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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Labi River: An emerging destination in Nueva Ecija

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It may not yet be on the radar of travelers looking for new destinations, but as far as local people in the area are concerned, Labi River in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija has become a favorite weekend place for them.

The author’s granddaughter, Livi, enjoying Labi River’s cold and refreshing water. 

If from Manila, driving to the place may take four hours at least. But in our case, we were staying over in our daughter’s place in Sta. Rosa, the town before Cabanatuan City, so Labi River was just a little over an hour away passing through the capital of the province along the Nueva Ecija-Baler Road.

We left early morning that Saturday as we wanted to take the better spots away from the Labi Bridge that spans the river, whatever is left of it presently, and we got our wish. As a historical footnote, this was the place where Doña Aurora Quezon, widow of Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon, was ambushed in 1949.

St. Isidore River Resort was the name of the place we found right beside the river. For seasoned travelers, it may not qualify yet as an official resort even if it offers a couple of native lodging houses for those who may want to stay overnight, plus several nipa huts, all overlooking the river and the Sierra Madre mountain range right across the resort.

At this time of the year, the river is just a shadow of itself during the rainy season, but good enough for kids just to splash around small natural pools or feel the water surging through the rocks.

The resort owner remembers the time when the river’s water level rose after continuous rains a few years ago and washed away all the huts located at the riverside.

A reminder though for visitors, bring food, drinks, and portable stoves to the site; there are no food stalls available in the area.

One good thing, the resort is definitely pet friendly, people friendly, too, as outdoor places should be. We brought my daughter’s two French bulldogs and just like us, they enjoyed wading into the cold and refreshing river waters.

Labi River is actually part of the 5,676-hectare Aurora Memorial Natural Park. For the more adventurous travelers, bikers, campers, and just plain nature lovers, the place offers more than just having fun at the riverside. There are several beautiful waterfalls in the park but one should be ready to hike and climb to enjoy them.

It is a bit far from Manila just to visit the riverside, but if you’re in the area, as we were, drop by the place and be one of the thousands of people from nearby areas who troop there regularly, with sumner being the best time to cool off.


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