Province of Rizal

I spent most of my childhood days in the province of Rizal. Located in the eastern part of the Philippines’ capital, just approximately 16 km (9.9 miles) from Manila, Rizal is one of the most easily accessible provinces from the metro. It is probably one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country with its several mountains and waterfalls.

Some of its towns lie on the western slopes of the southern portion of the Siera Madre mountain range. Thus, making it perfect for mountain biking, day hikes, road trips, and camping. 

Sierra Madre Mountain Range

WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT RIZAL

You can hike the mountains of Rizal all-year-round. But the best time to visit is during the rainy season, June to December. It is when the current of its several waterfalls are strong.

Laiban Falls at the foot of Mt. Ngusong Kabayo

PLACES TO VISIT IN RIZAL

During summertime, you can visit Rizal’s museums and galleries. Rizal is not only known for its mountains. It also has a taste of history and art. In fact, one of its municipalities, Angono, is known as the ‘Art Capital of the Philippines’. Here’s a list of places worth visiting in the Province of Rizal:

MUSEUMS AND URBAN AREAS

Pinto Arts Museum (Antipolo City) – Have you seen a museum with a gallery, a cafe, and a park all in one place? It’s a museum in the middle of a forest!

Pinto Arts

Art Sector Gallery and Chimney Cafe (Binangonan, Rizal) – Art Sector is an art gallery with a cafe and a 360-degree view of the Metro, Laguna Lake, and the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

Blanco Family Museum (Angono, Rizal) – Blanco Museum is a gallery of the Blanco Family’s artworks. The Blanco Family is one of the noblest families of artists in the Philippines. The museum has a cafe inside.

Taytay Mega Tiangge (Taytay, Rizal) – Taytay is dubbed as the ‘Garments capital of the Philippines’. And then, a few years ago, they decided to take it to another level by creating a bazaar marketIt’s definitely a safer alternative to Divisoria.

Angono Petroglyphs (Angono/Binangonan) – The oldest known work of art in the Philippines, the petroglyphs are said to be more than 2000 years old.

ADVENTURES AND HIKES

The province of Rizal does not lack adventures. It has awe-inspiring waterfalls, challenging biking terrains, and a list of mountains worth-hiking. Here are few places that should be on your bucket list:

Masungi Georeserve (Baras, Rizal) – The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area located in Baras, Rizal. It features geological rock formations, suspended nets attractions, hanging bridges, rope courses, and eco-trails.

Spider web at Masungi Georeserve. Photo Credit: Czarina Garrido

Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls (Tanay, Rizal) – Daranak Falls is probably the most popular falls in the municipality of Tanay. Batlag falls on the hand is not that known to many, but it’s actually right at the top of Daranak. Thus, the water from Batlag flows down through Daranak.

Pililla Windmill Farm (Pililla, Rizal) – This windmill farm consists of 27 wind turbines located on top of the mountainous town of Pililla, Rizal. Its purpose is to supply alternate energy, but it has also become the main attraction of the municipality.

Pililla Windmill Farm

HIKING IN RIZAL PROVINCE

Since most of the municipalities of Rizal Province are situated along the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, hiking is the best thing to do here all-year-round.

Mt. Tagapo(Cardona-Binangonan) – Located in Talim Island, Mt. Tagapo provides a scenic view of Laguna de Bay and the skylines of Metro Manila. 

Mt. Tagapo

Mt. Balagbag (Rodriguez, Rizal) – Mount Balagbag is accessible by trekking or mountain biking. But the best thing to do here is camping. It’s nice to have a cup of coffee in your tent while seeing the metro night lights.

Mt. Balagbag

The mountains of Wawa and Mascap (Rodriguez, Rizal) – Rodriguez Rizal is one of the most popular mountain hiking destinations in the Philippines. Barangays Wawa and Mascap gather hundreds or thousands of hikers combined every weekend before the pandemic happened.

