Lakbay2Love is a Filipino “coming of age” film set against a backdrop of the biking culture and environmental protection. Starring Solenn Heussaff and Dennis Trillo, this movie promises to take you on a ride that will make you fall in love. Dennis plays a forester and biker named JR while Solenn takes on the role of Lianne, a videographer tasked to do a feature about climate change. Kit Thompson plays Macky, Lianne’s ex-boyfriend and JR’s biking buddy.
While the movie will be shown in cinemas starting February 3, I got invited to watch a special screening on January 13. I don’t want to post any major story spoilers, but I can say that this is the first movie in the country that tackles the biking culture in the Philippines. It features unique travel and biking destinations and excellent cinematography.
As a cyclist, I enjoyed seeing places like La Mesa, Timberland Heights and Benguet as the story unfolded. I think that non-bikers may just get inspired to check out the places for themselves after watching the film. I also appreciated the film’s underlying message to protect the environment. Check out the trailer for Lakbay2Love.
For those who want to embark on their own Lakbay2Love journey (whether it’s a solo ride, bike date or a group ride with friends), here are some of the filming locations from the movie you should definitely check out.
LA MESA NATURE RESERVE
Often referred to as the last remaining rainforest in Metro Manila, La Mesa Watershed Nature Reserve offers amazing mountain singletacks, dirt roads and firetracks all within a dense forest. La Mesa offers great trails for both beginners and advanced riders. It’s a popular venue for bike races and duathlons.
The scenery here is just spectacular and it serves as the primary filming location for Lakbay2Love. Scenes that were filmed here include the Mountain Biking 101 scenes, scenes view overlooking the La Mesa reservoir, the scene where Lianne finds a wooden treehouse and the rest stop near the grove of bamboo (Kawayanan).
READ MORE: Biking in La Mesa
LOCATION: La Mesa Watershed Nature Reserve is located northeast of Quezon City near SM City Fairview. It surrounds the La Mesa Reservoir, which is the source of most of the drinking water of Manila. It is not the same as La Mesa Eco Park.
TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- Reservations are required to bike here.
- The biking fee is P200 per person for a minimum group of 5 (or P1000 per group) plus P200 per additional rider. If your group has fewer than 5 riders, you still have to pay P1000.
- There is no place to eat within La Mesa Nature Reserve, so bring your own packed food/snacks and drinks. Sometimes, vendors inside sell light snacks & drinks.
- For inquiries, call Bantay Kalikasan at:(02)410.9670 (02)415.2272 loc 4551(Bantay Kalikasan Head Office) or inquire directly with Mr. Mar Zeri Ramirez at 0926.6700320 or 0908.493 8239. For more info, visit: the Bantay Kalikasan website.
Known as the “mountain biking capital of the country”, Timberland offers several purpose-built mountain biking trails within Mt. Maarat, including the Basic Trail and Roxas Loop, the Green Zone, the Blue Zone, and Black Diamond Trail. It also contains challenging paved climbs known as The Wall and Shotgun.
Some of the key biking scenes of Lakbay2Love include shots filmed at the Basic Trail, the Blue Zone and the Roxas Loop, a paved road flanked by pine trees. The Sierra Madre mountain range can be seen from the Roxas trail.
Timberland Heights was also the venue of the bike event/race that Solenn covered in the movie. The film shot scenes during the 7-11 Trail Series, a single-loop xc mountain bike race, last February 2015. The trail series is held on the 3rd weekend of February each year.
LOCATION: Timberland Heights is located in San Mateo, Rizal.
TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- There’s no entrance fee for bikers and reservations are not required. Just leave your ID at the guardhouse.
- There’s a parking fee if you’re bringing bikes on your cars going up. You can park near the Timberland Sports and Nature Club. Parking fee: P30.00
- There are several places for bikers to eat inside Timberland, including Biker’s Cafe (before the Wall), Giant Store, Camp Sandugo and Pestano Farm.
