Do you want to be haciendero for a day? Overlooked by travelers heading north along the national highway from Manila to Tuguegarao, the province of Nueva Ecija is more often than not only a mere stopover, if not simply bypassed altogether. Characterized by the vast open plains hemmed in by the Sierra Madre mountain range to the east, Nueva Ecija is nonetheless an agricultural goldmine, making it one of the country’s wealthiest provinces. It’s principal crops are rice, corn and onions, but the province also grows mango, calamansi, banana, garlic, and other vegetables.
The landlocked province may have not have stunning seascapes or cool-weathered most travelers are after, but it sure offers a different kind of attraction that brings out country mouse in all of us. Here are six amazing agritourism attractions in Nueva Ecija that will leave you with a better appreciation of rural life:
PMP Paradise Farm
The river canyon of Minalungao National Park may have put the town of General Tinio on the map in recent years, but this 250-hectare rolling farm estate is another reason to visit with family and friends. Hop aboard one of their water buffalo carts and go tilapia fishing on a bamboo raft; unleash your inner cowboy herding sheep over a grassy meadow on horseback; or hone your culinary skills preparing (and noshing) on local delicacies such as palitaw (glutinous rice cakes) and nilupak (cassava cakes).
For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Puno’s Ice Cream & Sherbet
While visiting their home-based factory in Cabanatuan City wasn’t an agritourism activity per se, Puno’s Ice Cream & Sherbet shows you how good-quality agricultural products gets transformed into extraordinary desserts. And, well, it’s just a darn good excuse to have ice cream. With luscious textures and unique blends of local flavors like buko lychee and cheese cashew macapuno, Puno’s may be Nueva Ecija’s best-kept secret! It’s soooo good, you shouldn’t miss it.
For more information, visit their Facebook page.
NFA Grains Industry Museum
Did you know that Nueva Ecija considered the “Rice Granary of the Philippines”? Get a primer on the industry at this modest museum located within the compound of the Central Luzon Regional Office of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Cabanatuan City. While most of the dusty displays may elicit yawns and rolling eyes (such as traditional farming implements), there are some pretty cool stuff like scenic dioramas tracing the history and development of rice agriculture (similar to the ones at the Ayala Museum and Santo Niño Shrine in Tacloban), wooden bulol or statues of Cordilleran rice gods, and a mosaic of the Last Supper made out grains of rice!
For more information, visit National Food Authority.
Philippine Rice Research Institute
Being a Filipino staple, we often take rice for granted. A visit to this government-run rice institute at Science City of Muñoz makes for an enlightening experience. Reap a greater appreciation for all the hard work and innovation it takes to grow, harvest and improve the quality of rice in the country. After visiting their rice museum, don’t miss the scenic farm tractor trailer tour of their experimental rice fields with the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range in the distance! And it’s all free admission.
For more information, visit the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
Central Luzon State University
Established in 1907, the 658-hectare state university is one of the premiere institutions for agriculture in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia known for its research in aquaculture, ruminants, crops, orchard, and water management. While there’s an informative agricultural museum on campus, the piece de resistance of any visit to CLSU is tasting one of the weirdest ice cream flavors ever: tilapia. Yes, you heard it right. Tilapia! This strange award-winning culinary innovation was developed by the College of Home Science and Industry in 2011. It’s made from tilapia fillet, all-purpose cream, condensed milk, carabao milk, walnuts and cheese. Did I whet your appetite?
For more information, visit Central Luzon State University.
Philippine Carabao Center
Embodying hard work and industry of the rural Filipino, the carabao or water buffalo is the national animal of the Philippines. The Philippine Carabao Center, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, was established at Nueva Ecija in 1992 to study and promote the carabao in the Philippines as a multi-purpose animal that can be raised for milk, meat, hide, and draft. In 2007, the center initiated a study to breed a “super water buffalo” that can produce 4 to 18 liters of milk a day using gene-based technology. Bring home some fresh carabao goodness at their Milka Krem store at the Science City of Muñoz, which sells dairy products made from carabao’s milk available in pasteurized and homogenized milk bottles in different flavors, yoghurt, sweets and different kinds of cheeses.
For more information, visit Philippine Carabao Center.
Where to Stay
- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Cabanatuan City offers all the essentials of the budget hotel chain.
- The Harvest Hotel is a modern four-star hotel in Cabanatuan City inspired by the region’s agricultural heritage.
- Crystal Waves Hotel & Resort in Talavera is a sprawling holiday resort with a swimming pool, wave pool, zipline and water slides.
This trip was made possible through Lakbay Norte 6, a media trip held from January 30 to February 3, 2017, and organized by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB), a non-stock, non-profit organization spearheaded by the Manila North Tollways Corporation, builder and concessionaire of the North Luzon Expressway.