Tag Archives: Nueva Ecija

A Tour of Gapan with Mayor Emerson Pascual

Gapan City , Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

Lakbay Lakad Pamana together with the participants of the Gapan Culinary and Heritage Tour arrived past 8:30 am at the Divina Pastora Shrine . Gapan City is planning to open their old historical center to tourist .

group photo

The group was warmly received by Gapan Tourism officers , Mayor Emerson ” Emeng” Pascual of Gapan, AHP Gapan City -Chapter President Mr. Ramon Valmonte and even some residents joined the heritage tour.

Uy family ancestral house

Uy family ancestral house used to be known as Cayetano de Borja ancestral house.

group photo 

 Ms. Cristina De Vera  , Ena Galang and cousin 

Gapan City Hall

Gapan City hall  compound is sprawling with clean hall ways. The cityhall was inaugurated in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo .

City Agriculture office 

Techno Pinoy and Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office

Office of the City Mayor , New Gapan City Hall, Maharlika Highway , Barangay Bayanihan , Gapan City , Nueva Ecija 3105

+63( 44) 4860125

 

 

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Delightful Dining Experience at Rustica Restaurant in Gapan

AH26, Gapan City, Nueva Ecija province -Philippines 

Lakbay Lakad Pamana and the rest of the participants have tried one of Nueva Ecija ‘s  iconic restaurant , In fact the restaurant started in Cabanatuan and it had a branch in Gapan City.

Rustica Restaurant ( Gapan )

It is said to be frequented by celebrities , balikbayans and local residents . The restaurant is spacious and an events center.

interior

The restaurant had a sitting capacity of between 200 to 350 with a function area at the second floor.

Rustica -Gapan menu

There are also lauriat or value style meal for those who wanted a sampling of their dishes. Lauriat 1 Php 3,450  Lauriat 2 for Php 5,300 and Lauriat 3 for Php 5,550 ideal for group of 5 to 8 people .  The group ordered 2 lauriat meals .

Italian cheese stick 

fried liempo / lechon kawali with lechon sauce

chicken teriyaki with vegetables

sauteed beef  broccoli 

adobong sugpo sa aligi ng talangka

singang 

Note : The only downside for this restaurant is some of the waiters tend to mix some orders. We would like to ” Thank ” the office of Mayor Emerson ” Emeng ” Pascual and local tourism officer for the accommodation to the group .

Rustica also had branch in Concepcion , Tarlac

Contact:  (044) 958 0994

There is also a Rustica FB site

A Visit to the Ancestral House of Senator Juan R.Liwag of Gapan

Gapan City , Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

Senator Juan R. Liwag was born on June 12, 1906 to  Mr. Diego Liwag and Ms. Isabel Ramos, Juan Liwag finished his elementary schooling as valedictorian at the Gapan Intermediate School. Pin Gapan, Nueva, Ecija. He finished his high school and liberal arts at the University of the Philippines. He completed his law course in the same university as class valedictorian and copped second place in the 1932 bar examination.

family portrait and intricate lattice works on wood 

He started his government service in 1945 as prosecutor in the department of justice. Mr. Liwag was named Judge-at-Large of the Court of First Instance four years later. In 1950, He was appointed District Judge for Albay and Catanduanes part of Bicol provinces. He married Ms. Consuelo Joson with whom he had four children.

Senator Juan R. Liwag photos and memorabilias

In 1952, he was appointed Solicitor- General, a position he held until 1954. In 1961, he was appointed Undersecretary of Justice. He became Secretary of Justice on May 19 of the same year. He was elected Senator in 1963 and served up to 1969.

The interior of the house is furnish with hardwood furniture and fixtures 

There is also a mini-library located at the ground floor . The ceiling is made from pinukpuk , iron sheet ceiling which is among the prominent features of the house . The ceiling is painted white.

collection of spoons from different parts of the world

staircase going to the second floor

Prior to his election in the Senate, Liwag served in various capacities in the executive and judicial branches of the government. He was also one of the most outstanding senator during his time.

art deco -style architecture 

The house had a nice large garden , similar to those found in old houses with large sprawling trees , manicured lawn , orchids , plants , some dogs and gooses. There is also a grand staircase with initial DL – This was probably from initials of his father . The house was built around mid-1920’s.

Architect Amie Singcuenco-Balatbat admires the large specimen sized-Cymbidium finlaysonianum and Aerides quinquivulnera naturalized on a coconut palm

Lakbay Lakad Pamana together with Mr. Ramon Valmonte ( local historian , professor , heritage advocate ) and a couple of guests were able to tour inside the house of the senator .

