Through the Highland Countryside
By Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos
Photos by Ramir G. Cambiado
The everyday scenario of sleepless skyscrapers and people trying to make their way through the dreadful traffic jams made worse by the honking of cars makes an old, weary soul looks forward to a weekend away from the urban jungle that is Manila.
The adrenaline rush in the outdoors while savoring that relaxing, more intimate bond with nature and ending it with a dip in the seas of Quezon Province are the promises of riding through the famed Marilaque road.
Marilaque, a term coined from the first syllables of Marcos Highway, and provinces of Rizal, Laguna, and Quezon by frequent motorcycle and car enthusiasts and cyclists in the past years, is a 110-kilometer distance route along Marikina-Infanta Road. It is a famous option for a countryside ride, thanks to its breathtaking views, fresh air, and all that Sierra Madre has to offer.
During the weekend, hundreds of riders would chase the sunrise on this side of the region and practice thrilling riding skills along Tanay, Rizal’s famous curves and twisties such as the Big C and the Devil’s Corner. Although through the recent years there have been cases of accidents almost every weekend, it does not stop many to still chase the road, whether to ride with a group, with their family, or with your special someone.
Riding through this road also leads one to see jeepneys with people in the top load, friendly dogs used to being with hundreds of strangers, welcoming locals, and fruits and vegetables being sold in the roadside.
At some point, you will get enticed to park your motorcycle or your car for a while to capture awesome views of the mountains that will definitely catch your eye—bridges with background view of the Sierra Madre, tall trees shading the smooth pavements, giant markers of Sta. Maria, Laguna, the Infanta, Quezon welcome arc, and the overall foggy, mystic vibe mostly present in early hours and before lunch time.
One of its popular stops is the Jariel’s Peak, a few minutes away from the Infanta, Quezon arc, and can be reached after one and a half to two hours from Marcos Highway. Riders would usually end their morning ride with bulalo and steamed rice while reveling on the incredible, foggy view of pine trees and the mountains from afar. Others prefer the famous pancit batil patong from Jham’s eatery or just settle with a hot cup of tableya or kapeng barako before going back to the city.
For riders who would go the extra mile, going past Jariel’s Peak and riding to downtown Infanta is also an option.
However, be prepared to experience rough and undeveloped areas at some point. Another set of breathtaking sights will be a treat in the eyes again, which takes away the tiring, weary feeling of a long drive.
Infanta is a laidback town blessed with sceneries of the mountains and the sea.
In Blue Pavillon Resort located just a few minutes from town proper, a home for a night or two for road trippers awaits. After hours of riding through pathways—from tackling rough and muddy roads to gliding bought ingredients for our two day stay—bread, spreads, bottled water, and ingredients for our hot soup—a warm, soothing treat for a chilly night by the beach.
During the night, people may gather in a big bonfire pit to savor light conversation over grilled marshmallows and cold beer with the gentle waves crashing down the shore as your background music. Some may pitch their own tent or just spend the night in one of their cabanas.
In the morning, while people can dip into the sea, there are other amenities people can do. Aside from beach volleyball, they can also enjoy paddle boarding and other water sports activities which suit every guests’ interest.
Going back through the mountains is another adventure. If you have another day or two to spare, stopping over at different towns in Quezon and Rizal is also a nice option. Real, Quezon is just beside Infanta and can be enjoyed with some surfing and white-water rafting adventures. The route will also take you to Pililia Wind farm and other destinations in Rizal.
After hours of long driving, you will know you are back in the city when, after breezing through smooth, spacious road, you will be welcomed with that familiar sight of jeepneys and private vehicles lined up, slowing your pace as you also queue in through the piling traffic.
That’s the time you will realize that the ride has come to an end. And just then, you make a promise to come back and chase the road that makes you calm, relaxed, contemplative and revitalized, all at the same time.
“And just then, you make a promise to come back and chase the road that makes you calm, relaxed, contemplative and revitalized, all at the same time”