Cabanatuan City: The City That Almost Failed Me

I was hanging out at my friend's house in Baliuag, Bulacan just doing nothing, "Dulce Far Niente" as the Italians would put it. We have always wondered as the buses in front of their house passes by with signboards going to the City of Cabanatuan of what is to see there.
public market along the road to Cabanatuan

Cabanatuan is 111 kilometers north of Manila and is about 61 Kilometers from where we were at. By noon time we took a bus to the city to kill the curiosity. Travel time from Baliuag to Cabanatuan is about two hours so if you coming from Manila it would approximately be about three to four hours of travel time depending on where your bus will exit from the North Luzon Expressway.

This is where Cabanatuan is situated in the Philippine Island of Luzon

Our journey's map

We hopped into a bus and started our journey. The only thing that comes into my mind when someone mentions Cabanatuan is the building that collapsed during the great earth quake during the 90's. I asked some travel friends of mine of what is it there to do on our destination and the answers that I got were:

1. Mag-saka? (to farm)
2. Mag-gatas ng Kalabaw? (to milk a water buffalo)
3. Go to a Dam (but that requires a permit from the mayor's office that we can't get because it was a weekend)
Kudos! to the local/provincial government
for switching many of the street lights to solar powered ones! Yey!

We got off at Robinsons Cabanatuan as it was the only place that comes up when we search the internet of places to go at the city. We walked around the mall which was a bit small even for a city in a province (well at least to my standards). looked for a place where we could stay and found a coffee shop. While ordering coffee we talked to the staff of the store to ask on what is there to do in their city and what are the points of interest that we should go to.
wandering around the mall 

The local's response was heart breaking, imagine a local can't say a good place to go in their city? We asked a couple more strangers and they said the same things, either they don't know or there is none. With the response that we got from the local we just decided to just spend the whole afternoon at the coffee shop surfing the net and talking about well, anything lol!

About to go back to Bulacan, we remembered that it was a Sunday so we thought of going to church first before traveling back as we won't be able to hear mass because there won't be enough time to catch the last mass.

Standing facing the Highway we were contemplating on what to do. Again we asked around for the nearest church and every body was pointing us to the town center which according to them was still far away. We decided to explore more and found a church looking structure. We went inside the compound and found that it is a seminary and the voice we were hearing was reciting the Angelus, we stopped for a while to reflect on the prayer.

The structure that I thought to be a church
We continued walking towards the main building and found out that there was no church inside for the public, there was just a chapel for the seminarians. It was quite disappointing because knowing that it is a religious organization, a seminary most specially, I was expecting that they would have a church for the public just like the seminaries in Manila.

Again we asked where would the nearest church be and we were directed still to the town center and was told that it is the diocese's Cathedral but this time the lady said that it's near enough for us to catch the last mass.

We took a tricycle (40 pesos) to the town center instead of the 7 peso jeepney ride to get to the town center faster. As I get off the vehicle there it was! what we were looking for a point of interest.

This is the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral, the seat of the diocese of Cabanatuan. This is the temporary cathedral while the new and bigger cathedral is being built at the lakeshore village in the same city.

Gen Antonio Luna Monument
On the church patio a monument of a Philippine hero Gen. Antonio Luna stands to remember the place where the hero died.

Unfortunately, as the marker on the building fronting the patio states the fall of this Philippine hero is of the dark side of Philippine History.

The marker states:

"On the plaza in front of this building formerly 
the presidential headquarter of the first Philippine Republic, General Antonio Luna and his aide Colonel Francisco Roman were ASSASINATED in the after noon of 5 June 1899; By members of General Emilio Aguinaldo's Presidential Guard"

After catching what is left of the sunlight for my pictures, I went inside to hear mass. The church reminded me much of the chapel in my home town that was built in the 1970's.
Church Altar
The flooring of the church and our chapel looks exactly the same style

and the vaulted ceiling  reminds of the works of Leandro Locsin.

Right after the mass, there's this one thing that us Filipinos love doing, EATING!  Just outside at the church's patio are stalls vending different Filipino food.

Akap-akap Suman

I ordered bibingka which for most part of the country can only be seen being sold during the Christmas season.
Bibingka and Tea
We decided to walk some more and found our selves at the town's freedom park. But along the way we discovered something yummy. Emong's Malunggay Pandesal!

