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.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.