I remember my grandfather bringing our papag or wooden bed at the stream at the back of our house in Cabanatuan City during Holy Week. He’d place it in the middle of the water, put up palm fronds as shades, and my aunts would bring in all sorts of dishes for lunch. We’d eat, swim, and eat again right in the middle of the stream. It was an annual thing back then; but as summers passed, the tradition somehow faded until it was totally forgotten.
Yesterday, we got a chance to somehow relive that tradition as the whole clan rode for an hour and a half to the neighboring municipality of Gabaldon, a town east of Nueva Ecija. The original plan was to visit the Stone 8 resort in the area, but due to the massive influx of vacationeers, we had to settle for the Dupinga River instead.
Tourism in Dupinga River started at around 2004 as the Dumagats living in the area started building makeshift huts along the river, a reaction to four massive typhoons hitting the province one after another. People eventually found out about the place through word of mouth, until it became a favorite spot for Novo Ecijanos.
I don’t doubt the popularity of Dupinga River. As soon as we alighted from our ride, I saw the multitudes already crowding the green waters of the river. The huts were filled to brimming, the inevitable annoying videoke music blaring and barbeque smoke rising to the blue sky above.
But I really don’t blame these people though; with the season’s scorching weather, its ice cold water is really irresistible.
Dupinga River is very picturesque, with verdant green mountains flanking both sides of its banks. Its water comes straight from the mountains of the Sierra Madre which sandwiches the area. The river bottom is gravelly on the shallower parts, but gets finer as it gets deeper. Interesting rock formations become diving boards for daredevils, hurling themselves into the deeper parts of the river.
A word of caution though, the current is quite strong and can pull anyone with little effort. There’s little danger of drowning though, since it would in all probability, just drag you to its shallow parts. Getting scraped by rocks is definitely no fun though.
I can imagine how this place would fare as an eco-tourism site. White water rafting can be done during the rainy seasons; the rapids here are incredible and it’s not even raining yet. There’s also the Sierra Madre for hiking; I saw a few adventurous souls climbing up the steep slope of the mountain. And I heard there are five known waterfalls not far from the area. Not bad, yeah?Tourism in Dupinga though is still at its infancy. The place is still not as organized; there’s litter all over the place, due probably to the absence of garbage bins. In fairness to the local Dumagat tribesmen manning the place, I saw them cleaning up after the mess of tourists after they leave. But really, that should not be the case; the visitors here should be responsible for their own garbage.
Establishments selling food are also virtually non-existent. Not really a major problem for locals visiting, as they bring their own food for cooking. But for passing visitors, this can be a problem.
Most say that the Dupinga River in Gabaldon is quickly gaining reputation as one of the best tourist spots in Nueva Ecija, and I do agree. Let’s just hope that proper maintenance will sustain it as the place is really beautiful and is just perfect for those looking for an inexpensive way to have fun with family and friends.
Brgy. Dupinga, Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija
GPS Coordinates: 15.505875,121.325111 | Click to view location on Google Maps
Entrance - Free
Parking – Php 30.00
Cottage Rental – Php 300.00 to 2,500.00
How to get to Dupinga River in Gabaldon:
There are buses leaving at Cabanatuan City that passes through the area.