectives, I was able to gain a new insight on traveling - our beloved country - the Philippines.

Sure enough, throughout the duration of our trip, we've built homes out of the bus, of each other's company, and of roads that paved our way to our different destinations.

 

Live an Awesome Life,

 

CK SANTOS for TEAM OUR AWESOME PLANET

Disclosure: We were media guest by North Philippines Visitors Bureau. We wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. 




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