Travelogues by Matet Garcia-Reyes
September 5, 2015
Harvest Hotel: A Home Away From Home
I was born and raised in Nueva Ecija. My dad is from Cabanatuan, and my mom is from the quiet town of San Antonio where I grew up and studied until high school. One of my fondest memories as a child was our regular visits to NE Mall where we would eat baked spaghetti after buying some groceries every month or so. NE Mall has a fastfood similar to Goldilocks and a small department store where people would usually go “shopping”. This was “the” place to be back then. Through the years, things have changed. The province had already evolved, paving way to big malls, dining places, hotels and resorts. More than the sprawling rice fields of the country’s famed “Rice Bowl,” Nueva Ecija has become one of the fastest growing provinces in the Philippines.
How to go there:
Via NLEX Sta Rita exit
The most common route to Cabanatuan is via NLEX-Sta. Rita. You may go by private car or by bus like ES Transport, Five Star, or Baliwag Transit, all of which have terminals in Cubao. These buses ply the Maharlika Highway. Upon reaching Cabanatuan City, go to Jollibee in Circumferential (tricycle drivers know this), and from there, look for Del Pilar Street where Harvest Hotel is located.
Via NLEX-San Simon exit
You may also take this route, which, instead of passing through Bulacan, you will then ply the Gapan-Olongapo Road journeying through the towns of Arayat, Cabiao, San Isidro, Gapan, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, and finally Cabanatuan City.
For a shorter travel time, take the NLEX-SCTEX route, which will cut your trip by around 30 minutes to an hour. From SCTEX, take the Sta. Rosa exit and ply the La Paz-Zaragosa route. This will bring you to Sta. Rosa. At the Pan Philipine Highway, turn left and drive all the way to Cabanatuan City.
Where to stay:
Managed by Hospitality Innovators Inc., Harvest Hotel raises the bar of hospitality in Nueva Ecija. Right at the heart of the booming Cabanatuan City, the hotel features 81 well-appointed rooms and suites, and facilities like Cafe Ecija (the hotel’s signature restaurant), swimming pool, function rooms, and a fitness center.
Guests are welcomed at the spacious lobby adorned with artworks that are a delight to the eyes. The The hotel has three floors of rooms and suites that are fairly priced. The service? Impeccable.
We stayed at the honeymoon suite, which features an expansive floor area. It has a living room with a huge flat-screen TV and contemporary furniture to boot. The bedroom adjacent to it has a cozy king-sized bed and warm lighting to ensure a good night’s sleep.
The honeymoon suite’s living room
Thank you Harvest Family!
Besides being a perfect stopover for those going to Manila coming from Aurora, Tuguegarao, and Isabela, Harvest Hotel it is also a great staycation destination. Kids and adults alike can enjoy having a dip at the swimming pool, while foodies can enjoy culinary delights at Cafe Ecija. The restaurant features nightly themed dinners that range from barbecue grill nights to teppanyaki-tempura buffets.
Akisha enjoying a dip
You might be also lucky to catch the seasonal art exhibit at the hotel’s lobby, which usually features masterpieces created by Novo Ecijano artists. During our stay, we were fortunate to have a glimpse of the exhibit, Bountiful Harvest.
Breakfast is something to be excited about at Harvest Hotel. While the buffet is not as expansive as other hotel’s, the selections are all good and of high quality. Top of my list is the Cabanatuan garlic longganisa (local sausage), which can fairly compete with other longganisa versions around the country. It may be underrated, but our version of longganisa is one that will hunt you in your dreams long after you had your last bite. It is that good.
Cabanatuan garlic longganisa and bistek Tagalog
Harvest Hotel also has meeting rooms perfect for corporate planning sessions and trainings. Most of their clients are pharmaceutical companies and BPOs that come all the way from Angeles City in Pamapang (they go via SCTEX).
What to do in Nueva Ecija:
Since it is a land-locked province, do not expect to see a beach in Nueva Ecija. But don’t fret, our place have a lot to offer, too!
Minalungao National Park
A protected area in General Tinio, this ecotourism destination boasts beautiful rock formations centered along the picturesque Penaranda River.
Gabaldon Falls and Dupinga River
Located about two hours away from Cabanatuan City are two other ecotourism destinations amidst the lush Sierra Madre Mountains called Gabaldon Falls and Dupinga River. The destinations requires a little endurance as you will have to trek a bit, but the views are definitely worth it.
Another scenic attraction is this earth-fill embankment dam that you would see if you are heading to Baler in Aurora from Cabanatuan City. According to Wikipedia, the multi-purpose dam provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation while its reservoir, Pantabangan Lake, affords flood control. The reservoir is considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia and also one of the cleanest in the Philippines. I once passed by Pantabangan Dam at sunrise and the views were fantastic!
These and a lot more! Please note that these destinations may require a few hours of travel time from Cabanatuan City.
During my last visit to Nueva Ecija, I realized one thing: that the place I used to call home may have changed a lot, but in the end, home is where the heart is. My heart still belongs to my homeland, and I am proud to be a Novo Ecijana!
1179 Pio Del Pilar St.Cabanatuan City,
Nueva Ecija, Philippines, 3100