Travelers and riders would all agree that this municipality, east of Manila, is a spot-on destination for people who love the outdoors. Whether you are out in search for a quick day trip spot or you are out looking for a weekend escape, one can never go wrong with its wide selection of choices to explore and enjoy. This week we are traveling east for my #ByahengFX series to rough it out in Tanay, Rizal.
Founded in 1606, Monte de Tan-ay is now a first class municipality that has fast become an eco-tourism destination. Its proximity to Manila and its amazing natural attractions make it an easy and accessible choice for a quick breather away from the stress of the metro. The rugged terrains of the Sierra Madre give travelers different adventure options that allow one to commune with nature while the provincial vibe of the town slows down the pace to a relaxing rhythm.
Daraitan and Tinipak River
If you want to rough it out with nature in Tanay, Daraitan is the first spot to check out. Nestled along the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, this rustic destination gives you that relaxing provincial vibe and an amazing nature escape. The great thing about it is that it is only an hour or two away from the metro.
I remember my first time in Daraitan was a day trip to discover and explore the famous limestone formations of Tinipak River. It is about an hour of easy hike from the town along the banks of the river. The white rock formations were an amazing sight to see and the quick dip in the cold waters of Tinipak River was our reward for our hike. Of course, one should not miss out on exploring Tinipak Cave and enjoy the fresh mountain water making its way to the surface. You can read about the experience by clicking on this link: Tinipak River.
Tucked comfortably along the side of Mount Daraitan, Kuta Bungliw is a camping resort that offers an amazing overlooking view of Daraitan. The resort gives you an honest-to-goodness camping experience that allows you to commune with nature, relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance, and disconnect with the metro’s buzz. This is a great weekend spot where you can enjoy hours and hours of uninterrupted serenity while reading a book and sipping coffee. Click on this link to read on my full adventure: Kuta Bungliw.
This rugged part of Tanay is a great place to disconnect with our busy city life and connect with nature. It offers a lot of physically challenging activities that leaves you a bit tired but totally re-charged in mind, body, and spirit. Daraitan gives you that breathing space in the midst of its amazing natural beauty.
Getting there: You can take a jeep bound for Sampaloc, Tanay at Cogeo Market. The scenic trip takes around an hour. You can take a tricycle from Sampaloc to Daraitan.
The Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia is a sprawling pilgrimage site in Sampaloc, Tanay. It is popular for its 71-foot image of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary that sits atop a hill that overlooks its 13-hectare compound. It is a popular pilgrimage site of faithful Catholics during the Holy Week celebration in the Philippines.
We managed to make a quick stop at Regina RICA and one could really feel its air of solemnity when you go walk around the place. We climbed up the 308 steps to the shrine where a small chapel is located where you can offer prayers and candles. The shrine also offers an amazing view of the Sierra Madre and the areas surrounding the shrine. The faithful can also walk thru its Way of the Cross culminating with a short prayer inside it chapel.
Getting there: From Daraitan, you can take a tricycle to Regina RICA.
Daranak Falls is another popular destination in Tanay. Nestled at the foot of the mountains of the municipality, one will be charmed by the beauty and breadth of its 14-meter high cascade. The cold waters drop into a deep jade-colored basin where one can take a dip and enjoy the fresh spring waters. The surrounding lush green vegetation completes the rustic vibe of the waterfalls.
Daranak Falls is a popular summer escape among local residents in Rizal. The cold waters of the falls provide a quick relief from the heat especially during the summer. But despite the crowd, one can easily find his or ber own spot where you can enjoy the unadulterated sights and sounds of Daranak Falls.
A short trail hike from Daranak Falls will bring you to the smaller and equally beautiful Batlag Falls. Unlike the first waterfall, Batlag has two cascades that stand adjacent to each other. The waterfall is located in a forest clearing surrounded by a more dense vegetation giving it a more mystical vibe.
Batlag Falls exude a different personality. Exploring its grounds is like walking around the set of a fairytale movie where you are in a middle of thick forest. The waters of the falls run down in smaller cascades creating small puddles along its path. The sun’s rays break into the forest cover giving it an eerily beautiful ambiance. Batlag Falls get a fewer number of visitors, probably because it charges a separate and higher entrance fee compared to Daranak Falls, but the lesser crowd allows its guests to fully enjoy communing with nature.