The house is private, hence a prior permission must be secure for those who wanted to visit .

Note : photos are taken by the author with permission .

For those interested in joining the tour , Call Or Text 0923 346 7575
Email: lakad_pamana@yahoo.com.ph

Gapan Culinary and Heritage Tour FB

References:

(Valenzuela, Rodrigo: “Know Them – A Book of Biographies; p. 102-103, 1966.)

Profile :Office of the Solicitor General

Senate : Senator Juan R. Liwag

Mr. Ramon Valmonte : http://monvalmonte.com/liwag/

A Taste of Native Delicacies of Gapan, Nueva Ecija

Gapan City, Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

Lakad Pamana together WalkwithChan, Mr. Allan Martinez of Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista atbp.  , Mr. Emil Carreon ( PTV channel 4 reporter and executive producer ) small group of local social media from nearby province of Bulacan and  Gapan City heritage advocates paid a courtesy call to Mayor Emerson ” Emeng ” Pascual  , the local tourism officers and local media .

courtesy call to Mayor Emerson ” Emeng” Pascual of Gapan city 

The group was warmly received by the Mayor and his staffs. The group was treated some sampling of well-known Gapan ‘s native delicacies . We were simply amaze to know ,what can the city can offer to local and even foreign tourists.

L-R Mr. Gilbert Dino , Mr. Emil Carreon of PTV channel 4 , Mayor Emerson Pascual and Mr. Ramon Valmonte ( Gapan City Advocate and Local Historian ) 

For those in doubt what Lakbay Lakad Pamana is or the advocates behind this , Lakbay Lakad Pamana is composed of several local heritage advocates like Mr. Gilbert Dino who had over 28 years experience with a well-known bus company and a local lifestyle blogger. Mr. Allan Martinez – one of the key founders of Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista atpb. a local heritage advocacy group based in Quiapo. The tour was initiated by Dr. Tessie Obusan in 1987.

The author is also active conducting small scale personalized tours for friends , relatives and classmates since high-school days.

sampling of native delicacies 

The group had one common goal , which is to help promote local tourism, industry , beautiful ancestral houses , culinary heritage and helping indigent communities thru local tourism.

sample of native kakanins

The group got a sampling of Gapan’s native delicacies with maja blanca ala Gapan, maja ube , maja de pandan , espasol, ginataan sa bilo-bilo or sampilot , suman , local ice cream brand Puno’s ( Ube -cheese flavor and langka cheese cashew , pancit canton , ube , sweetened tamarind balls or minatamis na sampalok by Bien’s Sweet Products, lumpiang ubod with special sauce.

Ginataan sa Bilo-bilo is locally called Sampilot, We liked the ginataan, It is cooked in thick coconut milk .

espasol

Espasol or Baye-Baye is a type of squarish or cylindrical sticky rice with powder which is common delicacies in Laguna, Batangas and Quezon . The espasol made in Nueva Ecija taste different from the ones from Laguna .

 Since the province is one of the largest producer of rice and its -by products , the possibilities are endless.

pancit canton ala Gapan

Pancit Canton is cooked with the use of local vegetables and is not soggy .

ube

Ube Blanca– This is a type of pudding made with purple yam or locally known as ube . Ube  scientific name is Dioscorea alata and is made into several popular desserts and ice cream. This is also best with coconut milk

Puno’s ice cream ( ube cheese flavor) 

Nueva Ecija had also a lot of carabao milk production – hence by-products like carabao’s milk , kesong puti , pastillas de leche , ice cream among others.

Puno’s ice cream ( langka  cashew cheese) 

Puno’s ice cream is one of the well-known ice cream makers of the province .

minatamis na sampaloc

Another interesting delicacy is the sweeten tamarind balls or minatamis na sampalok by Bien’s Sweet Products.  After all the native delicacies and gastronomic treat that the group had tasted ,  one must not miss buying when they are in Gapan. Eating plenty of food can makes a person sleepy during the long trip back to Manila and having sweet/ sour minatamis while during the trip will lessen the ” Umay” and help digestion .

The store/ home outlet is located at Purok 5, 220 Perez Street, Santo Cristo Sur , Gapan City , Nueva Ecija province

Contact Details: 0933-491-85-84 / 0926-409-7501

*Note : Lakbay Lakad Pamana together with, KKB, the author and in cooperation with the local goverment of Gapan City  , Nueva Ecija will be having a whole day culinary and heritage tour on September 24 Saturday .

