From hiking to art appreciation, here are six activities that should figure on your itinerary through the central Luzon heartland
A two-hour drive from Metro Manila, bordered by Laguna de Bay and cradled by the Sierra Madre mountain range, lies the province of Rizal. Named after the national hero of the Philippines, it promises many memorable experiences for the curious traveler.
Admire the Philippines’ oldest work of art
Visit the Angono Petroglyphs (Binangonan; +63 915 896 2166) for a blast from the past. The country’s oldest known artwork, which was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1973, has engravings that date back to the late Neolithic period (about 12,000 years ago!). The collection of 127 drawings of “stick figures” offer glimpses into our ancestors’ supposed practice of sympathetic magic and healing.
Visit the Pinto Art Museum
With hundreds of modern artworks spread across 1.2ha, Pinto Art Museum (San Roque, Antipolo, +63 2 697 1015) stands as Rizal’s grandest homage to the visual arts. It’s all too easy to lose track of time while contemplating its array of intriguing exhibits. And with its whitewashed walls, high ceilings and airy halls, you’re also guaranteed to fall in love with the space!
Go on a walking art tour of Angono
With two National Artists to its name and artworks almost everywhere you look, it’s easy to see why Angono is called the art capital of the Philippines. Don your most comfortable footwear and take a stroll down Doña Aurora Street, where walls of relief sculptures flank the thoroughfare.
Enjoy a feast at Balaw Balaw Restaurant
A trip to Rizal wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of its local fare. Prep your tastebuds for a gastronomic experience like no other at Balaw Balaw Restaurant (Doña Justa St, Angono; +63 2 651 0110; balawbalawresto.webs.com), where exotic dishes like adobong woodworm, pritong palaka (fried frog), cow-butt-and-balls soup, and more are on offer. But fret not – there’s also traditional Filipino fare like sisig for the faint-hearted.
Be blown away by the Pililla Wind Farm
The 27 wind turbines of Pililla Wind Farm (Brgy. Halayhayin, Pililla), each standing at 90m tall, are Rizal’s contribution to the renewable energy movement. It’s one of the province’s top destinations, too – tourists flock here to snap postcard-worthy photos of the towering windmills against the backdrop of Tanay and Laguna.
Spend quality time with nature
How does admiring Laguna Lake from atop Mount Tagapo, or swimming in the aquamarine waters of Tinipak River, sound? Be sure to explore one of Rizal’s many hiking trails to experience some of the best views this side of Luzon.
Alternatively, head to Masungi Georeserve (KM45 Marcos Highway, Baras, +63 948 768 3168), a park that hopes to educate visitors about biodiversity and environmental conservation. It’s home to a wide array of flora and fauna, from the enormous rafflesia flower to the tiny, indigenous cloud rat. It’s also famed for its web-like observation decks, where you can lie down and drink in views of the verdant surrounds. The four-hour trek through the park’s Discovery Trail should definitely be on your to-do list, too!