Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rizal province

We are writing a travel book!
Yes, I and 3 other friends -- Elma, Llana and Francis.
Actually, our plan is to write a series of books, one big province, one book.
And for our first book, we will write about Rizal province, Metro Manila's eastern and closest neighbor. So far, we have visited all of the province's 13 municipalities and 1 city (Antipolo), took pictures of some of its cultural landmarks (churches, parks) and natural tourist attractions like waterfalls. Below are portions of our upcoming book:

I. History

The province of Rizal was named after the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. It was officially created in June 11, 1901 through Act. No. 137 of the Second Philippine Commission. As the existing unicameral legislative body at that time, the aim was to establish civil government after the Filipino-Spanish and Filipino-American conflicts. Rizal then was composed of twenty-six (26) municipalities, fourteen (14) of which came from the old province of Manila—Las Pinas, Malabon, Makati, Paranaque, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Navotas, Muntinlupa, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, San Mateo and Montalban, with the balance of twelve (12) coming from the Politico-Militar Distrct of Morong—Angono, Binangonana, Cainta, Antipolo, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililla, Tanay, Taytay and Teresa, and with Pasig as its seat of provincial government....

II. Geography

The province is relatively flat on the western side, and mountainous on the eastern side. To its north is the province of Bulacan, to its east is the Sierra Madre mountain ranges (and further east is the northern part of Quezon province and the Pacific Ocean). To its south is the province of Laguna and Laguna Lake, and to its west is again, Laguna Lake and Metro Manila (and further west is Manila Bay). Thus, the province is unique because it has a large urban sprawl (eg, Cainta and Antipolo City) whose commercial activities and night life approximates those in many cities of Metro Manila. At the same time, it has rural fishing and rice farming villages and municipalities. Since the lake has freshwater, the water can irrigate rice fields, some farms even produce 3 cropping seasons or whole-year round (like those in Jala-jala).

Beyond the urban sprawl and vast lake, are hills and mountains with their rugged terrain and forest vegetation, some thinly, some thickly forested areas. In fact, just an hour and a half from Ortigas, a famous commercial and financial center of the country with its tall skyscrapers, there are some sitios and/or barangays of Tanay (eg., Brgy. San Andres) which until now do not have electricity yet! But you have lots of low-lying clouds and clean creeks over there....

III. Socio-economic conditions

Rizal will be the 7th most populous province (out of 80 provinces) in the country this year. It has the fastest population growth rate among all provinces between 1995-2000; the last census was made in May 2000. Thus, what many people perceive as migration of people from the poorer regions to Metro Manila, may not be true after all. What happens is that people land in Manila via boats, airplanes and buses, but they ultimately settle in Rizal, Bulcan, Cavite and Laguna. This is shown by the fast population growth rate of these 4 provinces in 1995-2000 of 4 to nearly 6 percent, vs. Metro Manila’s 1% population growth rate, shown in table below....

IV. The Municipalities and a City

(1) Rodriguez (previously called Montalban)

It is the province’s northernmost part. To its north is Bulacan province, Sierra Madre mountain range and north Quezon province to its east, San Mateo and Marikina City to its south, and Quezon City and Caloocan City to the west. Wawa Dam in Montalban Gorge was built by the Americans in 1909 as an important potable water source of Rizal and now Metro Manila. It was closed in 1962. The gorge is in the Philippine legendary stories where legendary hero and Filipino strongman Bernardo Carpio, was said to have stopped the 2 fighting hills, with Bernardo Carpio in the middle, and this created the Gorge. Below the gorge where water from the dam drains are huge white rocks, boulders of marble-like rocks. In a sense, even if it just a folk story, Bernardo Carpio can be considered as the first Filipino “rocker” for having played with huge rocks :-)

The dam can be reached by a barangay road, now fully cemented, about 5 kms from the main municipal road. You will pass by a stone quarrying area on one side of Marikina River. On some parts, the quarried area is wide enough. The barangay now collects P20.car as parking fee. There are big and tall rain trees (commonly known as “akasya”) in the main parking area. From here, you need to walk about 400 meters passing by a small cluster of houses and mini-stores, rocky sides of the mountain, a short rock tunnel, flat walls that some rock climbers would ascend.Wawa dam is a beautiful sight to see.

The seemingly white water as they fall from the dam and the strong rumbling sound of the falling water on huge white rocks below is the main tourist attraction here. There are temporary nipa huts near swimming and picnic area of the river, both below and above the dam, put up by enterprising locals who rent out the huts for P100 each per day. These are just temporary structures put up only during the dry season. During the rainy season, the river can swell to high levels, swamping all weak structures in and near it.

Other tourist attractions of the municipality aside from the gorge and dam, are the following:
(a) Pamitinan Cave, a place where Andres Bonifacio and 8 other Katipuneros declared the first Philippine Independence from the Spaniards in April 1895. This is near the river.
(b) Avilon Montalban Zoological Park, in Brgy. San Isidro. You need to pass by dirt and bad roads to reach here, a 7 ½ hectares resort. We went there last year, around October. Entrance fee was high, P350/head, as the municipal government imposes a 30% amusement tax on the original entrance fee. This 30% local tax is big, almost 3x that of VAT (12%), and yet the municipal government seems to be doing nothing to improve the unpaved rough barangay road leading to this resort.

