When planning to travel northbound, the usual destination choices are Pampanga, Pangasinan, Baguio, and Ilocos. But, Nueva Ecija and specifically, Cabanatuan City? Very rare! You need to rethink your journey once in a while because there are several great places to see in the city.
Fort Magsaysay is also known as Aquino-Diokno Memorial. It is the place where Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. and Jose ‘Pepe’ Diokno were isolated for three weeks. They spent their days in a small room, and a replica of the facilities codenamed Alpha for Ninoy and Delta for Pepe were inaugurated on September 12, 2012. It also functions as a museum where the wax figures of the two defenders of democracy, other restored items and memorabilia are found. An exhibit that showcases the stories that transpired during Martial Law is held daily. There is also a wall that teaches you your rights as an individual.
Hapag Vicentico’s is one of the most popular restaurants in Cabanatuan City. It serves authentic Filipino dishes and the ambiance is very traditional, too. The menu is even in Tagalog! The restaurant is known for its crispy pata, and beef kare-kare. Located in Del Pilar Street, it is only 20 minutes away from Amaia Scapes Cabanatuan. So, if you are craving for Filipino dishes without the need to go far from your home, this is the best dining place for you.
If you want to experience the nightlife in the metro, head to Khaliblu Palace. The Egyptian-themed nightclub makes a guest feel as if he or she is a Persian demigod. Not only that, it serves Lakan, a local brand of lambanog (coconut whiskey) that means chieftain or warrior. Lambanog is considered as the strongest alcoholic beverage in the country. So, yes, lambanog is only for the gallant.
Plaza Lucero is in the front of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral or simply, Cabanatuan Cathedral. The plaza is a historical site; it is where General Antonio Luna was assassinated in 1899 by Captain Pedro Janolino and Kawit (Cavite) battalion members. Beside the church is the marker while the statue demonstrating the general astride a horse is in the middle of the plaza.
A must-try when visiting Cabanatuan City is its very own brand of ice cream. Puno’s Ice Cream has been in the business for more than 50 years now. The main branch is located in Maharlika Highway although there are several outlets scattered around the city and nearby towns. Try their best-seller, cheese cashew macapuno!
Freedom Park is near the Old Provincial Capitol building. The park is the biggest in the city and thus, hosts government-sponsored events from time to time. There’s another monument of the general within the park. Students frequently visit the park since it is near Nueva Ecija High School.
If you think of Cabanatuan City as merely a gateway or for a quick stopover, don’t. Apparently, there are many places in Cabanatuan City that are waiting to be explored. You just have to know the city more deeply to appreciate its beauty.