The mountains of Tanay (Tanay, Rizal) – Tanay is home to the most majestic waterfalls, rivers, and hike-worthy mountains. Most of these mountains can give you a higher chance of seeing a sea-of-clouds from its summits.

WHERE TO STAY IN RIZAL

With its proximity to Metro Manila, a day trip to Rizal is enough to visit a few tourist destinations. However, staying for a night or two is highly recommended to explore more of this province. You have so many options with your accommodations. You can stay in a fancy hotel, a cozy Filipino hut, a budget-friendly motel, or in a quiet campsite.

Mount Purro Nature Reserve
https://www.mountpurronaturereserve.com
Address: Purok 5, Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City 
Contact Numbers: (+632) 8542-3005, 0908-881-2701
LuLuljetta's Hanging Garden and Spa 
https://luljettas.com
Address: Sitio Loreland, Barangay San Roque
         Antipolo, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 534 2517,(+632) 633 3494
                 (0925) 766 7544,(0917) 867 6205
Thunderbird Resorts and Casino
https://www.thunderbird-asia.com
Address: Eastridge Arts Recreations & Tourism Zone
         Binangonan, 1940 Rizal
Contact Numbers: (+632) 8651 6888,(+632) 8651-3893
Bakasyunan Resorts and Conference Center 
https://www.bakasyunanresorttanay.com/
Address: 3 Marilaque Hwy, Tanay, Rizal
Contact Numbers: (+632) 8706 4509 
                 (0917) 575 5116, (0998) 994 2513
Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp
http://tencentstoheaven.com/
Address: Sitio Mayagay II Cuyambay, Marilaque Hwy
                Tanay, Rizal 1980 
Contact Numbers: (+632) 8542 2087
Treasure Mountain Camp Site
https://www.facebook.com/TreasureMountainTanay
Address: Cuyambay, Marilaque Hwy, Tanay, Rizal 1980 
Contact:  They are active and responsive in Facebook

WHERE TO EAT IN RIZAL

Although Rizal is a mountainous province, it is bordered by Quezon, a coastal province, and Metro Manila, the country’s capital. This means that you several choices on the menu, from seafood to meat and even pasta.

Tipulo
Type: A garden-restaurant with calming ambiance.
      Serves Filipino dishes.
Address: 27 Sumulong Hwy, Antipolo, Rizal 1870 
Contact Number: (+632) 696-3051
Yumboss Putok Batok Restaurank
Type: Seafood. Has unlimited seafood offer.
Address: 146 Sumulong Hwy, Antipolo, Rizal 1870 
Contact Number: (+632) 696-3051
Lutong Pugon - Tiongco's Garden
Type: A garden-restaurant that mainly serves
      Pizza and Pasta cooked with firewood
Address: Manila East Rd, Tanay-Pililla boundary
Contact Number: (0945) 306-6376
Che's Cafe
Type: A cafe that also offers a flavorful bulalo.
Address: Manila East Rd, Tanay-Pililla boundary 
Contact Number: (0945) 306-6376
Lugaw n' Toppers
https://www.facebook.com/lugawntoppers
Type: Lugaw with a twist AND more!
Address: Ciudad Grande, Taytay, Rizal 
Contact Number: (0920) 787-7522

Rizal is just sitting right next to Metro Manila, but sometimes we tend to look somewhere else for our leisure travels. This province has a lot to offer, from adventures, food, arts, and a taste of history. And you may find the tranquility you were looking for here, without traveling on a plane or making a long drive.

I want to see you here in our humble province of Rizal. À bientôt!

Antipolo City, Pilgrimage City of the Philippines

Antipolo city is the new capital of Rizal Province. Antipolo has been the most populous component city in the Philippines for years, but it did not become the province’s capital until July 2020.

This highly-urbanized city prides itself as the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines. Religious Catholic people will never miss visiting Antipolo during the Lenten season. Antipolo is also one of the best choices for a quick vacation with its proximity to Metro Manila.

