(Creative Feature Writing Contest – Second Place) Nueva Vizcaya : Where Wanderers Wonder

A journey of a lifetime starts with a single step, a gentle breeze of an adrenaline rush that rustles the leaves of your very soul, a playful dance of the roots containing a mix of emotions from the days of old and a vigorous heart that thrums the rhythm of those who came before us. A chance to be able to step every mile taken by our ancestors, to touch the grooves of the past carved from experiences of those who started the string of journeys leading to today and to create a time machine that would take us farther than just the stories now being told, more than legends and more than myths. What if you could walk the path of the 21st century and venture to a magnificent journey leading you to wondrous places? If you’re ready, pack your bags, check your gear, fill your heart with excitement because our journey starts now.

People’s Museum and Library in Bayombong

What could be more historic than a museum and a library being situated in the former seat of the provincial government? The two-story building, having been renovated since still has some of the old infrastructure, showcasing the harmonious merge of the old and the new. We will start our adventure ascending the stairs to a lobby of paintings by the locals to your left and a visual auditorium to the right after being greeted by warm smiles from the staff of the museum and library. Local paintings have long been a tradition of the People’s Museum and Library to further showcase the talents and creativity of the people in Nueva Vizcaya.

Enticed by the warm lights, you go up the 2nd floor as the drums of the indigenous people and the natives thrum faster and louder in your heart and you hear the faint whisper of stories of what was that made what is today. On the last step, you are greeted by colors from sepia to a burst of bright cultures and traditions. Like the intricately woven materials used for the indigenous costumes, the heritage of Nueva Vizcaya from different cultures were weaved as one to strengthen the unity of Novo Vizcayanos.

The weaponry and other tactical equipment from the World War II tells of stories from brave men who fought and wholeheartedly served their fellowmen and tragic loss of families who were fearless enough to let go of their hearts knowing that they could never come back. Traditional costumes and cultural kits hum of a vibrant tradition passed down from generation to generation to create a link on the roots of indigenous families in Nueva Vizcaya. Ecclesiastical passages and historical summary of the clergy and its humble beginnings show the religious devotion of the Vizcayanos. With an array of history books, knowledgeable staff and materials from the past, you will be filled not just with more information but with familiarity that would always hit home.

You descend the stairs with a wandering mind and a hopeful heart as you say goodbye to the four corners of the place where your learning is piqued, craving for more as you journey to another place. From there, you ride onboard a jeep going down north, the most common form of public transportation besides busses and tricycles. After 15-20 minutes on the main highway, you will be greeted by another busy municipality, a melting pot of culture and tradition. Named after the Isinay term “to dig”, you are met with the beautiful place of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya where the legendary Salinas Salt Spring was once marveled for its magnificence and the magical folklore that came with it.

In the heart of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, as the jeep slows to a stop, you step down from the jeep and admire the busy streets riddled with hardworking people as you hail a tricycle or ride onboard another jeep that would bring you to a majestic church in Dupax Del Sur.

St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Dupax del Sur

Arriving from a long ride, wanting to relax your mind and body from all the world has to offer, you suddenly feel the wave of serenity washing over you as you lay your eyes on the 18th century Baroque church in Dopaj, Dupax Del Sur: St. Vincent Ferrer Church. One of the oldest in Cagayan Valley and named as a National Cultural Treasure in 2001, St. Vincent Ferrer Church still has its old infrastructure laden with bricks and plastered, with different carved ornaments that gives it one of its best characteristics.

 The grand entrance makes you dream of having an intimate and emotional wedding as it opens, beckoning you to walk down the aisle or just walk solemnly and thank the Lord of all the blessings you have received. The interior, as you roam your eyes and wonder about the miracles of life, strengthens your faith and devotion. Your eyes fall on the original retablo and pulpit of the church from way back and your heart starts to sing of psalms and slows down to a peaceful quiet as you genuflect before sitting on one of the pews and pray for your heart’s desire. You are humbled by the songs and praises coming from the choir that sings of God’s love for the whole world as He gave his only son to save us from our sins.

You genuflect once again as you leave the pews and wander outside its walls, admiring the belfry towered by the oldest acacia trees and reminisce the past. You touch its walls trying to feel and listen for the emotions of those who climbed up the stairs of the bell tower and of those who toiled night and day to build a magnificent house of worship dedicated to God. St. Vincent Ferrer Church is one of the best representations of the love that the Novo Vizcayanos have for the Almighty God.

Before leaving the place and getting ready for your final destination, you fill your lungs with the fresh air as you look for quaint stores that sell various snacks that would make you want to come back not just for the experience but also for the taste. Offering one of the best barbeques, pancit lomi, pancit cabagan, goto and lugaw; Dupax Del Sur is truly a place of great cuisine with a touch of the Baroque era at every corner.

You hail another tricycle ride going back to Bambang and ride onboard another jeep going south to Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya where you can finally relax and enjoy nature to end your day trip.

Imugan Falls in Santa Fe

The ride going to Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya is filled with great sights of mountain ranges, lush green rice fields and corn plantations. The greenery and the serenity of each places would remind you of how your life, even in its full rotation, needs to stop for a while and recuperate. You will know that you’re almost nearing the place when you already feel a slightly colder breeze and you feel the slight up and down and curved lines of the road as you go up to where you would start your journey on foot to one of the best views in Nueva Vizcaya.

Before the trek, you will need to register in the barangay hall of Imugan, Santa Fe and start on foot going through lush greenery with not much difficulty due to the paved path by the government. Uphill and downhill 30-minute trek would not be a bore because of the flora and fauna that you will encounter every step of the way. Besides the tall standing trees that whispers of great culture when the wind blows and rustles its leaves and the water flowing from the springs atop the mountains that rushes downward to give life to the vegetation, the trek itself energizes and revitalizes your soul.

The view, once you reach the falls would astound you to tears as you appreciate the water falling from the spring to the shallow basin like a mother breastfeeding her child, giving new meaning to the word “bonded”. You dip your feet in the cold water and shiver at its splendor and marvel at the sight of nature as it unfolds before your eyes. After basking in the sun and wading in the cold water that made you feel more alive, you go home with jams and juices locally made from hibiscus and other abundant fruits in Santa Fe.

Feeling more at home and in tune with your birth place and its vast culture and traditions, the scenic views and the mouthwatering cuisine from different indigenous groups, you realize that there are more things to learn, more places to go, more food to eat and more adventures to pursue and it is all right here, in our NATURALLY VIBRANT NUEVA VIZCAYA!

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