Antipolo as an Ideal Daytrip Destination

Published: 29th April 2010
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The summer time of year in the Philippines is particularly sweltering nowadays, with temperatures reaching approaching 37 degrees Celsius. Not surprisingly, travelers are scrambling to visit places where it is cold. Naturally, when talking about those places, Baguio City is the most popular. Therein lies the problem, as Baguio can get too crowded for one's comfort. Not to mention that it is isolated from Manila hotels and houses.

Antipolo is a viable alternative, which is a popular summer hotspot that provides an escape from the heat with its mountain breeze, refreshing springs, and a great view of Manila (very beautiful during the night). Found in the Rizal Province, a mere 25 kilometers to the east of Metro Manila, it is ideal for daytrips and short-term vacations. Recommended by various Manila travel guides, the city offers natural wonders such as the Hinulugang Taktak Falls and picnic areas. It is also a good place to purchase local mangoes and cashews, as well as the sticky rice delicacy known as "suman".

Apart from being an idyllic place for vacation, Antipolo is also reputed as a pilgrimage site. Some call it as the "Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines". Among its most popular locations, the Antipolo Cathedral (as well as other churches in the city), gets swamped by numerous devotees who hike up the mountain during the event called "Alay Lakad". It occurs every Maundy Thursday of the Holy Week.

Antipolo City is very busy during the occasion, wherein one can sight crowds of followers heading for confession in the numerous churches found there. Perhaps the most spine-chilling spectacle to see during the time are the ones who perform self-flagellation using whips and sticks - including those who even have themselves nailed to a cross.

The city is known for the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje statue and the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, which are popular among devotees who observe the Visita Iglesia practice - a Catholic custom that pays respect to Jesus Christ's Passion by paying a visit to seven of the country's famous shrines and churches. The statue arrived in the Philippines from Mexico by the galleon merchant Don Juan Niño de Tabora in 1929, during a disaster-filled journey whose safety was attributed to the miraculous powers of the icon.

As such, the statue's arrival was hailed in Manila, and a procession from the Church of San Ignacio up to the Manila Cathedral (the statue's first abode) was performed to honor it. In 1632, the statue was taken to the Church of Antipolo after the death of Don Tabora. After a while, residents saw a Tipolo tree near the church, whose trunk was said to bear an image of the Blessed Virgin. As such, a base was created from the tree in order to house the statue, which was later named as the Virgin of Antipolo. At the height of the Japanese occupation of the country, more than 500 residents were compelled to move the statue to a safer location in the Angono Mountains, where they believed it would be safe. The statue was then transferred to the Quiapo Church in 1945, and not long after was returned to the city of Antipolo.

The "Alay Lakad" itself is done to remember the statue's return to the city, and is not just a spiritual occasion, but a form of festivities as well. It is a popular way for complete strangers to share stories and food, all the while taking in the sights and views of Antipolo.

Curt resides in Manila. He has also wrote a Manila Travel Guide. The guide is filled with useful Manila Information aimed for travelers.

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