WHAT TO DO IN ANTIPOLO CITY

To some religious Catholic people, Antipolo is the pilgrimage capital of the Philippines. During the Lenten Season, my Catholic friends will never miss visiting Antipolo Cathedral, the Mystical Cave, and the White Cross of Antipolo.

But Antipolo is actually a mix of urban and rural life. You’ll get both the taste of crowded city life and the tranquility of a quiet camping area not too far from the city proper. The city, with its high elevation, also boasts of a panoramic view of Metro Manila. Thus some resorts and restaurants are too perfect for relaxation.

PLACES TO VISIT IN ANTIPOLO

Here are few places worth visiting in Antipolo:

Mystical Cave – A cave full of beautiful stalactite formations and shiny minerals. This cave is just 30 minutes away from the city proper. It is popular as one of the pilgrimage destinations in Antipolo.

LULJETTA’S HANGING GARDEN SPA – Luljettas is a resort and spa that offers a spectacular view of Metro Manila. It’s a beautifully designed resort sitting on the cliffs of Antipolo ridges.

CLOUD 9 ANTIPOLO – Cloud 9 is a hotel and restaurant that offers a 360-degree view of Metro Manila and Antipolo. They accept walk-in tourists, so you don’t necessarily need to book accommodation or a pricey dinner to get access to the viewing deck. A hanging bridge connects the restaurant and the viewing deck.

Cloud 9

MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVES – Mount Purro is a 36-hectare forest sanctuary in the Sierra Madre mountain range. It offers Filipino hut accommodations and camping options for its guests. For more information, please read my Mount Purro blog.

BUNSURAN FALLS – Bunsuran is the most accessible waterfall in Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City. It has few swimmable basins, and its water flows on a huge wide rock. Read more about Bunsuran by following this link: Bunsuran Falls.

Bunsuran Falls

HINULUGANG TAKTAK PARK– Hinulugang Taktak was the flagship of Antipolo long before it became a city. It used to be a beautiful waterfall. Today, the waterfall is no longer swimmable but still offers a magnificent view.

PINTO ARTS MUSEUM – A museum with a gallery, a cafe, and a park all in one place. It’s a museum in the middle of a forest!

 WHERE TO STAY IN ANTIPOLO

Due to its proximity to Metro Manila, a day trip to Antipolo is more than enough to visit a place or two. But staying for more than just a day is not a bad idea at all. Here are the recommended places in every corner of the city.

LULJETTA'S HANGING GARDEN SPA
https://luljettas.com/
Address:  Sitio Loreland, Barangay San Roque Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 534 2517, (+63) 925-766-7544
MOUNT PURRO NATURE RESERVES
https://www.mountpurronaturereserve.com/
Address:  Purok 5, Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 534 2517, (+63) 925-766-7544
LEBLANC HOTEL AND RESORT
https://www.facebook.com/LeblancPhilippines
Address:  3 Taktak Rd, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 518-9303
CAFE LUPE ANTIPOLO
https://cafelupeantipolo.com/
Address: Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870
Contact Numbers: (+632) 470-3201, (+63) 945-432-1056
CITY SUITES
http://www.thecitywalksuitesapartment.com/
Address: M.L. Quezon Extn. Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal
Contact Numbers: (+632) 954-8607, (+63) 917-793-0973

HOW TO GO TO ANTIPOLO

Antipolo is really just a 30-minute drive from Makati City. This travel time may take up to two hours during rush hours. Ortigas Ave Extn and Marcos Highway are the most common way to Antipolo, but you may also travel via C6-Floodway to Angono Baytown to avoid heavy traffic.

UV express is the most convenient public transportation to Antipolo. UV stands for Utility Vehicle. They are mostly SUVs, and 18-seater Vans turned into non-metered taxis. There are several UV terminals in Metro Manila located in each Business Centers in Makati, Pasig, Taguig, etc.

Jeepneys and buses are also available as cheaper alternative transportation. Terminals are located in Cubao, Quezon City, and Edsa-Shaw Mandaluyong.

