Camp General Mateo M. Capinpin (Tanay, Rizal)

Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin

Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin

Camp General Mateo M. Capinpin, in the mountains of Tanay, is the latest military camp to become a tourist destination.  The headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), dubbed the “Jungle Fighter” division, it has been included among Rizal province’s tourist destinations.

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Places to see within the camp include:

  • Heroes Wall (Dambana ng Kabayanihan) – inscribed with the names of 2ID soldiers (including their unit and date of death) who died for their country.
  • 2ID Museum – has a display of weapons, explosives and vehicles.
  • Known Distance Range (KDR)
  • GENSAN Firing Range.
  • The one-storey VIP Building was where deposed Pres. Joseph E. Estrada’s was temporarily detained, from August 21, 2002 to July 14, 2004, when he was tried for plunder.
Estrada Detention House

Estrada Detention House

Estarda's bedroom

Estarda’s bedroom

Schools (Colegio de San Agustin, Ateneo de Manila University, Don Bosco College, etc.), youth groups (Girl Scouts of the Philippines, etc.) and civic groups (Rotary Club, etc.) regularly visit the sprawling camp. Tours, started in 2007 as “Lakbay Kalikasan (environmental tour),” has since been re-launched as “Lakbay Aral (educational tour),” with a daylong set of activities.

2nd Infantry Jungle Fighter Division Heroes' Wall

2nd Infantry Jungle Fighter Division Heroes’ Wall

They host only one group of about 100 participants at a time but, during the summer “peak season,” tour groups arrive almost every week and they sometimes they accommodate two groups at a time.

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Zipline and climbing wall

During the tour, they get an opportunity to interact with soldiers who act as the tour guides, playing big brother and big sister to the elementary to college students. The 2ID charges PhP100 per tour participant and PhP150 each for those camping. The funds go to the maintenance of facilities and use of utilities.

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The activities lined up for tourists include:

  • Welcoming performance from its marching band.
  • Students get to see soldiers “in action.” A 9-member army squad, in full battle gear and camouflage, demonstrate their combat formations and explain their roles, weapons and equipment.
  • Static display. Soldiers fire off their high-powered firearms but with blank ammunition.
  • Soldiers allow students to take photos with them and even carry the firearms (unloaded, of course).
  • A tour of the 2ID museum. A video presentation about the 2ID follows.
  • For lunch, the visitors get to have a “boodle fight” with the soldiers. Guests must provide their own food.
  • To get a taste of the soldiers’ training regimen, students can get on a “mini-obstacle course” that would have them crawling on the ground. They are also treated to zipline, rock wall climbing and rappelling.
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Grandstand

Division Public Affairs Office: 2nd Infantry Division Philippine Army, Camp General Mateo M. Capinpin, Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. Mobile number: (0918) 383-5370 and (0948) 867- 2707. Email: dpao2id@gmail.com.  Website: www.junglefighterdivision.com.  Facebook: http://fb.com/junglefighterdivision.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Regina RICA (Tanay, Rizal)

Regina RICA

Regina RICA

The 13.5-hectare Regina RICA, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites here in the Philippines, was established in 2009 by Sr. Mary Epifania “Eppie” F. Brasil, OP (founder of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii On May 13, 2005 in Quezon City). The sisters holds dear the words of Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.”

Handumanan

Handumanan

Their primary mission is to teach as many people as they can about contemplative prayer and the contemplative way of life.  This wonderful place of prayer, pilgrimage and peace is not a park or a recreational activity area.  Rather, it is for those seeking to experience God.

Souvenir Shop

Souvenir Shop

Handumanan, the first place that will welcome you upon entering, has a souvenir shop, visitor center (where names are entered in the registration folder at the counter), a booth where you can write petitions and a donation area.  RICA volunteers here also orient visitors of the do’s and dont’s while exploring the Regina RICA.

Our Lady of Regina RICA

Our Lady of Regina RICA

The hilltop Regina RICA‘s centerpiece is the iconic, 71-ft. high statue of Our Lady of Regina Rica, a sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus made by the artist/sculptor, Jose “Jojo” Barcena Jr..

Happy angel

Smiling sculptured angel

Below her feet is a canopy of clouds with 17 sculptured angels – 16 smiling and the 17th, inside the mantle, which is the crying (symbolizing sorrow for the sins we commit).

The author

The author

Inside the statue is an adoration chapel called SULOD (Sanctuary of Universal Love and Devotion), Regina RICA’s sanctuary of universal love and devotion chapel. Sulod is an Ilonggo word (the sisters are mostly Ilongga) meaning “enter.”

S Trail at El Shaddai Hills

S Trail at El Shaddai Hills

Just like a pilgrim, the best way to experience Regina RICA is by foot. However, for those who can’t walk inside the facility, there are also shuttle vans or golf carts (PhP5 per pax) that can take visitors, from the gate, to the chapel and all the way to the SULOD on top of the hill and back down again.

Brick

Brick with footprints of those who gave their love offerings

There are 2 ways to get to Our Lady of Regina RICA and its SULOD.  First, you can take Mary’s S (sacred) Trail at El Shaddai Hills, a pathway of 308 steps trail made with bricks (some with footprints of those who gave their love offering) that leads directly to the icon. Here, you have a great view of the RICA Chapel just below the hill.

Candle Station

Candle Station

Second, you can follow the Way of the Cross, 14 stations that leads you along a winding road that also leads you to the icon on top of the hill but also tours you to Regina RICA’s other facilities – the Organic Gardens, Regina RICA Chapel, San Jose Rotonda (has a 13-ft. high statue of St. Joseph looking at his family), 13 Candle Stands, Koi Pond, Flower Gardens, Kakahuyan and Sunflower Trail.

Regina RICA Chapel

Regina RICA Chapel

 

Interior of chapel

Interior of chapel

Upon reaching SULOD, visitors are briefed on what they should do and observe once you enter the adoration area. They will also provide information and history about the Regina RICA, future and current projects and more.  After the briefing, visitors will be prompted to go upstairs where a sister of the congregation will invite them to join a short yet spiritually enlightening prayer and meditation in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, after which they will be guided to the exit so they can accommodate the next batch.

Orientation inside SULOD

Orientation inside SULOD

At the Pilgrim’s Labyrinth, visitors are encouraged to slowly follow the path all the way to the center (where they can offer their prayers and meditate) and also the path to go out. On its left side is a gazebo called Tilipunan (from the Ilonggo word meaning “gathering place”).

Pilgrim's Labyrinth

Pilgrim’s Labyrinth

Tilipunan

Tilipunan

There are  candle houses with candles (PhP20 each) in various colors, which represent different intentions – red for courage, blue for peace, green for hope, orange for good health, violet for financial prosperity, brown for safe trip/good job, aqua for thanksgiving, yellow for joy/friend, white for success, rose for love/family and all of the above for abundance.

Candle House

Candle House

The  Pahuwayan sa RICA Columbary and Ossuary is another interesting work of art of Jojo Barcena Jr.

Pahuwayan

Pahuwayan sa RICA Columbary and Ossuary

Columbary entrance

Columbary entrance

Regina RICA also has a  dozens of gazebos, bahay kubo, tents, some animals, livestock,  at least 3 waterfalls, a creek, a set of 10,000 trees and a vegetarian-themed restaurant (Pasilungan) at  a place called Handong (an Ilonggo word meaning “shade”).

Pasilungan

Pasilungan

Regina Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia:   Marikina-Infanta Highway, Sitio Aguho, Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay Rizal. Open daily (except  Tuesdays), 8 AM to 5 PM. Admission: free. Parking fee: PhP50. Tel: (+02) 985-3878 and (+02) 401-2036. Mobile  number: (0919) 269-4286. E-mail: reginarica@yahoo.com. Website: www.reginarica.org.

Schedule of Masses
Mondays-Saturdays – 11 AM (except Tuesdays)
Sundays – 11 AM and  3:30 PM
Every 4th Saturday of the month: 6 AM

To attend to the pilgrims’ need for silence and respect the sanctity and cleanliness of the area, each one is required to be on their best behavior when they are inside the sacred place.  There is also a dress code – no short shorts sleeveless blouses, spaghetti straps and too revealing upper garments.  If you are wearing inappropriate clothing, you can borrow long skirts and shawls in stores inside the place. Visitors are required to take off their shoes once they enter SULOD. You can take pictures anywhere inside the whole facility except inside SULOD.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Daranak Falls (Tanay, Rizal)

Daranak Falls

Daranak Falls

The picturesque, 14-m. high Daranak Falls, one of the flagship destinations of Tanay, is a popular summer getaway for locals and tourists from in and out of the country.The falls and its surrounding area, part of the Laguna watershed, are now being managed by the Tanay local government. The word daranak is said to have been derived from the phrase “Dadanak ang dugo,” translated as “blood will be spilled.”

