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Enchanted Valley

Highland- Last bastion of the fabled Headhunters of the Philippines. The base of Cagayan Valley, one of the few landlocked Provinces of the Philippines, an enchanted valley protected and surrounded by mountain range systems. Nueva Vizcaya (New Biscayne in English) was named by the Spaniard after a particular region in Spain. The northeast region of the Philippines is very similar to the New England states that were named for the old English states. The water from the rain forest irrigates the rice paddies (English word taken from the word Pagay) and flows to the Magat River. The water ignites the longest river in the Philippines, the mighty Cagayan that runs north to its final destination, Pacific Ocean.

Nueva Vizcaya is located on the foothills of the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces. The land never touches the ocean but actually deep under. The pressure of the Pacific Ocean pumps out salt through the Salinas Salt Spring, one of the wonders of nature.

Its proud people sent abroad their favorite daughters as the country's contribution to the world. No other province in the Philippines can let Maria Calderon become the world's fastest reader and Lilia Clemente to become a wizard in the financial world. Lalaine Bennet paved the way for the strings of Filipinas to capture various international pageants.

Balite Pass is the gateway from Nueva Ecija. The US Army lost General Dalton to a Japanese sniper bullet during the liberation half a century ago in the mountain peak. From this historic monument the road zigzags downward sharply to Santa Fe. This is also the last place one passes before leaving Nueva Vizcaya .Many of us bought our magic straw brooms here. They were either for cleaning our house in Manila or just souvenier for when we go abroad. The road trail from here accompanies the river flow that cuts through the heart of the high valley. The national highway splits in a place we simply call, "Junction." Here you will find a Kosher food court that serves "hot dog" every day.

The Isinai dialect is spoken by the native people from Aritao, Dupax,and Bambang. Ilocanos comprise the majority of the new population when they settled on the outlying barrios. At the turn of the century, new settlers from southern provinces as far as Batangas and Cavite like my grandparents came down. The Gaddang is the primary dialect in the northern regions. The Igorots, Ilongots, and Ifugaos are the guardians of the high rain forest. Today they live in harmony.

Folks, I have learned more about Nueva Vizcaya since I left few years ago. You probably do not know that there was a time in the Philippines History when Bayombong was almost made the temporary Capital of the Philippine Republic. During the final period of the Philippine-American War , Aquinaldo found a shelter from the superior forces of the US Army. It was Nueva Vizcaya with its natural fortress of high mountains made Bayombong a strategic capital for the Philippines.

We are chosen people of the Valley of the Kings (must be the reason for Aritao) and Vizcayano who left are just seeking easy asylum . Nueva Vizcaya and the rest of the Valley is the hidden paradise of the North. Looking down at North Luzon from the sky you will see all the Mountain Province major water springs flowing east completely ignoring Ilocos region. The Igorots knew that this is the reason why the ancient Rice Terraces are found in the East. Life flows down from here as the Sierra Madre protects us from the tropical Pacific weather systems. Years from now the most fertile land of the Philippines will remain in the valley making the farms the bread basket of the Philippines. The Caraballo Mountains in the South guarantees that only the strong can enter

Nestor Palugod Enriquez

Vizcaya Website