For weekend out-of-town trips, destinations like chilly Tagaytay or Batangas’ beaches usually come to mind. Rizal, while close to Manila, is not exactly top-of-mind. But it has gems worth exploring that might even surprise you, with some even less than an hour away from the Metro.
Go art and culture tripping in Angono
Angono is known as the country’s art capital, and rightly so. It is the birthplace of National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Lucio San Pedro. And, not only does it have works of renowned artists at different art galleries and museums which you can easily spend all day exploring, it also has art right on its streets, starting from the “Malakas and Maganda” statues outside the town hall to the sculpted murals on walls and gates of residents’ houses. You can easily walk around town to see these art.
A tricycle ride away, meanwhile, will take you to the Angono Petroglyphs, known as the oldest artwork in the Philippines. One hundred and twenty-seven figures resembling humans and animals were said to be engraved on volcanic rock around the Neolithic period.
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for or passing by Angono. Estimated fare is around P50, and travel time about an hour. The galleries and street art can be explored on foot, while the Angono Petroglyphs can be reached by a hired tricycle, which costs around P300.
See the windmills of Pililla.
The windmills of Bangui, Ilocos Norte are arguably the most well-known and most-photographed windmills in the country. You need not go that far to see such towering turbines, though, as there are the Pililla windmills just around two hours away from Metro Manila.
The 27 wind turbines are built on the slopes of Pililla’s lush green hills, offering a panoramic view. On some of Pililla’s hills are also planted pineapples with a sweetness and juiciness comparable with Bukidnon’s best pineapples. Be sure to try some when you visit.
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for Tanay. Fare is usually P70 (for vans) or below. Travel time is around an hour and a half. Hire a tricycle to Pililla Wind Farm (usually around P200 to P300, but you can haggle), with the ride taking less than 30 minutes.
Swim at Tanay’s waterfalls
Tanay has two of the most beautiful waterfalls just near Metro Manila. With white curtains falling over aquamarine waters, Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls are indeed picturesque. Both Daranak and Batlag are accessible via bridges and sloping cemented pathways, though Batlag is higher up. Daranak can get crowded especially during weekends, so Batlag is a quieter, though a bit more expensive option. Daranak’s entrance fee is P50 while Batlag’s is P100.
After a leisurely swim at the falls, you can also stop by Calinawan Cave, which historically was a hideout of Filipino revolutionaries during the Spanish-American war.
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for Tanay. Fare is usually P70 (for vans) or below. Travel time is around an hour and a half. Hire a tricycle to Daranak Falls (around P200). You can also ask the driver to stop by Calinawan Cave on the way back.
Go on a rocky outdoor adventure in Baras
Baras is home to jagged karsts and lush forests. It is also home to Masungi Georeserve, a conservation area and popular outdoor adventure facility. Going on an adventure in Masungi can be thrilling as you pass through unique contraptions like hanging bridges, giant rope hammocks, and steel spider webs, all with an arresting view of Baras’ landscapes. (READ: A first-timer’s guide to Masungi Georeserve, where adventure awaits)
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for Tanay. Fare is usually P70 (for vans) or below. Travel time is around an hour and a half. Hire a tricycle (around P350) to Masungi Georeserve (say your destination is Garden Cottages, which is the entrance to Masungi).
Alternatively, you can ride a jeep from Cubao to Cogeo. Then ride a jeep to Sampaloc, which will pass by Garden Cottages. Total travel time is around an hour and a half to two hours.
Hop to another island and climb a mountain in Binangonan
Yes, there is an island in Rizal! Known as Talim Island because of its shape resembling a blade, it is the largest island in Laguna de Bay. You will be riding a boat across Laguna de Bay to get there. Enjoy the view of Metro Manila’s buildings as you set off, and later of fish pens, stilt houses, lilies, and mountains.
To get the best view, though, you have to climb Mt. Tagapo (locally known as Susong Dalaga), Talim Island’s highest point. The trek takes roughly around two hours, manageable even for beginners. From the top is a visual treat of a 360-degree view of Laguna de Bay, Metro Manila’s skyline, and the mountains of Laguna and Quezon.
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for or passing by Binangonan. Fare is usually P50 or below. Travel time is around an hour or more. Upon arriving at Binangonan, take a tricycle (around P30) to Binangonan Port, then take the ferry boat to Talim Island (estimated fare around P30, with travel time around 45 minutes).
Relax, chill, and sightsee in Antipolo
Being the province’s capital and the most urbanized, Antipolo is arguably the most taken for granted. While known for its retreat houses, Antipolo’s sights offer much more.
The famous Hinulugang Taktak waterfalls, now cleaned and rehabilitated, is again beautiful and a must-see in Antipolo. Pinto Art Museum, with its artworks and charming architecture beautifully blending with nature, is worth exploring whether you are an art lover or not.
If you just want to chill, you can watch the sunset and the city lights of Metro Manila from Cloud 9 while you have a leisurely meal or a drink with friends.
And, if you want to relax and get pampered, there is one beautiful hillside Antipolo spa offering breathtaking views. (READ: Luljetta’s hanging gardens and spa – inside this getaway, 1 hour from Manila)
How to get there: Take a jeep or a van from Cubao or EDSA-Shaw bound for Antipolo (estimated fare less than P50). Travel time is around 45 minutes or more. From Antipolo town proper you can easily take a tricycle to different destinations.
While you can go to these destinations on your own, you can also go on guided tours with private transportation to cover more areas within a shorter time. You can take your pick from the country’s association of tour organizations, the Philippine Tour Operators Association, who especially designed tour packages for this underrated province, and who work with the local municipal government for sustainable tourism. – Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, researcher, and documenter whose work and wanderlust takes her to adventures like backpacking for seven weeks and exploring remote islands and bustling cities alike. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and epiphanies at Traveling Light.