After our stop in Morong, we moved along towards the next town south-east. Cruising the Manila East Road, we had a short stop over at Baras, Rizal. This small and laidback town besides the shore of Laguna de Bai and nestled at the foothills of Sierra Madre, the town seems to be distant from the hustle and bustle of chaotic Manila. As we go farther, the scenery changes more to rustic. The smell of newly planted rice greeted us along the way.
The church is somewhat hidden from the main highway or the main road of the town proper. You need to ask the locals where it is but dropping yourself near the municipal hall would give you a short work towards the church.
What’s notable about this church? Even though it has a very simple architectural design and is made of stone and lime, it is said to be one of Rizal Province’s oldest. The first church was built by the Franciscan friars in 1585 and was transferred to Ibayo in 1636. 46 years later they’ve returned to the present town site and finished the church in 1686. It was briefly administered by the Jesuits from 1616 to 1679.
Despite its simplicity and size of the structure, the retablo is notable. Gold and green baroque features are dominant. Another one are the old wooden beams exposed at the ceiling.
Our short stop over at Baras was greeted by children from a religious group. Under the cool shade of the acacia trees and a refreshing breeze coming from the lake, our road trip was really an oasis of calm before the sun is at its zenith. And before we knew, we were off to Tanay, the last “big” town in the east before crossing the great foothills of Sierra Madre towards the eastern frontier of Laguna province.
Crossing the Green Hills and Boundaries
We stopped by another baroque wonder in Tanay but no time to make a stop over. We pulled over a fastfood chain and have our heavy lunch before crossing the border. I said to my barkada, it’ll be a long drive to Laguna so we have to fill up ourselves. After that, we went on.
Before the junction, I have a vivid memory of the place near Pilila…my family and I had a near death vehicular accident here. Even in a sunny day, I have to slow down and beeped the car. Somehow, this place is part of my life. That the road is not a safe place to go.
The road forks and we went towards the mountains. Now, this is the last time we’ll be seeing Rizal Province before we cross towards Laguna. The winding ascent towards the green highlands of the eastern point of Laguna de Bai gave us a stunning panorama of Laguna, the lake and from the distance, Alabang and Fort Bonifacio skyline!
We had a stopover at the “overlook.” This is where Manila East Road gives a great vista panorama with small refreshment stalls. My barkada and I went out of the vehicle…never knowing that it automatically locked! Clack, the lock said! Ummm, help?!
Good thing though, a band of mountain bikers from Quezon City were also there. They’ve managed to help us by opening our locked vehicle and said jokingly “Taga-QC kami eh, hehe!” We were thankful for them. They went ahead towards Manila, we went farther ahead from Manila.
Laguna, here we come!