Going to the boundary of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya is unforgettable and unbelievably freezing cold. The hillside road, which is normally prone to falling rocks from the hilltops, runs zigzag-like with the steep cliff on the other side.
Zone Out Girl used to tell me about her sudden visits to Dalton Pass with her friend on one purpose―to have coffee. After a few visits to her hometown, one lazy day (when we weren't surprisingly too lazy to keep our butts off the bahay kubo) she decided to bring me to the coffee shop I heard so much about. From Nueva Ecija to Nueva Vizcaya. I was proud of myself as I was nearing the northern part of Luzon. I have always wanted to explore Luzon, especially Batanes. In the outskirts of Nueva Ecija, proximal to Dalton Pass, wide and almost dry river runs along the road. It was my first time to see rows of onion farms. Onions are best farmed here, particularly in river sand, so rainwater would seep quickly below the onion bulbs as they are sensitive to excessive moist. There are small hills with few thinning trees but covered with tall pale green grasses dancing like gypsies.
The highway now demanded the car to gear on driving uphill. Trees are now greener in these areas (a few kilometers from Dalton Pass). All vehicles were obviously running slowly while machines were screaming loud as smoke belching seemed inevitable. The boundary is obvious from afar due to its contrasting blue signs across the road.
Right after the 'welcome' sign, we parked the car near the entrance of Dalton Pass shrine and headed for the coffee in a souvenir shop situated in a cliff. They served brewed kapeng barako. The strong, cold wind quickly cooled down the coffee that it was no longer hot when in it reached my lips.
Labanan sa Pasong Balete (Battle in Balete Pass)
Dalton Pass, initially known as Balete Pass, was the only road connecting Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon in 1945 (presently, it is still the only junction between the regions). The joined forces of the United States 25th Division and the Luzon Guerilla Armed Forces (LGAF) under the command of Col. Robert Lapham had bloody war against the Japanese Shobu soldiers occupying the area. The latter, led by General Tomoyoki Yamashita, were persuaded and moved to central part of Cordillera.
On May 9, 1945, the area was pronounced as safe for the allied forces. Brigadier General James Dalton II was killed by a Japanese sniper's bullet on May 16, 1945 and the place was renamed to Dalton Pass to honor him.
The extremely strong, cold wind caused a biting cold. Shiver ran through my spine. But I tried to ignore it as the view from the top was overwhelming. Windbreaker jackets are a must to make longer periods of viewing and 'zoning out' possible. LOL!
From that pose to a fetal position, warming myself was no longer effective. We drove to Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. It's between the foot of the mountain ranges and dry river beds. Lunch was perfect, especially with the Ilocanos abundance of vegetables in their cooking. Never leave this part of Luzon without trying their dinengdeng.