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Nueva Ecija Land of golden opportunities
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Lynda B. Valencia (Pna)
Date: 2004-08-29
Nueva Ecija is gearing up to become an agro-tourism province with golden opportunities for future tourism destinations, future investors and prospective partners who will develop its vast potential. Long regarded as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines” and the “Food Bowl of Central Luzon,” Nueva Ecija is now set to become the next agro-tourism center of the country, even as it leads sustainable and balanced growth in the region.

“Now we are ready to share the benefits of our land. We are inviting tourists to see our beautiful place. We are inviting investors to be a part of our growing community and be progressive,” said Nueva Ecija Governor Tomas Joson III.

He added, “The strength of our province lies in its tourism potential, vast tracts of fertile land and great number of untapped labor force. These potentials are being enhanced by the existing research and development institutions in the province.”

Most important for tourists and investors, leading telecommunications companies – Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom – have already set up facilities in the region providing cellular phone connections; postal; telegraphic; courier and even cable services. Communications in the Philippines and overseas could be easily facilitated.

Nueva Ecija is a 5,284 sq. km of lowland composed of 29 municipalities and three cities with a population of 1.66 million, of which 1.6 million are in the labor force.

The Caraballo Mountains separate Nueva Ecija from Nueva Vizcaya on the northeast, while a part of the Sierra Mountain range lies on the eastern border. It is bordered on the northwest by Pangasinan, by Tarlac on the west, in the northeast by Nueva Vizcaya, on the southwest by Pampanga and on the southeast by Bulacan.

Nueva Ecija is both a crossroad and a gateway province. Its 5,384 km. road network links it with Pangasinan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Aurora province and Metro Manila. These well-paved roadways are further linked by 104 concrete bridges which allow for the easy transport of goods, services and people throughout Central Luzon. It is traversed by the Pampanga river, the Chico River and the Diamman and Penaranda rivers.

When Spanish Governor Acuyar saw the place, he named it Nueva (new) Ecija, after his hometown 48 miles from the city of Seville, which was also known as “el sarten” or the frying pan of Andalucia. Nueva Ecija was made a commandancia (fort) in 1705.

The province belongs to the first wave of provinces that rose in arms against the Spaniards during the revolution of the Katipunan in 1896. Gen. Blanco declared a state of war against the Spaniards when Filipinos led by Gen. Mariano Llanera stormed the Spanish garrison of San Isidro, which was made the Philippine capital for awhile, seat of the revolutionary government of Aguinaldo.

Apolinario Mabini, the sublime paralytic was arrested here by the Americans in the town of Cuyapo in December 1899. It remained a rebel province until the capture of General Aguinaldo in 1901. Thus, was awarded one of the rays of the Philippine flag.

During WWII, Camp Pangatian, a 20-year- old military camp was converted into a concentration camp for 3,000 American prisoners of war who were survivors of the Death March from Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. The Camp is better known as Camp Cabanatuan.

Nueva Ecija was also a base of the HUKS (Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan sa Bansang Hapones), a guerrilla force that turned into a peacetime agrarian reform movement, fighting a guerrilla war against the Philippine government in the 1950s.

There are so many tourism sites one can see in the province. While here, make a visit to Barrio Pungcan in Carranglan, better known as “Little Baguio” because of its cool climate and its waterfalls. Try the medicinal hot springs in Rizal Diamond Park, site of one of the bloodiest battles of WW II and make a stop at Dalton Pass. Also, see a five-hectare natural wildlife park in Capintahan, Carranglan.

Minalungao National Park, east of Gapan is good for fishing, swimming, surfing, diving for overhanging cliffs and cave exploration.

And don’t forget the Pantabangan Dam, the largest in the country, rising at an elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level. It provides irrigation and power for surrounding areas. It will soon be boosted by the Casecnan Multi-purpose Irrigation and Power Project.

There is a famous winery in Nueva Ecija, (the Sevilla Wines in Gapan) that produces exotic and delicious fruit wines, such as wine from “duhat” or “bignay” fruits. Woodcraft is an organized industry in Joan, where the three-sq. km. Yuson orchard and its 200 varieties of mangoes are located.

Bongabon is onion country, with its own dehydrating plant for export purposes. The town of Cuyapo engages in mushroom farming. Other crafts are ceramics, leathercraft and broommaking (from tiger grass).

One can see white clay in Gabaldon and Carranglan, while Laur and Bongabon have marble. On the other hand, copper deposits in General Tinio, Gabaldon, Bongabon and Pantabagan are still largely untapped.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) agri-tourism program starts at Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Nueva Ecija. Agri-tourism or sometimes called “farm tourism” is a form of rural tourism, the universal appeal of which rest on the ordinary and everyday happenings in a rural community like tending to farm animals, planting and harvesting.

Here, the Greenhouse technology project which is part of the CLSU-Shalom Club Philippine-Israel Demo Farms and Irrigation systems project is located. The Embassy of Israel provided US$25,000 for the construction of the greenhouse while Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. committed an additional R3 million out of his countrywide development fund for the completion of the project.

Two customized greenhouses were put up. The first has been utilized for cutflowers like chrysanthemums and roses while the second, which was put into utilization two years ago was used for fruits – the Demo Farm – which showcases Israel technologies. High-value crops such as sweet melons, sweet pepper, hybrid tomato, lettuce are grown.

For those who are interested in daily farming, the Dairy Farm of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) at CLSU conducts research and related-activities geared towards development and innovation in dairy production with the end in view of promoting related enterprise based on its latest technology and management experience.

The Dairy Farm serves as a model of a small dairy enterprise, among others, it aims to develop milk and meat products from buffalo. It comprises a total of 118 Murrah Buffalo (Indian Murrah and Bulgarian Murrah), Philippine carabao and cross-breed. Of the total, 81 are females and 37 are males.

Milk collected from the animals are sold as pasteurized fresh milk or as a processed milk products such as chocomilk, lacto juice (milk with pineapple or mango flavor), soft cheese (kesong puti) and “pastilles de leche.”

At the same time, intensive culture of “tilapia” in circular tank is an alternative for ponds. This system offers the advantages of easy maintenance of desirable parameters such as fresh and clean water, high dissolved oxygen content and optimum water temperature enabling the growing at a faster rate of a higher number of fish.

[ Minalungao National Park Wiki | Diamond Park Wiki | Pantabangan Dam Wiki | Chico Dam Wiki ]

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