The church in the municipality is called Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Nothing so spectacular or "must see" in this church. On 2 wings on both sides of the altar are the statues of Virgin Mary.Beside the church is the town's municipal hall. It's clean and air-conditioned. There's a municipal tourism office that gives away a nice, glossy pamphlet that highlights the town's historical and natural tourist attraction, as well as the mayor's master plan of modernizing the municipality's public facilities. There's an on-going construction of gallery-museum and botanical garden at the Wawa Park.

Going there:
(a) From Commonwealth avenue going to Fairview, Quezon City, turn right at a highly populous part of the city called Litex and Payatas. It’s going a bit downhill, passing by several garbage redemption centers (where recyclables are deposited and sold elsewhere) as this is where many garbage trucks pass by to dump garbage in Payatas open dumpsite.Roads are mainly 4 lanes (2 lanes each way), except on some narrow parts of only 2 lanes (1 lane each way), winding and uphill-downhill; the cement fence of La Mesa watershed area in the left, houses and other structures or idle land on the right. Further on you will pass by near the Payatas dumpsite. There’s a good panoramic view of Rodriguez and San Mateo from the La Mesa watershed area, before turning downhill on some tricky corners, down to a bridge across Marikina River, then to Rodriguez public market and the town proper....

(b) From Cubao, there are jeepneys plying the route at Aurora Blvd.Fare is around P35/head.San Mateo is about 5 kms. south of Rodriguez. Its municipal hall is a glass building with seemingly no windows. Hence, it's fully air-conditioned. The offices inside are clean and neat.

(2) San Mateo

Unlike Rodriguez, has no municipal tourism office; but a staff of the Mayor handles tourism-related concerns. They have a wide streetmap of the municipality, it's very useful.Among the famous resorts and tourist spots in the municipality included in their wide street map are Shunji's Resort, Villa Diaz Resort, both Malanday; Villa Apolonia Resort and Hotel in Sipac Maly.Rodriguez and San Mateo are relatively isolated from Rizal province's contiguous towns and a city. After San Mateo, you are in Marikina City, part of Metro Manila, where the roads are wider and less congested...

(3) Antipolo City

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje) is among the most prominent tourist attraction of the city. The cathedral is where the 300-years old Virgin Mary statuette is said to have protected ships sailing the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade route during the Spanish era. As a result, anyone who wished to travel made a pilgrimage there in order to pray for safe passage. More recently, car owners have brought their brand new cars there to be blessed by the priest.

One thing to note is that the route to the church may be confusing to first-time travelers as roads are narrow with no visible landmarks on how to reach the church which sits on a hilltop.When we went to Antipolo last February, there was a sign for antipolo church. Early on, there would be men standing at corners waving at you- church, church, they would shout. They would point to the right, then left, then start jogging after your car, very disconcerting, irritating and sad. Shades of Pagsanjan.What is irritating is that they seem to deliberately send you in the roundabout direction to get to the church. Once there, there were loads of hawkers asking you to buy stampitas, candles, cashew, fruits, suman and others. There were actually only about 8 semi-permanent stalls lined up in the plaza below the church. One of cashew and suman, 2 of candles, and other geegaws....

7. Binangonan

Among the famous tourist attraction in this municipality are: (a) Lake Island Business Resort (b) Vicente Manansala shrine located inside a subdivision, not far from the highway. This national historical landmark showcases some original works, art paraphernalia and his relics. (c) St. Urusula Parish church (d) Fiesta Casino Resort. There are many signs along the road, indicating a resort that should be sizeable. Turning off from the main road, it was a bit of a drive before we saw anything. Still, there were enough markers on the road to remind us that we were on the right track....

14. Jala-jala

This is the southern-most part of the province. It is 19kms. from Tanay, and jeepneys (fare is P23 per head) would normally take about 30 minutes to reach the municipality, passing by the town of Pililla town proper, which is just adjacent to Tanay. The town’s name was derived from “halaan” shells; later on, people started calling it jala-jala. The road to this town is generally lined with trees – narra, rain tree, gmelina, mango, etc. Vehicles are few. With its proximity to the lake, some farmers are able to plant rice even during summer, or 3 crops a year (one rice cropping season is 4 months). Some agricultural lands are planted with sweet potato (“kamote”) and other root crops....

Meanwhile guys, if you know a lot about this province, or one or two of its 14 municipalities and city, please send us a page or more. Write to galangpinoy@yahoo.com.ph, or noysky_oplasky@yahoo.com. We will put your name in the acknowledgment section, and we'll give you complimentary copy/ies of the book once it's out. We hope to have it ready for sale by June this year.



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JB said...

Rizal smells badly.