2021 Yearend: A Road Trip to Southern Rizal

Southern Rizal province at 60 kilometers an hour whizzes by like a highlight reel for a classic provincial road trip: mountains, rice fields, an auspiciously blue sky, and an empty highway.

It’s a sunny December afternoon, and my parents, having had experienced a couple of road trips to Tagaytay the past few weeks, wanted another one. I welcome the development but instead suggest a road trip to Rizal province, both because I’m starting to grow weary of Tagaytay, and also because it’s my chance to visit all towns of Rizal this year (along with Cavite; I also toured Bulacan last year).

This part of Rizal is relatively untouristed compared to the usual spots in the province — Antipolo, Taytay, Cainta, and so on — which makes the trip all the more relaxing. “It’s like we’ve gone to Zambales,” my dad remarks as the Mount Sembrano comes into view and imposes its height on the verdant fields below, reminiscent of the Zambales mountains on the rice fields of Central Luzon.

We arrive mid-afternoon in Jalajala town, about 50 kilometers southeast of Antipolo, and the last town in Rizal before the highway crosses to Laguna province. Our destination is the SunFlora farm, a bucolic spot where beds of sunflowers and the lakeside breeze make you feel like you’re in a temperate region. It’s the rural antidote my plant-loving mother needs to recuperate from the hassles of urban life. You can sense it from her excitement as she poses beside the flowers.

We then trace our way back north to Pililia, where a winding road away from the main highway leads us to a windmill compound on top of a magnificent hillside view. The windmills are part of the Pililla Wind Farm, which in turn is a project of Alternergy, a private company focused on sustainable energy sources.

The golden-hour light enhances the romantic vibe, and the overall beauty makes it hard for us to leave the place.

But leave do we eventually. On our way back to Metro Manila via Antipolo, we stop for dinner at a lakeside restaurant in Tanay, just as the sun is about to set. Around this time in previous years, I had been writing yearend recaps. But this year I can’t, mostly because I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the year is almost over. For some reason, this year passed by quicker than it did. 2021 was, for lack of a better term, wala lang. A glitch in the overall timeline of my existence.

So I won’t be making resolutions this time. It’s the situation that needs to change. And here’s hoping that 2022 will learn from history and have some, well, radical changes.

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