Last friday, my boyfriend and I looked for a quick getaway to start our February right. We end up going to this part in Nueva Ecija where we’ve read is just a 3-4 hours drive from Manila. But yesterday, it took us almost 5 hours to reach this protected area in the province known as the largest producer of rice in Central Luzon.
It took us that long because of traffic in EDSA (What’s new?) and a very unforgettable experience we’ve had on the way to Minalungao National Park.
HOW TO GET THERE
Via Private Transportation
We went there by car. From NLEX, we took Sta. Rita Exit. From there, we passed through at least 3 municipalities of Bulacan including Baliuag, San Ildefonso and San Miguel.
Then, we turned right somewhere in San Roque (Already part of Nueva Ecija) where the Google Maps lead us and this is where our terrifying experience began.
We passed through a few houses on the way and having this instinct that we’re lost, we tried to ask a local if we are on the right way to Minalungao. He just nodded and so we continued to follow where the GPS is leading us.
About halfway to our destination, the road started to become a headache for my boyfriend and the car. It was bumpy and we find it difficult to get our pace faster.
I was starting to think we should’ve gone a different route but each time I do, we happen to encounter a car. Thinking they are on their way back from Minalungao, we just kept going. Until we get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Getting lost in the middle of nowhere is the hardest part of yesterday.
There was this muddy creek we saw about 3/4 our way to Minalungao. We were hesitant at first to continue but thinking we’re already near, my boyfriend drove forward. And unfortunately, the car get stuck in the mud. We tried to accelerate and back but it was useless. Our hopes started to lose their hold in our thoughts. Thank God there was a kubo nearby and I saw 2 men. I waved my hands up high and asked for help. Luckily, we were able to push the car forward.
We were really grateful for these two strangers.
But then there were about 4-5 men who stopped us. They were armed with rifles. God, I was really scared. They asked us where we came from and why we end up on that route. My thoughts were lost as they interrogate us. I was honestly thinking we are done. They wore army suits but I think they’re no army. I was thinking they’re NPA. But thank God, they advised us that there was actually a cemented road to Minalungao and finally let us go. Good thing we were only about 1 km far away from our destination. My boyfriend was actually thinking to head back to Manila but since we were already there, we continued. And with a big WHEW, we finally arrived in our destination.
So for you guys who plan to go see Minalungao, please keep our experience in mind and don’t take that right turn in San Roque.
From San Miguel, just head to Gapan, Nueva Ecija and from there, the road to Minalungao is indeed cemented. I bet the GPS will re-route itself and lead you to this hidden park in Nueva Ecija.
Via Public Transportation
If you decided to commute, you can take a bus bound to Cabanatuan and drop by Gapan City. From there, arrange a roundtrip tricycle ride to/from Minalungao.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Minalungao National Park was indeed a feast for the eyes.
If you are with your family and friends, you can rent a raft for at least Php 600 (depending on your haggling skills) where you can enjoy a picnic together.
But if you’re going to eat there, please don’t litter around. Be a responsible traveller. It’s such a disappointment to see people just throwing around their trashes everywhere. In as much as I’d like to clean it up, it can’t be done just by an individual. I hope this could at least serve as an awareness to all.
Despite of it all, the river was still light green and clean in which you can actually swim for a cool down. Let’s not wait for it to be ruined for our irresponsible acts.
Since we arrived there late in the afternoon and we don’t want to return back by sundown, we just enjoyed the view and took advantage of the awestruck limestone backdrop.
You can also go see the cave nearby.
The trek will only take you about 5-10 minutes.
So why not try it and you’ll get to see these stalagmites!
By the way, we were guided by Edmar, a local tour guide about the age of 10 or 11. At first, we were actually hesitant to have one because it seems like it’s not needed but what is Php 200 to give to this little kid who might need some allowance for his studies.
There are other activities we haven’t tried due to lack of time. But for my readers’ reference, you could actually try their zipline for Php 100 (back and forth).
There is this part too where you can see the Sierra Madre range in just 1000 steps to the top.
0800 ETD from Manila
1200 ETA in Minalungao National Park + Lunch
1300 Short spelunking in nearby Cave + 1000 Steps
1400 Swim + Zipline + Photo Ops
1730 ETD from Minalungao
2100 ETA in Manila
Php 200 – Tour Guide Fee
Php 50 – Parking Fee
Php 40 – Entrance Fee per head
Php 100 – Zipline
Php 1000 – Food + Transportation (Good for 2)
Estimated Total Expenses: Php 700 (per head)
What a way to start our February! It was really an unforgettable experience. It taught me that…
In life, we tend to get lost and when we do, let’s not forget to ask for His guidance and he will help us find our way back.
Thank you for reading and always keep safe!
P.S. Leave no trace but memories.