Cabanatuan City: seeing the place that I used to love in a new light

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Cabanatuan City is big, highly-urbanized, and progressive, and is considered by many as Nueva Ecija's most recognizable city.

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Cabanatuan City is big, highly-urbanized, and progressive, and is considered by many as Nueva Ecija's most notable city.

Rice fields in Cabanatuan City
Photo by pexels.com

Cabanatuan City: seeing the place that I used to love in a new light




    Cabanatuan City might not have gained popularity as other places around the Philippines in terms of tourist attractions, nevertheless, this city definitely has a lot of notable things to offer to its visitors.


    A look back at my old love affair with Cabanatuan City


    Cabanatuan City is a place so near yet so far. Well, that's how it is for me. I have been there on many occasions but I cannot seem to master it, possibly because I was so young when we used to go to Cabanatuan City to buy school supplies.

    A flower in Cabanatuan City

    Ah, yes. Those few days before school started gave me so much excitement because it meant that we were going to Cabanatuan City, the place where I first experienced stepping inside a mall, enjoying the cold air conditioning, eating in a fast food restaurant , and visiting the toy section of the department store.


    I remember going to the wet market to buy fresh produce, eating in a hole-in-the-wall Chinese noodle house, which I learned later on grew to be a big bakeshop in Cabanatuan City. We bought all our new clothes and new shoes in Cabanatuan City. Those days were heaven!


    Fast forward to several years more and our trips to Cabanatuan City became fewer and fewer. That meant that I never had the opportunity to master Cabanatuan City. In the end, it has become a foreign land to me and I never had the confidence to commute to Cabanatuan City alone since then.

    Things to See & Do: Cabanatuan City in a Day


    The opportunity to visit Cabanatuan City came in the form of a wedding invitation. Actually, it was my father who invited me to accompany him to that ceremony. Little did I realize that this trip has wrapped up a few small (though unforgettable) surprises for me.

    I readily said yes for several reasons. Number one reason was that I haven't been to Cabanatuan City since, I think, 2002. It was close to a decade so I think it's about time to go back to my once favorite place.

    Dambana ng Ina ng Laging Saklolo (Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help) Church


    The wedding venue was Dambana ng Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church (roughly translated as the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), which is one of the most popular locations for wedding ceremonies not just in Cabanatuan City but in the whole province of Nueva Ecija. It was my first time to go there and honestly, I didn't quite find the place impressive.

    Dambana ng Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church in Cabanatuan City
    Dambana in Ina ng Laging Saklolo

    What I did notice is the peaceful and the quiet ambiance of the area so that I instantly felt like I was being lulled to sleep. The interior of the church reminded me of the Church of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman in which the overall architecture of the building takes advantage of the natural elements as its source of lighting and ventilation.

    La Parilla Hotel


    After the ceremonies, we proceeded to La Parilla Hotel. I've heard so much about this old hotel which is among the famous landmarks of Cabanatuan. It actually has a romantic significance to my parents as this is where my father proposed to my mother during Nanay's graduation ball in 1980.

    La Parilla Hotel in Cabanatuan City
    Fa├žade of La Parilla Hotel

    I was expecting the hotel to be a bit large because of its popularity as a venue for parties and weddings so I was quite surprised because it was not that spacious at all. 

    La Parilla, however, had that "old-world" feel to it because the original structure and design of the building were preserved. The function rooms are small, as I had imagined, but I still found them charming and homey. The walls and the posts looked antique and really attractive. The old-world charm combined with the low ceiling provided a feeling of warmth and closeness -- characteristics that we are all looking forward to during family gatherings.

    Front view of La Parilla Hotel in Cabanatuan City
    La Parilla Hotel

    As for the food, well, I guess since the Hotel wasn't really presenting it as "fancy" hotel food -- just warm, tasty, delicious and filling party and fiesta food -- La Parilla didn't disappoint as to the taste of the selections it served.

    On a final note, the only thing I suggest that the Hotel should improve on is their rest room. They should add more urinals and further improve on cleanliness. But overall, it was one memorable experience and I didn't regret it a bit for accepting Tatay's invitation.

    La Parilla Hotel is located at Zulueta corner Melencio Streets, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. For inquiries, you may call telephone number (+6344) 463-1810 or send them at email at [email protected] (room reservations) or [email protected] (parties, meetings, and events).


    Stopover in Sangitan


    After the affair, we proceeded to a place called Barangay Sangitan where there were plenty of different vegetables sold. My father informed me that this place is actually a vegetable depot.

    Vegetables in a market in Cabanatuan City
    Photo by pexels.com

    Vegetable traders from Baguio, La Union, Nueva Viscaya and other parts of Nueva Ecija bring their produce to Sangitan. Stall owners from Manila and as far as Cavite all go here to buy vegetables in bulk. From Sangitan, we decided to call it a day and just head home to San Antonio. 

    Other interesting places to see in Cabanatuan City


    St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral


    Located within the Cabanatuan City proper, St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral is curious mix of old and modern designs. Being one of the most popular churches in Cabanatuan City, it is frequented by many visitors to attend Mass. It is also near the location where General Antonio Luna was killed. 

    Cabanatuan American Memorial


    This is a World War II memorial dedicated to thousands of Americans who died in the hands of the Japanese army. It is located along the Cabanatuan-Palayan road in Barangay Pangatian and features a small museum as well as plaques containing the names of the war casualties. Admission to the Cabanatuan American Memorial is free.

    Where to Stay in Cabanatuan City


    Aside from La Parilla Hotel, travelers may also stay at The Harvest Hotel and Microtel by Wyndham Cabanatuan. Please find below the details should you wish to book a room:

    The Harvest Hotel

    The Harvest Hotel is located at 1179 Del Pilar Street, Cabanatuan City. For inquiries, you may call (044) 950-8888 or 0917-5396125, or send them an email at [email protected]


    Microtel by Wyndham Cabanatuan

    Microtel by Wyndham is located at Sta. Arcadia, Cabanatuan City. For inquiries, you may call (+6344) 958-7777 or 0927-8042929, or send them an email at [email protected]


    Epilogue


    As our vehicle was traversing the highway, I couldn't help but observe the different business establishments along the road. And suddenly, it just dawned upon me that Cabanatuan City is also a progressive zone. Establishments like Shakey's, Gloria Jean's, and Robinson's, to name a few can also be found here. 

    Big businesses like banks and financing companies hold their head offices here so growth is indeed continuous. Somehow, I felt that the people who have decided to pursue their careers in Cabanatuan are likewise blessed and lucky since they're just home. They didn't need to be in Metro Manila just to feel successful.

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    Anyway, though tired from more that three hours of traveling to and from Cabanatuan, I still felt happy and contented for having "explored" a captivating place that's just at home but rarely visited. And right now, I can't help but feel excited at the thought of visiting Cabanatuan City once again. Thanks in large part to the new sights I have seen.

    MAP OF CABANATUAN CITY


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