Q: We learned that Nueva Ecija is your province, isn't it?
A: No, my great-great-grandparents, Norberto Magno Balajadia and Asuncion Vergara Datang, are native resident of Nueva Ecija particularly in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. I remember that when I was a kid, my grandfather, Juan Guevarra Balajadia, was mentioned that his grandparents are came from Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Cabiao, Nueva Ecija is an adjacent town of Magalang, Pampanga. When my great-grandfather, Luciano Datang Balajadia, is married to my great-grandmother, Catalina Mallari Guevarra, of Magalang, Pampanga, they settled in Magalang, Pampanga until their death. Most of the Balajadia families are living not only in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija but also in the adjacent towns like Gapan City, San Isidro, San Leonardo, Santa Rosa, and so on. I went to Nueva Ecija in 1996 when I was making and tracing the Family Tree of Balajadia. Thanks God that I finished in making and tracing the Family Tree of Balajadia with the help of my relatives there. I cannot forget Mrs. Aurora Balajadia Llanera Adriano who helped me in making and tracing the Family Tree of Balajadia. Her mother, Mrs. Feliza Torres Balajadia Llanera, is a wife of General Mariano Llanera, a hero in Philippines during Spanish period. Her grandfather, Roberto Magno Balajadia, is a twin brother of my great-great-grandfather, Norberto Magno Balajadia.
Q: Could you please describe about Province of Nueva Ecija if you are familiar in that province?
A: Well, Nueva Ecija is located at Region 3 known as Central Luzon. Some people in Nueva Ecija are speaking Kapampangan and Ilocano and majority of people there are speaking Tagalog, a national language in Philippines. Nueva Ecija is located north of Bulacan, northwest of Quezon, northeast of Pampanga, west of Aurora, east of Tarlac, south of Nueva Vizcaya, and southeast of Pangasinan. The Province of Nueva Ecija is derived from the Spanish word nueva Ecija meaning new Ecija. Ecija is one of the city in Spain.
Q: We heard that Province of Nueva Ecija is also a rich province in Philippines, isn't it?
A: I will say, yes but it is not so rich yet like other provinces in Philippines. Nueva Ecija is also a well-known province for the main source of meat, poultry, dairy products, rice, fruits, and vegetables to nearby provinces as well as in Manila. Although Nueva Ecija is surrounded with mountains, it is also considered as a tourist spot in Philippines that's why there are many resorts and cottages for the tourists and visitors. It is also a nice spot for many television and movie shootings. Right now, Gapan City is also a productive city for making clothes and bakya, a slipper that is made from wood. Cabanatuan City has so many malls, department stores, and businesses that's why the traffic there is always heavy because of many people and vehicles.
Q: What are the main roads in Province of Nueva Ecija?
A: Well, I am not familiar with the main roads there because as I said, I am not a native resident of Nueva Ecija. I used to go to Nueva Ecija when I was a resident in Philippines to visit my relatives both in my mother's and father's side. I know only Maharlika Highway, which is connected to the provinces of Bulacan and Nueva Vizcaya. Maharlika Highway is a main road or highway to Manila and Isabela for many years already.
Q: Do you go to shopping malls and department stores in Nueva Ecija and when?
A: When I was in Philippines, I've never been to any shopping malls and department stores there. When I came to United States and later become a US citizen, I went to shopping malls and department stores there when I visited in Philippines and visited my relatives in Cabanatuan City and Palayan City. Right now, there are shopping malls there like Robinsons in Cabanatuan City. Also there other shopping malls like NE Pacific Mall and Mega Center Mall in Cabanatuan City. NE Pacific Mall is a well-known shopping center for many years already. I recently went there to see how big their shopping malls.
Q: We heard that you were arrived in Philippines on November 9, 2009. Since you are a Balikbayan, did you have a tour in Province of Nueva Ecija?
