Hands down one of my favorite things to do in Manila is getting out of town. Once you get out of the metro, there are mountains to climb, waterfalls to explore, lakes to swim in, and beaches for beaching.
Last weekend, I made a trip out to Antipolo—a small town northeast of the CBD. Antipolo Church, in the heart of the town, is about 20 km away from Makati and 10 km from Cubao.
A Quick Guide to Commuting in the Philippines
First, a note on the use of the word commute.
In most English speaking countries, a commute refers to your daily trip to work and back. You could commute by car, bus, train, or bicycle—in a public or private vehicle.
Here in the Philippines, the word commute commonly refers to taking public transportation. If you don’t have your own vehicle and don’t want to spend money on a taxi, you’ll commute.
Check out this blog about commuting in the Philippines.
When commuting, you’ll often mix and match various PUV (public utility vehicle) options.
Philippine Public Utility Vehicles
- Tricycle: A tricycle or trike in the Philippines is a motorcycle with a sidecar and cover. Trikes carry 4-6 passengers.
- Jeepney: Or simple a jeep. These iconic vehicles were first made from US military jeeps left behind after WW2. Jeepneys are notorious for stockpiling people, stopping anywhere and everywhere to pick up and drop them off. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Jeepneys are al fresco and can squeeze in 20 to 30 people.
- Bus: Buses in the Philippines can be open air or aircon, with wooden or cushioned seats. Most provincial buses are fitted with airconditioning, reasonably comfortable seating, and a television for longer rides. Conversely, city buses can be more bare-boned.
- UV Express (or FX): These Tamaraw FXs operate as utility vehicles. They are small air-conditioned vans that cost a bit more than buses and jeepneys and usually carry at least a dozen passengers.
- MRT and LRT: Manila has three metro lines. The LRT1 runs from north to south along the coast, going as far as Baclaran. The LRT2 goes from west to east, Recto to Santolan station. The MRT 3 start at Taft, near Baclaran, and follow EDSA up to North Avenue in Quezon City.
The MRT and LRT lines are certainly the most modern of the Philippines’ public transportation options, but taking them is still quite an experience. For tips, check out Rappler’s MRT survival guide.
Commuting to Antipolo from the South
From BF Homes or SM BF Paranaque
Total cost: roughly P158 for one person or P256 for two; 3-4 hours of travel (not including waiting time).
Since we’re in BF Homes, this was our route of choice.
We left our place around 12:30 pm and took a trike to SM BF. In front of SM, we caught a jeep to Sucat Interchange, where we hopped on the Ayala bus. We got off on Pasay Road in Makati and walked to Park Square, which is right behind Dusit Thani.
The UV Express terminal is on the second floor of Park Square. The FX vans have a bit of an arbitrary schedule. We got to the terminal in Park Square just after 2 pm and were told the next shuttle to Antipolo would be at 4 o’clock.
To kill time, we shopped around for goodies in Glorietta and had lunch at the park. We got back around 3:30, loaded up in the van, and waited for more than an hour before the driver got in and we started moving.
The FX left at 4:40 pm and got us to Antipolo Church at 6:20, in time for us to pick up some groceries before catching a trike to my friend’s place.
- trike to SM BF Paranaque: max. P60, 15-30 minutes
- jeepney to Sucat Interchange: P8 per person, 15-30 minutes
- bus to Pasay Road in Makati: P25 per person (aircon), 30-60 minutes
- walk to Park Square: 5 minutes
- FX to Antipolo Simbahan: P65 per person, 1.5-2 hours
Other Routes to Antipolo from the South
Here are two other ways to get to Antipolo from the south of Metro Manila. I’ll update the information here as I test these out.
From SM Southmall or Alabang-Zapote Road
Total cost: P84-124 pesos per person, 2.5 hours of travel time.
The Lawton bus starts at SM Southmall and can be caught along Alabang-Zapote Road. From Southmall, it goes west and takes the Cavitex up to Baclaran.
If you’re in the south, take this bus all the way to Lawton to get to the Bureau of Immigration.
From Baclaran, walk to Taft Station and take the MRT3 to Cubao. From there, you can get a jeep or FX heading to Antipolo.
- bus to Baclaran: roughly P30, 1 hour
- walk to Taft Station: 12 minutes
- MRT3 Taft to Cubao: P24, less than 1 hour
- bus, FX or jeepney to Antipolo: roughly P30-70, 30 minutes
From Ayala Alabang or Starmall
If you’re in Alabang, you can catch a jeep to Starmall and get on a bus heading north to “EDSA Shaw”. From Shaw Boulevard, hop on any jeepney heading to Antipolo.
An advantage over the FX is that you shouldn’t have to wait so long for it to leave. On the other hand, it’s a long time to sit in a jeepney
- jeepney to Alabang Starmall: 30 min
- bus to Shaw Boulevard: 1-2 hours
- jeepney to Antipolo: 1-2 hours
Whether you find the long ride out to Antipolo more enjoyable in an open-air jeepney or air-conditioned FX is a matter of personal preference. Either way, you’ll be a bit cramped.
Getting Back to Manila from Antipolo
To head back to the metro, you can get an FX from the terminal near Antipolo Simbahan. Alternatively, you can catch a bus or jeepney heading west on Ortigas Avenue Extension. That’ll drop you at Shangri-La Plaza on the corner of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard.
From EDSA, you can catch a bus heading south to Sucat (38 pesos) or Alabang. If you want to take the MRT, you can get as far as Baclaran.
Things to Do in Antipolo
Though many come to visit Antipolo Church and other religious sites, the town is also surrounded by natural beauty.
There are hanging bridges, nature reserves, wild-life sanctuaries, and waterfalls.
Here are some cool nature spots in Antipolo:
- PACEM Eco Park (Peace And Care For Earth Ministry)
- Mount Purro Nature Reserve
- The Hanging Bridge at Cloud 9 Hotel
- Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape (waterfalls)
Other things to do in Antipolo: eat balimbing (star fruit) and check out the Pinto Art Museum.
Antipolo is also less than an hour away from Tanay, where you can visit Daranak and Batlag Falls.
Adventures from the falls coming soon!