Exploring The East: There’s More To The Province Of Rizal Than The Overlooking View Of Manila
Summer has given us an acceptable excuse to exit the busy streets of Metro Manila during this time of the year. Since the heat can be borderline annoying most of the time plus a whole lot of humidity kicking in, it’s almost 100% that the first thing that comes to mind is to get out of the city as fast as we can.
The closest we can get to reward ourselves with cool breeze and some peace is the Province of Rizal, east of Manila. With just an hour’s drive from major districts, Rizal has a lot to be proud of beyond the usual overlooking sight it was popularly known for. It has a total of fourteen municipalities, all of which offer different kinds of experience. From all types of chill to going all out daredevil, Rizal can satisfy your craving for anything that Manila is short of.
Here are some of the things you can do the next time you decide to drive east:
For A Piece of Relaxation
Louisse Private Resort in Taytay, Rizal is a balance of fun and quiet. Tucked away in a private subdivision along Ortigas Extension, this private resort is big enough to accommodate up to 40 guests. The property is often used for parties and weddings but can be rented out for family and barkada outings.
Anything that has water in it is tempting in this kind of weather, so it is much more enticing to dive into a pool as pretty as this one:
They offer a daytrip stay for only Php 10,000. But if you’re really feeling the heat, you can rent it out for 22 hours at a rate of Php 23,000.
You can check out their website at https://www.louisseresort.com/
For the Art Junkies
Angono, Rizal is dubbed as the Art Capital of the Philippines. True to its character, it is home to a decent number of art galleries and museums. But what struck us most about this town is its preservation of the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs. The site was a rediscovery of National Artist for Visual Arts Carlos “Botong” Francisco during one of their Boy Scout trips when he was younger. It is believed to be the oldest known rock art in the country dating back to 2000 BC.
The carvings are quite obvious from a keepers of the place provides a few picnic tables viewing deck. There are a variety of frog-like figures to what looks like a stick figure of a turtle. Research suggests that this art form is related to ancient healing rituals.
The entrance is free, but it includes a mini trek from a cave-like passageway to a dirt road leading to the actual site.
Now that it has become a National Museum heritage site, the place is well-maintained by museum guides. The keepers of the place provides a few picnic tables and benches for the guests.
For a Dose of Adrenaline Rush
When you feel like going up the mountains, you can always check out Tanay’s array of waterfalls. One of its hidden gems is the Batlag Falls. While everyone is taking a dip at the mostly crowded Daranak Falls, Batlag sits quietly above it and is quieter and less swamped.
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The trail won’t sweat you out because the pathway is already cemented making it easier for tourists to climb up. To get there, you have to pass through Daranak Falls first and then go farther up to reach the majestic Batlag Falls. Entrance fee costs Php 50 for Daranak (you’ll have to pay this since there’s no route going to Batlag other than passing through Daranak) and Php 100 for Batlag.
For the Foodies
Make sure to really be hungry when you visit Rizal. This town is surprisingly brimming with food stops that can count as an adventure because they’re either exotic or downright delicious.
Tamagoya Noodle House is a Japanese restaurant in Lower Antipolo that offers a variety of rice bowls and dumplings but is most famous for their ramen noodles. The best that we’ve tried is the Stamina Ramen – a miso-based soup with a generous amount of chili paste. The sound of chili might scare you off but trust me, it’s really not that spicy. It has a little kick, yes but not to the point where you can no longer taste the actual flavors.
Balaw-Balaw Restaurant in Angono is a whole new other story. It’s a food hub slash art gallery. You can roam around the entire place while waiting for your food to be cooked. They have a display of paper-mache giants used for the Higantes Festival every November, a collection of commissioned artworks from art students and a hundred more paintings from the owner of the restaurant himself Perdigo Vocalan, Angono’s home-grown artist.
Their menu, however, is not for the faint of heart. From fried crickets and itik to crocodile meat, you have the liberty to choose what kind of mouthful adventure you’re willing to take. If you’re not so much a fan of these stuff, you can also try their less challenging menu like the Balaw-Balaw rice. It’s a localized version of Spain’s Paella – a mixture of shrimp, crab, mussels and a few veggies on top of a balaw-balaw (fermented shrimps mixed with rice).
You can’t leave Antipolo without a bag of suman and kasuy. Since this town is known for the best version of these two Filipino delicacies, bringing them home as pasalubong has become a tradition when visiting Antipolo.
You can find them at the stalls lined up beside the Our Lady of Good Voyage Church or along Sumulong Highway. Most stalls offer the same thing – adobo and plain salted kasuy, classic suman (the yellow one), suman lihiya (served with grated coconut) and other local delicacies like macapuno, espasol and broas.
Rizal can really be a rewarding place if we just allow ourselves to see beyond the surface.