NEW TAGAYTAY?

They say Antipolo is an alternative to Tagaytay. Its high elevation provides cold weather and beautiful views of Metro Manila. Personally, I believe that Antipolo City has a totally different identity. Some tourists visit Antipolo for religious reasons, that’s why they call it the “Pilgrimage Capital.” But there is more to this city than just religious practices and sacrifices.

Antipolo City still has a long way to go with its tourism. At this time, it is not yet comparable to Tagaytay at all. But like what Tagaytay used to be (when it wasn’t yet too crowded), Antipolo is a perfect definition of tranquility.

See you around! À bientôt!

Bunsuran Falls, a Waterfall in Antipolo

There is a waterfall in Antipolo City known as Hinulugang Taktak. It used to be the flagship of Antipolo long before it became a city. Unfortunately, it became polluted in 1960, and it never recovered despite a few rehabilitation efforts. But did you know that there is another waterfall in Antipolo City? I just recently discovered Bunsuran Falls.

Bunsuran

Bunsuran Falls is flowing at the foot of Sierra Madre Mountain Range, in the heart of Upper Marikina Watershed, Calawis, Antipolo City. The Upper Marikina Watershed is a protected landscape. Its preservation is crucial to Metro Manila as its streams flow directly to Marikina and its nearby cities. This gives us hope that Bunsuran will not end up like Hinulugang Taktak.

HOW TO GO TO BUNSURAN FALLS?

PRIVATE CAR: Drive to Marilaque via Marcos Highway, passing Cogeo/Padilla. A few minutes after passing Boso-Boso Highlands resort, there is a wet market. Turn left as soon as you see the busy marketplace. Follow the signs that lead to Mount Purro Nature Reserve, and then turn left when you see a bridge and a sign that says ‘Bunsuran Falls’.

COMMUTE: Take a jeepney to Paenaan. There are terminals in Marikina and Cogeo. Tell the driver to drop you off at ‘Veterans’ or ‘Kanto ng Veterans’. Then you can take a tricycle going to the falls jump-off point. There is no hike required. The waterfall is just a 5-minute walk from the parking area.

Bunsuran

WHAT TO DO IN BUNSURAN FALLS?

Bunsuran has an interesting landscape. Its water flows on a huge wide rock that creates a series of steep drops to a few basins. One of its basins looks like a natural jacuzzi, while another one downstream is a deep basin where no one is allowed to swim. Here are a few things you can do in Bunsuran:

Relax on a Natural Jacuzzi made by Nature

Bunsuran

One of the basins of the waterfall is a 3-foot natural pool rock formation that looks like a Jacuzzi. This is one of my favorite spots on the falls.

Cliff jump

Antipolo

We have seen some locals cliff diving from a huge rock towards a 6 ft water. Please be careful though, it only has a tiny space between the rocks and the water, and it may be prone to injury.

Camp

Bunsuran

Outdoor enthusiasts can camp by the riverbanks. A local guide is required if you are staying overnight.

Swim

Bunsuran

There are only a few areas for swimming in Bunsuran. Most parts of the river are shallow with less than 4 feet depth of water. And that’s a good thing for non-swimmers. 

Picnic or Foodtrip

You can bring food, or grill a barbecue on the riverside. There are also food stalls near the falls. Please be responsible for your own trash. Clean as you go and leave nothing but footprints.

WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BUNSURAN FALLS?

The best time to visit the falls is BER-months or rainy season in the Philippines. If the stream does not have enough water, the place looks too dull and unattractive. In Bunsuran, the more water, the more fun there is! Let me share some additional photos to help you decide if the waterfall is worth visiting.

SAVE THE STREAMS!

Antipolo City has become Rizal Province’s capital since July 2020. With this, we can expect more infrastructure buildings and subdivisions in the next few years, but it’s good to know that Antipolo has not totally lost its natural beauty. We really hope that we can keep Bunsuran Falls as it is and protect it from becoming polluted like the other streams in the city.

P.S.

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