We did a roadtrip from San Juan, Manila to Tanay, Rizal yesterday with our photographer friend Jamie Espadilla-Mapagu, and it took us a little over 2 hours to get there.
We specifically went on a weekday because we were scared of the heavy traffic, especially because it’s December, but it turned out to be an easy drive!
She originally wanted to do a Christmas-themed photoshoot because she’s really good with styling, but I invited her to just go out-of-town. I wasn’t really expecting her to take photos of our family but I’m glad she did because whether styled or candid, she takes beautiful photos! A very meaningful and beautiful gift, indeed!
Here’s our itinerary plus some tips and notes for you.
FIRST STOP: El Patio Razon for the Hot Kawa Bath
A ‘kawa’ refers to the huge cauldron that was traditionally used in sugar-making (to process molasses). Through the years however, these cauldrons had been abandoned and replaced by factories. Locals found a way to reuse them by turning them into “hot tubs” for bathing, and this nature place in Tibiao, Antique was the first to offer it to the public years ago.
We experienced a kawa bath from Antique many years ago, so we were excited for our visit here.
I think our son enjoyed for a while, but honestly, I think the one in Antique is better. We paid PHP 300 for an hour use (plus PHP 50 per head entrance fee), but didn’t get to use it for half hour even, because the smoke started getting in my son’s eyes as well as my husband’s. We don’t recall feeling that way in our Antique experience, and looking back, I think it’s because the kawas in Antique are much larger and deeper. Maybe the wind played a big role that day, too — it was really windy when we went.
Supposedly, you can also bring a DVD and watch a movie from the Kawa for a few more hundreds (nighttime only), but when I asked about it, it’s currently not offered as a service.
My son totally enjoyed playing with the flowers (that they pick from their garden), though, so it’s not totally worthless. The view is nice, though the total ambience of the place is nothing spectacular (not worth the PHP 50 per head entrance for me – maybe it’s different if it’s with a group of friends and you do some kind of bonfire or setup tents, but generally, that area for kawas is narrow. PS: Our son wasn’t charged for entrance).
* You bring your own towels in this place. There’s a small bathroom for changing, and another one with a urinal. * There’s also no food except for snacks from their carinderia, so best to bring snacks/food with you especially when you have children in tow.
* You may stay here for the night. They have one big kubo (native hut) that can accommodate up to 25 persons, but you can also pitch your own tent.
EL PATIO RAZON DETAILS:
Facebook: El Patio Razon Official
Sitio Maysawa, Brgy. Cuyambay,
Entrance Fee: PHP 50 | PHP 300 per hour for the Kawa Bath for 2 for weekdays, PHP 100 per 10 minutes for weekends
* You can find this on Waze. No need to reserve for day tour.
SECOND STOP: Treasure Mountain
Just a little down the road from El Patio Razon (maybe a 5-10 minute drive?) is Treasure Mountain. It is famous for their sea of clouds (though I’m really not sure if it’s comparable to the one of Mount Pulag as we have not seen it), but even without that, it’s a place I’d gladly recommend.
We went on a weekday as mentioned, so there weren’t many people. The price is PHP 150 per head, and Pablo was free. I’m not sure until what age is free. I think there were less than 10 tourists including us, so we had the kubo to ourselves. There are small huts and a restaurant (not much for vegetarians. The only thing we were able to order was Pancit Canton and requested to take out all the seafood and meat included in the dish), and their food are for sharing. Food was nothing great, but good enough to fill our hungry tummies.
We really enjoyed just hanging out by our small hut as well as the native tables with the mountains as our backdrop. We were just chilling and having a great time. I ended up wearing a windbreaker, though, because well, I was starting to feel cold, and my dress was flying in all directions. Good thing I was wearing shorts underneath!
* Other activities: They have a pool where you can swim for another PHP 150 fee per head. They also had several ATVs parked, so I suppose you can rent them out, too. And then they also have a small obstacle course (for adults, great for photo ops).
* Bathrooms are nothing great, but decent. Also, I think you also bring your own towel and everything if you decide to swim there.
* No need to reserve for daytour, but if you plan to stay overnight, it’s best to reserve through their Facebook account.
* The place is, as mentioned, famous for their sea of clouds. There’s no chance of seeing them when it’s windy. In fact, it’s best to see them during the rainy season, and best to go early (as in sunrise level). You may consider camping there if you’re after the clouds. Sometimes though, they said, the clouds are just there the whole day.
* They actually have another spot where you have to walk a bit more (not far and hard, promise) and it’s usually where the clouds are viewed, plus there are some rock formations. However, it was just really windy the day we went so we just preferred to stay in one area and avoid any uphill climb. We will definitely go back for the clouds and for the rock formations.
TREASURE MOUNTAIN DETAILS:
Sitio Maysawa Brgy. Cuyambay, Tanay, 1980 Rizal
Entrance Fee: PHP 150 per head (extra per added activity like the obstacle course, or swimming)
THIRD STOP: The Sierra Madre Mountain Resort (Hotel and Conference Center)
This wasn’t on my list, but our friend Jamie told us that while the mountain resort isn’t anything great in terms of decor and aesthetics (you’ll see when you go), it has lots of potential for photoshoots because of its pine trees and huge spaces. So we went there for that and don’t regret our PHP 50 per head entrance at all.
* My ultimate tip is to NOT park on the same level when you enter the resort (you’ll just see it along the highway), but to make your way down to the obstacle courses and park once you see the huge garden.
* It’s best to go late afternoon. We were lucky to even witness a rainbow here (it was our son’s first time to see one in real life and it was such a special moment)! You can even hold picnics here, so if you are doing this daytrip with a car, do prepare picnic mats and some snacks to cap off your day and wait for the sunset before heading home. The garden is huge and generally flat so it’s perfect for toddlers to run around. For older children, you can explore their team building obstacle courses, too!
* It’s also a great place to take sunset photos!
* They have a grace period of 10 minutes, so if you just want to see if the place (down the huge garden), you can tell them you’ll just check it out and you’ll come back to pay the entrance if you’ll stay.
* For children and photo ops, their hanging bridge is a fun thing to do! It was still quite a challenge for my 2-year-old, but I think it would be really fun for older children (like maybe 4 or 5 up).
* Sorry, I was not able to check their restrooms. They surely have one, though, cause it’s a functioning hotel and resort.
THE SIERRA MADRE HOTEL & RESORT DETAILS:
Facebook: The Sierra Madre Mountain Resort
Marcos Hi-way Mayagay Tanay, Rizal
* You can find this on Waze. No need to reserve for a daytour.
Thank you so much to our friend/photographer Jamie Espadilla-Mapagu (Jamie Mapagu Photography) for taking most of our photos. We love you!
You know you’ve got a great photographer when she can make motherhood glam even in the most unglamorous moments! I love this candid shot of me and my son while I was changing his top. We all need a photographer like Jamie atleast once in our life…hubbies, ya know what to gift your wives. HAHA!