General Tinio, Nueva Ecija

“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

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 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.

Travel Expenses:

  • Bus Fee (Manila – Gapan City) – php 150 (php300 roundtrip)
  • Tricycle Fare (Gapan – General Tinio) – php 600 (round trip for sharing)

Sample Itinerary

  • 4:00 am – 6:30 am – Traveled from Manila to Gapan, Nueva Ecija
  • 6: 30 am – 7:00 am – Breakfast at Gapan Public Market
  • 7:00 am – 8:30 am – Traveled from Gapan to General Tinio through tricycle
  • 8:30 am – 11:00 am – Stayed at Minalugao National Park
  • 11:00 – 12:30 pm – Departed from the park going back to Gapan town proper.
  • 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – Rode a bus going to Biak Na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan
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Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

After spending three days and two nights in Calayan Island, I planned to have a side tour in some tourist destinations in Ilocos. I departed from the island around 8am then arrived in Claveria by 1pm.  My plan was to visit the windmills of Bangui in Ilocos Norte. Bangui is one of the 21 municipalities of Ilocos Norte which is situated in the coastal area of the province. The place is famous because of the windmills that supplies electricity throughout the province and eventually became a tourist attraction.

How to get to Bangui, Ilocos Norte

From Manila, you can either ride a bus bound for Ilocos, Junction Luna or Claveria. The province is located in Ilocos Norte and most of the bus going to Cagayan usually passes by the municipality.

From Claveria, I just waited for the Florida bus along the highway bound for Manila. There are no other route going to Bangui so it won’t be difficult to locate. You just need to inform the bus driver that you are going to the windmills and they already know where to drop you off. From Claveria, it takes for about 2-3 hours going to Bangui.

Bangui Windmills

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm can also be located offshore. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm

The wind farm is divided into 2 phases. Phase 1 is consisting of 15 wind mills located in the coastal area of Bangui capable of producing electricity up to a maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW.  While Phase II with additional of 5 windmills which was completed in 2008. The purpose of the windmills constructed near the shores of Bangui Bay because of the wind intensity is much stronger which coverts to electric energy.

The windmills became an attraction and most of the tourists visit the site because of astonishing bay view with the mills as your background. The windmills are constructed near the shore but swimming is not allowed due to series of drowning incidents in the past. You really do not need to spend a lot time in the area. You can just have your lunch since there are already restaurants in the area, have your photo ops and buy souvenir items then you can go proceed in your next destination.

Travel Expenses 

  • Bus Fare (Claveria to Bangui) – php 200
  • Tricyle Fare – php 100 (good for 4)