Minalungao National Park blew into social media years ago because of its outstanding rock forms and picturesque view. Up close, those white rocks have been weathered and smoothed for millennia that its just got beautiful undulating curves. It reminds me of the Timbaban River in Aklan and Marmol Cliff in Cebu. And I got curious.
Heading to the park
It’s a rather long drive to reach Minalungao National Park as our bus motored its way from Fort Magsaysay, passing pastoral landscapes and rolling terrain. Vehicles had already parked at a narrow stretch of land when we arrived. Rafts on one side were moored.
The river is wider than I expected and the stream of people enjoying the park was not as sizable as I expected. According to Anna Eugenio, barangay secretary, as much as 6000 guests on peak days during summer and 1000 around weekends on other months. As we were walking to the big hut where we were to have lunch, I got a glimpse of the beautiful white rocks at the riverbank.
Minalungao National Park
Established in 1967, Minalungao National Park covers a land area of 2,018 hectares, predominantly forested, situated in the municipality of General Tinio, previously known as Papaya. The park’s name originates from two words, mina (mine) and lungaw (cave), signifying a place with numerous channeling caves. In the past, squatters would unlawfully float cut logs from the forest along the Sumacbao River, a tributary to the larger Penaranda River. Despite being a popular swimming destination, locals advise caution due to the seemingly unpredictable underwater currents along the narrow stretch. The caves have unearthed pottery shards and are thought to be of prehistoric origin.
After enjoying a sumptuous lunch of traditional Nueva Ecijano, I descended to explore. A cemented footpath leads to the twin cliffs, providing a close view of the undulating forms on the rocks. The flowing river has gouged out the lower portion of the cliff, and trees cling to the walls. The patterns and forms on the cliff and rocks captivate with their interest.
For better views, the hanging bridge provides a panoramic spread on both sides. It also givesÂ access to the other side of the Sumacbao River. If you follow the foot trail, and a series of steps uphill, you will get to the topmost part with a glass cross overlooking the area. On a clear day, you get a glimpse of Mt. Arayat lording the central plain of Luzon.
Several points provide access to Minalungao National Park: Fort Magsaysay, Gapan, and Nazareth in General Tinio. Typically, visitors from Metro Manila commence their journey in Gapan, where they can hire tricycles for the 14 km distance at a cost of P400-P500. Entrance fee at the park: P50, P100 (summer months).
This trip was part of Lakbay Norte 6, made possible by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) which promotes travel and destinations in North Luzon.
Minalungao National Park
Sitio Minalungao, Brgy. Pias
Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija