Rizal · Travel Adventures

Touring Tanay and Pililla Wind Farms: When Earth, Water and Wind Combine to Amaze the Human Heart

The town of Tanay in Rizal province gets even more popular as batches of tourists and adventure seekers promote its eco-tourism exemplified by its picturesque landscapes, mountains, waterfalls, rivers/springs and historical caves.

Tanay is 54 kilometers (about 1.5 to 2 hours) away southeast of metropolitan Manila and is a major agricultural and commercial center of eastern Rizal. It is home to the famous expression “Hane,” which means “OK” (to seek one’s agreement) such as “hintayin mo ako, hane?” or in English, “wait for me, okay?” Tanay holds the Hane Festival from November 12-20 of the year in which the beauty of Tanay is being showcased.

I had been to Tanay for the first time in June 2015 when I joined T20 Mountaineering Society in trekking Mt. Daraitan and cooling off at Tinipak River. Then, on a holiday in February 2016, my friends and I thought of having a group excursion and chose Tanay as our holiday destination.

Getting to and Around Tanay

6:00AM – Our group met at McDonald’s-Crossing (near Pavilion and Teleperformance), proceeded to the terminal at Unilever (EDSA Central Crossing), and took a jeepney ride bound to Tanay (Php58.00). An alternative ride would be through vans that are available at the Starmall in Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong (Php70.00).

(Browse through the official website of Tanay, Rizal for more information on getting to Rizal from different points of Metro Manila.)

7:30AM – The jeepney dropped us off at the terminal in Tanay Public Market. We headed to the Tourism Office for registration (no fees collected) and inquired about transportation services. The local officials assisted us in renting tricycles that will bring us to our preferred tourist destinations. Each tricycle could take 4-5 passengers. Due to the inconsistencies on the prices, I hope that the Tourism Office could provide a standard pricelist for tour packages to avoid overpricing by some tricycle drivers.

8:00AM – Some parts of the Tanay road were unpaved. Hence, the trike experiences (known to my friends as the “Mad Max ride”) added to the elements of adventure. Good thing, we had a fine, sunny weather. During rainy seasons, the roads get muddy and slippery and tricycles had difficulty pushing ahead, especially uphill.

Places To Visit

Calinawan Cave: Uncovering History beneath the Earth

8:30AM – Our first stop was at the historical Calinawan Cave at the Rawang hills of Brgy. Tandang Kutyo. These served as fortresses for Filipino fighters during the revolution against Spain, and the Filipino-American War in 1900. Also, it served as a dwelling place for Tanay townspeople during the Second World War and since the invasion of the town by Japanese imperial forces in March 1945.1 The cave derived its name from the Tagalog word, “kalinawan” meaning clarity. According to history, the Filipinos and Americans held a meeting inside the cave, clarified matters and came up with an agreement.

Also, the cave was formerly picked for fantasy movie shootings, and has become a tourist destination. Despite the forces that touched its history, the cave system has preserved its natural beauty, with its decorative speleothems (dripstones) – the stalactites, stalagmites, columns, helictites and crystal-like calcites clinging to the rocks. 

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Our guide brought us to five layers, where the first and second layers provided easy passages. The third to fifth layers exposed us to challenging horizontal cave passages that moved us to bow, to bend our back, and to crawl under a rock.:D

The cave tour requires an entrance fee of P20.00/head and a guide fee of P200.00/group for the first two layers. An additional donation will be given to the guide if you desire to explore the third to the fifth layer. You may leave your bags at the hut (waiting area) to fully enjoy spelunking in the cave. It takes around 30-45 minutes to finish up until the fifth layer.

I made an exclusive write up of the Calinawan Cave here.

Daranak Falls: Take a Plunge in the Deep Waters

11:00AM – From Calinawan Cave, it took us 20 minutes to reach Daranak Falls.  We paid the entrance fee of P50.00/person and crossed the bridge leading to the picnic areas. We wanted to enjoy the falls together, so we decided to rent lockers at P50.00, instead of picnic tables, to secure our belongings since we were not allowed to lay our bags near the falls or riverbank.

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The waterfalls has a height of 14 meters, with bluish clear waters enticing nature lovers for a refreshing swim.  My friends enjoyed cliff diving while holding their Gopro camera to capture the moments during the splash. Here, you could rent a salbabida (life ring) for P50.00 and have fun wading in the deep portions.

However, the picnic areas and plunge pool gets crowded during weekends and holidays. So, if you want more privacy, it would be best to visit the place during weekdays.

The resort is open daily from 8AM to 5PM. Management prohibits bringing in of liquors and alcoholic beverages within the area. As of this date, picnic shed could be rented at P300.00 and picnic tables at P200.00. For couples who pick Daranak Falls for a photoshoot, a fee of P1,500.00 is collected. Attendants also request a small amount for using or taking a bath in the comfort rooms (However, this caused clamour among us and some visitors. Since we paid for the entrance fee, can’t they give this service for free?).

Beside the Daranak Falls, visitors could try Batlag Falls, which is privately-owned and requires an entrance fee of P100.00. Unfortunately, our group was not able to visit due to time constraints.