A: Yes, I went to Nueva Ecija on November 12-14, 2009. I went there with my relatives courtesy of my cousin, Alvin Alvaran Magtalas. We went there including my mother's sisters and cousins to visit our other relatives like like my uncle, my mother's eldest brother and his families. We went to my cousin's house in Cabanatuan City to visit and invite them at Hunter Valley Resort. After that, we went to Palayan City to visit and invite also my uncle and his families at Hunter Valley Resort. Hunter Valley Resort is a well-known resort in Central Luzon owned and operated by Ernesto Mercado and his family. Ernesto Mercado is a Vice-Mayor of Makati City and later, he will run for a mayor in Makati City later. His daughter, Filipina Mercado Magtalas is a wife of my cousin, Alvin Alvaran Magtalas. They gave us a nice accommodation there by staying at Hunter Valley Resort. Hunter Valley Resort has so many rooms, swimming pool, and mini-zoos. They have many pairs of animals that are came from other places in Philippines and other countries. This resort is also popular that's why there are many politicians and showbiz people who are also staying there during their vacation period. This is also a good place for weddings, meetings, reunions, and other occasions.
On November 13, 2009, after we ate our breakfast, we went for a tour at Hunter Valley Resort to see all the animals at their zoo. All the animals there are so nice especially the deer and ostrich. Also, we had a swim at their pools there. Their swimming pools are so nice and clean. They clean the pool always because of many guests and visitors always. Their restaurant is also nice because their foods are cooked in native style but very delicious. The design and style of their restaurant is also very native and it is made from nipa, bamboo, and capiz shells. After we ate our lunch, we went to Palayan City to visit and see the Provincial Capitol of Nueva Ecija. Formerly, the capital of Nueva Ecija was Cabanatuan City but later, the provincial government of Nueva Ecija has decided to move the capitol building to Palayan City. The capitol building of Nueva Ecija is also a tourist spot in Nueva Ecija. Also, we went to the other towns of Nueva Ecija like in Laur and Gabaldon to have a tour there before we went to Dingalan, Aurora. We bought different kinds of fishes for our dinner in Dingalan, Aurora before we went back to Hunter Valley Resort. The chefs at Hunter Valley Resort cooked all the fishes that we bought and they cooked them in native style. I like to eat fishes very much especially if they are freshly catch from the sea or river. All my relatives including me had a very nice dinner. This is a memorable vacation at this resort.
On November 14, 2009, after we had a breakfast, we had a tour at Hunter Valley Resort to see the other cottages and the rest of the animals there. Some of my relatives had their swim at the pools. Still, there are many guests and visitors in the resort especially the businessmen and rich families. We had a nice talk with Filipina Mercado Magtalas, my cousin's wife and she gave us a nice accommodations and entertainment. All together we had our heavy lunch and they cooked many dishes especially the fishes that we were bought in Dingalan, Aurora. This is my memorable vacation in this resort. After our lunch, we went to Baliuag, Bulacan to drop-off my aunts and cousins before they send us at Oxford Suites in Makati City. Oxford Suites is a nice condominium also owned and operated by Ernesto Mercado and his family. My cousin and his wife were decided to lend us a room at Oxford Suites during my vacation in Philippines together with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. Mark Anthony Tan was my tourist guide and my assistance as well during my vacation.
Q: How's the weather in Province of Nueva Ecija?
A: Well, the weather there was good because it was sunny but cloudy especially in afternoon. The temperature there is 90°F during days and 75°F during nights.
Q: Do you recommend to anyone to visit in Province of Nueva Ecija?
A: Yes, of course. I am inviting everyone to visit in Nueva Ecija. Nueva Ecija is also a nice province in Philippines because there are many tourist spots and resorts there. For those who wants to visit in nature places, Nueva Ecija is also a nice place for you like visiting in the mountains, rivers, and plantations. You can eat fresh fruits and vegetables there because this province is also a plantation of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also buy fresh fruits and vegetables in cheap prices or wholesale price. Also, you will taste their native dishes and sweets in their restaurants and stores. There are also many street vendors that are selling sweets and delicacies. The people in Nueva Ecija are also approachable and kind especially to the visitors and tourists. The government of Nueva Ecija is now trying their best to make the province a nice tourist spot in Philippines. It is also an additional income to the province.