TEN COMMANDMENTS SHRINE, CAMP SINAI
Another key scene was the conversation between the characters JR and Macky, which took place at the Ten Commandments Shrine, a set of tablets measuring 65.04 square meters. From this iconic landmark, you get a view of the landscape that stretches from the Sierra Madre mountains, Laguna de Bay and the metro.
READ MORE: Holy Week Road Trips near Manila
LOCATION: The Ten Commandments Shrine is located in in Camp Sinai in Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal
TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- This used to be free, but because of a resolution last July 2015, a user’s fee is now being charged for visitors.
- Entrance fees: P30 for children, P50 for adult and P40 for senior citizen, students and PWDs.
- Camping fee for Group (minimum of 5 and maximum of 10/pax per day): P500
- Professional Photography per group: P1000. Executive Cottage: 1,500 overnight.
- If you’re a biker, just say you’re going to eat in the carinderia near Ten Commandments so that the entrance fee is waived/discounted for your group.
BZKLETA CLASSIC BIKES
The cool vintage bike shop where JR introduces Lianne to different types of bikes is Bzkleta Classic Bikes, a shop in Marikina that specializes in classic, vintage and antique bicycles and parts and other vintage collectibles. They buy, sell, restore, fabricate and modify classic bikes, scooters and mopeds and parts. They also have vintage bicycle units for rent for those looking for cool props for photo shoots (like debuts, pre-nup and weddings), fashion shoots and events.
Aside from the vintage bike shops like Bzkleta in Marikina, there are a lot of great places to eat in the area.
READ MORE: Unique Bike Date Places in Marikina
LOCATION: Bzkleta Classic Bikes is located in 163 Cm Recto Street, Parang, 1809 Marikina City. [MAP]
- The shop is open from Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
- Note: Visits should be scheduled beforehand.
- Facebook: Bzkleta Classic Bikes
OLD DOWNTOWN OF MANILA
To introduce Lianne to road biking, JR takes her around the streets of Quiapo, known as the “Old downtown of Manila”. Right outside Quiapo Church, you can find numerous marketplaces that attract bargain hunters.
Not exactly the most scenic place to ride around in Manila, but Quiapo always offers an interesting cultural experience and street food tripping if you’re looking for an urban bike ride. This is one place where you can see how bad the traffic is in the metro and how bikes can serve as an alternative source of transportation. Other points of interest in the old downtown area include Divisoria and Binondo.
READ MORE: Food Trip: Binondo
One of the most beautiful destinations featured in the movie is a dramatic scene when JR looks out on to the mountains from the top of a rocky ridge. This particular scene was filmed in Benguet. Based on photos I’ve seen online, I believe this is Gungol/Gungal Rock in Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet, which is a destination you can hike to from Baguio. From the rock, you can get a beautiful view with Mt. Sto. Tomas at the background.
I haven’t been there myself (yet), but check out this travel guide to get there by Jovial Wanderer. Take note that not all parts of the trail are actually bikeable, and you will have to carry your bike going up to the rock view deck because of the steep terrain.
LOCATION: Gungol/Gungal Rock is located in Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet. The jump-off point for hiking is Brgy. Ampucao in Itogon, Benguet, which is about 40 minutes and one jeepney ride (Baguio to Philex Mines) away from the Baguio City proper. The hike up to Mt. Ulap takes 3.5 hours.
According to director Ellen Marfil, this scene was inspired by the short film The Ridge by Danny Macaskill. If you haven’t seen this yet, stop everything you’re doing and watch it right now.
Several other scenes were shot in Benguet including the foggy road, toploading with bikes, and a scene where JR & Lianne ride Ifugao wooden scooters. These scooters mostly see action during the Imbayah Festival, but you can also spot them at the lookout point of Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao.
READ MORE: Motorcycling Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue and Back
The film Lakbay2Love is supported by La Mesa Ecopark, Timberland Heights, 7-Eleven, Firefly Brigade and the Cordillera Conservation Trust. The movie opens in cinemas starting February 3, 2016. There’ll also be a green carpet movie outdoor movie premiere in University of the Philippines on January 29. Bring your bikes and share the road!
NOTE: Exclusive stills from the film were provided by Erasto Films for this article.