These days, when we hear Nueva Ecija, the first things that come to mind are the Minalungao National Park and its limestone rock formations and bamboo rafts. But tourism isn’t always about adventure. It can also be educational, reflecting the way of life of the locals. And in Nueva Ecija, much of the culture is agriculture.
Agriculture has been a major contributor in the development of the Philippine economy. At present, it shares the spotlight with services and manufacturing as the basis of the country’s economic growth. Visiting areas in the north and learning more about agriculture and how it can further help the economy became one of the highlights of Lakbay Norte6, a media tour planned by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB), a non-stock, non-profit organization of various Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) all over North Philippines.
If you are interested in farming, here are some of the sites in Nueva Ecija that might pique your interest.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. PMP PARADISE FARM
Founded by Major Pablo Pagtalunan as an agro-reforestation project in General Tinio 19 years ago, PMP Paradise Farm offers immersive tours that allow visitors to experience farm works and activities first-hand. Learn the different fruit tree varieties and how to grow them or feed animals like carabao and ostrich. Activities that friends and family members can try and enjoy are tree planting, fruit and vegetable picking, fishing (you may ride a floating bahay kubo while doing so), making palitaw sa linga and nilupak, horseback riding, and sheep herding. Roam around the farm via carabao cart ride, horseback riding, or walking.
The place is continuing to develop into what is looking like a diverse theme park with hotel and resort facilities, eventually ushering in more tourists.
2. NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY GROUNDS
Learn more about agriculture – its history, tools and equipment used through time, and different types of grains and crops – by checking out the NFA Museum. National Food Authority Grounds is located in Cabanatuan City.
3. PHILRICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) occupies a 90-hectare compound in Muñoz. It is a government-corporate facility that initiates and showcases rice research to better understand and appreciate the importance of rice and its production and labor force – from the scientists to the farmers.
The institute offers scientific exploration through visits to any of these areas:
- Gene Bank, which houses more than 12,000 seed collections;
- Biotech Laboratory, which shows rice breeding;
- Field Experiments and Demonstration Areas, which give visitors the privilege to see the various experiments they are conducting;
- Rice Chemistry and Food Science Laboratory, which allows guests to see how the science of rice grain quality testing works;
- Screenhouse Facilities, where people can discover which rice varieties will make the cut.
Visitors can also enjoy nature while being transported around the verdant compound and appreciate farming technology brought about by the farm mechanization and post-harvest machines. Other facilities and activities include Rice Science Museum, agricultural adventures (rice planting and harvesting), art appreciation (rice paddy art, rice straw art sculpture, 200-ft wall mural about the transformation of rice production in the Philippines), boating, fishing, and kayaking.
4. PUNO ICE CREAM PLANT
Founded in 1960 by couple Simeona and Atanacio Puno, this famous and trusted ice cream brand has already established a good reputation in the ice-cream making industry and is aptly dubbed as the makers of quality made-to-order ice cream and sherbet in Cabanatuan City. My favorite pick was the Cheese Cashew Macapuno flavor. In fact, I finished off 3 cups! Don’t deprive yourself of this cool and refreshing dessert/snack.
Address: Maharlika Highway, Bitas, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
5. CAFFE LA TEA
This isn’t really agri per se, but we need a food stop in this list! Although Caffe La Tea has been serving several international dishes, they showcase some local ingredients too including Cabanatuan’s own longganisa bototay and what they call “chiz buco!”
Originally established in Cabanatuan City, Caffe La Tea has been gaining attention from people who are searching for a relaxing and homey catching up, bonding, and even studying place. It is now expanding to other locations outside Nueva Ecija, reaching new markets. The place is an easy choice if you are on the lookout for alternative cafes or dessert place. The drinks and food choices are very affordable and at par with those other established brands in terms of quality of presentation and the taste.
6. MILKA KREM PLANT
If you favor dairy products, like me, you will greatly appreciate Milka Kreme. Most of the products sold are made from fresh and natural ingredient. There’s a processing plant directly behind the store, and you can view how buffalo/carabao’s milk is processed to maintain and preserve its freshness. Some of the products sold are flavored milk, ice cream, cheese, cake, and yogurt.
7. CHANOS CHANOS
This is just a simple family-run food stall in Science City, but innovation is still apparent. From the name itself, which is the scientific name of milkfish or bangus, you’ll get the idea what this food service establishment’s main ingredient is. The bestseller product is the baked bangus, but what makes Chanos Chanos notable is how they have used bangus as the key ingredient and meat replacement in dishes like spaghetti and nachos. It’s not only healthy but also budget-friendly.
8. SCIENCE CITY TOUR
Many of the places above are part of Science City, but we feel like we still need to dedicate a separate entry to it because there are still a lot more to see. The whole city of Muñoz can either be compared to an expansive science library and laboratory. True to its title, the Science City contributes a lot to the advancements in the field of agricultural science and technology through various Research and Development Centers and other similar institutions in the city.
Other noteworthy destinations are Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), and One Town One Product Philippines (OTOP Philippines) Pasalubong Center.