Tara Let’s Go Asia Random Trip 1: Discovering Rizal

Ever went on a Random Trip with total strangers? Quite interesting right? Well, I know at least two people from this trip when Tara Let’s Go Asia first held their meet-up. Few days before the actual trip, I saw the below on my feeds and went through the details. There was no specific Itinerary or plan and all you have to do is to bring yourself and enjoy. The concept was new to me so we joined. It’s a chance to meet Random People and do some Random Stuff to a Random Destination.  Kewl!

We arrived just in time and waited for a few minutes then off we go. Wondering how we’re going to get to our destination? Yes! a Jeepney. An Air-conditioned Jeepney! It’s bigger than a normal jeepney, more of like a mini-bus only that it’s locally made.🙂

Just few minutes after leaving the parking lot near El Pueblo a traffic enforcer stopped us to query what the heck the Jeepney is doing Ortigas. The jeepney rented plies through Makati area and since we’re at Ortigas it’s normal for an officer to stop a public vehicle that is out of its normal route. It’s very important if you consider renting one to have a permit, drivers know this so don’t worry.

To start of the trip, our 1st Stop was Antipolo Cathedral – Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine. The Jesuits administered the church from 1591 to 1768. Built by the Rev. Juan de Salazar S.J., the church was ready for Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje in 1632. The church was greatly damaged during the Chinese uprising of 1639 and in the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1883. For three centuries now, this church has been the object of pilgrimages all over the Philippines. People go here to get blessings before going on a trip.

Just before leaving the area, two of our foreign friends tried our local kakanin known as Suman.

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Our 2nd Stop. Situated in Brgy Bombongan Morong Rizal, we went to U-Ugong Park (Bantayog ng Kalinangan). The park is owned by Mr. Rafael Pacheco, a locally and internationally recognized artist because of his paintings. Filipinos from various status recognize the extraordinary of “Mang Paeng” and is now considered as the Father of Bare- Hand Painting in the Philippines. When you visit the place you’ll see almost all of his artworks. During the early 60’s-early 80’s Uugong park was known for its beautiful waterfalls. It is a usual summer picnic location for families and friends. Uugong means echo, which has been derived from the loud echo or sound produced by the strong current flow of the falls. The place right now needs a lot of help. The used to be vibrant place now seems to be slowly decaying if no attention will be given soon enough. Mr Pacheco who suffered from stroke was glad enough to talk to us and showed us his artworks. He has a very good sense of humor.  It was truly an honor to meet him in person.

Mr Pacheco’s Paintings

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Around U-Ugong Park

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Somewhere in Tanay Rizal, we had a thrilling adventure to Tanay’s Calinawan Cave which is our 3rd Stop. Bust just before getting there, we had lunch at a random eatery. Our damage? Just roughly 40 pesos including a glass or two of Soda.🙂

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Going back to Calinawan Cave, the cave is a 20 minute drive from Daranak Falls. The hill where the cave is called Rawang. which have been strong-holds of Filipino resistance fighters against colonizers. To get to Calinawan it’s better to bring your own mode of transportation or else you’ll have to endure a long walk unless you’re into it. Entrance Fee is 20 pesos per head and Guide Fee is 200 per group of 5. The entrance to the cave is a small stair-like passage going down. Along the way the guide will tell you different stories and show different rock formations. Living stalagmites and stalactites are still present in the cave which is a good sign. Several movie productions have been made in this caves making it popular to some. Along the way, a small black bird fell on the ground. According to our guide the bird produces birds nest which is used in making the famous birds nest soup. It took us roughly 30 minutes to finish the trek. The exit is grand, you will need to pass through the two big rock formations towering at around 30 feet.

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After Calinawan Cave, it was time to take a dip at Daranak Falls, our 4th Stop. Daranak Falls is located in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, a few minutes from Tanay market. It is a government-owned park and part of the laguna watershed. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per head for adults and 15 pesos for kids. They are only open from 8AM to 5PM. To get more information, please visit my other post here. Picnic tables are available for a minimal cost. Toilets and Shower Rooms are available for just 5 pesos per use.

