(SPOT.ph) When planning for a quick getaway, we usually think the usual haunts: Tagaytay in the south, La Union or Baguio up north. But Rizal Province, which is just east of Metro Manila, is full of great food, museums to check out, and activities to enjoy whether you’re with friends or family.
Named after one of our heroes, this province rests between Laguna de Bay and the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. A quick trip can make you feel like you’re miles away from the city, even if you’re only a few hours away.
Here are some of the cool places to go in Antipolo, Angono, and other parts of Rizal Province:
View the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs
While on a trip with boy scouts, muralist Carlos “Botong” Francisco stumbled upon markings on the face of a rock along the boundary of Angono and Binangonan. Being an artist himself, he thought they might be early forms of artwork and reported his findings to the National Museum of the Philippines. It was later found out that these prehistoric rock inscriptions date as far back as 1500 BC and are believed to depict rituals from the late Neolithic Period. The site was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1973, included in the World Inventory of Rock Art in 1985, and was prioritized for preservation by the World Monuments Fund in 1996.
You can visit the viewing deck at any time, and for free! If you want to learn more about the story behind these petroglyphs, their meanings, and their discovery, you can ask any of the local curators for a guided tour.
Stroll through Doña Aurora Street
Did you know that Angono is considered the Art Capital of the Philippines? As the home to two National Artists (Botong Francisco and Lucio San Pedro) and all-artist families (the Blancos, the Mirandas, the Vocalans, and the Tiamsons), it’s not unusual to go to an establishment and see it lined with several paintings. There’s also an entire street—Doña Aurora Street— in the town proper that is full of paintings by Botong and executed on concrete by muralist Charlie Anorico. This leads to the home of the National Artist, which now serves as a museum and residence of his grandson Carlos "Totong" Francisco II, an artist himself.
Down the street, you can also find musical notes and inscriptions based on San Pedro’s composition "Sa Ugoy ng Duyan."
Try exotic dishes at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant
After soaking up all the artistry, why not head over to Balaw-Balaw Restaurant further down the road in Angono? Established in 1983 by artist Perdigon N. Vocalan and his wife Luzvimin, it is now known for serving exotic dishes and local delicacies and housing a gallery that showcases not only Vocalan’s works but also those by Angono artists. You can order a boodle-type family dish with yellow and pink rice surrounded by meat, vegetables, and seafood; or try local fare like fried itik, ginataang kuhol, and sinabawang balut. Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is named after a popular Angono sauce concocted out of fermented rice, shrimps, and bamboo shoots.
Learn how to make pottery at Crescent Moon Café
Owned by artist Lanelle Abueva-Fernando, this cafe-slash-pottery studio in Antipolo City has been around for over 20 years. They grow their ingredients themselves, making sure their Asian fusion dishes are healthy and fresh. Since Antipolo is known for its suman, Crescent Moon Café serves three variations of this rice cake: Suman at Mangga, Suman a la Mode, and Suman Itim. You can also buy pottery or sign up for a pottery workshop after a sumptuous meal.
Have your portrait sketched at Tiongco’s Garden
Rizal Province’s artsy vibe isn’t limited to Angono. Tiongco’s Garden in Tanay, which is owned by artist Jun Tiongco, not only serves delicious pugon-baked pizza but also offers an art-filled experience. You can have your portrait sketched by one of Tiongco’s assistants for P300. If you’re in luck, the artist may even sketch your portrait himself! How’s that for a souvenir?
Walk through a bamboo garden at Kawayan Farm
You don’t have to fly far away from Metro Manila to enjoy natural views. Kawayan Farm at Pililla has a view deck that gives you a refreshing view of the picturesque natural wonders of Rizal. You can also walk through their bamboo garden, which features different types of bamboo from all over the world, or visit their chapel made entirely out of bamboo. The farm also has a restaurant with an open kitchen that serves fresh lumpia made with—you guessed it—bamboo. It’s best enjoyed with fresh buko juice served in a husk.
Take an exhilarating ATV ride on the slopes of the Sierra Madre
In case you’re looking for something that gets the heart pumping, you can head over to ATV Adventure Rizal along Sapinit Road in Antipolo for a guided all-terrain drive. The track is right by the Sierra Madre, giving you a thrilling but beautiful experience driving through dirt roads and shallow waters. You'll be provided with safety gear and given safety and driving lessons before you head off for the trail. You can choose the two-hour trail, a more challenging four-hour ride, or the six-hour adventure that includes trekking and swimming.
Commune with nature at Masungi Georeserve
Masungi Georeserve was established to preserve Tanay's natural beauty after large-scale quarrying and illegal logging began to proliferate. To better appreciate nature, the reserve has put up a trail that’s open for private tours. You can enjoy a view of of Laguna de Bay over a large web-like canopy, take shelter from the heat inside a cavern, see stunning limestone rock formations, climb up a net in the shape of a monitor lizard, and walk through a snake-like tunnel.
Tap into your inner adventurer and explore waterfalls and caves
Tanay is teeming with natural wonders you can explore, like the Daranak and Batlag Falls and the Calinawan Cave. Calinawan Cave was purportedly used as a hideout by guerilla warriors who fought the Japanese. The cave is lined with stalagmites and stalactites, along with other rock formations that have been around for thousands of years.
Go on a shopping spree at Taytay Tiangge
A budget of P1,000 will go a very long way in Taytay, which is hailed as the Garments Capital of the Philippines. The municipality put together Taytay Tiangge to provide local garment-makers with a place to sell their wares without having to go to Baclaran, Divisoria, or Greenhills.