As I lay on the bamboo raft with the warm, freshwater all over my half-naked body, my thoughts were concentrated on a boy named Huckleberry. Mark Twain had perfectly fashioned his character in such a way that I wanted him to be real. I imagined that the fourteen-year-old, motherless boy was sitting beside me, talking to me, and telling his stories of adventures and misadventures.
Like Huckleberry who braved the waters of Mississippi River in order to escape the cruelty of the world, I, too, was trying to temporarily flee from the circumstances that have recently befallen me.
I needed to stop my world from spinning, gather my strength, and recharge my energy to face life again.
I was certain that Huckleberry would listen to me. He might have numerous, innocent questions and his young mind may not really comprehend the depths of my struggle, but I was certain he would lend me a company for he had a sound heart.
The Minalungao National Park in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija is worthy to be part of your summer destination list. Efforts are still underway to make this park more attractive to local and foreign tourists.
The Peñaranda river that streams with crystal clear water from the mountains is the life of the park. The depth of the river is fathomable and I could listen to the sound of the currents while the water rushes among the rocks. I heard stories that there were people who suddenly disappeared in the river, and locals believe that certain supernatural creatures or forces took them away.
Cottages that provide shades of relaxation are built alongside the river. These plain structures made of indigenous materials are reminders that we can find comfort even in the simplest of things. How I wish I could spend the night here, alone or with my beloved, far from the troubles of the unjust world, feel the cold summer breeze, listen to the soothing sound of the river, watch the golden full moon, and wish upon the twinkling stars.
There are bamboo rafts that can accommodate a maximum of eight people (see featured photo above). These can be chartered to take you to the best part of the river where the pristine water is emerald. The scientific explanation as to why the water reflects the chromes of blue or green is no longer accessible in my memory. (If you know the answer, please share it in the comments section at the end of this post.)
I suggest that you try the rafting experience because in doing so, you will also be providing an income to the local tour guides.
“We’re earning as high as Php 1,000.00 ($22.19) on weekends and as low as Php 300.00 ($6.66) on weekdays,” one of the local tour guides, a teenager, told me.
If you are interested to experience this eco-tourism adventure, please keep reading until the end of the post to know the applicable rates.
Two giant limestone walls stand on both sides of the river. They are mighty limestone formations towering on every soul who sails along the river. I felt the unshakable defense, the omnipresent protection as I admired these astonishing creations. White rocks of random shapes are also on both edges of the river. On one side, the locals have built a sort of a pathway that can serve as viewpoints if you do not want to go down the river.
Jump in and lose yourself!
The highlight of my trip was of course, swimming, something that an Aquarian could not turn down for I feel that my forces are restored in the water. (Read also: Life Lessons I Learned From Swimming)
The riverbed was so pebbly that you can indulge in a natural sole massage as you tread in the water. Goggles were not a necessity for the water is crystal clear and I could open my eyes unharmed and see everything under it. You could tell which part of the river is deep by merely observing its movement on the surface. If it is very calm, you would know that it is not quite safe for you if you do not know how to swim.
Near the eastern side, in the middle of the river, there is big rock that the tour guide said was about twelve feet high from the water surface. You can climb it up and launch yourself to a daring plunge.
The ecstatic screams of two teenagers hanging and sliding through the zipline brought my thoughts back to Huckleberry. Above the exhilarated twain, the sky was blue and the clouds were all white.
Gate Entrance – Php 30.00
Comfort Rooms – Php 10.00
Minalungao Cave – Php 10.00
Small Banca – Php 250.00 (per ride)
Big Banca – Php 500.00 (whole day)
Cottage – Php 200 (per table)