Local folklore shares that Calinawan Cave got its name because it is the place where the Americans and Japanese settled their differences or in local Filipino phrase “nagkaroon ng linaw”. The story outlines the significant role played by the cave in local and Philippine history. The cave, including the adjacent Rawang Pass, was the stronghold of Filipino revolutionaries in the fight for our freedom. It also served as a sanctuary for local residents and guerilla fighters during the Japanese occupation.
Beyond its historical value, Calinawan Cave is nature’s handiwork. The rock formations, stalagmites, and stalactites found inside its chambers are nature’s gifts to admire. Its beauty has attracted local tourists that even local tv and production units have used the cave as location sets for their shows. Unfortunately, some of these productions have left some permanent damage on some parts of its chambers.
The cave system of Calinawan remains unexplored. Locals claim that the cave complex reaches up to Pililia and Baras but this still remains to be verified. One thing is true though, Calinawan Cave is a melting pot of nature’s beauty and Philippines’ colorful history.
Getting there: From Regina RICA, you can take a tricycle to the jeepney stop for Tanay Bayan. You take the jeep bound for Tanay and ask the driver to drop you off at the junction of Daranak Falls Road. You can hire a tricycle from here to bring you to Daranak Falls and Calinawan Cave.
Simbahan ng Tanay
Declared as a National Cultural Treasure in 2001, the Saint Ildefonsus of Toledo Parish Church, or Tanay Church, is the 2nd oldest church in the province of Rizal. The present structure was completed in 1783 after the first stone church was destroyed by natural calamities. The church now stands as a testament of Tanay’s faith and colorful history.
The church’s three-tiered retablo is the main highlight of its interior. An image of St. Ildefonso stands as the main centerpiece of the main retablo. Two smaller retablos flank the altar. The walls of the church are adorned by 14 carvings that depict scenes from the Stations of the Cross. These carvings ate unique as local artists of Tanay infused local and native cultures in making these artworks. The Station of the Cross is considered to be one the beautiful pieces in Asia.
The Tanay Church is also the home of a bone relic of St. Ildefonso. The relic was given to the church when it celebrated its 400 years as a church in 2006. The piece of St. Ildefonso’s spine is considered to be huge blessing for Tanay’s Catholic community.
Getting there: From the junction of Daranak Falls Road, you can take a jeep bound for Tanay Bayan. At the jeepney stop, you can take a tricycle to the church.
Built in the 1960s, the Tanay Lighthouse serves as a guiding beacon to local fisherman who sail along Laguna de Bay. The lighthouse, that sits along the banks of the lake, provide a panoramic view of the lake and its surrounding areas. It is a favorite afternoon spot by locals to unwind after a full day of work.
The best time to visit the Tanay Parola is during the late afternoon as it provides an awesome view of the setting sun. You would enjoy watching the sky turn into different color hues as the sun slowly disappears behind the mountain ranges on the other side of the lake. You also get to see locals wrap up their daily grind as some of them would be heading back home, aboard their boats, in some other part of Laguna de Bay. This is a perfect spot to wrap up a weekend adventure in Tanay, Rizal.
Getting there: You can hail a tricycle and you can ask the driver to bring you to the Tanay Parola.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
I have witnessed how Tanay, through the years, have emerged as a prime eco-tourism destination from a sleepy old town in Rizal. It was once an off-beat spot that attracted only mountaineers and the adventurous. It slowly evolved into a tourism buzz word that always had something new and different to offer to any kind of traveler. Be it a day hike, an overnight camping experience, a biking destination, or even cloud spotting; the municipality opened its doors to those wanting an easy escape from the humdrum of the city life. Just an hour or two away from the city, Tanay gave us a sanctuary to run to when we need to get refreshed and re-energized.
As an advocate of local travel in an age of social media, I believe that it only takes one photograph to put one destination in the spotlight. I have witnessed these countless times where off-beat travelers share an off-beat experience and then, in a span of a year or two, the destination becomes the “thing” among local travel enthusiasts. The Philippines still has a lot of destinations for us to unravel and to share to the world. I hope that after the COVID19 crisis, another destination will be “unraveled” to become the beacon of hope for our country’s tourism front.
Getting there: You can take an FX van to Tanay at Starmalls Crossings in Mandaluyong. The trip is about an hour to three hours depending on the traffic. From the Tanay Town Proper, you can hire a tricycle to tour you around.
The COVID19 health crisis cancelled summer here in the Philippines. Except for those living by the beach or the mountains, all of us had to endure the summer heat inside our homes. I personally had to make-do with setting up my hammock by our porch just to get a semblance of a summer vibe while on quarantine. Social media was abuzz with throwback pictures and with hopeful rants of wanting to hit the beach. And just like that summer was over.
