Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Palayan City. Nueva Ecija borders, from the south clockwise, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, and Aurora.
Nueva Ecija was created as a military comandancia in 1777 by Governor General Clavería, with the capital, Josean at Baler (now part of Aurora). It was formerly part of the province of Pampanga. From its humble beginning, its land area grew to cover almost the entire island of Luzon. Spanish Records in the Philippines recognizes 2 Spanish countries in the Pacific-- Las Islas Filipinas and Nueva Écija. Poverty was the only reason why Nueva Ecija was not given recognition as a separate country from the Philippines by the King of Spain in 1840s. From 1777 to 1917, Nueva Ecija's territory was however subdivided to give way to the creation of other provinces. The Province of Tayabas (now Aurora and Quezon) including Polillo Islands, the provinces of Palanan (now Isabela), Cagayan, the province of Nueva Vizcaya, the territory which became part of the Province of Quirino, and the province of Manila north of the province of Tondo in 1867, and the District of Morong (now Rizal) were among those created out of Nueva Ecija.
During World War II the Imperial Japanese Army entered the province and Nueva Ecija was taken in 1942. In March 29, 1942, under the leadership of Luis Taruc the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon-People's Army Against the Japanese) was organized in Sitio Bawit, Baryo, San Julian in the town of Cabiao. It was perceived to be the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, that brought about the beginning of the early organized resistance of the Pilipino people. In 1945, combined American and Filipino soldiers liberated Nueva Ecija with the recognized guerillas continuing to harass the Japanese at every opportunity. On January 30, 1945 American Army Rangers, Alamo scouts and Filipino guerillas conducted a raid to liberate Allied civilians and prisoners of war in Cabanatuan, this was successful with over 516 rescued. By January 31, 1945, the liberated civilians and POWs reached Talavera, the rescue is commemorated in Talavera.
The province was named after the old city of Écija in Seville, Spain. In 1896, Nueva Ecija became one of the first provinces to revolt against Spanish rule, and one of the provinces which declared its independence in 1898.
Nueva Ecija (New Écija) was settled in the last century by thousands of migrants from adjoining provinces such as Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pangasinan, and Ilocos. Today Novoecijanos are descendants of these settlers and many still hold on to folk traditions that trace their ancestry to other provinces. About 77% of the people speak Tagalog as their first language. Much of the remainder are Kapampangan, Pangasinan, and Ilocano-speakers and they are concentrated in the cities and towns of the south and north,. There are small communities of Ilongots along the Caraballo and Sierra Madre Range as well as Agtas or Negritos.
Agriculture is the main industry of the people because of its naturally rich soil. Lowland crops such as rice, corn, onions, vegetables and sugarcane are produced in great quantities and Nueva Ecija is widely referred to as the "Rice Granary" of the country. Agriculture has played a vital role in molding the culture of the people. The typical Novo Ecijano family is tightly knit and is the basic working unit on the farm.
The May and June Festivals in Nueva Ecija are important Christian observances that are also occasions to ask for favors in ensuring a good harvest. In May, the Novo Ecijanos celebrate the feast of the patron of farmers, San Isidro. Food is served to overflowing in the belief that generosity results in bounty.
In Barangay Bibiclat, in the town of Aliaga there is a unique practice among the devotees of Saint John the Baptist. They cover their bodies with mud and dry leaves and vines to denote the humble origins of the Saint. Known as the taong-putik or the mud people, they ask alms and candles from the people and offering them to the Church during the special mass celebrated at 7:00 in the morning. They believe that such a practice will cure sickness and bring a bounty in the harvest.
Nueva Ecija is considered the main rice growing province of the Philippines and the leading producer of onions in the Municipality of Bongabon in South East Asia.
Nueva Ecija is one of the top producers of agricultural products in the country. Its principal crops is mainly rice but corn and onion are also produced in quantity. The province is often referred to as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines.” Other major crops are onion, mango, calamansi (calamondin orange), banana, garlic, and vegetables. The town of Bongabon at the eastern part of the province at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains and its neighbouring Laur and Rizal are the major producers of onion and garlic. Bongabon is called the "onion capital of the country".
Education is very well established as a major industry in the province. The leading educational institutions are the Central Luzon State University in Munoz and Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, Wesleyan University-Philippines, La Fortuna College and Araullio University in Cabanatuan. There are 18 tertiary level intitutions in Cabanatuan City alone.
Health services is also a notable industry and a number of hospitals cater to patients from within Nueva Ecija and some coming from neighbouring provinces. There are also a number of schools of nursing and midwifery, mostly in Cabanatuan.
There are poultry farms in a number of towns, most notably, the Lorenzo poultry farms in San Isidro which is one of the largest in the country. Duck raising and egg production is also an important livelihood. Fishponds are unevenly distributed throughout the province but the largest concentrations are in San Antonio, Santa Rosa, and Cuyapo.
Fabrication of tricycle "sidecars" is widespread in the province, notably in Santa Rosa, where prices are as low as PhP 7,000 which is practically the cheapest in the country.
Several areas have mineral deposits. Copper and manganese have been found in General Tinio, Carranglan, and Pantabangan. The upper reaches of Carranglan and Palayan City are said to contain gold.
In June 2008, it has also received the title: "Milk Capital of the Philippines" due to the reason that Nueva Ecija gathers more milk from both cows and carabaos or water buffaloes than any other place in the Philippines. The Philippine Carabao Center is located in CLSU compound in Muñoz City.
- Cabanatuan City
- Gapan City
- Palayan City
- San Jose City
- Science City of Muñoz
- Gabaldon (Bitulok & Sabani)
- General Mamerto Natividad
- General Tinio
- San Antonio
- San Isidro
- San Leonardo
- Santa Rosa
- Santo Domingo