“We spend our lives waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many: nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed, directed with passion, towards that which is the spirit of all things, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless effort.”
In my mission to complete the 81 provinces, I decided to go to Nueva Ecija to visit Minalungao National Park which is located at General Tinio also known as Papaya. It is said that the town is at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Minalungao National Park is a must visit destination when you are in Nueva Ecija.
How to get to General Tinio, Nueva Ecija
From Manila, you will need to ride a bus going to Gapan City or Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija through Baliwag Transit with a travel time of about 2-3 hours with fare of php150. Gapan City will be your drop off place since there are no busses or jeep directly going to the General Tinio.
From Gapan, you can rent a tricycle going directly to Minalungao with an estimated travel time of 1-1.5 hours. This is best and most convenient way because there are only few trips going papaya and from the town proper, you will still need to ride another tricycle going to the park which is more time consuming and impractical. Jimmy de la Cruz was my tricycle driver and waited for me for almost 3 hours. He is really nice and does not take advantage of tourist.
Minalungao National Park is a protected area which is located at General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. The park is 2, 018 hectares along Peñaranda River which is composed of limestone walls along the Sierra Madre mountain range. This was established as a national park in 1967 under Republic Act. No. 5100.
An entrance fee of php100 per pax when you visit the park. If you wanted to take a bamboo/balsa ride, you need to pay php 600 good for 8 pax with life vest included. You can also try their zip line for php 100 and though swimming is for free, you will need to rent a life vest for php25. You can also try to cross their hanging bridge, trek their 1000 steps to have peek of their mountain view and have a mini – spelunking in a cave. I know that there are a lot of fees but it is for their livelihood and maintenance of the park.
The best time to go there is during summer months since the water is very clear. However, schedule your visit on a weekday because you might get disappointed because it is too much crowded during weekends. The area is not that big and there are a lot visitors who wanted to try their balsa ride. You might also get disappointed because you can never get a perfect picture without any photo bombers.
Do not go there during rainy season because the water level maybe unpredictable. You are not also allowed to swim without a life vest and always make sure to follow the rules and regulations of the park. You can bring your own food or dine at Minalungao Restaurant.
I did not pay any entrance fee because the park was under maintenance. I also did not have a ride at their balsa/bamboo because it was a bit expensive and at the same time, did not have any plans to swim. Though I enjoyed my mini- trekking to the cliff and mini- spelunking to the cave but most of the time, I was just sitting on the rock enjoying the place with less visitors and after 3 hours, I decided to go to my next destination.
Bus Fee (Manila – Gapan City) – php 150 (php300 roundtrip)
Tricycle Fare (Gapan – General Tinio) – php 600 (round trip for sharing)