As the rains are now slowly giving us the cooler weather and the quarantine slowly easing out, I am pretty sure that a lot of us are now starting to look into a “quarantine relief”. Most of us are probably checking out where we can go for a safe break after we are allowed to do leisure trips. The good thing about the Philippines is that we have destinations that can cover any season. Simplehan na lang natin... let me share with you seven Philippine destinations on my list that is worth exploring, rain or shine.
Imagine yourself walking along a cobblestone street and surrounded by Spanish-period houses, under a light drizzle. Dramatic, right? That is exactly the vibe that Calle Crisologo in Vigan can offer to its guests.
Vigan is an icon-city in the Ilocos region. It is a popular destination known for its well-preserved century-old “bahay-na-bato” that falls under the UNESCO Heritage Site. Guests would definitely enjoy walking down history as they explore these old houses in this once affluent district. But its rich history is not just confined in Calle Crisologo. You will find pockets of historical, as well as interesting spots, when you explore the city and its surrounding areas.
The city is also a popular destination for food lovers. One can enjoy the rich taste of Ilocos empanada and miki noodles just right beside the Vigan Church. Of course, you should not forget to bring home with you some Vigan longganiza, bagnet, and bibingka.
Read about my Vigan trip by clicking here: Vigan City
Baguio City is an all-season favorite of travelers. With an elevation of 1470 meters above sea level, the City of Pines boasts of a cool weather and rustic natural beauty. People visit the city to escape the sizzling heat during summer and head up there to enjoy the cold mornings during the Christmas season. But the city takes on a different personality during the rainy season where you get to enjoy a warm cup of coffee while watching the drizzle and the fog envelope the city.
History and creativity blends perfectly well in Baguio. Apart from the popular tourist spots in the city, it has a lot of pocket destinations that showcase either its rich history or its local artistry. Session road transforms itself every Sunday as a venue for creativity for its local artists and those who try to be one. Cafes and restaurants also double up as art spaces where you can enjoy a nice meal and getting a fill of local art pieces.
Baguio still has a long way to go in its efforts of reviving its former glory as urban development had taken over much of the city. Although it may not have that pine tree scent smell that I have associated the city with during my formative years, it has maintained its old charm and has become a hub for local artists and their work. It has gone beyond its usual tourism sights and sounds but has evolved to offer something new in its old charming ways.
Read about my Baguio trip by clicking here: Baguio City
If you are looking for a quick beach break, Zambales is one destination that you should check out. The long coastal stretch on the western side of the Philippines have a lot of beach spots to offer to any kind of traveler. From gray sand to cream colored sand, from beach coves to sand bars, the province has got one for you to enjoy.
Zambales’ beach spot destinations have different personalities to explore and enjoy. Silanguin Cove in San Antonio is serene and peaceful. You can enjoy the wind whistling while cooling off with the gentle waves of its waters. Liwliwa is very rustic and homey where surfers and off-beat travelers converge. Here everyone is a friend. Crystal Beach, on the other side, is the sassy and upbeat spot. It appeals more to the younger crowd because of its IG-worthy spots and charming appeal. Potipot Island on the northern part of the province is a crowd favorite for its cream-colored sandy shores. You get to enjoy its island vibe.
Zambales is definitely a good choice for a quick break. You get to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea depending on your weekend mood. And even with a little rain, you can always snuggle up to enjoy a cool and wet weather by the beach.
Click on the destination to read up on my travel: Silanguin Cove, Liwliwa, Potipot Island, Crystal Beach
The cold weather has a unique appeal among Filipinos. So it is not a surprise that Tagaytay City in Cavite is an easy favorite among metro residents for a day or weekend trip. Its cooler temperature, amazing views of Taal Volcano, and its gastronomical spots make it an appealing destination whether its sunny or rainy.
Tagaytay City has a lot to offer. Its main tourist draw is its amazing views of the world’s smallest volcano from the ridge where the city stands. Different view decks in the city offer a different look of Taal. Its cool weather and laidback vibe give the city a serene atmosphere that religious destinations are part and parcel of every Tagaytay trip. And of course, getting your tummy filled in the city is a definite must. The city can give you a nice meal with an amazing view to keep all yours senses satisfied.
