My previous blog covered half of the loop, the towns in Laguna. Ascent to the winding roads will lead travelers to the town of Pililla, the first Rizal town coming from Laguna.
The Long and Winding Road
… that leads (not to your door) to Pililla is a trip where one makes at least 2 stops to enjoy the vista of Laguna de Bay below. Along the way, you can stop for rattan furniture, assuming you are driving a pick up. Or you can buy a rattan hammock that you can stow away in the trunk. There are also a couple of small carinderias facing the bay where you can stop for soda, or even for turo-turo lunch.
Pililla is a quaint provincial town. I detoured a little bit in the direction of Quisao and Jalajala, to visit friends. On the way, there were a couple of fishponds where you can buy tilapya, or tilapya fingerlings if you want to start a small pond in your property.
Then I want back to the main road. A popular resort is found near the intersection, named Villa Lorenza Resort and Hotel. In a previous visit, I checked out their rooms, which I found to be decent. A good enough place to stay if you need to cut your trip in portions.
From Pililla, the next town is Tanay, made more famous by President Estrada’s “rest house arrest”. Did not get the chance to visit his place, said to be in Barangay Sampaloc. This trip also did not allow me time to go to the famous Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls. I shall return and capture them in photos, and make a separate blog entry. I am confining this post to easy destinations within the loop.
Along kms 55-56, there are several bonsai gardens, one of which grabbed my attention. How about “Bansot Garden” to clearly communicate that they sell only bansot (little) trees?
A must see in Morong is the St. Jerome Church, said to be the best example of Baroque architecture in the Philippines. It looks magnificent, and the moss covered steps lend it a more serene aura.
Next town is Cardona, a fishing town. You can stop at the Cardona fish port to bring home some fresh catch from the bay. But in all of my trips around the bay, I always look forward to that part of the Cardona road that goes up a hill, with the bay on the other side. This time, I stopped and took some photos, with the hazard lights on so we don’t get hit by oncoming traffic.
Binangonan is next, where a shrine for artist Vicente Manansala can be found. This normally forms part of an art tour, starting from the Artist Village in the next town of Angono.
I have had beautiful memories of my stay in Lake Island Resort, so I went to check it out again. The place was damaged by Ondoy, but they have essentially brought it back to normal. The tree house is still there. The view of the pool at the bay’s edge is still lovely. I asked why there seemed to be no guests, and was told that they have since converted into a business resort, catering only to groups of at least 15. Walk-ins not accepted. Maybe I can gather friends another day so we can once again enjoy the serenity of this resort.
Angono is the next town, where we stopped at our usual restaurant, the super famous Balaw Balaw. I ordered pancit bijon for merienda, and ginumis for drinks. The pancit bijon serving was huge, and was actually good for 4. Food prices at Balaw Balaw are very reasonable, if not exactly cheap. The glorious ginumis, a concoction of gulaman etc in coconut milk (gata) is only p65.
Do you know what Balaw Balaw actually means? It is a dish I ordered once before, made up of talong and baboy, with a dash of bagoong. No, it is not the same as “binagoongan”. Now they sell bottled balaw balaw. You can also buy a papier mache mask, famous in Angono, especially during the Higantes Festival every November 22-23.
I first went to Balaw Balaw ages ago when the owner, popular artist Perdigon, was still alive. Guests can view his paintings displayed in the restaurant, all the way to his 2nd floor studio, and buy a piece or two of his works. No, they are not cheap – – he was a famous painter in his time.
The Angono Artist Village tour includes the workshops of Nemiranda, Blanco, and Tiamson, among others.
From Angono, the feel changes a bit, moving closer to Metro Manila. Taytay has a huge SM Mall. Cainta has Robinson’s Place, and then there is the first mall in this side of town, Ever Gotesco within the Cainta and Pasig boundaries.
The Loop tour ends here, and those on a road trip will eventually be along either EDSA or C5.
Alternative Route: via Antipolo
From Tanay, you may opt to drive up to Teresa and onwards to Antipolo. This is a shorter route, avoiding the traffic within the town centers on the bay side towns. Travelers to Antipolo can visit, among others, the now-dirty-but-being-revived Hinulugang Taktak or go to the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Church, the most famous Antipolo landmark. You wouldn’t need directions, it is hard to miss. I remember I went there to have my first ever car “blessed”, complete with holy water being sprinkled on the car, hood open, and candles lit held by my friends who acted as “sponsors” in this ritual.
You may want to refer to the first half of this tour, covering Laguna, highlighting Pagsanjan “shooting the rapids”, in case you have missed it.