Daranak Falls (28)

Hidden on the mountainside of Sierra Madre Range, it cascades down to a lushly-vegetated rock pool and into a running stream which skirts tangled roots of ancient trees and widening stone pathways called butlog. It is a bit of a hike down steep, 4-wheel drive roads to get to the place. A short walk over a hanging bridge brings you to the top of falls.

Daranak Falls (30)

 

The stream itself flowed serenely through massive, ocher-colored rocks, creating pools of turquoise waters here and there before ending up in the 30-foot deep catch basin of the waterfalls. People sit under the waterfall for the best massage ever! Life guards, on both sides of the falls, are on duty when there are swimmers.

Daranak Falls (31)

The refreshing but extremely cold water is bright turquoise during the dry season and deep green during the wet season. Despite its popularity, it is very clean and well maintained. Go early in the morning as it gets very crowded in the afternoon, especially during holidays and weekends.

Entrance

Entrance

There’s a small canteen at the entrance area where you can buy food, snacks, bottled water and soda. You can also bring your own cook food for a picnic lunch or buy fresh fish and meat to grill at Tanay Market (you can grill on their grilling area).You can also dine at several restaurants there and also ask them to cook food for you but it will all depend on what is available.

Daranak Falls (19)

There are picnic tables (PhP200) and sheds (PhP300), all constructed in such a way as to blend with the surrounding environment, plus souvenir shops (key chains, ref magnets, t-shirts, etc.) and parking (a bit tricky) on both sides of the narrow street (PhP30 for the parking fee).

Picnic sheds

Picnic sheds

Rest rooms (PhP5 per visit)) are available near the entrance.  Floaters (locally called salbabida) can be rented for kids (PhP30) and for adults (PhP50).

Souvenir shops

Souvenir shops

Daranak Falls: Daranak Road, Brgy. Tandang Kudyo, 1980 Tanay, Rizal. Open daily, 8 AM to 5 PM. Entrance Fee: PhP50, Children below 3 ft. are free of charge.

Additional Reminder: In compliance with Municipal Ordinance #2 Series of 2005, plastic and/or styropor are not permitted in Daranak Falls. Furthermore, alcoholic beverages and pets are not allowed. Overnight stay is not accommodated.

How to Get There: Daranak Falls is about 15 min. away from Tanay town proper. To get there, take an 8-km. jeepney ride to Brgy. Sampaloc and drop off at a turnoff for 2-km. hike along a dirt road to the falls.

A. From Starmall (EDSA cor. Shaw Blvd.) or EDSA Central/Crossing United

  • Take an FX (PhP70) or jeepney (PhP53) for Tanay. Terminal in front of Starmall EDSA is near Shaw MRT Station while the EDSA Central/Crossing United terminal is near the Unilever/Mandaluyong Police Station).

B. From Santolan/Marikina

  • Take an FX (PhP70) for Tanay at terminal near LRT Santolan Station.

C. From Ortigas Center

  • From Robinson’s Galleria, ride a G-Liner bus going to Taytay. Alight at Cainta Junction (Big R as landmark) then ride a jeepney going to Tanay (Fare: PhP40-45).

D. From Araneta Center/Cubao

  • Ride a jeepney going to Antipolo City (Fare: PhP32-35). Alight at Ynares Center and then ride an Antipolo toTanay jeepney (Fare: PhP28).

All buses and jeepneys drop off passengers at Tanay Public Market Transport Terminal. From here, proceed to Daranak Falls Tricycle Terminal (PATODA Riders). Fare is PhP200 one-way, maximum of 4 pax/tricycle.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Calinawan Cave (Tanay, Rizal)

Calinawan Cave

Calinawan Cave

This natural, multi-level cave, part of several series of caves in the area, was said to have been discovered in 1901 (by a grandfather of one of the cave guides).  It was used as a local hideout by refugees during the Philippine-American War and by the Japanese during World War II.

Calinawan Cave (2)

Media group

We detoured to this cave before proceeding to Daranak Falls. It’s a long and bumpy ride getting there since most of the road isn’t paved yet and the cave isn’t signposted that well.

