Aside from Pinto Art Gallery Museum, I’ve never really explored the province of Rizal. I know that they’re really rich in culture and have numerous hole-in-wall restaurants, but that’s about it. Last November 18-19, 2017, I was able to attend the Rizal Tourism Summit and honestly, it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve been to.
The summit was led by the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS) Rizal Chapter in cooperation with the Department of Tourism and in partnership with Timberland Sports and Nature Club and Globe MyBusiness. It was truly successful – with an overwhelming number of participants over 150.
(READ: Road Trip in Tanay, Rizal for a Scenic Route)
The Rizal Tourism Summit 2017 came with the theme “Higante sa Turismo, Higante sa Asenso”, highlighting Rizal’s famous Higantes Festival among 9 other pitstops. As someone unfamiliar with Rizal, it was a great experience and made me appreciate the unique provincial Filipino culture that’s (unexpectedly) close to Manila!
The tour includes immersive exposure to different activities found in different places in Rizal. We traveled via bus all throughout, so it gave off a fun, educational field-trip vibe. I went around with people who were equally interested in knowing more about the province, which made the summit entirely different from other tour packages: I got to socialize instead of just traveling on my own/with friends/family.
It was tiring, definitely, but food and drinks were provided along the way and the accommodation was superb. The NAITAS team made sure we were all well taken care of, as well, so we got to fully enjoy the Rizal Tourism Summit 2017.
Now, if you haven’t been to Rizal, either, allow me to take you on an online tour, so you’ll know exactly what to look out for when you go.
10 Things You Can Do in Rizal
10. Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu
Gen. Luna Ave, San Mateo
We started the tour with at Our Lady of Aranzazu Church. This well-known church has been around (and has survived) numerous colonizations. Even though it was bombed by the Japanese, the Filipino spirit didn’t falter. They rebuilt it and made it what it is today. The church is in the patronage of Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu, a patron saint against natural disaster and calamities of the body and soul.
9. Rodriguez Ancestral Home
Montalban Town Plaza
Aside from looking ancient, this house is famous in Montalban because it is where Eulogio Rodriguez Sr. resided, Montalban’s homegrown political figure. They turned the home into a private museum in memory of the Senate President.
We were also greeted by a lively band and had a typical Montalban breakfast there to fully experience the place.
8. Avilon Zoo
San Isidro, Rodriguez
I love animals, so this stop was my favorite. Avilon Zoo didn’t disappoint. The animals are well-fed and the place is properly maintained. The place is 7.5 hectares big and is actually the biggest zoo in the Philippines! The zoo guide told us that it takes 3 hours to walk through the whole zoo!
They have a Meerkat there and it’s now my favorite—just look at it!
7. Timberland Heights and Adventure Farm
Timberland Heights, San Mateo
Located in Rizal Tourism Summit 2017’s partner venue, the Timberland Heights and Adventure Farm is truly a sight to behold as you reconnect with nature. I would say that the place is far from civilization and allows you to see what life is like on a farm. They also have a butterfly haven, which they believe is an important asset to the plants.
6. Timberland Sports and Nature Club
114 Gen Luna St, Guitnang Bayan I, San Mateo
Next to Avilon Zoo, I really loved Timberland Sports and Nature Club. It’s an exclusive resort (open to members only) where it’s impossible not to relax. Their rooms are very nice, the shower is perfect, the swimming pool looks majestic, they have sauna/jacuzzi, and you get a gorgeous view of the city from above.
Honestly, I would go back here just to get my rest and recreation fix; it’s that relaxing.
5. Higantes Festival
The story of the Higantes Festival is pretty solid. Back in the day in Angono, there lived an extremely rich family that ruled over many people. They were so above their heads that thought they were better than everyone else. The townspeople wanted to put them back in their place and thus made giants and revolted against them to let them know that, together, they are equally as big and powerful.
The tradition goes on until today and many tourists go to Angono to witness the spectacular parade.
(READ: The Dumaguete Sandurot Experience)
4. House of Botong Francisco and Street Mural
Doña Aurora St, Angono
Have you ever seen a city with a street that’s almost filled with art? No? Same here! Still in Angono, we passed by Dona Aurora Street, where the famous Filipino artist Botong Francisco once lived.
He painted walls, created murals, and spread art and creativity throughout this vibrant city. The walls he created are almost like gold; they’re that aesthetically pleasing to look at. We also visited his house-turned-museum and saw the many works (both finished and unfinished) that he created. It was actually like a blast from the past walking around his house; it sent shivers down my spine.
Fun fact: sometimes there are free art workshops at Dona Aurora, as well!
3. Blanco Family Museum
267 Doña Nieves St, Sto. Nino, Angono
For our third to the last stop, we visited the Blanco Family Museum to end our artsy tour in Angono. As the name suggests, the masterpieces in this museum are made by a family. They say that a family that eats together stays together. Well, a family that paints together stays together, as well!
This family’s work has been immortalized in this beautiful gallery and we got to see and feel the bond that these people had for each other through mesmerizing visuals.
2. Club Manila East Resort and Hotel
Km. 24 Manila East Road Taytay
Club Manila East is very famous in Taytay. This water-filled adventure park has an enormous pool and provides, activities such as wave-pool adventure and kayaking! They also have cabins and rooms to stay in if you want to enjoy a day tour or overnight stay.
The entrance fee is Php270 on weekdays and Php300 on weekends/holidays.
1. Taytay Market
Who doesn’t like ending a fun trip by going souvenir shopping? Taytay Market is extremely famous among tiangge-buyers for one reason: the uber cheap prices. You can get a piece you might buy in Greenhills or Divisoria at Php150 for half of that price – that’s how drastic the price difference is. Why? Because Greenhills and Divisoria items actually come from this flea market!
Basically, Taytay Market is the OG tiangge. You would not want to pass up this stop, if ever. Happy shopping!
All in all, we all enjoyed the different parts of the beautiful province of Rizal. There’s always more to it than just what we see online, so an actual experience is a game-changer. You’ll get to interact with the locals and understand what they do on a day-to-day basis. Watch out for the Rizal Tourism Summit 2018 – it’s going to be bigger and better and I can’t wait to see which stops they’ll be putting in that itinerary.
If you can’t make it, though, feel free to go there on your own instead; you won’t regret it!
Rizal Tourism Summit