Tanay Lakeshore and Parola: The Water and Wind Tandem

2:00PM – After a refreshing plunge at Daranak Falls, we requested our guide/driver to bring us to the Parola (lighthouse). Though the sun was still high that time, we enjoyed basking and taking pictures in the open area while the strong winds from the lake rushed to the dock. Ang presko dun!

There, we had a terrific view of the tranquil Laguna lake as it connects with the blue skies, and the surrounding towns of Baras, Morong, Binangonan and other Rizal towns.

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Unfortunately, we were restricted to enter the Parola that time for some unknown reasons. According to the Tourism Office, many folks visit the area in early mornings to experience the cool breeze.

Pililla Wind Farms: Chasing the Wind

2:30PM – To make for a more sulit adventure, we consented (without second thoughts) to the suggestion of our trike drivers to visit the wind farms on the hilly terrains of Pililla town. I humbly admit, I haven’t personally seen a wind turbine, just pictures of the Bangui windmills in Ilocos Norte. So, I got very excited that time.

From Tanay Lakeshore, we drove towards the Pililla Wind Farms for more than 30 minutes. Cold winds approached us as we raced through the long and winding cemented roads uphill.

Articles narrated that there were 27 54-mega watt power generators put up in the 4,515 hectare-farm site. This project, executed by Alternergy Philippine Holdings Corporation, began in June 18, 2013. The Wind Farms in Pililla is one of the five in the Philippines, along with Bangui, Burgos and Capirispisan in Ilocos Norte, and Mindoro Oriental.2

The remarkable humongous wind turbine generators standing on the hills were captivating. They were everybody’s “apple of the eyes.” To add, we were entertained with the breathtaking view of the Laguna lake, and endured, or shall I say, enjoyed resisting the strong winds? 😀

Facing the Information Center, you may find it a great idea to take pictures on the windy grounds at the farther east from this point. Winds are stronger, but the vista of wind turbines that environed the hills is all worth it.

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San Ildefonso de Toledo Church

5:30pm – Downhill, it was even colder as we approached sunset. We headed back to Tanay town, and thought of completing the day’s journey by visiting this 400-year-old San Ildefonso Church, a stone church built by Franciscan missionaries in 1773.

The church has been recognized as a National Cultural Treasure Church by the Commission of Culture and the Arts in 2001, along with other 25 churches in the Philippines. It houses a bone relic of San Ildefonso kept in a monstrance and has Stations of the Cross considered as one of the most beautiful in Asia.3

Interestingly, the sculpture of San Ildefonso, the patron saint of Tanay, stands at the churchyard on the trunk of a century-old acacia tree which was said to have been planted by a Franciscan priest. The tree stopped growing leaves and has weakened after a hundred years of existence. In order to preserve it and its memories, a team of scientists, church leaders and artists from Laguna revived the monumental tree into an “intricately designed” wood carving.4

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Our trike drivers were kind enough to bring us to Petron where jeepneys fetch passengers bound to Manila. Though it was past 7:30pm when we departed from Tanay, we went home rejuvenated and with smiles on our faces. The combination of experiences with Tanay’s nature – earth, water and wind – has amazed the human heart.

Special thanks to Mr. Angelo Aguiling for the photography.

Costs to consider for this daytour (via commute, as of February 8, 2016)

P58.00 Jeepney fare/pax (Crossing-Tanay Public Market)
P58.00 Jeepney fare/pax (Petron (Tanay) – Crossing)
P950.00 Trike tour for 4-5 pax (Calinawan cave, Daranak Falls, Parola and Pililla Wind Farms)
P20.00 Entrance fee/pax (Calinawan Cave)
P200.00 Guide fee/group (Calinawan Cave)
P50.00 Entrance fee/pax (Daranak Falls)
P50, P200, P300 Choice of Locker, Picnic table or Picnic shed (respectively) – Daranak Falls

Other Interesting Sites in Tanay

In their brochure, the local government of Tanay promotes other tourist attractions.5 If you have enough time, you may visit:

Tinipak and Daraitan River – endowed with beautiful marble rock formation, clean river and cave; ideal for mountaineers, backpackers and trekkers

Masungi Rock Formation (“Palanas”) – ideal for mountain climbing and camping

Kinabuan Falls (located in Brgy. Sta Ines)ideal for trekking, with several shallow rivers and streams to cross

Regina Rica – a 14-hectare sanctuary for Dominican sisters of Regina Rosarii with the 71-foot statue of Queen of the Holy Rosary. The area has three waterfalls, a creek and over 10,000 trees.

Mayagay (Brgy. Cuyambay) – provides a stunning view of Sierra Madre mountains

Holy Cross Chapel (in Bukal) – aside from the holy mass, it is believed that the place has a natural spring for healing bath. It also houses the oldest teak tree in the Philippines. It is believed that the fallen leaves can cure many ailments.

Grotto – provides a breathtaking view of Tanay and Laguna Lake

Helpdesk

Tanay Transportation Group: 0998-988-1590/0917-475-8790

Tanay Tourism Office: 736-1059/655-1773 local 213

Enjoy your adventure. It’s more fun in Tanay, Rizal! 🙂

References:

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanay,_Rizal

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pililla_Wind_Farm

3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanay_Church

4 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/667196/tanays-ancient-acacia-rises-as-church-sculpture

5 Discover Tanay: A True Adventure Experience (Brochure)

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