Calinawan Cave (8)

The author at Level 1

This cave is mostly dry and many of the stalactites and stalagmites, though still impressive, are dead. The cave’s name was derived from the word linaw (clear).  During the 15th-18th century, opposing parties used to convene inside the cave to settle disputes.  It’s a long cave system with different levels and openings.

The cave opening

The cave opening

This cave has 7 levels but most visitors only explore the first two levels. The less visited and seldom explored Levels 3-5 are more challenging to explore as you may need to get your hands dirty.

Calinawan Cave (23)

An eerie column

It also requires squeezing your body to fit inside the narrow and small cave openings.  It can only be explored during summer as, during the rainy season, they’re flooded and muddy. Levels 6-7 are closed. Our tour took about 30 mins.

Calinawan Cave (5)

Our guide Jason told us that one path leads to as far as the town of Montalban (others say that there are those that lead to the neighboring towns of Baras and Pililia).

Calinawan Cave (29)

The local TV fantasy series “Encantadia” was filmed here and, more recently, the Coco Martin TV series “Ang Probinsyano.” The TV series “Imortal” disturbed level 1 with silver and gray paint and glued glitters on the cave walls and other indelible and irreversible damage.

Calinawan Cave (14)

In case you get hungry or thirsty after the cave exploration, small sari-sari stores in the area sell sandwiches, soft drinks, halo-halo, mais con yelo, and biscuits.

Calinawan Cave (31)

As a spelunking experience, this is a relatively easy cave to explore, requiring no technical or special skills, especially for the first 2 levels. Well suited for first timers with no previous spelunking experience.  Levels 3-5, taking about half a day to explore, are just satisfying enough for the veterans.

Calinawan Cave (36)

Calinawan Cave: Calinawan Road, Brgy. Tandang Kutyo, Tanay, Rizal. Admission: PhP20. Tour guide fee: PhP 200 (good for 10 pax). You are provided with safety helmets and LED flashlights (however, these are very weak and you won’t be able to take great photos inside) as the second level of the cave has zero visibility. For that mandatory picture taking, use a camera with low light function. If you wish to explore layers 3-5, the guide may ask you for a consideration fee.

How to Get There: Calinawan Cave can be reached by tricycle (PhP200) from Tanay Market. For those with cars, there’s a parking area in front of the cave entrance.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo (Tanay, Rizal)

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

The best-preserved church complex in the province, this church was first built in nipa and bamboo in 1606.  In 1678, a church built with stone was started by Fr. Pedro de Espallargas, completed in 1680 (the first mass was celebrated on April 20, 1680) but was demolished due to its deteriorating condition as a result of natural calamities.

The side entrance

The side entrance

The present church was started in 1773 and completed in 1783 by Franciscan Fr. Alfonso de Fentañes with good local stone from the Tanay quarry. The six retablos were installed in 1786.

Philippine Historical Committee plaque

Philippine Historical Committee plaque

On July 31, 2001, it was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and, near the end of 1999, was declared as one of the five Jubilee churches of the Diocese of Antipolo.

The church's Baroque-style facade

The church’s Early Renaissance-style facade

The church’s massive Early Renaissance, adobe-faced, three-level facade features superpositioned columns topped by carved pineapples, semicircular arched main entrance and windows and a triangular pediment with a statued niche framed by an order.

The octagonal bell tower

The octagonal bell tower

On its left is its four-storey octagonal bell tower with semicircular arched windows and, on its right, is the two-storey convent and courtyard. The convent, now housing the rectory, multi-purpose hall and San Ildefonso College, was started in 1640, repaired in 1773, finished in 1783 by Fr. Fentañes and was repaired and improved in 1851.

The convent

The convent

The convent interior

The convent interior

The courtyard

The courtyard

In front of the church is the “Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!” a 16 ft. high sculpted from an old acacia tree. Designed by Yvette Beatrice Y Co, it was sculpted by Roel Lazarro, Frank B Gajo and sculptors from both Kalayaan and Paete, Laguna. It depicts the Virgin Mary appearing before St. Ildephonsus.

Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!

Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!

Inside is a long nave, an intricately decorated wooden pulpit and a silver-plated main altar.    A relic of a piece of bone of St. Ildephonsus, from Zamora, Spain (where the body of the patron saint lies), is housed in a monstrance.  It, was given by Rev. Fr. Felipe Pedraja on October 2006.

