NUEVA ECIJA | A Summer’s Harvest at Cabanatuan City

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I used to pretend to be a farmer when I was a kid. I’d wake up at 5am with my cousins; watch them milk our carabaos, go to the farm with them to buy duck eggs, and after breakfast, go back to the fields and pretend to harvest the endless golden fields of Cabanatuan with them.
Ever since picking up a camera, I have for the longest time wanted to capture the memories of harvesting the rice fields of my youth. I somehow always arrive too early; the fields just recently planted or too late, when only the stumps of rice stalks are all there are left.

After a long absence in Cabanatuan, I finally got my timing right and arrived just at the right time for this summer’s rice harvest.
Unlike some provinces which has three harvest seasons in a year, the fields in Cabanatuan only has two; one during the summer and the other after September. The summer harvest is often more bountiful since the latter reaping is often troubled by the storm season.
The rice fields of Cabanatuan shine like a never ending blanket of gold. Farmers waist-deep in the sea of rice stalks, covered from head to foot with makeshift protection from the sun, bent down sickle in hand, manually cutting down the bountiful grains by hand. One farmland unit called pitak takes about an hour to reap by a single person, and a hectare consists of about six of these.
Once cut, the crops are piled in one place where a rice tresher lies in wait. The stalks are then fed into the machine which separates the grains from the stalks; the rice grains fall through a container while the stalks fly through the air and into the fields where another farmhand sweeps it into a bulk. The grains are then transferred into rice sacks and loaded into a waiting wooden trailer that’s gonna be pulled by a carabao at the end of the day.
Watching the cycle of harvest is hypnotic, I used to be out during these times back when I was a kid, watching everything for hours on end in a makeshift hut in the middle of the rice field. There were no handheld games or iPods back then to pass the time, watching my uncles and cousins harvest the land was enough.
For four days I tried to capture my childhood memories through my camera, coming back home only after the last light on the horizon faded to black and the stars and moon take over. I walk back through the dirt roads of the farm, the blazing piles of dry rice stalks my only light. My day’s done but I know work still continues on those darkened fields into the deep of the night.

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  1. parang ang saya.. gusto ko rin maranasan ang makisalamuha sa mga farmers during a harvest season.. pero mas pangarap kong mag tampisaw sa putikan kapag planting season.

  2. sulit ang bakasyon a. ganda ng golden fields!

  3. Taga Cabanatuan pala kayo? Guimba ako.

  4. *sigh* nakakainlove ang pictures!


  6. nagbago ang tingin ko sa Cabanatuan dahil sa pictures mo, parang ang sarap bisitahin!

  7. I've been to Cabanatuan several times but thanks to you, I'm now seeing it in a different light.

  8. I miss Cabanatuan City, where at every weekend when I was assigned in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, have to withdraw my quincina salary and where I also have to purchase construction materials. This place is just like our place. A rice granary. Good post bro. Regards sa mga taga San Jose. Mababait ang mga tao dun at accomodating. :-).

  9. Hi Christian! I'm a tech blogger who really admire the beauty of our country, and looking at your shots, you make even the most simple things beautiful. I would really like to travel and write about the different places in the Philippines to promote tourism but I lack the necessary funds or the time to do so =p instead, I'm thinking of adding a travel category in my tech blog by featuring some of the post of Philippine travel bloggers, and ehem.. would like to ask you if I can post some of your photos in my blog, ofcourse all credits and links are all directed back to you. =)

  10. Hi! taga san isidro naman ako at lagi ko naeexperience ito dahil meron ako sakang lupa sa NE. mabuti naman at meron palang travel blogger na taga NE. ang ganda ng mga pictures na kuha mo.

  11. great first picture! may puso.

    thanks for these pictures, lalo na yung sa carabao, naalala ko tuloy yung kabataan ko, may ilan-ilang kalabaw din dati na nasasakyan, sadly yung palayan part ng Pasig dati is now commercial/residential, thanks again :)

  12. i know it's charming to the eyes pero the farmers really work hard on site which is really painful to the body over time. your shots strike that balance wherein we get to see the routine in wonderful angles like the almost silhouette harvest caravan of sorts but also a reminder that it's an entirely different culture. love that harvest shot.

  13. Christian, you really have the gift for taking superb photos. I am impressed and this one particular post on Cabanatuan just made my day. I should say because you took it, there is beauty in ordinariness and through it, i find deeper meaning of rural life.


  14. Batang Lakwatsero
    Oo nga ano, siguro yun naman ang aabangan ko next, planting season :)

    Sayang sana sumama ka eh..

    Malapit lang yun diba? I recall seeing Guimba jeeps sa bayan. Ano meron sa Guimba Ding?

    Haha OA naman, thanks Doi!

    Nice, may ganyang sceneries din pala sa Zamboanga :)

    Mabagal lang ang buhay sa Cabanatuan pre, not really for everyone, minsan kahit ako naiinip haha

    Were you based in Cabanatuan previously sir?

    San Jose is just a jump away from Cabanatuan nga :)

    Tech Talk Philippines
    I assure you, travelling need not be expensive bro! For the extremes of traveling cheap, check Journeying James' site :)

    Thanks kabayan! Very rare nga na makakita ako ng mga blogs about farm life :)

    Wow, didn't know na may palayan dati sa pasig!

    Turista Project
    Tama, remember the song "magtanim ay di biro"

    Doc Wends
    Thanks Doc! There is beauty in the ordinary too ika nga :)