Hidden Gems of Nueva VizcayaI had been been traveling the past three weeks for a project where I am involved with right now. These travels, while work-related, allowed me some time for quick sight-seeing and perfect opportunities to plan for a longer visit in the future.
Enroute to Ifugao, I had a chance to stay overnight in Nueva Vizcaya, mostly to visit the newly-constructed Trauma Center of the Veterans Regional Hospital in Bayombong. I will refrain from discussing work in this post as I am still finishing my reports and have yet to ascertain the extent of information that I can share but let me express my appreciation to the hospital’s personnel for welcoming me and the engaging discussions. I am truly impressed with the turn-out of the new building as well as the seemingly improved services that the hospital team is able to give to trauma patients with its new building and equipment. Just to give you an idea on how the new Trauma Center looks like, here is a picture.
As you will notice, its design is very modern and can easily compare with the more modern hospitals in key cities of the Philippines. Going through the hospital complex and talking with the doctors and personnel there certainly gave me so much hope for the future of hospital and health care in the Philippines.
As the intent of this post is really to share with you the simple gems that I found in Nueva Vizcaya (and nearby provinces) during the quick visit, let me proceed with this image that I took of the countryside while traversing the national highway (I believe this was taken somewhere in Nueva Ecija).
My neck hurt a bit at some point because I just cannot stop looking outside the windows. The wide expanse of rice fields and mountains–although some parts are quite denuded (calling the attention of our DENR officials and local governments!)–invite inspiration and inner joy.
One of the first things that impressed me upon arrival in Nueva Vizcaya was the way the surroundings of the Provincial Capitol easily provided nice leisure grounds for the residents. It was surrounded by simple parks, pathways (perfect for running/jogging), and basketball and tennis courts. In fact, the provincial government even built the Tribu Biscayano Village, a theme park that showcases the unique culture and traditions of our Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan Valley/Cordillera ancestors mainly through replicas of native huts, which was said to have been built by tribal folks coming from the Isinai, Gaddang, Bugkalot, Kalanguya/Ikalahan, Iwak, Kankana-ey, Ibaloi, Ayangan, Tuwali and other IP groups. (Source: nuevavizcaya.gov.ph)
I felt this was a good way to honor and remember our cultural heritage. I salute the local government of the Province and its current and previous leaders as well as those anonymous workers who have obviously built the capitol grounds and the Tribu Biscayano Village out of a desire to give its residents a safe, culture-rich, and enjoyable places where they can spend quiet afternoon walks and engage in sports/games with friends and colleagues. It is very rare that I encounter Capitol grounds with such consideration. The trees everywhere also give the kapitolyo a nice greenery.
The visit to the province gave me a chance also to quickly reconnect with my friend, Maita, a true-blue ‘Novo Vizcayana’, who is seemingly becoming a household name as she lovingly manages and nurtures Ayuyang Bar. Ayuyang, a favorite hang-out place in Solano, was built by her brother and his friends–and I suppose, with much support from Maita herself and their whole clan–out of the love for Pinoy music, arts, and family traditions, and a desire to provide a ‘sanctuary’ for kindred souls who need to unwind and simply enjoy quiet moments and conversations. (“Ayuyang” cannot be directly translated to Tagalog but it connotes “a place for refuge, rest, or relaxation.”) The photo below shows a part of Ayuyang’s interior.
One does not often encounter such places even in culture-rich provinces so Ayuyang has easily captured my heart. Here is another picture that I really liked. The smaller wheel at the background provides a nice contrast to the bigger wheel.
In Ayuyang, I had experienced the best version of chicharon bulaklak (deep fried pork mesentery). No kidding. I am not really a big fan of chicharon bulaklak but the smell of Ayuyang’s version is enough to cajole me. And my gosh, it is yummy! The sawsawan (dip), a local vinegar (sukang basi) with generous amount of garlic, made the dish even more unforgettable. Ahhhh….a trip to Nueva Vizcaya should be in my bucket list again.
Another nice revelation is Balai Gloria, a hotel and events place that must be gaining popularity, too. It has nice gardens, a swimming pool (although it seems currently not in use) and a restaurant that serves a wide range of menu. Food is probably not the best in this part of the Philippines but the few I have sampled did not give me reasons to complain about. The kinilaw na tangigue is actually good. The photos below show a bit of the place.
On the way to Ifugao the next day, hungry and in search of a “local” restaurant, I chanced upon Myra’s Special Pancitan, along the national highway (still in Solano). It looks like a typical ‘hole-in-the-wall’ sort of eatery but I would highly recommend its Pancit Lomi! See the proof below… 🙂
On my way back to Manila (after staying in Ifugao for a few days), while cruising along the national highway somewhere in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, I checked my email and realized that my superior sent me an urgent email a couple of hours earlier. In the email, she gently requested me to finish a simple document by COB that day. I quickly sent an email promising that I will find a coffee shop where I can stop and work on the file. I thanked the heavens when, suddenly, in a spot that must be located in the highest point of the mountain ridges of Sta. Fe, I saw a simple but cozy restaurant where I can work because Globe Tattoo signal is working! (Thank you, Lord, for nice cafes/restaurants that suddenly appear even up there in the mountains!) The placed, called Cafe Mijares & Restaurant, has striking red paint so you can easily spot it (although the way its location was “angled” makes it easier for people enroute to Bayombong to see it rather than for those coming back. The signage was also on that side of the road). Here is another picture that shows the facade where the restaurant’s fruit stand is also located. Hope this picture can help you in finding it if you also needed a place for stop-over. 🙂
I can easily go on and on and this will most likely become a long list. However, I leave it up to you to discover your own gems, knowing that every moment brings new discoveries.
Follow my footprints and create your own. I wish you a great journey!
Ayuyang Bar | 115 Magsaysay Street, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya
Balai Gloria | Washington Street, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya | Tels. +63 78 326 5417 +63 922 859 6449
Myra’s Special Pancitan | National Highway, Brgy. Quirino, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya (across a small office called Royale Business Club)
© 2014 meiLBOX /Mary Anne Velas-Suarin. Photos used here are protected by copyright/intellectual property laws. Please seek permission if you need to use or re-post them.
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