The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Weekend Guide To Antipolo
This Valentine’s Day weekend, why don’t you go on a food and cultural tour around the city of Antipolo. Baby-boomers and Gen X-ers may have outgrown the observance of Valentine’s Day, but if you believe it must go on no matter what, the mountain resort city of Antipolo at the metro’s eastern doorstep beckons. This out-of-town getaway, which is been trying to relive its glory, is not just romantic, but also touristic and steeped in culture, and easily accessible on a motorcycle, a mountain bike or car this V-Day and beyond. Here are some of the out-of-the box things you can do aside from the obligatory romantic dinner.
1. Escape in a forest. Tucked in the bosom of the Sierra Madre ranges, Mount Purro Nature Reserve is the closest jungle experience you can get—a sprawling fenced themed resort and camp site. A part of the 26,000-hectare Upper Marikina Watershed, it is a back-to-basics and no-frills retreat without the distraction of a wifi or mobile phone. Trek the 4-km Laudato Si Hiking Trail which goes around the property so you can admire God’s creation and stop to smell the flowers by the wayside. Interact with the indigenous Dumagat tribesmen as they demonstrate basic jungle survival skills, most notably cooking food inside a bamboo. Despite the logistical challenges, it is able to spring up a surprise come meal time at the intimate bahay kubo-style Loli’s Kitchen which serves all-time Filipino and international favorites.
2. Go on an art tour at Pinto Art Museum. For some interesting conversation pieces that would spice up your sweet nothings, this gallery of a wide array of contemporary paintings, murals, sculptures, mixed media and installation art works spread out in six galleries. Its white-washed, Mediterranean-style buildings, mini-amphitheaters, and manicured landscapes will transport you to the famed Greek island of Santorini. Cap the walk with a hearty dinner at its artsy Café Rizal with its continental dishes.
3. Discover your green thumb at Flor’s Garden. This 5-hectare private garden is the toast of the town when it comes to organic farming practices and farm-to-table dining practice, which shuns the use of chemical fertilizers. Guests are welcomed in the Balinese-style gazebo for a pep talk on how blessed our country is in terms of rich biodiversity and the abundance of medicinal and edible plants. A sanctuary of birds and butterflies, its centerpiece is a homey resthouse which serves as dining hall, function rooms, lounges, and bedrooms. It has a scenic infinity pool and cabana which overlooks the adjacent Ed’s Farm which raises no-smell livestock, free range chickens and an assortment of crops.
4. Gaze at the stars at Seven Suites Hotel Observatory. Lovestruck couples, then and now, gaze at the stars to play astrologers even for a few moments and predict their future and destiny. You can live out this astrological fancy at the Seven Suites Hotel Observatory, the first and only of its kind in the Philippines, located at a vantage point in a hilltop. Take a peek through the 12-inch diameter Sky-Watcher, the country’s fourth most powerful telescope. The hotel’s resident astronomer will be on hand to assist you operate the telescope and interpret the formations of the constellations—from the astronomical to the romantic point of view. Its rooms and dining areas have an unobstructed view of in the evening sky which make the dinner a refreshing experience.
Sky-Watcher at Seven Suites Hotel Observatory
5. Pamper yourselves with a spa treatment. With the Instagrammable view of the metro skyline and the placid Laguna Lake, the soothing experience can only be completed by a rejuvenating complete spa treatment at Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens, arguably one of Antipolo’s best. Built on a cliff following Cordillera upland architecture, the tropical-themed resort has a series of fish spa, infinity pool, hydromassage and native lounges. After the massage, you can stroll around and marvel at the resort’s newly-opened Greek-inspired section called Mykonos.
Another noteworthy spa is Callospa, the first of its kind before the town became vogue as a spa retreat. It is a boutique resort of a couple of suites oasis surrounded by flowers, mist and cascades to evoke wellness for body and spirit. Its claim to fame is its state-of-the-art equipment, European-trained therapists, and fusion treatments combined from the world’s best massage styles using natural herb and fruit extracts.
6. Walk on Cloud 9. Lovers are said to be on the proverbial Cloud 9 all the time, so here’s their chance to live the part. The hilltop Cloud 9 Sports and Leisure Club, one of the city’s top tourist drawers, challenges brave souls to conquer their fear of heights by crossing a hanging bridge to the tower which has a breathtaking 360-degree view of the metropolis and Rizal province. The hotel also has exhibits of Antipolo murals, vintage photos and an archaeological museum with a remarkable collection of unearthed precolonial artifacts meticulously put together by its owner, historian Dr. Potenciano Malvar. Should you decide to stay overnight, it has a stately penthouse suite overlooking the ridge which has a spectacular view at night.
Cloud 9 Resort's hanging bridge
7. Lunch and pottery lesson at Crescent Moon Cafe. If you want to start an early date on V-Day, this quaint resto offers a feast for the senses with its Southeast Asian cuisine specialties, and remarkable pottery works. The place is also the workshop and showroom of stoneware ceramics artist Lanelle Fernando, daughter of the late National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva. The Glass Bar is a watering hole and creative space where guests can try their hand in various arts and crafts, and a venue for creative workshops and exchanges. It serves home-made suman and baked goods, coffee, tea, juices, smoothies, and craft beer from a local brewer. It offers a la carte and buffet lunch, and is open from Wednesday to Sunday, and closes at 5 p.m.
Crescent Moon dining area and pottery
8. Jam at an acoustic night. Sing your favorite love song and jam with the acoustic players at Le Blanc, Boso-Boso Highlands, and Café Lupe which has regular musical nights on weekends and special occasions. Le Blanc is a white-washed modern-looking hotel in downtown, Boso-Boso is a sprawling theme resort in the zigzag road in the outskirts, while Café Lupe is a watering hole with a compact infinity pool, fitness gym and game room which will keep you occupied.
Boso Boso Highlands Resort and Hotel
9. Dinner for two. For an ultimate consummate romantic dinner date and nothing more, three restaurants are vying for your attention—Burrow's Café at Antipolo Beehouse, Tahanan Bistro, and Vieux Chalet. Not only do they serve great-tasting gourmet food, they are located away from the madding crowd to ensure. The Beehouse is the residence and creative space of artisan builder Vitty Gutierrez which takes pride in its bright, tall glass panes and open layout. Tahanan an intimate small 32-seat bistro which offers a five-course meal, mostly Filipino food jazzed up using international techniques. Vieux Chalet, the old guard and most durable among the city’s restos, is a Swiss-type bungalow in an upland subdivision and acclaimed for its delectable European cuisine. Due to the limited seating capacities and private nature of these dining haunts, prior reservation is recommended.
Antipolo Beehouse's Burrow Cafe
Vieux Chalet facade