The church's interior

The church’s interior

The intricately decorated wooden pulpit

The intricately decorated wooden pulpit

The celebrated 200-year old bas-reliefs of the 14 Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis), encased in large glass windows across each side of the the nave’s walls, are considered as one of the most beautiful in Asia. Indigenized from Western styles, they are believed to have been created by native Tanay artists.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

The seventh station

The seventh station.  The soldier wearing sunglasses is fourth from left

The natives in the carvings have Malay features, with brown skin and squat figures. Native culture is distinctly depicted in the tambuli, made of carabao, and the bolo instead of the typical Roman sword. At the seventh station, one soldier even wears sunglasses.

The main retablo

The main retablo

The five ornate retablos, with Rococo design, honor of Our Lady of Anguish (Nuestra Señora de las Angustias), the Immaculate Conception (La Purísima Concepción), Saint Joseph, Saint Peter of Alcantara and the Baptism of Jesus Christ.

Retablo dedicated to Our Lady of Anguish

Retablo dedicated to Our Lady of Anguish

Retablo dedicated to St. Joseph

Retablo dedicated to St. Joseph

Retablo dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara

Retablo dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara

Retablo dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

Retablo dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

Retablo dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus Christ

Retablo dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus Christ

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo: M.H. Del Pilar St,   Brgy. Plaza Aldea, Tanay 1980, Rizal. Tel:  (02) 654 1015. Feast of St. Idelfonsus of Toledo: January 23.

How to Get There: Taytay is located 55.37 kms. from Manila and 43.7 kms. (a 1 hour 10 min. drive) from Antipolo City.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Our Lady of Annunciation Church (Antipolo City, Rizal)

After lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet near the Antipolo Cathedral, Jandy and I returned to our Toyota Revo for the last leg of our Antipolo City tour – the Our Lady of Annunciation Church, the first Catholic church built in Antipolo.  The church isn’t easy to find as it is located almost outside Antipolo, on the fringe just before getting to Tanay.  We found our way there via the Marcos Highway (and asking for directions).

Our Lady of Annunciation Church

Our Lady of Annunciation Church

The stone and brick church was constructed by the Jesuits in 1700 under the patronage of Our Lady of Annunciation (Nuestra Señora de la Anunciata). In 1768, when the Jesuits were expelled, its management was transferred to Recollect priests. The church was destroyed during  the July 18, 1880 earthquake. Since then, the population started dwindling and, as it did not seem important to rebuild the church, it was left in ruins.

The church's simple facade

The church’s simple facade

The church's interior

The church’s interior

In 1930, it was totally abandoned when the townspeople were ordered moved to another location to give way for the construction of a proposed dam that would flood the mountain valley of Boso-Boso.  When the project didn’t prosper (due to the discovery of an earthquake fault line), the people slowly came back.

The church's square bell tower

The church’s square bell tower

In 1943, during World War II, what remained of the church was destroyed by fire by the Japanese. In 1995, it was again restored, with the help of the townspeople, to its original design.

Buttresses on the side walls

Buttresses on the side walls

The present reconstructed church has a simple, single level facade with a centrally located main entrance flanked by two small, semicircular arched windows.  Above it is a triangular pediment with a centrally located oculus.  On the church’s left is a square bell tower.  The side walls are supported by buttresses.  Its interior reveal traces of its brick construction.

National Historical Institute plaque

National Historical Institute plaque

Our Lady of Annunciation Church: Sitio Old Boso-Boso, Brgy. San Jose, Antipolo City, Rizal.

How To Get There: From the Masinag/Sumulong intersection, ride a jeepney along Marcos Highway. Upon seeing the Boso-Boso Highlands Resort on the left side, it is a further 2 kms.  to dirt road on the left marked with a big metal archway (“Old Boso-Boso, Brgy. San Jose, Antipolo City”).  Here, take a 2-km. tricycle ride to the church located on your left.

Antipolo Cathedral (Rizal)

From the Hinulugang Taktak, Jandy and I next proceeded to the nearby Antipolo Cathedral, a favorite pilgrimage site formally known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo.  We were lucky to be able to park at the cathedral grounds and when we entered, a wedding was ongoing.  

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo

The church was first built from 1630 to 1633 by Jesuit Fr. Juan de Salazar but was burned during the Chinese uprising of November 1639-March 1640.  It was rebuilt by Fr. Salazar in 1637 but was destroyed during the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1863.  Notable Filipino historians Pedro Chirino and Pedro Murillo Velarde ministered in this shrine.