Here is the FB Event Page, for those interested in joining the whole day tour :

Contact : Call Or Text 0923 346 7575
Email: lakad_pamana@yahoo.com.ph

Puno’s Ice Cream FB

Philippine Carabao Center

Website: http://www.census.gov.ph/

A Visit to Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija

Barangay Pias, General Tinio , Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

Lakad Pamana , Tropang Gala and the author organized a tour last April 9 at the Minalungao National Park  sometimes spelled Minalongao . The visit is timely , because it is the peak of summer season and tourists numbers are high.

After we toured the old ancestral houses of Gapan . We left the place at around past 10:30am on our way to the site. It was about 18 kilometers kilometers and took us about  1 hour and 20 minutes when we arrived near Minalungao National Park . General Tinio used to be called Papaya because of the number of papaya plantations , locals would still refer the place until now.

Minalungao National Park and Peñaranda River ( Photo courtesy of Ms. Lea Barcinal ) 

We arrived past 12:00 noon and the van was charged Php 30.00 which was manned by children . Then, there is another sentry point where we were charge again Php 40.00 per head . Some of the participants try to haggle the price down, All their efforts came in vain since it fell on deaf ears.  We were given tickets which were also surrendered at the parking area, so we do not know who printed the tickets if it was DENR or local officials. We have to wait for some cars/ vans to move before we can get a decent parking space.  The cellphone signal is weak because of the surrounding mountains are blocking the signal .  The local barangay is not responsible for any damage or whatever valuables you may loose inside your car, try to park cautiously .

rock formations

One of our companion/ blogger friend Mr. Dennis Dy Kho predaking168.blogspot had already visited the  national park several years ago ( 8 years ago).  He told us, that it used to be rustic and very few people would visit the place even at the height of summer months. Now  – There are huge number of visitors coming from different areas .

public comfort room , – they charge Php 10.00 per head

It is a  protected area located in Barangay Pias , within the municipality  of General Tino , Nueva Ecija  in Central Luzon . The park covers an area of 2,018 hectares. centered along the scenic Peñaranda River bordered on both sides by up to 16-meter high limestone walls in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It was established in 1967 by virtue of Republic Act No. 5100. There are still some local birds , macaques and  monitor lizards which can be spotted .

bamboo raft

One can choose different kinds of outdoor activities from river cruising , picnic by the river , renting a place with videoke , swimming, spelunking, nature and bird watching , hiking on top of the cross or just simply enjoying the wonders of mother nature .

bamboo rafts and floating cottages for rent

Remember to bring extra cash , renting a cottage can range from Php 200 small ones to Php 3,000 ( with videoke facilities and good for 30 pax)  . Bamboo raft would cost another Php 250 small ones and between Php 800 to Php 1,500 for large ones ( group of 4 to 10 people ) depending on the capacity of the bamboo raft ( without cottage and with cottage ). the small cottages beside the river are usually packed with people.

newly built picnic pavilion with newly planted fox tail palms

There were newly planted fox-tail palms within the picnic pavilion area. We just left to wonder ‘why’ they landscaped the place with non-endemic and non-indigenous plant species. They should have consulted with DENR or the local government should had an idea on what plant species  can be planted within the park premises. BUT based on what we saw, the park is getting overly developed and commercialized.

newly built building on the right side

We also saw newly paved cemented walkways or pathways within limestone rocks and multi-story building which  will soon open as hotel/ visitor center. One does not need a degree on environmental preservation to see the impact on one’s ecology.  I must agree with everyone’s observation that the newly constructed building is indeed an eyesore .

buffet lunch

 There are some eateries selling grilled food and home style meal, But we availed the catering services of Arki’s Tambayan . We were able to rent-out a cottage and our lunch menu consists of grilled liempo, boneless bangus, buttered prawns, steam okra, chicharon, grilled stuffed squid, korean style fried rice, ordinary rice, tofu sisig , creamy sisig , boiled peanuts, binurong isda – fermented fish with side drinks of fresh water melon juice or lemon with cucumber juice. There is also dessert of pastillas de leche from San Miguel , Bulacan and fresh slices of watermelon and cantaloupe

L-R Mr. Micheal Candelaria , .Mr. Andrew Cua together with Mr.Marlou Madrid 12 years-old  and Niko C. Resilva 11 years -old

A local guide is readily available around the area, even kids can be your guide and our guides were two local kids aged 11 and 12 years-old . The young tour guides aged between 10 to 17 years-old are sometimes called part-timers , Since they are only available during summer time , whenever there are no classes and they are not allowed to guide people on difficult terrain.   There are also much older tour guides for hire  .  You have a choice to see the entire national park by foot or by boat. We opt to hike around the cave network and climb the cross.  It was almost 2:30pm when we started our journey to the cave system. We told our young guides to take us to the most common pathway , since there are different entry and exit points and we told them that we also have some middle -aged participants .

