Taking a quick getaway from the city, I find myself in Nueva Ecija, the rice granary of the Philippines, supposedly to take pictures of the harvest season. It turns out that harvest will not start until next month so I’m left instead merely appreciating the emerald rice paddies glistening under the el niño heat.
And then I remember Heneral Luna, a movie that not only ignited my nationalistic fervor, but also stirred my wanderlust. Notwithstanding the film’s great script and direction, the striking scenery coupled with a handsome cinematography make you want to ride the next bus to Central Luzon.
So I drop by Plaza Lucero, where a statue of Gen. Antonio Luna riding a horse is erected. It’s in front of the Cabanatuan Cathedral, where the fiery general met his demise in the hands of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s supporters.
Not far away is the Freedom Park, where mostly students from a nearby school converge under the shade of trees.
Both the church and the park are in the area where the old capitol stands. Cabanatuan was the capital of Nueva Ecija until June 1965, when it was changed to Palayan.