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High on love

Valentine getaways in Rizal and Laguna

Text and photos by Kathleen A. Llemit, Contributor

The town is now painted red. Red lanterns and heart-shaped buntings adorn most buildings, especially conspicuous in malls, hotels, and restaurants. It's a week of double celebrations — Chinese New Year on February 16 and Valentine's Day on February 14.
Candlelit dinners will still be the definitive or de-facto celebration on Valentine’s Day but it would be just another celebration that can be easily forgotten. How about doing activities that are more spontaneous and exciting?
Imagine spending a night under the stars and waking up enveloped by mist that look like clouds. Enjoy a couple's massage while looking out at the majestic Laguna de Bay in a Balinese-inspired resort and cap the night off with a romantic dinner for two with a bottle of wine overlooking the Manila night skyline. For the adrenaline junkies who define their usual Valentines' date as more exhilirating but at the same time artsy, how about a walk over an 80-meter hanging bridge and a stopover in a gallery full of the works of artist Otto Neri? Spend a night in a casita with its own hot spring tub directly connected to Mount Makiling.
A stress-free and unforgettable Valentines' Day celebration is just an hour or two away from Metro Manila. Neighboring provinces of Rizal and Laguna have these offerings for those on the lookout for more activities, perfect for those searching for day activities and a weekend escape not far from the city.

Thrilling date
Rizal has become a destination for those who love an adrenaline rush. Many of the resorts in the province named after Dr. Jose Rizal tag themselves as adventure parks, eco-parks, and leisure camps. They may have different names but all of them basically offer activities that excite the senses.Imbibing panoramic views of a city is always a romantic activity. At Cloud 9 in Sta. Cruz, Antipolo City, getting to this view is a labor of love. Before anyone can reach the 360-degree viewing deck, one must cross the 80-meter long hanging bridge, with an elevation of 80 feet above ground. The walk might be daunting for those who are afraid of heights but the reward is a breathtaking 360-degree view of Antipolo City, Metro Manila, Laguna de Bay, and the mountains of Sierra Madre. After taking in all those scenic sights, the way down affords one the latest works of artist-in-residence Otto Neri, popular for his impasto paintings. 

The more serious adrenaline-loving lovebirds will find Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp in Tanay their haven. The 16-hectare leisure camp lives up to its name. Before dawn breaks, stay-in guests can view a sea of clouds enveloping the property in good weather.
The leisure camp does not make light of its outdoor activities. Their zipline is about 900 meters one-way, and for those who can't get enough, additional 300-meters going back. Those who opt to do the latter will land in the spot where the 150-meter hanging bridge is elevated. This bridge connects to the rock wall climbing and rappelling spot, a behemoth that stands 60 feet. The camp also boasts of a 15-course ground activities that include centipede walk, zigzag log, and Tarzan swing. (More information on activities and accommodations can be found in their web site: www.tencentstoheaven.com).

Winding up with love
Pililla in Rizal might be popular these days as one of the settings of the recently ended popular revenge drama Wildflower, but the town is fast becoming the Bangui of Rizal. The town houses bigger wind mills than those in Bangui in Ilocos Norte, says councilor and designated tourism officer Diego Abueg.
The wind farm has become the town's number-one tourist attraction, drawing about 20,000 visitors during its peak season since it opened in 2016. The wind farm has 27 wind mills that can supply powert to 66,000 households.
For something Instagram-worthy, couple's can head to this tourist destination which actually has a sort of "romantic" trivia. Each of the windmills are named after the spouses of the current owners of the wind farm. Who knows, anyone can find the namesake of one's loved one etched on one of the turbines?

Nostalgic compound
Lovers of antiques or anything old will find solace in Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant. It's three hectares of nostalgia and old-world cliff. Ramon Mariñas, whose family owns the property and serves as its managing director, boasts of their unique location.
Luljetta is the more exclusive and intimate destination within the bigger Loreland Resort. The latter is more family-friendly where picnics and activities can be done. But Luljetta, named after his mother and which opened in 2013, is a more quiet place. It offers a breathtaking view of Antipolo City and Metro Manila.
It's cliffside view affords the guests a cooler temperature, which makes their spa treatments even more enticing. Guests roam around the property wearing fabrics from South Cotabato while they enjoy the resort's facilities which include heated jacuzzi, hydro-massage pools, infinity pool, fish spa and saunas.
Mariñas highlights that unlike other similar properties, their spa facilities are not auxilliary features. Their spa offerings are their core offerings. It includes their signature massage (P750 for one hour), all-natural scrubs (coffee scrub, sweet calamansi scrub, chocolate scrub, and red wine scrub) for one hour ranging from P1,200 to P1,520.

Direct access to the hot spring
Lotus Pod is luckily situated in the barangay of Puypuy in Bay, Laguna. Its 3.2-hectare property has a good view of Mount Makiling and Mount Banahaw, two mountains that provide geothermal activities in the places that surround them.
The property is owned by renowned broadcaster and journalist Cheche Lazaro. The former Probe Team host’s love for traveling and the holistic lifestyle made her decide to finally open her sanctuary to the public in May last year.
Farm manager Melanie Monton shares this information, and thus, her frequent travels shows in this Balinese-inspired bed-and-breakfast place. It currently has eight casitas, or more like villas, with a hot spring tub that is connected to Mount Makiling.
Guests of the B&B not only have their own hot spring but can also drop by the spa and meditation lounge which has a calming view of the lotus pond, which the resort is named after. They can have the in-house signature combination Swedish and shiatsu massage for P800 an hour.
Lotus Pod also boasts of its organic menu, with much of its green and produce harvested from its own garden. (More information can be found in this web site: https://www.lotuspodbedandbreakfast.com)

Sleeping under the stars
Nothing spells more romantic than being close to the heavenly bodies. Stargazers will definitely fall in love with Haranah Eco-Park located in Tanay, Rizal.
The 16-hectare property sits on an elevated part of Tanay. It has the most basic of accommodations for now. Tents can be set up at across its property laden with colorful ornamental flowers and trees. Sunsets are most breathtaking when its rays gleam over the property. Come night time, campers can just lie and gaze endlessly at constellations that dot the midnight sky.
Temperatures can drop, especially at early morning, when fogs envelop the entire property. But it’s what makes the property extra special, with its remote location. Only the sounds of crickets dare disrupt the tranquility of the place.
It may be basic but the food is fantastic as its cook Romy Furio prepares some of the cleanest yet savory dishes. He farms his produce from the property’s garden and whips up the meanest-tasting Pechay dish—steamed pechay drizzled with a concoction of olive oil and garlic. He has been a cook for many comedy bars in the country until he met the property’s owner. He was tasked to oversee the property since it opened to the public three years ago. (More information can be found in their web site: http://www.haranahecopark.com.ph/).

 

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