The bakery is very nice as it features an open kitchen. You can see the workers molding your favorite pandesal through a glass.

They also cook it right on the spot! They will literally give it to you straight right from the oven!
our order being baked

Trays of dough being sit to emulsify 
We ate the pandesal along the way it was delicious and has this neutral taste that makes me want to chew on it more that i should. hehehe....

As we reached the park we saw a structure with lights that it was so inviting we walked towards it. As we approached the building we learned that it is the old provincial capitol of Nueva Ecija. I am not an architecture expert but it reminds me of the old Gabaldon schools in the provinces.

Just when I thought that nothing would  happen and nothing is there to see in Cabanatuan things started be not so bad at all. Thank God! because if we didn't go and hear mass we wouldn't know the hidden treasures of the city.

I hope that the local government would exert more effort in educating the locals and spread the work more online on what is there to is in Cabanatuan.


Marky said...

Gen. Antonio Luna was one of my favorite revolutionaries, up there with Bonifacio and Del Pilar, so his death marker there is really a special landmark, unfortunately it looks like its in decay already :(

I love town hopping in provinces, there's always new things to see and unique food to eat. Nice post. I'd try to flag a jeep sometime passing by the hi-way in front of our house to Malolos soon.

AJ said...

Love your writing, Idol. This time you let your words tell much of the story. Oh, and this is the kind of traveling I wanna do (sana sinama mo ko!!!): yung walang iti, just drop in at a place at a moment's notice and explore.

So even though you weren't able to milk a breast, a cow's breast, I think you still had a wonderful trip. :)

AJ said...

Oh, and congrats pala. According to your flag counter, you've gotten past 1,000 hits from Pinas! Yey!!! Manlibre ka naman!!!

Supertikoy said...

thanks for sharing, di ko rin alam ang makikita or pwedeng gawin sa Nueva Ecija. Ang nasa isip ko lang ay puro farm land and all agricutural stuff. hehe
thanks for sharing!

Tita Lili said...

Isn't it really heartbreaking that we hardly know our heroes? We should blame our education system + boring history teachers for that. Maski ako, I am only just learning now, where books and travels help. Kulang tayo sa pride of our motherland and our patriots. *sob :((

gaye emami said...

Sounds like a very successful trip to me. Kudos to your efforts, not a lot of people would explore a place that's not known for tourism. Dami mo nadiscover!

ian_delapena said...

honga medyo creepy yung monumento....

ian_delapena said...

yeah napabayaan na nga pati yung market and monument.... dami rin palang pinaligpit si aguinaldo noh?

Taga malolos ka pala? I lived once in malolos when i was younger pero mas matagal ako sa tabang... hehe masaya yun marky! karatig hopping! =)

ian_delapena said...

hehe... nag enjoy kami the most the malungay pandesal as in ninanamnam namin yung lasa...hinahanap namin yung malungay! hahaha

ian_delapena said...

tuhmah! kung di pa kami nagsimba nagkape lang kami dun... hehehe....

ian_delapena said...

manager, bigla lang namin naisip kase ang daldal nungkasama ko daldal ng daldal ano kaya meron sa cabanatuan? ano kaya meron dun... ayun dinala ko sa cabanatuan! hehehehe and yeah I totally missed that milking breasts part hahahaha!

ian_delapena said...

I agree... puro manny pacquiao lang ang nagsasabi ng i'm proud to be a Filipino pag nanalo... There's a lot of things that we should be proud of as a country like the diversity of culture and places in the country...

ian_delapena said...

tnx manager.... nxt time.... =)

Ardee said...

Come to think of it, when I ran into your post it got me thinking what to see in Cabanatuan. I couldn't think of any at the time. It's a shame for me not to know what and where to go.

But if you're looking to milk a water buffalo, the best place to go I guess is the Philippine Carabao Center in my hometown (Science City of Munoz).

Maybe you should try exploring my city sometime. ^_^ Sex change for tilapia was developed along with fusing tomatoes and eggplant (camlong) in my century-old university (CLSU). While you're in the University,try checking out the Living Fish Museum.

Try our flavored lambanog and rice wine at the Philippine Rice Research Institute. And don't forget to visit the Shrine of the Sacred Heart if you're a catholic.