The cathedral interior

The cathedral interior

The present church was reconstructed by Msgr. Francisco Avendano and was declared a National Shrine by the bishops of the Philippines in 1954.  This modern church, built on the site where the statue of the Virgin was discovered leaning against the trunk of a  tipolo  (breadfruit)  tree (artocarpus incisa), has a circular layout topped by a huge dome and has three main entrances.  Gothic influence in the façade is seen from the triangular windows and mouldings.   It houses the image of Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage).

Image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

Image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

The brown wooded statue was brought to Manila from Mexico by newly appointed Gov.-Gen. Don Juan Niño de Tabora in 1626, via the galleon El Almirante, enshrined in St. Ignatius Church in Intramuros and later entrusted to the Jesuits at Antipolo when Gov. Tabora died in 1632. Declared patron saint of the Manila galleons, it made six successful round trips across the Pacific to Acapulco without mishap from 1648 to 1649 (on the San Luis), 1650 (on the Encarnacion), 1651 to 1653 (on the San Diego), 1659 to 1662 (on the San Javier), 1663 (on the Nuestra Señora del Pilar) and from 1746 to 1748 (on the San Jose). On November 26, 1926, the image was canonically crowned, before 100,000 people in the Luneta,  by Manila Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty. 

Historical Research and Markers Committee plaque

Historical Research and Markers Committee plaque

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo: Pascual Oliveros St., Antipolo City, Rizal.

 

Save Hinulugang Taktak!!! (Antipolo City, Rizal)

Upon arrival at Antipolo City, the first place Jandy and I visited was the 12 m. high Hinulugang Taktak, one of the two most popular tourist spots in Antipolo City, the other being the Antipolo Cathedral, and the nearest waterfall to Metro Manila. Officially the Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape, it was formerly called the Hinulugang Taktak National Park, declared as such by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Hinulugang Taktak Falls

Hinulugang Taktak Falls

According to legend, there was a large bell that caused undue disturbance whenever it was rung at Angelus. Its sound was so loud that the people could not endure it. They demanded that the local priest get rid of the bell. They threw it at the waterfall.  Thus, “Hinulugang Taktak” means “the place where the bell was dropped.”

Hinulugang Taktak Falls (11)

Historical accounts say that our National Hero Jose Rizal frequented this falls.  On June 15, 1952, it was declared a  recreation area by then Pres. Elpidio Quirino and, in 1990, the waterfall was proclaimed as a National Historical Shrine by the National Historical Institute (NHI) by virtue of Republic Act No. 6964.  It became an integral part of the country’s system of protected areas under Republic Act No. 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.  It is now under the control of the DENR by virtue of Proclamation No. 42 and it’s area has been expanded from 0.89 hectares to 3.2 hectares.

Hinulugang Taktak Falls (12)

The park was closed to the public and undergoing rehabilitation when we arrived but we were allowed in by the caretaker. We went down a series of concrete steps flanked by kupang, acacia, ilangilang and mahogany trees.  There are also cottages, common barbecue pits, public toilets and swimming pools.

Hinulugang Taktak Falls (6)

Concrete walkways and stairways

When we arrived at falls’ basin, I was greeted by an awful smell and the sight of a pool with waters thick with foam and soap suds (from detergent diluted in dirty water), more like a giant washing machine. At its fringes are raw waste, sewage and assorted garbage, coming from illegal settlers and some of the city’s drainage systems, which flow into the river and its tributaries (including the Pasig River), all prey to rapid urbanization. As such, its waters are polluted and not suitable for swimming (visitors here just use the swimming pool located downstream). The falls is just for viewing.

Garbage and foam at basin

Garbage and foam at basin

However, the city government and the DENR are now working with private groups for a PhP100 million makeover, in 10 to 20 years, to restore and preserve the glory and natural beauty of this once famous and idyllic waterfall.

Downriver from the falls

Downriver from the falls

Hinulugang Taktak was the subject of a bouncy native song (Tayo na sa Antipolo) composed by German San Jose (Gerry Brandy) of Malate, Manila. This song captures the now unpracticed tradition, as part of the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, of taking an excursion to the falls. Its lyric are as follows: “Tayo na sa Antipolo at doon maligo tayo.  Sa batis na kung tawagin ay Hinulugan Taktak.”

