With Holy Week just around the corner, it’s time once again to consult a map and contemplate on doing the rounds of churches for the annual Visita Iglesia. While you’re at it, it might be worthwhile exploring Rizal Province which is renowned for beautiful, mostly centuries-old churches with some dating back to the Spanish colonial period. This year, why not hop on your bike instead of walking so you can cover more ground? After all, you’d still be using your legs as some sort of sacrifice for the Lenten season while pedaling your way to municipality after municipality of quaint, old churches steeped in history. Let’s start our Siklista Iglesia.
Being cooped up the the city because of limited mobility can get really weary. We all need a dose of nature once in a while. I was glad when a community of yogis in our studio decided to organize a day tour at nearby Mount Purro Nature Reserve in Calawis, Antipolo. A nature escape just a couple of hours in the metro with an added those of yoga. Enjoying a day of camaraderie on hikes, river treks and chill.
The cycling boom has certainly made me more keen on exploring areas near my residence in Pasig. If I can pedal it, I will attempt to explore. Rizal province is certainly one of them. Lately I had been frequenting the hills of Antipolo for its mountains and nature. I’ve been seeing Camp Sinai as one of the popular destinations for cyclist and it certainly looked appealing for a mountain-lover like me. Imagine views of the Sierra Madre mountain range, roads fringed with pine trees and the nippy weather. And a couple of days before Christmas, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and rode up to Antipolo to finally check this out.
Tanay is becoming a hiking haven near Manila with several climbing destinations in close proximity with each other. One destination which has fascinated me for a time is the unique looking limestone platform of Nagpatong Rock at Barangay Cuyambay. When I got an invite for a day climb, I quickly jumped-in. Not only to satisfy my curiosity of the place but to support a cause. I joined United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and their ambassador Atom Araullo in climbing Nagpatong rock to spread awareness on their campaign “2 Billion Kilometers to Safety”.
The Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal got immensely popular for its well-managed and exhilarating Discovery Trail. Nature lovers reveled in the natural rock garden playground where they traversed through forest trail, find their balance on giant hammocks and savor the scenic rocky peaks while learning more about the surroundings. But this trail is only a part of the huge 2,000 hectare Masungi Karst Conservation Area. Just recently, the Masungi Georeserve Legacy Trail was opened as a separate offering. The new trail highlights the project’s conservation efforts, immersion and insight into the challenges they continue to face.
Change of plans. I love it when my companions are just ready for anything. Meeting hiking buddies Christine and Marky early Friday morning in Cubao, we were supposed to go to another mountain. As fast as the changing wind, we decided to visit another mountain at the vicinity of Daraitan – Mt Mamara. A smaller brother of Mt Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal, Mt Mamara was opened as an alternative to climbers who got cut-off from the maximum 300 pax per day limit of climbers for Mt Daraitan. It may be a minor mountain but the rewards of the climb is equally captivating.
5:25 AM. Our car was parked in front of the Masungi Georeserve gate waiting for them to open. The wind howled and sent chills down to our bones making us seek warmth inside the car. I have long been interested on visiting the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal but booking a tour was a challenge as slots are often filled. DIY or walk-ins are also not allowed as booking should be done in groups of 6–10. Fortunately, our friend Lea, whom I met in Batanes Asus event called for joiners to complete a group of her friends with her father. We chose the earliest schedule to somehow catch a good light on the trail.