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LOOK: 5 places near Metro Manila where you can enjoy the chilly weather

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Feb 01, 2021 7:30 am

The urge to do a bit of rest and relaxation has become more irresistible lately because of the chilly weather. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the temperature in Metro Manila dipped to its lowest at 19.9 Celsius on Sunday, Jan. 31. PAGASA added that colder temperatures should be expected this month as the northeast monsoon blows over the country.

So where can you go to enjoy the colder temperature without violating health protocols that were put in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19? Baguio City and Tagaytay City are currently popular destinations because of its cool weather. But there are other destinations you can explore if you want to avoid the crowd in those cities. Here are our suggestions:

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A post shared by Masungi Georeserve (@masungigeoreserve)

Masungi Georeserve

What is it? If you’ve been serious with your quarantine since the lockdown was imposed last year, you’re probably raring to do a bit (or a lot) of physical activity while the weather is a bit chilly. A popular tourist destination even before the pandemic, Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal is a conservation area and karst rock garden that serves as a sanctuary for various animal and plant life in the country. It’s a great destination for those who want to enjoy the pleasure of nature without having to spend serious cash. (Not everyone can afford to go to South Africa during the pandemic, after all). Visitors come here for its trails, the most popular being its Discovery Trail, where you pass through Masungi’s conservation area. The full trail takes around three to four hours to complete. The trail routes, according to its website, are customizable to your hiking skill level (there are rope courses in the trail).

Details: Tickets are sold at P1,500 per person on weekdays and P1,800 on weekends. Requests for trail visits should be arranged three days before the intended date of visit on the Masungi Georeserve website.

Health protocols: Because of the pandemic, a minimum of five persons per group and a maximum of eight guests per group can be accommodated in the trail. Persons under 21 and above 59 years old won’t be permitted. Of course, the usual health and safety guidelines are implemented—mainly, filling up pre-visit health forms, the wearing of face masks, and social distancing.

ATV Adventures Rizal

What is it? We're assuming it's easier to do physical activities with the cold weather. If this is your thing, consider visiting ATV Adventures Rizal, a guided All-Terrain Vehicle tour near the Sierra Madre mountain range. They have a range of trail tours based on duration (from one and a half hours to a whole night) and difficulty, so you can find an activity based on your skill level. (They do promise that you’ll get home in one piece, so that’s reassuring). They also have paintball, archery, and horseback riding activities if the ATV tour isn’t your thing. 

Details: Price depends on the activity. A short trail tour costs P1,500 per head (minimum of four people) while their eight-hour jungle trail adventure that involves a 30-minute trek and swimming in what their website describes as a “beautiful hidden falls” is priced at P6,500 per head (minimum of three people). For all activities, you need to book in advance via their website. For the trail tours, a tour guide is provided. The website says they also provide helmets and gloves (although with the ongoing pandemic, you may want to check if you’re comfortable using items provided by ATV Adventures Rizal).

Health protocols: ATV Adventures Rizal will require you to fill out a coronavirus self-declaration form.

Pinto Art Museum

What is it? Of course, you can opt to enjoy the cool weather somewhere more chill and relaxing. The Pinto Art Museum is an exhibition space and contemporary museum in Antipolo, Rizal. It’s also a popular date place; vlogger Krisha Uy recently went to Pinto Art Museum for a blind date during the lockdown. And why not? A chilly February is the perfect time to go on a date. (just remember to wear your face masks all the time; there is still a pandemic) The place itself is social media-worthy, but  don’t go there for just the ‘gram. It is home to the works of Filipino artists such as Elmer Borlongan, Joy Mallari, Mark Justiniani, Emmanuel Garibay, and Leeroy New, among others. There is also a cafe in the museum. There are also rotating galleries and exhibits as well, so check out their page for details.

Details: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. No reservations are needed as walk-in guests are welcome. Tickets are priced at P250 for adults, P200 for senior citizens and PWDs, and P125 for students (as long as they have proof of enrollment).

Health protocols: Pinto Art Museum follows the standard health guidelines. Guests are required to wear facemasks at all times inside the museum premises (yes, even while taking photos). Guests are also required to fill out a health declaration form. There are no baggage counters so guests are advised not to bring large bags, as these aren’t allowed inside the museum. 

Artsector Gallery

What is it? Located in Binanongan, Rizal, ArtSector Gallery is a fairly new attraction. It is a five-storey art gallery and museum that features works of contemporary Filipino artists. People mostly go here for its restaurant, named Chimney Cafe 360, located at the gallery’s second to fifth floor, that has a breathtaking view of the Laguna Lake, the Sierra Madre Mountains, and the Pililla Windmills. Chimney Cafe 360 offers the usual coffee shop fare—pastas, pizzas, donuts, coffee, tea—that are priced from P90 to P300. 

Details: There is a P200 entrance fee; P225 during holidays. It is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 2 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. However, you need to call the establishment to make a reservation at least two days before your visit. You also need to pay in advance for your pre-ordered food for your visit. If all this seems tedious, this is being done to maintain minimal contact with people inside the museum.

Health protocols: Besides the reservations and the pre-ordering of food, ArtSector Gallery is enforcing other health guidelines, such as its strict implementation of two-meter social distancing. Only 25 people are allowed to enter the museum per day as well. It goes without saying that you should always wear face masks.

The Crescent Moon Café and Studio Pottery

What is it? Another art space in Antipolo! If you want a more lowkey time outside the house, visit The Crescent Moon Cafe in Antipolo, an open air restaurant that’s surrounded by trees and nature. Meals here are priced from P230 to P350 pesos, with dishes as such Beef Rendang, Lemongrass Pork Belly, and Fried Catfish. But it is also a pottery studio, where you can create ceramics before or after your meal! Cold weather, good food, pottery—these are great ingredients for a cool, relaxing day that can help you forget your worries.

Details: They are open from Wednesday to Sunday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Because of the COVID-19, the cafe is no longer serving their weekend buffet.

Health protocols: Since the place is mainly a cafe, do expect the usual restaurant crowd (which means people not wearing their face masks while eating). The cafe is an open air establishment, and it practices the set guidelines for social distancing in restaurants.

Reminders:

Of course, going out does not mean you can already forget the standard health and safety measures set to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Use hand sanitizers that has at least 60 percent alcohol if hand-washing is not option;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Always wear a face mask;
  • Practice social distancing;
  • Do not go out of your house if you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19

Take note that since the country is still in quarantine, certain national highways have checkpoints that may require health permits, among other requirements, before you are granted passage. Check your routes and travel requirements before traveling.

Banner photo and thumbnail from ArtSector Gallery & Chimney Café 360º Facebook page