Calabarzon gears up for Christmas holiday-goers

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CALAMBA CITY—Travelling down south this holiday?

For many Metro Manilans – both locals and expats, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), the country’s biggest region in terms of population (12.61 million), is their “satellite destination,” according to a senior tourism officer.

“We are called the satellite destination because of (Calabarzon’s) proximity to Manila,” said Cecil Aranton of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the region.

With three major expressways, travel time is cut down except during holidays when traffic volume picks up.

Where to go?

“There are a lot of choices. Tourists could go on a heritage tour in Cavite or on an artists’ tour in Rizal,” Aranton said.

In Cavite, Tagaytay City in particular, the picturesque view of the Taal Volcano is a popular tourist come-on. Tourists could also visit Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm or learn pottery at the Cornerstone Pottery Farm, both in Silang town.

Cavite is also home to several historic sites such as the Corregidor Island in Cavite City, the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, the 174-ha Geronimo B. delos Reyes Museum in General Trias, and the De La Salle Lifestyle Museum in Dasmariǹas City.

In Rizal, there are a number of art galleries owned by the families of prominent artists Jose D. Blanco and Nemesio “Nemiranda” Miranda Jr., both in Angono.

The Doña Aurora Street, also in Angono, is popular for the street murals that depict the works of National Artist Carlos Botong Francisco. In Antipolo City are the Asian-inspired Pinto (door) Art Gallery and the Crescent Moon Cafe and Pottery of Lanelle Abueva-Fernando, the niece of National Artist Napoleon Abueva.

In Laguna, tourists may shop for footwear along Gat Tayaw Street in Liliw, wood carvings in Paete, and for jusi and pineapple fabrics in Lumban town.

Its popular historic sites include the Rizal shrine in Calamba City, the 19th century Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan, and the Spanish-colonial houses in Pila.

Pagsanjan town offers nature-trippers a unique boating experience in the Pagsanjan falls.

In Quezon, the Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort offers lunch right near the running water of the Labasin Falls, while artist Ugu Bigyan offers ceramic workshop at his Garden & Pottery Shop. Both are located in Tiaong.

Centuries-old basilicas such as the 1585 St. Michael the Archangel Minor Basilica in Tayabas and the 1599 Saint Frances de Assisi Parish in Sariaya are also places worth of a visit.

In Batangas are the first-class Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club and the Farm in San Benito, a medical and wellness resort, both in Lipa City.

Several religious sites in Lipa City are the San Sebastian Cathedral and the Carmelite Convent, where the mysterious “shower of petals” to a visionary nun during World War II was recorded.

Traffic volume in Calabarzon peaked from Dec. 22-23 and again on Dec. 29-30 with the influx of travellers and vacationers this holiday.

Chito Silbol, head of the Southern Luzon Expressway Traffic and Security Department, said they expected 250,000 motorists during the holiday weekends. He said they are monitoring exit points particularly Filinvest in Alabang, Carmona, Sta. Rosa City, Calamba City, and in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, where build up is expected.

In Batangas, the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway, projected between 21,531 to 36,910 motorists from December 21 to January 2, according to its Traffic Management and Security head Carlito America.

Operators of SLEx, STAR, and Cavite Expressway would put up motorist-assistance desks and increase its ambulant tellers during the season.

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