May 13, 2012, 1:09am


Like most of its residents today, I am an Antipoleno by choice…My Antipolo represents what the entirety of Rizal is and what it can become. I live here so I can always remind myself of this. Like the rest of Rizal, it is in the midst of a tug-of-war – between the lure of modernization and the desire to keep the beauty of its original state. It has brought home the important amenities of modern living while preserving the expressions of faith and culture that has made it known.

The month of May is synonymous with Antipolo, Rizal.
During this month, thousands flock to our hilltop city. For them, the year would not be complete without this annual trek to what is dubbed the Pilgrimage Capital of the country.
There are three things that draw people to Antipolo, Rizal. First, faith. Second, history and culture. Third, its nature-based attractions.
At the core of the yearly Antipolo tradition is the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Many visit the Cathedral built in her honor to have their vehicles blessed or to ask for protection for a journey. Many others are simply drawn by the contagious display of faith among devotees who crowd the cathedral and endure the mammoth Sunday crowd for the chance to pray before her image.
That display of faith and devotion is a hundred years old, maybe more. Our elders say people, including those from distant provinces, pilgrimaged to Antipolo, Rizal, long before there were good roads leading up to the place.
In fact, a tableau has been erected in front of the new Capitol as a tribute to that age-old tradition. In that little plaza, visitors would find the statuettes of a party of pilgrims bringing a woman up to Antipolo, Rizal, in a hammock, locally called “Humaka.”
The fervor of the display of faith on the Lady of Antipolo, Rizal, has not changed despite the advent of modern roads and transportation. Given that a lot of children and teens form part of the giant pilgrimage crowd, it looks like the fervor is being passed on to the next generation. God willing, Antipolo, Rizal, will stay as the Pilgrimage Capital for decades to come.
Many others come to Antipolo, Rizal, for reasons other than faith. Biking enthusiasts, for example, consider the place a haven. Back when there were fewer vehicles, the Masinag-Bayan stretch of Sumulong highway was a favorite weekend destination for mountain biking. The pros consider both the upward and downward trip along Sumulong a major challenge.
Today, bikers still speed along this scenic stretch. But they have found other spots in the city which proved to be as exciting. My neighbors told me that there is a place called Phillip’s Sanctuary Bike Park in our city which provides mountain bikers with 10 kilometers or more of trails.
The place, my neighbors add, is designed like those American bike resorts. The park has something for bikers of every age and ability. I am yet to personally see the place, but let me already invite our readers to come and explore it.
The Park is located in the hills of Maarat, where Antipolo, Rizal, meets up with San Mateo.
Speaking of neighbors. Unknown to many, I am actually a resident of Antipolo, Rizal. Yes, I work in this city and I also live here. Yes, my roots are Binangonan and Taytay, but I have chosen to live in the Pilgrimage City.
Like most of its residents today, I am an Antipoleno by choice.
My friends estimate that about 75 percent of those who live in this city today are not “natives” of the city. They do not trace their roots to the clans of the Dela Paz or Sumulong, or Oliveros. They may have been born elsewhere but have decided to build their homes in this hilltop haven.
I did, too.
There are several reasons why people choose to live here. One is a practical reason. It is close enough to Metro Manila to enable one to get to work fast, be it in Makati or Ortigas. It is also far enough from Metro Manila to enable one to isolate oneself from the smog and tension of the bustling metropolis.
And, in the process, to raise one’s family in a healthy and wholesome environment.
My personal reason is this: My Antipolo represents what the entirety of Rizal is and what it can become. I live here so I can always remind myself of this.
Like the rest of Rizal, it is in the midst of a tug-of-war – between the lure of modernization and the desire to keep the beauty of its original state. Somehow, my Antipolo has managed that tug-of-war well: It has brought home the important amenities of modern living while preserving the expressions of faith and culture that has made it known.
At the end of the day, I realized that my Antipolo reflects my own struggle. And perhaps, of most of us.
On one hand, we desire to keep in step with the dizzying pace of change, progress, and acquisition of wealth. On the other hand, we fight to keep our cherished values and relationships – those things that matter within the very core of our being.
Perhaps, there is an Antipolo in all of us.
So, come and visit my Antipolo.
You just might find yourself there.