Marie Villadolid said...

im from Nueva Ecija and studied in Cabanatuan City .... tama ka, napabayaan nga nila ang death place ni Gen. Luna... Thanks for posting this, this would serve as a reminder or wakeup call sa government and people of Cabanatuan na bigyan ng halaga ito..

I think i need to go back home and share other wonderful stuff that Novo Ecijanos can offer =) slamat sa post mo, its a wake call for me din... been around sa ibat ibang lugar but not even a single post of my home town was featured on my blog...

happy travels

ian_delapena said...

Hi Ardee! definitely I would love to explore nueva ecija! hope that they are open on weekends (PCC) and the sex change for tilapia!!?? that is totally wicked! hehehehe =)

ian_delapena said...

Hi Marie!

I am glad share that my post has affected people positively way... and yes i hope that the city government would take notice too....

AJ said...

Hey idol! Let's go on a trip again! Sama mo ako sa mga lakad mo!!!

The Pinoy Explorer said...

Yeah...nothing much to see in Cabanatuan--except perhaps when you go to the fringes like the one leading to Palayan City. I hail from a neighboring town of Guimba. I must agree the old provincial capitol is an architectural landmark, so is the Nueva Ecija High School building. Paco Roman street used to be interesting as there are a lot of nice shops like Avenida. But then when the malls sprouted, namatay na ang mga ito.

Heidrigz said...

thank you so much for featuring cabanatuan city in your blog. you should have arrived earlier so you could have had the chance to visit the Camp Pangatian Shrine which is about 15 mins away from the city proper. it was the site of the successful rescue of the american prisoners of war during the world war II which was immortalized in the hollywood movie "The Great Raid". just like the other places in the Philippines, Cabanatuan is also rich in history. there is also a big golf and country club in cabanatuan near Maria Assumpta Seminary, several resorts, and the natividad orchid farm. The beef longganisa in cabanatuan locally known as "Batutay" is soooooo delicious. Last week, I was able to read an artcle on the internet which said that SM City Cabanatuan will be built sometime this year. They have already secured a zoning permit from cabanatuan city planning and development office. the future sm city cabanatuan is a four-storey building with spacious parking lot and will be built along Maharlika Highway in Brgy. Hermogenes Concepcion near NE Superbodega, Wheeltek Motors, Sogo Hotel-Cabanatuan, Robinsons, and NE Pacific Mall. Many popular personalities originally come from cabanatuan like willie revillame, nestor de villa, kathryn bernardo, huber bartolome, and paolo ballesteros. Cabanatuan City is truly an interesting place to visit! :)

Nestor Bagasan said...

Thank you for your article of Cabanatuan city! I attended Maria Assumpta Seminary class 1972. I know it was a good walk from the highway and it is now has front gate unlike before. We were surrounded by fields and normally our outside building would be flooded but water doesn't reach our floor level of the building. I have learn so much from the classes I took, which help me understand what the world we now live. We are now living in the end-times, in an uncertainty world. At one point you asked several local individual for direction such as point of interest but their answer were uncertain or rather what the city has to give. But we all search for an answer "God" at a town center church. The photos posted is a walk in history. I have not returned since 1984. Rev. Camilo D. Gregorio, was the first diocesan priest to be appointed as Rector of the Maria Assumpta Seminary for the years 1972 up to 1974.

ian l said...

thank you for your thoughts. I will surely try some Batutay next time and try to get some more info about the great raid. =)

Meg said...

Cabanatuan is my hometown. I stumbled upon this particular entry when I was trying to look for bloggers from Cabanatuan. You see, I just recently created my own blog. Thanks for visiting my hometown. It's quite disappointing indeed that there are not much to visit in Cabanatuan :(

- Meg

San Josenyong Gala said...

It's really heartbreaking kapag natuklasan mong maraming tao sa isang lugar ang hindi nakakaalam sa mga attraction at spots na meron sa sarili nilang lugar... Kailangan talaga ng mass education lalong lalo na sa mga locals about the beauty of their own places...

John said...

Correction: Hindi po ito temporary cathedral. ito po ang original na cathedral ng diocese. maililipat lang po ang pagka katedral nito kapag natapos na yung bago sa lakewood.