Province of Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in Central Luzon region. The province is divided into 4 congressional districts which consist of 27 municipalities and 5 cities. Palayan City is the provincial capital and seat of government by virtue of Republic Act No. 4475, though the provincial government still maintains its facilities in Cabanatuan City.
Nueva Ecija is the largest province of Centr al Luzon and the biggest rice producer of the country, thus, it is often referred to as the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines.” Other major crops are corn, onion, garlic, mango, calamansi, banana, garlic and vegetables. The town of Bongabon in the eastern part of the province at the foot of Sierra Madre Mountains and its neighboring towns of Laur and Rizal, are the major producers of onion and garlic. Bongabon is hailed as the “Onion Capital of the Philippines.”
The province was named after an old city of Ecija in Seville, Spain. Nueva Ecija was created as a military comandancia in 1777 by Governor General Claveria, with the capital at Josean in Baler, now a part of Aurora. Its land area grew to cover almost the entire island of Luzon, but Nueva Ecija’s territory was subdivided to give way to creation of other provinces. The province of Tayabas, now Aurora and Quezon; the province of Palanan, now Isabela; Cagayan; Nueva Vizcaya; Quirino; the District of Morong, now Rizal; and Manila were among those created out of Nueva Ecija.
Nueva Ecija was settled in the last century by thousands of migrants from adjoining provinces such as Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pangasinan, and Ilocos. Today Novoecijanos are descendants of these settlers and many still hold on to folk traditions. About 77% of the people speak Tagalog as their first language. Others are Kapampangan, Pangasinan, and Ilocano-speakers and they are concentrated in the cities and towns of the south and north. There are small communities of Ilongots along the Caraballo and Sierra Madre Range, as well as Agtas or Negritos.
Tourists can discover the hidden beauty of Nueva Ecija. In the easternmost barrio of Rizal, nestled uphill on the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range boasts one of Central Luzon’s hidden treasures: the General Luna Falls. It is a towering waterfall of more than a hundred feet descending widely across a rocky mountain wall into over twenty pools of varying levels and depths. Other destinations in the province are the Minalungao Park with its breathtaking view of the narrow but deep Penaranda River; the Mt. Olivete; the Palaspas Falls which is ideal for picnics and bathing especially during summer; and the Gabaldon Falls. The festivals in the province are the “Taong Putik Festival” of Aliaga and the Holy Week Rituals of Puncan.