Not everyone wants to hop on a plane for a COVID-safe escape from Metro Manila.
Whether its due to virus fears or lack of time and money, there are spots near the capital region that are worthy of a visit, as suggested by Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat herself.
During a Summit Sandwich Sessions interview, she came up with a shortlist.
Pinto Art Museum
Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo, Rizal is a staple among Metro Manila-dwellers mainly because of its highly Instagrammable displays. It prides itself as the "Philippines’ door to contemporary and emerging local art".
"I'm embarassed to say that I only discovered Pinto during the lockdown because I was looking for places you could go to by land," Romulo-Puyat said.
After months of closure due to the lockdown, the museum has been reopened since September of 2020. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week except Mondays. Ticket price is at P250, and the usual GCQ guidelines apply (no face mask, no entry).
More details on their Facebook page here.
If you're looking for more art, there's no better place to be than Angono, Rizal, hailed the Art Capital of the Philippines.
Among over a dozen of museums there, Sec. Romulo-Puyat recommends not missing out on the studio home of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, the Blanco Family Art Museum, and the The Nemiranda Arthouse and Museum.
Usual COVID protocols apply but schedules may vary so make sure to check out their respective Facebook pages.
Masungi Geo Reserve
If you're up for some adventure, this conservation area in Baras, Rizal is another place to be, according to Romulo-Puyat. This geopark is one of the province's beloved spots, not only for its picture-perfect sceneries but also for its sustainable tourism efforts recognized internationally by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Masungi’s name comes from the word 'masungki', which pertains to the jagged rock formations among its lush forests that define the landscape. On a normal weekend, when traffic is not that heavy, it's reachable through Marcos Highway within at least an hour of driving.
Going there is by reservation basis, so make sure to contact them weeks before.
San Pablo, Laguna
Last in Romulo-Puyat's weekend travel list is Casa San Pablo, a "quaint bed and breakfast lodging located in picturesque city of San Pablo in Laguna," according to its Facebook page.
She spoke highly of its food, calling it the best in the city, with many takes on coconut milk-based viands.
"For me part of traveling is what food I can eat that is unique to that travel destination," she said.
Before travelling to any of these places, DOT reminds everyone to understand first their responsibility as tourists, which is to at least comply with minimum public health standards.
"You have to be responsible tourists so that tourism will slowly but surely restart," Romulo-Puyat said.