Rarely would one hear this in the Philippines. Either one goes North to Central and Northern Luzon or to the South in Bicol and as far as the Visayas and Mindanao. Going east has now become an alternative to the urban Metro Manila dweller, to the daring, adventurer that is.
It covers 3 provinces, a night trek to Mt. Sembrano (700++meters), a ferry boat ride to the extreme eastern island Polilio Island passing through the Pacific Ocean, a dip at the beach shore waiting for a fantastic sunset. Reach Katipunan St., the gateway to Metro Manila before 6 p.m. Sunday. It just takes planning; a vehicle and 5 seasoned travelers and climbers.
Complete all camping needs at the nearby 7-11 convenience store. Take snacks and final shopping needs at Uniwide Family Store in Antipolo. Reach Pililia by 11:00 p.m. Trekking time is about 1 1/2 hours. The range is open with no protective trees. Appreciate the view of Laguna Lake, Talim Island and Metro Manila at the extreme West. Mt. Makiling (1090 meters) is likewise visible. You'll pass through two mountains, the Mt. Sembrano range (?) traversing the Rizal-Laguna boundary and the Sierra Madre range connecting Laguna and Quezon. The Sierra Madre highway newly opened last year is an attraction in itself. No time to enjoy the scenery now, as you need to rush to Pantalan in Real, Quezon to catch the last ferry ride to Polilio Island bound for the town Polilio. The ferry only leaves when there's sufficient load.
Travel time via ferry ride to Polilio Island takes about 4 hours, 3 1/2 if the load is light. (Peter Harper and Laurie Fullerton writers of Philippine Handbook (California: Moon Publications, Inc, 1994) describe Polilio Islands as consisting of several islands with beautiful, fine beaches, a game refuge and bird sanctuary. Land area of the main island is 605 square meters. Shallow waters, with extensive mangrove forests surround the islands and coral reefs . . . Much of the underwater area remains unexplored. Sharks are plentiful, especially white tips and hammerheads, and whale sharks are occasionally seen.)
When you reach Polilio, suspend your concept of time and hospitality. What's in this quaint town? The center of the place is the small landing pier where the arrival and departure of a ferry is itself an event. The other scheduled trip was canceled. On our way back we had seafood lunch at Mountain View Resort with hundreds of excursionists, descended from the highway and took a deep at clean river cleansing near the mouth of the Pacific Ocean whose water must have come from the Sierra Madre. We went to the max by trekking up to the PLDT tower for a panoramic view of Polilio, Sierra Madre and other ranges. We capped our return trip with a visit to the jump-off point of the Metro Manilan backpackers' favorite-Famy. Final activity was a beer drinking at the Nipa Hut in Antipolo. All in a day!
As we see more and more vehicles and get less and less of clean air, we sensed we were back to urban living. Ready to face the pace again and getting ready to another adventure in the coming weekend.
CBR with Mitch S., Alex K., F. Sanchez and E. San Jose, May 1997