Today’s blog took me wandering around my hometown to look for something new to write about. Growing up as a Rizaleño, I want to show the entire country and maybe the whole world that our place maybe underrated when it comes to tourism, but wait until you get to know our province. We may not have the best white sand beaches, we may not have the fanciest hotels, but we have everything in the middle that will equally satisfy the cravings of the intrepid traveler. Let’s travel to a town nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range on the east and at the shores of Laguna Lake on the south – welcome to Tanay, Rizal.
I got lots of idea going on concerning the itinerary and at the same time considering the low budget. Instead of bringing a car, we took the public jeepney from Cainta (since I’m from Cainta) bound for Tanay. The province is only a jeepney away from Crossing Terminal in EDSA Shaw area passing by the Ortigas Extension route. If you’re coming from Quezon City area, there are Tanay bound jeepneys in Cubao Ali Mall. Reaching Tanay would take approximately 2-3 hours depending on the day and the traffic, but starting your journey early would definitely save you some time.
From Cainta, Tanay took us about an hour before we got off at the town’s transport terminal where we will need a tricycle to take us to our destinations. However, overcharging tricycle drivers is a common case according to a lady we bumped into the jeep so she walked us towards the terminal where she thinks would give us a reasonable fee.
Tracy on her way up to the Grotto.
Candles offered to the Virgin Mary
As we head up the mountain, we saw a staircase at the side of the road and decided to take quick stopover out of curiosity. Taking one step at a time, we made our way up the 200-step staircase and ended up on a Grotto where devotees offer candles and prayers, and serves as a local exercise area where they can enjoy the fresh morning air. At the peak of the Grotto is a 180 degree breathtaking view of the Laguna Lake where a long range of mountains surround the abundant body of water. This grotto is only one of the 3 Grottos that I know in the area, Regina Rica in Sampaloc holds a 70 foot tall statue of the Blessed Mother, which unfortunately we weren’t able to visit.
Passing by dirt roads.
We got back to our three wheeled transport vehicle and ascended towards the steep inclines of the road. Our journey went on to paved uphills and arduous rough roads until we reached Baranggay Tandang Kutyo where Calinawan Cave is located. Carrying our packs on our back and a flashlight in hand we went down to the small entrance of the cave. According to Marilou, our kind guide, Calinawan Cave is a private property which belong to her great great great grandmother tracing back her roots during the time of the Spanish Colonial era. The cave once served as a stronghold for the Revolutionaries during the Spanish and American days and shelter during the Japanese occupation, now its a favorite shooting location among TV and movie producers and directors. In fact, a few days before, a local TV Channel shot scenes for a fantasy TV program. Production designers glued glitters on its walls (which were still there) as required for an enchanted cave setting.
Exploring the cave will take about 30 minutes of walking through narrow passages and ducking for low ceilings while watching our every step in its dark claustrophobic corridors. For all spelunking enthusiasts out there, Calinawan offers a treat.
Inside the cave.
A beam of light struck through a hole inside the cave.
Entrance to Calinawan Cave.
Not far from Calinawan Cave, still in the same baranggay, we went to the town’s famous Daranak Falls which is nestled between the mountains of Sierra Madre. The 14-meter high falls cascade from rocks to a catch basin of emerald waters where visitors enjoy a refreshing cool bath. The endless flowing water and the luscious green vegetation surrounding creates a serene atmosphere except for the huge number of visitors and the loud videoke echoing around the area. To avoid the crowd, we went to a river, followed it upstream and settled on a small pool enclosed by rocks enjoying the more peaceful environment. The best time to visit the place would probably on a regular weekday if you want to experience a peaceful time with Mother Nature.
Crossing a wooden bridge and heading your way up a cemented trail will take you to Batlag Falls which unfortunately we weren’t able to see since the entrance personal was requiring me to pay P150.00 for bringing in a DSLR camera. According to them, the falls is a private property and they want to avoid publications and media use without their consent so paying A HUNDRED AND FIFTY PESOS ONLY would take care of the damage. Instead of paying, I kindly asked if I can only take a peek of what’s inside and saw a guy shooting with his DSLR camera, so again I kindly and respectfully asked if they charge the guy with the same amount and they said NO since they only allow DSLR cameras for families and big groups only.
Disappointed with the rules, we went back to Daranak Falls instead and ate our P40.00 lunch of a hefty serving of rice and laing good for two. We were suppose to eat our lunch in Batlag. I should’ve kept my camera inside my bag.
From the catch basin, water flows down to streams and smaller pools.
Following the river upstream.
Visitors enjoy the view of the waterfalls.
Wooden bridge to Batlag Falls.
Crowd started to grow in numbers in Daranak Falls Nature Park, so before noon, we headed back to town. A personnel in Daranak told our tricycle driver to take us in Tabing Dagat (which is actually the the Laguna Lake) where the Parola, a Filipino term for light house, is located. The light house stands on a port surrounded by fish pens and from atop the light house is a magnificent bird’s eye view of the Laguna Lake.
View of Laguna de Bay from the top of the lighthouse.
A boat docked beside the lighthouse.
To end our trip, we visited the second oldest church in Rizal, the San Ildefonso Parish Church which was built during the late 1700′s. Like other old churches in its neighboring province of Laguna, it was put up by polo y servicio, or forced labor and it also has the baroque Spanish influence in its architecture. Aside from its cultural and historical value, Visita Iglesia practicioners during the holy week favorites Tanay’s centuries-old church to their destination list.
San Ildefonso Parish Church
Tanay has become a favorite among travelers looking for a day long or a weekend getaway not far from Manila. It’s numerous destinations offers almost everything nature has to offer like wide lakes, tall mountains, cool waterfalls, caves, and clean rivers. In addition, you get to visit all the places without spending too much. Destinations covered in this feature are only some of what the province has to offer. Hopefully, my next visit would take me to the clean river of Daraitan, Masungi’s rock formations, and Sampaloc’s 70-foot tall statue.
Now, here are some fast facts that may help you on the trip:
1. I don’t actually know the jeepney fare from Crossing or Cubao but just to give you an approximate, jeep fare from Cainta cost P38.00.
2. The tricycle charged P380.00 for renting his vehicle which took us from the terminal to the Grotto, Calinawan Cave, Daranak Falls/Batlag Falls, Parola, and Tanay Church covering a half day trip (8:00 AM – 2:00 PM).
3. Calinawan Caves entrance fee is P20.00, and we gave an additional P30.00 to Marilou for guiding us. You might want to bring your own flashlight.
4. Daranak/Batlag Falls Fees: Daranak Entrance Fee – P20.00 Batlag Entrance Fee – P50.00
5. Daranak has cottages available for rent and free use of restrooms. There are also vendors selling food and local products in the area.
6. If you’re planning to shoot Batlag Falls, make sure your camera is inside your bag to avoid paying P150.00.
7. If you like this, you might want to see:
- Biyaheng Rizal Province
- Wawa Dam, Rodriguez, Rizal
- Tres Escalon Falls in Taytay, Rizal
- Our Lady of of Peach & Good Voyage in Antipolo City, Rizal
- Angono Petroglyphs & The Arts Town of the Philippines
- Calinawan Cave, Daranak Falls & Other Destinations in Tanay, Rizal
8. More pictures in Biyaherong Barat Multiply.