Bridge over the river

Bridge over the river

The basin is regularly cleaned but this is an exercise in futility as illegal settlers upstream continuously throw garbage. Studies to clean the water included putting up fences along the river, diverting the dirty water (and using artificial water for the falls) or setting up a filter to clean the water before it drains into waterfall, but these ways only tolerate those who throw the garbage.  They have to make the people realize the importance of Hinulugan Taktak and that saving it is everybody’s responsibility.  They have to CHANGE people’s attitudes.

The swimming pool

The swimming pool

Picnic huts along the riverbank

Picnic huts along the riverbank

Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape: Taktak Road, Brgy. Dela Cruz, Antipolo City, Rizal.  Email: admin@hinulugangtaktak.com. Admission: PhP8 per pax, additional PhP15 per pax if you use the swimming pool.

City Tourism Office: City Hall, Antipolo City, Rizal. Tel: (632) 630-6974, (632) 697-1021 & (632) 644-2837.

How To Get There: Antipolo City is located 29.45 kms. from Manila. The city is accessed by 3 routes: from Marikina via Sumulong Highway from Cubao Quezon City; via Marcos Highway (which extends to Quezon Province) through the Marikina-Infanta Road; and from Makati City and San Juan via the Ortigas Ave. Ext..  Jeepneys to Antipolo City are available in Cubao (Quezon City).  Upon reaching Taktak Rd., alight and then take a tricycle or walk towards the falls.

Symbios Holistic and Wellness Sanctuary (San Mateo, Rizal)

I recently got an invitation from Ms. Melissa Dizon, a professor, former Exec. Director of North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) and a Lakbay Norte colleague, to join her in a dance-movement therapy session to be conducted by Ms. Riza Regis (an author, she also conducts crystal healing sessions) at the Symbios Holistic and Wellness Sanctuary, an extension of the BioVitale Holistic Center.  

Dance-movement therapy session with Ms. Riza Regis

The center, a brainchild of owner Dr. Sonny Viloria (a proponent of complementary medicine which blends scientific Western practices with Eastern mysticism), is located in San Mateo, Rizal.  Aside from dance-movement therapy, the center also offers laughter yoga (by Paulo Trinidad); Reiki healing (by Mr. Arnel Belenzo); meditation, sound therapy and shiva-shi movement (by Ms. Yet) and lectures on natural medicine by Dr. Viloria himself. 

Mandala Farm Estates

I met up with Melissa, with her daughter Bianca and her friend Mr. Jon Ryan ” J.R.” Ng (a photographer and magazine writer), very early in the morning at the Jollibee outlet at the Welcome Rotunda in Quezon City.  With J.R. at the wheel of his car, we motored all the way to Mandala Farm Estates where we asked the security guards at the subdivision gate for directions to the center.

The gateway to the center

After some confusion with the given directions, we finally made it to the center’s parking area where we were met by Mr. Ronnie Cruz Bernardo, the center’s de facto media consultant.   From the parking, we entered a marble gateway with wooden swing doors, flanked by a Buddha statue and a door bell, and went down, via a pathway (which varies from a combination of gravel, stones and railway sleepers, to stamped concrete) with a number of horseshoe bends, to the center’s native-style, open-air pavilion.  

A pond and foliage-lined horseshoe bend
Another horseshoe bend along the gravel 
and stamped concrete  trail

The pavilion had a floor of polished wooden planks and bamboo slats and wooden columns that supported wooden rafters and a roof of nipa and bamboo.  It is furnished with eclectic furniture from Pampanga, Thailand and Burma, a large area rug plus lots of Eastern statuary of deities (Kuan Yin, Buddha, etc.), all tastefully arranged by Mr. Chris Munar. One side of the pavilion has a breathtaking view of the mountains of Rizal. 

The native-style pavilion
The view of mountains from the pavilion

At the pavilion, we were welcomed with a merienda of suman which we washed down with oxygenated water or a refreshing and healthy tea made with lemon grass (tanglad) and camote tops (talbos) infused with mint and sweetened with muscovado sugar.  

Lemon grass and camote tops tea

After merienda, Ronnie toured us around the 6,000-sq. m. sanctuary. Near the pavilion are Balinese-style, tastefully designed and furnished cottages (made with concrete as well as local wood, nipa, bamboo and sawali) with capiz windows that can accommodate 6 guests while below the pavilion is a social area (where one can set up tents) with a koi pond and mini fountain.  Beside it is the food tent and the sun therapy (essential for natural healing) area with its pair of cushioned lounge chairs.

