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24 Hours in Northern Quezon
Big City got you down? Need a quick break from all the Metro Manila stress? Here’s another option, aside from the usual Tagaytay, Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Subic, Clark, Laguna hideaways… NORTHERN QUEZON.
Northern Quezon is just a 3-hour drive, probably 4-hours if you take the bus, from Manila. And I’ll show you what we did in our 24-hour stay in the not-so-explored ocean-facing paradise in this mini series.
*This trip happened on May 7, 2011
After breakfast, we left our home in Alabang at 8am and took the South Luzon Expressway all the way to Calamba. The SLEx has recently been rehabilitated and widened and being a frequent user of the highway for the past several years, I could tell that it has really improved a lot in terms of quality and is now quite comparable to its counterpart in the North, the North Luzon Expressway, which is often the benchmark of world-class highways in the Philippines. Having said that, it only took us around thirty minutes from the Filinvest Toll Booth to the Calamba Exit.
Driving from the Calamba Exit until we’ve gone beyond Los Baños, it took us at least thirty minutes. Due to the rapid population growth and massive urbanization in these areas, their mostly narrow roads were not able to keep pace with the development resulting in bottlenecks in Calamba Crossing, Los Baños Junction, and the Pansol area, among others.
It was a sigh of relief when we were finally able to cross Los Baños to the scenic lakeside towns of Laguna. Most of these towns are blessed with beautiful centuries-old churches but it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to explore them. Next time I guess.
Town-to-town, we passed by Bay, Victoria, Pila, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Kalayaan, Paete, Pakil and Pangil.
View from the highway overlooking the Laguna de Bay at 9:32am
After almost an hour, we reached a junction, one leading to the other towns of Laguna, Rizal all the way to Marikina, and the other, a mountain highway to Real, Quezon. We took the latter ofcourse. And so, we embarked on a roadtrip traversing the mountains. I then remembered our experience two years back when our Sedan faced its ultimate test in the rocky Bongabon-Baler highway. I hope all the road construction and repairs of the past adminstration in the area are already complete so more people would be able to access the enchanting Aurora province.
Compared to its Aurora counterpart, the Manila East Road has quite a lot of residents along the mountain highway, and thank goodness, it is 100% paved.
Hundreds of coconut trees on the Sierra Madre Mountain Range
The last town of Laguna along the Manila East Road is the town of Famy. It is blessed with beautiful mountain sceneries. The town is becoming increasingly popular due to the presence of Mt. Romelo, a favorite spot for newbie trekkers.
Rolling in the
Halfway through the mountains, we passed by this interesting barn-like structure labelled as “Trekkers’ Stop”.
So do trekkers’ actually stop by here to rest? The horses look cute though! It’s been three years since I last rid a horse.
Manila East Road, or as some would call MaRiLaQue Highway (Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon)
I then noticed that the highway started descending. So we must be near. Yey!
Although not really as challenging as Kennon Road, or Bitukang Manok, Manila East Road has its own zig-zag roads that had my mom breaking on her seat. Mountain roads just aren’t her thing, haha.
At 11am, we finally arrived in Real, Quezon and checked-in at Ocean Blue Resort, one of the decent but affordable resorts in Barangay Tignoan.
Their air-conditioned rooms for 4 were for P1,500 a night. Since there were six of us, we requested for an additional foam mattress
My jaw dropped upon seeing the wide blue seas contrasted by the very brown but very fine sand. Very much like Baler, Aurora.
(…to be continued)