by Julia Escano
Despite its proximity to Manila, Rizal province still doesn’t enjoy the same tourism draw of places like Tagaytay or Subic. For many, a list of things to do in Rizal exclusively contains mountains and hikes. But what most Manileños may not know is that the cities and towns of Antipolo, Angono, Montalban, and Tanay – which are only an hour or two from the metro – are also fast-growing cultural hubs.
A quick drive through the length of Marcos Highway from Katipunan leads you to the edge of Antipolo while taking Ortigas Extension takes you to the heart of Antipolo itself. Once there, it becomes a game of “Choose Your Adventure.” Whether you’re looking to commune with nature, eat your heart out, or get more cultured, there’s a Rizal province activity that’s perfect for you. Even better, you can mix and match activities and get a small dose of everything in one weekend.
If you think you’re ready to explore Rizal, read on to create your perfect weekend day trip.
GET IN TOUCH WITH HISTORY IN RIZAL PROVINCE
Rizal province is rich in history and if going back in time is your thing, the Angono Petroglyphs provide a unique insight dating back to the Neolithic Era with primitive rock drawings and a small museum containing ancient artifacts unearthed in the area. Discovered by Carlos “Botong” Fransisco in 1965, the glyphs have since been decreed a National Cultural Treasure and have been included in the World Inventory of Rock Art under UNESCO. Unfortunately, the site is temporarily closed for rehabilitation under the supervision of the National Museum. For notices of reopening, visit the National Museum website.
Location: National Museum Branch, Binangonan, Rizal
Contact:+632 527-4192 (National Museum Central Office), firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm; weekends and holidays by appointment
Wawa Dam and Pamitinan Cave
If you’re more into folklore, you may get a kick out of visiting the Wawa Dam and the Pamitinan Cave in the Wawa Gorge of Montalban, Rizal. Legend has it that Bernardo Carpio, a character in Philippine mythology known for his great strength and gigantic size, once resided in these mountains. One version of the legend says that Bernardo Carpio was imprisoned in the caves and every time an earthquake happens, it’s Bernardo Carpio trying to break free. Another version says that Bernardo Carpio himself created the Wawa Gorge after pushing the two mountain faces apart. Whatever you believe, there is a consensus that the Wawa Dam is a scenic hike and good place for some adventure. Swimming, spelunking, and climbing are available in the vicinity as well.
Location: MH del Pilar Street, Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal
HAVE A SOFT-CORE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
Perhaps one of the most popular things to do in the province of Rizal is to go mountain climbing or hiking. However, some of us want to commune with nature but just don’t have the physical prowess to be that hardcore. A great alternative to experiencing the beauty of the outdoors is a trek through the Tinipak River in Tanay. Said to be the cleanest inland body of water in Region IV, Tinipak River has a lot of activities to offer. Thrill seekers can go cliff jumping, while those looking for a more relaxed time can swim, camp, or explore the nearby cave.
Daranak Falls & Batlag Falls
Daranak Falls is perhaps one of the most popular destinations in Rizal province, so much so that it now operates as a full-fledged resort. Because of its strong falls and baby blue water, Daranak Falls does tend to get overcrowded on weekends. But worry not, a few meters from Daranak is the lesser known Batlag Falls. While it is not as grand as the former, Batlag is less frequented by people, making it more peaceful and serene. It is also secluded, thanks to overhanging trees and vines, giving it a more isolated feel.
Location: Tanay, Rizal
Contact: (02) 736-1059 / (02) 655-2195 loc 212 or 213 / (+63) 998-988-1590
Hours: Mondays to Sundays 8am-5pm
GO ON A FOLKSY FOOD TRIP IN ANGONO
Balaw-balaw Specialty Restaurant
Craving for worms? Or maybe snails? How about crickets? If you’re ever feeling adventurous, one of the top things to do in Rizal province that always leaves a mark is a visit to Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant. Balaw-balaw specializes in exotic folk dishes such as kamaro, crispy deep-fried crickets; uok, beetle larva cooked like adobo or in tamarind and tomatoes; Soup no. 5, or cow’s balls; and sinabawang balut, or balut cooked like bulalo. However, if you’re heart or stomach can’t quite handle the juice squirting out of the larva as you chew down the uok, regular Filipino fare is available in the restaurant as well.
