“The past will often try to attack the present
with the pain of your memories.”
- Kirima Seiichi
My first attempt to visit Minalungao many years ago, failed. Due to very rough, unforgiving road leading to the area, hindi kinaya ng tricycle driver na ni-rent ko. Actually, I tried twice but to no avail. Hanggang sa rice fields at rolling hills ng Papaya lang yata ang narating ko. And it haunted me forever hehe. I’m glad that last weekend, natuloy na, this time with my ex-office mates but good friends. Compared years ago, konti na lang ang unpaved area, but still it was as bucolic as I remembered.
Minalungao National Park is a national protected area and one of the few remaining natural environments of Luzon located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. The main attraction of the 2,018-hectare park is the pristine and scenic Peñaranda River which is as crystal clear green as its lush surroundings. The river is bordered on both sides by up to 16-meter high limestone walls, beautifully carved by nature. Its natural beauty is comparable to the rivers of Daraitan and Manalmon. It can be explored simply by foot or by bamboo raft. Other activities in the area include spelunking, trekking to the Holy Cross (the highest point in Minalungao), swimming and cliff diving.
Except for some conflict drama that happened between our drivers (kasi nalasing ang isa, nagkapikunan at gumawa ng pasabog na eksena sa Minalungao) at ang mag-antay sa mga kasama ko sa Baliwag Transit ng halos isang oras ng madaling araw, I timmensely enjoyed the Minalungao experience. It was refreshing, lalo pa at masaya kasama ang aming dalawang batang guides na sina James Bond at Enchong, our official photographers na sobrang vain dahil naka 100+ shots sila na puro selfie lang nila.
Minalungao can be reached via commute. From Cubao, take Cabanatuan bound bus (passing Gapan) and get off at Walter Mart, Gapan. From there, you can hire a tricycle (can accommodate maximum of three) going to Minalungao, two-way for P600-800, depending on your haggling skills.