The city is a perfect spot to cool off during the summer and to sip a warm bulalo soup during the rainy season. Its close proximity to the metro, its attractions, and appetizing menu offers make it a favorite spot for Metro Manila residents. Tagaytay’s charm pulls off as an all-year rounder destination.
Read about my Tagaytay trip by clicking here: Tagaytay City
San Pablo City
Just two hours away from Manila, this quaint little city offers an interesting provincial vibe and a unique encounter with nature. San Pablo City is popular for its seven lakes that you can actually trek and/or explore in a day. What is great about the experience is that you get to enjoy these spots for free.
The seven lakes of San Pablo are believed to be craters of ancient volcanos. These lakes have been a source of livelihood for locals and have been an attraction for tourists. Sampaloc Lake, the biggest, is the most accessible and is located just right behind the city hall. Pandin Lake is the most developed in terms of tourism efforts. The locals have already organized themselves to offer scenic raft rides on its still waters while enjoying a sumptuous meal. Interestingly, the ladies of the community are the ones who navigate the raft along Pandin Lake.
Another attraction worth checking out in San Pablo is the infamous Villa Escudero. The 415-hectare coconut plantation was developed into a farm resort that showcases the beauty of Filipino culture. A museum, a heritage house, and a Filipino cultural show are the main attractions of the farm resort. But its biggest draw is the experience of having to eat lunch the Filipino way beside their dam with your feet submerged in water. It is definitely an unforgettable experience.
Read about my San Pablo trip by clicking here: 7 Lakes of San Pablo City, Villa Escudero
Cebu City is dubbed as the Queen City of the South. It is a great city to get lost in as you will get to see its rich history delicately intertwined to its urban setting. From Magellan’s Cross to its heritage sites and museums, the city keeps its colorful history alive for everyone to see and enjoy. The devotion of the Cebuanos to the Sto. Nino is very evident when you visit the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu. The revered image is the centerpiece of the annual Sinulog celebrations every January.
Cebu City is not just about history and religious icons. It also has attractions that give the city a more urban feel. Cebu Tops offer a panoramic view of the metro and evenings are the best times to visit. Temple of Leah is a great spot to be creative with your pictures. And if you want a quick beach respite, Mactan has a number of hotels and resorts that you can choose from. Of course, a Cebu trip is not complete without getting a fill of their delicious lechon, a personal favorite.
I love Cebu City for its perfectly blended urban and rural vibe. It is a great destination to explore that knows no weather. The city allows you to re-live its history, appreciate its beauty, explore your creativity, and indulge in its gastronomic delights. Writing this down is making me want to visit Cebu soon.
Read about my Cebu trips by clicking here: Cebu City, Cebu Sinulog
Cagayan de Oro
Further down south is another favorite all-year-round destination, Cagayan de Oro - my hometown. The city serves as the gateway to Northern Mindanao and has its own history to share, its own brand of eco-tourism, and its own old town vibe.
Exploring the city center gives you a glimpse of its rich history. In the midst of its urban development, you will actually enjoy pockets of history tucked in some corners of the city. The old water tower of the city, near the St. Agustine Metropolitan Cathedral, was re-designed to house the city museum that showcases how the Cagayan de Oro was founded and developed to what it is now. Of course, the mighty Cagayan de Oro River played a huge role in the city’s history. You can try to take on the challenge of conquering its waters by shooting its rapids that has become its main tourism draw.
Cagayan de Oro has evolved from a rustic town to a bustling metro through the years. The city has now more to offer to its guests with a water theme park and huge malls to add to its eco-tourism attractions. It is one destination that you can enjoy whether you want to explore the city under sun or getting refreshed by the rain while making a run on a rubber raft.
Read about my Cagayan de Oro trip by clicking here: Historical Cagayan de Oro, Downtown CDO, CDO Whitewater Rafting
POST TRAVEL NOTES
The great thing about living in the Philippines is that exploring the many amazing destinations in the country is an all-year round activity. Although there are a number of destinations that are best visited on certain months (ahem... Batanes!), most of our spots are all-weather friendly. We get a balance of both the sun and the rain even when its monsoon season. There is always an activity that we can do or a place that we can explore whether its sunny or its raining outside.
As we slowly adjust to the new normal, I will keep on repeating the call for Filipinos to go local even with their travels. We have a lot of amazing tourist spots that you can explore and give you an amazing Pinoy experience. Our tourism is not just about white sand beaches or beautiful island spots. We have rustic destinations that give our country a different vibe. There will always be one Philippine destination that will fit your personality. And all you got to do is to find it.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.