Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya: A fruit basket in the making

In Photo: The home of the local government of Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, the town hall serves as a welcome landmark to the northernmost municipality of the province. The agricultural town is known for its fish farms and exotic fruit trees.

NOT much has been heard about the town “created from the ribs” of Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya. It used to be a mere barrio of the town, up north, before Diadi was finally converted into an independent municipality.

Armed with my favorite Nikon D3S mounted with 14-24 mm./f2.8 ultrawide angle lens on board a Nissan Navarra, I went uphill from Santiago City, Isabela on a winding road to discover more of what is Diadi today.

Farmers in Decabacan, Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, sort and cull out undesirable citrus fruits before trading the good ones at the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal in Bambang town.

History has it that former Rep. Leonardo Perez of Nueva Vizcaya on February 28, 1966, filed House Bill 182, “An Act Creating the Municipal District of Diadi in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya.”

In May 1967 Sen. John Osmeña Jr., then-Chairman of the Committee on Provincial and Municipal Governments, recommended the approval of the bill. On June 17, 1967, Republic Act 4973 was approved by both chambers of Congress, which eventually gave birth to the Municipality of Diadi. Composed of 19 barangays, it is located at the northernmost tip of Nueva Vizcaya before traversing Cordon, Isabela. 

Before its creation, Diadi was a vast forest region. Tribal groups, such as Ifugaos, Igorots and Gaddangs inhabited the rolling terrain. These groups roamed the hinterlands and dwelled in the heart of the forest.

Six-term (1992-2001 and 2010 to present) incumbent Diadi Municipal Mayor Norma Miguel is optimistic that the road network connecting to even the remotest villages of her town will be totally paved soon. Some 60 kilometers of farm-to-market roads are now accessible to farmers in bringing their farm products out to the market.

On a farm tour in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya,
young Nonie looks amazed by prolific
production of mangoes in clusters.

“Accessibility is very vital and indispensable to a developing town like ours. We cannot advance with bad roads and without good bridges,” she said. Another priority thrust of Diadi is the implementation of its livelihood and income-generating programs.

It takes 310 km from Manila via the Maharlika Highway to reach the town up north or some 47 km from the capital town of Bayombong and 25 km to Santiago City in Isabela. The nearest airport in Bagabag town is 29 km away from the heart of the municipality.

Oblivious to many, the town’s hillsides are contour farms planted to varieties of high-value fruit trees. Mango farms dominate both sides of the road anywhere in town. In Baragay Decabacan, 44 hectares are planted to citrus.

In Barangay San Luis, pomelo, rambutan and lanzones stay on top as favorite fruit trees. Banana and pineapples are also major crops in town. Local traders would bring truckloads of fresh harvest to the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal in Bambang town or deliver them directly to other wholesale markets like Urdaneta City in Pangasinan or Balintawak and Divisoria in Metro Manila. Enterprising farmers whose orchards are near the national road would install makeshift fruit stands that entice motorists and commuters to buy.

Framed by a pristine forest, a BusinessMirror media vehicle traverses a well-paved, winding road at the Lower Magat Ecotourism Park in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya.

Diadi is popular for growing high-yielding corn: either the golden ones for corn chips or sweet-pearl varieties like what many ambulant vendors sell along the national highway. Like other towns in the province, upland vegetables like legumes, bell pepper and tomatoes are grown in commercial proportions.

Its vast, green meadows make it ideal pasture land for cattle and other livestock. Fresh carabao milk was then sold along the roadsides.

The fish port in Barangay Escoting downstream serves as a catch basin and watershed. Fish-caging is not practiced in the area where fishes are fed with formulated feeds. The high-value ayungin is allowed to grow organically in the wild.   

In the village of San Luis, many are engaged in agro-forestry nursery business. Seedlings for both fruit trees and forest trees are propagated and supply the whole Cagayan Valley region as part of the National Greening Program.

Since the exotic narra is gradually vanishing from woodshops in town as a top furniture component, fine woodcraft remains in the market as the homegrown gmelina stock replaces the national tree as prime woodcraft material.

Other potential investments of the town are gold-copper mining and quarrying. Farm tourism is eyed as an ideal package for pick-and-pay from local farmers. Many farm visitors enjoy the fun of personally picking their favorite fruits or vegetables of their choice. The province has already launched farm tourism in a number of municipalities.

While the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya runs and operates the Lower Magat Ecotourism Park in Barangay San Luis, it remains hosted by Diadi.

The eco-park is a favorite tourist destination for neighboring provinces up north apparently for its natural ambience that attracts visitors.  Seminars and conventions are the common functions held in the resort. Family gathering or large occasions may be organized in place. But simple get-togethers with friends like picnics or swimming are always welcome.

It also showcases a real picture of pristine forest and a boating lagoon for fun. Its well-paved, winding road from entrance to exit makes it more convenient to every visitor. The clean and green nature of the park is maintained by well-trained crew, who also serve as tour guides. 

The stretch of the Magat River 15 km from Barangay Langka to Butao is a part of the Magat River Multi-Purpose Dam Reservoir that stores water for irrigation and power generation.

Image Credits: Leonardo Perante II

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