Sun therapy area
A Balinese-style cottage

Part of the nature trail is lighted, come cool evening, by eco-friendly, solar-powered lamps and the natural light of fireflies (alitaptap).  Just about every nook and cranny of  the center is filled with the healing sound of natural water.  Running within the property is a crystal-clear brook which feeds a man-made, stone-lined lagoon (an ideal swimming area) below with cool spring water.  On one side of the lagoon is an Eastern-themed bas relief while overlooking the lagoon is a wooden meditation platform.  

The man-made lagoon
The meditation platform overlooking the lagoon

A pond, with a covered bamboo and nipa platform (where one can do fishing), is filled with organic tilapia, floating duck weed and Azola (mosquito fern), a natural weed that is very rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  Smaller ponds can also be found along the trail.  The piece de resistance is a small waterfall whose natural beauty inspired Dr. Viloria to buy the property. 

The tilapia pond
The center’s resident waterfall
The hilltop meditation platform

Up a hill, accessed by a wooden stair, is a meditation platform, a mini version of the pavilion, where one can do yoga, meditate, relax or just take a mid-afternoon siesta while enjoying the great nature view.  Intersperse within a shady bamboo and giant fern grove are a pair of wooden benches and a native hammock (duyan).

A duyan and benches beneath a bamboo grove
A small pond

Come lunch, we were all served, inside a food tent, tawilis, pinakbet, kalabasa in coconut milk, pako (vegetable fern) salad and clam soup, all complement with organic rice cooked in pandan leaves.  This self-sufficient center promotes the locavore lifestyle – eating food that is locally produced.

Food preparation cottage

Meals served here are prepared, by chef Jen (a London-trained therapist and food connoisseur) at her food preparation cottage, from mostly homegrown, organic ingredients; from papayas, guavas, bananas, camote (sweet potatoes), taro, wild spinach, medicinal herbs and spices as well as tilapia and free-range (stress-free with no hormones and antibiotics) native chicken and ducks.   From these, they are able to prepare their very own signature dishes such as laing, chicken adobo, banana heart salad, chicken sinampalukan (sour soup with chicken and tamarind leaves) and tilapia in coconut milk and petsay.

Our locavore lunch
Our merienda cena of lumpiang ubod

Prior to leaving the center, we were all treated to a merienda cena, again at the food tent, of fresh lumpiang ubod, a Negros Occidental (especially in my mom’s hometown Silay City) favorite (and mine).  This spring roll is filled with sautéed ubod (heart of palm), shrimps, tahure (bean cake) and bits of pork.  Its sauce, topped with roasted garlic bits, created a unique flavor. Melissa and I liked  it so much, we shared a second piece.

In the near future, the center plans to include regular hilot (the ancient Filipino art of massage) and dagdagay (a soothing and cleansing routine using native sticks for tired feet, from Ifugao and Mountain Province) service for its regular patrons.

Symbios Holistic and Wellness Sanctuary: Mandala Farm Estate, Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal.  
BioVitale Holistic Center: G/F, CRB Bldg., EDSA, Cubao, Quezon City.  Tel: (632) 448-7625 to 26. Mobile number: (0921) 260-8459.

The Amazing Street Art of Angono (Rizal)

After our tour of the Ang Nuno Artist Foundation Gallery at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant, Jandy and I again boarded our car to tour the town proper.  Angono’s streets are very narrow and hopelessly riddled with traffic.  However, upon reaching Dona Aurora St., my exasperation was somewhat mitigated when we caught sight of amazing concrete murals beautifully embellishing and adorning this street, all meant to honor Angono’s artistic roots. 

Unique roadside art

These extraordinary works of art are bas relief reproductions of local son and well-known Filipino muralist Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s works cast in concrete, all done by Charlie Anorico, Gerry Bantang and Ebong Pimpino.  Upon turning a different corner, we were greeted by another mural honoring Lucio San Pedro, another local son, whose most famous composition, the perennial Filipino lullaby “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” is depicted on a wall as a music sheet, with cast metal notes jutting out of the concrete.

In fact, these murals as well as sculptures are a recurring theme throughout the town, with a  preponderance of mermaids.  The stone marker of Brgy. Poblaction is a sculpture of “Ang Nuno” (meaning “old man”), the origin of the town’s name.  There’s even a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty, painted in gold.  Angono is truly a town still very much in touch with its unique artistic heritage.