  man-made graffiti on the cave

We did some personal interviews to know more about our young tour guides. The story is almost the same as the kids from Malangaan Cave  in San Rafael, Bulacan. They just want to learn a little extra money for their families and some cash for their ‘ baon ‘ allowance in school. This is also the chance to earn a little bit from the tourists.  What is good about the two kids that we met is that they are still going to school and wanted to finish . They are also helping their families by augmenting their income.

cave entrance with signage

vandalism of the cave walls ,  garbage ,  introduction / planting of non-native plant species are the most evident realities that can can encounter when you visit this place. So please try to bring black disposal plastic bags and properly dispose your garbage .

Mr. Niko C. Resilva – pointing one of the cave entrance

 We tried to pool our individual donations into a small envelope so that the small token amount can be shared between the two guides. If you ever try to encounter these two kids , do not hesitate to give them some cash and even foods.

hanging bridge

It was past 3:30pm when we finished spelunking and nature trek, some of the participants went back to the cottage and ate some fresh fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe melon, While we tried to cross the hanging bridge which connects the rocky trail on our way to the cross .

cement staircase going to the cross and grotto

Since it was still very hot , the trek going up is not easy and we saw a lot of people going down without finishing the 947 steps . It took us 30 minutes to 45 minutes to climb the cemented stairs . Planting native trees and native plants within these areas seems to be quite feasible .

Missionary Innyoung ” Ester” Choi memorial marker December 16, 1959 to April 13, 2012

We only stopped over and pay our tribute to Missionary Innyoung ” Ester”  Choi memorial marker where her remain is enshrined . Locals said that her ministry had help to construct cement staircase and cross on top of the mountain . Aside from different philanthropic works that her group did within the community .

group photo- courtesy of Ms. Leilani Concepcion

Mr. Igor Golubez ,Mr. Philip Reyes, Mr. Dennis Maristany , Mr. Micheal Candelaria were among the first people from to reach the cross .They were the first to cross the hanging bridge and proceeded with the hike going to the summit .  We were left waiting for several minutes .

cross on top of the hill

Mr. Andrew Cua ( Tralulu Travel)  and the author finally reached the summit about 5 to 10 minutes after the first group and then Ms. Leilani Concepcion followed us. We decided to take a group photo of the ones who reached the summit .

I bought 2  bottled 375ml water to quench my thirst . It cost Php 25.00 per bottle on the summit.

group photo at the summit- photo by Ms. Leilani Concepcion

We also saw the group of Mr. Jhone Gorme and Ms. Rheeza Hernandez on our way down . Almost everyone took the great climb. We finally left the place at around past 5:30pm just in time after the sunset .

How to Travel to Minalungao National Park

1.) If you can muster to gather between 10 to 15 people, try to rent a van or a Nissan Urvan going to Minalungao National Park – during this time of the year , It is better to leave Metro Manila before dawn preferably around 3:00am to 4:00am- Travel time is faster going to Minalungao between 4 to 41/2 hours from Quezon City  . You can share the cost between the group of friends or co-workers. ( I think , This is more economical and faster way to reach the place ) the only difference is just a few hundred of pesos.

2.) Take a bus bound Gapan/Cabanatuan. Available bus companies from Cubao/Pasay or Cubao like Five Star, ES Transport, Baliwag Transit . Travel time may take from 2-3 hours. Try to get the earliest time schedule around 4:00am in Cubao. Php 150 fare

3.) From Gapan City , you can have two options

(A) ride a jeep bound to General Tinio formerly known as Papaya ( jeepney fare cost between Php 25 to Php 35 )  and then from city proper ride a trike going to park (Php50 each according to the tricycle operator around the park)

(B) rent a trike from Gapan to Minalungao National Park. Estimate travel time is 1-1.5 hours (Php500-700 per tricycle depending on your haggling skills). This option is hassle free because you knew that there will be a tricycle waiting for you if you want to go back to city in anytime you want.

Travel Tips:

1.) Try to visit the park during weekdays – We already see the large volume of people when we visited the park on saturday . You can encounter parking problems, lack of cottages and even long lines at the bathroom.

2.) Try to go there during the start of the dry season – around late November to middle of June – The river and some parts of the cave system can get flooded and very muddy .

3.) If you can bring foods , try to bring food and even water , sometimes water can be quite expensive at the park. Try to bring spare change or loose change for tips.

