But more than the food and the many restaurants along the roadsides, this city just outside Manila provides a picture of escape, wonder – and relentless devotion.
Within the Walls
The month of May sees many Filipino devotees from different parts of the country hiking up the planks toward the shrine of the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje or more popularly known as the “Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.” This image enthroned at the Antipolo Cathedral was brought from Mexico in 1626. Legend has it that those who want a perfect voyage with clear blue skies and calm seas can seek guidance and protection through this image. Of course, there are also those who pay homage not for any kind of devotion but because they just want to take a respite from the hot and humid summer month.
Aside from the famous Antipolo Cathedral, there is also a century-old church that reeks of a rich history and culture – Boso Boso Church, also known as Nuestra Señora de la Anunciata Parish, undisturbed and small. It gives visitors an idea of what a church should look like during the olden days: with a walkway, an arc and an infrastructure of stone walls. Green plants surround it, showing a captivating and refreshing landscape.
Although the walls inside this church are newly painted and restored, they still offer a hint of how it has endured and survived through the years. The statues located in its interior seem protected, but the church's history goes beyond these famed images. During the 17th century, Jesuit priests used the Boso Boso Church as one wholly devoted to missions. But in 1768, it was turned over to other priests from different orders. The church also experienced many tragedies (earthquake, fire and other disasters, both natural and man-made). In 1995, through the dedication of its devotees, it was fully restored. Interestingly, this church is still called a “ruin” because it is said that once you’re in it, you feel transported back to golden, olden times.
There are also other churches in Antipolo City that you might want to visit too.
The Cross and the Cave
Aside from visiting these pilgrimage churches, consider going to the White Cross and the mystical caves. Both have different and interesting stories to tell and both seem to offer refuge and strength to those who have lost their spiritual passion along the way.
Via Dolorosa, otherwise known as White Cross, stands majestically atop a hill, on the highest peak, along Kaytikling Road. Many years ago, the Cross reportedly provided grace and protection to people who survived the deadly cholera epidemic that claimed thousands of lives. During Holy Week, this site is popular among people who want to do the Stations of the Cross and who want a brief respite from all the hassles of everyday life. Plus, the view up there is quite astounding, giving a panoramic view of the whole city of Antipolo.
Another tourist attraction that is believed to give protection is the luminous cave located at Puting Bato, Barangay San Luis. Filled with holy images (Mother and Child, and the Holy Trinity) in its interiors, there are also natural rock formations such as stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors are only allowed to wander around the first floor. Be forewarned: to get inside the cave, you have to climb a total of 205 steps.
Like the Via Dolorosa, the mystical cave also has some remarkable stories to tell. Not only do the stones and the water inside supposedly guard one from harm, the stones could also be anting-antings or amulets that can protect one from the wayward doings of the underworld or evil spirits. Legend also has it that treasures were buried here during the Japanese time.
Getting to Antipolo
Getting to Antipolo is quite easy. If you have a private car, you can either go through Sumulong Highway (from Makati City, head to Marcos Highway) or to Ortigas Extension (pass by Tiendesitas and Libis).
If you plan to take public transport, ride the FX or a jeepney located in these terminals: Araneta Center Cubao, Valero Street behind RCBC Plaza in Makati, and in Crossings Department Store in Shangri-la Plaza at Shaw Boulevard. You can also take the LRT 2 and get off at Santolan Station. From there you can either take the jeepney ($.50) or the FX ($1) that will take you to Antipolo City.
Once in Antipolo City, there are many jeepneys that can take you from one tourist destination to another.
Excel V. Dyquiangco describes himself as a "dreamer, an adventurer and a mentor." Between working free-lance for magazines and surfing the Internet, he inspires, encourages and builds “passion for some people who have lost theirs along the way.”