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What to do after? Haha. Yes! It was time to eat… Not sure yet where until we pass by this interesting restaurant along the highway. Our 5th Stop, Kata Cafe it is! It is located at Delfin Tongohan St., cor. Manila East Road, Tanay, Rizal. Surprisingly we thought food would be expensive until we saw the menu and the food was served. OMG! It was a hefty serving for a price of small serving you’ll normally get if you buy it in Metro Manila. The food was delish and I highly recommend people to go here and try their food. The place was cozy as well. Very inviting and relaxed. Nice place for a chitchat and to hangout with friends. A nice escape form hustle and bustle of the city.

After dinner, we went to Binangonan Rizal in search for a cheap place to stay overnight until we ended up staying at Eastroad Apartelle. The place is located #8 Manila East Road Calumpang Hi-Way Binangonan, Rizal. Price starts at 150 pesos. Before ending the night, we had few beers and excellently picked videoke songs.

The following day, we’re off to an early start by having a quick breakfast. We then went to our 6th Stop, Angono Petroglyphs. The Angono Petroglyphs Site Museum is situated at the municipality of Binangonan, province of Rizal, three and a half kilometers southeast of the town of Angono. The museum is open Mondays-Fridays between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. It was discovered in 1965 by National Artist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco during a field trip with a troop of boy scouts. He reported to the National Museum the existence of a cave with drawings of a primitive quality. The Angono Petroglyphs date back to circa late Neolithic. They are located in the rear recess of a cave, carved in a rock formation belonging to the Pleistocene Guadalupe Formation. There are 127 figures engraved into volcanic tuff that was soft enough to be worked on by a denser piece of stone. Unlike other examples of prehistoric art, there is no indication that colors were ever incorporated in the drawings.

It was amazing to see this kind of stuff for the very first time. I wonder if there’s more like this somewhere else. Only time will tell and the question is when? Hopefully it’s not yet late for us to see it.

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After seeing Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, it was time to go forward to our next destination. So we arrived on our 7th destination, Balaw-Balaw Restaurant & Art Gallery.  The main concept of the restaurant is to promote the culture and tradition of Angono by way of its food and arts. It is also a home to the “Higantes” the stars of the fluvial town fiesta every 23rd of November. Entrance fee to see the Art Gallery costs around 35 pesos. It might be free if you decided to eat here. Around 100 paintings of the late famous folk artist, Perdigon Vocalan are displayed in the Museum, influenced by National Artist, Carlos Botong Francisco. Vocalan’s paintings represent Angono’s rich cultural heritage and folklore. These paintings along with intricate sculptures were also inspired by Philippine Legends that are now immortalized by his works. The collection also features works by his 2 son, Rembrandt and Andre as well as other notable Filipino artists. The Museum’s design itself is a work of art with its Spanish Architecture and unmistakable Asian flare.

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Just few steps from Balaw-Balaw is the Nemiranda Art House and Atelier Cafe Restaurant, our last destination for the trip. The art gallery entrance costs around 50 pesos but is normally free for those who wish to eat here. On our way inside, one of the staff said that Nemi Miranda himself will be there. So without any second thought we decided to settle here for lunch. Nemesio R. Miranda Jr. “NEMIRANDA” was born on February 14, 1949 in Angono, Rizal, he attained his Bachelor of Fines Arts Degree at the University of Sto. Tomas. The place is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and is located at 10 Doña Elena Street, Doña Justa Village Phase 1, Barangay San Roque
Angono, Rizal.

So after seeing all the artworks, Nemi suddenly arrived and gladly accommodated us by spending 20-30 minutes of his time telling us stories, plans and developments in the world of arts, showing us his artworks and the history behind it. Wow! It was a memorable experience. He even told us that the house/art gallery itself was made of scrap wood from an old church/convent. He said he’s fond of scrap wood. He also holds art camp from time to time. A very down to earth man.

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I never thought this trip would be this much. The trip was concluded with a great meal served with fried Itik among other great varieties of local food.

This is what I love about Random Travel. You get to see places you never thought you would see and there’s a much more greater amount of appreciation. Being with people you don’t really know makes it more exciting. Everything is a surprise, a package full of unexpected things. A random trip you will truly remember. All you have to have is an open mind, welcoming aura and great appreciation of the nature and arts.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bag and go somewhere Random with no plans, just go! You’ll not only learn more about yourself, you’ll learn more about the place that surrounds you.🙂

Happy Travels!

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