4.) It is advisable to bring an SUV , Van or Nissan Urvan if you are a big group. The road is still passable during dry season.

5.) If you lived within Metro Manila- try to leave as early as possible , There are traffic choke -up point in Mindanao Avenue exit, Balintawak  exit, Bocaue exit,Malinta exit  Candaba, San Miguel , Gapan .

Note: All photos are from the author except those with photo courtesy- Those are owned by the participants who joined the tour and thus permission were sought to use their photos for this blog.

A Visit to the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora

Three Kings Parish, Delos Reyes Street,  3105 Gapan City , Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

The Divina Pastora’s two centuries of existence has given rise to legends on the origin of the image – that it was found floating on a river, or discovered under a tree. The fact is the image did not have a supernatural but rather historical origin.

The exterior of the church is plain while its interior formerly has a central retablo with niches dedicated to the Epiphany of the Lord and to the Virgen La Divina Pastora.

National Shrine of La Virgen de Divina Pastora

Near the end of the 1700s in Gapan, there lived a woman named Doña Juana Valmonte, one of the eight children of Don Bartolome dela Cruz Valmonte, said to be Gapan’s first gobernadorcillo in 1747, and Doña Eulalia Fernandez — the couple from whom all the Valmontes descended.

church marker

The Parish Church of the Three Kings in Gapan is considered the oldest and biggest colonial church in Nueva Ecija. In 1986, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines declared this church as the National Shrine of Virgen La Divina Pastora.

interior

A spinster, Dona Juana was a woman who could be considered much ahead of the ladies of her era. She lived in the family farm, serving as its overseer, in Barrio Callos, named after a tree species that abounds in the place that, at that time, was a part of Gapan but is now within the jurisdiction of the adjacent town of Peñaranda.

This central retablo however was torn down in the 1970s due to infestation of termites. It was replaced with a modern style sanctuary dominated by a huge image of the Crucifixion, arguably the largest in the province of Nueva Ecija. Only the two side retablo are maintained to this day. Prominently displayed on the left retablo is the original miniature image of the Virgen Divina Pastora which was donated by the Valmonte Family in 1986. The right retablo enshrines the Adoration of the Magi.

church ceiling

Described as a stocky woman, she was said to possess such physical prowess that she could wrestle cattle to the ground when it was time to brand them.

While the palitada of the walls was stripped, the grand painting of the Holy Trinity on the church’s dome has been preserved. Local artist, Isidoro Samonte painted this image in the early 1900s.

angels

We were led up to the church belfry and we saw some bats living

ecclesiastical museum

life sized statue

collection of rosaries from different countries

private chapel

Located within the church is an old house which also served as private quarters of the current head of the shrine. We were allowed an exclusive access to the chapel.

Website links:

http://monvalmonte.com/divinapastora/main.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Shrine_of_Virgen_La_Divina_Pastora

A Visit to Dr. Angel Del Rosario Ancestral House

Gapan City , Nueva Ecija province -Philippines

This is the first ancestral house which we visited in Nueva Ecija . Our group was greeted by Dr. Angel I. del Rosario DMD , a dentist  together with his immediate family . We just happen to know a common friend Mr. Dez Bautista of Malolos, Bulacan and AHP-Gapan Chapter which facilitated the exclusive tour of his home.

Gapan City rotunda

The house is located near the Gapan city rotunda and a portion of the ancestral house was demolished to paveway for the road widening project of the government . According to one of the relatives, the house is at least 100 year-old.

Del Rosario Ancestral House

The group took the side entrance and were lead to a staircase with interesting black figurine holding a lamp .

religious images made from ivory

old telephone

wall painting

Santo nino image

dining and living room area

The  living and dining room areas have a lot of items spanning several decades . It includes sala sets, wooden furnitures, plant holders, lamps, fixtures , matones de manila , cabinet set , unique wall decors and family portrait.

wall painting and family portrait

There is a lone oil painting entitled   La Flor de Gapan painted in 1927 Encarnacion de Inductivo .

Group photo L-R Mr. Louie Ramirez , Dr. Angel I. Del Rosario , Mr. Gilbert Diño , Ms Lea Barcinal and Ms. Ofie Serrano

The owner had also prepared freshly cooked botchi and personally toured our group in his home.  His home is not open to the public so an appointment must be made prior to visit.

group photo with the participants and owner of the ancestral house photo by : Mr. Jonathan Hernandez

Our group finally bid farewell to the family of Dr. Del Rosario and headed for the other parts of the city .