Just an hour or less (depending on the traffic), this city had always served as a quick escape for Metro Manila residents. I remember that my first encounter with this city was way back in college where I was amazed by the beauty of the city lights from one of the restaurants viewing decks along its mountainside. From then on, Antipolo was a place where we can sit back, have an ice-cold beer or beers, and share stories with friends while enjoying the city view from the top.
Antipolo City has changed its landscape over the years. Its growth, spurred by its proximity to Metro Manila, paved the way for it to become a preferred residential area for some of the metro’s workforce. Its cooler climate and provincial vibe make it an ideal location to go home to.
History and nature have been very kind to this city. After it was founded in 1578 by Franciscan missionaries, it has played its part in Philippine history, mostly focused on the growth of the Christian faith in the region and in the country. The town started gaining devotees during the 19th century where the faithful followers of the Virgin of Antipolo would trek up the hills as proof of their devotion and faith. This religious activity remains alive today with the monicker “Alay Lakad” done during the Holy Week and April 30.
Tucked within the highlands of Antipolo, the Nuestra Senyora de la Annunciata Parish Church or, more popularly known as, Boso-Boso Church is one of the oldest churches in the province of Rizal. The Spanish-period church was first built by the Franciscans in 1669 to Christianize the Dumagat tribes in the area. The church sustained damage during an earthquake in 1880 and was left in its ruined state. It was only in the mid 80’s that the church got the needed attention and was fully restored in 1995.
The nine-year restoration preserved what was left from its original facade and re-constructed the structure as close to its original form. The simple design of the church blends perfectly well with the rural vibe of Boso-Boso. I found it to eerily beautiful as the church is surrounded by lush vegetations. The feel was like I was in a set of a horror movie or a historical narrative. It was perfect.
Unlike the usual Spanish period churches, the architecture of Boso-Boso Church is void of any fancy. It was built like a sanctuary - simple and sturdy. It had a similar look with that of Baler Church. Both churches founded under Franciscan leadership so you get to immediately notice the similarity of its architecture.
Hinulugang Taktak National Park
Hinulugang Taktak is probably the most famous waterfall on this side of Rizal. Immortalized in a local folk song, the waterfalls serves as Antipolo’s iconic attraction. The song invites its listeners to head up to Antipolo and take a dip to the cool waters of the infamous Hinulugang Taktak.
The waters of the falls cascade beautifully on a rock surface from a height of 22 meters and exits towards Laguna de Bay. It sits on a protected landscape and has been on rehabilitation since 1991. The park underwent refurbishment that included tourist facilities to complement its natural landscape. Interestingly, it is one of the most popular national parks in the country and has generated the third largest income as a national park.
Taking a dip in the waters of Hinulugang Taktak nowadays is not a good idea because of pollution. But its natural beauty is definitely one that you cannot set aside. I hope that, with its ongoing rehabilitation, there will come a time when the future generation can hum while enjoying the waters of Hinulugang Taktak.
National Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
At the heart of the Catholic faith in the city is the National Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or, more popularly known as the Antipolo Cathedral. The church attracts millions of pilgrims each year who pay homage to the Nuestra Senyora de la Paz y Buen Viaje - a wooden Marian image from Mexico.
The church stands beautifully overlooking the main business area of the city. It dominates the Antipolo skyline with its grand modern architecture highlighted by images of four saints guarding the three doors of the cathedral. The interior is as grand as its exterior. The main cavity of the church stands under the dome and its main highlight is its beautiful altar with image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage as its centerpiece.
The Antipolo Cathedral is known to gather millions of devotees every year. The annual “Pagdalaw ng Ina sa Anak” every April draws devotees to walk from Quiapo Church to the Antipolo Cathedral. The same kind of devotion is displayed by its devotees during the Holy Week celebration.
Pinto Art Museum
A doctor’s hobby of collecting artworks that started in the 1969s, paved the way for the opening of the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. The museum, tucked in one of the villages in the city, has a wide collection of art pieces prominently displayed in its different galleries. It is a must-see spot for art enthusiasts.
The museum in itself is picturesque with its architecture, its landscaping, and its well-manicured lawns. The serene atmosphere, the galleries, and how the museum was designed make the whole experience memorable. Time slows down to make you appreciate the collections.
The museum is also a great place to let your creativity flow. You can play around with your camera to capture the beauty of every corner of the art haven. It allows you to let your creativity run free in a creative environment. Oh... and did I mention that it is also a great spot to enjoy the sunset?
Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens at Loreland Resort
The cool weather, rural vibe, and amazing metro views of Antipolo gave the city a relaxing ambiance. It was not a surprise that a number of resorts and hotels have made its home in the city. The city in itself offers a good weekend escape for metro residents without having to travel for hours.
One of the popular day or weekend spot that you can check out is the Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens located within the compound of Loreland Resort. It gained popularity for its scenic views and the relaxing ambiance of its spa. However, prior booking is needed if you want to enjoy its facilities and services. You need to book early as they get a lotvof inquiries and bookings during the weekends.
Loreland Farm Resort offer day trips and overnight accommodations. They have a lot of swimming pools with different themes where you and your family or your peers can take a dip while enjoying the view and the cooler weather of Antipolo. The resort also offers amenities for team-building activities or company outings.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Antipolo City has become popular among metro residents as a great place to live in, a destination for a quick weekend break, or a drinking spot where one can sit back and chill. It is a city that gets to enjoy the best of both worlds - the metropolitan vibe of Manila and the laidback ambiance of Rizal. Behind its urban development, the city managed to keep its rich history and natural beauty intact. It has kept its tapestry and artistry alive despite of the changes around and within the city. It is a city that played its part in Philippine history that even Dr. Jose Rizal mentioned Antipolo in his writings. It is a city that is worth exploring even for just a day or two. Let me remind those who are rearing to go out and explore
that Antipolo City is just an FX ride away.
It is interesting to explore the suburbs around Metro Manila. The shared history speaks a lot on how these areas developed in line with the metro’s urban growth. These places have their own stories to share and have their own destinations to be proud of which, in most cases, fall under the shadow of Metro Manila. This #ByahengFX series is aimed at discovering these stories and spots. It is about exploring destinations that is just an FX ride away.
Getting There: Antipolo is about 45 minutes away from Metro Manila. One can take a public van or FX from Cubao, Ortigas, or Crossing in Mandaluyong. If you are planning to go to Boso-Boso Church, you can take a public FX to Cogeo Gate 2 and take a jeep from there to Boso-Boso. You can then hire a tricycle to bring you to Boso-Boso Church.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.