Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija

We just got home last night from Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon. We were there some 4 days and was prodded to suddenly go home last night because of spooky stories we talked of after super at the "Kalapaw," the Ilocano term for a vacation hut or cabin.
It was all fun, adventure, mystery, and some work. Primarily, we were there to oversee the rice harvest. Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija is about 3 to 4 hours from Manila via the NLEX. We left at about 7 am last Monday and got there at about 10 am. Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija is where the whole town flocks to the rice fields during harvest time, and the main agendum is get the palay to turn into rice and sold at the right price. So the first thing we did there was ask how the harvest was doing, how much would it all cost, and how much rice could be sold per sack. Our farmer said about 20 per cent of production was lost to the dreaded Stem Borer, an insect that attacked rice from the inside. So we expected 80 percent harvest. Well, with other lands, he said the harvest was worse.
In between, we also talked about swimming at the dike and waterway with cool, clean, flowing water from the nearby Pantabangan Dam and partly from the cold underground spring. Oh, we brought along an inflatable swimming pool in case we needed some more rounds of soaking at the Kalapaw--which my kids and nephew did. We also talked about fishing and grilling the freshly caught fish for lunch, and preparing fresh veggie salads (grilled eggplant, raw tomatoes and onions, with some vinegar and "bagoong" or preserved fish sauce), pork and chicken "adobo" and how we'd take hikes to the rice fields and get some amateurish photography going. And of course, some ghost stories in town. Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija may look sleepy at times, but it's really fun and adventurous if you just look for things to do. Picture on the right is among the spots along the waterway suitable for dives. 
The picture on the left is not a cooking pot of Sinigang but our inflatable swimming pool. 

I and my wife also enjoyed some walking around the block, and I relished in my early morning Tai Chi and arnis sessions on the kalapaw's roof deck. From there I meditated undisturbed, looking at distant rice fields, mountain ranges, trees and bamboos, and the town neighborhood--with its rustic huts and backyard scenes--busy folks, pigs, goats, ducks, and palay grains scattered on pavement floors and the streets for drying. You should go see Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija one time and watch simple life in the province taking place.

Quality rice were sold at Php 35 per kilo retail price in Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija. It's so delicious we ate extra helpings and fought hard to control our appetites. Our diets were smashed to pieces, as it were, as we broke it with meal feasts--but only while we were in Agbanawag, Nueva Ecija. Now that we're back in the city, it's diet time once again. 

During our last night we were supposed to sleep there one more night but due to tales on spooks and white ladies my sis-in-law decided to go home right there and then. So at 9 am we packed our things and left. What was the story about? Well, ghosts were said to sometimes haunt the Kalapaw, being empty most of the time. And there's also an abandoned hospital nearby where spooks lived, according to our farmer-caretaker. That sent the creeps up the spine of my in-law, and she begged that we leave pronto. After laughters and mockeries, we considered her pleas. The picture on the right is the abandoned hospital, about 3 lots away from our kalapaw. The first picture above is the kalapaw. 

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