Growing up in the province, my childhood friends and I used to enjoy camping sleepovers. On hot summer nights, we’d haul out banigs, folding beds and foam mattresses on the grass and “camp out” in our garden under a makeshift tent sewn together from my old protest streamers. We’d spend the night playing card games and board games like Monopoly, Cluedo and Pictionary and roast marshmallows and hotdogs in a mini-bonfire. Back then, we really felt like we were roughing it out. But there was always the security of parents just inside the house (providing us with real food), a decent bathroom and the option to move indoors if it rained.
Rizal is an adventurer’s playground often frequented by mountain bikers and motorcycle riders. The Sierra Madre mountain range east of Manila offers numerous off-road trails where you can ride through forests, beside river trails, or visit scenic spots with overlooking views. I’ve written a lot about places to visit in Rizal since it’s my favorite weekend destination near the metro. It’s hard to believe that some of these places exist so near Manila.
Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area and karst rock garden hidden in the rainforests of Baras, Rizal. Its name comes from the local term “masungki” which translates to “spiked” – describing the jagged limestone landscape found here. The discovery trail offers a unique outdoor experience where visitors get to hike through karst landscape, with limestone formations, sinkholes, caves and natural trails and forests. The geological park has eco-friendly conservation areas, rest stations and obstacles including hanging bridges, rope ladder descents, view decks, and a giant hammock where you can enjoy views of the amazing natural landscape.
Summer is here and many families and barkadas are looking for resorts for their out-of-town swimming trips and excursions. One of the places I can recommend relatively near the metro is Momarco Resort in Tanay, Rizal. Only 1.5 hours away from Quezon City, Momarco Resort has a large, clean and well-maintained swimming pool and an artificial lagoon with a waterfall.
The town of Tanay in Rizal province is one of my favorite destinations near the metro for motorcycling road trips. Its proximity to Manila, refreshing mountain scenery, cooler climate and generally uncrowded destinations makes it a good alternative to Tagaytay on any given weekend. Parts of Tanay pass through portions of the Sierra Madre mountain range, making it a great motorcycling and biking destination.
For weekend warriors and families, Tanay has lots to offer in terms of natural attractions. The resorts and leisure camps in the area also make it a popular destination for team-building activities as well.
Since I blogged about my previous rides to the Wind Farm in Pililla, Rizal, I’ve been getting inquiries from riders and bikers on the best route to take. Over the past few months, I’ve visited the Rizal Wind Farm a total of five times, usually on solo weekend rides. On previous rides, I was always stopped at either the Pillilla or Sampaloc entrance and told that that I couldn’t go in because of ongoing construction, so I usually ended up taking photos just near the entrance.
Outdoor enthusiasts know Daraitan as a village nestled in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges somewhere between Rizal and Quezon. After visiting the place during a trail run and on a mountain bike ride, Art of Outside Slacker likened it to Rivendell, the Elven realm in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. After finally seeing the place first-hand, I have to agree. The scenery wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film. You get that sense of wonder just walking through the white rock formations and crossing the clear streams snaking through the mountains.
The weather in Metro Manila and all through Manila East Road was bright and sunny, but just as we got to the foot of the wind turbines in Pililla, Rizal, the rain started to pour. Howling wind sent small stones and gravel from the rocky terrain flying in the air, showing us just why this elevated spot was chosen to be the site of a wind farm project. But despite the threatening grey skies and rain, the windmills were impressive, towering over the rugged landscape. There were only three turbines standing during our exploratory bike ride last Valentine’s Day 2015.
Aside from Marcos Highway / Marilaque, the Manila East Road is another popular destination for cyclists, riders and road trippers. This highway traverses the provinces of Rizal, Quezon and Laguna, starting from the junction of Ortigas Avenue in Taytay, Rizal all the way through towns surrounding Laguna de Bay and ends at a junction with the Pan-Philippine Highway in Calamba City.
Sometimes, we tend to take places in our backyard for granted. The nearer a destination is from where we live, the less it is on our tourist radar. For instance, Art’s hometown is Binangonan, but for some reason, we’ve both never been to Mt. Tagapo, a mountain that falls under the jurisdiction of the towns of Binangonan and Cardona in Rizal province (though it’s only accessible from the Binangonan side). Mt. Tagapo, referred to by locals as Susong Dalaga, is located in the middle of Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines. The first weekend of the year seemed like a good time as any to scale a mountain, so we we decided to finally head there.