Atelier Café and Restaurant
Near Balaw-balaw is the Atelier Museum Café. It is the restaurant of Nemiranda Arthouse, a gallery owned and operated by Nemesio R. Miranda, a prominent local artist. Dining in Atelier is a both a feast for the taste buds and a feast for the eyes. The restaurant is adorned with colorful sculptures and artworks, all symbolizing local folklore and mythology. The kitchen serves Angono specialties such as sinigang na kanduli, pritong itik, and pesang dalag. These may be tamer than their next-door neighbor’s, but are still an authentic Rizal experience on their own. The café is best enjoyed after roaming around the Nemiranda Arthouse, where exquisite local woodwork and folk art can be found.
Location: Doña Elena Street, Angono, Rizal
Contact: (02) 651-6387
Hours: Mondays to Sunday 10am-10pm
GO GALLERY HOPPING
Pinto Art Museum
Of all the things to do in Rizal province, a visit to Pinto is perhaps one of the fastest growing in popularity, and rightfully so. With its large, landscaped grounds and its buildings’ bright and airy architecture, going to Pinto Art Museum isn’t just about seeing the works, but experiencing the place as a whole. It houses several galleries, each with its own themes, exhibits, and media. Suffice it to say whichever nook of the museum you find yourself in, there are exquisite artworks made by local artists to appreciate and to make you feel a little more cultured.
Location: San Roque, Antipolo, Rizal
Contact: (02) 986-1804 / (02) 697-1015
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 9am-6pm
Blanco Family Museum
The Blanco family is a homegrown Angono family that has upheld the town’s local art industry for two generations. It all started with Jose “Pitok” Blanco, a protégé of the national artist and fellow Angono-local Carlos “Botong” Fransisco. His beautifully composed, hyper-realistic painting style gained him repute as a major contemporary Filipino painter. Before long, all 7 of his children followed suit and began making their masterpieces at a young age. Now the family has a museum in their hometown, featuring a gallery for each of the 7 children’s works as well as galleries for Pitok and his wife. A stroll through galleries provides a snippet of local color, Filipino culture, as well as a glimpse into the lives of this massively talented Angono family.
Location: 312 Ibañez Street, Barangay San Vicente, Angono, Rizal
Contact: (02) 651-0048 / (02) 6513230 / (+63) 926-6730805
Hours: Tuesday to Sundays 8am-5pm
MAKE A RELIGIOUS PILGRIMAGE
The Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia is a pilgrimage site located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. It was founded and run by the Dominican sisters of Regina Rosarii, who value the power of contemplative prayer above all. Thus, the site is a destination for prayer, peace, and time with God. Its main draw is a 71-foot statue of Our Lady on Top of the Hill and a sanctuary for love and devotion inside the statue. It holds two paths which lead to the statue, both of which are conducive to contemplative prayer.
Location: Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal
Contact: (02) 985-3878 / (02) 401-2036 / (+63) 919 269-4286
Hours: Mondays to Sundays (except Tuesdays) 8am-5pm
The Antipolo Cathedral, also known as the Our Lady of Antipolo Shrine, is home to the statue of the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje or the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. She was named thus because she made eight voyages from Mexico to the Philippines aboard Spanish galleons. Since its enshrining in Antipolo in 1626, the Lady has had a steady following from devout Catholics praying for her blessings. These days, a visit to the church is perhaps one of the top things to do in Rizal province. The church is mostly frequented by owners of new cars, having them blessed so that the Lady watches over all their journeys. It is a great stop before or after a trip, where extra guidance and peace are always welcome.
Location: P. Oliveros Street, Antipolo, Rizal
Contact: (02) 697-0274