I get off from a bus at the corner near the public market of Bayombong and went straight to a tricycle that was heading to the town plaza. The midday sun was intense. The 10-peso ride took me to this old church.
St. Dominic Cathedral
In the 1700s, this was the Church of St. Augustine. It was later dedicated to St. Dominic de Guzman when the Augustinians transferred the mission to the Dominicans. When Bayombong became a diocese in 1982, the church was named as St. Dominic’s Cathedral. The church was made of bricks. But the 1880 earthquake damaged the church except its bell tower. In 1987, a fire destroyed the convent and the cathedral. Only the cathedral’s facade and the bell tower are the original parts of the church, all else are modern.
The small park in front of the church is reminiscent of the old Spanish town setting. The municipal hall is just across the street, with the schools and the main shops also located nearby. Bayombong is the capital town of Nueva Vizcaya and is founded in the 1730s in a mass at the foot of Bangan Hills by the Augustinian friars.
Bayombong Town Hall
Bayombong is the seat of government of the province of Nueva Vizcaya. Its name is said to be derived from bayongyong, a Gaddang word which means the merging of two or more rivers. This town sits at the confluence of Caloocol and Magat rivers.
Notable landmarks in Bayombong are:
It’s a tricycle ride away from the municipio of Bayombong. It’s a vast complex which houses the provincial capitol and other provincial government offices. The park is said to be the ‘Luneta Park of the North’, complete with a boating lagoon, fountains, picnic huts, murals and landcaped green patches.
The provincial capitol under renovation
People’s Hall, beside the capitol building
St. Dominic Cathedral
The church’s bells are said to be the best-sounding in the country. The church is reddish and made of bricks.
The People’s Museum and Library
Adjacent to St. Dominic Cathedral facing the municipio, the building was historical as this was the former seat of the province of Nueva Vizcaya. It is now a museum that showcases the Novo Vizcayano heritage, culture and history.
Bangan Hill National Park
The first mass in the province was said to be done at the foot of this hill. Now a national park, Bangan Hill is a popular spot for hiking. During Lenten season, people do the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) with live performances on Christ’s crucifixion.
Other attractions: Bayombong’s Children Park, Rizal Shrine and Bansing Falls
Seal of Nueva Vizcaya
Nueva Vizcaya was said to be named after a province in Spain, Biscay (Vizcaya in Spanish). New Biscay or Nueva Vizcaya was formed in the 1700s from portions of Cagayan province. Its scope and area was reduced to its present-state when the province of Isabela was formed. The province is home to the Gaddang, Isinai and 16 other indigenous groups. Ilocano is the most widely used dialect.
Geographically, Nueva Vizcaya is surrounded by 3 mountain ranges: Cordillera, Caraballo and the Siera Madre. The major towns are Bayombong (provincial capital and educational hub), Solano (financial and commercial center), Bambang (agricultural hub) and Kayapa (vegetable bowl and the summer capital).
For would-be-visitors to Nueva Vizcaya, the recommended places to go and activities to do are the following:
1. Waterfalls Chasing – Imugan Falls (Sta. Fe), Mapalyao Falls (Quezon), Dumli-ing Falls (Kayapa)
2. Caves and Caving – Capisaan Caves, Alayan Caves
3. Churches – St. Dominic Cathedral (Bayombong), San Vicente Ferrer Church (Dupax del Sur)
4. Climb Mountains – Mt. Ugu (Kayapa), Mt. Palali (Quezon and Boyombong), Mt. Pulag (gateway at Ambaguio)
5. Magat River – As a product of the MOA between DENR and the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya, the Lower Magat Ecotourism Park Development was formed to provide protection to the watershed and support to the Magat Dam. This is open to the public. Visitors can avail of the park’s facilities for camping and hiking and offers nature activities such as eco-farm trail and visit to the butterfly garden.
Junction: National Road and Diversion Road
After the visit to Capitol Park, it’s time for me to leave Nueva Vizcaya. Initial plan was to head south to Cabanatuan and Palayan City in Nueva Ecija. It was a hard realization though because getting a bus ride on a Sunday afternoon was quite a challenge. From Bayombong, I decided to ride a jeepney to Sta. Fe in the hopes of getting another jeepney ride to San Jose City and eventually a bus ride to either Cabanatuan or Palayan.
When I reached Sta. Fe, the last town before Balete/Dalton Pass, the only option was to take the Manila-bound buses. Most buses didn’t pick up passengers anymore since they are full. Luckily, after more than an hour, a Florida GV bus liner stopped and got me in. From Sta. Fe, it was 6-hour trip back to the urban jungle of Manila.